How do you check an incumbent’s record?

There are several things I do to research a voting record. A lot of the Brookfield council votes, over the last six years or so, I remember from being there. Of course, I try to verify just in case.

I have a few years of minutes archived. I’ll try to get them up in the next couple of weeks, but I don’t make any promises. In addition, I’m working with city hall to copy their archives. They only let two years stay on the City of Brookfield Web site.

The City’s site is a good place to start for recent information. It has committee and council archives as well as planning documents. Go to the site and look for the “search” box under the city’s logo. You can enter keywords to help you out.

Say you want to know how 2nd district candidate for Alderman Jennifer Donze voted on the issue to give Pandl’s restaurant an outdoor bar in the 2nd. Enter “donze” and “pandls” and “capitol” and “outdoor” and “bar”. You get these results. I don’t see any plan commission minutes that look right, but I do find the public meeting notice, so I click on it to get the date of 7/24/07. Now I search the Plan Commission archives and find a meeting dated after – 8/6/07 works. I click on that and search within the document for “bar”. I see Commissioner Paul Wartman’s move to correct the minutes before, so I make a mental note of the date of those minutes. Down the page I find what I’m looking for in Item 6.

“The motion was seconded by Commissioner Donze and passed unanimously.” She supported it.

There are other ways to get there: Search engines with good key words sometimes work. The Journal Sentinel archives are available if you have a subscription. In general I try to get back to the minutes. (Although I’ve witnessed a couple of times where the city’s site has actually changed the document in response to my comments.)

I know it’s tedious, but it does work. Like I said, I’m going to try to get the city’s archives. I’ll post them myself since it doesn’t look like there’s much enthusiasm to foster accountability past a couple of years. The library has paper copies, but they are really cumbersome if you don’t know the date. Sometimes a combination of a news archive and the paper documents will let you get to the older issues, though.

As the candidates put out their literature, I’ll try to keep up with some fact checking. You can always e-mail if you want something special researched.