Local Government Lowdown

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

In March 2021, the Personnel Committee of the Board of Directors of the South Central Illinois Mass Transit District closed a portion of the meeting to the public, according to the Attorney General’s Public Opinion 21-006. A Request for Review to the Public Access Counselor alleged that the Committee violated OMA because of its failure to record a verbatim recording. The Committee provided a draft of the closed session minutes, an affidavit and a written answer, but admitted that they did not have a verbatim recording of the closed session because the recorder was inadvertently not turned on for that session.
Continue Reading A Reminder that Closed Meetings Require a Verbatim Record Under the Open Meetings Act – A Draft of the Closed Session Minutes Will Not Suffice

According to the Attorney General’s Public Access Opinion 21-007, Peter Czosnyka sent a FOIA (5 ILCS 140/1) request to the Chicago City Clerk’s Office seeking copies of “letters of exception: residential parking issued in the 45th Ward between 05/20/18 to 03/30/21, showing names”.  After an extension, the City Clerk’s Office provided the copies but redacted the subjects’ names, home addresses, vehicle makes/models, and license plate numbers. Czosnyka filed a Request for Review that contested the denial of the names of those persons.

Under Section 1 of FOIA, it states in part that “all records in the custody or possession of
Continue Reading City Clerk Violates FOIA for Redacting Residential Names

The AG’s office issued an opinion on August 31, 2021, concluding that the Mayor’s Office violated Section 3(b) of the FOIA Act (5 ILCS 140/3(d)) according to the Attorney General’s Public Access Opinion 21-008. Chicago Tribune reporter, Gregory Pratt, submitted a request to the Mayor’s office seeking text messages between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and George Miller and Anonsh Ahmed of Loretto Hospital between December 1, 2020, through March 29, 2021. Subsequently, the Mayor’s Office acknowledged receipt of the FOIA request and requested a five-day extension pursuant to section 3e(iii) of FOIA.

After the extension deadline passed, Pratt submitted a Request
Continue Reading Failure to Timely Tender Copies of Mayor Lightfoot’s Text Messages Leads to Violation Section 3(b) of the FOIA Act

We are pleased to welcome Stacy De Leon as an associate in Tressler’s Local Government Practice Group. Stacy represents local government entities and private sector employers. Her practice handles all aspects of tort liability defense, constitutional claims, contract issues, employment disputes, education matters and business litigation.“I am very excited to join the firm,” said Stacy De Leon. “I look forward to working with Tressler’s experienced group of attorneys and diverse clients.”

Prior to joining Tressler, Stacy worked as staff counsel for one of the nation’s leading specialized insurers where she defended against property damage and bodily injury cases. Stacy has extensive experience
Continue Reading Stacy De Leon Joins Tressler’s Local Government Practice Group

The Second District Appellate Court recently affirmed a Winnebago County Court’s decision denying civil penalties against the State’s Attorney for failure to comply with plaintiff’s FOIA request. The Second District’s opinion in Williams v. Bruscato, 2021 IL App (2d) 190971 (July 21, 2021) further clarified when civil penalties can be imposed on public bodies that fail to comply with a FOIA request.

The plaintiff, Marvin Williams, filed a complaint alleging that the State’s Attorney violated FOIA when it denied all three of his requests for grand jury records concerning criminal charges against him. The trial court agreed with the State’s
Continue Reading Court Rejects Civil Penalties for Failure to Comply With FOIA

Plaintiff fell in a pothole and was injured while crossing a service drive next to her home and so sued the City of Chicago. The City’s Tort Immunity Act motion for summary judgment was affirmed on appeal. Crespo-Fregoso v. City of Chicago, 2021 IL App (1st) 200972 (August 9, 2021). The Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act provides that “a local public entity has the duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition for the use in the exercise of ordinary care of people whom the entity intended and permitted to use
Continue Reading City Found to Have No Duty Regarding Pothole Due to Tort Immunity Act and Open and Obvious Condition

Tressler attorneys are speaking at the Illinois Municipal League’s 108th Annual Conference on September 23-25, 2021 at the Hilton Chicago. Please click here to register. We look forward to seeing you there!

When: September 23-25, 2021

Where: Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

Presentations:

Navigating a Harassment/Discrimination Free Workplace

This session focuses on preventing, responding to and defending against harassment and discrimination claims that arise in the workplace. The interactive presentation will take audience
Continue Reading Save the Date: 2021 IML Annual Conference

We are pleased to invite you to our upcoming virtual Tressler Talk: Reconsidering Student Discipline and the Role of Restorative Justice Practices

Thursday, August 5, 20211:00-2:00pm CT

Join us for this complimentary webinar to learn about the history of student discipline in the school setting, the current state of student discipline and expectations for the 2021-2022 school year, including the role of restorative practices.This presentation will combine the legal insight of Tressler education attorneys Elizabeth Wagman, Kathleen Gibbons and Darcy Proctor with the renowned restorative justice experience of Dr. Robert Spicer. Participants will come away from this engaging presentation understanding
Continue Reading Tressler Talks: Reconsidering Student Discipline and the Role of Restorative Justice Practices

In a decision earlier last week, in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a student cheerleader’s off-campus F-bombs about her school is protected speech under the First Amendment. The speech involved a series of F-bombs issued in 2017 on Snapchat by Brandi Levy, then a 14-year-old cheerleader, who failed to make the varsity cheer team at her Pennsylvania School. In response, Levy posted a photo of herself and a friend flipping the bird to the camera, along with a message that said, “F***the school, F***cheer, F***everything.” The posts were made on Levy’s personal cell
Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules Student Off-Campus Speech Protected By First Amendment

On June 11, 2021, the State of Illinois officially moved into Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan. This means that all businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, seated spectator events and more can resume operating at full capacity. Additionally, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no longer an outdoor mask requirement and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) guidance that has been governing business operations throughout the pandemic is discontinued, allowing businesses to return to their normal business practices. Per the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Phase 5 Guidance for Businesses and
Continue Reading It’s Finally Here! What You Need To Know About Phase 5

Before an election, some municipalities will supply a packet of information to prospective candidates indicating the number of signatures required by law to be placed on a ballot. However, can a prospective candidate rely on the number of required signatures provided by the municipality? The answer is… no!

A controversy arose out of the Village of Glendale Heights where the Village Clerk distributed candidate packets with the wrong information in them.  The Clerk had reviewed the State Board of Elections Candidate’s Guide and apparently misinterpreted the filing requirements regarding the number of signatures for a petition. 10 ILCS 5/10-3 of the
Continue Reading Can A Candidate Rely On Signature Requirement Information Supplied By A Municipal Clerk?

In Greer v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 2021 IL App (1st) 200429, the appellate court found that reviewing 28,000 pages of records responsive to a FOIA request was not unduly burdensome.

On October 12, 2018, Tyrone Greer (“Greer”) submitted a FOIA request to the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (“Board”) seeking records related to racial discrimination claims he made between 1999 and 2005. There were approximately 28,000 pages of records responsive to Greer’s request that would need to be reviewed for potential exemptions. The Board asked Greer to narrow his request, but Greer
Continue Reading Appellate Court Determines That 28,000 Pages Of Records Is Not Unduly Burdensome Under FOIA

The Illinois Governmental Ethics Act, 5 ILCS 420/4A-101 et seq., requires certain local government officials and employees to file a verified written statement of economic interests (“Statement of Economic Interests”) on or before May 1st of each year. In most cases, the Statement of Economic Interests must be filed with the County Clerk of the county in which the principal office of the unit of government with which the person is associated is located. If you are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests, then you should have received notice from your County Clerk’s office.

If a Statement of Economic Interests is
Continue Reading Reminder: May 1st Deadline for Filing of Statement of Economic Interests

On March 23, 2021, the Governor signed legislation into effect amending the Illinois Human Rights Act to prohibit employers from barring applicants with conviction records from employment opportunities. Employers are now required to participate in an interactive process with the applicant/employee to determine whether there is a substantial relationship or unreasonable risk between the conviction noted in the records and the employment opportunity. The amendment provides employees the right to receive written notice of the employer’s determination with an explanation of the decision. Additionally, the employee/applicant is now provided an opportunity to respond with information on mitigating measures that may impact the
Continue Reading Recent IHRA Amendments Will Require Employers To Consider Revisions To Hiring Policies

Last week, a Federal Judge dismissed Section 1983 civil rights violation claims against Evanston Township High School district officials. The dismissed claims include violations of due process, equal protection and Title IX. Claims alleging that administrators failed to supervise security guards, resulting in sexual abuse by security guards, were allowed to stand.

The suit, filed on behalf of a former student and her mother, alleges that the district’s employees had a “code of silence” that allowed security guards to commit acts of sexual violence against female high school students. Aside from the security guards, defendants include the district’s superintendent and
Continue Reading Judge Dismisses Section 1983 Civil Rights Violation Claims Against Local High School Administration

On March 4, 2021, the PAC issued a binding opinion finding a City Council in violation of the Open Meetings Act when it went into closed session under the “probable or imminent litigation” exception, Section 2(c)(11) of the OMA and the exact wording is as follows:

(11) Litigation, when an action against, affecting or on behalf of the particular public body has been filed and is pending before a court or administrative tribunal, or when the public body finds that an action is probable or imminent, in which case the basis for the finding shall be recorded and entered into the
Continue Reading What Qualifies as “Probable or Imminent” Litigation to Move into Closed Session?