After a quorum wasn’t achieved at a proposed council meeting, Wednesday, May 21, and its legality was questioned, the city council will review the city ordinances pertaining to council meetings.
Alderman Mark Doornink addressed the council at a special meeting, Tuesday, May 27 about the proposed meeting that didn’t have a quorum. He said he was out of town on business and that is why he wasn’t at the proposed meeting.
Doornink said he did his own research, and in his opinion, the meeting would have been illegal if held. One of the legal opinions he received was from Claire Silverman, legal counsel with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.
Alderwoman Mary Beth Kuester said she also sought legal opinion from Silverman and was told the courts would have ultimately decided if the meeting would have been legal.
“It would have only been illegal if it was taken to court,” Kuester said.
Doornink agreed with Kuester that the legality would have had to be determined by the court.
“It got me to the point where it was not worth the risk and we needed to make sure we did this right,” Doornink said.
Council President, Jeannie Schley asked why the city has an ordinance requiring a six hour notice, when the state statute is a 24 hour notice.
“That’s a very good question,” replied Mayor Judy Magee.
Alderman Greg Rose said he believed the city ordinance was there to inform the council, not the public.
“As far as making just cause to the public that they’d be aware of the intent of the meeting, we did not change the agenda from the first meeting to the attempted second meeting so the public was well aware of what we were meeting for,” Rose said. “And if we didn’t change the agenda at all, it was just simply postponed. So I don’t believe we were leaving them in the dark on anything because they already had prior knowledge of what the first meeting was about. And at this point in time, this is kind of a moot point. We really can’t come to a conclusion one way or another on this and further discussion and quoting attorneys who are not here to speak for themselves is probably not the best practice to be doing. I would wish that we move along.”
Doornink recommended referring City Ordinance 2.03(3)(a) to the Safety and Ordinance Committee to clarify its intent and purpose.
“I think we now fully understand it and I’d like to prevent any future councils or mayors from having to go through the same confusion,” Doornink said.
The council unanimously approved sending the ordinance to the Safety and Ordinance Committee.
Doornink also recommended referring City Ordinance 2.02(3)(b) to the same committee for review. This ordinance states three or more council members can petition to declare a meeting. He said this could lead to possible walking quorum situations.
The council unanimously approved sending the ordinance to committee for review.