A Highland, Illinois attorney who has been giving Governor J.B. Pritzker grief with multiple lawsuits around the state appeared in Jacksonville last night at Bogart’s Banquet Hall to explain to bar & restaurant owners their rights according to their businesses and the state’s ability or inability to close them under current executive orders. There were approximately 70 people in attendance from Morgan, Cass, Greene, Sangamon, and Macon counties – many of whom were bar & restaurant owners.
Thomas DeVore gave an hour and forty-five minute presentation on the basis of his lawsuits against the Governor, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and various county health departments that are ticketing businesses or issuing letters of non-compliance, trying to force them to close due to the Governor’s executive orders.
DeVore says he’s simply trying to educate people on how they have rights to due process under the law: “What’s going to be required to do now and as we go forward is making sure that we understand the rules that have been laid out, and then you can make the decisions the way that you want to make them. The rules. We got a couple of state reps here do we? Okay. Senator, he makes the rules, right? You didn’t like the rules he makes. Guess what? You can not vote for him next time. That’s how the system of government works, and that is all that I hope to accomplish. I can share the framework now because I assure each and every one of you there are local and state officials who don’t understand the rules. That doesn’t make them bad people. That makes them human, but you as citizens have an obligation to do what you can to make sure that we hold them accountable for those rules. Again, not because I distrust them, some I do most I don’t, because they don’t always understand.”
DeVore says that nowhere in the Illinois Constitution, nor in the Department of Public Health Act, or the recently passed mask mandates by JCAR does it say that indoor dining has to be closed or is against the law. DeVore cited two cases for businesses in Monroe and Bond County where he had citations by the Illinois State Police thrown out in court because the local court system could find no statute that gives precedent to executive orders or as DeVore characterized it, “teeth” to the citations. Both cases ended in nolle prosequi.
50th District State Senator Steve McClure was in attendance as an observer and had mixed reactions to the presentation: “It was my understanding that we were going to have some sort of a panel discussion, but apparently this was just a presentation you know, but I wanted to be here, too. I know all of my constituents have had issues and problems they want to talk to me about stuff, so I just kind of came here if anybody wanted to talk to me; which I’ve talked to quite a few about issues and was just [being] there for them, but aside from that I’m just an observer like everyone else. Don’t take me being here to mean that I endorse what he’s saying or that I you know [agree]. Honestly, some things he said I disagreed with, and you know I’m a lawyer myself. I was a prosecutor for awhile. I’m still a practicing attorney, but I was just here to observe and to be here for my constituents.”
McClure and 100th District Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer who was also in attendance, says a lot of the issues that DeVore was bringing up could be solved if the General Assembly were called back to session to pass rules and laws. McClure says he’s not heard from Governor Pritzker since May or Senate President Dan Harmon for quite some time: “I did at that time emphasize that we need to have COVID-19 hearings. We need to be, you know we need to have a balanced system here where we have got the legislator meeting as a co-equal branch of government, and we need to have oversight on stuff. You know I said quite frankly we need to vote on any mass rules that take effect for the entire state. We need to vote, and Governor we need to see the evidence for these things. That was back in May. [As] far as what’s been happening since then, I thought we need to have a veto session. Again, if not just the COVID-19 rules themselves, but also these issues with fraud at IDES and people still having issues getting unemployment benefits. All those things are worthy of hearings and worthy for us to get back.”
DeVore said near the end of the presentation that bars and restaurant owners should stay open whether ticketed or not and continue moving forward. He implored businesses to not give into what he called fear tactics and shoddy statistics surrounding COVID-19 being distributed by the media and state government, and to take their fights to the courts if they have to.