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April 20, 2024

Village of Chatham – We have nothing to hide says Mayor – Oh Really?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On August 2, 2016

Sangamon Co. (ECWd) –

The very first meeting we attended for the Village of Chatham was rather comical as it was not posted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, which we covered in this article.    We found the failure to post the agenda rather odd considering Mayor Grey is also the Chairman of the Illinois Municipal League who is the lobbying arm for municipalities in Illinois and knows meetings are required to be posted.

After that June 16, 2016, meeting which I asked several key questions about missing information on the resolution that established the South Sangamon Water Commission, I was told something that has always given me pause.  “We have nothing to hide,” said Mayor Grey.

Anytime we hear that it gives me concern as history proves more often than not when we get told that it turns out to be nothing more than an attempt to steer us away from digging into anything.

Nothing to hide?

Maybe the Mayor can explain why a month after we got involved and started reviewing key documents that appear to point to serious conflicts of interest and possibly illegal action, the Village Administrative Assistant is asking the Local Records Commission for permission to destroy recordings of past meetings.  Meetings that may well have key information to help prove what happened as minutes do not always tell the whole story. (Record Destruction request found here)

Nothing to hide?

Any time a public body seeks to destroy records after we get involved we find that they do in fact have something to hide.  Record destruction is designed to save space.  Recordings of past meetings do not take up much space and with today’s technology, there is no need to destroy them.  For a very low cost, they could all be placed on a thumb drive for ease of access and dissemination.

A FOIA request for those records has been denied claiming reasons beyond belief.

“The Village currently does not have the equipment to copy the cassette audio tapes and accordingly we cannot fulfill your request. However, you are more than welcome to come to the Village Hall and listen to any such regular meeting tapes we have on file. Please contact me and we can schedule a time if you so desire. Even if we did have the equipment to copy the tapes, it would take a tremendous amount of time to copy them. If you are aware of a company that will make the copies and you are willing to pay for that, we will be more than happy to consider that option as opposed to you listening to the tapes at Village Hall.”

Nothing to hide?

Can anyone explain whey the public should have to pay for records that they already paid to have created?  The fact it would take a claimed tremendous amount of time is not a valid exemption under the FOIA law.  And finally, if you don’t have the equipment to convert them is it asking too much to either obtain the equipment or better yet, contract with an audio company to convert them for you!

Other concerns?  A local citizen has requested an opportunity for the public to meet with the Mayor and discuss their concerns to get the problems with the water resolved.  That request was sent July  27th, 2016.

Good Afternoon,

I am requesting a meeting due to lack of answers on the water and financial issues we as a community have been experiencing now for several years.  There are a group of us that have attended meeting after meeting seeking answers to our problems/issues but to no avail do we ever get any!  Therefore, as a Mayor of this town I would believe you would be more than willing to meet with your citizens and allow for answers, not just comments. 

At your earliest convenience please let me know a couple dates and times you are available in the next weeks.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Debbie L. Drennan

As of publication, the Mayor has yet to respond but we all need to remember, Mayor Grey says they have nothing to hide. LOL

Quite a statement for a person that has yet to answer many key questions of public concern that are directly related to the health and safety of the community he is supposed to serve.

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1 Comment
  • jannie
    Posted at 12:49h, 02 August

    You are right the minutes often do not tell the whole story and can be edited to the bare bones – never telling the entire story. To all of a sudden want to destory recordings is suspecious.
    I would have taken them up on their offer, especially if a specfic meeting – be prepared to listen and bring my tape recorder to record.