McHenry Co. (ECWd) -
The Attorney General Public Access Office issued their determination letter regarding our allegation that the Algonquin Township Board violated the Open Meetings Act by failing to post their annual meeting schedule at the Township Office.
While the schedule of meetings did get posted after the Attorney General PAC Office contacted them, the Township Attorney's excuse should be of interest to everyone.
"For an unknown reason the paper copy of the annual regular meeting schedule posted on the Township bulletin board, in the Township Hall, was not posted on the date of your original request of February 21, 2019. The day after your February 21, 2019, Request for Review the annual regular board meeting schedule was re-posted. It is unknown who or why the schedule was removed."
For starters, why on earth does the Township spend taxpayer funds on Attorney James Kelly to address a simple meeting posting issue? How hard is it to simply say you screwed up and fix the problem?
What we find telling is the wording of the response to the PAC. James Kelly informed the PAC that the meeting schedule was not posted on the date of my original request then claims the schedule had been removed but he does not know by who or why. What evidence does Kelly have that it was ever posted, to begin with? Considering there was no evidence or affidavit presented that it was ever posted, to begin with, we find his response disingenuous.
Based on input from others that attend the meetings, the schedule never was posted. While Kelly appears to try to whitewash the timeline, we know the schedule was not posted prior to our request for review which was January 28th, 2019 and Kelly's own response confirms it did not get posted until after the PAC contacted them on February 21st, 2018.
We are appreciative that the matter has been fixed, but find it troubling such a simple issue could not be handled by the Township Supervisor instead of spending money on an attorney to write letters that contain insinuations that it was posted but just not on the day of my request for review.
The PAC also concluded that since the Township does not have any full-time staff that takes care of their website then they are not required to post this information on their website. We agree.
This little known requirement of having full-time staff being the trigger for posting obligations to the web site is getting abused throughout the state.
"In addition, a public body that has a website that the full-time staff of the public body maintains shall post notice on its website of all meetings of the governing body of the public body." 5 ILCS 120/2.02(b)
Public bodies are choosing to pay outside IT firms to handle their web site and doing this means they do not have to post certain items to their web pages, such as meeting notices, agendas, and minutes. Considering this is becoming the norm statewide, it may be time for an amendment to the Open Meetings Act to require them to ensure the posting obligations to the website are done if public funds are being spent on the website.
A copy of the determination letter can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.