COLLINSVILLE, IL. (ECWd) –
What does it say about a Mayor that cannot sit there and listen to a citizen exercise his right to address the council during a public meeting?
Mayor John Miller committed a criminal Class C Misdemeanor during Collinsville’s City Council meeting on July 11, 2016 by not allowing comments he deemed critical of himself. After a citizen started addressing the council, he was talking about a former councilman and said “the Mayor said he was corrupt a year ago” – and almost immediately Mayor Miller gaveled him down and told him he was done and could make no further comments.
Apparently feeling guilty about something to begin with, Mayor Miller misunderstood the comment, thinking he was calling the mayor corrupt, which even if he did call the Mayor corrupt, was still protected speech and made during a public meeting where citizens have the statutory right to address the council.
We are not sure what occurred during the abruptly called recess, but when they came back, the citizen resumed his comments. We do not know whether he was coerced into changing what he had planned on saying or not, but the point we are making is that this Mayor did not have the right to prohibit the comments he prohibited, he committed a crime when he did, and he should be prosecuted.
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Paul LunsfordPosted at 09:27h, 20 July
I enjoy your reporting. To me it is very relevant. Citizens deserve the right to be heard. I disagree with filing charges based on what I read. Public servants must be required to attend the class to learn the law if and when they commit a violation..we do not want to discourage solid citizens from public service based on a moment of poor judgement…keep up the good work
jmkraftPosted at 09:36h, 20 July
They have already attended the required Open Meetings Act class (required in order to serve) and they already know violations are a crime.
ConcernedPosted at 22:19h, 21 July
Ignorance of the law is never a defense. Otherwise it would be used in ever case. You can’t say “he didn’t know better”. Doesn’t fly with the courts.
“Yes your honor, I did murder him, but I didn’t know it was illegal!”
janniePosted at 10:41h, 20 July
I’m wondering if at the council meeting they had a lawyer at the mtg. who informed the mayor of his mistake. Hopefully he didn’t harass the speaker to make changes in his comments.
Danni SmithPosted at 11:48h, 20 July
Mr. Lunsford, Mr. Kraft has now explained that public officials have, because they are required, attended training classes, which is done at taxpayer expense, even if it only includes mileage reimbursement. The violations of the Open Meetings Act by elected officials is too routine. One can only ponder the reason(s). Is it because the officials did not understand the training, or officials do not respect the lawful training or is it because the officials think the citizens do not know the law. Whatever the reason for officials violating the Open Meetings Act, it has become to routine, causing many taxpayer funded lawsuits and it is the lawsuits that will stop and control officials who think they are the parent and you are their child, rather than you are the citizen and they represent and work for you. Criminal charges are directly against the individual, not the entire Board and that ought to awake some individuals, like the U46 Board and its constituents.
Ed PencePosted at 04:50h, 21 July
This type of behavior is all to common at our city council meetings. A few months ago we had a citizen removed for questioning the Mayor. Since that time the then city attorney resigned and a new one has been hired. The new attorney came up with a list of things the public can’t do when addressing the city council. I forwarded a copy to Mr. Kraft last night.
Danni SmithPosted at 10:50h, 21 July
From my personal experiences the clamp down always seems to be, Speak.