Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Government Planning Agency Can't Conduct "Open" Business Via Private Email

The ACLU of Wisconsin has told a Wisconsin agency, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commision, that it can't conduct the public's business in a private e-mail list serve.

The group called SEWRPC is an urban/rural governmental planning organization that is charged with the task of hearing and weighing business, development and environmental decisions for an area spanning seven southeastern Wisconsin counties. The group wanted to have one of its committees, the Environmental Task Force, discuss and vote on whether to accept a consultant's report about the water supply in southeastern Wisconsin. Karyn Rotker, ACLU Senior Staff Attorney, stepped in to remind SEWRPC that Wisconsin's Open Meetings Law prohibits agencies from discussing and voting on issues in private - and that includes a private email exchange.

The ACLU of Wisconsin has sent the message to SEWRPC before (PDF) about how important it is to weigh environmental and human concerns when making development decisions. We've blogged before about how government needs to take into consideration the environmental impact planning decisions have, especially on communities that need help with resources like accessible transportation and clean water.