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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Can We Have A Little HIPAA Over Here? Revisited

by capper

A couple of weeks ago, I had already pointed out how Walker and his administration doesn't only ignore state law, but has a high disregard for federal laws as well. Being the astute observer that I am, I wrote (emphasis mine, now):
It appears that Walker's acting director of the Department of Administration, didn't bother checking the law, or running this past the Clerk of Circuit Courts, John Barrett. Instead, she just went ahead and released this information. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, Walker is mum on the subject.
Chris Kliesmet, spokesman for CRG, wrote a letter to the editor at MSJ, trying to foist the blame on John Barrett. In this morning's paper, Mr. Barrett answers those accusations, in his own letter to the editor:
Chris Kliesmet, spokesman for Citizens for Responsible Government, recently criticized my concern over the release of confidential information in a letter ("Clerk to blame for mishandling release," Feb. 21).

Evidently in his world, responsible government does not expose mistakes made by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's administration. What is mystifying is why CRG is so angry about transparency in government - a concept it claims to stand for. Transparency should include all government and not just the party one favors.

What Kliesmet's letter didn't say was that the Walker administration had input and released this data. It violated "the fundamental rule of secure record keeping that demands public and private information be kept separate." This whole debacle has cost the taxpayers money. County employees had to scour 188,000 invoices to remove confidential information. I hope CRG will pay the taxpayers back for this cost.

I do not believe confidential information should be made public. Not surprisingly, the law agrees with me. I was not consulted about the release of confidential information. I did not grant and will not grant anyone the authority to publish such information. It was only when the Journal Sentinel exposed the problem that the data was finally removed. I call that service.

John Barrett
Clerk of Circuit Court/Register in Probate,
Milwaukee County
The question that remains is: Does this fall under Safety (violating people's privacy), Affordability (sticking taxpayers with the bill to correct yet another one of his blunders) or Pride (not following the law)?

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