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Patrick Urich confirmed Friday afternoon that the City Council ordered funding for Officer Jeff Wilson’s legal fees withdrawn as part of the marathon executive session Tuesday night….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