By: Diane Benjamin
I filed a Request for Review with Lisa Madigans’s Public Access office on January 18, 2018. The request was for a ruling on the budget workshop held by the Town of Normal that was not posted as a meeting with an agenda, time, and place. I received a ruling yesterday.
5 ILCS 120/3.5 (e) requires the Attorney General’s office to issue an opinion within 60 days, but once again laws are immaterial. When government is not held accountable rapidly for violations of the law, all laws become immaterial.
The Town of Normal tried to claim it wasn’t a meeting. They were wrong. I recently filed another similar case against the County for holding an un-posted meeting with legislators. They will lose too. Anytime a majority of a quorum is present it’s a meeting!
This meeting was not posted on the Town website where all other meetings are posted. The Town claims they posted it on the front page of the website under “events”. I never saw it and I know other people who never saw it who would have attended if they had known about it. The Attorney General ruled posting under “events” complied with the Open Meetings Act however.
I also asked for a ruling on the many “straw votes” taken during this session. The Attorney General used an Illinois Supreme Court ruling on straw votes in an Executive Session to uphold the Town’s straw votes at this budget session. I strongly disagree with that interpretation since Executive Sessions need some consensus of members before an issue, like hiring a City Manager, is raised in public. The items approved by Normal’s straw votes became part of the budget without any public discussion. The only way the public knew about these cuts was from media that did attend. Some may have been mentioned at a meeting, but they weren’t agenda items that notified the public.
Of course, violating law carries no penalties when government does it.
See the entire ruling here: PAC 51301