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May 19, 2024

AG: Jacksonville Violated Open Meetings Act When It Approved Race At Speedway –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 8, 2021


The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor has issued a determination that the City of Jacksonville violated the Open Meetings Act when it took final action during its March 22, 2021 meeting by approving a race at the Jacksonville Speedway without it being listed on the meeting agenda as an item up for a vote.

From the determination:

This office has listened to the recording of the Communications period of the March 22, 2021, meeting and confirmed that the Council voted to approve a motion in favor of the Speedway’s request to host a race past 6:00 p.m. on April 29, 2021. Although the Council’s answer to this office characterized the race approval as “routine,” the vote was a final action, as it resolved a substantive matter before the Council. Even if the mayor or City administration had the unilateral authority to approve the race extension, this office has previously concluded that when a public body manifests final action by reaching a consensus on a matter at the request of a mayor, that action cannot be reasonably construed as unilateral action by the mayor. “Such an interpretation would permit public bodies to evade the advance notice requirements of OMA[.]” Ill. Att’y Gen. PAC Req. Rev. Ltr. 38115, issued December 15, 2015, at 3 (concluding that a public body took final action by reaching a consensus to approve street closures proposed by the mayor).

Accordingly, this office concludes that the Council violated section 2.02(c) of OMA during its March 22, 2021, meeting by voting to approve the April 29, 2021, race without having listed the general subject matter of that final action on the meeting agenda. No corrective action can be taken to remedy this violation at this time, but we caution the Council that its agendas for future meetings must identify the general subject matter of all matters upon which the Council takes final action.”

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