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City apparently violates Open Meetings Act; “watchdog” media don’t question it

I was dumbfounded to read this in the “watchdog” press this morning (emphasis added):

City Manager Patrick Urich confirmed Friday afternoon that the City Council ordered funding for Officer Jeff Wilson’s legal fees withdrawn as part of the marathon executive session Tuesday night….

The city decided to continue funding Wilson’s legal fees in June when Nicholson filed for an extension of the no stalking order. That decision apparently was overturned by the council on Tuesday during the executive session.

What’s wrong with this picture? If it’s being accurately reported, it’s a blatant violation of the Open Meetings Act, which requires any final action by a public body to be made in open session. Executive session is for discussion purposes. If the City Council is taking a vote or making any kind of decision (i.e., final action) as a public body on anything — including matters of legal funding or non-funding — it must take such vote in open session at a properly-noticed meeting.

There are legal ramifications to this that can impact the City. According to the Open Meetings Act: “No final action may be taken at a closed meeting. Final action shall be preceded by a public recital of the nature of the matter being considered and other information that will inform the public of the business being conducted” (5 ILCS 120/2e). If the City were sued over this violation, the court could “declar[e] null and void any final action taken at a closed meeting in violation of this Act” (5 ILCS 120/3c). All of this adds up to more legal fees for the City, which means more taxpayer money being spent.

That the City would play fast and loose with the Open Meetings Act is, alas, no surprise. But I can’t believe this is being reported by the “watchdog” press so matter-of-factly, completely without question, as if this is standard operating procedure. The Open Meetings Act is often skirted via legal loopholes, and the Journal Star turns a blind eye to such shenanigans, even though such skirting is clearly not in the public’s interest. Yet here is not a legal loophole, but an obvious, blatant, and admitted violation.

Did this not raise any red flags at 1 News Plaza?строителство на къщи

15 comments to City apparently violates Open Meetings Act; “watchdog” media don’t question it

  • mazr

    All American City
    It’s Better Here

  • Emtronics

    mazr, I would press the LIKE button but CJ doesn’t have one.

  • District Watcher

    They must have attended the District 150 School of Transparency.

  • checking for details

    Notice it took the city manager several days to get the (in their mind) the correct spin. Either they piss off Nicholason or Wilson and have to gamble who has the least amount of dirt to spill about the corruption in city hall/Peoria PD. Imagine if Wilson’s defense team had (or perhaps will be) dismantles the order of protection system. Peoria would be mud of an international scale. Victim’s rights groups, social service agencies etc would be marching on city hall. the first death from an invalid Order of Protection leading to a death of a victim would lead to a lawsuit that would rock the very foundation of the warehouse district.
    I noticed that word on the street doesn’t even mention it. I am wondering if those two “reporters” chafe wearing the city’s cheerleading skirts. COP top dawgs are simply hoping that noting comes of this or the sludge pit that they have entangled themselves in. Quite frankly there needs to be some serious investigation into this “transparent” government. seems like the window shades are pulled down all the time. The only way to get the city on the Open Meetings Act is to involve the AG’s office and then it will take a lawsuit. COP counts on poverty stricken sheep to ensure business as usual.

  • HerschelP

    Horse crap. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Check closely and you will see that legal direction is allowable and common in closed session. Funding was stopped for Wilson which should have never received it in the first place. No new dollars were allocated for anything.

    There is a duty to protect officers in litigation, but not in situations such as this. The outrage should have been at the onset of the problems when the legal fees of one officer, but not the other were paid in an INTERNAL affairs investigation. The PD is as corrupt as can be, but I wouldn’t count on it continuing much longer. Anyone can see this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Emtronics

    And yet we keep voting in the same people, some recycled, over and over and people wonder how this happens? FEH

  • Peoria Taxpayer

    I am very upset that we have been paying this clowns legal bills. Whoever convinced the City Council that Peoria Taxpayers have to pay up just because this guy committed bad acts while on duty should win an Academy Award, and the Council should win a suckers of the year award. Following this logic, if any pubic employee would commit a rape or murder while on duty,the taxpayers would be on the hook for that defense as well. This is a case of buddy s taking care of their buddy s at its finest.

  • Emtronics

    Actually it is fancy wording in the contract between the police and the city.

  • Peoria Taxpayer

    and how does that change anything I said?

  • Emtronics

    Because you said: “Whoever convinced the City Council that Peoria Taxpayers have to pay up….” The City Council didn’t have a choice.

  • Anon

    Well whether it is now or earlier at some point the dimwit council agreed to pay the pervs bills. And I seriously doubt that a defense of this nature would have been included in whatever agreement they had. Buddys taking care of buddys is right. Screw the taxpayer.

  • Emtronics

    Quote from PJS: “The city has been funding Wilson’s representation in that stalking case, previously claiming that it was obligated to do so under the “duty to defend” provision of the union contract and state law referenced by that contractual clause.”

    Now I think the Council met to discuss if they could legally get out of paying the defense legal fees. According to the contract with the city, the Council is obligated to pay legal fees for defense of it’s officers. Apparently, during a Executive session, they decide not to continue paying.

  • Peoria Taxpayer

    Any REASONABLE person would assume that the city would be obligated to pay legal fees for the defense of it’s officers during the course of their ordinary duties. No one could possibly think that this obligation would extend to them going rogue and say, robbing a bank on duty, or, raping or murdering someone. That’s crazy. Clearly cooler heads agree or they wouldn’t have shut off the spicket at the last executive meeting.

  • lanestar7

    The city must NOT be required to pay his legal bills if they could just choose not to as they did in their executive session with knowledge by a union rep. So that loser needs to pay back the $100,000 the city already spent on his defense.

    Can you imagine how this poor woman being stalked by that creep must feel knowing her legal fees were paid from her own pocket but her stalker’s fees were paid with HER tax money by HER bosses? Ugh, Peoria police just keep doing what they can to keep their reputations in the mud.

  • Peoria Taxpayer

    Lanestar – good points. In essence, the victim was paying the legal fees for her stalker via taxation.