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Open Meetings Act (OMA)
Roxana Community Unit School Dist. No. 1 v. Environmental Protection Agency, --- N.E.2d ---, 2013 IL App (4th) 120825 (November 14, 2013).
This appeal continues from the summer of 2012 when Roxana Comm. Unit School Dist. No. 1 (RCUSD) asked for and was granted an injunction against the Illinois Pollution Control Board (PCB).
The injunction ordered the PCB to (1) stop violating the OMA and (2) hold all of its future meetings in public. See Roxana CUSD #1 v. WRB Refining, LP and EPA, Pollution Control Board & Dept. of Revenue, Ill. App. 4th 120331 (2012) (available in RC&AD archives).
The injunction only stopped the PCB from violating OMA during further proceedings pertaining to the parties of this case. The question of whether or not the PCB violated FOIA and OMA was to occur at a later date.
At that later date, the PCB won its motion for summary judgment in the trial court. This decision effectively stopped a trial on the question of whether the PCB violated the Illinois FOIA and OMA. RCUSD appealed this decision.
The Illinois Appellate Court reversed and remanded the case (sent it back to the trial court). On appeal, the Appellate court found as follows:
1. The PCB violated FOIA by not providing public records requested as statutorily mandated.
2. The PCB violated the mandates and overarching purpose of the OMA when it improperly prohibited public comment, restricted opportunity to address it during public comment to written filings, and discussed the merits of RCUSD’s claims in closed sessions.
For another related appeal out of this situation, please see Roxana Community Unit School Dist. No. 1 v. Environmental Protection Agency, --- N.E.2d ---, 2013 IL App (4th) 120825 (November 14, 2013) (available in the RC&AD District Organization and Operation section).
Posted date: 12/03/2013
Freedom of Information Act
City of Champaign v. Madigan, 2013 IL App (4th) 120662 (2013).
This opinion upheld binding opinion from the Public Access Counselor, PAO 11-6. PAO 11-6 required the City of Champaign to provide certain emails and text messages stored on public officials’ private computers and electronic devices in response to a FOIA request. The opinion narrowed PAO 11-6 by instructing that emails and text messages stored on private devices of public officials are “public records” only when the communications are sent or received during a public meeting (as opposed to being public records when they “pertain to the transaction of public business. . .”).
School officials should contact their local board attorney for assistance. It is worth noting that it may be possible to transform a private non-public record into a public record by accessing private emails and text messages that have nothing to do with the “transaction of public business” during public meetings. At the time of publication, it is unclear whether this case will be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Posted date: 11/14/2013
Parker v. Lyons, 2013 WL 1624336, --- F.Supp.2d ----, (C.D., Ill., 04/15/2013).
This case has some background. It originates from a state “quo warranto” action to remove General Parker’s name from the school board ballot for a prior felony conviction. See People ex rel. Lyons v. Parker, 2012 IL App (3d) 110140-U, (Order filed 5/8/2012), available here:
A quo warranto action is used to challenge another’s right to public office. In the 2012 case, the State’s Attorney successfully obtained an order barring General Parker from running for the local school board. General Parker argued that the quo warranto action was improper and that State law allowed him to have his name on the ballot. However, the Appellate Court warned General Parker to stop making those arguments as the decision for his name to be removed from the ballot would stand.
General Parker has now filed a complaint in federal court against those who sought removal of his name from the ballot. In it, General Parker raises three claims:
1. A Fourteenth Amendment “Class–of–One” Equal Protection claim alleging that he was selectively targeted the quo warranto action, a rarely-used enforcement mechanism, because of his reputation as an outspoken leader in the community.
2. A Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection claim alleging racial discrimination because he was targeted to be removed from the school board election ballot to preserve a white majority on the school board. He alleges that other white candidates for various local elected offices are or have been ineligible but were not subject to quo warranto actions or other challenges by the State's Attorney.
3. A general challenge to the constitutionality of the state laws preventing someone with a prior felony conviction from running for school board, citing the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.
The merits of the federal case are still pending.
Posted date: 06/03/2013
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