Washburn County to settle walking quorum lawsuit

SHELL LAKE – The Washburn County Board of Supervisors has reached a potential settlement with the county’s former human resources director who sued last year, alleging supervisors violated the state’s open meeting law, the Spooner Advocate reported. In her lawsuit, Kim Frankenberg said supervisors wrongfully terminated her when they participated in a walking quorum.

At a recent meeting, the board unanimously approved paying $79,170.52 to settle the claim, Advocate news editor Julie Hustvet wrote.

The lawsuit claims the board held meetings about Frankenberg’s employment that weren’t publicly noticed as the open meetings law requires.

The meetings reportedly resulted in a resolution to make changes to the administration offices, including the elimination of Frankenberg’s position. The lawsuit claims it was “circulated, discussed, and signed” by supervisors outside of meetings, resulting in an illegal walking quorum.

A walking quorum occurs when small groups of a government body participate in a series of meetings, phone calls or other communication to arrive at a consensus regarding public business that, collectively, would constitute a quorum. It effectively renders the public meeting a mere formality.

Terms of the settlement were not immediately available pending the settlement’s acceptance, according to the story.

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