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A Village cited an individual for criminal damage to property, alleging the defendant violated the Village Code by knowingly hiring a landscaping company to enter onto her neighbor’s property to remove buckthorn (an invasive tree species), which caused damage to her neighbor’s property.  The trial court ruled in favor of the Village, finding it had demonstrated that (1) the defendant intentionally hired a landscaping company to remove buckthorn; (2) the buckthorn was on the neighbor’s property, and (3) the neighbor’s property incurred damage because of the removal of the buckthorn. The court sentenced the defendant to six months’ supervision, $500 in fines, and 40 hours of
Continue Reading Court Upholds Charge Against Owner For Removing Buckthorn on Neighbor’s Property

In 2022, a school received a FOIA request seeking certain employee survey results used in connection with preparing performance evaluations for staff members. The school denied the request citing FOIA section 7(1)(f), FOIA’s “deliberative process” exemption. After the requestor appealed the denial, the PAC issued binding PAC Op. 23-002, concluding that the school did not violate FOIA by denying the responsive survey results under FOIA exemption 7(1)(f). Specifically, the PAC determined that the withheld employee survey responses reflected the anonymous opinions and recommendations of school employees which were used by the school as part of a specific pre-decisional and
Continue Reading PAC Finds No Violation in FOIA Denial of Employee Survey Results

Recently, an Illinois Appellate Court applied the 60-day time limitation for filing a lawsuit alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to dismiss two of three claims made a City Council. Better Government Association v. Chicago City Council. In mid-June 2020, an organization filed a lawsuit alleging that the City Council violated the OMA when it hosted three teleconferences (one each in March, April, and May 2020) without providing public notice or allowing the public to access the meeting. The City Council argued that (1) the teleconferences were not “meetings” under the OMA, (2) the claims regarding
Continue Reading Court Interprets 60-Day Time Limitation For Filing OMA Lawsuits

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by homeowners who claimed their Village was liable for damages they incurred when their basements flooded. Billie v. Village of Channahon.The residents (current owners of homes in a subdivision) contended that the Village violated the  Constitution when it approved their subdivision and issued building permits for their homes in the early 1990s. The district court dismissed their case, finding the residents did not state a valid cause of action. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit upheld the dismissal, holding that the Constitution does not “compel governmental intervention
Continue Reading Court Rejects Claims Against Village for Basement Flooding

In 2021, an inmate at a county jail filed a pro se complaint against a County Sheriff, seeking civil penalties and costs, after the Sheriff denied the inmate’s request that asked for the law enforcement records of another person. The Sheriff argued that the records were exempt because inmate was a prisoner who was requesting law enforcement records under the following FOIA provision: Law enforcement records of other persons requested by a person committed to the Department of Corrections, Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health, or a county jail, including, but not limited to, arrest and booking records, mug
Continue Reading Court Finds No Violation of FOIA in Inmate Case

A number of individuals filed a lawsuit to challenge the City of Chicago’s authority to adopt an ordinance imposing administrative penalties on the owners of impounded vehicles, claiming that section 11-208.7 of the Illinois Vehicle Code only authorizes fees for towing, storage, and other reasonable administrative costs.   The circuit court dismissed the complaint, finding that section 11-208.7 of the Illinois Vehicle Code did not preempt home rule authority. The appellate court agreed, finding no limitation or preemption in the statute that would prohibit a home rule unit from charging an administrative penalty or fine when impounding vehicles. The plaintiffs appealed to
Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Home Rule City’s Administrative Penalty in Impoundment Ordinance

The U.S. Supreme Court will be considering an appeal that will be of interest to local governments. Tyler v. Hennepin County. In 2015, a Minnesota county seized a condominium unit to cover an unpaid tax debt of $15,000. The county then sold the condo for $40,000, which it retained after distributing some of the proceeds to other taxing bodies as required by state law. The condo unit sued, claiming that the county violated the Takings Clause and the Excessive Fines Clause of the U.S. Constitution by not returning the surplus (i.e., the difference between the tax debt amount and
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Local Government’s Retention of Surplus in Tax Forfeiture Action

In 2018, a requestor submitted several FOIA requests to Aurora Downtown, a not-for-profit organization, seeking certain records relating to the 2017 election. After Aurora Downtown failed to respond to all of the requests, the requestor filed a lawsuit, claiming that Aurora Downtown violated FOIA by providing incomplete responses to the FOIA requests. Aurora Downtown responded that it was not a “public body” subject to FOIA, but was instead an “independent” body organized as a not-for-profit corporation. FOIA section 2(a) defines a public body, in relevant part, as follows:  Public body” means all legislative, executive, administrative, or advisory bodies of the
Continue Reading Court Applies "Subsidiary Body" to Non-Profit Organization in FOIA Challenge

It’s January, so that means it is time to publish our “best of” post listing our 10 most popular blog posts of 2022. Here they are:1.  Annexation Agreement Binds Successor Owner of Part of Property2.  The Open Meetings Act, Remote Meetings, and COVID-193.  Illinois Finds PSEBA Ordinance Invalid4.  PAC Finds Public Body in Violation of FOIA for Redacting “Goodbye Email”5.  School Board Members Blocking of Parents on Social Media Violated First Amendment6.  New Laws Raise Competitive Bidding Threshold for Some Local Governments7.  Agenda did not Adequately Describe Action Item as Required by OMA8.  
Continue Reading Top 10 Municipal Minute Posts of 2022

The Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) has released its first binding opinion for 2023. In PAC Op. 23-001, the PAC found a school district in violation of FOIA for failing to respond to a FOIA request. The requester had asked for records relating to teaching staff levels, including emails with certain key words. The requester subsequently filed an appeal with the PAC claiming that although the school district acknowledged receipt of the request, it did not provide the requested documents or provide a response to the request. It will come as no surprise that the PAC determined that
Continue Reading PAC Issues Binding Opinion Regarding Failure to Respond to FOIA

In Rockford v. Gilles, an Illinois Appellate Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a property owner that challenged a City’s foreclosure of the owner’s property finding that he did not file his petition to vacate that foreclosure judgment within the required two year period. Over the course of 13 years, the City recorded 20 special assessment liens against two vacant lots owned by Gilles, totaling $11,465. The City then brought an action to foreclose on the property for failure to pay the liens. The City made three failed attempts to serve Gilles personally and the trial court granted the
Continue Reading City’s Foreclosure Action Stands Where Petition for Relief Filed too Late

Ancel Glink’s podcast, Quorum Forum, is out with a new episode called: Episode 68: Planning Law Cases of the Year.In this episode, Ancel Glink’s David Silverman, Greg Jones, and Dan Bolin join the American Planning Association’s Planning Webcast Series to discuss some of their favorite planning law cases from 2022! What do you think the hottest legal issues in planning will be for 2023? Email us at!
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Continue Reading Quorum Forum Podcast: Planning Law Cases of the Year

There are a few bills that have been introduced in the recent Illinois General Assembly session that are worth watching, including a bill that would authorize hotel owners to petition local governments to create a tourism preservation and sustainability district by ordinance, after a public hearing process. If established, the district could impose a “transaction charge” in an amount equal to or less than 5% of the hotel room rate. The revenues would then be passed on to either a locally created and state-certified convention and visitors bureau or an existing nonprofit organized for tourism purposes. HB 268 (Senate Amendment
Continue Reading Bill Would Raise Tourism Revenues from Fee on Hotel Rates

We have written a number of posts on Municipal Minute discussing the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in cases challenging municipal sign codes under the First Amendment. In 2015, we reported on the Court’s decision in Reed v. Gilbert that struck down the Town of Gilbert, Arizona’s temporary sign regulations. The Reed case had subsequently been applied by a number of courts across the country in challenges to municipal sign regulations where sign companies and others made an argument that the challenged regulations treated signs differently based on content, even where a regulation appeared to target sign location (i.e., on-premises versus off-premises
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Upholds Digital Sign Ban Citing Recent Supreme Court Case

In June 2013, the former fire chief of a fire protection district (District), and the District entered into a three-year employment contract that included a 3% annual salary adjustment. In August 2015, the chief was placed on paid administrative leave, and the District and the chief entered into a retirement agreement stating that the chief would continue to be on paid administrative leave until his deferred retirement date of January 4, 2016. In October 2017, the chief (now 50 years old) submitted an application for a retirement pension. In his application, he listed his last day of work as January 4, 2016
Continue Reading Court Reverses Pension Board’s Calculation of Benefits

In July 2020, a firefighter applied for an occupational disease pension, claiming that a stroke prevented him from performing normal work activity. The Pension Board selected three physicians to submit written medical opinions based upon the firefighter’s medical records. The Pension Board conducted a hearing on the pension application and awarded an occupational disease disability pension to the firefighter. that Melton was disabled for service as a firefighter.   The City appealed the Pension Board’s award, arguing that the Pension Board’s decision should be reversed on several bases, including that the three physicians selected by the Pension Board were required to have
Continue Reading Court Finds that Pension Code Does Not Require In Person Medical Examinations