By Roger Utnehmer
Actions taken by several Door and Kewaunee County townships could be declared null and void if votes are taken at meetings without proper advance notice to the news media. Not only can the actions be nullified, the town boards can also be liable for payment of legal fees incurred by the news media attempting to enforce the state open meetings law.DoorCountyDailyNews.com has asked municipal officials in both counties to provide advance notice of meetings, agendas and minutes. One clerk replied by saying “we operate informally and really don’t bother with agendas and notices.” Bill Lueders, President of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, says that could land a local official in hot water.
More on this story is available at DoorCountyDailyNews.com including a link to the state statutes that require governmental bodies to notify the news media of meetings.
DoorCountyDailyNews.com will attempt to get the cooperation of local officials a third and final time before filing a complaint. Lueders said that in addition to nullifying action taken at illegal meetings and governmental bodies being required to pay the legal fees incurred by the news media, local officials can also be fined to failure to comply.
About a dozen townships in Door and Kewaunee Counties have not provided the information about upcoming meetings after being requested to do so on two occasions.
Lueders says informing the media builds trust with the public.
Several municipal officials in both counties have been cooperative, providing notices of upcoming meetings, detailed agendas as required by law and the minutes of those meetings after they occur.