Shelby County, IL. (ECWd) –
A rare 12-page Binding Opinion (Public Access Opinion 22-008) was issued today by the Illinois Attorney General to Jeff Slifer and the Shelby County Farm Committee for violating the Open Meetings Act during its April 7, 2022, Farm Committee meeting by voting to approve two resolutions without providing advance notice of those final actions on the Committee’s meeting agenda.
Watch our Livestream video of this meeting at the bottom of the article (or here). Start at the 48:25 mark to see the SA advise the committee to vote on the two items in question in this Binding Opinion. Also, see ~49:36 where Willimas asked if the items were on the agenda, and the SA opined stating it was “part of options for farming.”
Shelby County State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke was present at this meeting and opined that it complied with the Open Meetings Act when the specific question about the agenda and votes was brought up by Williams. This is the second OMA issue Kroncke has been wrong on, the first being her advicing a board member could attend a meeting remotely even though there was no policy permitting as the law requires. She ignored the public input on that matter. We understand another request for review is pending regarding the insurance committees action during a meeting which Kroncke was also present for.
From the Binding Opinion (emphasis ours):
- For the reasons discussed below, this office concludes that the Farm Committee (Committee) of the Shelby County Board (Board) violated OMA at its April 7, 2022, meeting by voting to approve two resolutions without providing advance notice of those final actions on the Committee’s meeting agenda.
- The Committee’s argument is analogous to contending that an agenda item for a county board meeting sufficiently identified the general subject matter of a final action if it stated the county board would discuss matters regarding the county, which is patently overbroad and insufficient.
- The Committee’s agenda was simply too vague and imprecise to provide any meaningful notice to the public that the Committee would take action concerning borrowing money for crop expenses or obtaining crop insurance. Because agenda item three merely restates the Committee’s purpose, the agenda did not satisfy the requirements of section 2.02(c) of OMA
- The Committee also asserted that even if the Committee had violated OMA, the Board cured the violation by considering and voting on the Committee’s recommendations at its April 14, 2022, meeting.
- A committee of a public body, such as a board, is a separate public body from the board for purposes of compliance with the requirements of OMA. Thus, the Board’s actions at its April 14, 2022, meeting did not cure the Committee’s violation of OMA.
- Based on the foregoing, this office concludes that the Committee violated section 2.02(c) of OMA during its April 7, 2022, meeting, by taking final action to recommend that the Board attain crop insurance and borrow money for crop expenses without including the general subject matter of those final actions on the meeting agenda.
- Accordingly, the Attorney General concludes that the Committee violated section 2.02(c) of OMA by failing to include the general subject matter of those final actions on the agenda for its April 7, 2022, meeting.
- In accordance with these findings of fact and conclusions of law, directs the Committee to include the general subject matter of its anticipated final actions on its agendas for future meetings and to conduct its future meetings in full compliance with OMA. As required by section 3.5(e) of OMA, the Committee shall either take necessary action as soon as practical to comply with the directives of this opinion or shall initiate administrative review under section 7.5 of OMA.
A copy of the Binding Opinion can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.Binding Opinion 22-008 (2022 PAC 71237)_Redacted