CHRISMAN, IL. (ECWd) –
The Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) is clear when it specifically requires that a closed session, (one that is properly closed and closed for one of the enumerated exceptions to an open meeting) shall have a verbatim recording either by audio or video.
Read it here:
Minutes; right to speak.
(a) All public bodies shall keep written minutes of all their meetings, whether open or closed, and a verbatim record of all their closed meetings in the form of an audio or video recording. Minutes shall include, but need not be limited to:
It goes on to state that all such recording shall be maintained by the public body for no less than 18 months and can only be destroyed under the rules listed in the OMA.
Violations of the OMA are criminal – Class C Misdemeanors.
In response to a request for those recordings (of meetings where discussions involved things improperly discussed behind closed doors), Jeremy Neal, Northern Edgar County Ambulance Service, stated that no recordings exist of their closed (executive) sessions.
The reasoning behind the recording requirement is to keep the various board across the state honest when they enter into closed meetings. Without the recordings, it is difficult to determine if the meetings were legitimately closed, unless, as in the case of the NECAS, they place the items improperly discussed in their meeting minutes.
UPDATED for clarity: Independent of any discussions held behind closed doors, the closed meeting must be recorded by audio or video. Without a recording being made, the meeting is an illegal meeting (since recording is a requirement to hold a closed meeting). Also, if the recorder quits operating during the closed meeting, the meeting must come to an end until the recording device can be fixed.
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