Our Place

These three complaints were drafted and presented to Walworth County authorities on Friday, the 4th of October, with respect to Hillmoor:

1) The city council meeting for Monday, October 7, 2019, failed to include public comments and acknowledgment of correspondence.  The city attorney and mayor knowingly omitted the public opportunity to participate in our Democracy. The item is the result of a motion to reconsider a previous item voted on by the city council at its September 23, 2019 meeting. This item then should be considered in the same condition (i.e. public comments and acknowledgment of correspondence) as the original item.  By the mayor’s own words, he admitted that this item is substantive.
From the city clerk on October 4, 2019:  “In this instance, the mayor directed that the public comments agenda item be left off the special meeting agenda.   It is his opinion that because the special council meeting is scheduled directly before the Committee of the Whole meeting, the public will have ample opportunity to speak on this and any other topics at that time.” The city published on its website a citizen’s guide to meetings. In the guide, items not on agendas are to be addressed at the COW. There are no minutes available from the September 23rd meeting at this time. *This item should have been scheduled at the regular city council meeting on Monday, October 14th, as this would resolve the issue.

2) The city attorney illegally interceded in a motion and subsequent vote to fund the Hillmoor Property Concept Map Plan.
At its September 23, 2019, on Item 11g, the finance chair, Alderman Howell, began to make a motion to continue but was interrupted by the city attorney. The city attorney explained that the council should consider the item! He further explained that he has been put in an unenviable position from the item to reconsider (see #1 above). This is totally inappropriate for the attorney to interrupt and explain his personal position.  The city attorney does not as part of his duty argue the merits of a motion. See Section 2-138 of Lake Geneva Ordinances: “He shall give written legal opinions when asked to do so.” Misappropriation of funds: The party of the contract (i.e. Vandewalle) should not have been notified because the funding had not been approved. The mayor, or his designee, over-stepped his/her authority in directing Vandewalle and Associates to execute the contract, even partially. This discourse also did not allow the council to consider postponing their funding decision and cannot be used as justification by the city attorney to proceed with the project (i.e. Concept Map).

3) The city attorney denied an open records request for an explanation of council rules and procedures regarding a vote to fund the Hillmoor Property Concept Map Plan.
The finance, license, and regulation committee on September 3, 2019, failed to approve the motion to fund the concept plan on a 2-3 vote (with Howell, Hedlund, and Halverson voting no). A subsequent motion by Aldermen Howell to refer the item to the council without reconsideration passed. The subsequent motion was illegal by the council’s own rules. The “no” vote was to be presented as the recommendation to the council. Without a motion to reconsider, the subsequent motion was out of order. The State of Wisconsin Ethics Commission was called regarding the matter and that authority indicated that the city attorney had to be consulted for the local rules. Following the state’s advice, the city attorney was emailed. After checking once with City Attorney Dan Draper, he explained that he had been on vacation. Then, after the adjournment of the September 16, 2019 plan commission meeting, the city attorney approached the audience seats to speak with on Item #9, when he was asked again about the request. He became huffy and walked away stating that he doesn’t have to answer every citizen’s questions about Robert’s Rules! If the state says to check with the city attorney, and the city attorney refuses, who will answer the question about the procedure? The city attorney must be forced to answer the records request in writing, in full.

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