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State investigates Rhinelander City Council members and mayor

RHINELANDER (WAOW) — Four Rhinelander City Council members and the Mayor have been accused of violating open meeting laws back in January. Now the state division of criminal investigation is looking into the possibility of a walking quorum.

A walking quorum is defined by the Wisconsin Department of justice as “a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum.”

Back in January, City Council President George Kirby expressed his concern over City Administrator Dan Guild spending $13,000 to furnish his office. Instead of participating in the meeting as a council member, Kirby decided to sit in the audience and comment during the public comment session.

Kirby didn’t want to do an interview on Tuesday, but fellow council member Tom Kelly said they didn’t know where that money had come from.

The state investigation was sparked after council members Ryan Rossing, David Holt, Andrew Larson and Steve Sauer along with Mayor Chris Frederickson sent a letter to Kriby addressing his behavior at that City Council meeting.

The letter asks, “Given the recent events, perhaps it would be more comfortable for you not to continue in this capacity?”

In a statement, Kirby said the letter was unfair.

David Holt, another city council member said this wasn’t the first time Kirby had acted in that manner.

“Had that been the first time he had done something like that, we might not have tried to respond in the way we did,” Holt said.

News 9 tried reaching out to other council members, as well as the mayor, but did not receive a reply.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Department provided News 9 with 40 pages of documents around the investigation. The Division of Criminal Investigations at the Department of Justice said they cannot confirm or deny the investigation.

Sarah McGrew

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