Local Government Lowdown

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

On May 27, 2022, Illinois passed a new law, HB5193, which allows public schools supported wholly or partially by the State to provide instruction in safety education in all grades. Sponsors of this bill say it is the State’s effort to reduce all gun violence and prevent future shootings. The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support.

Safety education includes instruction in the following:

  • Automobile safety, including traffic regulations, highway safety, and the consequences of alcohol consumption and the operation of a motor vehicle;
  • Safety in the home, including safe gun storage;
  • Safety in connection with recreational activities;
  • Safety in

  • Continue Reading New Illinois Law Allows Public Schools to Teach Students About Gun Storage Safety

    By: John M. O’Driscoll

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) published guidance on web accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It explains how state and local governments (entities covered by ADA Title II) and businesses open to the public (entities covered by ADA Title III) can make sure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities in line with the ADA’s requirements. https://beta.ada.gov/web-guidance/

    The DOJ guidance discusses a wide variety of areas, such as the importance of web accessibility, barriers that some websites create, when the ADA requires web content to be accessible and other resources. The guidance also
    Continue Reading New Web Accessibility Guidance Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

    By: Courtney Willits

    The Illinois Appellate Court recently heard a case, Calloway v. Chicago Police Department, 2022 IL App (1st) 210090, involving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and whether the privacy provisions extend to deceased minors. In this case, Plaintiff brought suit against the Chicago Police Department seeking disclosure of records related to an officer-involved fatal shooting of a minor. The circuit court held that the confidentiality provisions that apply to law enforcement records of minors contained in the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (the “JCA”) did not apply to deceased minors. The Chicago Police Department appealed.

    Section
    Continue Reading Appellate Court Ensures Privacy Protection Under The Juvenile Court Act From A FOIA Request Regarding A Deceased Minor

    By: Darcy L. Proctor

    Recently, in Christopher See v. Illinois Gaming Board, 2022 WL 831601, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a federal lawsuit alleging First Amendment retaliation under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Plaintiff Christopher See is a law-enforcement officer for the Illinois Gaming Board, a state agency tasked with regulating gambling in Illinois. In his capacity as a union representative, the Plaintiff began voicing concern over the Board’s promotion policies, claiming that State Police employees were given unfair advantages over Gaming Board employees.

    After expressing concerns to
    Continue Reading Fitness-For-Duty Exam For Public-Safety Employee Upheld By Federal Court

    By: Jim Hess

    Last week, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit that was filed against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) continuing a history of decisions with respect to moving trains presenting an “open and obvious danger.”

    In Pryor v. Chicago Transit Authority, 2022 IL App (1st) 200895, a plaintiff alleged that a train operator “negligently and willfully and wantonly operated the train” that struck and killed her son when he walked from the platform onto the tracks as the train was approaching. The lawsuit also claimed that the driver failed to reduce the speed
    Continue Reading Appellate Court Upholds Application of “Open and Obvious” Danger With Dismissal of Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the CTA

    By: Courtney Willits

    The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) recently issued PAC Opinion 22-003 where they found a City Council in violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) for its remote meeting practices. An individual filed a request for review with the PAC claiming that the Sumner City Council provided inadequate notice when they held a remote meeting in January 2022. She claimed that the City posted an agenda of the meeting at City Hall, which stated it would be held via Zoom, but it did not include the access link or information on how to attend the
    Continue Reading Better Take Note…Proper Notice is Required for Hybrid Meetings

    It’s 2022 and the PAC is back! In its first opinion in 2022, in a binding opinion, the PAC ruled in favor of a public body in a FOIA appeal involving the attorney-client privilege exception of FOIA.

    On October 4, 2021, a journalist, submitted a FOIA request to the State’s Attorney’s Office seeking copies of any and all reports the State’s Attorney gave to Kane County Board members regarding alleged actions to fund an educational degree using County funds. On October 8, 2021, the State’s Attorney’s Office denied the request pursuant to section 7(1)(m) of FOIA. In the denial letter, the
    Continue Reading Attorney-Client Privilege As FOIA Exemption

    By: Taylor Brewer

    The First District Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in Barry v. The City of Chicago, 2021 IL App (1st) 200829, holding that a municipality does not have an obligation to pay PSEBA benefits for Medicare-eligible beneficiaries and their spouses. This case involved 20 plaintiffs, all former Chicago Fire Department employees, who suffered career-ending injuries and were granted benefits under the Public Safety Employees Benefits Act (PSEBA). Under PSEBA, the City of Chicago was obligated to provide lifetime health insurance benefits for the former firefighters, as well as their spouses and certain dependent children. The
    Continue Reading First District Cuts Off PSEBA Responsibility For Medicare-Eligible Beneficiaries And Spouses

    By: Elizabeth Wagman

    On January 11, 2022, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2022-03 updating the exclusion protocols in schools for individuals who are a confirmed or probable case, a close contact, or symptomatic to reflect the shortened quarantine and isolation periods recommended by the CDC. This was then followed by ISBE releasing the following guidance documents:


    Continue Reading ISBE Issues Revised COVID Protocols For Schools

    By: Courtney Willits

    The Illinois Supreme Court recently heard Mancini Law Group, P.C. v. Schaumburg Police Department, 2021 IL 126675 involving the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA” or the “Act”) where a personal injury law firm filed suit against the Schaumburg Police Department claiming the Police Department violated FOIA when they provided redacted copies of traffic accident reports. The Supreme Court ultimately determined that government entities do not have the authority to waive an individual’s interest in his or her personal or private information in public records.

    In 2017, Mancini Law Group filed a FOIA request seeking traffic accident reports
    Continue Reading Driver’s Personal Information Remains Protected

    In 2017, an arbitrator found that Western Illinois University violated its collective bargaining agreement regarding layoffs of professors. Subsequently, in 2018, the same arbitrator issued a supplemental award, determining that the University failed to comply with the earlier award. The matter proceeded to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board for review. The Board found that the University committed an unfair labor practice in violation of sections 14(a)(1) and 14(a)(8) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (115 ILCS 5/1, et seq.) by failing to comply with the two arbitration awards. However, on administrative review, the appellate court disagreed and vacated
    Continue Reading That Is Not Your Job! IELRA Arbitrator Exceeded His Authority By Reviewing A Party’s Compliance With His Own Award

    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

    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