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August 9, 2022

DuPage Township Settled Open Meetings Lawsuit Against the Township, Maripat Oliver, Ken Burgess, and Felix George –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On September 22, 2021

DuPage Township, IL. (ECWd) –

During last night’s DuPage Township monthly meeting, the township board entered into closed session to discuss pending litigation.

After coming back into open session, the board discussed, then unanimously voted to approve, a settlement agreement in the Open Meetings Act lawsuit (read it HERE) brought by former trustees Alyssia Benford and Dennis Raga, and the Edgar County Watchdogs, which alleged the now-former township board held a Special Meeting on December 4, 2020, which was noncompliant with the Open Meetings Act – specifically, Section 7(e)(4) of the Open Meetings Act which requires a public body to “allow any interested member of the public access to contemporaneously hear all discussion, testimony, and roll call votes” if they choose to use remote attendance.

There were other allegations, including improper meeting notice (did not comply with Township Code), improperly entering closed session (to discuss censure of elected official), voting on something not on the agenda (censure), and voting on something (censure) they did not have the power to do.

With this settlement, DuPage Township Board acknowledged the December 4, 2020, Special Meeting held by the previous board was held in violation of the Open Meetings Act and the Board agreed it will never approve any alleged meeting minutes from that alleged meeting, which basically negates any action taken.

WHEREAS, the TOWNSHIP acknowledges that the prior Board of the TOWNSHIP held a meeting on December 4, 2020, via Zoom, that violated the Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120/7(e)(4), due to audio/visual difficulties that effectively deprived the members of the public present on the Zoom conference call from meaningfully participating in the meeting or hearing the deliberations of the Board members;

As part of the settlement, DuPage Township will pay Plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs (approx.. $4400.00) – the vast majority will come from the township’s insurance company.

We note that violations of the Open Meetings Act are considered to be a Class C misdemeanor.

 

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2 Comments
  • Tracey Baker
    Posted at 10:03h, 22 September

    That is good but what happens to those involved? Nothing. The insurance company takes the brunt and that is it. No penalty. This is why it continues to happen regardless of how many are caught.

  • PK
    Posted at 20:31h, 22 September

    The former board is comprised with classy trustees. The current board is comprised with a least one class c trustee. Unfortunately, the insurance company has no incentive to heed the difference.

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