AG: Hillsboro Violated Open Meetings Act

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The city of Hillsboro violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act when it talked about Summer Street sewer lines in closed session last November, according to a March 4 decision by Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office.

According to the decision signed by Chief Deputy Attorney General Brent Stratton, the city “is directed to remedy this violation” by making public the recording of the Nov. 24 closed session and corresponding minutes concerning the sewer lines and the complainant, Eric Bradley.

Bradley had been in front of the city council multiple times last fall after locating  sewer lines under a parcel of residential property on Summer Street where he had planned to build a garage.

He was informed that at their meeting on Nov. 24, instead of discussing the issue in open session the council would take up the matter in closed session because of “possible litigation.”

On Dec. 3, Bradley submitted a request for review to the attorney general’s Public Access Bureau.

“None of the materials the city council submitted to this office indicate that the city council had reason to believe that litigation concerning the issue involving Mr. Bradley was ‘probable or imminent,’” Stratton wrote in his decision.  “Although the city council cited ‘possible or threatened litigation’ when voting to go into closed session and in its answer to this office, that is not the applicable legal standard.  In addition, this office’s review of the closed session minutes confirmed that the city council did not undertake to determine or enter a finding that litigation concerning the sewer was probable or imminent, or record such a finding in its minutes.” He continues, noting that the remote possibility of litigation at some point in the future “was an insufficient basis for the closed session discussion.”

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