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August 9, 2022

AG: Wesley Township Violated Open Meetings Act re: Public Comment –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On June 8, 2021

WESLEY TOWNSHIP, IL. (ECWd) –

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor had issued a determination stating that Wesley Township violated the Open Meetings Act in relation to public comment during its June 12, 2018 township meeting.

During this meeting, the township supervisor interrupted a speaker and adjourned the meeting when she addressed a board member individually, instead of as a collective board.

From the determination:

On June 15, 2018, Mr. John Kraft submitted a Request for Review alleging that the Board of Trustees of Wesley Township (Board) violated section 2.06(g) of OMA (5 ILCS 120/2.06(g) (West 2018) during the public comment portion of its June 12, 2018, meeting by interrupting a person’s public comment, adjourning the meeting during a person’s public comment, and by using its public comment policy to require a person to address the entire Board rather than individual Board members. On June 22, 2018, Ms. Cindy Brzana submitted a Request for Review with the same allegations, identifying herself as the individual the Board interrupted.”

Under the plain language of section 2.06(g) of OMA, a public body may restrict public comment only pursuant to its established and recorded rules, which must tend to accommodate, rather than unreasonably restrict, the right to address public officials. Ill. Att’y Gen. Pub. Acc. Op. No. 14-012, issued September 30, 2014, at 6. A public body improperly restricts an individual’s right to public comment when the public body enforces a rule that requires public comments to be addressed to the board as a whole as opposed to individual board members.

53615 53713 o 206g pub comment improper mun_Redacted

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3 Comments
  • Golden Country
    Posted at 21:39h, 08 June

    The only way that these reviews mean anything is if a financial penalty be assessed against public officials that violate FOIA. Otherwise the public body succeeded in their attempt to shut down public comment with no repercussions.

  • PK
    Posted at 11:07h, 09 June

    Can the PAC’s determination be exhibited in a lawsuit whereby the defendants could be ordered to pay attorney fees and other costs as determined by the court?

    • John Kraft
      Posted at 12:25h, 09 June

      not for the same instance – and maybe for future instances, but your attorney would have to advise on that

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