Here’s the difference in agenda rules between regular and special public meetings

During a recent Annie Glidden North task force subcommittee meeting, I alleged Open Meetings Act (OMA) violations. I want to explain why.

What I objected to was the subcommittee’s addition of discussion items to the agenda of a special meeting. During regular meetings, a public body can talk about anything it wants, but that same body must stick to the published agenda when it has a special meeting.

It’s easier to understand if you unhook “notice” from “agenda.” Maybe you’ve heard of the rule of publishing meeting notices and agendas 48 hours in advance? The “notice” part actually differs between regular and special meetings. While you might also see meeting specifics on a regular agenda (makes sense) the notice that counts under OMA is the schedule published at the beginning of the fiscal or calendar year; the 48-hour notice applies to the agenda only. A special meeting, on the other hand, requires that the body publish 48 hours in advance the notice of the meeting and the agenda together.

Adding discussion items to a regular agenda is allowed due to the abundance of notice for regular meetings. At least hypothetically, anyone interested has enough time to arrange to attend any or all regular meetings.

The agenda rule for special meetings is tighter — no additions allowed — due to the short notice.

So back to the subcommittee meetings. These are special meetings so far, but last week at least one committee added items to its agenda. Whoever is the boss of these committees (the mayor, I hope) could decide to give them flexibility of agenda by setting up a regular meeting schedule, but until then they must stick to their agendas.

Also, could somebody please train the city staff. There were three staff members attending the meeting I observed, and none of them had a clue. Continue reading Here’s the difference in agenda rules between regular and special public meetings

Another Anniversary

As City Barbs turns nine today, I want to express my pleasure and gratitude to you who have let me know in so many ways that the blog has value to you.

I am as excited as ever to begin another year. There’s the fresh smell of grassroots growing in the air and it makes sense to me that City Barbs continues to operate in service of perspectives and ideas that differ from those of the local political-media establishment.

Do you come here often? If so, you’ve noticed less frequent postings over the past several months. Schedules come into play, of course, but much of the change reflects a shift to posting more on Facebook. A lot of interesting public documents have come to light since the College Town Partners leak and I can’t resist the Facebook photo album format for displaying pages side-by-side with descriptions of their context. Hope you will check out the group if you haven’t already.

Lastly, here’s a plug for some o’ that grassroots freshness. You are invited to attend FOCUS DeKalb’s latest meeting — Part Deux to the town hall that drew almost 100 individuals. Find the deets here: Town Hall Meeting Tonight.

Candidates’ Night Thursday to be Televised

DeKalb City Council Chambers will serve as the setting for a candidates’ night on Thursday evening involving some of the candidates City of DeKalb residents will vote on, and will include a telecast on Channel 14, the city’s public access channel.

The newly reconstituted League of Women Voters of DeKalb County (LWVDC) is hosting. Participating candidates of non-contested races will provide short presentations about themselves and their platforms, while contested races will involve questions from the audience as well.

Find more info at the Chronicle or e-mail

Full disclosure: I serve on the LWVDC board of directors.

Hello DARA

The DeKalb Area Rental Association (DARA) formed last summer has recently launched its website, called

It’s probably safe to say it’s not a coincidence in timing that DARA was conceived just a few months after the mayor first appointed his Safe/Quality Housing Task Force, and easy to see DARA’s formation at least partly as a defensive measure against the suspected return of the Rental Inspection Program agenda.

However, DARA is already more than an “anti” group. The organization is establishing Building Watch on multi-unit properties, has recently hosted a public meeting about Building Watch with DeKalb police, and is aiming to dovetail these efforts with existing Neighborhood Watch activities.

DARA has also taken upon itself the task of video recording Task Force meetings. A member tells me the recordings will be uploaded to YouTube and linked to the DARA website for easy public access.

The Safe/Quality Housing Task Force will next meet February 28 from 4-6 p.m. in the Municipal Building, council chambers.

Calling All Cluck Lovers

Just a Few Hens petitionWant to know more about keeping chickens in the city? Join Hannah Dwyer at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship hall in DeKalb tonight.

Ms. Dwyer has been shepherding a proposal through the legislative process to allow City of DeKalb residents to keep up to five hens for their eggs. City council has so far assigned the draft ordinance to the Citizens’ Environmental Commission and the Planning & Zoning Commission for their recommendations, and these bodies are expected to consider the matter next month.

If the ordinance passes as written, each property owner with a hen permit and a lot size of 10,000 square feet or more will be allowed to keep hens on his or her property.

The UUF hall is on the southeast corner of Fourth and Locust. The informational program begins at 7 p.m.

A Couple Meetings that May Interest You

Sustainability Plan Presentation: Tuesday, October 11, 7 p.m. in DeKalb City Council Chambers. Sponsored by DeKalb’s Citizens Environmental Commission, this presentation is designed to introduce the public to the nuts and bolts of creating a citywide sustainability plan. Featured presenter is Aaron Cosentino from the City of Elgin. Cosentino worked with over 100 volunteers to develop a sustainability plan that was adopted by Elgin in August.

An often quoted definition for sustainability is the one put forth by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainability meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

However it is important for each city to arrive at the definition of sustainability which best suits its bioregion and community. The definition making process should include the social, economic, and environmental needs of the community.

DeKalb County/Area League of Women Voters-to-be: Thursday, October 13, 6:30 p.m. in the basement room of Kish Corner Family Restaurant, Sycamore. Anyone who is interested or thinks s/he might be interested in helping reorganize a local chapter of LWV is welcome to attend.

League of Women Voters Interest Meeting

Women and men interested in re-organizing a local League of Women Voters in DeKalb County are welcome to attend an interest meeting on Thursday, March 17, beginning at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be in the basement of the Kish Corner Family Restaurant, 2496 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore. Come and enjoy some appetizers that will be provided or come hungry and order dinner off the menu.

The meeting will include planning for the upcoming local election debates that will be held in DeKalb and Cortland. Also, there will be a discussion on current issues identified by the League of Women Voters of Illinois.