Clark County

Clark Co. Park calls in more “security”, disputes right to record meeting –

Clark Co., IL. (ECWd) –

During the Special Meeting last night, the Clark County Park District had three “security” employees present. Normally this would not have been an issue, however, since this is the first meeting after employee Mike Church decided to berate meeting attendees, is has become an issue.

So Church decided to show up with more “security”, although it was not clear whether they were there in their official capacity or simply there wearing their colorful Park Security shirts as a member of the public.

This could be viewed as an attempt at intimidation it if wasn’t so laughable. They stood in the back of the room the entire time.

As soon as the meeting was over, I went to where my audio recording device was located and was in the process of turning it off when Board Chairman Ewing asked me if I was recording, and I said that I was. He then preceded to go on ranting about how I should let everyone at the meeting know I was recording and that it was considered eavesdropping if I didn’t.

I tried to reason with him, but it became somewhat obvious that Mike Church had complained about my recording him at the last meeting (in this article) and was using that to deflect any disciplinary actions against him by claiming I was violating the eavesdropping law.

So later last night, to set the record straight, I emailed Ewing the exception on the law that I tried telling him was there.

It specifically states exactly what I was trying to inform him of, that recording an open meeting is a right, and no notice or permission need be stated or obtained in exercising that right:

(720 ILCS 5/Art. 14 heading) Illinois Criminal Code

ARTICLE 14. EAVESDROPPING

(720 ILCS 5/14-3)
    Sec. 14-3. Exemptions. The following activities shall be exempt from the provisions of this Article:

(e) Recording the proceedings of any meeting required to be open by the Open Meetings Act, as amended;

Categories: Clark County, feature

7 replies »

  1. you guys are awesome! keep up the good work you are an inspiration to us all. They should have no issue of a recording unless there is something to hide..

  2. As usual, another elected official shows lack of judgment. In this case, however, I happen to know Board Chairman Ewing and he lives only a few blocks from me. Since I have been recording meetings and all kinds of legally recordable events for years, he need only call me and I will refer him to a lawyer. I’ve been recording public meetings off and on since the middle 1980’s and began recording all regular public meetings I attended for the last eight years although I don’t record committee meetings often (unless the subject matter is eventful) because they are uneventful and boring – most properly conducted public business is. My records and recordings have been used by all sorts of media, elected officials of many public bodies, and law enforcement. Permission to record or requiring an announcement be made that conversations are being recorded are not required by OMA.
    Eavesdropping is different.
    While official police business in matters involving official police presence is not recordable, a security person whose presence isn’t necessary at a committee meeting behaving and talking as he did is also recordable because his actions occurred (began) during the public meeting and trying to prove to a reasonable judge that berating an attendee for no other reason except based on political bias and he’s at the meeting is proper police business should be interesting…..

  3. Were these people getting overtime to act as security? Why would anyone care in a public meeting that they were being recorded? I really don’t understand the Park Board’s problem and why they seem to be acting in this way.

    • It comes down to ACCOUNTABILITY. They must be worried that their words might be used against them would be my guess.

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