Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


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

Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 PAC Opinions To-Date

Loyal readers know that we post summaries of all binding opinions of the Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General's office on the blog as soon as they are issued to keep our local government friends updated on recent developments in the area of the Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Act.  You can find detailed summaries of each binding PAC opinion on this blog, as well as indexes of the opinions from 2010, 2011, and 2012.  In this post, we have consolidated the 2013 opinions issued to-date.
PAC Opinions 13-001, 004, 005 and 009 (duty to respond)

In these virtually identical opinions, the Chicago Public Schools, the villages of Caseyville and Cleveland, and Chicago State University all violated sections 3(d) and 9(a) of the FOIA by failing to respond to a request for records within five business days. Each governmental body also failed to participate in the PAC’s review process.

PAC Opinion 13-002 (improper final action)

The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners took improper final action by voting to increase admission fees at three museums, when that topic was not on the agenda for the open meeting. The agenda stated: "Communications and Reports: Committee on Programs and Recreation," without identifying the particular subject matter from the earlier committee meetings that would be addressed with final action by the board.

PAC Opinion 13-003 (final action)

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees violated section 2(e) of the OMA by taking final action in a closed meeting. Although the board was authorized to discuss the employment of a tenured faculty member during closed session, the board improperly took final action by voting in the closed meeting to terminate the employee.

PAC Opinion 13-006 (secret ballots)

The Edgar County Airport Advisory Board violated OMA section 2(e) when it voted by secret ballot to recommend to the county a candidate to fill a vacant seat on the advisory board. The board read aloud the names of candidates during a public meeting, the members voted on paper ballots, and the results of the vote were stated publicly, without disclosing the members’ individual selections.

PAC Opinion 13-007 (closed session issues)

The Board of Education for Springfield Public School District No. 186 violated OMA section 2(e) by taking final action on an employment separation agreement in closed session. The board signed the agreement in closed session on February 4, but did not vote on the matter in an open meeting until March 5, some five days after the PAC sent notice to the board of the complaint filed against it. The board also failed to record some of its closed sessions in violation of section 2.06(c), and it failed to summarize the closed-session discussions in violation of section 2.06(e)(3).

PAC Opinion 13-008 (basis for litigation)

The New Lenox Public Library District Board of Trustees violated the OMA by failing to record and enter into its closed-session minutes the basis for asserting that litigation was probable or imminent. The PAC found that the board’s reasons for believing the litigation was probable or imminent were justified and the closed-session discussions were appropriate, but the failure to record those reasons in the minutes violated section 2(c)(11) of the Act.

PAC Opinion 13-010 (nature of the matter)

In a rare decision in favor of a governmental entity, the PAC determined the Board of Education for Springfield Public School District No. 186 did not take final action in a closed session, as alleged by the complaining party, nor did it violate section 2(e) of the OMA because it adequately informed the public of the nature of the business being conducted before it voted in an open meeting to appoint an interim superintendent. The board properly discussed candidates in closed meetings and "informally agreed" on the likely appointee, but the board followed those discussions with a duly noticed open meeting during which it voted on the candidates.

PAC Opinion 13-011 (internal investigations)

The City of Bloomington violated FOIA section 7(1)(n) by improperly withholding investigatory records and citations related to a traffic accident involving the city’s assistant chief of police. The PAC found the city never "adjudicated" the underlying allegations against the police chief, and therefore the records related to the imposition of final discipline were not exempt from disclosure.

PAC Opinion 13-012 (possession of records)

The UNO Charter School Network ("UCSN") violated FOIA section 3 by failing to provide records that were in the possession and control of its subsidiary organization, UNO Advantage Charter School, Inc. ("UNO"). The PAC found that UCSN was the "governing body" of UNO, and both were subject to the FOIA pursuant to the Illinois Charter Schools Law. The two organizations were so closely related that the PAC ruled UCSN had control of documents that were in the possession of UNO, and therefore UCSN should have provided all requested documents from both entities.

PAC Opinion 13-013 (duty to respond)

The City of Harvey violated FOIA sections 3(d) and 9(a) by failing in part to respond to a request for records within five business days. The city timely provided some of the requested documents, but additional records could not be located and therefore were not disclosed. The PAC ruled that failing to provide records that cannot be located is a denial of the FOIA request, and the city’s failure to inform the requester of this denial violated the Act.

PAC Opinion 13-014 (location of meetings)

The Board of Trustees of the Broadlands-Longview Fire Protection District violated OMA section 2.01 by holding a special meeting at a location that was not "convenient and open" to the public. The board held the meeting at its attorney’s law office in Springfield, which is some 26 miles from the board’s regular meeting place at the fire station in Broadlands.

PAC Opinion 13-015 (preliminary or draft records)

The Illinois State Police violated FOIA by failing to turn over preliminary monthly crime report statistics submitted to the ISP by the Harvey Police Department. The ISP had denied the request based on the "draft document" exception, arguing that the statistics were still preliminary in nature, and had not yet been reviewed or published by the ISP. The PAC disagreed, concluding that the mere fact that records are subject to review and further revision does not render them preliminary for purposes of the preliminary records exception.

PAC Opinion 13-016 (description of final action)

A school district in violation of the Open Meetings Act because it failed to name the employee when it took final action to terminate the employee in open session. The PAC rejected the district's argument that it was protecting the reputation and privacy of the employee by not disclosing the employee's name in its vote, concluding that taking "final action" without disclosing the name of the employee terminated by the school district board deprived the public "of any meaningful information concerning the practical effect of the Board's decision."
Authored by Adam Lasker and Julie Tappendorf.  Initially published in Ancel Glink's Local Government News (Fall 2013)


Post a Comment