LEMONT, IL. (ECWd) –
During the Village of Lemont’s April 14, 2014 board meeting, Mayor Brian Reaves tried badgering a citizen into providing her address in order to participate in public comment. It is unclear as to why he insisted on the address, but it was clearly an attempt at intimidating the speaker – a tactic used too often in local public meetings in attempting to negate comment based on where the commenter resides, or maybe he was going to send flowers later, who knows.
The complaint filed with the Attorney General says that Ms. Hughes felt “pressured” and “forced” to provide her address and was not comfortable with having to provide it. To us this make sense because you never know who won’t have the same appreciation for your comments as you do, and try to extract revenge at a later date, and what better way than to already have the address handy.
Mayor Reaves tried appealing based on the “longstanding custom and practice” of the board, but the AG didn’t buy it citing that it was a violation of the law.
Specifically, in that the board’s own public comment policy did not state that an address was required, and even if it did the AG would likely determine that the policy would violate the Open Meetings Act, Section 2.06(g) as being unreasonable. Since the right to speak is not contingent with where a person resides, placing such a condition on speaking would exceed the scope of the public body’s rule making authority and may present a chilling effect on persons wishing to speak to the public body.
Video evidence (below) and an affidavit were provided to assist the AG in making this determination.
The determination was that the board did violate the Open Meetings Act by attempting to require an address as a condition to speak because their policy did not require it, and even if their policy required an address that policy would violate the OMA as an unreasonable rule.
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