Sunshine Week is a time to celebrate government transparency and public service, as well as a time to address lapses in the same. In October 2020, shortly after incorporating and shortly before our first edition, we sent out a Wis. Stat. 19.84(1)(b) written request by email from news media to our local governmental bodies asking that Valley Sentinel be sent meeting notices for the respective governmental bodies. Recently, we sent reminder letters by mail to the local governmental bodies in our immediate coverage area that have not been consistent in sending us meeting notices, with several having sent none at all in the past nearly 2.5 years.
A couple months back, I wrote here that the Valley Sentinel was suing the Village of Lone Rock. It feels like time for an update, and I wanted to talk about our two cases — one not yet filed and one possibly almost done, and why they are so different.
Audit reached no conclusions, but shows potentially large errors in water bills.
During public comment at last month’s regular meeting of the Village of Arena Board of Trustees on March 7, board members were handed papers by former Village President Paul Pustina. Those papers contained an “Independent Accountant’s Report” covering current Arena Village Clerk/Treasurer DeNean Naeger’s tenure in Monticello. The report represents the findings of what Monticello Village Board minutes refer to as a forensic audit. Arena officials have stayed quiet since the meeting, but the current Monticello village president insists he saw no evidence of wrongdoing.
Community is invited to share ideas about how to save campus.
An information session and town hall meeting will be held on Thursday, January 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. on the UW-Richland campus in the Pippin Conference Center of Melvill Hall.
Last Halloween, the Village of Lone Rock held a public meeting and did not notify the Valley Sentinel. The next night they held public hearings on their annual budget and a village board meeting. The Valley Sentinel was sent an e-mail notice less than an hour before the meeting started. We asked for various public records related to these matters and got nothing. The village clerk told us we were not entitled to notice, and past notices had merely been given as a courtesy.
Now we’re suing.
Richland County and the greater community were disheartened just over a month ago when a unilateral directive from University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman directed the administration of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Richland campus in Richland Center to start winding down operations and to plan to discontinue in-person instruction starting fall 2023, with the directive also promising a transition plan that floated the red herring ideas of online instruction and continuing education.
It’s become increasingly clear that the only way to save UW-Richland is inside a courtroom.
On March 31, Gov. Tony Evers announced that he had vetoed recently passed Senate Bill 89. The bill, introduced by Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, would have made the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam optional for emergency medical responders. Marklein argued the bill would improve recruitment and retention for rural emergency medical services. Local EMS directors fell on either side of the issue, with an expert in prehospital emergency medicine arguing lowering the bar is never the answer.
On Tuesday, February 22, at 8 a.m. the Village of Arena Personnel Committee met, made a recommendation to accept the resignation of Arena’s superintendent of public works effective March 31, and started right in working on interviewing for a replacement. If nothing else, the committee moved with laudable speed to fill a hole that was not even official yet.
On Feb. 15, Village of Arena’s Public Works Superintendent Michael Schmidt submitted his resignation, with a month and a half notice. By the next week, the village was already holding a meeting to interview internal candidates. That rush to hold an interview resulted in several village officials having open meetings law complaints filed against them.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers visited Spring Green Tuesday to tour two businesses that received “We’re All In” grants, in the midst of a proposal that would seek to change how federal moneys, including those that fund grants like these, are allocated and by whom.