ORLAND PARK, IL. (ECWd) -
The law firm of Klein, Thorpe, and Jenkens has apparently assisted the Orland Park Public Library in their quest at committing civil rights violations by legislating the first amendment rights from an individual that only wants to address the board of trustees during an open meeting.
Last fall, Mr. Dan Kleinman attempted to address the board thru video teleconference during public session. The published policy of the board at that time did not prohibit attending and speaking via teleconference. It did not use any public equipment, and the speakers on the iPAD were loud enough for all in attendance to hear. The board and its attorney made the immediate and extemporaneous decision to prohibit his speech. Since there was no policy against it, one can feel good about assuming this was done because they did not agree with the content of that speech, which in turn is a civil rights violation, and an open meetings act violation - a criminal act - a Class C Misdemeanor.
Fast forward to this year, February 12th to be exact. The library board, with advice from its attorney held an illegal special meeting on a public holiday. During that meeting were new public comment rules that were illegally discussed and illegally voted on. The attorney general has determined that to be an illegal meeting, which made every action taken during that meeting VOID.
In their attempt at curing the fault, the board, and their attorney, tried to simply ratify and affirm all actions taken during the February 12 special meeting. The problem is, you cannot ratify and affirm illegal actions. Nothing was discussed or deliberated in a legal public meeting, and the content of action to be voted on was never read aloud or voted on during an open public meeting. Therefore, any new public speaking policy is VOID.
Now let's talk about this unapproved, unpublished illegal public speaking policy that cannot exist in its current state. With the Library Board knowing the content of the speech of Mr. Dan Kleinman, they went out of their way to develop and "approve" legislation specifically to exclude him from public comment. This act in and of itself is an admission that they violated his rights in November, and will also serve proof that they purposely and knowingly passed (or attempted to pass) legislation to prohibit public speech that the board did not agree with.
There is no way out for them, they violated the Open Meetings Act, and took positive steps to pass legislation with the sole purpose of violating Mr. Kleinman's first amendment rights.
The key to this whole civil rights violation is that they took steps to limit his right to speak, because of his speech content, after he had attempted to speak. If they had already had this legislation in place, it most likely would not be arguable. But since he was acting within their own rules, they violated his civil rights, and I hope that he finds an attorney to pursue justice thru the federal court system.
Finally, this "new" policy is void and has so many violations of the Open Meetings Act built into it, the AG will be busy for quite some time sorting it all out...and of course Klein, Thorpe, Jenkens will keep raking in the money...it's almost as if it is designed for failure...unless this law firm will defend this policy against the AG free of charge or fix this broken policy free of charge since they did assist the OPPL-BoT in developing it? We can all dream can't we?
AG Letter of Determination (Jan 20 OMA Violations)
AG Letter of Determination (Feb 12 Illegal Meeting)
June 16 OMA and 1st Amendment violation while citing VOID policy letter (HERE)