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Wednesday, January 22, 2020     The Village of Orion filed a nuisance action against a Village resident after sending notice to the resident alleging a violation of the Village Code provisions prohibiting more than three cats on a property. The notice came after the state had charged the resident with harboring more than 70 cats on her property. The Village asked the court to issue an order to abate the nuisance and require the resident to comply with the Village Code. The trial court dismissed the case, holding that the Village did not have authority to bring a nuisance…
  Tuesday, January 21, 2020     In Coldwater v. Village of Elwood, an appellate court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Village claiming that the Village’s annexation of property was invalid because the legal description included with the annexation ordinance was incorrect. The plaintiff had filed a lawsuit to nullify a corrected version of the annexation ordinance. The Village filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the lawsuit was filed too late because it was not within the one year statute of limitations in the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/7-1-46). The trial court agreed, and dismissed the…
The recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois was tied to the imposition of a number of new taxes imposed at the state, county, and municipal level. A recent bill, if passed, would also authorize library districts to impose their own 1% tax on the sale of recreational cannabis. HB 4135.   If a library district imposes such a tax, the bill mandates that any applicable tax imposed by the county in which the library district is located be reduced by 1% and that all municipalities in the county in which the library district is located must also reduce their…
Wednesday, January 15, 2020     Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court held in Rushton v. Department of Corrections, 2019 IL 124552, that a settlement agreement between a private healthcare provider who contracted with the state to provide medical services to prison inmates and the estate of an inmate who died is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. A journalist for the Illinois Times filed a FOIA request with the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) seeking settlement agreements involving the death of a former inmate at Taylorville Correctional Center, including those that involved private entities who were charged…
  Tuesday, January 14, 2020     There are inevitably a few bills introduced in the Illinois legislature each year that are bound to raise an eyebrow or two. Last week, HB 4065 was introduced in the Illinois House that would create the Public Official Body Camera Act.  If passed, the new law would require all public officials (elected and appointed) in the state to wear body cameras whenever officials are engaged in official duties. The recordings would be exempt from FOIA but would not be exempt from use in legislative, administrative, or other proceedings. Incredibly, the bill contains no exceptions to when…
Monday, January 13, 2020     Chicago received a lump of coal days before Christmas as the Illinois Supreme Court invalidated a 2016 city-wide tax on “other tobacco products” (such as e-cigarettes) in Iwan Ries & CO. v. City of Chicago. The Illinois Municipal Code allows not preempt a home rule municipality to impose a tax on the number of units of cigarettes or tobacco products (provided, however, that a home rule municipality that has not imposed a tax based on the number of units of cigarettes or of units of cigarettes or tobacco products before July 1, 1993, shall…
  Friday, January 10, 2020     The owner of land filed an application with the Village seeking zoning variances to allow the subdivision of their property (consisting of 37,969.42 square feet in area) into 3 lots. The variances were needed because the newly created lots did not comply with the 60 foot lot width requirement and would not have street frontage. The ZBA held a public hearing on the proposed variances and recommended 4 to 2 in favor of the variances. The Village Board, however, denied the requested variances by a vote of 5 to 1. The owner then filed…
  Thursday, January 09, 2020     Timpone filed a FOIA request with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission requesting the names of all students who received a State of Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant in 2015. ISAC provided a spreadsheet aggregating 2015 MAP grants by city and the dollar amounts and number of recipients but denied Timpone’s request for the students’ names, citing personal privacy protections under 7(1)(a) and 7(1)(b) of FOIA. Timpone then sued, and the circuit court ruled in his favor and ordered ISAC to release the names. ISAC appealed to the appellate court which reversed the circuit…
  Wednesday, January 08, 2020     Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from a Ninth Circuit ruling that prohibited local governments from imposing criminal sanctions against homeless individuals for sleeping outdoors on public property when no alternative shelter is available to them. The Supreme Court’s decision to let the Ninth Circuit ruling stand came without comment or noted dissent from the justices and is the latest development in a case that has been ongoing for nearly a decade. The case, Martin v. Boise, originates from a constitutional challenge to ordinances enacted by the City…
  Tuesday, January 07, 2020     On the last day of 2019, the Illinois Public Access Counselor (PAC) office issued its 13th binding opinion for 2019. Unfortunately, the opinion was uploaded to the Attorney General’s website after we posted our summary of 2019 FOIA opinions was published, so we are summarizing it separately.  In PAC Op. 19-013, the PAC found a public body in violation of FOIA for not providing a tape of a gathering of public officials. The public body denied the request based on its opinion that because there had been no quorum of the public body…
  Friday, January 03, 2020     Today, we summarize the 2019 Public Access Counselor binding opinions relating to FOIA complaints. PAC Op. 19-001 (body camera recordings must be released) In PAC Op. 19-001, the PAC found the Chicago Police Department in violation of FOIA for denying a request for body camera recordings. The PAC rejected the CPD’s argment that the Body Camera Act prohibited release of body camera recordings unless the recording had been previously “flagged.” Specifically, the PAC noted that the Body Camera Act allows disclosure of recordings under FOIA in certain limited circumstances.  First, a recording can…
Thursday, January 02, 2020       As we do every year, we are summarizing the Public Access Counselor binding opinions for 2019. Today’s post will summarize the opinions that relate to Open Meetings Act complaints and tomorrow we will summarize the FOIA-related opinions. PAC Op. 19-002 (public comment period restriction without rules) In PAC 19-002, the PAC found a school district in violation of the Open Meetings Act when it restricted the public comment period at a school board meeting to 15 minutes without having an established and recorded public comment rule to that effect. The PAC reviewed…
  Monday, December 30, 2019     On December 20, 2019, the Illinois Governor signed into law P.A. 101-617 enacting various changes to state ethics laws. Most of the changes affect state employees rather than local government employees, but there is one provision that local governments should be aware of. Specifically, the new law imposes a deadline for units of local government to file the list of persons who have to file statements of economic interest with the county. Now, the chief administrative officer of the unit of local government must file the list of names with the county by February…
  Thursday, December 19, 2019     It’s getting near the end of the year, and time for our “10 Top Posts of 2019” – those posts this year that generated the most interest.  Here they are, in order of reader interest: 1.  PAC Publishes Index of Binding Opinions 2010-2019 2.  Posts about the Parking Excise Tax 3.   Posts about the Recreational Cannabis Act 4.  Reminder: Prevailing Wage Act Changes Take Effect June 1 5.  Illinois Adopts Single Occupancy Restroom Signage Law 6.  State Changes to Raffles Act Affect Local Raffles Regulations 7.  Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Chicago Food Truck Ordinance 8. …
Wednesday, December 18, 2019     As always, there are numerous new laws that take effect in January of each year. We don’t report on all of them (none of us have time for that!) but we do try to keep you informed of some of the new legislation that may affect local governments, especially those that require you to take some action.  Here’s a summary of just a few of the new laws taking effect in 2020. Equitable Restrooms Act, P.A. 101-0165 We reported on this legislation previously here.  Effective January 1, 2020, all single-occupancy restrooms in any…
  Tuesday, December 17, 2019     Ryan (a homeowner in the City) sued the City of Chicago asking a court for a “writ of mandamus” to order the City to direct a home builder to move a newly constructed home immediately adjacent to Ryan’s home approximately 2.5 inches in order to comply with the required two-foot setback. After the circuit court had dismissed the case, Ryan appealed. The appellate court agreed that the case should be dismissed in Ryan v. City of Chicago, 2019 IL App (1st) 181777. A home builder had purchased 2 lots to construct 2 single…