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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Meeting Held 26 Miles from District Office Violated OMA

The Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor issued its 14th binding opinion of 2013 last week.  In 2013 PAC 24845, the PAC determined that a fire protection district violated the Open Meetings Act when it held a special meeting at a location that was not "convenient and open" to the public under Section 2.01 of the OMA. 
The fire protection district had noticed up a special meeting to take place at the office of the district's attorney, about 26 miles from the district's regular meeting location.  The purpose of the meeting, according to the district, was for the district members to obtain legal advice.  A complaint was filed with the PAC alleging that the meeting was neither open nor convenient to the public.  The PAC did not address whether the meeting was "open."  Instead, the PAC determined that because the meeting was 26 miles from the regular meeting place and was scheduled at 9:00 a.m. on a weekday, it was likely to have discouraged attendance by persons who might otherwise have attended the district meeting. 
Because no action was taken at the special meeting, the PAC did not order any remedial action to cure the violation.  However, the PAC directed the district to ensure that all future meetings are held at places that are "convenient and open" to the public. 


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