RHINELANDER – State justice department agents are investigating whether four Rhinelander City Council members and the mayor violated the state open meetings law by participating in a walking quorum, the Wausau Daily Herald reported Tuesday.
The investigation sprung from a letter the council members sent to the council president asking if he was fit to continue serving in his leadership role, reported Laura Schulte. Documents from the Division of Criminal Investigations show they wrote and signed the letter with the mayor after Kirby refused to participate during a January meeting.
The state opened the investigation on March 12 after the Oneida County District Attorney received a letter from Gregg Walker, publisher of The (Minocqua) Lakeland Times and (Rhineland) Northwoods River News and a member of the WNA Board of Directors, accusing officials of an illegal meeting.
According to a River News report on Monday, the investigation prompted the Oneida County sheriff’s department to place Ryan Rossing — a detective who is also one of the four aldermen to sign the letter — on administrative leave.
A walking quorum occurs when members of a governmental 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.