Joliet, IL. (ECWd) –
The Will County Veterans Assistance Commission, during its last meeting, allegedly violated the Open Meetings Act by enforcing a non-existent policy of three minutes per speaker during public comment time, entering closed session for discussions with an auditor when no auditor was present, and by prohibiting commission members from entering closed session with executive committee members.
I submitted a Request for a Review of this meeting to the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor asking them to weigh in on these alleged violations:
- Enforced a time limit for public comment of 3 minutes per person, while having no written or established public comment rules as required under Section 2.06 of the Open Meetings Act – Minutes. Right to Speak., para (g). The Board insisted that their adoption of “Robert’s Rules of Order” was their written and established public comment policy, however, nowhere in Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 12th Edition, could I find any rule on limiting the time to three minutes per person for public comment. Also, I doubt a reference to Robert’s Rule would pass for an adopted public comment policy. Additionally, the Commission’s own bylaws, Article XI, Section 7, require them to follow the Open Meetings Act.
- Refused to permit every member of the Commission entry into an executive session of the Executive Committee. The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor has previously published determinations stating that every member of a public body may attend open and closed committee meetings of committees of the public body. The WCVAC is a public body under Illinois law and its alleged executive committee is a committee of the Commission, therefore, each delegate and the alternate delegate must be permitted to enter into open and closed meetings of the Commission and each of its committees.
- Took action on items not on the agenda, and not within the powers of the committee. A Committee of a public body has no powers except to recommend items to be considered and voted upon by the entire public body. In this case, the executive committee took action on personnel issues when the authority for those actions falls under the full commission. Nothing in the Military Veterans Assistance Act grants decision-making authority to committees. Rather, it grants decision-making authority to “the Commission.” The committee entered into an executive session toward the end of the meeting, discussed personnel, re-entered the open session, and took action on demotions/promotions of commission employees. These were not listed as agenda items on the published agenda.
- Entered into Executive Session under the stated exception of Section 2(c)(29). This Section requires there to be a meeting between the public body and internal or external auditors. No Auditors were present during this closed session. The committee refused to permit members of the commission entrance into this closed session.
More on this meeting in future articles.