CARLINVILLE (ECWd) -
The city attorney, Dan O'Brien, discussed the AG's Public Access Counselor's opinion that the city of Carlinville violated the Open Meetings Act on January 2, 2018 when it adopted an Ordinance in violation of the OMA by not properly listing it on the agenda as an action item for approval. This item was an Ordinance that the city listed on its agenda as "First Read" - but instead used their local rules to Suspend the Rules and adopt the Ordinance. I complained that was improper because the agenda only listed it as a "First Read" - not as an approval, and the PAC agreed it violated the OMA.
During his "explanation" he made several errors which could lead certain people to think he was not entirely forthcoming:
- He thinks the council's local rules trump the OMA - wrong answer
- He said the AG wanted them to do a Motion to reconsider, when that is not what the AG asked
- He went on to explain "suspending of the Rules" - comparing it to a church board or other nonprofit board - completely failing to mention that a public body must follow the OMA, while a church board does not
- Claims reconsidering the vote would make them noncompliant with the Legislature's mandate of approving an Ordinance by Jan 15th - failing to mention that an Ordinance approved in violation of the OMA is not an enforceable Ordinance and the city will continue to be in violation of the mandate of approving the Ordinance (because one has not been approved if it was never properly on the agenda)
- Claims the AG's attorney disagreed with the previous AG attorney's opinion - WRONG - what the letter said was that the previous opinion was prematurely released without going thru its proper supervisor's review process. It was not a disagreement, it was a retraction, of the previous opinion
- Claims the new opinion contained very little substance when the fact is, there was plenty of substance contained within the 7-page opinion
- When he read the actual opinion, on advice of a council member, it was clear there was much more to this opinion than he previously disclosed
- Even when questioned by an alderman, he still stated he thought their local rules were fine, failing to realize that local rules cannot force a violation of law (OMA)
Our opinion? Either this guy is willfully clueless, or has no experience with local governments and the Open Meetings Act.
Once again, repeat after me, Robert's Rules of Order, and any other local rules of a public body, are invalid when they cause a violation of the OMA. Period. State law trumps local rules. Is it that hard to understand?
Below is the video of this discussion, and the city decided to do nothing and leave their invalid and unenforceable Ordinance alone, effectively ignoring the AG's PAC office. This is nothing new to Carlinville, it routinely ignores requirements of FOIA, OMA, and even requests for information from the AG. The way they see it, is if nothing will be done to force their compliance with law, they will continue to ignore the law's requirements. The arrogance of this astounds me.
Review the video - we welcome comments from our readers: