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Pecatonica Township: A Third Open Meetings Act violation – Right to Speak –

Winnebago Co. (ECWd) –

In an Illinois Attorney General Opinion dated August 3, 2017, Pecatonica Township was found to have violated the Open meetings Act by improperly limiting public comment to two minutes per speaker (when there was only one speaker).

The problem was that they did not have a policy limiting comments to two minutes, they simply decided to trample on the right of a critic to speak.

During a May 16, 2017 township meeting, Mrs. Hamilton was limited to two minutes during public comment and she filed a Request for Review with the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor.

When the AG’s PAC asked Supervisor Musso about the limitation, he replied that “Mrs. Hamilton’s comments were limited to two minutes instead of the normal five minutes because time constraints called for it. All others who addressed the Board during the May 16th, 2017 meeting were given the same two minutes instead of the normal five minutes.

Noting Musso’s intentionally misleading reply, Mrs. Hamilton replied to the AG stating that she was the only person who addressed the Board that meeting, that Musso told her she was limited because of the way she behaves in front of people, and that the meeting would have ended at 6:58 p.m. instead of 6:55 p.m. had she been permitted her five minutes to speak.

The AG PAC confirmed Hamilton was the only person to speak during public comment and determined the Pecatonica Township Board had violated the Open Meetings Act by imposing rules not established or recorded.

We find it sad that a township supervisor has to be intentionally misleading to try and excuse his actions during a meeting. Did he think no one would notice Hamilton was the only person to speak, and there were no “all others who addressed the Board”?

This appears to be the pattern in Pecatonica Township; shutting down their critics.

2017 PAC 48439

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