Clarification regarding the leak of a draft legal memorandum from a closed session at South Jacksonville Village Hall could come from the state’s highest legal officer.
Attorney Tyson Manker has sent a request to Illinois’ Attorney General’s office asking for a Public Access Counselor to review alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act by the South Jacksonville Board of Trustees.
The closed session in question occurred on February 9th. Manker explains the reasoning for his request.
“I have requested from (the Attorney General’s office) that they review the release of the confidential draft memo that was released to the media last month. This (memo) was given to the Board of Trustees in a closed session, and according to the law, closed session materials that are incorporated in the minutes can be released, but it takes a vote from the board. I believe it is important that our elected officials follow the law, and we’re going to get clarification from the state’s top law enforcement officer on this matter,” says Manker.
Manker believes the Open Meetings Act clearly lays out the rules regarding the confidentiality of closed sessions.
“I just want to know if the Attorney General believes that it is legal under the Open Meetings Act for public bodies to release information without a vote of that public body. The Open Meetings Act is rather clear that minutes, summaries and other things discussed in a closed session have to remain confidential until the public body has determined that it is no longer in the interest of privacy to do so,” says Manker.
Manker says it’s imperative for municipal government bodies to comply with state regulations when it comes to matters such as these.
“If public bodies, or individual members of the public body, can simply release closed session materials at will, then what’s the point of a closed session? It needs to be through a deliberative effort of the public body, what the determination is made by those elected officials, then the release can be made, but it’s important that the law is followed, and the procedures laid out by the law are followed,” says Manker.
WLDS-WEAI News reached out to South Jacksonville Village Attorney Bob Cross, who said that he has yet to see a copy of Manker’s request. Cross elected not to comment on the matter until he’s had time to review the request.