UPDATE: We have now confirmed with ARDC that Ms. Ellis was licensed to practice May 7, 1992.
Kane Co. (ECWd) –
Traci Ellis, Assistant Director, Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance-Northern Illinois University (NIU), U46 Board member, and attorney-
although her name does not show up as registered with the Illinois ARDC, (See update above) considers violation of law a matter of which “ain’t nobody got time for all of that”
She took to her Facebook page to address events that took place during the U46 School Board meeting on Monday the 19th, 2015. We covered that issue briefly in this article. She prefaced her comment by stating, “I have no incentive to do less and certainly don’t want to be distracted from the work at hand by spending time on the possibility of technical violations of the OMA”“ain’t nobody got time for all of that”
A rather interesting position to take for a person claiming to be an attorney. One simple review of the Open Meetings Act points to the fact there is no such thing as a technical violation. You either broke the law or you did not.
In light of the face feeding that took place at the last school board meeting I find it ironic Ms. Ellis would have no problem spending money on meals in light of her comment to the Daily Herald citing her #2 Key issue for running for School Board in 2011.
“Courageous fiscal management in the midst of a budget crisis and a broken education funding policy.”
Is feeding your face, with no statutory authority, twice a month on the backs of the taxpayer courageous fiscal management?
As our readers know, more often than not public officials push back when exposed and create straw man arguments in an effort to minimize their wrong and cast negativity on the messenger.
Ms. Ellis appears to be well versed in that tactic, however as our readers also know, we know how to dissect the truth and expose misrepresentations. Time to dissect Ms. Ellis’s Facebook statements.
- “My issue with what happened Monday night is that it was an inside hatchet job.”
We are curious, as I am sure many U46 parents are, how exposing illegal spending on P-cards and demanding accountability to that crime is a hatchet job? Or how demanding the Open Meetings Act be followed is a hatchet job?
- “If someone had concerns with our agenda or the way we conduct our meetings, and was operating in good faith, the adult route to take would be to contact our board president and share the concerns and ask that she respond back.”
Another false narrative. We did not have concerns with the content of the agenda. We had concerns with the fact the agenda was not posted and when asked if they had an agenda for the 5:15 meeting the self-proclaimed adults refused to produce one. We asked to speak at a meeting open to the public. A meeting in which we tried to speak to the President of the board and each response came from the Attorney. Sitting in executive session prior to calling the meeting to order and voting to go into executive session may be the way you have always done things however if we are going to talk about operating in good faith, does it not make sense to follow the law?
- “That would give her time to research the issue and consult with legal counsel and respond thoughtfully, while making changes if in fact there was anything wrong no matter how small or technical the issue.”
We drove 4 hours to attend the meeting and had no way of knowing the board was going to violate the law. We tried to address it and were basically ignored. I find it very odd that an attorney would imply that OMA violations have a size or technicality. Each mandated section of OMA carries the same weight under the law. None are smaller than another and other than the word technical used ONE time in the act relating to reviewing closed session minutes, all violations of the act constitute a crime with the exceptions of subsection (b), (c), (d), (e), or (f), which none applied to Monday nights meetings.
- “If the board failed to address their concerns or remedy any violations, they could have then followed the Open Meetings Act by filing a formal complaint with the proper authorities, who include the States’ Attorney.”
Failed to address our concerns or “refused” to address them? Filing a formal complaint with the proper authorities? We witnessed a crime and did exactly what she said we should have done. Clearly she just doesn’t like the particular authority that we contacted. For an attorney I can only assume she is not familiar with a citizen’s arrest statute that states, “Any person may arrest another when he has reasonable grounds to believe that an offense other than an ordinance violation is being committed.” (See 725 5/107-3)
What she fails to understand is you cant claim the 5:15 meeting and the 7:00pm meeting is all one meeting as the ONLY agenda posted on the building was for a 7 pm meeting, which means starting it almost 2 hours early is a violation of the Open Meetings act, as is not posting the other meetings at the location.
- “That’s how adults operating in good faith would handle concerns.”
Once again the term “adults” and “good faith” are bantered about with complete disregard or disclosure to her readers that we asked for the agenda and were denied. We asked to speak at the meeting they called to order and were denied. Compliance with OMA is not optional and most adults operating in good faith would have allowed us our overwhelming 3 minutes to speak.
- “Instead, some of us were blind-sided by a rude demand to alter our meeting procedures with the declaration that we were wrong and they were right.”
As a member of the public, we were blind-sided to find this board in executive session feeding their faces at a time when the meeting was supposed to be called to order. We were also blind-sided that when we asked, politely, for a copy of the agenda for the 5:15 meeting we were denied a copy. When I asked the attorney for a card, multiple times he refused until after the police were present. When a member of the public asks for an agenda, which by law is supposed to be available and is refused, most would consider that not only rude but illegal.
Had a single member of the board been even remotely willing to talk through the problems raised the matter could have been resolved. Instead, arrogance and refusal to speak was the path they took and they simply let their attorney dig their hole deeper.
- “When we declined to alter our procedures right there on the spot, going into closed session as planned, that led to a childish temper tantrum wherein they felt the need to call the police while we were meeting in closed session.”
Going into closed session as planned? Mr. Kraft walked into your so called closed session and was told you were in closed session already. It was Mr. Kraft that advised you that you must first call the meeting to order and openly vote to go into closed session. As far as a childish temper tantrum, I truly have to laugh.
How would a person sitting in closed session have any knowledge of anyone’s behavior when the police were called? This is yet another example of a public official making comments that they have no knowledge of and expect people to believe her. They violated the Open Meetings Act, we tried to explain how they were violating it, and they ignored us and REF– USED to discuss it, and went into closed session. Is there another time they would have preferred we call the police?
- “This was intentionally designed to embarrass the board and be disruptive. However, in my opinion, they really only succeeded in embarrassing themselves.”
Once again, a statement with zero facts to support it. Does she really expect people to believe we drove 4 hours to intentionally embarrass the board? We had no idea the agendas were not properly posted until we got there. We had no idea they would violate OMA and not allow us to speak so how is it that this chain of events was designed to embarrass the board?
- “I just wish we were dealing with rational, mature adults, rather than childish egomaniacs.”
Had we been dealing with rational, mature adults, a discussion could have taken place that would have resolved the issue but instead each and every board member, except one, refused to engage in an adult conversation and instead ignored the facts in front of them.
I wonder if this attorney understands a citizens civil rights under the First Amendment? Refusing people the right to speak is not exactly a minor technicality when it comes to Federal Civil Rights Ms. Ellis.