Former Supervisor Sues Town of Grant for Records
Town officials routinely ignore & overcharge for record requests
Former Town of Grant Supervisor Heather Grys-Luecht, with representation from Wisconsin Transparency Project, has filed a lawsuit against the Town and four current officials alleging 22 counts of violating the Open Records Law. Most of the violations occurred while Grys-Luecht was on the board and was trying to obtain information to do her job. Named in the suit are Town Chair Sharon Schwab, Town Supervisor Scott Provost, Town Clerk Stefanie Schlapa, and Town Treasurer Greg Hakala. The lawsuit follows a verified complaint alleging numerous Open Meetings Law violations filed with the District Attorney in August.
“Town officials have ignored, delayed, and outright refused to fulfill my record requests for years,” explained Grys-Luecht. “They have shown blatant contempt for their obligations under the law, and it is time to hold them accountable.”
State law requires record requests to be filled “as soon as practicable and without delay.” Wisconsin’s Attorney General advises that 10 business days is enough time for most record requests. Grys-Luecht’s straightforward requests date back two-and-a-half years.
“Former clerk Vicky Zimmerman’s behavior was particularly outrageous,” said Tom Kamenick, President and Founder of Wisconsin Transparency Project. “She flatly refused to fulfill my client’s requests or meet with her to discuss them, even while my client was an elected board member.”
Under the new clerk, the Town has begun responding to Grys-Luecht’s record requests, but they have a new tactic – charging excessive fees to discourage her from making them in the first place. “They’re trying to charge me hundreds of dollars to find small numbers of documents and do simple email searches,” said Grys-Luecht.
Grys-Luecht also filed a verified Open Meetings Law complaint with the Portage County District Attorney in August. That complaint focused on the Town Board’s illegal practice of routinely conducting government business over email, instead of properly noticed, public meetings. It also alleged illegal traveling meetings, committees meeting outside of public view, improper notice postings, illegal continuing notices, and the illegal use of generic agenda items like “announcements & correspondence.”