I’m not savvy about board meeting minutes and their availability as it relates to the current text being called law here in the State of Illinois.
I barely know municipal code books and even then, I’m severely out of date.
The Kitching Bill was recently passed by Illinois lawmakers to address a matter so vexating, only the immediate aid and assistance of words being inserted into books as a matter of enforceable law at a local level.
Whereas the state decided to roll along with the idea that reading copies of municipal code books and board meeting minutes in the privacy of ones home or even their place of employe remains such a grave danger to State and Local Security, only an extreme adventure unique to the individual and municipality can provide adequate assurances a municipality will not be assaulted via the Freedom of Information Act…perhaps…possibly…or maybe not…?
Mayor Patrick Kitching of Alsip, Illinois was cited in the local media as having been hit so hard by a such a precision FOIA request, nothing less than modification of existing laws will deter such “vexatious” behaviors.
Hmmm…me thinks I prefer the word “nuisance” in these circumstances rather than some less applied term to describe the existing process in Alsip, thereby leaving the term “vexing” to reflect what seems to be happening within the full boundaries of the State of Illinois.
First, there is no avoiding conclusion that in many cases, the right hand has absolutely no clue what the left hand is doing…and I even mean in a typo setting. When a board meeting minute collection reflects errors in voting counts, even the internal guts of the municipalities is operating on false assumptions of truth, let alone from an observatory position when trying to publish the voting record of each individual in even one municipality. Frequently, the media is dissuaded from pursuit of such reporting efforts through the FOIA structure taking on the position of “vexatious” and “nusaince” when all it takes is posting a copy to the Internet.
So is it worth arguing over a spelling error? If anyone has a poll on that one… ‘cause I’m not tracking down those stats.
However, I suspect many lawyers and accountants would be filled with overflowing happiness to point out the value of accuracy in publications and even the data entry clerk can sometimes stay awake all night counting sheep because they were chewed out for a cascading series of events that was traced back to their fingertips.
This point of matter should be a strong indicator as to just how alive our opinionated nation really is relative to the text making claims perhaps frequently to the contrary. Not sure what the State of Illinois was fearful of, at least when it comes to using these two public document sets to scan from time to time at all levels of government.
So let’s go another direction now. Let’s say the Public Access Counselor’s office goes ahead and decides to review board meeting minutes for these types of inaccuracies in a spot check manner parallel to the mandatory car insurance checks mailed out by the Secretary of State. Now if we jump into the legislative time machine, the State of Illinois published both a law with a short title of Open Meetings Act along with a statement of position from the Attorney General outlining the objectives of the legislation written in far less legalese.
The key to this particular Freedom of Information door is that there is enough looping to where the intent of the law is made clear on a state level that provides two reasons for legislation over otherwise autonomous entities:
“…to ensure that public bodies keep accurate records of their proceedings for their own protection.”
When this statement is placed side by side with the voting record reporting circumstance, it is clear that the value of such accuracy goes far beyond the skin covering the municipality. The media can no more afford inaccuracy in their own reporting and are sometimes even forced to print retractions when they publish erroneous and/or error-filled information. Is it possible to argue censorship at this point? Perhaps. But I haven’t even printed one newspaper yet, so its not entirely a direction I’ve allowed myself to wander for too long.
Let’s turn this around and look at it from the eyes of a judge in a courtroom setting. If a judge doesn’t ask what “IDOT” stands for, does the standard default assumption of Illinois Department of Transportation being the entity referenced as a part of a vote apply, or does the judge risk a social-driven perspective well-seeded in suggestions of stupidity or foolishness for not knowing such an otherwise clear citation of the Illinois Department of Transportation?
This leads to the other piece of foundation for the Open Meetings Act.
“…to provide a record for a court to examine when it is trying to ascertain whether or not a violation of the Act has occurred.”
So where is the legislation providing a judge the verbiage to apply the term “vexatious” to a set of board meeting minutes?
Well, for now it doesn’t exist. But what does exist is an existing threshold records have to meet to where “…sufficient data explaining what was discussed, the substance of the discussion and what, if any action was taken.”
What municipality is going to head to a courtroom and say “Judge, can you judge these documents to see if we have achieved the necessary threshold” but perhaps more twisting is the idea that even the Equal Access to the Illinois Justice System have zero capacity to go ahead and take a quick peek to see what municipalities, if any, are not keeping accurate records of their proceedings, let alone following up on any complaint over any potential violation that may be existing.
So let’s take all of these spokes and bring them into a wheel just whistling for conversation.
The meeting minutes for Posen and Robbins used to be available in a physical setting with a local library as custodian.
Computer records say they still exist at the Markham, Illinois library, but they do not actually have the white 3-ring binders I actually thumbed through momentarily while looking for a municipal code book. Heck. They don’t even have copies of Markham board meeting minutes
This isn’t any better than a municipal code book being listed as Missing In Actuality because a group of employees decided not to honor the text listed in the front of the document that made it clear “ask and ye shall receive” during normal business hours.
Last time I went searching for this type of documentation, I encountered lawyers, cops, mayors, and others, all with their own perspectives and positions as it relates to what it is I want my government to accomplish sooner rather than later.
Therefore, although I could go on and on about my own perspectives, I have the Index to try to improve and must bring this thought to a close.
But here’s something I’m going to look into at some point next week.
Now I am no fan of any event that has born the label of “Anonymous” as it relates to the hacking schemes and conversation.
However, I did look into Wikileaks as a method of drawing attention to my own difficulties once I had the documents. Ultimately, there was really no need for entry into such a social circle and I chose to remain with my own website and my own marketing on the topic.
A few days ago, the suggestion was made that Wikileaks will no longer benefit(?) from the protection(?) provided by Anonymous because its original creator had installed some form of a pay wall between an end-user and the database.
Without getting into the community mechanics of such a statement, I thought about the conversations surrounding one legal case being carried forth on a premise that release of documents to the Wikileaks database constituted a severe breach in national security.
After I read about this, it crossed my mind that my publishing the Crestwood meeting minutes a few days ago for the first time ever is a release of documents that otherwise were entirely absent to the Internet community.
Because I know I have Sunshine laws, Digital Millenium Act and other legal compositions to turn to as some semblance of structure as to what I can and cannot do as a plain old citizen…let alone a citizen wanting to begin publishing these documents in a newspaper format…let alone being a citizen that already published quite a few modified versions for demonstration purposes. So if I have comfort in existing laws telling me I do not need to harm government via a FOIA request (let alone multiples) and that all we are missing is the library component to this public documentation accessibility expectation.
So perhaps there was a reason to elevate Kitching’s complaints above the otherwise avoidable circumstance of an individual wanting to run for office having to decide if they want to risk being considered a criminal of a civil kind should the municipality not want to surrender a full collection of documents that contain the laws and the citations of when what laws were placed into such a book. And with the codification industry relying on a 3-ring binder method as a means of fulfilling their promise to publish said documents in a usable manner…
Chilling. Absolutely cold. But perhaps no more cold than the last set of stats I pulled for municipal code books. These public documents are sitting on hard drives and there needs to be no forced leak of any of these materials.
Building a library isn’t a political matter.
It’s a private one.
Millions already spent on the documentation process and production of public property. Missing. Don’t know if it existed and disappeared or if it’s a Crestwood circumstance to where there were absolutely no meeting minutes kept over 30+ years.
Chilling. The State of Illinois had not a clue. The right hand not knowing what the left was doing…?
Chilling. Not one meeting minute available for Posen, Robbins or Markham, Illinois at two local libraries.
That’s not providing easy access to the public…but that’s a clause for another time.