Kankakee, IL. (ECWd) –
We recently received a tip that the City of Kankakee has failed to provide minutes to any of its meetings since the September 18, 2017 meeting.
After submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for either the minutes, or in the absence of minutes, the recordings, we got neither.
The city FOIA Officer, Kristine Schmitz, suggested the minutes requested were on the city’s webpage. I checked. They are not there.
Then during a phone call, she acknowledged the minutes were not there because nobody had typed them up, and the city council never approved any of them.
This in unacceptable.
The Open Meetings Act [Section 2.06(b)] requires that minutes of meetings be approved no later than 30 days, or the second subsequent regular meeting, whichever is later. they also have to be made available to the public within 10 days of board approval and posted on the public body’s website that fulltime staff maintains.
Meeting minutes, according to Section 3.1-35-90(a) of the Illinois Municipal Code, are the responsibility of the City Clerk.
“. . .The clerk shall attend all meetings of the corporate authorities including executive sessions and keep a full record of their proceedings in the journal, except if the clerk is the subject matter of the meeting and his or her presence creates a conflict of interest. The record of those proceedings shall be made available for public inspection within 7 days after being approved or accepted by the corporate authorities as the official minutes of their proceedings.”
So the Kankakee City Clerk has failed her duties to provide minutes of the meetings held since September 18, 2017.
Failure to post the October 2nd and 16th meeting minutes in the required time-frame has violated the Open Meetings Act.
The public is being left in the dark about critical information, like giving Hitchcock Design Group at least $385,000 to come up with a plan for the proposed River Walk, or Riverfront Development Strategy.
It is already established that a public body cannot expend public funds to perform the duties of a public official when those duties are prescribed by statute. Kankakee appears to have done it anyway by approving a contract for meeting transcription services during their November 6th meeting. We would not have known this had it not been for a verbal discussion over the phone. This transcription service appears to be taking the place of the clerks statutory duty to take meeting minutes.