Dear Council members and supporters:
The Wisconsin Department of Justice yesterday released a new advisory to public bodies regarding public meetings in the age of COVID-19. While it falls short of saying that holding maskless meetings with no opportunity for people to attend remotely is a violation of the Open Meetings Law, it does set forth:
“To ensure that in-person meetings during the pandemic are reasonably accessible to the public, governmental bodies should keep the public health situation, guidance of public health professionals, and health concerns of the public in mind when making decisions about how open meetings are conducted. Further, governmental bodies are strongly encouraged to make remote access to meetings available through the duration of the pandemic.”
The advisory also argues that certain practices that promote access should be continued after the pandemic. From the text:
“By maintaining a remote option for public access to meetings or posting recordings of meetings as soon as practicable after meetings conclude, governmental bodies can advance the open meetings law’s purpose of ensuring government openness and transparency.”
I would like to thank Attorney General Josh Kaul and his team for their initiative in this area.
– Bill Lueders