By: Diane Benjamin
For months Normal Mayor Chris Koos has been pretending with the help of media that changing the Town’s Public Comment Policy is his idea.
Today the Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion that slaps him around on numerous counts.
(Did the AG suddenly start doing their job? Maybe!)
Craig Stimpert filed a Request for Review on December 6, 2016. He received the ruling today.
The 45 day rule before citizens can speak again was ruled a violation of the Open Meetings Act and the citizens right to address their government.
The Town attorney, Robert Day, claimed the 2 hour sign-up rule had been ruled okay by the AG back in 2013. Quote from the letter: “This statement is inaccurate”. See the bottom of page 5.
The Town was also slapped around for demanding citizens only speak to items on the agenda. In 2014 the AG ruled in another case that citizens should be able to talk about other items since the Council is allowed to talk about anything – as long as they don’t vote on items not on the agenda.
See the entire 7 page ruling H E R E I highlighted the fun parts for you.
This is a great victory for citizens rights. Bloomington and McLean County need to take notice since Bloomington wants to limit Public Comment and the County has never complied with the Open Meetings Act.
But the citizens of Normal aren’t done.
At the meeting Monday night, somebody needs to walk in 5 minutes before the meeting and ask to speak. The Attorney General states they can’t rule until somebody’s rights are violated. The AG will strike the 2 hour rule quickly if anybody is told they can’t speak.
Citizens are also not required to give any information except their name! No address or who you are affiliated with.
I don’t know what fire has been lit under the AG’s office, other than a lot of bad publicity. It’s nice to see a rather quick ruling – or maybe this one was just easy.
Monday night Normal should have a new ordinance for Public Comment on their agenda. Let’s see how well they can read.