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Friday, March 7, 2014

PAC Issues No Binding Opinions in 2014

I reported previously that it has been pretty quiet at the PAC office of the Attorney General in 2014...so quiet, that we hadn't yet seen a binding opinion issued this year.  That is still the case - month 3 of 2014, and all is quiet on that front.  We didn't rely solely on the PAC's website for that determination, we also submitted a FOIA request for all binding opinions issued in 2014 and the response was that no responsive records exist.  Given that the binding opinions almost always go against the public body, that's probably a good thing.  

Although the PAC hasn't issued a binding opinion in 2014, we have heard that there have been quite a few advisory or non-binding opinions issued this year.  Two of these are summarized below:

2013 PAC 27072 - On February 4, 2014, the PAC issued an opinion finding that the finance committee of a village violated the OMA by holding an improper closed session, and that the village board violated OMA by participating in that same closed session.  The PAC determined that even though the finance committee was meeting to discuss whether it would file a lawsuit against a developer for non-payment, that wasn't "exigent" enough to fall within the "probable or imminent" requirement under the OMA. The PAC also stated that the village board should have noticed up its own meeting when it participated in the finance committee's meeting and executive session.

2012 PAC 22147 - On the same day, the PAC issued another opinion ruling against a public body on an OMA complaint.  In this case, the PAC found that the village violated the OMA because a building oversight, maintenance/repair, demolition an construction committee met without providing notice or access to the public.  The village argued that the committee was not a "public body" because it consisted only of the mayor and one trustee, was not established formally by the board, and had no authority to take any action. The PAC disagreed, finding it a subsidiary body because it was listed on the village's website.

For a detailed and very informative survey of the PAC's work from 2005 to 2013, check out the Illinois Municipal League's recent issue of Illinois Municipal Review for IML General Counsel Roger Huebner's article "FOIA and the PAC's Work."

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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