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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, July 23, 2024

Election Calendar Changes for Spring 2025 Elections

On July 12, 2024, the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) released its Abbreviated Calendar of Dates for the 2025 Consolidated Primary Election and the 2025 Consolidated Election which can be found hereWhile the ISBE abbreviated calendar can be a helpful guide for local elections, candidates for local government office and local election officials are encouraged to check with their legal counsel if they have questions regarding specific filing dates and whether they are required to file for the consolidated primary election or for the consolidated election, which will depend on a variety of factors.

The calendar takes into account two recent statutes (P.A. 103-0586 and P.A. 103-0600) that modified the petition circulation and filing periods of municipal offices for the Spring 2025 elections. Candidates and local election officials should note that many of the circulation and filing dates were moved up about a month from what they may have been used to in past elections.

Looking ahead at some of the important dates for the 2025 Consolidated Primary Election to be held on February 25, 2025: 

July 30, 2024: First day to circulate candidate petitions for primary

October 21, 2024: First day to file nomination papers for primary

October 28, 2024: Last day to file nomination papers for primary

November 4, 2024: Last day to file objections to nomination papers for primary

December 9, 2024: Last day for governing boards to adopt a resolution to allow a binding or advisory question on the ballot at primary

December 19, 2024: Ballot certification deadline for primary

February 25, 2025: Consolidated Primary Election

The below important dates are for the 2025 Consolidated Election to be held on April 1, 2025. These candidate circulation and filing dates apply to those offices that do not require a primary. 

August 20, 2024: First day to circulate petitions for consolidated election

November 12, 2024: First day to file nomination papers for consolidated election

November 18, 2024: Last day to file nomination papers for consolidated election

November 25, 2024: Last day to file objections to nomination papers for consolidated election

January 13, 2025: Last day for governing boards to adopt a resolution to allow a binding or advisory question on the ballot at consolidated election

January 23, 2025: Ballot certification deadline for consolidated election

April 1, 2025: Consolidated Election

Post Authored by Katie Nagy, Ancel Glink

Monday, July 22, 2024

Seventh Circuit Dismisses Due Process Lawsuit

A plaintiff sued a municipality claiming that the city violated his civil rights when a city inspector shouted racial epithets at him when he was removing a tree from a residential lot in the City. According to the opinion, the city inspector was upset that the plaintiff parked his truck in the alley while he removed the tree. The lawsuit alleged violations of plaintiff's due process rights, the Illinois hate crime statute, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The district court dismissed his due process claims, leaving only the state law claims which the federal court declined to rule on. Plaintiff appealed and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of his due process claims, finding that the plaintiff's complaint failed to allege the violation of a fundamental right. The Court found no fundamental right to "movement without harassment," and also noted that neither defamation nor a derogatory racial epithet will rise to the level of a deprivation of liberty under the due process clause. Finally, the Court held that verbal harassment, threats, or annoyances do not rise to the level of conduct that "shocks the conscience" to trigger a substantive due process claim. The Court concluded that "while despicable," the city inspector's use of racial epithets did not rise to the level of conduct that would support a due process claim. Robbin v. City of Berwyn.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

School Employee Fired for Social Media Posting

In another reminder of "what you say on social media can affect your job," a South Dakota school district recently terminated one of its employees for posting the following on her personal social media page after the shooting incident at the former president's rally:

Shoot if only he would’ve had his scope sighted in correctly.

Employees can be disciplined and even terminated from their positions if their personal social media activities violate their employers' social media policies, so long as those policies are lawful. And, employees should be aware that their social media posts are rarely private, and even if they are not "friends" with their employer, an employee's post can be forwarded to the employer by a co-worker, customer, client, or member of the public. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

In the Zone: Court Upholds Contiguity Determination in Annexation Challenge

An Illinois Appellate Court upheld a ruling in favor of a city finding a 19.5 foot shared boundary between annexed property and the city to meet the contiguity requirements for the annexation to be lawful. Neighbors Opposed to Annexation of Parcels v. City of Joliet

An owner purchased three connected parcels of land, one of which was connected to the city boundaries via a shared boundary with plaintiff’s property. In October 2018, the three parcels owned by the owner were annexed into the city. Plaintiff filed a lawsuit asking the court to invalidate the annexation because he claimed the annexed property was not sufficiently contiguous to the city’s boundary as required by law. Although there was some dispute whether the annexed property abutted the city by 19.5 or 33 feet, the circuit court held that even if the annexed property only bounded the city by 19.5 feet, that was sufficiently contiguous for purposes of satisfying the annexation statute.

On appeal, the plaintiffs argued the circuit court's ruling should be overturned because the court failed to provide reasoning for its ruling that the properties were substantially contiguous to the city, there were issues of disputed facts (i.e., the distance of the contiguity) that should have been decided at trial, and that the properties were not, in fact, contiguous to the city.

First, the appellate court held that it was irrelevant that the trial court failed to provide reasoning for its decision. Second, the appellate court held that although there was some dispute as to the nature of the shared boundary (19.5 versus 33 feet), it was undisputed that the properties shared a boundary with the city of at least 19.5 feet. The appellate court acknowledged there is no set rule for how long a common boundary must be, but agreed with the circuit court that in this case, 19.5 feet was sufficient to satisfy the contiguity requirement of the annexation statute. Although the shared boundary between the city and annexed property was small, the appellate court found that it was parallel and adjacent to the existing municipal boundaries in a way that courts typically found annexed property to be contiguous. Additionally, the annexed property was located in a position that would allow the city to gradually and naturally extend services such as fire and police protection in a manner that favored annexation, and was not the type of strip, corridor, or cornering annexation that courts disfavor. Finally, the appellate court noted that it was not adopting a set standard of 19.5 feet of common boundary to satisfy the contiguity requirement for an annexation, stating that a contiguity determination will depend on the individual circumstances and facts of each case.

Post Authored by Daniel Lev & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Monday, July 8, 2024

Quorum Forum Podcast: Ep. 85 ADA Reasonable Accommodations

Ancel Glink's Quorum Forum Podcast recently released Episode 85: ADA Reasonable Accommodations. In this episode, Ancel Glink attorneys Katie Nagy and Daiana Man discuss when the American Disabilities Act (ADA) requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability, how the interactive process between employers and employees works, as well as the impact of remote work on the changing work environment. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

PAC Finds Public Body in Violation of FOIA for Not Responding to FOIA Request

The PAC issued its 9th binding opinion of 2024 in PAC Op. 24-009. Nothing new here - the PAC found a public body in violation of FOIA for failing to respond to a FOIA request and failing to respond to the PAC office's inquiries about the public body's failure to respond to the FOIA request.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Supreme Court Upholds Ordinance Prohibiting Camping & Sleeping on Public Property

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion last week in a case challenging several local ordinances that prohibit sleeping and camping on public property. City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, et al.

The City of Grants Pass (City) has three ordinances (Ordinances) which restrict camping in public places. These local laws (1) prohibit sleeping on public sidewalks and streets, (2) prohibit camping on public property, and (3) prohibit camping and overnight parking in City parks. Violators of the Ordinances are subject to penalties which are implemented on a graduated scale: initial violators may be issued a fine, whereas repeat violators may be banned from city parks for a period of time or charged with criminal trespass.

Two homeless individuals brought a case against the City, challenging the Ordinances as unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment for criminal offenses. The plaintiffs argued that the Ordinances effectively punished them for their status as homeless individuals, and that this criminal classification was unconstitutional. The federal district court and Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the Ordinances could not be imposed against individuals who are involuntarily homeless within the City. The City appealed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court reversed the lower court rulings, with six Justices joining in the majority opinion and three Justices dissenting. Both the majority and dissenting opinions discussed the acute homelessness crisis affecting individuals in the United States, as well as the difficulties local governments face in responding to related public health and safety issues that impact homeless individuals and the general public.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Gorsuch, found that the Eighth Amendment was drafted to place limits on the method and severity of punishment imposed for criminal behavior, and not the determination of what behavior is considered criminal in the first place. Noting that many local governments (and even the federal government) restrict or prohibit sleeping and camping on public property, the majority held that the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit local governments from classifying unlawful behavior in order to address policy concerns such as those presented by the homelessness crisis. The Court found that local governments have been “paralyzed” from making policy decisions to address homelessness in their communities since the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in 2019 finding that the Eighth Amendment barred Boise, Idaho from enforcing its public-camping ban against homeless individuals who did not have access to alternative shelter. 

Additionally, the majority rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the Ordinances punished them because of their status as homeless individuals. In the majority’s view, because the Ordinances could be imposed against anyone who was camping or sleeping on public property (including backpackers or protesters), they did not single out homeless individuals. In sum, the majority determined that the Ordinances do not violate the Eighth Amendment because they criminalize conduct, not status, and the fines and penalties imposed are not cruel and unusual.

The dissenting opinion, authored by Justice Sotomayor, focused on the Ordinances’ prohibition on sleeping in public places, finding that this ban was clearly targeted against homeless individuals because of their status in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The dissent reviewed the text of the Ordinances, noting that the definition of “campsite” implies only homeless individuals may be cited for a violation: 

A campsite is “any place where bedding, sleeping bag, or other material used for bedding purposes” is placed “for the purpose of maintaining a temporary place to live.”

The dissent noted that the difference between lawful and unlawful activity under the Ordinances is a person’s “intent to live in public spaces,” which applies almost exclusively to the homeless. The dissent also found that the Ordinances have been enforced only against homeless individuals, noting that the deputy chief of police previously testified that he was not aware of any person being issued a ticket for public camping who was not homeless. Because the criminal conduct (sleeping outside), is directly tied to a particular status (being homeless), the dissent argued the Ordinances should be struck down under the Eighth Amendment.

Both the majority and dissent acknowledged that their analysis in the Grants Pass case is narrow, and does not address other issues that may come up in the context of regulating homelessness―including the First Amendment, Due Process clause, and state statutes that otherwise protect the rights of homeless individuals. As a result, local governments that are considering adopting ordinances to address the use of public property should consult with their legal counsel to discuss the applicability or impact of other laws or regulations that might provide protections to homeless individuals. For example, the State of Illinois has enacted the Bill of Rights for the Homeless Act that prohibits discrimination “on the basis of housing status” and establishes, among others, the following rights for individuals experiencing homelessness:

  • the right to use and move freely in public spaces (including sidewalks and parks);
  • the right to equal treatment by state and municipal agencies; and
  • the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property.

Post Authored by Erin Monforti & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink, P.C.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Supreme Court Issues Ruling in Mayor's Appeal of his Bribery Conviction

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion interpreting the federal statute that prohibits state and local government officials from accepting bribes in Snyder v. United States

Section 666 of Title 18 (a federal law) makes it a crime for state and local officials to "corruptly" solicit, accept, or agree to accept "anything of value from any person, intending to be influenced or rewarded" for an official act. A conviction under this federal law is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

A mayor of an Indiana city was charged under this anti-corruption federal law for accepting a $13,000 payment from a trucking company after the company had been awarded $1 million in contracts from the city. Ultimately, the mayor was convicted under this federal law and sentenced to 1 year, 9 months in prison. His conviction was upheld by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and he ultimately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the lower court rulings, holding that Section 666 of federal law criminalizes bribes, not gratuities. The Supreme Court distinguished between the two, finding that a conviction under Section 666 requires the government to show that the state or local official had a corrupt state of mind and accepted or agreed to accept a payment intending to be influenced in an official act. A gratuity, the Supreme Court said, is given as a token of appreciation after the official act. Here, the Court found that the mayor's acceptance of the $13,000 payment after the contract was awarded to the trucking company qualified as a gratuity, and not a bribe, so Section 666 did not apply. 

The Supreme Court made it clear that although a gratuity or reward offered and accepted by a state or local official after the official act does not violate this particular federal law (section 666), that conduct could be unethical or illegal under other federal, state, or local laws. 

The case included a dissenting opinion, in which three Justices argued that Section 666's use of the word "rewarded" meant that the statute should apply in this situation, where, the dissent said, the mayor "steered more than $1 million in city contracts to a local truck dealership, which turned around and cut him a $13,000 check."

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

PAC Finds FOIA Violation in 8th Binding Opinion of 2024

A FOIA requester sought information about certain properties, including unit addresses and whether the units were occupied or vacant. The public body disclosed responsive records, but partly redacted street addresses for vacant units pursuant to Section 7(1)(v) of FOIA, asserting that disclosing the full street addresses would threaten community safety and make the buildings targets for squatters and other illegal activity.

After the requestor submitted a request for review with the Public Accessor Counselor (PAC), the PAC concluded that public body improperly redacted vacant unit street addresses under FOIA. PAC Op. 24-008.

The PAC determined that the exemption contained in Section 7(1)(v) of FOIA narrowly authorizes redacting records that consist of or depict (1) existing vulnerability assessments, security measures, or response policies or plans, (2) that are created for the purpose of identifying, preventing, or responding to potential attacks on a community or its infrastructure, and (3) when disclosing the vulnerability assessment, security measure, or response policy or plan could reasonably be expected to expose the vulnerability or jeopardize the effectiveness of the measures, policies, or plans, or the safety of the personnel who implement them or the public.

Although the public body argued it redacted street addresses as a security measure to protect its vacant properties, the PAC disagreed with the scope of the public body’s redactions, finding that the street addresses for vacant public housing units did not qualify as existing vulnerability assessments, security measures, or response policies or plans to justify redaction under this FOIA exemption.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink

Monday, June 24, 2024

PAC Issues 7th Binding Opinion on OMA Complaint

In PAC Op. 24-007, the Public Access Counselor of the Attorney General's Office (PAC) reviewed and considered a complaint that a public body violated the OMA. Specifically, the complainant alleged that a village board violated the OMA by (1) improperly taking final action to authorize the purchase of a truck without listing that item on the agenda and (2) allowing a member of the village board to attend several board meetings electronically. 

With respect to the first claim, the PAC found the village board in violation of the OMA for not sufficiently describing the purchase of a vehicle on the meeting agenda. The PAC noted that the village board voted on the purchase under the agenda item "Report from the Superintendent of Public Works," after the Superintendent informed the board that he had found a used truck that the board could purchase. The PAC determined that voting on this purchase without adequately describing it on the meeting agenda violated section 2.02(c) of the OMA  meeting which requires that any "agenda required under this Section shall set forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting." (note that the opinion is not clear whether the purchase of the vehicle was made pursuant to an ordinance or resolution, although the PAC has taken a very broad interpretation of this statutory provision in past opinions). In any event, the PAC acknowledged that because the village board re-voted on the vehicle purchase at a subsequent meeting where it was listed on the meeting agenda, no further action was necessary to remedy the violation.

In the second claim, the individual who filed the complaint claimed that the board member "purposefully took a job that requires him to be out of town" and since the job was within an hour's drive of the meeting location, the board member should not be allowed to attend board meetings remotely. The PAC disagreed, finding that one of the reasons under the OMA that allows a board member to attend a meeting remotely is for "employment purposes" and the OMA includes no limiting language on the nature or frequency of a member's ability to attend meetings remotely for employment purposes so long as the board authorizes remote attendance in accordance with its adopted rules. The PAC also noted that the OMA does not condition remote attendance for employment purposes on a board member demonstrating that it would not be feasible to commute to the meeting. As a result, the PAC determined that the board did not violate the OMA by allowing the board member to attend meetings remotely for employment purposes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

General Assembly Sends Major Changes to Sales Tax Laws to the Governor

As part of Governor Pritzker’s proposed budget, he lobbied for the elimination of the “grocery tax,” which the Governor argues is a regressive tax which disproportionately affects members of the community with the lowest income. The grocery tax is a part of the State’s sales tax that applies to “food purchased for consumption off the premises where it is sold,” or groceries. By comparison, a “food and beverage tax” applies to food purchased for immediate consumption on the premises from where it is purchased – like from a restaurant.  Because the grocery tax comprises a part of the tax revenue the State shares with cities and villages, the elimination of the grocery tax would result in a reduction of local revenues.

House Bill 3144 was adopted by the General Assembly on June 3, 2024, and would eliminate the grocery tax as of January 1, 2026. HB 3144 would also create the Municipal Grocery Occupation Tax Law that permits all Illinois municipalities to levy a local grocery tax of up to 1% beginning after January 1, 2026. The Municipal Grocery Occupation Tax would be administered, collected, and distributed by the State, as with other local sales taxes. October 1, 2025 is the proposed deadline for municipalities to adopt and file a tax ordinance with the Department of Revenue if they want to begin collecting the local grocery tax on January 1, 2026.

While the local grocery tax is designed to achieve revenue neutrality, House Bill 3144 makes an even more important change for non-home rule cities and villages. Currently, Section 8-11.1-1 of the Illinois Municipal Code requires non-home rule municipalities to obtain referendum approval as a condition of levying a local sales tax. Upon the enactment of HB 3144 into law, non-home rule municipalities will be able to levy a local sales tax without voter approval. The non-home rule sales tax can be levied in 0.25% increments and remains capped at 1%. The local sales tax can be commenced either January 1 or July 1 each year, provided the ordinance enacting the tax is filed with the State by October 1 or April 1, respectively. 

Keep an eye on the status of HB 3144 to see whether the Governor approves this legislation.

Post Authored by Adam Simon, Ancel Glink

Monday, June 17, 2024

Time is Money: U.S. Department of Labor Raises the Bar on Overtime Exemptions

The U.S. Department of Labor (Department) has issued a final rule that changes the salary threshold necessary for white-collar employees to be classified as exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). For a white-collar employee to be considered exempt under the FLSA, the following three criteria must be met:

   (1) The employee must be paid a fixed salary;

   (2) The salary must meet a minimum specified amount; and

   (3) The employee must primarily be engaged in executive, administrative, or professional duties.

The overtime rule raises the salary-threshold levels in two phases. Beginning July 1, 2024, the threshold initially increases from $684 per week to $844 per week. The second phase begins January 1, 2025, at which time the threshold increases to $1,128 per week (equivalent to $58,656 per year).

But the increases don’t stop there. In drafting the rule, the Department recognized the need to update earnings thresholds regularly. As a result, the threshold will automatically increase every three years beginning July 1, 2027. The automatic increases are based upon wage data at the time of the update.

While lawsuits challenging the Department’s authority to increase the overtime threshold have been filed, it would be prudent for employers to examine the salaries of existing exempt employees and remain prepared to affect salary increases should those challenges fail. 

Post Authored by Kevin Sterk, Ancel Glink