Can the elected use Cell phones during meetings?

By:  Diane Benjamin

Yes they can – but that makes their cell phone subject to FOIA.  It also makes it easy to erase browsing history or text messages so FOIA can not reveal what they were doing.

I received a tip that County Board member Erik Rankin was texting on his phone during both the last County Board meeting and the Executive Committee meeting, so I FOIA’d text messages.

Jessica Woods answered the FOIA, I don’t know what heads up she gave Rankin.  This is the response I received:

Jessica is one of the people being considered to replace State’s Attorney Jason Chambers.  Maybe in order to preserve FOIAable evidence, phones should be checked immediately following meetings.

The easiest way to avoid a problem is to not use it during meetings, especially if you are the McLean County chair of the Democrat party.

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14 thoughts on “Can the elected use Cell phones during meetings?

  1. Hmmmm…can we FOIA cell phone records for ISU Employees used during their normal schedule. I know Erik like to do political activity while at work. (ETHICS VIOLATION)

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  2. So lets say the County Supervisors hold a Public Hearing for the New Budget, if cell phones are not allowed in the room there should not be any way to ask a secret question without relieving who is asking it. Seems a simple answer to just not allow them into the meeting room at all. after all it is a PUBLIC HEARING.

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  3. I believe those Text messages are maintained on the carriers server and can be easily recovered from his service provider at the county’s expense. Data is always backed up somewhere! You cannot hide from it by saying you deleted it. It also violates the state of il records retention policies and general administrative correspondence is required to be held for 18 months and can only be deleted once the state if il has approved it to be destroyed. I hope the county has the right record series and retention is their email servers and it looks like they may need to educate their board members on text messages

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  4. Come on Diane I would just like to see what runs down their leg when you request the records from your he service provider to verify there were no text messages!

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  5. Consideration should be given to the fact that Erik Rankin was appointed to chair the McLean County Democratic Party until that term expires in the spring of 2020. He was not elected, he was appointed to a term of nearly two years. County chairs are elected for two years shortly after each primary election. They also have the ability to appoint the precinct committee persons who vote for the county chair. Will any ISU people be appointed to vote on behalf of a precinct ? Faculty ? Staff ? Students ? This applies not only to the Twin Cities, but to the entire county. Will any students run for a city council seat ? County Board? County Clerk ? State Senator ? Sheriff ? Things such as this have happened in other locations in years past.
    Mr. Rankin is walking a tight rope. He is Chairman of the County Board, Chairman of the Democratic Party, and interestingly in the Poli-Sci Dept. at the University in Normal.
    If Mr. Rankin was to receive a call from a presidential candidate while instructing a class or chairing a Board meeting could he say “I’ll call you back”, not if he is smart politically.
    The potential for improprieties does exist. In the political arena, ethics must be the driving force or our system is doomed to failure.
    It is my assumption that Mr. Rankin and the head of the Poli-Sci Dept at IWU are probably acquainted. Is my assumption valid ? Has the Washington “Swamp” trickled down to Good Old McLean County ?

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