More on the “illegal meeting”

By:  Diane Benjamin

State’s Attorney Jason Chambers doesn’t agree with the Attorney General’s email from yesterday:  https://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:  https://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:

Tari Renner <[email protected]>

9/25/13

to me
Diane,
As usual, you raise some good questions and concerns. I don’t know the details of what you’ve discussed below about the UN flag but, the broader issue is something we must address. One proposal I will be discussing with the council is to just have all emails between council members (as a group) to be made public every month (just like our minutes).  So, at least we can make these exchanges public.
Thanks Diane!
Best,
Tari Renner

7 thoughts on “More on the “illegal meeting”

  1. While the City Code states that the Mayor is in fact considered part of the City Council, one would think that since they are using these meetings to circumvent the OPA, they are in violation of the OPA itself. At the last Meeting of the Whole, Renner made it very clear in his statement, which is on video, that this was his intent. Now, the City Code states that City Officials and Employees fall under the State Employee Ethics Requirements in the ILCS. That is, they are subject to the same ethics rules and standards as outlined in the State Law for State Politicians and Employees. The City Code is very specific on this fact. Do we file complaints with the State Ethics Commission? How about swarming Jason Chambers desk with emails and tell him to start doing his job? He supposed to be representing the people, not covering Tari Renner’s ass. Maybe he would learn a thing too by reading and comprehending the Illinois Ethics Statute.

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  2. Off topic here…. why does this local media radio station appear to crucify Council member Lower?
    http://www.wjbc.com/2015/11/04/bloomington-budget-critic-bypasses-task-force/
    [audio src="http://cdn.stationcaster.com/stations/wjbc/media/mpeg/Kevin_Lower__Bloomington_alderman-1446647356.mp3" /]

    I listened to two radio jockey’s spewing off like 2 rabid dogs at Lower looking for a feast, just incredible. Gosh can you ever wonder why no one listens to one local radio station anymore? Sort of like one local news print organization not allowing comments on this letter to the editor, “Downtown financing not for taxpayers”

    I perfectly see Lower’s position and what part do they not understand?. Maybe they need a picture?

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    1. They don’t understand council dynamics. He did take Kevin’s comment out of context-right before Kevin’s list of cuts Scott accused him of never mentioning any

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      1. The word “pontificating” used by Mr. Black was omitted during the editing process. Heaven forbid mini-mayor would be presented in a poor light.

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  3. Just remembered the recent “budget meeting” in the Osbourn Room with just 4 aldermen; Black, Schmidt, Painter and Hauman present. It was open to the public, there was an agenda posted, had public comment and the Clerk was there. The process of determining priorities for budget cuts was discussed (and implemented) and then presented to the Council at the Committee of the Whole.

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