Cook Co. (ECWd) –
In step with why Illinois is in such a deep financial pickle, Maine Township has spent taxpayer money once again on matters that could have been handled by the Supervisor or another FOIA officer. Instead of performing their duties, they pay their attorney to respond to the Attorney General Public Access Counselor regarding our alleged Open Meetings Act violations.
Anyone who knows the law and reads the Attorney’s response will see that not only have they basically admitted to numerous OMA violations, they took steps to correct them. Did they really need an attorney to respond to basic OMA issues?
The attorney basically played the same old two-step shuffle we so see so often from so many public body attorneys after their client is exposed. He outlined 5 points in his response.
Our response to those 5 points are clear:
- The response from the public body confirms there was no agenda or notice. The fact the public body does not consider that a public meeting is not relevant to the facts. More than a majority of a quorum met and they discussed public business the second they asked a single question to staff, which is contrary to their claim of: “No deliberation or discussion on the bills takes place at this gathering”. They confirm it’s a gathering and their own board members have confirmed they discuss matters during this meeting. Although they do not consider this a meeting, I believe OMA is clear that it is and minutes are required. They confirm no minutes are taken. The fact no final action was taken is not relevant. Just because no action is taken is not grounds to consider this gathering not subject to OMA. Although they claim no one was denied public comment, note that was not what we asked the PAC to review. With no agenda, no notice, no one knows there is a meeting, thus no public comment opportunity. Of interest is the changes they have made in the agendas regarding this early gathering. It specifically instructs public comment to be done under items of Old and New Business on the agendas. *Public Participation is permitted under items of Old and New Business. Another point of interest is now the TOP of their agenda they state there is a bill review at 6:30, yet the main header says the meeting starts at 7:30 pm.
I understand they have been doing this for years and are resistant to the compliance with OMA but the fact remains, they have routinely discussed bills with staff and each other at these 6:30 gatherings and anytime a majority of a quorum is present and they are discussing public business they are in fact bound by the OMA. I ask that the PAC confirm the OMA violation as described in my request for review. Although they provided a link to their regular meeting notice and agenda, those notices and agendas all state the Township Board meeting
- Although they provided a link to their regular meeting notice and agenda, those notices and agendas all state the Township Board meetings start at 7:30. What used to a be a footnote on older agendas is now showing the 6:30 bill review at the top of the page, yet the meeting start time is still listed as 7:30. I ask that the PAC confirm this early gather is, in fact, a public meeting and bound by OMA, to include minutes for the meetings, notice, and agendas
- They have acknowledged the agenda does not contain the required information of the location of the meeting. We appreciate their acknowledgment and assurance that information will be provided on future agendas. The agenda for today’s meeting does, in fact, have the required information. I simply ask the PAC confirm they had violated OMA by not providing the required information.
- The agenda provided, assuming it is the same as the online version, does not provide the location of the meeting nor an agenda/notice for their 6:30 meetings.
- We appreciate the confirmation the doors were locked however they never addressed the fact a person was not able to gain access to the meeting because of it. We understand these things happen and appreciate their claimed actions taken, however, we still ask the PAC to confirm the OMA violation of having a meeting with locked doors.
We have asked the PAC to make their determination that Maine Township did violate OMA as we described. The fact they have already addressed some of the issues is in our eyes a confirmation of non complaince.