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Did officials violate open meetings laws?

Developer files complaint in Walworth County

May 27, 2010
Apparently attorneys working on the lawsuit for Geneva Ridge Joint Venture have been busy lately. Last week, just before filing in federal court an amended complaint regarding its $99 million lawsuit against the city, Geneva Ridge Joint Venture filed a complaint with the Walworth County District Attorney's Office alleging numerous open meetings law violations by the city of Lake Geneva and its officials. Geneva Ridge — also known as Hummel — annexed to the city in early 2005 and proposed three different development plans for the property formerly located in Linn Township. None of the plans — including a venture that involved New York-based Mirbeau of Geneva Lake to include a 100-room inn, spa and winery — received final approval from city officials. Subsequently, both Geneva Ridge and Mirbeau have filed lawsuits against the city.

Regional News requests court action

May 27, 2010
It's taken more than 12 weeks to answer public records requests for e-mails regarding the Mirbeau and Hummel developments, but on Friday Lake Geneva Alderwoman Mary Jo Fesenmaier responded in writing, stating she has "no records to share." About three hours after receiving that response, the Regional News delivered a request to the Walworth County District Attorney's Office asking for court action requiring Fesenmaier to provide her e-mails. According to the letter written by Regional News Editor Lisa Seiser to District Attorney Phil Koss, Fesenmaier's response is "not adequate" because some of Fesenmaier's e-mails already have been produced in other public records responses.

Recent Lake Geneva News
BREAKING-Did city, officials violate open meetings laws?
May 20, 2010
Last Wednesday, just before filing their amended lawsuit against the city in federal court, Geneva Ridge Joint Venture filed a verified complaint with the Walworth County District Attorney’s Office citing numerous open meetings law violations by the city of Lake Geneva and its officials.Geneva Ridge Joint Venture attorneys state in their complaint that private meetings were held between certain city officials and special interest groups, that officials improperly communicated by e-mail among themselves and with others concerning opposition to their development and that private, ex parte meetings were held. They claim the instances were all violations of Wisconsin Open Meetings law. The 11-page complaint also cites a closed session meeting held on Oct. 6 that was never convened in open session, which they state is a violation of Wisconsin statute.
Conservancy survey says ‘tipping point’ approaching fast
May 20, 2010
This is the second in a two-part series about the Geneva Lake Conservancy and issues revolving around conservation in the area. A recent Regional News story discussed the impact of the economic slowdown on the conservancy.The Geneva Lake Conservancy uses surveys to take the pulse of area residents regarding growth, development and conservation.
Geneva Ridge updates lawsuit claims
Complaint cites official’s e-mails, depositions
May 20, 2010
Attorneys believe they now have evidence confirming nine different claims against Lake Geneva officials regarding Geneva Ridge Joint Venture’s efforts to develop 718 acres on the southeast side of the city.Last Thursday afternoon, Geneva Ridge — also known as Hummel — filed in U.S. Eastern District Court their first amended complaint against the city. The 61-page document lists nine claims, explanations and references to information from e-mails between city officials.The lengthy discovery process for the lawsuit has produced information from e-mails, computer hard drive scans and depositions of city elected officials. Geneva Ridge attorneys did not have some of that information when the initial suit was filed in October 2009.
Pieces of unique home return to Lake Geneva, now in museum
May 13, 2010
It’s been 52 years since the exotic and unique Ceylon Court stood at Maytag Point on the shore of Geneva Lake. Overlooking the east end of the lake and Buttons Bay, the all-wood replica Buddhist temple brought here after the Columbian World Expo in Chicago in 1893 was a sight to behold.Although the mansion is long gone, pieces of it were auctioned off and the remaining shell burned to the ground in a practice fire in 1958, the building and its historical significance now will be honored for years to come in the north exhibit hall at the Geneva Lake Museum.Last month, volunteers moved to the museum a number of pieces that once were inside the great mansion. The pieces, which mainly are thick, heavy wood columns covered with detailed carvings, were donated in 2008 and remained in storage until now.
Regional News asks for court’s help
May 13, 2010
More than three months after initial public records request were made to a number of city officials, the Lake Geneva Regional News still is waiting for responses.So, on Monday afternoon, the newspaper filed a request with Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss, asking that he bring circuit court action ordering release of certain city officials’ e-mails regarding the Mirbeau of Geneva Lake and Geneva Ridge Joint Venture development proposals.Since Feb. 25, the Regional News has been seeking compliance from officials with public records requests for e-mails that date back from late 2007 until now.
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