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May 19, 2024

AG says Tinley Park violated Open Meetings Law –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On April 5, 2016

Tinley Park, IL (ECWd) –


On 4/4/16, the Attorney General’s Office informed the Village of Tinley Park and its attorney Thomas Melody of the determination that the Open Meetings Act was violated at the February 4th, 2016 Planning Commission meeting, since the Village did not take reasonable measures to ensure that the meeting was held in a location that is convenient and open to the public. The AG’s Office also determined that the Village of Tinley Park violated the OMA by not having proper rules protecting public comment at its public meetings. 

On 2/4/16, the Village of Tinley Park held a Planning Commission meeting in its cramped Council Chambers room, despite the 2/2/16 Village Board Meeting held in that same room being unable to accommodate everyone who wished to participate in the meeting. At both the 2/2/16 Village Board Meeting and the 2/4/16 Planning Commission meetings, the controversial Buckeye Community Hope Foundation “Reserve” project was being discussed; this is the low-income housing project that did not meet zoning codes requiring commercial development in Tinley Park’s Oak Park Avenue corridor until the Legacy Code zoning ordinance was allegedly tampered with illegally to remove wording that blocked the “Reserve” project from being built. A lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on 3/22/16 alleges that Planning Director Amy Connolly and Village Attorney Thomas Melody intentionally tampered with the zoning code to specifically benefit Buckeye. We have been covering this scandal regarding the zoning code tampering since the beginning. 

According to the Attorney General’s determination on 4/4/16, the Village of Tinley Park should reasonably have foreseen that the cramped Council Chambers would not have been able to hold all of the people who wanted to make their voices heard and address the Board in protest on 2/4/16. The Open Meetings Act requires that if a public body knows that a large number of people want to come to a public meeting and participate that the meeting space used must be able to accommodate them comfortably. Since the 2/2/16 Village Board meetings was attended by over 1,000 people and those wishing to speak were forced to stand out in a hallway where they could not see or hear the meeting, the Village should have rescheduled the 2/4/16 if it would not able to find a more open and convenient location for that meeting. Since the Village chose not to find a new meeting location to better accommodate the public and held the 2/4/16 Planning Commission in the cramped Council Chambers anyway, the Village violated the Open Meetings Act. 

A similar inquiry has been opened by the Attorney General into the 2/16/16 Village Board Meeting, which was also held in the same cramped Council Chambers. At that meeting on February 16th, once again the room was filled to capacity and hundreds of people were shunted off to an overflow room, where they could not properly see or hear what was happening in the Council Chambers. Additionally, anyone wishing to speak had to line up in a hallway outside the Council Chambers, where they were provided with no access to sound or video of the meeting. The OMA does not allow for any of this, particularly after the Village saw on 2/2/16 that it could no longer accommodate the public in the Council Chambers due to the public outrage over the Legacy Code zoning ordinance tampering scandal. 

Another inquiry is being made into the 3/22/16 Village Board meeting, which was held at Andrew High School, because in the middle of public comment at that meeting the Mayor announced that public comment had to end before everyone had a chance to address the board because the high school wanted to close for the night. So everyone had to go home abruptly. The meeting agenda for 3/22/16 did not state an end time for the meeting and the Village had an obligation to allow the public to address the Board. Suddenly declaring that the building needed to close because the high school staff wanted to go home for the night is not a reasonable excuse to abruptly end public comment and deny people their right to address a public body under the OMA. 

Alleged violations of the OMA that occurred at the 2/16/16 and 3/22/16 Tinley Park Village Board Meetings are awaiting final determinations from the Attorney General. The determination handed down on 4/4/16 regarding violations at the 2/4/16 meeting seem to indicate that the AG’s Office will not look favorably on the Village’s actions on 2/16/16 and 3/22/16, however. 

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Thomas Melody Klein Thorpe Jenkins

Thomas Melody of Klein Thorpe Jenkins

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  • Dave
    Posted at 10:36h, 05 April

    Power abuse and arrogance take one in the chops… Great work dogs! Freedom gets a win!

    Live Free or Die!

  • Jeanne
    Posted at 11:24h, 05 April

    Who cares? Just watch the video of the meeting later. If you want a seat come early. If you get there late stand in the hall. Not everyone can fit in one room and half the people who are there don’t even know what’s going on. Who cares if they can’t be in the room. They let too many dumb people talk at the meetings anyway. Not everyone needs to be heard.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 11:26h, 05 April

      Who Cares? Those who cherish our 1st Amendment rights and the rule of law. The same rights and laws our young men and woman are fighting and dying to protect. How disrespectful you comments are to those who have sacrificed so much. Sadly, it is those who sacrificed that gives you the right to post something so stupid.

      • Jeanne
        Posted at 11:45h, 05 April

        You just like to make trouble. You are always splitting hairs with thes stupid meeting laws. No one can follow these laws to the letter. All you do is sit around and look at things to complain about. I feel sorry for you. Get a hobby. Get some exercise. Stop trying to bust VOLUNTEER public servants for not following everything to the tee. They get most stuff okay. Cut them some slack!!!

        • Dave
          Posted at 12:59h, 05 April

          Transparency and freedom isn’t splitting hairs, obeying the LAW isn’t optional And people have a RIGHT to speak at the meetings. Your opinion about the people being dumb has no value in the argument. You exhibit hateful intolerance for everyone’s rights, your arrogance is off the charts! Your words serve only to stultify you

          • Jeanne
            Posted at 13:20h, 05 April

            To met his is just a bunch of ignorant people afraid of certain kinds of people being able to have a better life and move into a nicer area. It is against the fair housing act to stop certain kinds of people form moving in. So now all these CTOPers keep trying to dream up ways to delay the building of this project. Meantime all those nice families who want a better life has to keep waiting for their new homes to be built. Breaks my heart to see a town full of such ignorance trying to keep out nice families.

        • Blah
          Posted at 15:12h, 05 April

          Wow, another stupid comment from Jeanne. Shocker.

          First of all, it’s the law. That’s enough of a reason to follow it. If you don’t agree with it, then run for office and get it changed. Until that happens, then it needs to be followed.

          Secondly, hundreds of government bodies follow the Open Meeting Act perfect every day. It’s not that hard. It’s not complicated. And there are training classes you go to that can help you understand it. This isn’t rocket science.

          Third, these are not volunteers. They are elected officials. They have sworn an oath. Saying they are volunteers is like calling Obama a volunteer. Just because they don’t get paid doesn’t make them a volunteer. They ran for this position, won the elections, and accepted the position. Elected officials are more volunteers.

          • Jeanne
            Posted at 18:19h, 05 April

            I worked for IHDA for 10 years. I know how things work. You don’t need to tell me. I know better than you do. If you don’t understand the sacrafice these board members make to serve their community then you are not well educate. They give up their time and they put up with grief because they love their hometown. None o them deserve to be harassed by hotdogs from Edgar County or other outsiders. Go pay attention to your own towns and leave ours alone. We can manage without you and your incites.

  • Christine Noodwang
    Posted at 12:45h, 05 April

    Power and arrogance may have been slapped down but it’s just one of the formalities and has nothing to do with the Reserve getting built or not. If the Reserve gets in, so to, will the building across the street from the train station needing to be supported by HUD. This ain’t over yet folks. Mr. Petroni, representing the “Reserve”, won’t give up that easily. This stopping of the meeting and OMA is just rhetoric and the actual hasn’t been stopped yet. Delay, delay, delay. That is what will stop this. Racist…….NO…..but why should the town of Tinley Park be governed by TAX throwbacks and HUD. We have very nice things in Tinley Park that without the present and past Board of Trustees and Mayor — WE WOULD NOT have. Look around!!!!! TIF has been one of the important factors. TIF used WISELY helps our town. Not everyone is on the “take”. Some good things have been accomplished in the last 20 some years with the present and past board. And the Planning Commission dropped the ball somehow and no one bothered to pick it up and get rid of it. We all need a place that is safe to live. But you get that by fighting for it. That doesn’t just happen. We, the people, have worked for everything in Tinley Park….and so should any new residents. Nothing is FREE. If it is.. give me some of those Vouchers.

  • Dave
    Posted at 13:09h, 05 April

    I have noticed iberals are ideologically driven and have no love for the law. They are unconcerned with whether their desires for government action are legal. Their basis for what is right or wrong is how strongly they ‘feel’ about it. If they think something ought to be this way or that, then they don’t care what the Constitution says or the reasons it was written that way.

    • Jeanne
      Posted at 19:25h, 05 April

      No need to bring politics or labels into this. This is a zoning dispute. It is not about ideology but about providing nice families with homes. It is controversial because of the people trying to stop those nice families from moving in.

      • Kirk Allen
        Posted at 19:32h, 05 April

        You claim nice families. What evidence do you have on the nature of the families? Its controversial because they broke the law in trying to allow the development. Why is that so hard for you to see?

        • Jeanne
          Posted at 20:08h, 05 April

          I worked at IHDA. I know these families who need these homes are nice. Who are not nice are the ones trying to stop them form having homes.

      • Dave
        Posted at 19:59h, 05 April

        You’re in denial… I labeled no one. You can’t say the same, you claim the watchdogs “just like to make trouble”

        Do you deny that’s a label?

      • Dave
        Posted at 20:04h, 05 April

        You called those wanting to speak “dumb people”… where I come from that’s a label and that makes you a hypocrite.

        And more proof liberals are ideologically driven and have no love for the law. They are unconcerned with whether their desires for government action are legal. Their basis for what is right or wrong is how strongly they ‘feel’ about it. If they think something ought to be this way or that, then they don’t care what the law says or the reasons it was written that way.
        Only their opinion matters… selfish to a fault

  • Kirk Allen
    Posted at 18:28h, 05 April

    Jeanne, You are the perfect example of one who doesnt understand what a Republic is. You dont have to live in your town to have an interest. Do you tell the Chicago Tribune to get out of town since they dont live there? Channel 2, 5, 9 or any others.

    Politics is a contact sport. Don’t like it get out. The people have a right to bring their grievances to the board and publicly shame them if that is what it takes to fix things.

    Please go take a civics class to better understand our rights, which include your right to be ignorant on this topic.

    • Jeanne
      Posted at 19:14h, 05 April

      There is no reason you need to stoop to levels to get your points across. You can be civil and respectful. Board members deserve respect and a civil tone. The mayor called for civility and respect just the other day. This is exactly the reason. No need for all the uncivilly and public shaming. You can make your point known without stooping so low.

      • Kirk Allen
        Posted at 19:25h, 05 April

        Says you.