Renner: Not such a little deal?

by:  Diane Benjamin

All of the following information was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the Attorney General’s Public Access Office.

In November, when Alderwoman Stearns walked out of an Executive Session because she thought the discussion violated the Open Meetings Act, Mayor Renner all but called her accusations a joke.

Let’s review.  Illinois law is very clear, all meetings MUST be held in public with only a few exceptions.  Those exceptions are meant to be for discussing personnel, union contracts, land sales or purchases, etc – in other words items the should never be discussed in front of a crowd.  Would you want your boss to call an office meeting and give your evaluation in front of everybody?  How about planning negotiations with the other side present?  Yes, there are times for SECRET meetings – that’s what Executive Sessions are.

If Mayor Renner thought he was totally innocent, why did the City hire a Chicago lawyer to write a 7 1/2 page response to the Attorney General?  Mayor, you couldn’t say you did nothing wrong with a City lawyer and fit it all on one page?

Much of what I received was redacted.  However, Mayor Renner has stated over and over that it wasn’t an illegal meeting because everything discussed was later discussed in open session.  The Chicago lawyer told the Attorney General that everything would be fixed last night at the Council meeting:


page102I wonder how much the lawyer charged to write the almost 8 page letter and offer advice – that the City didn’t take!  I sent the City a Freedom of Information Act Request for the bill, they say it hasn’t been received yet.

Nothing about the Executive Session was discussed last night.  Funny how the letter states the Council will decide in OPEN Session whether to release the minutes.  If that had always been Council policy, the public would know which Council members voted against releasing Tom Hamilton’s evaluations and other information they have kept secret.  That would have been transparency.  Voting to release these minutes means nothing compared to the past information the Council voted not to reveal.

Since nothing was done last night, sorry Tari, now the issue is largely NOT moot!

Transparency is easy to put on a website, not so easy in practice.






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