January 31, 2008
The Honorable Bill Sarto
Village of Carpentersville
1200 L.W. Besinger Drive
Carpentersville, IL 60110
Linda Ramirez Sliwinski
Re: Open Meetings Act Complaint #2008OMA10
Dear President Sarto and Members of the Board:
I am writing regarding an inquiry our office has received related to two members of the Carpentersville Village Board and their compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120.
Ms. Rebecca O’Halloran of The Courier News submitted an inquiry to our office stating that Trustees Paul Humpfer and Judy Sigwalt are participating in alleged meetings with constituents to discuss Board agenda’s as they relate to immigration issues prior to the Village’s public meeting. Further, the inquiry alleges that these gatherings were taking place at the Village fire station, but now occur in private residences. Please be advised that our office has also received two separate telephone calls from citizens complaining of these gatherings.
The purpose of my letter is to outline the provisions of the Act and caution the public body with regard to this matter. Under the Open Meetings Act, the public policy provisions states that “[i]t is the public policy of this State that public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and that the people have a right to be informed as to the conduct of their business. In order that the people shall be informed, the General Assembly finds and declares that it is the intent of this Act to ensure that the actions of public bodies be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.” 5 ILCS 120/1.
“Meeting” is defined as “any gathering of a majority of a quorum of the members of a public body held for the purpose of discussing public business.” 5 ILCS 120/1.02. In this instance, two members of the public body would not constitute a majority of the quorum and therefore the Act is not triggered.
However, a cautionary note that is relevant here. If the purpose of the gatherings have as their intent the formulation of policy outside the public view, the spirit of the Act would be jeopardized, and the Board should be aware of the public perception issues that arise in circumstances such as these even though the Act is not triggered.
At this time, no further review is merited. However, if you have any questions, please contact me at [redacted].
Public Access Counselor
Assistant Attroney General
cc: Rebecca O’Halloran
Attorney James A. Rhodes