CHRISMAN, IL. (ECWd) -
During tonight's monthly meeting, the Northern Edgar County Ambulance Service ("NECAS") Board approved and signed employment agreements with its employees.
The item was not on the agenda for discussion or vote, as the Open Meetings Act requires, and when I asked for a copy of it I was told to send an FOIA request for it. One of the employees stated they discussed it at last month's meeting but didn't have anything in writing. So he put it in writing, the board members signed it without spending the time to read it.
As a result, I have filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Public Access Counselor alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
During my asking about the agreements and the agenda, after I asked for a copy of what they were signing, a board member said I could have a copy after I submitted an FOIA request for it. My response was that if I had to submit an FOIA for one piece of paper, I would request a bunch of other sh*t to go with it.
Two board members objected to my use of that word, saying I violated the law and actually called "911" for this non-emergency, and stood in the doorway to prevent my leaving (I made no attempt to leave until the meeting was over) - thinking they were scaring me or something like that. Incidentally, calling 911 for a non-emergency is a crime.
While the meeting continued, the same board member thought the salary and compensation of public employees was private information and should not be released to anyone. Again, I disagreed based on the fact the employees are public employees paid with public funds and their salary and compensation are public information.
After the meeting, I waited outside until a Chrisman police officer showed up, and during a conversation with the officer, he said that I did have a right to free speech, "but when that speech offended someone, it was then disorderly conduct."
We disagreed on that point. This place apparently doesn't understand the First Amendment. It should be noted that the word offended is not found anywhere in the criminal code for disorderly conduct.
Further conversation with the board member ended after he stated that as long as we agreed that I cannot say what I said, then he was fine. I replied that I absolutely disagreed with his assessment of the situation and that I would attend next month's meeting.
Our next article on this public body will be posting all compensation of all employees of the Ambulance Service online so the residents of the service understand what they are paying for.