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Limestone Township – Misapplication of Law – Good attorneys should apply as there may be an opening

Kankakee Co. (ECWd) –

Once again it comes back to attorneys.  You may recall we exposed the recent illegal hiring of an attorney by the highway commissioner in this article.  That was rather humorous as after the exposure the attorney took the position he didn’t know if he represented the Township Road District or the Highway Commissioner in his private capacity.

Let’s apply the “KISS” concept, “Keep It Simple Stupid” and my favorite two questions, “Says Who and With What Proof?”

Any meeting a township calls that is not a regularly scheduled meeting is, in fact, a special meeting, not to mention their notice called it a special meeting that was held last night.

The Open Meetings Act specifically states:

(5 ILCS 120/2.04) (from Ch. 102, par. 42.04)
Sec. 2.04. The notice requirements of this Act are in addition to, and not in substitution of, any other notice required by law. Failure of any news medium to receive a notice provided for by this Act shall not invalidate any meeting provided notice was in fact given in accordance with this Act.

Pretty Simple. Notice requirements of the OMA are in addition to, and not in substitution of any other notice required by law.

Limestone Township held a meeting last night and it is being reported to us that the attorney said everything was legal and they could have their meeting.  Really?  Says Who- The Attorney.  With What Proof?……...?  You guessed it! No proof, just some hired attorney that apparently has little knowledge of the Open Meetings Act and the Township Code.

As we covered in this article: 60 ILCS 1/35-5 – “Special township meetings shall be held when the township board (or at least 15 voters of the township) file in the office of the township clerk a written statement that a special meeting is necessary for the interests of the township. The statement also shall set forth the objects of the meeting, which must be relevant to powers granted to electors under this Code. The special township meeting shall be held no less than 14 nor more than 45 days after the written request is filed in the office of the township clerk. Special township meetings may not begin before 6 p.m.”

Is anyone confused about the Township Code Special Meeting posting requirements?  Pretty simple, even for the stupid. Applying the Says Who, the Legislature and With What Proof, the very statute for Special Meetings notice requirements found in the Township code.

We were told that the Statute below was used by the attorney to justify the legality of the meeting.  We will explain below why he is simply wrong and suggest the Township hit the reset button and find a new attorney that understands statutory construction.

(60 ILCS 1/80-10)
Sec. 80-10. Board meetings; township and road district accounts.
(a) The township board shall meet at the township clerk’s office for the purpose of examining and auditing the township and road district accounts before any bills (other than general assistance, obligations for Social Security taxes as required by the Social Security Enabling Act, and wages that are subject to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, or other expenses determined by the township board by resolution) are paid, provided that payments made pursuant to a board resolution shall be reviewed and verified at the next meeting. The board may meet at other times as they determine. The township board may consider and approve bills individually or in a summary statement of any number of bills.
(b) Upon the request of the supervisor or of any 2 board members, the township clerk shall call a meeting at the time requested and shall furnish to the board members at least 48 hours’ notice of the meeting.
(c) The township board may declare a vacancy in the office of township supervisor or trustee if the supervisor or a trustee has 5 or more consecutive unexcused absences from regularly scheduled township board meetings.
(d) The township board may adopt rules not inconsistent with this Code to govern its meetings. The rules may provide for excused absences of the supervisor or trustees from township board meetings.
(e) All meetings of the township board shall be open to the public as provided in the Open Meetings Act.
(Source: P.A. 98-1174, eff. 1-12-15.)

Section 80-10 is a statute that pertains to board meetings dealing with items (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e).  Last night’s special meeting was for the purpose of accepting a resignation and appointing a Supervisor Pro Tem.  Does anyone see anything in that statute pertaining to either of those actions to be done at a meeting under 80-10?  No, but let’s play devils advocate, which attorneys are so good at.

Let’s assume they were meeting for each and every item listed.  Does that mean they only have to post the notice and agenda in accordance with the OMA?  No, as OMA is in addition to other laws.   More important is the fact, this section makes no mention of posting requirements at all yet we know posting is required by both Township Code and OMA.

Where the above statute is so commonly abused in attempts to circumvet the law is three key portions of this one section of the law.

  1. The board may meet at other times as they determine”
  2. “Upon the request of the supervisor or of any 2 board members, the township clerk shall call a meeting at the time requested and shall furnish to the board members at least 48 hours’ notice of the meeting.”
  3. All meetings of the township board shall be open to the public as provided in the Open Meetings Act.

Keeping it simply stupid:

  1. Yep, the board may meet at other times as they determine.  They are required to set a regular meeting schedule by law, thus they determine what that schedule is by statute and they may meet at other times……..which are known as Special Meetings and those meetings have specific posting requirements that can not be ignored.  Laywers have twisted this specific phrase and applied meaning to it that simply is not contained in the law.  No disagreement that they can meet at other times as they determine, but we all know they can’t determine to meet at times that violated notice to the public under the law.  Using their logic, this baord could determine to meet at midnight tonight.
  2. Attorneys regulary see that 48hr reference regarding a meeting and think that means public notice requirement.  Wrong! The law states that 48hrs notice is to the board members!  Notice to the public is specific in the Township Code for Special meetings and is not overuled by item (b) in section 80-10.  Lawyers are wrong if that is their positoin.
  3. Yep, All meetings of the township baord shall be open to the public as provided in the Open Meetings Act.  AND, they shall be compliant with all applicable sections of the law to include the Township code.

So in summary, any special meeting of the Township is subject to the Special Meeting statute under the township code, even when the attorney says it does not apply.

That’s our [non-legal] opinion, and we welcome any attorney to prove us wrong!
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