Last spring, the Town of Hayward used an obscure state law to hold its annual meeting without public notice. At the meeting, three resolutions were passed, including a $15 million building project and reorganization of the town board. This came despite the fact that during a 2019 advisory referendum, residents of Hayward expressed their disapproval of a comparable $5 million construction project.
More than 270 residents took initiative to organize and gather signatures with the aim of convening a “special town meeting” to reconsider the resolutions. Residents and town electors have provided three separate written requests, but to date, the town clerk has refused to call the meeting. Citizens also contacted Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), which has now sent the town a letter demanding that they abide by Wisconsin law and hold a public town meeting so residents can weigh in on spending projects.
WILL’s client, Brenda Dettloff, said, “The Town of Hayward is denying citizens open, accountable, and transparent government. Before significant updates to town infrastructure and amenities are made, taxpayers deserve to have their voices heard. Because of that simple fact, hundreds of Hayward citizens, from across the political spectrum, are speaking out as one voice and demanding a true public meeting ‘of the People’ to properly vet the pending resolutions.”
WILL’s letter asks the town to fulfill its legal duty by either confirming that it will provide the public notice of a September 15 town meeting, as requested by the residents, or explain how the town believes their petition was insufficient. “If you refuse to do so by Monday, August 28, 2023, we will petition for a writ of mandamus in circuit court ordering you to do so,” wrote WILL.
This story beautifully demonstrates “the multiplied power of one.” When one person gets involved and reaches out to recruit even just a handful of others who in turn reach out to others, they end up making a huge difference, especially at the local level.
It’s been said that all that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Alert citizens willing to get involved can make a tremendous difference. Holding elected officials accountable is essential and is part of being a good steward of this republic we are blessed to live in. We should each consider how we can use the “multiplied power of one” where we live to make our communities truly good for families!