A Janesville City Council candidate has filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office claiming the council violated the state’s open-meetings law Monday night.
Jeff Navarro, who’s seeking a council seat in the spring election April 3, attended Monday’s meeting and spoke during a public comment period. As a Monterey Dam Association member, he said the city doesn’t have the permits necessary to remove the dam.
At the end of the public comment period, City Manager Mark Freitag spoke about the dam removal process at the request of council President Doug Marklein. He disputed Navarro’s comments.
Navarro said Freitag’s dam discussion violated the state’s open-meetings law, and he filed a complaint Tuesday.
During every council meeting, Freitag gives a “city manager update” after the public comment period in which he talks about what’s happening in the city. The agenda item doesn’t explain what Freitag will discuss, but slide presentations attached to council agendas give an idea of what will be covered.
Freitag’s comments Monday about the dam weren’t part of his update. They occurred at the end of the public comment period but before his update began.
Under state statutes, government officials cannot use public comment time to speak as private citizens, and items not on the agenda cannot be discussed, Navarro said.
At the meeting, Councilman Jens Jorgensen said the discussion should be put on a later agenda so the public would have proper notice. He asked for that to occur in the future. Marklein noted his concerns.
Councilman Rich Gruber said he considered Freitag’s comments to be part of his regular update. Gruber said he appreciated the information Freitag shared.
Navarro said he is awaiting the district attorney’s response to his complaint.