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Rock Island County Board found in violation of Illinois Open Meetings Act

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The Rock Island County Board was ordered to modify rules, requiring people to register at least two days in advance to comment at board meetings, because they violate state law.

Drue Mielke filed a grievence with the state, alleging he was not allowed to address the Rock Island County Board, during the public comment section of its meeting August 21, 2012, because he did not sign up to do so at least two working days in advance.

The board’s rules say, in part, “Any citizens or representative of a group wanting to address the Board shall put their request in writing and submit such request to the Chairperson of the Board two working days prior to the regularly scheduled Board meeting; this to exclude discussion of matters which have had previous public hearing conducted according to law,” according to a statement from Illinois Assistant Attorney General Christopher Boggs.    (scroll down for a link to his entire statement)

The Rock Island County Board rule was found to be unfair, because the board was not required to post its agenda more than 48 hours in advance of a meeting, but it required citizens to register to comment before the agenda was required to be available.

Boggs said the state’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) allows the board to set “reasonable rules relating to procedure and decorum,” such as establishing limits on time and requiring relevant topics for those comments; but that those rules are designed to maximize the opportunity to participate for as many people as possible.

“The current rule regarding public comment clearly discourages, rather than promotes, public participation, contrary to the spirit of OMA.  The board has not demonstrated that the advance registration rule is reasonably necessary to ensure that its meetings proceed in an orderly and efficient manner,” Boggs said.

The board was directed to eliminate the requirement for citizens to register for public comment two or more working days in advance of their meetings.

READ MORE:  Boggs letter concerning Rock Island County Board violation of Open Meetings Act