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Open Meetings Act Request for Review

Open Meetings Act Request for Review

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Published by Graham Johnston

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Published by: Graham Johnston on Mar 12, 2011
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03/12/2011

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Mr.
Barsotti'
s
Request
for
Review
distinguishes
betweenthe
Board'
s "
executive
session"
and
theopen
November
22,
2010
meeting.
The
meetingnotice
andagenda
provided
by
the
Village
lists "
Executive
Session
at
7:
00
p.
m.,
toDiscuss
Property
Acquisition,
Personnel,
Labor
and
Litigation
in
Room
130"
as
well
as "
Special
Meeting
at
7:
30p.
m.,
in
Council
Chambers."
Based
onthe
language
of
the
notice
and
review
of
theclosed
meetingrecording,
it
appears
that
the
Village'
s
procedure
for
initiating
thisclosedmeeting
didnot
comply
with
the
requirements
of
the
Act.
The
Open
Meetings
Act
requiresthat "[
all!
meetings
of
public
bodies
shall
be
open
to
the
public
unless
excepted
in
subsection (
c)
and
closed
in
accordance
with
Section
2a" (
5
ILCS
120/2(
a)).
Section
2a
of
the
Act
establishesthe
procedure
a
public
bodymust
follow
in
holding
anyclosed
session.
That
Section
states
that
a
public
body
may
hold
a
session
closed
tothe
public "
upon
a
majority
vote
of
a
quorum
present,
taken
at
a
meeting
open
to
the
publicfor
which
notice
has
been
given
as
required
by
this
Act" (
5
ILCS
120/2a).
It
goes
on
to
require
that "[
t]
he
vote
of
each
memberon
the
question
of
holding
a
meeting
closedtothe
public
anda
citation
to
the
specificexceptioncontained
in
Section
2
of
this
Act
which
authorizes
the
closing
of
the
meeting
to
the
public
shall
be
publicly
disclosed
at
the
time
of
the
vote
and
shall
be
recorded
and
entered
into
the
minutes
of
the
meeting."Thevote
to
hold
a
closed
session
must
takeplace
during
a
properly
noticed
and
convened
open
meeting.
It
appears,
from
the
informationprovided,
that
in
these
circumstances
the
Board
membersgathered
in
a
room
separate
from
the
Council
Chambers
and
voted
there
to
hold
the
closed
meeting. To
the
extent
that
the
Board
failed
to
first
convene
a
meeting
open
to
the
public
and
failed
to
hold
a
public
vote
in
such
a
meeting
tomove
into
a
closed
session, the
Board
did
not
comply
with
the
requirements
of
Section
2a
of
the
Act.
In
the
future,
the
Boardmust
takesteps
to
ensure
that
any
motion
and
vote
to
hold
a
closed
session
are
conducted
in
a
properly-
noticed
open
meeting
and
are
included
in
the
minutes
of
that
public
meeting.
Scope
of
closed
sessions
and
compliance
with
statutory
exceptions
Mr.
Barsotti
has
further
alleged
that
in
itsNovember
22,
2010closed
session,the
Board
improperly
discussedmatters
not
authorized
for
discussionoutside
of
an
open
public
meeting.
Specifically,
Mr.
Barsotti
has
allegedthat
the
Board
discussed
a
redevelopment
project
and
associatedagreement
and
that
those
issues
have
nothingto
do
with "
property
acquisition,
personnel,
labor
and
litigation"
which
were
listed
in
the
Board'
s
agenda
as
the
bases
for
holding
the
closed
session.
Review
of
the
materials
provided
by
the
Village
indicatesthat
the
Board
in
fact
movedtohold
a
closed
session
for
thepurpose
of
discussing
the
sale
of
property, though
it
is
not
clearwhetherthisfact
wasmade
public
at
the
time
of
the
motion
orincluded
in
the
minutes
of
the
November
22"
d
open
meeting.
As
stated
previously,
theOpen
Meetings
Act
requiresthat "[
a]
ll
meetings
of
public
bodies
shall
be
open
to
the
public
unless
excepted
in
subsection(
c)
and
closed
in
accordance
with
Section
2a"
5
ILCS
120/
2(
a)).
Section
2(
c)
of
the
Act
states
that
a
public
body
may
hold
closedmeetings
to
considercertain
enumeratedsubjects. The
Act
further
states
that "[
t]
he
exceptionscontained
in
subsection (
c)
are
in
derogation
of
the
requirement
that
public
bodiesmeet
in
the
open,
and
therefore,
the
exceptions
are
to
be
strictly
construed,
extending
only
to
subjects
clearly
within
their
scope" (
5
ILCS
120/2(b)).
500
South
Second
Street,
Springfield,
Illinois
62706 • (
217)782-1090
TTY: (
217)
785-
2771 •
Fax:(
217)
782-
7046
100
West
RandolphStreet,
Chicago,
Illinois,
60601 (312)
814-3000 •
TTY: (
312)
814-
3374 •Fax:(312)
814-
3806
1001
East
Main,Carbondale,Illinois
62901•(618)
529-
6400•
TTY: (
618)
529-
6403•
Fax:(
618)
529-6416
 
Section
2(
c)(
6)
allows
a
public
body
to
hold
a
closed
session
to
discuss "[t]
he
setting
of
a
price
for
sale
or
lease
of
property
owned
by
the
public
body" (
5
ILCS
12012(
c)(
6)).
Review
of
the
recording
of
the
Board'
s
November
22,
2010
meeting
indicates
that
the
Boarddid,
as
it
explained
in
its
response, discuss
only
itsoptions
in
negotiating
to
extend
the
term
of
a
redevelopment
agreementcentered
upon
the
sale
of
real
property
of
the
Village
to
a
developer.
The
Board
has
explainedthat
thedeveloper'
s
deadline
for
performance
onthe
agreementwas
nearing
and
that
the
Board'
s
discussion
was
focused
on
determining
the
proper
considerationto
demand
of
the
purchaser
in
exchange
for
extending
the
deadline
for
performance
of
the
promises
it
made
in
exchange
fortitle
to
the
property.
The
Board
did
not,
at
any
time,
discusstheSpecial
Use
Permit
Ordinance
about
which
Mr.
Barsotti
also
expressed
concern.
While
we
acknowledgethat
the "
setting
of
a
price
for
sale
or
lease
of
property"
couldinclude
determination
of
proper
consideration
for
sale
of
such
property
beyond
a
fixed
cash
payment,
review
of
theclosed
meetingrecording
indicatesthat
the
Board,
at
this
particular
closedsession,
was
notdiscussing
whether
or
what
consideration
to
ask
of
the
developer.
Rather,
it
appears
that
a
proposal
had
already
been
presented
to
the
developer
demanding
certainconsideration
in
exchange
for
extension
of
deadline
for
performance
underthepurchaseagreement
and
thatthe
developer
had
declined
to
agree
tothatconsideration,
indicating
he
needed
additional
time
toconsider
the
matter. Thus,
during
theclosed
meeting,
the
Board
discussedthe
developer'
s
reactionto
the
considerationthat
had
been
demanded
and
its
option
to
extend
the
deadline
to
allow
for
further
negotiation,
ultimately
coming
to
a
consensus
about
amending
theagreement
to
extend
that
deadline. The
Boarddidnot
discuss
alternative "prices"
or
forms
of
considerationto
present
to
the
developer
and,
therefore,
the
Board'
s
discussion
went
beyondthe "setting
of
a
price
for
the
sale
or
lease
of
property,"
as
authorizedby
theOpen
Meetings
Act.
Final
actionin
a
closed
meeting
Finally,
Mr.
Barsotti
has
asserted
that
the
Board
improperlytook
final
action
on
amending
the
redevelopment
agreement
during
its
November
22,
2010
closed
session,
in
violation
of
theOpen
Meetings
Act.
TheOpen
Meetings
Act
states
that "
no
final
action
may
be
taken
at
a
closed
meeting."
It
also
requiresthat
any "
final
action
shall
be
preceded
by
a
public
recital
of
thenature
of
the
matter
being
considered
and
other
information
that
will
inform
the
public
of
the
business
being
conducted," (
5
ILCS
120/
2(
e)).
While
a
public
body
may
only
take
final
action
at
an
open
meeting,
a
public
bodymay
discuss
and
reach
a
consensus
on
a
matter
in
a
closed
session
without
violating
the
requirements
of
the
Act. It
is
clear
from
theevidence
that
the
Board
properlytook
final
actionto
approve
the
Ordinances
in
questionin
an
open,
public
meeting.
Determinations
We
have
determined
that
the
allegations
that
the
Board
failed
to
properly
post
notice
of
its
November
22,
2010
meeting
andthat
it
improperly
took
final
action
in
a
closedmeeting
are
unsupported
bythe
evidence.
Theevidence
indicates,
however,
that
the
Board
of
Trustees
of
the
Village
of
Oak
Park
did
violate
the
Open
Meetings
Act
by
discussing
matters
outside
of
the
scope
of
Section
2(
c)(
6)
in
its
November
22,
2010
closed
session
discussion
of
whether
to
amend
a
redevelopment
agreement
to
allow
an
extension
in
orderto
further
negotiate
consideration.
Finally,
wehave
concludedthat
the
Board
violated
theOpen
Meetings
Actbyvoting
to
hold
a
closed
session
at
a
meeting
that
was
not
properly
noticed
and
convened
as
an
open
meeting.
500
South
Second
Street,
Springfield,
Illinois
62706 • (
217)782-
1090 •
TTY: (
217)
785-2771 •
Fax:(
217)
782-
7046100
WestRandolph
Street,Chicago,
Illinois,
60601 • (312)
814-3000 •
TTY: (
312)814-
3374 •
Fax:(
312)
814-3806
1001
East
Main,
Carbondale,Illinois
62901 •(
618)
529-
6400•
TTY: (
618)
529-
6403•
Fax:(
618)
529-
6416

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