Local Government Lowdown

Get insights and analysis on all the latest Illinois government legal news from Tressler’s local attorneys.

Election season is rapidly approaching. Candidates for the April 2021 election can start circulating nominating petitions on September 22, 2020.  Candidates should carefully check compliance with the rules and deadlines: Monday, December 14, 2020. The first day for candidates to file their nominating petitions, statement of candidacy and receipt of filing of Statement of Economic Interests. Monday, December 21, 2020. Last day for candidates to file. Names are placed on the ballot in the order in which the nominating papers are received.  However, for those who file within the first hour and last hour of the filing period, a lottery is held…
Consolidated Election First Tuesday in April April 6, 2021 As the April 2021 election fast approaches, many clerks and local election officials will be responsible for accepting nomination petitions. Generally, a receipt upon the filing of a petition is provided but are they aware that they are also required to provide a “Notice of Obligation”? The official with whom nomination papers are filed must provide to each candidate at the time they file nomination papers a Notice of Obligation to comply with the Illinois Campaign Financing Act. The notice will state that the manual of instructions and forms for statements required…
The Attorney General’s Office has issued a new binding opinion (PAC Opinion 20-006) on a FOIA request which sought to obtain records from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) regarding data on head injuries incurred by inmates in IDOC custody as well as the policies for evaluating head injuries of IDOC inmates and IDOC employees. IDOC responded to the FOIA request denying it possessed or maintained any of the requested data or policies and indicated that it outsourced such matters to Wexford Health Sources and denied the request. The requester then appealed IDOC’s denial with the PAC. Upon review the…
The Attorney General’s Office has issued a new binding opinion (PAC Opinion 20-006) on a FOIA request which sought to obtain records from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) regarding data on head injuries incurred by inmates in IDOC custody as well as the policies for evaluating head injuries of IDOC inmates and IDOC employees. IDOC responded to the FOIA request denying it possessed or maintained any of the requested data or policies and indicated that it outsourced such matters to Wexford Health Sources and denied the request. The requester then appealed IDOC’s denial with the PAC. Upon review the…
A recent Illinois First District Appellate Court decision, Better Government Association v. The City of Chicago Office of Mayor and the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, 2020 IL App. (1st) 190038 (August 5, 2020), addresses whether communications on a public official’s personal device are considered public records for the purposes of FOIA. In Better Government Association v. The City of Chicago Office of Mayor and the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, the Appellate Court found that communications on a public official’s personal device could be public records for the purposes of FOIA and subject to disclosure…
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently updated its guidelines for best practices on home isolation. The following isolation recommendations apply to individuals who have a) tested positive for COVID-19, b) have symptoms of COVID-19 or c) were exposed to COVID-19. These new guidelines are more closely related to the symptoms exhibited by the individuals, as follows: Persons without symptoms of COVID-19 can end their isolation after 10 days from the date of a positive COVID-19 test. Persons who were exposed to the virus, but were never tested and have no symptoms, should likewise quarantine for 10 days. Persons who have…
Governor Pritzker has signed into law Public Act 101-504, amending the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/7-135.5). It requires IMRF to post certain information regarding contributions made by local taxing bodies. Further, the Act requires that by January 1, 2021, all Illinois municipalities, as well as all other local taxing bodies that participate in IMRF, must post on their websites a link to the IMRF’s new information page.  The IMRF information page is entitled “Employer Cost and Participation Information,” and can be found at https://www.imrf.org/en/about-imrf/transparency/employer-cost-and-participation-information. The Act does not require a municipality or district to create or maintain…
Recent events have brought forth media discussions of qualified immunity in the context of the use of deadly force. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a federal trial court’s grant of a defendant police officer’s motion for summary judgment in a case alleging that the defendant used excessive force during a traffic stop that eventually resulted in the killing of the plaintiff. Gysan v. Francisko, No. 19-1471 (July 13, 2020) N.D. Ill., E. Div. The defendant successfully asserted qualified immunity in plaintiff-decedent’s section 1983 action. The record showed that: (1) defendant stopped plaintiff after receiving a report that plaintiff had just…
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to people that identify as gay or transgender. Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against any person based upon, among other characteristics, that person’s sex – in other words, male or female. In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court considered whether Title VII’s definition of “sex” includes gay and transgender individuals. Until now, the lower courts had been divided on the question. In a 6-3 decision authored by Neil Gorsuch, the Court ruled that an “employer who fires…
Jennifer Longanecker was a tenured fifth-grade teacher in the East Moline School District. In 2014, the School Board found that she helped a student cheat on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. In doing so, the Board reversed a hearing officer’s finding that she had not helped the student cheat. Ms. Longanecker sued and the case has been making its way through the Illinois state courts ever since. First, the Circuit Court affirmed the Board’s decision and this last stop finds the Appellate Court doing so, as well. The Appellate Court’s decision solidifies the developing trend in Illinois school law to defer to…
On June 16, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled “SAFE POLICING FOR SAFE COMMUNITIES.”  The Order can be found at https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6948245/Trump-Policing-Executive-Order.pdf. There is speculation in the national press that Congress may soon enact legislation in this regard, but for now, the Order provides requirements with which all state and local law enforcement agencies must comply in order to qualify for the Department of Justice discretionary grants.  Among these requirements, local agencies must seek credentials from an independent body certified by the U.S. Attorney General.  These credentialing bodies should address such issues as the use of force training,…
A constant question for boards is whether discussions are best suited for an open or closed session. The Open Meetings Act requires that all meetings of public bodies be open to the public. 5 ILCS 120/2.  However, there are multiple exceptions to this rule. Specifically, boards are permitted to move a meeting from open to closed session to discuss “the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees…”5 ILCS 120/2(c)(1).  A common mistake made by public bodies is interpreting this exception to mean that all conversations about any personnel matters may be held in closed session. Unfortunately, this oversimplification of the…
On June 5, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed HB 2096 into law. The Bill amends the Illinois Local Library Act and the Public Library District Act, creating the “Cards for Kids Act.”  75 ILCS 16/30-55.60. The amendment adds to the group of non-residents entitled to library cards without paying a library fee.  Non-resident students, whose household incomes fall at or below the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Income Eligibility Guidelines, cannot be charged fees for non-resident library cards.  Library boards still retain their authority to regulate the terms and conditions of their non-resident card program, but can no longer charge a fee…
Public bodies and those who contract with public bodies should be aware of a recent appellate court decision that addressed two topics with respect to the Prevailing Wage Act – the importance of including specific prevailing wage language into contracts awarded for public work and how certain landscaping work may be covered by the Act. In Valerio v. Moore Landscapes, LLC., 2020 IL App (1st) 190185 (March 26, 2020), twelve landscape laborers filed suit against their employer, Moore Landscapes, LLC, for failing to pay them the prevailing wage for work they performed of replacing and trees pursuant to Moore’s contract…
Relying on their inherent authority under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupation Disease Act (the “Acts”), on April 13, 2020, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) amended Section 9030.70 of their Rules of Evidence. Titled EMERGENCY under 9030.70 a, the new Rule creates a rebuttable presumption under the Acts of a causal connection between a “first responder’s or front-line worker’s” employment and a diagnosis of COVID-19.  In other words, any first responder or front-line worker diagnosed with COVID-19 is presumed under the Acts to have contracted the disease as a result of or in the course of their employment. The…
One bright spot in recent events has been to see our kids stay focused as students and to see teachers continue their great work while bunkered down from their homes. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile to pause to think about the technology that makes this all possible. One lawsuit recently filed in California sheds light on the privacy issues created when students, schools and teachers become increasingly reliant on “e-learning” and the technology that supports it. On April 2, 2020, a class-action lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California entitled H.K. and J.C., through their