DECATUR, IL. (ECWd) –
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: