City Council Violated Open Meetings Act, Judge Rules: Report

“Public comment must be allowed at all open meetings,” Judge Diane Joan Larsen wrote.


A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that not allowing members of the public to speak at full Chicago City Council meetings violated the Illinois Open Meeting Act, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Public comment must be allowed at all open meetings,” Judge Diane Joan Larsen wrote.

Larsen hasn’t imposed the order and will instead give the council time to come up with new rules for public comment.

However, the city could still appeal the judge's decision. Chicago Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey claimed city lawyers are currently “considering all out legal options,” according to the report.

“We are disappointed and respectfully disagree with the courts ruling,” McCaffrey said in a statement provided to the Tribune. “The City Council already provides a robust public comment through its committee meetings, and taking additional comments at the full City Council meeting is duplicative and unnecessary."

The lawsuit against the city was filed in July by two Chicago activists, Andy Thayer and Rick Garcia, who claim there was limited access provided to the public during May and June council meetings. During those meetings, aldermen considered a nearly $16 million subsidy for an Uptown high-rise they opposed, the Tribune reports.

Larsen didn’t address whether rules controlling who has access to the meetings complied with the Open Meetings Act, although Thayer has said he expects that issue to be litigated, according to the report.

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