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Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Illinois Municipal League Conference 2017

Later this week, the IML's Annual Conference will take place and Ancel Glink attorneys will present a variety of engaging and educational sessions.

Be sure to stop by:

Total Request Live: Night Meeting Edition
Friday, September 22 at 1:00 pm
Ancel Glink Presenters: Stewart Diamond, Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, Julie Tappendorf, Dan Bolin & Kurt Asprooth

Fight Blight Right: Smart Strategies for Nuisance Structures
Friday, September 22 at 3:30 pm
Ancel Glink Presenters:  Dan Bolin & Mark Heinle

What Every Clerk Needs to Know About Employment Issues
Saturday, September 23 at 9:15 am
Ancel Glink Presenters: Keri-Lyn Krafthefer

Public-Private Partnerships - How to Determine if P3 is Right for Your Community

Saturday, September 23 at 10:30 am
Ancel Glink Presenters: Derke Price

Stop by and say hello if you are attending the conference!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Federal Judge in Chicago Blocks New Requirements For Grants Affecting Sanctuary Cities

A federal judge in Chicago recently blocked the U.S. Justice Department from denying grant funds to “sanctuary cities” – cities that have declined to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement – finding the Department had exceeded its legal authority by requiring cities to either comply with immigration officials or face losing public safety grant funds. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed new requirements on the Justice Department’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. That program funds state and local law enforcement initiatives. The new requirements would have allowed federal immigration authorities access to local jails. They would also require cities to provide 48 hours notice before they release an immigrant who was in the country illegally in order to allow time for them to be apprehended by federal immigration authorities. Any cities that refused to comply would have had their Byrne funds withheld.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel filed suit arguing that Chicago would not “be blackmailed” into changing its values as a “sanctuary city” that is welcoming of immigrants.  Enacting the Justice Department requirements would, claimed Emanuel, “drive a wedge of distrust” between the immigrant community and police forces.  Prior to the new requirements, Chicago had requested $1.5 million in Byrne grant funds for next year, all of which would presumably be withheld due to its status as a “sanctuary city.”

Finding that Congress provided no authorization for the Attorney General to add the new conditions to the Byrne program, the federal judge placed a temporary nationwide injunction on the new requirements in order to prevent the Justice Department from withholding grant money until there is a final determination in the suit. 

Post Authored by Jessi DeWalt, Ancel Glink

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Disclosure Law Applies to Park District Volunteers

The Illinois General Assembly recently enacted P.A. 100-0472. The Act amends the Park District Code to mandate that park districts require volunteers to submit an application prior to beginning any work as a volunteer for the park district. That application must include a question whether the volunteer has been convicted of or found to be a child sex offender. The law also prohibits a park district from knowingly hiring a volunteer who has been convicted of or found to be a child sex offender. Finally, the law requires any current volunteer to disclose any such conviction to the park district.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Law Impacts Townships' Ability to Accumulate Funds

Townships need to be aware of Illinois House Bill 1896, recently enacted as P.A. 100-474. This new law, which became effective on September 8, 2017,  amended the Township Code to include a new section that specifies that townships may not accumulate funds (excluding the township’s capital fund), that exceed 2.5 times the township’s annual expenditures from the previous three fiscal years. While this law does not impact accumulations in townships’ corporate funds, it will impact all other funds, including general assistance, IMRF, etc. 

Post Authored by Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Eighth Circuit Dismisses Free Speech Lawsuit Regarding Activity in City Arena

Ball was arrested and cited by the City for trespassing while passing out leaflets in the Plaza Area of the Pinnacle Bank Arena. The City claimed he was violating the Arena’s Exterior Access and Use Policy.  Ball sued, claiming the City violated his First Amendment free speech rights. The district court dismissed the case, and Ball appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled in favor of the City.  Ball v. City of Lincoln, Nebraska

Ball argued that the Plaza Area was a public forum for purposes of free speech under the First Amendment. The Court applied three factors to determine whether the Plaza Area was a public or nonpublic forum:

(1) the Plaza Area’s physical characteristics;
(2) the use, function, and purpose of the Plaza Area; and
(3) the City’s intent in constructing the space.

The Court noted that a public forum is public property that is available for public expression, citing streets, sidewalks, and public parks as examples, as distinguished from a nonpublic forum, which are government properties that are not “by tradition or designation a forum for expressive activities by the public.” A restriction on expressive activity in a nonpublic forum only needs to be reasonable to be constitutional.

The Court addressed the first factor by looking at the physical characteristics of the surroundings, such as unique sidewalks that distinguished the Plaza Area from adjacent public sidewalks. As to the second factor, the Court noted that the Plaza Area functioned as a venue for commercial use by Arena tenants and was meant to facilitate safe and orderly access to the Arena, stating “that members of the public are permitted to come and go at will does not transform the Plaza Area into a public forum.” 

The Court addressed the third factor by considering the City’s intent, purpose, and policy to determine whether the Plaza Area was a public forum. The Court found no evidence the City intended it to be open to the public for expressive activities and that the purpose of the Plaza Area was to protect the contractual rights of the tenants and allow for crowd management. Considering these factors, the Court determined that the Plaza Area was a nonpublic forum.  

The Court next addressed whether the Arena’s Exterior Access and Use Policy that restricted speech in the Plaza Area was permissible. The Court noted that a restriction on speech in a nonpublic forum is permissible if it is viewpoint neutral and reasonable in light of the purpose which the forum at issue serves.  In this case, the Court found that the policy was viewpoint neutral on its face because it broadly prohibited specific expressive activity without regard to the content of the speech. 

Post Authored by Jessica DeWitt, Ancel Glink

Monday, September 11, 2017

Library Law Updates

2 new laws amend certain provisions relating to Illinois libraries, as follows:

Advisory Referenda

P.A. 100-0462 amends the Illinois Local Library Act and the Public Library District Act to add language in those Acts to authorize members of the respective library boards to place an advisory question (referendum) on the ballot. The authorization to place an advisory question on the ballot must be approved by vote of the majority of the library board members. 

If approved by a local library, the question would be placed on the ballot at the next regularly scheduled election in the city, village, incorporated, town, or township in which the public library is located. 

If approved by a library district, the question would be placed on the ballot at the next regularly scheduled election in the district.

Local Library Reporting

The Illinois Local Library Act requires the library to submit a report to the city, town, village, or township (as the case may be) within 60 days after the end of the fiscal year. That report must contain information about library revenues and expenditures, property, and various other information. P.A. 100-0245 modifies the reporting requirements to change the time-frame for a public library's submission of a statement of its financial requirements to be included in the municipality's appropriation and tax levy ordinances to require submission no less than 60 days prior to when the municipal tax levy ordinance must be certified.  

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

Friday, September 8, 2017

Judge Finds Incompatibility of Office at Parkland Community College

A trial court judge recently found that an associate professor at Parkland Community College could not also serve as a trustee on the Parkland College Board. Harden was an associate professor at Parkland when she decided to run for a position on the Board of Trustees after the Board decided not to rehire several faculty members. After being sworn in, Parkland’s attorney informed Harden that she could not simultaneously serve as a faculty member and on the Board of Trustees.  

The issue was whether Harden could legally serve as both a trustee on the Parkland Community College Board and an employee of Parkland Community College. The judge determined that she could not, finding that an incompatibility of office existed between the two positions. One of the standards for determining whether there is an incompatibility between two positions is whether one position (the Board of Parkland Community College) has extensive responsibilities over the operation of the other position (an employee of Parkland Community College). 

Interestingly, the judge gave Harden the option of remaining on the Board or continuing as an associate professor. Previous courts have found that where an incompatibility exists, acceptance of the second position is ipso facto a resignation from the first position, meaning Harden would have resigned her teaching post when she was sworn in as trustee. 

Post Authored by Jessica DeWalt, Ancel Glink

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Town Ordinance Unconstitutional as Restriction on Commercial Speech

On August 22, 2017, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Town’s Ordinance regulating solicitation by day laborers violated the First Amendment as a content-based restriction on speech. You can read the case here.

In 2009, the Town of Oyster Bay in Long Island enacted an Ordinance prohibiting anyone standing on the sidewalk to solicit employment and barring drivers from stopping to solicit or hire employment. The Town’s stated reason behind this Ordinance was to make sidewalks and streets safer for both pedestrians and traffic, creating a legitimate town interest for enactment. However, the Second Circuit noted in its decision that the record indicated the actual reason for the enactment of such an Ordinance was to regulate day laborers who are seeking employment in Oyster Bay. The court also highlighted the fact day laborers have made their living soliciting work in the Town for years, and the Ordinance passed in 2009 was an attempt to remove them from the sidewalks where they would look for their employment.

Using the test from Central Hudson, the court looked at 4 factors: 

1.  whether the Ordinance restricts speech that concerns lawful activity, 
2.  whether the Town’s asserted interest is substantial, 
3.  whether the Ordinance directly advances that interest, and 
4.  whether the Ordinance is more extensive than necessary to serve that interest. 

The Court of Appeals primarily focused on the last prong of this test. In order to pass this step, the court held that the Ordinance would have to be narrowly drawn to further the Town’s interests. The court concluded that although the stated purpose of the Ordinance was that of legitimate public interest, there were several other ways an individual could solicit employment without causing a threat to public safety. Also, because the Ordinance would apply to other lawful activities, such as students soliciting cars for a high school car wash fundraiser, it restricted a far greater variety of constitutionally protected speech than that posing a threat to both pedestrian and traffic safety.

The court also determined that the Ordinance was an overbroad restriction on lawful commercial speech because it would require Town officials to monitor and evaluate speech made by those who are stopping drivers to determine whether the content of such was permissible or not. The court noted it would not apply to the most common forms of solicitation, that being stopping of vehicles on public rights of way for reasons such as as hailing a cab or a bus. Rather, the Town’s clear principal interest was to suppress speech of a particular type, and not to advance the interests in traffic and pedestrian safety. 

Post Authored by Katherine Takiguchi & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Laws Relating to Government Contracts

2 new Illinois laws were recently enacted to modify statutory provisions relating to public contracting requirements and procedures, as summarized below:

Prevailing Wage Amendment

P.A. 100-0154 amends the Prevailing Wage Act to give public bodies the option to post the prevailing rate of wages on their website, rather than publish the prevailing rate of wages in the newspaper. The statute allows the alternative "publication" if (1) the Department of Labor ascertains the prevailing rate of wages for the public body and (2) the public body posts on its website a notice of its prevailing wage determination with a hyperlink to the prevailing wage schedule for that locality that is published on the Department of Labor's website.

Competitive Bidding Amendments

The Illinois Municipal Code requires municipalities to competitively bid any public project if the expense will exceed $20,000.  P.A. 100-0338 increases that amount to $25,000. 

The Public Act makes similar changes to the Illinois Local Library Act and the Public Library District Act to increase the public improvement expenses to trigger competitive bidding from $20,000 to $25,000.  

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Municipal Minute Turns 6!

It has been six years since we published our first post on Municipal Minute. I can't believe we've been around that long! 

Our first post was titled Tweeting into Trouble, and was published on September 3, 2011 - a couple of days before Labor Day.  Since then, we have published more than 1,200 articles on Municipal Minute informing our readers about new legislation, court cases, and trending topics of interest to local government officials and employees. Our most popular (read and shared) articles generally fall into two categories: (1) employees behaving badly on social media and (2) FOIA and OMA opinions issued by the Illinois Public Access Counselor. That is no coincidence as the author has a key interest interest in both topics, which means our readers are going to hear about these issues!

We are happy and proud our little local government blog has been read, shared, tweeted, liked, and forwarded so many times since that first post went live in 2011. We hope you stick around for another six years because it doesn't look like we are going to run out of things to talk about any time soon.

Thank you,
Julie Tappendorf
Ancel Glink

Friday, September 1, 2017

Upcoming Webinar: Solar Planning

On September 11, 2017, the Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association is hosting the webinar “Solar Planning 101: Opportunities & Obstacles.”  Attendees will learn how to integrate solar energy into planning, zoning, and historic preservation processes from two law professors who specialize in these issues. The program will highlight Hartford, Connecticut, a DOE SolSmart Gold community, which has dramatically reduced barriers to solar and serves as a model for other cities.

Here are the details:

Monday, September 11, 2017, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Eastern (10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Central)

CM | 1.50 | Law
CLE 1.50 through Illinois State Bar

You can learn more about the webinar and register here

Thursday, August 31, 2017

New Law on Limited Township Consolidation

Governor Rauner recently signed Senate Bill 3, known as the Local Government Consolidation bill, into law as P.A. 100-0107. It amends the Township Code to allow for the consolidation and dissolution of townships through three different methods:

1. Two or more adjacent townships may, by resolution of the townships’ boards, propose consolidation by referendum of voters of each affected township into either a new township or into one of the existing townships.

2. A township may be dissolved and absorbed by two or more townships with which it shares borders. If the township boards of the dissolving and absorbing townships adopt a resolution to propose a referendum, voters of each affected township vote on the referendum at the next general election.

3. Townships that are coterminous with a municipality may be dissolved into the municipality by resolution of the township and  municipal boards and referendum of the voters of the township and municipality.

All of these methods require the assent of the township board to proceed. This will prevent a situation where the electors try to dissolve a township against the will of the township officials. 

Senate Bill 3 also removes the 126 square mile cap on the size of townships. 

An amendment filed shortly before the bill passed through the Senate removed a provision that tied this bill to the rest of the Senate’s Grand Bargain bill package. As a result, Senate Bill 3 will take effect on January 1, 2018, regardless of whether the other Grand Bargain bills become law.

You can read Senate Bill 3 here.

Post Authored by Jessica DeWalt, Ancel Glink