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Study: Open Meetings & Open Records- Gov. Quinn Administration March 2014

 Study: Open Meetings and Open Records
Illinois State Government


by Adam Andrzejewski
Chairman, For The Good of Illinois
March 26, 2014

It is the public policy of this State that public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and that the people have a right to be informed as to the conduct of their business. In order that the people shall be informed, the General Assembly finds and declares that it is the intent of this Act to ensure that the actions of public bodies be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.”

 

That’s the opening paragraph of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120 and it sounds great. Unfortunately, the law is not uniformly and regularly enforced by the officers and agencies.

81% of Quinn appointees leading agencies are not in compliance with mandatory Open Meeting Act training and certification. These executive appointees failed to sit for and/or pass the mandatory training- or failed to EVEN RESPOND to our request to review their certifications. It’s willful disregard for basic law or incompetence. Review database here.

Furthermore, 100% of top 17 state agencies are not in compliance with mandatory Open Records (FOIA) law. Click here for our Freedom of Information Act study | February 24, 2014.

According to OpenTheBooks.com, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has 820 employees. Not one employee is assigned to hold state government accountable to the Open Meetings and Open Records (FOIA) law?

Of the 41 state agencies listed on the Attorney General’s website, only eight of Quinn’s appointed agency heads were in compliance with Open Meeting certification. See list below.

Six of Quinn’s agencies outright ignored our request. In Illinois, public bodies have five days to respond to an information request and can take a five day extension. But, six state agencies chose to ignore our request which is an explicit violation of the Illinois Freedom of Information (FOIA) Act. 

List: Illinois Department of Aging; Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity;  Criminal Justice Information Authority; State Board of Education; State Employee Retirement System (SERS);  and IPASS

One of Quinn’s agencies had never even appointed an Open Meetings Act officer (2010-2014) ahead of our request:  Central Management Services (CMS).  CMS is one of our largest agencies and handles most contract procurement in Illinois. 

8 State Agencies in FULL compliance with Open Meetings certification:
Labor Relations Board, Melissa Mlynski and John Hartnett; Department of Insurance, Andrew Boran; Employment Security, Jay Rowell; Pollution Control Board, Deanna Glosser; Human Rights Commission, Martin Castro, Esq.; Veterans Affairs, Erica Borggren; Prisoner Review Board, Adam Montreal; Emergency Management, Jonathon Monken

27 appointed State Agency Chiefs NEVER Open Meetings certified:
Illinois Department of:  Agriculture, Robert Flider; Racing Board, Marc Laino; Labor, Joe Costigan; EPA, Lisa Bonnett; Governor’s Office of Management & Budget, Dan Kotowski; Capital Development Board, Jim Underwood; Student Assistance Commission, Eric Zarnikow; Financial & Professional Regulation, Jay Stewart; Healthcare & Family Services, Julie Hamos; Commerce Commission, Doug Scott; Corrections, S.A. Godinez; Guardianship & Advocacy Commission, Dr. Mary Milano; Military Affairs, Adjunt General Daniel Kumrei; Finance Authority, Bill Brandt; Central Management Systems, James Sledge; State Police, Hiram Grau; Housing Development Authority, Mary Kenney; Human Rights, Rocco Chaps; Lottery, Michael Jones; Transportation, Ann Schneider; Gaming Board, Aaron Jaffe; Public Health, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck; Human Services, Michelle Saddler; Children & Family Services, Arthur Bishop (at the time of our FOIA); Natural Resources, Marc Miller; Revenue, Brian Hamer; State Fire Marshall, Larry Matkaitis;

Here’s an example of agency non-compliance:
The Department of Human Services Secretary Michelle Saddler never received mandatory training and Open Meetings Act certification. However, Sadler and Chief Information Officer

Doug Kasamis found plenty of time to star in an IBM sales video. Giving access to film on state property, the state executives help shill for IBM on state time.

Why the Open Meetings Act is Important?
Illinois has a historic problem of the “smoke filled back room”- like the Tammany Hall in New York City. The Open Meetings Act opens up that “back room.”

1. Agendas are posted ahead of a public meeting to invite citizens and notice given regarding purpose and topics.

2. At public meetings, the public is invited to give comment.

3. After the meeting, minutes and notes of the meeting are public record. Who was present? What was discussed? What were the decisions?

If state government is not in compliance with Open Meetings, why should any of the other 7,000 governments in Illinois comply? How can Lisa Madigan enforce 5 ILCS 120/3.5(a) et. seq. statewide if her office refuses to enforce compliance on the very executives running State of Illinois government?

Why have laws if they are not enforced but instead willfully disregarded?

It’s time the Illinois press weighed in on the basic issues of open meetings and records.

Special thanks to researchers Kirk Allen and John Kraft for filing, compiling and tabulating all agency responses.

 


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