Charleston, IL. (ECWd) –
During their city council meeting on April 7, 2015, the Charleston City Council passed a Resolution entitled “Supporting Local Government Empowerment and Reform” as part of its consent agenda. (Read Resolution Here)
While I personally appreciate and agree with the intent of this resolution, I believe the process used to approve it was flawed and in violation of the Open Meetings Act, Section 2(e).
In this case, the city did post a copy of the resolution on its website in advance of the meeting, but they failed to publicly recite the key provisions of the resolution so that the citizens would know what the council was passing – prior to any final action (vote). If you watch the meeting video, the city recited key provisions of other resolutions and actions at this meeting, would it have been that difficult to do the same with this resolution?
The city did not “publicly recite” this resolution prior to the vote for final action (video here) and they are relying on a case that is currently at the Appellate Court, Springfield Board of Education v. Attorney General , for this exact scenario. The Springfield Board of Education posted an item on its website and considered that as fulfilling the requirement of public recital. The Attorney General disagreed with that assumption, but the Sangamon County Circuit Court agreed with the school district. The Attorney General appealed their decision to the Appellate Court where it currently is awaiting a hearing. Charleston is relying on the circuit court decision from Sangamon County as proof they complied with the Open Meetings Act. I disagree.
So now we are in a stand-off and the only option available is to wait on the Appellate Court decision. I believe the question at the Appellate Court is whether posting a resolution on a public body’s website constitutes a “public recital” of the key provisions of the resolution prior to any votes taken. I find it hard to believe the Court would agree, especially considering that not all people have access to computers and the internet, and not all people have the ability to print a document, or even the ability to read for that matter.
This is not the same situation as the Clark County Park District who did not even post a copy of their final action item on their website, or allow people to read it, and refused to state what it was when a resident asked them. (article here)