No Show Council Members May Have Violated Open Meetings Law

What was once characterized as a brilliant parliamentary move, is now being called a violation of the Wisconsin open meetings law. That’s the opinion of Door County District Attorney Colleen Nordin in connection with the actions of Sturgeon Bay City Council-Members Kelly Catarozoli, Barb Allmann and Laurel Hauser. The DA’s opinion was issued at the request of city resident Robert Loss who filed a formal complaint after the three council-members were “no shows” at several lawfully scheduled meetings of the city council. The trio opposed a resolution awarding a contract to dismantle the old west side grain elevator. Loss said their actions constituted a “walking quorum” as well as a “negative quorum.” In her opinion, DA Nordin noted that “the power to control a governmental body’s course of action can include the power to defeat or block a proposal.” She concluded that their “actions taken collectively did indeed constitute a “negative quorum” which is considered a meeting and is subject to the requirements under state statutes.” While indicating that she would not call for sanctions, Nordin put Catarozoli, Allmann and Hauser on notice that it is their responsibility to ensure that their actions, whether individually or collectively, are not in violation of Wisconsin law. A copy of the opinion was sent on to the state attorney general’s office.

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