Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Former GAB member: Kinney did 'right thing' in resigning from Ethics Commission 'doomed to failure'Submitted: 01/10/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Former GAB member:  Kinney did 'right thing' in resigning from Ethics Commission 'doomed to failure'
RHINELANDER - Two months ago, retired Rhinelander Judge Robert Kinney fired off strong words while announcing his resignation from the state's Ethics Commission.

He criticized the attitude, secrecy, and inaction of the new board, which was created to oversee campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws in Wisconsin.

Kinney seems to share frustrations with another retired Rhinelander judge, Tim Vocke.


"[The Ethics Commission] was doomed to failure, in my opinion," Vocke said. "It was simply ignoring eight years of success and going back to the bad old days."

Vocke served during five of the eight years that the Government Accountability Board existed. Five retired judges at a time joined him on the panel.

The GAB was created in 2008, replacing the state Ethics and Elections boards, which had been around since 1973. Legislators created the GAB in response to partisan caucus scandals in the 2000s.

But in 2015, Republicans in power in Madison voted to scrap the nonpartisan GAB and go back to something with similar-sounding names to previous panels. They created the Ethics and Elections commissions. Each commission is made up of partisan appointees.

The Republican move to dissolve the GAB in 2015 came after the board investigated possible coordination between outside conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 campaign.

"With the Republicans, I wasn't surprised when they got angry," Vocke said. "We'd been angering them before because they were the majority party. They had the governor. We weren't doing what they wanted to do." 

"I think [those Republicans are] politicians, and they're looking out for themselves," he continued. "That's not something unique to Republicans. Both parties have been doing that."

After a few months serving on the new Ethics Commission, Kinney had had enough and resigned.

"I thought Judge Kinney did the right thing," Vocke said. "I thought it was a gutsy move."

In a year-end interview, Gov. Walker indicated an interest in hearing Kinney out.

"We made the offer to meet. Hopefully, we will, sometime after the start of the year," Walker said. "I don't know exactly what his frustration is."

Among other concerns, Kinney complained that members of the commission had an "observable lack of commitment" and that the panel's rules "require too much secrecy and too little transparency."

"The public is almost completely shut out of the process," he said.

To Vocke, those frustrations sound familiar.

"This is history repeating itself," Vocke said. "This is what happened before the GAB was formulated in the first place. Nothing was getting done."

Walker is in charge of naming Kinney's replacement to the Ethics Commission. He will select a new commissioner from a list of nominees provided by Democrats.


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - Caramel apples seem to be a go-to treat this time of year, but a tough growing season almost made them hard to find this Fall.

Fun Factory Sweet Shoppe in Rhinelander only uses Granny Smith apples for its caramel apples.

Throughout the last few weeks, manager Judy Fritz says she had trouble finding enough green apples in the Northwoods.

Stores said bad crops and little rainfall made the Granny Smith apples scarce this season.

She eventually found some sold in bulk in Milwaukee to bring up north.

Fun Factory is very particular about their apples, so in the meantime, Judy hand-picked from the produce aisles in local stores.

"We always make sure that there are no bumps or bruises. We want a nice, perfect apple," says Fritz.


Judy says you shouldn't worry about getting your hands on one of her caramel apples.

Shipments of granny smith apples from Washington State have started to come in to a local store she works with.

+ Read More

MADISON - A man accused of stealing an arsenal of firearms from a southern Wisconsin gun shop regrets surviving.

Joseph Jakubowski says his 10 days on the run last April were the best days of his life.

Jakubowski will go on trial in federal court in Madison beginning Monday.

+ Read More

MARSHFIELD - Law Enforcement spent three hours in Marshfield Sunday negotiating with a suspect during a stand-off.

Marshfield Police arrested 24-year-old Michael Lea. A warrant was out on Lea for robbery, something that the police department was notified of. 

+ Read More

MADISON - State Senator Kathleen Vinehout joins the list of democrats running for Governor.

Vinehout launched her campaign today, saying she wants to "turn the state's priorities upside down."

She wants to make tuition at Wisconsin's technical colleges and two-year colleges free for everyone.

+ Read More

TOMAHAWK - A 36- year-old woman was partially ejected from her car near Tomahawk.

The woman lost control of her car and rolled over into a ditch. 

There were no passengers in the car with her.

The woman was air lifted to a Wausau area hospital. 

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says her injuries don't appear to be life threatening.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - As technology advances, more kids turn to tablets and electronics rather than toys.

The toy industry isn't the only business changing.

Just last week major Toy Company Toys 'R' Us filed for bankruptcy.

The increasing reliance on technology has affected book stores too.

In recent years we have also seen major book stores close.

Watching the changes in bigger companies show local stores the direction consumers are moving.

Local book seller Kira Peters said it also helps smaller stores like Book World in downtown Rhinelander to move forward.

+ Read More

PORTAGE COUNTY - A motorcycle rider died after a car crash in Portage County Saturday.

A car was trying to avoid another car pulling out of a drive way and slowed down causing the motorcycle rider to hit the back of the vehicle.

The motorcycle rider was pronounced dead on scene.

The other drivers had no injuries.

The incident is still under investigation.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here