Monday, June 22, 2009

Waukesha Water Utility, City Officials Hit With Open Meetings Complaint

Waukesha activist James Bouman, who also writes on the Internet as Water Blogged in Waukesha, has filed a complaint against the Waukesha Water Utility, and its members including Mayor Larry Nelson, alleging violations of the Wisconsin Meetings Law.

Bouman has posted the complaint, in full, on his blog.

The case has been assigned to Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez; Bouman has also filed a similar complaint with the Waukesha County District Attorney's office.

Basically, the Open Meetings complaint alleges that the utility on June 21, 2007, November 14, 2007 and June 18, 2008 met and took actions behind closed doors that did not line up with state statutory public notice obligations and requirements permitting public meetings to be closed.

Bouman has been a critic of the utility's procedures and methods, particularly during the utility's strategizing over preparing a plan for a diversion of Lake Michigan water.

That plan includes the hiring of consultants, the expenditure to date of several hundred thousands of dollars in contract expenditure, and, according to Waukesha officials, the probable filing of an application before the end of 2009 for a diversion that could carry construction and long-term costs into the scores of millions of dollars.

Bouman's complaint, to which the named parties have 45 days to respond, seeks various remedies, including negation of actions taken at the meetings, fines assessed against the utility and each utility commission member per meeting of $300 for each of the three meetings in question, and reimbursement of Bouman's legal costs.

The complaint also seeks full disclosure of those meetings' discussions.

All in all - - a big step forward for open government and Wisconsin tradition.

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