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April 12, 2024

Maine Township – Supervisor & Clerk violate Open Meetings Act & Township law.

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On December 27, 2017

Cook Co. (ECWd)-

In yet another shocking example of either ignorance or stupidity of our laws, look no further than Maine Township Supervisor Laura Morask, an attorney at law no less.

During the November 28th, 2017, meeting, an agenda item for the destruction of an audio record for a prior closed meeting was to be acted on, listed as item #11.

Open Meetings Act for Dummies: 

Who votes to destroy audio recordings of closed meetings?

5 ILCS 2.06 (c) The verbatim record may be destroyed without notification to or the approval of a records commission or the State Archivist under the Local Records Act or the State Records Act no less than 18 months after the completion of the meeting recorded but only after:

        (1) the public body approves the destruction of a particular recording; and

(2) the public body approves minutes of the closed meeting that meet the written minute’s requirements of subsection (a) of this Section.

Township Law for Dummies:

What constitutes the public body in a Township?

(60 ILCS 1/80-5 Sec. 80-5. Township board membership; officers. 
    (a) In each township, the township board shall consist of the supervisor and 4 other members elected at large from the township under Section 50-5. 

Now that we all know what the law says about voting on destroying records and who actually votes, time to expose the absolute ignorance to our laws by the Maine Township Supervisor as well as the Clerk.

Under the Supervisors direction, she instructed the new board members that they have to abstain from voting on the record destruction action because they were not board members at the time of the meeting record in question. You can view the video at this link.

Such advice is in direct conflict with the law that instructs those members to vote on this very issue.  The records are not records of the people that held the office before but rather the records of the public body, no matter who is holding the seat. Elected officials are required by law to vote on these matters and in order to properly know what they are voting on they are to have access to those records.

Access to those recordings is the very issue that led to a change in the Open Meetings Act after a school board member, asked to vote on destruction, was denied access to the record when she simply wanted to listen to it so that she could make an informed vote on the destruction of the record.

5 ILCS 120/2.06 (e) – Access to verbatim recordings shall be provided to duly elected officials or appointed officials filling a vacancy of an elected office in a public body, and access shall be granted in the public body’s main office or official storage location……”

The public body is the Township Board which consists of four board members and the Supervisor and it is their statutory duty to vote on this matter.  The Supervisor has once again shown the public her claimed 16 years of experience in Township government has taught her little about Township Law and the Open Meetings Act.

Township Clerk Law for Dummies: 

Does the Clerk get to vote on any matter related to record destruction?

(60 ILCS 1/80-5 Sec. 80-5. Township board membership; officers. 
…..The township clerk shall be the clerk of the township board but not a voting member, except that in the case of a tie vote to fill a vacancy in a township office, the clerk shall be entitled to cast one vote. Each person on the township board shall cast but one vote. The supervisor shall be the chairman of the board. 

Even though the law clearly spells out the ONE condition in which the Clerk gets a vote, Maine Township Clerk violated that law by voting to destroy records based on a flawed belief that since he was a board member during that time he gets to vote on the records that were created during that time frame.

It is clear these people have been operating this unit of government as they feel fit, not as the law directs.

A request for Review with the Attorney General Public Access office has been filed as it is clear action was taken that violated the Open Meetings Act.

As additional procedural information, a legal motion that is voted on only passes when a majority of the members of the public body vote for such passage.  Considering three trustees abstained from voting, this vote actually failed, contrary to Supervisor Morask’s belief that it passed.

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1 Comment
  • Ted Cusack
    Posted at 19:47h, 01 January

    The Clerk of McHenry Township should really pay attention to this story before he winds up in BIG trouble. If he was investigated, then numerous items raising BIG questions would surface.