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August 9, 2022

Former Marshall Mayor Camie Sanders is wrong on punishing council members who speak out –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On March 2, 2021

Marshall, IL. (ECWd) –

Former Marshall, Illinois Mayor Camie Sanders was quoted in the newspaper as advocating sanctioning and disciplining of council members who speak out about closed session discussions.

This was directed at Mr. LeFever, who sent us a letter to publish several weeks ago about the City discussing purchasing the old Velsicol superfund site during an executive (closed) session of the Board.

The First Amendment to the Constitution protects the right to speak, and that right cannot be legislated away by any municipal board. It cannot happen.

The Illinois Attorney General has already written several opinions that any elected officer of a public body retains their First Amendment rights, even when it concerns those discussions occurring in a closed meeting.

  • . . . absent an express statutory provision so providing, public bodies do not have the power to sanction their members for disclosing the substance of deliberations conducted or actions taken at a closed meeting. . .
  • “any Ordinance authorizing sanctions would have an adverse impact upon open access to government”
  • “the implication of such a power would clearly work to subvert the purpose of the Act (Open Meetings Act)”
  • the possibility of imposing sanctions against a member of the public body for disclosing what has occurred at a closed meeting would only serve as an obstacle to the effective enforcement of the Act, and a shield behind which opponents of open government could hide

A public body cannot pass any ordinances or resolutions violative of Constitutionally protected rights.

We advise the Marshall City Council to avoid treading down the path Sanders wants to help you tread down.

We applaud Warren LeFever for his well-written words, and for warning the residents of Marshall, Illinois what may be coming their way. We consider that a duty of elected officials – an advanced warning to residents.

Additionally, a lawsuit against a councilman for discussing what was discussed in a closed session would certainly fail – that is what the TORT immunity is for, and what the Citizen Participation Act is for.

 

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4 Comments
  • Larry Ferguson
    Posted at 09:45h, 03 March

    I was not aware until a few months ago that a person may speak outside of an Executive Session about the content of a meeting. Written and audio can be released per vote. With that being said executive session’s seems to be for the most part useless.

  • Dave
    Posted at 10:17h, 03 March

    The only people who don’t want to publicly disclose the truth are people with something to hide.

  • jannie
    Posted at 11:31h, 03 March

    It was my understanding that no votes can be taken in Closed session, that votes have to be done in open session. At various times a Board will release the closed session minutes. I believe the reason for closed session is to: discuss personnel matters & possible purchase of land – something that someone thought the “group” was interested they could have someone else buy the property and then offer up for sale at a huge profit. Now, that being said I’ve seen abuses of this with a board getting a “consensus” and bypassing the rule of the vote. Providing false information to other members of the board in closed session that can never be corrected because the public or entity being discussed has knowledge of the falsehoods until too late.

  • Warren J. Le Fever
    Posted at 16:28h, 03 March

    Thank you very much for clearing this matter up. this has been a repeated problem over the years. There will be more about this issue come up at council in the future because it is time to stop this.

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