Oneida forestry committee trip raises open meetings questions

RHINELANDER – The Oneida County Forestry Committee’s planned field trip to the Eagle Mine in Marinette, Mich., is raising questions about potential open meetings law violations.

The committee, some forestry department employees and any interested county board supervisors will make the overnight trip on Oct. 8 and 9, according to a story published in The (Minocqua) Lakeland Times. The trip precedes a November referendum in which voters will voice their opinion on whether to permit sulfide-based mining in the town of Lynne.

Committee members plan to carpool there and, once on site, ride a bus between the mine and milling site, Fred Williston reported. Lakeland Times Publisher Gregg Walker and an attorney for the WNA concurred the committee trip, as planned, would result in multiple walking quorum violations.

A walking quorum occurs when small groups of a governmental body participate in a series of gatherings separately to arrive at a consensus about public business that, collectively, would constitute a quorum.

Not only would the committee’s travel arrangements present potential open meetings violations, but so would their actions on the trip. Examples of interactions that could result in walking quorum violations included participating in a self-guided tour of the site, riding together on an elevator and eating dinner together at a restaurant.

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