A workgroup formed to implement paid parking in county parks is likely violating Wisconsin's Open Meetings Law because it is not holding public meetings.
Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb raised the concern at a recent County Board meeting, and Milwaukee County's Corporation Counsel confirmed that the workgroup is indeed subject to the Open Meetings Law.
Watch the video of their exchange below.
Under the Open Meetings Law (Wis. Stat. § 19.81), "all meetings of all state and local governmental bodies shall be publicly held in places reasonably accessible to members of the public and shall be open to all citizens at all times unless otherwise expressly provided by law."
This is because "the public is entitled to the fullest and most complete information regarding the affairs of government as is compatible with the conduct of governmental business."
The Milwaukee County workgroup, however, has for the past several months met in secret without any effort to alert the public. Since, as Milwaukee County's own corporation counsel acknowledges, the workgroup is subject to the Open Meetings Law, it is quite apparent that the workgroup's meetings are violations of this law.
The Open Meetings Law provides that "any member of a governmental body who knowingly attends a meeting of such body held in violation of this subchapter...shall forfeit without reimbursement not less than $25 nor more than $300 for each such violation," and thus each member of the Milwaukee County workgroup would be subject to fines if the law were to be enforced.
The workgroup's existence was first brought to the public's attention in a report by News/Talk 1130 WISN last month outlining Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele's efforts to generate $1.6 million in revenue through paid parking in the county's regional parks and parkways.
Milwaukee County is holding a public hearing at the Mitchell Park Domes at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, February 6th for input on "how best to implement" its paid parking plan.