Clark Co., IL. (ECWd) –
We have been informed that Clark County Park District Commissioner Ron Stone has threatened other Commissioners that he will remove them from the Board if they talk about anything discussed during closed meetings.
Ron Stone thinks he has more power than other Commissioners – but he could not be anymore wrong on this issue.
Nothing in any law, statute, rule, or otherwise gives anyone the power or authority to remove any elected official from any Board of elected positions for revealing things discussed during closed meetings. Doing so would infringe on the First Amendment rights of individual to speak freely, and would effectively render the Open Meetings Act useless as it would prevent a board member from revealing improper discussions held in closed sessions.
Similar to the discussion held at their last meeting where Ron Stone threatened to remove them from the board during closed session – he has no power to remove anyone from any board.
We wrote an article discussing this very issue a couple months ago (read it here).
– The Open Meetings Act never mandates closing any meeting for any reason.
– Swanson v Board of Police Commissioners states that:
“There is nothing in the Act that provides a cause of action against a public body for disclosing information from a closed meeting.” (read page 9, paragraph 609 of this Illinois Appellate Case)
– The Illinois Attorney General has weighed in on the issue with:
“There is no provision in the constitution or the Open Meetings Act which expressly authorizes public bodies to sanction their members for revealing what went on during a closed meeting, and there is clearly no constitutional provision from which one may imply such powers.” (Click here for AG Opinion- see page 3)
So my advice to Commissioner Ron Stone is for him to keep his pie-hole shut about things he knows nothing about – it might keep him from committing felonious intimidation of public officials.