EFFINGHAM CO., IL. (ECWd) -
We previously wrote about an alleged illegal meeting of the Effingham County Insurance Committee, which has three members. Jeff Simpson and Karen Luchtefeld were attending this meeting which was held behind closed doors with no agenda posted. We called them on it and they shut the meeting down and left the room.
The meeting was for the purpose of reviewing the insurance company's list of county property for accuracy. A quorum of the committee was present.
The Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor was asked to review the allegations of Open Meetings Act violations, they asked the Committee for information concerning the meeting, and the committee responded.
The response stated the two members of the committee were in the room, but "no discussion was made of any county insurance business."
This statement was never qualified as to whether there was no actual discussion of county insurance business (we believe there was), or if she used the definition of "discussing county insurance business" given to her by the County's OMA advisor to assert they did not discuss county insurance business.
Apparently, their County Open Meetings Act advisor told them they did not have to have a meeting if all they were discussing was the list of county property as requested by their property and casualty insurance company (sounds like county insurance business to us).
The chairman never stated whether or not the purpose of two members of the three-member committee being in the same room was to discuss county insurance business (it was, we know it), nor did she say in the letter if the committee reviewed any of the paperwork that was laid out all over the table they were sitting at. You can hear her say, in the video, that they were reviewing the company's list [of insurable Effingham County property].
She did try and muddy the waters by stating they were also members of other committees of the county board besides this one - something that makes absolutely no difference.
She claimed in the letter, we assume based on their OMA advisor's flawed definition of a meeting, that since there was no meeting, there was no agenda, minutes, or recordings.
Our view: A quorum of the insurance committee met with the intended purpose to "discuss and review" the list of property their "insurance company" wanted them to review. This was a meeting to discuss the public business of the insurance committee.
Watch the follow-up questions at the County Board's latest meeting - and an acknowledgment from a board member that he was notified of a meeting.: