DeKalb Violated the Open Meetings Act in Approving Settlement Agreement

The determination arrived Friday. Find it here.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) has found that City of DeKalb violated the Open Meetings Act (OMA) in two ways when it approved a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on January 12:

  • The city misused the exception to open meetings having to do with imminent/pending litigation by failing to first make a finding that there actually was imminent/pending litigation.
  • The city failed to take final action (vote) to approve the agreement in open session.

  • While both violations are important in helping council members understand the OMA better, as well as to evaluate the performance of their attorney AKA SuperLawyer, it’s the second that probably has more implications for how city business is done in DeKalb.

    You see, for several years now the city has only approved settlement agreements in public if the anticipated cost has been $20,000 or more.

    The PAC’s determination makes clear that council must vote to approve these agreements in open session following closed session discussion, no matter what the cost.

    What’s more, the public vote must be accompanied by a public recital of the main provisions of the agreement, along with other information to inform the public. OMA requires open deliberations in these matters in addition to the few allowed private ones.

    The public recital requirement, by the way, was not met when the council placed a pay raise for the city manager on its consent agenda.

    SuperLawyer strikes again?

    Related: “AG Investigating Possible Open Meetings Act Violations by City of DeKalb”