KANKAKEE, IL. (ECWd) –
The City of Kankakee held a meeting on July 15, 2019, in which one of the items up for a vote, and listed on the agenda, was “Approval of Settlement regarding Fonder v. Martinez.”
Alleged OMA Violation
After Executive (Closed) Session of the City Council, it returned to open session and voted to approve the settlement. The City did not provide any comment other than the Motion to approve the settlement in Fonder v. Martinez. Watch video of this vote below.
At a minimum, in our opinion, the City should have disclosed any moneys to be paid or other consideration in the settlement.
The Open Meetings Act, Section 2(e) requires that a vote by a public body must “be preceded by a public recital of the nature of the matter being considered and other information that will inform the public of the business being conducted.” See Allen v. Clark County Park District Board of Commissioners, 2016 IL App (4th). Also see Board of Education of Springfield School District No. 186 v. Illinois Attorney General, 2017 IL 120343, IL Sup Ct.
I filed a Request for Review with the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor for them to review this alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act.
Alleged FOIA Violation
Not hearing any of the settlement terms in the meeting video, I submitted a FOIA request for a copy of the settlement voted on during the meeting.
The response to our FOIA request was late, and then denied, with the city stating they did not possess any settlement entered into that pertained to my FOIA request.
Kankakee is playing word games in order to buy time, for what reason we don’t know. But we do know there is a difference between “voting to approve” a settlement and “entering into” a settlement. Why Kankakee insists they don’t have a copy is unknown, because it was voted on and approved at the meeting, we find if hard to believe they would sign the only copy available and give it to someone else…not even the Mayor, Aldermen, or the city attorney kept a copy (according to the FOIA officer).
We call this what it is, a false representation to a FOIA requester.
We are still deciding whether to file a lawsuit for a copy of this settlement.