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July 13, 2024

AG: Carlinville Violated Open Meetings Law at Jersey Rural Water Meeting –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On November 1, 2017


On September 25, 2017, a majority of a quorum of the Carlinville City Council met at the Jersey County Rural Water Company office as part of the now-questionable “Regional Water Concept” meeting. Also in attendance were the Jersey County Rural Water Company (a non-profit) and the Fosterburg Water District (we are actually surprised they didn’t whip out the Water District credit card and pay for keg-party with an open bar at this meeting).

During the “meeting” Carlinville’s appointed representative, Alderman Cindy Campbell discussed public business, Alderman Beth Toon also discussed public business, and finally, Mayor Deanna Demuzio chimed in as the third member of the Carlinville City Council to discuss the public business if the City of Carlinville – creating the Open Meetings Act violation. With Demuzio commenting, she created the “majority of a quorum who discussed public business” scenario. Everything was fine and legal up to that point of the meeting.

I filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor about the alleged violation. Carlinville’s attorney responded, presumably without reviewing the video, and I responded to his letter with 6 instances in the video proving he as mistaken about what actually happened at that meeting.

Finally, the AG-PAC determined that the City of Carlinville violated the Open Meetings Act by having a majority of a quorum of the city council present at a meeting that was not properly noticed, without a proper agenda, and that the majority of a quorum actually participated in discussions concerning the public business of the City of Carlinville.

The AG asked the city to make the meeting minutes publicly available and to consider whether gatherings at which three or more of its members may engage in discussions of public business require proper advance notice and adherence to the other requirements of the OMA.

Our advice to Carlinville is to properly notice and properly post an agenda for these meetings, and make sure they are open public meetings in the future – and subject them to the Open Meetings Act. Any Alderman of the city and any Trustee of the Fosterburg Water District has the RIGHT to attend this meeting and all future meetings of this type. They cannot be refused entrance simply because they are not the chosen official from that public body. Additionally, they cannot be refused entrance into executive sessions of these meetings either.

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