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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

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Court Dismisses FOIA Case as Moot


In 2020, an individual who was previously convicted of offenses relating to a shooting incident submitted a FOIA request to a municipality seeking copies of inventory sheets and photographs of an old vehicle allegedly containing a gun used to shoot another person. The City prepared two affidavits attesting to the City’s reasonably diligent search for records responsive to the request and denied the request because the City did not have any responsive inventory sheets or photographs within its possession or custody, except for a vehicle tow report which was provided to the requestor. 

Before the City even responded to the FOIA request, the requestor sought an injunction to compel the City to produce the requested records and sought civil penalties against the City. The court dismissed the case, finding the requestor’s claims were moot because the City’s affidavits showed the City had already provided all responsive records in its possession.

The requester appealed, and the appelate court upheld the dismissal of the case as moot because the City already produced the only record responsive to the FOIA request in the City’s possession. Bryant v. North Chicago Police Chief and Freedom of Information Officer. The appellate court also rejected the requestor’s speculative claims about the existence of additional records and denied civil penalties against the City, because the City provided all requested documents in its possession and the requestor failed to prove that the City willfully and intentionally failed to comply with FOIA. The appellate court also noted that the requestor failed to appeal his denied FOIA request to the Public Access Counselor's office of the Attorney General and never received a binding PAC opinion, so there was no presumption that the City acted willfully and intentionally in allegedly failing to comply with the FOIA request.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink

Monday, September 20, 2021

Governor Signs Public Safety Legislation


For our next legislative update, we wanted to provide insight on two important legislative updates related to public safety and mental health services in the State of Illinois.

Public Safety

As most of you already know, in January, the Governor signed a criminal justice and public safety reform bill into law. Earlier this summer, we reported on the status of the trailer bill to the legislation, which clarified and amended many provisions of the Act to provided guidance to law enforcement and local government for compliance with the new law. On June 25, Governor Pritzker signed the trailer bill into law as Public Act 102-0028.

The Act includes numerous provisions on police training, the use of body camera footage, police misrepresentation matters, and restrictions on officer use of force, among other clarifications of the January statute. Of note for local governments are the provisions mandating at least 30 hours of in-service officer training every three years and those specifying the permissibility of police review of body camera footage. Under the Act, officers and supervisors may not redact, label, duplicate, or otherwise alter body camera footage, and the footage must be stored securely for 90 days after recording—if altered or destroyed, the report detailing such alteration or destruction must be kept for one year. Footage will not be destroyed within 90 days if there is a “flagged encounter” captured on the recording. Encounters will be flagged if:

·          A complaint has been filed related to the incident;

·          An officer discharged their firearm or used force during the encounter;

·          Death or great bodily harm occurred to anyone involved;

·          The encounter resulted in a detention or an arrest;

·          The officer is the subject of an internal investigation of misconduct;

·          The footage may be valuable to a criminal prosecution; or

·          The recording officer requests that the video be flagged for official purposes.

Additionally, while officers may generally review body camera footage to assist in writing incident reports, no review is permitted when an officer is involved in or is witness to the use of force which results in death or great bodily harm, or when an officer is required to write a report following a complaint of misconduct. This statute should be reviewed carefully and monitored for further amendment to ensure compliance with its many provisions.

Mental Health Services

P.A. 102-0580 creates the Community Emergency Services and Support Act (CESSA). CESSA provides that an EMS Region shall provide mobile emergency mental and behavioral health services to individuals not presenting as a threat to first responders and not involved in criminal activity. CESSA applies to every unit of local government that provides and coordinates ambulance or similar medical response or transportation services for individuals with emergency medical needs.

Post Authored by Mike Halpin & Erin Monforti, Ancel Glink

Thursday, September 16, 2021

New Open Meetings Act Laws


As we continue to provide updates on new bills signed into law by the Governor, today we will discuss two laws concerning open meetings.

P.A. 102-0348 enacted the Empowering Public Participation Act to restrict when law enforcement agencies or officers can conduct background checks on speakers at a meeting of a public body. The Act provides:

A law enforcement agency or an officer employed by a law enforcement agency may not knowingly and intentionally conduct a background check of a person for the sole reason of that person speaking at an open meeting of a public body, including police disciplinary boards. 5 ILCS 850/10(a).

The Act does not apply in cases where the agency or officer believes there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct or a threat to security at the meeting or when the person speaking at an open meeting is under consideration for appointment to a government position by the public body.

Violation of the Act is a Class C misdemeanor but does not create any claim for damages or other relief.

P.A. 102-0653 amends the OMA to require public bodies to review their closed session meeting minutes every six months, or as soon as practicable, taking into account the nature and meeting schedule of the public body. Ad hoc committees must review closed session minutes at the later of (1) six months from the date of the meeting or (2) at the next scheduled meeting of the ad hoc committee. Prior to this amendment, the OMA required public bodies to conduct this review on a semi-annual basis.

The Act also provides that when a public body is dissolved, disbanded, eliminated, or consolidated by executive action, legislative action, or referendum, the public body taking over the previous body’s functions will review the closed session minutes of that public body.

Post Authored by Rain Montero & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

PAC Issues 8th Binding Opinion of 2021


A regular reader sent us a copy of the most recent PAC binding opinion - as many of you know, the Attorney General's website is still not fully operational so the public still cannot access any of the binding opinions issued by the Public Access Counselor.

Earlier this year, a reporter submitted a FOIA request to the Office of the Mayor of the City of Chicago seeking text messages sent or received by Mayor Lightfoot regarding conversations between Mayor Lightfoot and certain hospital personnel on their personal or city-issued devices. Although the Mayor’s Office properly extended the time to respond to the FOIA request by an additional five business days, the Mayor’s Office subsequently failed to either comply with the request or deny the request in writing within the extended response period. In PAC Op. 21-008, the PAC concluded that the Mayor Office violated FOIA section 3(d), which requires public bodies to either comply with, deny in whole or in part, or otherwise appropriately respond to a FOIA request.

Nothing groundbreaking in this opinion.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Legislative Update: General Governance


This post contains another edition of our legislative updates from the most recent Illinois General Assembly session in Springfield. This post focuses on laws that impact general governance. 

P.A. 102-0024 provides that a county, township, or municipality may waive any fees or costs associated with a permit, inspection, or certification of occupancy required by law for construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, movement to another site, removal, or demolition of multiple structures within their jurisdiction. These waivers (provided under the local government’s discretion) are limited to disastrous circumstances or the threat of disaster, including fire, flood, earthquake, storm, water contamination, blight, rioting, or public health emergency, as well as other circumstances explicitly mentioned in the new law.

P.A. 102-0435 provides relief for businesses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The law allows county and municipal officials to pass resolutions to waive or reconsider the imposition of fees for specific licenses and permits, including business licenses, liquor licenses, construction permits, food service permits, and other activities usually regulated by the county or municipality. The new law specifies that applicants must demonstrate their need for a fee waiver based on tangible hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

P.A. 102-0602, which enacts the Local Volunteer Board Member Removal Act, states that a person or government body that appointed a member of a volunteer board or commission may remove that member for misconduct, official misconduct, or neglect of office. This authority is in addition to any other removal authority provided by law. Note that the Act does not apply to individuals appointed to fill a vacancy on an elected board associated with a local government unit.

Post Authored by Mike Halpin & Erin Monforti, Ancel Glink

Monday, September 13, 2021

New Election Laws in Illinois


As we noted last week, we are going to be reporting on a number of new laws that have taken effect or will take effect soon over the next couple of weeks. Today, we report on two election-related laws.

P.A. 102-0001 provides resources to election authorities for conducting secure elections. First, the Act provides that any federal funds received by the Illinois State Board of Elections under the Help America Vote Act that are not otherwise used in the course of a federal election can be available to election authorities to maintain secure collection sites for vote by mail ballots. Second, the Act authorizes local election authorities to operate curbside voting procedures during early voting and on election day, subject to provisions that limit the interference of election judges. Finally, the Act requires that all vote by mail ballots be accepted by election authorities, even if they do not have the requisite postage or are mailed to a collection site not within the voter’s election district.

P.A. 102-0015 changes the general primary election date to June 28, 2022 and changes corresponding dates in preparation of the general primary election, including dates for filing nomination papers and objections to those filings. The law also provides that November 8, 2022 is a State holiday as well as a school holiday for purposes of the School Code. These provisions are repealed on January 1, 2023.

In addition, this new Act also prohibits a unit of local government from adopting an ordinance or resolution that requires a member of the General Assembly to resign his or her office in order to be eligible to seek elected office in the unit of local government and provides that any such ordinance or resolution is void. The Act allows for permanent vote by mail, and also preempts home rule units from regulating the eligibility requirements for those seeking elected office in the local government that is inconsistent with the Act.

The Act includes a number of other new provisions, including new cybersecurity provisions, high school voter registration, 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Governor Signs Several Bills Into Law That Affect Local Governments


Governor Pritzker recently signed into law several new laws that affect local governments and we will report on these over a few blog posts. Below is a summary of laws that affect (1) COVID-19 affordable housing; (2) community college housing; (3) liquor; and (4) lemonade stands.

COVID -19 Affordable Housing

P.A. 102-0175 provides COVID-19 relief funds to address shortages in affordable housing. The bill creates the COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program Act and amends the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act, the Illinois Housing Development Act, and the Illinois Income Tax Act. Perhaps most notable is the Act’s preemption of home rule authority: a home-rule unit of local government may not take action which regulates affordable housing more restrictively than the State has provided for under the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act. We recommend that local governments (especially those that are not exempt from affordable housing reporting requirements) review our post on the Act and the legislation and consult with their legal counsel if they have questions as to how the law affects them.

Community College Housing

P.A. 102-0062 will permit non-exempt local governments to work with nonprofit housing developers and housing authorities to develop affordable housing aimed at community college students, who traditionally do not have access to campus housing. The Act will take effect on January 1, 2022.

Liquor

P.A. 102-0008 had previously enabled retail liquor license locations to provide one free drink to customers showing their vaccination cards but that expired on July 10, 2021. Though that promotion has ended, the Act still allows retail liquor licensees to sell drinks-to-go. Local liquor commissioners and local liquor control commissions are authorized to adopt rules to regulate these to-go drinks more restrictively than the State.

Lemonade Stands

A new Act, taking effect on January 1, 2022, prohibits health departments of a unit of local government or a public health district from regulating the sale of lemonade or nonalcoholic drinks or mixed beverages by a person under the age of 16.

Post Authored by Dan James & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Quorum Forum Episode 56: Vaccine Mandates


We celebrated a 10 year anniversary with Municipal Minute last week and this week, and today we "celebrate" another episode of our Quorum Forum podcast, Episode 56: Vaccine Mandates. In this episode, Ancel Glink attorneys discuss what FDA approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine means for employers considering vaccine mandates. This episode also discussses recent tort immunity cases local governments should know to avoid liability from lawsuits. 

Email your questions to podcast@ancelglink.com

 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Governor Updates Previous Face Covering and Vaccination Executive Order


It seems that almost as soon as we post something about new COVID-19 guidance, that guidance has changed. But, we did want to update you on a recent Executive Order issued by the Governor that extends the time-frame for the new vaccine mandates for certain Illinois workers, including healthcare workers, school personnel, and higher education personnel.

In Executive Order 2021-22, the Governor updated EO 2021-20 which had set a deadline for vaccine compliance for a first shot of September 5, 2021. The deadline for covered workers to get the first shot is now September 19, 2021. This new vaccine mandate applies to health care workers (as defined in the EO), school personnel (also defined in the EO), and higher education personnel (defined in the EO). Until these personnel are fully vaccinated, they must comply with certain testing requirements set out in the EO (unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption). We encourage you to consult with your labor counsel on these new requirements, as they place certain affirmative obligations on employers who are covered by these new requirements.

The EO also includes face covering requirements for persons over age 2 in indoor spaces.

Friday, September 3, 2021

10 Years Ago Today a Blog Was Born


Believe it or not, it's been 10 years since I started the Municipal Minute blog! That's right, 10 years ago, I spent my Labor Day weekend designing and compiling material to post on this blog, never thinking that I'd still be doing this 10 years later and certainly not envisioning that we would write and post nearly 2,000 separate posts (1,951 as of today). 

Since that first post, we've been updating local government officials and employees on new laws, bills, and cases, as well as recent developments they may find of interest in their service to local government. It hasn't always been easy, and some of our posts have generated their share of controversy (and a mostly civil debate), but I can certainly say that it has never been boring, particularly over the past 18 months. COVID-19 and its impact on governments has challenged all of us to be quick and nimble in sharing information about new executive orders, mandates, COVID-related funding sources, and related developments to help us get through a pandemic that still impacts us today. 

We hope you have found this resource (which is written entirely by Ancel Glink attorneys at no cost to our readers) to be helpful in your service to local government. There is no question that providing this service to you has helped us keep current with these new laws, cases, and developments. 

And as we mentioned last year, in case you weren't a regular reader in 2011 (and let's be honest, there were just a handful of you back then!), you can check out our first blog post here:  Tweeting into Trouble? Or, if you want to see what else we've written about over the past 10 years, you can go directly to the front page of the Municipal Minute blog and search through our topic list on the home page for other posts that may be of interest to you. 

Thanks for your support and continued readership! 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Check out the Employment Law Articles on Workplace Report


We have previously reported on Municipal Minute about the employment-law related information reported on Ancel Glink's Workplace Report blog, but wanted to remind our new readers of this resource. We have provided a sampling of recent posts below that may be of interest to our readers. You can click on the title to go to the Workplace Report and read the entire article.

New Masking Mandates and Vaccination

Supreme Court Upholds Indiana University COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate

Illinois Appellate Court Rules on Transgender Bathroom Policy

Workers' Rights Constitutional Rights to be on November 22, 2002 Ballot

Illinois General Assembly Legislative Update 

Long Haul COVID Patients May Be Covered Under Federal Disability Law

Monday, August 30, 2021

Village and Police Officer Immune From Liability in Drunk Driving Incident


In 2017, Marcos Rodriguez was involved in a minor traffic accident while driving with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.24. A police officer responded to the accident and allowed Rodriguez to drive away. According to Rodriguez's lawsuit against the village and police officer, the officer did not investigate whether Rodriguez was under the influence of alcohol. Rodriguez also did not inform the officer he had been drinking. A few minutes later, Rodriguez sustained injuries in a second accident after he fell asleep at the wheel, left the roadway and struck a utility pole, and sued the village and the police officer.

In his lawsuit, Rodriguez claimed that the police officer’s failure to investigate Rodriguez and prevent him from driving away caused the second accident and defendants should be held liable for his injuries. The trial court ruled against Rodriguez, finding that because the defendants did not owe him a duty, they could not be liable. The court also ruled that even if the defendants owed Rodriguez a duty, section 4-102 of the Tort Immunity Act (which provides immunity for failure to provide adequate police protection or service) and section of that same Actt 4-107 (which provides immunity for failure to make an arrest) also provided the defendants with immunity.

On appeal, the Appellate Court in Rodriguez v. Village of Forest Park upheld the trial court’s ruling in favor of the village and police officer. The Appellate Court rejected Rodriguez's argument that the officer’s failure to investigate and prevent him from driving after the first accident fell within the willful and wanton conduct exception of section 2-202 of the Act. Specifically, since the officer’s alleged omissions more clearly relate to his failure to arrest and his failure to provide adequate police services, the officer had absolute immunity from liability under sections 4-102 and 4-107 of the Act.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink