2019 Wis. L. Rev. Forward 101 (2019)

handle is hein.journals/wlron2019 and id is 1 raw text is: 









CLOSER TO THE PEOPLE IS BETTER: A RESPONSE TO
  PROFESSOR MIRIAM SEIFTER'S ARTICLE FURTHER
                      FROM THE PEOPLE

                          DANIEL R. SUHR*

                          INTRODUCTION

     University of Wisconsin  Law  Professor Miriam  Seifter believes
state agencies are, on the whole, less transparent than their federal
counterparts, less closely followed by watchdog groups, and less tracked
by the shrinking state-level media.' This adds up to her conclusion that
[s]tate bureaucracy does not operate in a fishbowl,2 which combined
with its tremendous and growing power  makes  it a largely unguarded
giant.3
     I believe there are serious counterexamples to her claims. In fact, my
experience after six years working in senior roles in a governor's office
convinces  me  that  state-level administrations, though not perfect,
vindicate the framers' vision that the states do  a lion's share of
governance affecting people's day-to-day lives.
     In her article, Seifter sets out what she considers the administrative
ideal: [A] working state-level system of civil society oversight has three
main components:  (1) state agencies that are visible and accessible; (2) a
civil society with the capacity to monitor state agencies; and (3) a media
'megaphone'  for amplifying findings.' She also includes one comparison
of  oversight within  government,  as  between  Congress  and   state
legislatures. My review of each of these four components shows a public
accountability for state administration that is more robust, thorough, and
meaningful than Seifter's article posits. Throughout these sections, I will
draw on examples  from Wisconsin, our shared home state. I do not argue
that Wisconsin is perfect, or even that it is representative of most states in
these matters. Rather, it will serve usefully to illustrate the weaknesses in
her empirical claims. Consequently, these illustrations undermine Seifter's


     *     B.A., J.D., LL.M., M.P.A. This article does not claim to represent the views
of any of Suhr's current or former employers.
     1.    Miriam Seifter, Further from the People? The Puzzle of State
Administration, 93 N.Y.U. L. REv. 107, 110 (2018).
     2.    Id.
     3.    Id. at 128.
     4.    Id. at 109.
     5.    Id. at 128.
     6.   See id. at 144-45.

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