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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mark Belling Transcript on West Bend Open Records Request

I enjoyed listening to the podcast (again) tonight from Mark Belling's show from June 19. I thought it might be more advantageous for some if I typed the transcripts so.....here goes!

(Long...but interesting read!)

Mark Belling Show, June 19, Hour 1, Part 2:

"First, I have to give you the background on the story. It's one that we've been touching on every now and then on the show because it shows the level of arrogance that some public officials, primarily liberal, show when the… when the citizenry tries to show a little bit of activism and wants input into their government. It's the West Bend Library Board, and for those of you who haven’t been following, here's the short version. People found out months ago that in the gay books section of the children's section of the library are some very lurid books. I've read the passages from some of them and I've read a portion from them on the air before I had to stop because they were way too filthy for me to run on this radio station without us losing our license. I've undergone the mandatory training that ClearChannel gives on what material is too raunchy to put on the radio plus my own standards about how low were gonna go here, and I couldn’t come close to reading this filth on the air, that's how bad it is. So these people said “we want you to move this to the adult section of the library.” They didn't say burn it, just move it to the adult section. The Library Board up there has consistently refused to do it. They just won't do it. People have passed petitions and so on and so on. In the meantime, in the middle of all of this, some of the people who wanted the books moved filed an open records request to get the emails of all the library board members and the emails they've been sending back and forth on this issue. The Library Board has said ‘we don't want to do it’! Whoa! You're public officials! Emails sent to or from a public official are a public record under the law; black letter law. The city attorney in West Bend said ‘well, yeah, you gotta, you gotta release these. Any email sent to a library board member, any email sent , and you can't talk to yourselves in private about this.’ I mean, this is the law! Well they don't like the fact the city attorney told them this. So last night they held a meeting and they voted seven to nothing to hire a private attorney, because they want another opinion. Someone suggested well why don't you just ask the state attorney general's office since we have….the taxpayers are already paying numerous lawyers whose job it is to advise the local government on what the open records law is...... why don’t we just ask the attorney general. Well no, we don't wanna do that. So they went out and they're hiring a private attorney -- $250 an hour. It gets more unbelievable than that! They are going to pay for it out of the library’s endowment! That’s right! Those of you in West Bend who have donated money to the library over the years, your donated funds that you thought you were donating for the purchase of library materials, is going to be used so these board members can hire a lawyer to try to find somebody who will tell them that they don’t have to follow the law! Do you know what the great irony is here, and this actually is ironic, unlike most things that I claim to be, ….the same library board that says it is standing up for the right for teenagers to see gay porn, is fighting the rights of the citizens to see public records. THINK ABOUT THAT!

They are more concerned about the rights of teenagers to read gay porn than they are about the rights of the public to see public records! You talk about upside down! It shows you that these people these people are nuts!

That… whatever first amendment beliefs they claim that they were standing up for are shot by the fact that they…don’t…Y’know, some of them are saying “we never knew that our emails…” C’mon, you didn’t know your emails were public records? What are you talkin’ about? If they destroyed any of them, they have clearly violated the law. Well, given the fact that they are obviously obsessed with not releasing their emails or any other public records, me, the jerk, but an ethical jerk, got involved in the following way. I sent out two letters and faxed them this morning.

The first one was sent to Kris Diess, who is the mayor of the city of West Bend and is the one who appoints library members and who is at the root of the problem here with her complete lack of leadership and her inability to control board members who are her appointees. I wrote as follows…

Ms. Deiss,
This is a request for records under the Wisconsin Open Records Act and the United States Freedom of Information Act (You may wonder why do I include the US Freedom of Information Act. The library receives federal funds and therefore is required to follow not only Wisconsin’s open records law, they are required to follow the US Freedom of Information Act)

I request ..

a) copies of all correspondence, including faxes or emails, to or from you and any employee of the west bend library or member of the library board from June 1st 2008 to the present date.

b) copies of all correspondence, including faxes or emails, to or from you to any other city official dealing with any library issue from June 1st 2008 to the present date.

c) copies of all correspondence, including faxes or emails, to or from anyone on your staff or yourself from any member of the public dealing with any library issue from June 1st 2008.

I am sure you are aware of the legal requirement to save all emails. The above request covers any email account you have access to. Contact ..and email that….Signed, Mark Belling and I dated it today’s date, June 19th.

Then I cranked out another one. This one is to the chairman of the library board, Barbara Deters, who we hear on the sly is a big-time lefty and a former teacher’s union member. What a surprise that is, Paul! Just shocking that this is a liberal here. Again, dated June 19, 2009.

Ms. Deters,

This is a request for records under the Wisconsin Open Records Act and the US Freedom of Information Act.

I request:

a) Copies of all correspondences, including, but not limited to, faxes and email to or from you dealing with anything related to content of library materials or placement thereof from June 1st 2008 to the present date.

b) Copies of all correspondences, including, but not limited to, faxes and email to or from you to any other member of the West Bend library board on any matter directly or indirectly related to the library or the library boad from June 1st to the present date.

c) Copies of all correspondence including, but not limited to, faxes and email to or from you to any official of the City of West Bend relating to placement or content of library materials from June 1st 2008 to the present date.

I am sure you are aware of court rulings and State Department of Justice opinion requiring all public officials to maintain all emails.

This request covers any email account you have access to.

I formally note that Clearchannel Communications and myself intend to file a civil complaint with the Washington County DAs office if there is any evidence that any of the above material has been destroyed. Signed, Mark Belling

Ha! Ha! Well. They don’t want to release public records? Let’s put them on a public records snipe hunt! Find out exactly what it is that they don’t want the public to see..and if they’ve been deleting emails, if they’ve been getting from one another on this issue, I do intend to tell the Washington County District Attorney’s office and I do intend to pursue civil action against them because that is a blatant violation of the law.These people are trying to hide something here.

There is no reason not to release public records unless there is something in those records you don’t like.

Put it this way. Lets imagine you’re the mayor of Waupaca, Wisconsin, (I don’t know even know if they have a mayor there. They might have a chairman or a village president or whatever) ..suppose you’re the mayor of Waupaca, Wisconsin, and suppose somebody asks you, creates a public records request, for all correspondences that you have had over the construction of a new street in downtown Waupaca. You have 3 correspondences and they are all simply emails to the project works director on “how’s the project going” and nothing damning in there. You’ll respond to that and comply right away. There’s nothing bad.. I got nothing to hide…. You put it out.

When do you refuse to comply? When there’s something to hide, old lady Deters and old lady Deiss! (chuckles)..there’s something out there they don’t want out.

So I’m making a pretty broad request and if they thought it was a pain in the patoot to respond to the open records request of these poor little citizens out there, let them deal with me, a pro at this stuff. If you’re going to go out there and kick in the teeth citizens who are trying to be involved in their government because you’re too pigheaded and arrogant to make a simple solution of moving the books 50 feet to the other section of the library and you’re going to go out and try to deny basic access to public records, government records, the only way we, the citizens can have a check on government… yeah, I’m going to get involved.

Do..Is.. most of my audience care about this, no. But it’s interesting enough that I think that you can actually see how some of these smaller community governments actually operate and, yes, we’re going to make these people run around like chickens with their heads cut off to comply with your request. Or, they’re going to have to fess up and acknowledge that they may have destroyed something."

I like how Mark points out that the board is very willing to spend ENDOWMENT MONEY for advice they can get for free!

Since this show took place, library board president, Barbara Deters, had her chat with Attorney Feind and learned that our city attorney was right after all - no charge. I'll bet a lot of donors are RELIEVED.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, since you say it's no longer about gay books, seems Mr. Belling is uninformed about the current status of the dispute. Of course, screaming "GAY PORN!" gets you much more attention than talking about the "FACTS!"

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Remember, Mark has seen excerpts of these books. He can call it anything he likes. That's called his "opinion." This is what it appears to be to HIM.

Anonymous said...

This is the difference between the Right and the Lefties. Just because we belong to the same group does not mean we all have the same opinions.

Obscene books can include both the gay and the straight.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone who is actually sane listen to Mark Belling?

Loki Motive said...

Has anyone read the entirety of the books in question, or are people still relying on the passages that have been hand picked to make a decision about the obscenity of the literature?

Anonymous said...

Mark Belling has a L A R G E audience and fills in for Rush. He is very accurate and entertaining.

Yes, I've read a number of these books cover to cover. Personally, I think they are too obscene for minor children.

Mike said...

Just because he has a large audience that does not mean that what he is saying is worth listening to. Most of what he says is inaccurate, full of hyperbole and designed to be inflammatory. it has little real journalistic value.

Anonymous said...

If Mark Belling's show was not "worth listening to" then people wouldn't listen. The fact that his audience is large means he DOES have a show worth listening to.

Anonymous said...

Er... so if there was a large demand to read these "banned books" does that mean they would be worth reading?

Try to think before you respond...

Kristina said...

Your comments are late don't you think since the library board decided I think it was last week to in fact NOT hire an outside attorney. So what exactly is the point of this now? It's been resolved and therefore is a non issue.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Uhm, Kristina,

I gave that information at the end of the post. Did you read it?

Anonymous said...

Anon- First off, I never said these books aren't worth reading (so check your facts first), but I do think that IF these books are read they need to read w/ a parent to explain and answer questions. This is why I DON'T want them banned, but moved with parental consent.

It means kids are accessing books their parents may not know about. Kids may read Hustler doesn't mean it's appropriate.


It means that adults are trying to find out what these books are about.


It means that parents are checking out the books and reading them w/ their child.

P.S. the books aren't banned (think b4 your write)

Paigealicious! said...

"Kids may read Hustler doesn't mean it's appropriate."

Can I just say that I'm very tired of hearing this argument in relation to the issue at West Bend? A child viewing hardcore pornography in a magazine (or on the Internet OMG!) is not the same as a child coming across a book that may contain a scene of sexually explicit material. This is akin to the argument that if gay marriage is allowed, next they'll be marryin' kids or dogs!

Anonymous said...

Paige- Although the argument may seem relevant... it isn't.
If you'd read back a few posts, someone said if it had a large audience it would be worth reading. I used Hustler as an example.

Also, we as a community need to decide what we view as obscene. I am proposing that we give the community that choice to decide.

The library, the board and Maria seem to be opposed to that idea. I wonder why they would be opposed to letting the community in which we all pay taxes and the community in which they serve a voice?

Paige said...

Sure, Hustler is worth reading if you're in the market for hardcore pornography.

Anonymous said...

So is the Bible if your into enternal life.

Anonymous said...

So is the Bhagavad Gita if you're into higher planes of consciousness.

So are the Mahayana sutras if you're into Eternal peace.

So is the Communist Manifesto if you're into theoretical discussions of collaborative sustainable governments.

So is On the Origin of Species if you're into SATANISM!!!!!

So is the Fountainhead if you're into being a solipsistic jerk.

So is The Catcher in the Rye if you're into being a poseur.

So is Wuthering Heights if you're into expressing your feelings by smacking people around.

So is Finnegans Wake if you like to pretend that you know everything.

So is The Cloud of Unknowing if you're into gnostic mysticism.

So is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion if you're into oppressing an entire race based on plagiarism.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Now that's a few minutes you'll never get back!

beesbess said...

ok- I gotta ask. Anonymous- how do you connect "Origin of the Species" to Satanism?

Anonymous said...

I was implying that if you are "OMG CHRISTIAN" creationist, etc., you would make that connection. I, personally do not; however, neither do I connect books about puberty with pornography.

Anonymous said...

There's a difference of learning about puberty and how you body changes and why and learning how to give a good bl** j**.

These books IMO are obscene and should be read with parental guidence.

Let the community decide.

Anonymous said...

*Sigh* Yes, in YOUR opinion. Parental guidance = good. Be proactive and be familiar with what your children are reading. Don't decide what everyone's children should be reading. Not to mention the logistical problems inherent in "deciding" which books are obscene and warrant special labeling. Can you imagine how long that would take? And who would make the decision? A vote for every new book in the collection?

Anonymous said...

You know what takes a long time? Preparing my taxes and yet I still have to do it. Most things that are worth take effort.

You are getting confused because I, don't want to decide for others. I want the community to decide for themselves. Don't YOU want the community to decide what their definition of obscene is?

Why do you want the community to decide its own standards?

Paige said...

There is hardly a comparison between completing your own tax forms and assigning an "obscenity rating" to each of the hundreds or thousands of books a library adds to its collection every year. Don't be absurd.

Make that decision on your own and don't let your children read it if you don't agree with the content. The information is available, and you, as a community member, can decide whether or not it is appropriate for your child.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the library just move the _Perks_ book, for example, into the adult collection? That's where the Oshkosh library shelves it.
And how many libraries in the state maintain a web page of Gay books for YA readers? A tiny percentage, and they are in more liberal communities like Madison and Milwaukee. There's a reason for that.

Anonymous said...

Oshkosh has the Perks book in the adult section? That's interesting to know. Is it only in the adult section?

Anonymous said...

Only liberal cities have gay young adults, DUH!

P.S. Being gay is not only about s-e-x!

Anonymous said...

I still cant get past the fact that there are people that are trying to defend the "rights" for a book targeted for the Hannah Montana crowd by our very own library to teach them how to properly orally stimulate an older man.

What's that quote?
"Sure communism killed 100 million people last century, but that's just because the U.S. never gave it a chance to succeed!"

Aaaaaand I'm now taking bets on how long it will take someone to totally miss the point of the quote and make sure they inform me how homosexuality has nothing to do with communism.

Let me save you the time.

I know.

You missed the point.

Anonymous said...

Oshkosh also had copies in YA but their catalog says they are "withdrawn" or something like that. Waukesha and Brookfield libraries shelve _Perks_ in Adult fiction, not in their YA fiction.
As for the YA readings lists for gays, I'm just pointing out that no other library in Washington county, and none in Waukesha county have such a list on their web sites. Let's think about why those libraries choose not to do that.