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.
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.