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February 23, 2024

Silvis: Obtained Closed Session Recording From Labor Attorney; Claims Vote By “Agreed Upon Ascension” –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On April 30, 2023

Silvis, Ill. (ECWd) –

In a previous article on our complaint to the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (“PAC”) against the City of Silvis, Illinois, alleging Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) violations during a February 7, 2023, closed meeting in which the city’s labor attorney confiscated and kept the closed session recording and later prohibited the Mayor from listening to the recording in violation of the OMA.

In the previous article we also wrote about the city’s lawsuit against their labor attorney for access to municipal records so they could determine if the records in possession of the attorney were subject to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).

In its April 27, 2023, response to the PAC, the City of Silvis explained that:

  • Numbers 4 and 5 of our complaint were voluntarily resolved by the city, and acknowledged the closed session recording of the February meeting was obtained from the labor attorney, Allison Wright, on April 18th, and was now properly in the possession of the City Clerk as required under Sec 2.06(e) of the OMA.
  • the city also stated that the Mayor has been informed he may review the recording at any time in compliance with Section 2.06(f) of the OMA.

For item number 1 of my complaint, that the city council did not “vote” to enter into closed session, the city alleges that despite no recorded vote or utterances can be heard on the recording of the open session, the city council voted through an “Agreed Upon Ascension” by a nodding of heads of the council members – and claiming that since the city has since amended its meeting minutes to include the “ascension” vote by nodding of heads and naming the council members present, that it complied with the OMA’s requirement that the vote of each member be publicly disclosed and recorded. (Sec 2a)

For item number 2 of my complaint, the city’s response indicates there was “probably or imminent threat of litigation” as the reason to enter into closed session, and that there was no pending litigation, only claims or complaints communicated orally to the labor attorney. (Sec 2c)

For item number 3 of my complaint, the city states that the Mayor and Clerk were not “prohibited” from entering closed session (the recording indicates otherwise), and they did not object when the city council entered closed session without them present, and that this issue of who may or may not attend a closed session is not addressed under the OMA.

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