Archive for September, 2016

What does “of” mean?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

When a county sues a town, it can get confusing. In Calumet County vs. the Town of Harrison, Calumet County sued the Town for the Town’s failure to pay the County for removing snow from a county owned sidewalk along a county highway.  The County apparently felt the Town was responsible for removing all snow from all sidewalks in the Town, no matter who owned them.  The circuit court disagreed and held for the Town.  The appeals court also held for the Town.

This case makes for interesting reading, if only because it shows the lengths parties will sometimes go to in court cases. The entire case was, more or less, about the meaning of the word “of.”  Of course, the court of appeals only gives us those facts that it relies on to make its decision, and there are almost always two sides to every story, but the County does not come out very well in this one.  The statute states that the town shall remove snow and ice from the sidewalks “of” the town.  The county argued that this meant all sidewalks within the town.  The Town argued that this meant all sidewalks owned by the Town, and the courts agreed with the Town.

Consequences of incivility on city council

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The City of Lake Elmo is a suburb of St. Paul.  I know this blog is about Wisconsin municipal law, but a recent article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press caught my attention and I thought I’d bring it over to Wisconsin as a cautionary tale.  The City of Lake Elmo has been in the news quite a bit the last few years, primarily due to the behaviour of certain members of the city council.  Of course they blame each other for the problems, kind of like: “I’m not disrespectful you are.  No you are.  No you are.”

Aside from making Lake Elmo the subject of a certain amount of ridicule in the Twin Cities area, the antics of the Council have now had some potentially serious consequences.

The City’s insurer, the Insurance Trust Board of the League of Minnesota Cities, decided to increase the City’s deductable from $500 to $200,000.  The insurance company said it is because the way City Council members treat each other, the City’s employees, and other government officials has greatly increased the risk of claims against the City.

The article in the paper noted, “Eight city hall workers have left since March 2015. The city’s administrator is the sixth one hired in seven years.”

You can read the Pioneer Press article here.  or just do a “Google” search on Lake Elmo.