Secret meeting: the transcript

By:  Diane Benjamin

I won’t have to file another lawsuit for the transcript of the Executive Session that Judy Stearns walked out of.  I now have it, parts are redacted.  A link is at the end of this article.  The meeting was held November 15, 2013.

First, everybody in this meeting, except facilitator Lynn Montei, was required to have Open Meetings Act training:

omalawEvidently laws don’t matter to some participants when they hold secret meetings!  Remember, the Attorney General ruled this meeting violated OMA:

Tari Renner took office May 1, 2013.  This meeting took place 6 months later.  Back when Tari thought I could be used to accomplish some things he wanted, I got this email from him:

tarihalesTo me the transcript sounds more like a professor’s plan coming out of David Hales mouth.  “Adapting!”  Remember, following this meeting MANY department heads left and people from around the country were brought in to replace them.  The Administration staff and budget also increased substantially.  Why is in the transcript. (Page 11)

One interesting part is a statement by then Alderman Jennifer McDade:  (Page 19)

mcdadeI wonder if McDade is the reason Madigan’s office took over two years to issue a ruling!?!

Jennifer McDade is now on the Connect Transit Board.

It’s very difficult to summarize this meeting!  Obviously Renner through Hales planned to totally upend the City – Renner called it Culture Change.  Surprisingly part of the discussion was on transparency and some City employees who were preventing it.  Transparency is better, but it has also shifted from required transparency to hiding everything else.  For instance, comprehensive City Manager reports no longer exist.

Other notes:

  • The audio version of the transcript would be much more enlightening.  I’d rather hear how some parts were said than what was said.
  • Normal is referenced as a Council with a plan they have stuck to for many years.  In other words, the Council represents the Town – not the people paying the bills – Page 7.
  • Page 22:  Unions get thrown under the bus, specifically the police union because they won’t allow volunteers “to come in and do some work”.  It also states unions are responsible for lack of efficiency.
  • Judy left – see page 9.  She did state she was filing with the Attorney General.  No one from the Council or City contacted her after the meeting to discuss her issues.  On page 10 Tari states Judy discussed her reservations with him the day before.  He goes on to defend his position.  Former Alderman Rob Fazzini proves why I’m glad he is off the Council with his comments.
  • This Executive Session was held at the DEN during a retreat.  No camera was available, so even if parts were discussed in public after, nobody was there to hear it.
  • Hales wanted to combine Water and Public Works – page 21
  • Hales proclaims the changes he wants can’t be a 5-4 vote of the Council – bottom of page 20, top of 21
  • Kevin Lower questioned the cost of the proposed changes – page 21.  Hales questioned the cost if they don’t make the changes.  Now three years later, with an exploded budget, Lower is shown to be correct.  They planned, spent money on new staff, and citizens have little to show for it other than plans.
  • David Sage claims on page 15 that former City Manager Tom Hamilton just gave unions a 3% raise every year.
  • Page 7 – Renner tells the Council not to criticize Hales in public.  Again, the audio would be better than the transcript.
  • Page 6 – Hales claims the Council must lead changes.  Novel idea, but it never happens.  (Not even in Normal)
  • Page 7 – Renner talks about individual meetings with Council members.  That confirms that votes are fixed in advance, but that was already obvious.
  • Page 7 – Renner says the Council has to have Hales back.  Again, the audio of HOW it was said would have been better.  He goes on to explain what sounds to me like TOP down management with fewer department heads.  Hales’ expanded staff will manage departments instead.  Top down never works, but a professor wouldn’t understand that.  Why doesn’t it work?  Because low-level employees have to wait for directions from above.  It’s never instantaneous and just delays response times.  I seem to remember departments were told they couldn’t talk to each other.  I also remember the Council was told not to talk to them either, everything was supposed to go through Hales.

Obviously this was an illegal meeting.  Obviously some of the comments are why the Council votes over and over to never release Executive Session minutes.

See the transcript here:

Closed Session Transcript – November 15, 2013-1




7 thoughts on “Secret meeting: the transcript

  1. Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.
    Niccolo Machiavelli

  2. I too am thankful Fazzini is off the Council. Diane, I assume you’re referring to his remarks on page 10 that his eyes, Judy is just as guilty as the rest for violating the open meeting act. What about his remarks on page 20. Makes me wonder how many secret meetings have been held in the Fazzini home.

      1. Many references to the “two on one” meetings. Mr. Lower was not allowed to finish any of his sentences. They kept track of the number of names–19. Renner is blaming Alderwoman Schmidt for having to leave @ 10:45 as the reason for the executive session to be held prior to the regular meeting. Since when do meetings get rearranged just because one person cannot attend. CYA!!

      2. The AG ruled the meeting in violation so for me it doesn’t matter what is redacted. The meeting should have been open to the public. The AG saw the entire transcript and heard the entire audio, right? Those present were wrong, Judy Sterns was in the right.

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