By: Diane Benjamin
State’s Attorney Jason Chambers doesn’t agree with the Attorney General’s email from yesterday: http://blnnews.com/2015/11/03/bloomington-holds-illegal-meeting/
Not surprising since he didn’t see a problem with Mayor Renner announcing at a Council meeting that art is for sale in his City office: http://blnnews.com/2014/05/05/pay-to-play-okay-if-nobody-prosecutes/
Chambers interprets the City Code that the Mayor is part of the Council. Since Renner doesn’t vote and isn’t part of a quorum, I disagree. The only way to get a real answer is in court. It probably won’t be the Circuit Court, any decision would require appeals to the Appellate Court. Stay tuned.
Some things to consider:
- Tari’s Budget Task Force had THREE Aldermen on it. If they weren’t afraid of violating the Open Meetings Act, why were agendas prepared, public comment allowed, and minutes taken? Sounds like an official meeting! If the City thinks these three-person unannounced and undocumented aldermen meetings are legal, how are they different from the task force? See Documentation here: http://www.cityblm.org/index.aspx?page=21&parent=8608
- On September 10, 2012 a work session was held with committees on the agenda: http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4289 Written by David Hales – page 2: Areas of Concern:
Compliance with the Open Meetings Act
Consistent compliance with the Open Meetings Act is vital for our Council operation. Under our present unofficial Sub-Committee system, the rules for Open Meetings are not being followed. This puts the Council and the City at risk for noncompliance sanctions by the Attorney General’s Office, and contributes to the perception that we are not being “up front” with our discussions and our actions.
- See this video from 4/12/14. Only 5 Alderman were in attendance at a Council meeting, Renner states the minimum legal quorum is present. Since he had just explained where the 4 missing aldermen were, I think he is speaking about the 5 present. Chambers thinks Renner is including himself. Just click PLAY.
Regardless of what Jason Chambers or the Attorney General Office says, holding these private 3 person aldermen meetings and withholding the truth when asked for a schedule does “contribute to the perception” the City has something to hide.
David Hales wrote this in September 10, 2012 document above:
Committees will make recommendations to the Council so fewer topics would need to be covered during work sessions involving all elected officials
In other words, these small groups will meet and make decisions for the whole Council without citizen involvement in the process. Citizens won’t hear the discussion or their logic. The rest of the Council will assume whatever the group presents is correct and pass it. Remember Hales participates in all these small group meetings.
I remember when Renner wanted transparency. Of course, that was clear back in 2013. Now he is allowing Hales to hide Council exchanges. Times change. See this email: