Latest from Municipal Minute - Page 2

We don’t see a lot of zoning cases that make their way to the Illinois Appellate Court but last week, we saw two which we will report on this week. In Wortham v. Village of Barrington Hills, 2022 IL App (1st) 210888, the Village notified a homeowner who was renting out their home as a short-term rental more than 40 times on VRBO that the short-term rental use was not allowed in the R1 district which only permits single-family uses. The homeowner ignored the notice, and continued to rent out their home. The Village sent two additional notices before sending
Continue Reading Court Upholds Village’s Finding that Short-Term Rental Use Violated Zoning Code

Senate Bill 2553 will be of interest to units of local government in Illinois with elected officials. The bill is called the Local Official Vacancy Posting Act, and has been approved by the Illinois Senate and is currently in the Illinois Houe. If approved by the House and signed by the Governor, it would require a unit of local government to post every elected official vacancy on its website, if the website is maintained by full-time staff of the government. That notice would have to remain on the website until the vacancy is filled. The bill also requires local governments
Continue Reading Bill Would Require Posting of Notice of Elected Official Vacancies

The Public Access Counselor of the Attorney General’s office (PAC) issued its fourth binding opinion of 2022 finding a public body in violation of FOIA when it redacted an email from a retiring police chief. PAC 22-004.

A news reporter submitted a FOIA request to a police department asking for a copy of an email that a police chief sent to all Village employees on his last day of employment. The Village initially denied the request in its entirety but later that day amended its response and disclosed a redacted copy of the email, citing section 7(1)(c) (invasion of personal
Continue Reading PAC Finds Public Body in Violation of FOIA For Redacting "Goodbye Email"

Today, Governor Pritzker extended the State’s COVID-19 Disaster Declaration over all counties in Illinois for another 30 days. The Governor also issued EO 2022-07 extending a number of previously issued Executive Orders through April 2, 2022, including the EOs relating to cannabis licenses, Phase 5 reopening plan, EO 2022-06 which relaxed the mask mandate in most places, EO 2021-22 imposing vaccination and testing requirements for certain health care workers (as amended by EO 2021-23, 2021-27, and EO 2022-05) and EO 2021-28 imposing vaccination and testing requirements for day cares, among many others. The
Continue Reading BREAKING: Governor Extends Disaster Declaration Another 30 Days

A new Ancel Glink’s Quorum Forum Podcast episode has been released: Quorum Forum 62: Sunshine Laws for Springtime Spring is almost here, so we’re celebrating increasing sunshine and sunshine laws with Ancel Glink attorneys. In this episode, we review important Freedom of Information Act and Open Meeting Act decisions that local government should know.      Related Stories

 
Continue Reading A New Quorum Forum Podcast Episode Released: Sunshine Laws for Springtime

There have been a lot of questions recently about the relaxation of certain COVID mitigation measures (such as the mask mandate) and how these changes might affect public bodies in conducting future meetings under the Open Meetings Act. As of today, we don’t know whether the Governor will extend his current disaster declaration that was issued on February 4th and is set to expire later this week so we are providing two potential scenarios.

If the Governor does issue another disaster declaration this week, then public bodies can choose to conduct their meetings remotely or in a “hybrid” fashion subject
Continue Reading The Open Meetings Act, Remote Meetings, and COVID Measures

In 2019, two individuals submitted FOIA requests to the Illinois State Police (ISP) seeking copies of their own applications for a firearm owners’ identification (FOID) card and ISP’s FOID card denial letters. ISP denied both FOIA requests, on the basis that the applications and denial letters are expressly exempt from disclosure under FOIA exemption 7.5(v), which exempts the following: Names and information of people who have applied for or received Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards under the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act or applied for or received a concealed carry license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, unless otherwise authorized by the
Continue Reading FOID Card Holders Can Obtain Own FOID Card Application and Records

An Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of a public body in a lawsuit claiming the public body violated the Open Meetings Act and FOIA relating to a closed session. Pal v. City of Elmhurst, 2022 IL App (2d) 210048-U.On June 15, 2020, a City Council went into closed session to discuss the pending retirement of a City director and whether to fill the soon-to-be vacant position. After that meeting, the City mistakenly posted the closed session minutes from that meeting on the City’s website, and plaintiff was able to download those minutes. The plaintiff then filed a request for
Continue Reading Court Finds FOIA and OMA Lawsuit Challenging Closed Session Was Properly Dismissed

In 2018, a requestor submitted a FOIA request to a municipal finance department (“Department”) seeking an index of certain data from the City’s CANVAS system, which is used to store, process, and track citation information for parking tickets, speed-light camera tickets, stoplight traffic tickets, booting, and towing tickets. The Department denied the request, alleging that the requested records constitute “file layouts” and, therefore, were exempt under FOIA exemption 7(1)(o), which protects: “[a]dministrative or technical information associated with automated data processing operations, including, but not limited to, software, operating protocols, computer program abstracts, file layouts, source listings, object modules, load
Continue Reading Court Finds Public Body in Violation of FOIA in Withholding Citation Data

Many have been following the lawsuit filed by parents against the Illinois Governor, the IDPH, and the Illinois State Board of Education, among others, that challenged the State of Illinois’ school mask mandate that had been enacted by state agency emergency rules. On February 4, 2022, a Sangamon County Judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) declaring the emergency rule “null and void” and restraining enforcement of Executive Orders 2021-18, 2021-24, and 2021-25.

That ruling was appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court (4th Circuit), which issued a ruling yesterday declaring the matter “moot” because the emergency rules that were the
Continue Reading Appellate Court Finds Appeal of TRO in School Mask Mandate Challenge "Moot"

The PAC issued its second binding opinion of 2022, concluding that a Village violated FOIA by failing to prove that certain records were exempt from disclosure under several FOIA investigative exemptions. PAC Op. 22-002

In 2021, a not-for-profit organization that provides certain services to persons impacted sexual abuse submitted a FOIA request to a municipal police department seeking certain records regarding their client. The Village denied the FOIA request in its entirety citing FOIA exemption 7(1)(d)(ii), which exempts records that would interfere with active administrative enforcement proceedings, and FOIA exemption 7(1)(d)(vii), which exempts records that would obstruct an ongoing criminal
Continue Reading PAC Rejects Public Body’s Use of "Investigatory Exemption"

The Illinois General Assembly is currently considering legislation that would dramatically change how municipalities create and administer tax increment financing (TIF) districts. If approved, Senate Bill 2298 would (among other things):

  • Cut the length of most new TIF districts from 23 years to 10 years.
  • Revise statutory definitions to prohibit municipalities that are considering creating a new TIF district from relying on, among other things, whether (1) the district contains dilapidated or deteriorating structures; (2) whether the district’s buildings lack proper ventilation, light, and sanitary facilities; (3) whether the district has a high number of vacancies; (4) whether the area


Continue Reading TIF Bill Would Drastically Change Local Economic Development Authority

The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) issued two new binding opinions recently, one dealing with remote meetings under OMA and one dealing with FOIA. We are reporting on the OMA opinion in today’s post where the PAC found a City Council in violation of OMA for its remote meeting practices. PAC Op. 22-003. The opinion provides some guidance to public bodies on how the PAC interprets the public notice requirements for remote or hybrid (meeting that allows remote and in-person attendance) meetings held under section 7(e) of the OMA.

A member of the public filed a request
Continue Reading City Council’s Remote Meeting in Violation of Open Meetings Act

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against a group of adult entertainment businesses that had filed a lawsuit to challenge the Small Business Administration’s denial of benefits to the businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Camelot Banquet Rooms v. United States Small Business Administration.When Congress enacted the PPP program to provide COVID relief funding to eligible businesses, it had expressly excluded businesses that present or derive more than a minimal gross revenue from live performances or depictions or displays “of a prurient sexual nature.” 23 businesses that fall within this exclusion filed suit, claiming that the
Continue Reading PPP Exclusion of Adult Entertainment Businesses Did Not Violate First Amendment

In its first binding opinion of 2022, the PAC issued a binding opinion finding in favor of a public body in a FOIA appeal involving the attorney-client privilege exception of FOIA.

In October 2021, a reporter submitted a FOIA request to a County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) seeking reports prepared by a State’s Attorney to County Board members regarding the use of county funds for certain purposes. The SAO denied the FOIA request pursuant to FOIA exemption 7(1)(m), because the responsive records contained exempt confidential attorney-client privileged communications and work product documents. The journalist appealed the denial to the Illinois
Continue Reading PAC Finds in Favor of Public Body in Appeal Involving Attorney-Client Privilege FOIA Exemption

In 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed P.A. 102-0110, which became effective on January 1, 2022. This new law amends the Counties Code to permit Illinois residents to modify deeds and restrictive covenants that had been recorded against their properties and include language that restricts the use, transfer, lease, or occupancy of real property on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. The law is intended to bring property deeds and other recorded documents in line with Section 3-105 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, which makes void any “condition, restriction or prohibition . . . which
Continue Reading New Law Provides Process for Removing Archaic Restrictions from Property Documents