State of Wisconsin ex rel Richard Zecchino and Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited Partnership, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Dane County, Dane County Board of Supervisors, Paul Rusk, Sharon Corrigan, David De Felice, George Gillis, Dorothy Krause, Jeff Pertl, Andrew Schauer, Robin Schmidt and Heidi Wegleitner, Defendants-Respondents.
from an order of the circuit court for Dane County Cir. Ct.
No. 2016CV2210: FRANK D. REMINGTON, Judge. Affirmed.
Kessler, Brash and Dugan, JJ.
Richard Zecchino and Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited
Partnership (collectively, "Adams"), appeal an
order of the circuit court dismissing its action against the
Dane County Board of Supervisors and certain members of the
Board regarding the renewal of a billboard lease. Adams's
action alleged violations of the open meetings law and sought
certiorari review and declaratory relief We affirm
the circuit court.
Adams leased three billboards near the Dane County Regional
Airport. The lease expired on December 31, 2015. Prior to
expiration, Adams sought to renew the lease and began
negotiations with the Airport's business manager and
director. The Airport Commission, the Public Works Committee,
and the Personnel and Finance Committee all voted in support
of renewing Adams's lease. However, on April 7, 2016, the
County Board rejected the lease in an 18-16 vote.
Adams then brought the action underlying this appeal. In an
amended complaint, Adams alleged that prior to the April 7,
2016 vote, a number of board members engaged in closed
discussions with the purpose of negatively affecting the vote
on the lease. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Board
Supervisor Paul Rusk emailed multiple other board supervisors
prior to the vote and that he tried to call another
supervisor, Diane Krause, to discuss her vote. The emails at
• A December 2, 2015 email from Rusk to Supervisors
Sharon Corrigan and Jeff Pertl asking "[w]hat do [they]
think about doing away with these billboards?" and
telling Corrigan and Pertl that he personally opposed them.
Only Pertl responded, telling Rusk that he did not have a
strong opinion about the issue and deferred to Rusk.
• A December 3, 2015 email from Rusk to Supervisors
David de Felice, Andrew Schaer, and George Gillis, in which
Rusk tells the other supervisors that he asked three
neighborhood associations for input and all three opposed the
billboards. Only de Felice responded, stating "I support
• A December 16, 2015 email from Rusk to Supervisor
Robin Schmidt, discussing the scheduling of the resolution
before the Public Works Committee.
• A March 3, 2016 email from Rusk to a constituent,
prior to a meeting of the Personnel and Finance Committee on
the lease issue, asking the constituent to provide input on
the billboards on behalf of the constituent's
neighborhood association. The email courtesy copied
Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner.
• An April 4, 2016 email from Rusk to Supervisor Dorothy
Krause, telling her that he tried calling her and asking if
she is "ok voting against the … billboards."
Rusk wrote that he was trying to conduct a "vote
count." Krause responded that she would rather not vote
because Adams had accused her of bias in a pending
litigation, but that if she did vote, she would vote against
• Two emails sent to constituents after the April 7,
2016 County Board vote. In one, Rusk tells two constituents
that "[w]e lost some votes who told me they were with
us." In another, he states: "the Trump Card was the
1998 plan - that saved it. But … several didn't
understand. But it secured my base - they had a strong
argument to hang on to."
Based on these emails, Adams alleged that Dane County, the
Dane County Board of Supervisors, and the supervisors named
in the emails described above, violated the open meetings
law. Specifically, Adams alleged an illegal "walking
quorum." Adams sought declaratory relief, asking
the court to declare the Board's April 7, 2016 decision
unlawful. Adams also sought certiorari review of the