Janesville53.3°

Darien board members allegedly violated Open Meetings Law

Print Print
Ann Marie Ames
Frank Schultz
February 21, 2009
— All seven members of the Darien Village Board have been summoned to court March 11 to answer allegations that they violated the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law.

The district attorney’s office filed complaints against the board members Wednesday.


Named in the complaints are board President Robert Metzner and board members Robert Wenzel, Craig McCue, James Abbott, Phil Putman, Kurt Zipp and Allen Kenyon.


The matter is not criminal, but each board member is accused of three violations. Each violation carries a forfeiture of $25 to $300.


One of the allegations involves a meeting Oct. 24, 2008, at the Darien Senior Center. The board interviewed four candidates for village administrator on that date, according to the complaints.


No public meeting notice was ever created for that meeting, the complaint alleges. State law requires all meetings of public bodies to be posted.


Metzner could not recall the Oct. 24 date when contacted Friday. He said he did recall a meeting at which the board and the candidates met for a catered dinner. He said he could not say for certain whether that meeting was noticed to the public.


The clerk took care of those postings, and she is now retired, Metzner said.


The board also met Oct. 27 and Nov. 18, and the notices for those meetings were incomplete, according to the complaint.


Those notices “failed to articulate the general topic of items to be discussed,” according to the complaint.


State law requires that public meeting notices inform the public of the nature of business to be discussed.


It was not immediately known whether all three meetings concerned the hiring of a village administrator.


Administrator Marc Dennison’s first day on the job was Dec. 1.


Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo is the prosecuting attorney in the case. She declined to answer questions about the facts of the case.


Capt. Dana Nigbor of the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office said a large number of allegations were made against the board, but most were unfounded or “no-processed.”


It is unclear who first made the allegations. The Janesville Gazette has requested copies of investigative documents.


Three board members—McCue, Putman and Kenyon—are up for re-election. Each faces a challenger in the April 7 elections.


The cases are not related to the village’s investigation of cameras found hidden in the village police department Dec. 1, District Attorney Phil Koss said.


That investigation is being conducted by attorneys hired by the village.


Koss was not in the office Friday. On Thursday, he told a Gazette reporter that he could not comment about whether further citations are pending in the open meetings matter.



Print Print