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May 21, 2022

Decatur Public Library’s misinformation on recording of meetings –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On September 8, 2019

DECATUR, IL. (ECWd) –

Gregg Zientara

During its August 14, 2019 meeting, Decatur Public Library board member Gregg Zientara (who is also the Treasurer of the City of Decatur) took exception to a resident videotaping the public meeting without notifying him it was being recorded. He lodged an objection to the recording.

City Librarian Rick Meyer stated that, according to their legal counsel, “technically” they were supposed to be notified that someone was recording the meeting.

We believe both are wrong; here’s why:

  • The Open Meeting Act, 5 ILCS 120, Section 2.05, states that “any person may record the proceedings at meeting required to be open” to the public. This also permits the public body to develop reasonable rules for recordings, like location of cameras, use of lights, etc. What a public body cannot do is place additional restraints on such recordings – such as any prior notification.
  • The Illinois Criminal Code, 720 ILCS 5, Section 14-3 lists specific exemptions to the Eavesdropping law, stating that “The following activities are exempt from the provisions of this article“:
    • Subparagraph (e):  “Recording the proceedings of any meeting required to be open by the Open Meetings Act, as amended;”

There is no requirement spelled out in either the Open Meetings Act or the Eavesdropping law which mandates or even suggests any notification is needed to record an open public meeting.

Either the board members were mistaken by what their legal counsel told them, or their legal counsel was wrong in his opinion. We suggest they get an opinion in writing.

Watch this part of the meeting:

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6 Comments
  • Dave
    Posted at 18:42h, 08 September

    Why would a public body think it ‘s necessary to know the meeting is being recorded? Why does it matter. If their meetings are conducted in a lawful manner, ie… as prescribed by law, then what’s the problem? One has to assume if they feel a need to know ahead of time it must be because they have something to cover-up.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 18:48h, 08 September

      not to mention the guy with the camera was sitting right there, holding it up…

      • Dave
        Posted at 20:20h, 08 September

        Yep, …. because of the board’s behavior I’m beginning to smell the stench of misuse of tax payer dollars. I hope I’m wrong…..

        • mannix
          Posted at 19:00h, 09 September

          Oh hell no!

          Don’t be looking to start down that road!

          The prisons are plum near to full already.

          Start arresting crooked politicians and where will they put them all?

  • Dave
    Posted at 18:49h, 08 September

    The Decatur City Council needs to pull the plug on this incompetence before there is another attempt to deny a citizen OMA protected freedom and another taxpayer funded vacation in Scotland.

  • Paul A.
    Posted at 15:40h, 14 January

    DPL’s legal counsel must have horrible form.

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