Normal’s illegal public comment policy

By:  Diane Benjamin

This is a link to Town of Normal policy:

The Attorney General’s office needs to hear from a lot of you today.  The policy is illegal and violates the Open Meetings Act.  The AG is required by law to resolve all Requests of Review within 60 days.  The ONLY way to maybe push them to action is if numerous citizens file against the Town of Normal.

All it takes is an email to:  [email protected]

Subject:  Request for Review

Show them the policy and ask them to rule it illegal.  Ask for a BINDING ruling.  A suggestion to change it will never happen in Normal.

Below is a pic of their policy – the areas highlighted are illegal and prevent citizens from exercising their right to speak.

public-commentExplanation for why they are violating the Open Meetings Act:

  1.  Normal doesn’t “permit” citizens to speak – they are REQUIRED to allow citizens to speak.
  2. Two hours are unduly burdensome.  Signing up to speak 10-15 minutes before a meeting is sufficient
  3. There is nothing in the OMA law that states a citizens can’t speak on any topic they want.
  4. 10 minutes is not an adequate time frame for a Town of over 50,000 people.
  5. Limiting people to once every 45 days violates their rights to speak during public meetings.  They would only be allowed to speak at every 3rd meeting.  Nothing in the OMA law makes this legal.
  6. Citizens are not required to give their address or who they may be affiliated with.  The Council is required to hear opinions, not pre-judge based on their personal bias.

According to the daily rag, two gentlemen were not allowed to speak at last night’s Normal Council meeting because they had commented within the last 45 days.

A guy named Doug addressed the Council at their meeting last night about their policy.  Sorry Doug, I don’t know how to spell your last name!

Watch his comments around 8:30 on the video below.  The rest of his comments were GREAT too!

Comments from the Council on Portillos:

Lorenz – opportunity to replace old buildings, economic development

Peterson – Portillos only looked at sites on Veterans Parkway, they contacted Normal, project isn’t viable without subsidies  See video at 21:50 – Nobody develops without subsidies.

Gaines – Has no understanding that this subsidy is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!  Evidently people will FLOCK to Normal to eat there, until Portillos builds everywhere.

Preston – Also believes in rearranging the deck chairs  (FYI:  People from outside the community were supposed to flock to the Coliseum too!)

McBride – The most desirable land is along Veterans Parkway, he wants it – therefore it must be subsidized.  He believes it will be a destination and won’t hurt current businesses

McCarthy – everybody in Central Illinois gets subsidies, Portillos is an economic driver – people will FLOCK here, the project is paying for itself

Fritzen – this restaurant will hold visitors in the community, he realizes the first 90-120 days will steal business from other restaurants.  He thinks competition is better – Jeff, government is subsidizing their competition!  That makes competing tough.

Gaines – thinks this is an investment to make money

Koos – actually realizes some other restaurants will lost money!  But, he thinks business will come back to them even though it might take a year.  Hopefully those businesses will still exist in a year!

100% voted YES.

Nobody asked why interest is being paid on unearned sales tax revenue!

Have we heard the end of Renner claiming the future is downtown?  Obviously Portillos didn’t want to be downtown in Bloomington or Normal!

Sick of Crony Capitalism with YOUR money?  Drain the Swamp in April!


27 thoughts on “Normal’s illegal public comment policy

  1. Koos is an IDIOT! PERIOD! And praising a restaurant that sells HOT DOGS, while the REST of the country is TRYING to eat HEALTHY, and N.Y.C. outlawed large sized sodas, so are we to assume that NORMAL wants a corpulent population that will eat hot dogs and wind up with a heart attack in Bro-Menn?
    Never mine the $3 MILLION they gave Motel 6 Now that’s capitalism.
    OH, and IF ya see me there, take a picture, because I’m with a friend, I don’t shop in UPTOWN, nor will I eat a “fancy hot dog” I’ll be with a friend most likely. I’ll have the water-THANK YOU!

      1. Way to make someone feel welcome and to get them to engage in a dialogue about issues, BNIndy. This forum is so cliquish. I wish I could be one of the cool kids. Maybe someday. I can only hope.

  2. WOW!!! How crooked can you be? Gagging your citizens is illegal!!! I don’t live in this town, so I don’t have standing, but some citizen of Normal with a little money needs to hire a lawyer to take this bunch to court over their public comment gag rule. It’s a solvable problem. If the citizens won’t do it, then they deserve to be gagged. Don’t depend on the AG office. They fail to act often.

    1. I just sent my request for review to the Attorney General and I’d encourage people writing here to do the same. You don’t have to live in Normal to file a request with the Attorney General nor are you restricted from speaking at a Normal Town Council meeting. I wanted to speak last night, but I plan to speak at the Truth in Taxation Hearing on December 19. Under their policy if I spoke last night I’d forfeit my right to speak on December 19.

  3. $8M in projected sales is quite a prediction.
    Such a deal and the restaurant management realizes it. They get a prime location in which that will probably never loose any money on if they ever have to sell. In fact make a profit on it likely. Meanwhile the tax paying citizens of Normal get stiffed for funding this.
    Why is it other local business owners can fund/finance their own ventures and others wanting to locate here aren’t and cry to government for incentives? This reminds me of what has happened when one big retailer moved into communities and drove the smaller independent businesses out of business.

  4. “He believes it will be a destination and won’t hurt current businesses” Tell that to Windy City Wieners or Sonic. Both will be closed in 2 years, or less.
    Portillo’s is opening in Champaign too, I’m sure Peoria will be along before too long, and Springfield. Portillo’s already lost its “uniqueness” when the original owner sold it.

  5. Thanks the good Lord above for Normal’s public comment policy to address the council. The condescending a-holes who think ANYONE wants to hear from them week in and week out are crazy. Could Bruce Meeks and Alton Franklin be more rude? The best thing the Town did was requiring those wanting to make public comments wait 45 days between comments. The worse thing the Bloomington Council did was extend public comments to :30 minutes. Aldermen must be gluttons for punishment.

      1. Ad hominem attack. Classic. Do you have an opinion on how frequent commenters at the Bloomington council scold Aldermen or whether the public comment section of a public meeting accomplishes anything or do you want to compare diplomas?

      2. Rob, of course the commenters make no impact because the Bloomington City Council votes on the agenda items even before the meeting’s agenda is posted for citizens to view. The councils don’t want input, even constructive criticism. They only associate with those who agree with them. Citizens are guaranteed by the Constitution with the right to express dissatisfaction with their government.

    1. I realized today that I had not read the first amendment for awhile. So I went back and re-read it. I was shocked to discover a portion that I had never noticed before. Here is the text of the amendment (with the stuff about religion removed for brevity sake:

      “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech unless the speech is annoying to the government or listening to said speech could be reasonably considered a waste of time”

      In all seriousness, name calling and belittling those you do not agree with us how we ended up with a nation-wide rout of the Democratic Party. So, please post dissenting thoughts and ideas, but make them intelligent.

  6. Normally I find Rob’s remarks so outrageous, they’re not worth a response, but what I’m reading here is quite troubling and in this case deserves a response. Not just to Rob but many others who are also posting nonsense on this site.

    Our rule of law is based on the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God who requires of us a decent respect for the opinions of others. This is because we believe in the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and as such have God given rights, that do not derive from man but of God.

    Governments are instituted among men and they derive their powers from the governed. It’s why America had a revolution. The Declaration of Independence which was written to King George III felt otherwise and sought to impose his will upon the people, much like some in government today.

    So now, here we are in 2016 in Bloomington Normal, Illinois where our local governments would look quite frightening to our founding fathers as they do to me.

    For anyone who has ever come in contact with the petition process for a place on a ballot for an elected position, you know it is a tedious process. In many cases petitioners are taking one person’s word against another’s that they are indeed who they say they are, that they are the ones signing the petition and they are registered voters within the jurisdiction of the person they are signing the petition for. It is incumbent upon the candidate to carefully verify the signatures, the addresses and voter registrations of the signers. Those records are available from the County Clerk’s office or in the case of Bloomington, the Bloomington Election Commission. The purpose of this process is to ensure the integrity of our elections and the people’s sacred right to vote, argued by many to be one of our most fundamental freedoms.

    The Bloomington Election Commission and their attorney Robert Day have made an absolute mockery of this process. Worse yet is Tari Renner, a political science professor, no less, who cites case law favoring “a signer’s intent when signing a petition” instead of the truth of people’s word that is verifiable. He goes even further by demeaning those who would dare to question his right to be on the ballot as “fringe members of the extreme right.” If this is what law abiding citizens concerned with the rule of law are called by the Mayor of Bloomington, then he has clearly revealed his disdain for the very system of government he was elected to uphold. He must be replaced by the powers available to the citizens, the ballot box.

    Voters must be assured of the integrity of our election system that is run by the people, for the people and of the people. The BEC’s reckless disregard for the law reveals their ignorance, incompetence and simple lack of trust from the people they are supposed to serve. Right now there is no decision they could make that would be upheld in a court of law because of the illegality of their meetings.

    There is clearly an effort underway in our local government to shut citizens out and put in place a system of government of ruling elites. Whether this is intentional or consequential, is irrelevant; the end result is tragic. I’m often told that no one is listening to public comments at public meetings. That may or may not be true but it misses the point. I have a right to speak that must be exercised. My right is to speak, not be heard. In cases where elected officials continue to refuse to listen, we have the right to vote and remove them from office.

    I’ve heard references to “frequent flyers’ at Council meetings that I find quite insulting that I’m sure would make our founding fathers heads spin. I think Patrick Henry, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and a long list of others were also “frequent flyers.” People have a right to attend public meetings and they have a right to speak. The Normal Town Council web site says we can be granted “permission.” No! We have a right! If Alton Franklin and Bruce Meeks want to give up their Monday night’s and speak at every Bloomington Council meeting, so be it. I for one welcome it. If Council members don’t want to listen, fine, let them face the consequences of their actions at the ballot box. But, let’s make certain we have a fair election process first. Thanks to everyone who is working on that. It looks like we have a ways to go.

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