Chicagoans probably know William Cronon best as the author of Nature’s Metropolis, the groundbreaking story of the city’s early economic history and that of the greater Midwest. He’s a longtime professor at the University of Wisconsin, and a significant figure in the field of American and environmental history.

Cronon kicked off his new blog, Scholar As Citizen, with a doozy: "Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here)." One of the groups that comes up is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which was co-founded by Henry Hyde.

His post interested the Wisconsin GOP so much that Scott Walker’s deputy campaign manager, Stephan Thompson, filed a FOIA request for any emails Cronon sent or received containing the words "Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell."

Cronon is obviously a public employee. But he’s also an academic, and they have professional intellectual freedoms above and beyond the average employee. And he’s a big name in his field. If the state GOP persists with the FOIA, it’s going to be a big deal.

* * *

Speaking of emails and trouble, one of the results of the FOIAing of Scott Walker’s correspondence was that an Indiana prosecutor got fired for suggesting a "false flag" operation, which sounds like something from a terrible movie.

* * *

One of the targets for recall in the state is perfectly named Fond du Lac Republican Randy Hopper, who left his wife for a 20-something lobbyist. Well, she was a lobbyist, until she got a job with the state. At 30 percent more than her predecessor made. Which has guaranteed him at least two recall votes.

 * * *

In more boring news, the collective-bargaining bill is still on hold as procedural issues go to the state Supreme Court.