COLLEGE OF DUPAGE (ECWd) –
In what will surely end up being a hard lesson for the College of DuPage and its Board of Trustees, there are many Court decisions and AG Opinions citing the law, stating that local governments do not have the authority to sanction (censure) a member of its governing body.
In a 23 year old binding opinion (1991), a now former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris wrote in detail about the subject of sanctions, and if a public body had the power to sanction. Please keep in mind that censure is a type of sanction.
This opinion dealt with the specific subject of whether a public body could sanction its member for revealing the discussions of a closed session meeting. Burris determined that no such power existed – even to home rule public bodies.
Citing several court cases and the Illinois Constitution, he said that “there is no provision in the constitution or the Open Meetings Act which expressly authorizes public bodies to sanction their members…and their is clearly no constitutional provision from which one may imply those powers.”
He stated, as we have in numerous articles where we reference “Dillon’s Rule”, that public bodies have no inherent powers, and the powers they have are ordinarily limited to those which are expressly granted by the constitution or law, incident to those powers expressly granted, or indispensable to the accomplishment of the stated objective of the statute.
Going further, Burris stated that No meeting is ever required to be closed, and sanctions would only serve as a shield behind which opponents of open government could hide. Sanctions would be an absurd construction of the law and must be avoided.
He finished by saying that “absent an express statutory provision so providing, public bodies do not have the power to sanction their members for disclosing the substance of deliberations conducted or actions taken at a closed meeting.” He went on to say that any ordinance authorizing sanctions would likewise be outside the authority of the public body.
As you can see, and from previous articles we have explained, that the College of DuPage was never given the power to sanction or censure, therefore it does not have that power. It is common knowledge that this whole illegal censure is a direct result of the COD FOIA Officer releasing an embarrassing email, and instead of sanctioning the COD President for the email (which they do possess the power to do), they decide to attack a fellow board member even though the email was obtained through a FOIA request.
Read the entire opinion below:
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