The Northwest Herald is asking the Illinois Attorney General's Office to decide whether Wednesday's meeting of the Grafton Township Board violated the Open Meetings Act.
As reporter Stephen Di Benedetto wrote today, outgoing Township Supervisor Linda Moore called an emergency meeting to address cash flow issues that she said could shut down township government. The Northwest Herald received the notice about four hours before the meeting's 6 p.m. start time.
The Open Meetings Act mandates a minimum of 48 hours' notice for any public meeting. But in the case of a "bona fide" emergency, a public body can issue a notice as soon as is practicable.
The act doesn't define a bona fide emergency and the courts have not provided clear guidance, as Di Benedetto wrote. But previous Attorney General opinions have clarified that such an emergency meeting can only be called when an issue cannot wait 48 hours to be resolved.
And the facts in Di Benedetto's story make a pretty compelling argument that this was not the case.
Di Benedetto filed a request for review last night with the Attorney General's Public Access Counselor – the office has the power to enforce the Open Meetings and Freedom of Information acts.
Should the office conclude that further investigation is warranted, it will ask Grafton Township for pertinent records, and the township will have an opportunity to explain its decision. The Northwest Herald then gets a chance to offer a rebuttal to the township's explanation, and the counselor's office will subsequently rule on whether the law was broken.
We'll let you all know how it turns out.
Senior Writer Kevin Craver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.