Wisconsin’s Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager has filed a complaint in Dodge County Circuit Court against a private development company, the Beaver Dam Area Development Corporation, located in the city of Beaver Dam, which has been considering a huge, Wal-Mart distribution center. According to the state’s highest law enforcement official, the “quasi-governmental corporation” violated the state’s open meetings and records laws. The AG’s action follows a complaint filed by Ed Garvey, an attorney in Madison, on behalf of a citizen’s group in Beaver Dam that opposes the distribution facility. The Wal-Mart proposal is for a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center on 400 acres north of the city. The world’s richest retailer is working on $6.18 million in corporate welfare to build their facility, as arranged by the development group. The incentive deal was worked out by the development board, which includes the Mayor of the city, and the City Council — all in sessions that were closed to the public. The AG argues in her complaint that the Beaver Dam Area Development Corp. is subject to state open government laws, because it receives funding from the city, the mayor and other officials serve on its board of directors, the city gives it office space and other clerical support, and it has no clients other than the city. The public did not learn about the Wal-Mart welfare deal until five months after it was concluded in private. When the citizen’s group learned of the deal, they filed an open records lawsuit against the city and the development group. In June, the citizens won their case, and the development group turned over about 1,000 pages of documents. A second lawsuit has also been filed against the city, to try and block the land annexation that must first take place in order for the distribution center to be constructed. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a judge could rule that the Beaver Dam City Council’s vote last fall is void, stopping the project cold. The lawsuit puts a legal cloud over Dodge County’s review of the rezoning of the parcel.
For an earlier story about how residents of Beaver Dam has been working like beavers to stop up this project, search Newsflash by the name of the town. For contacts with the lawfirm representing the citizens group, contact [email protected]