At 9am on Wednesday, February 12th, I got wind of a Chicago Tribune article announcing the Orland Park Public Library was calling a last-minute “special meeting” on a legal holiday at 6pm to discuss and vote on continuing to allow access to pornography, including child pornography, on their computers, or to install filters as requested by both the public and the mayor of the village. This struck me as exceedingly strange because their regular meeting was already scheduled to occur the next Monday, the 17th. Why was there a sudden rush to vote?
The open position on the board was being filled at the “special meeting” as well. So they had decided to not only swear in a new member but also immediately vote on the most controversial issue their library had ever faced in a hurried, cobbled-together meeting giving the public one day’s notice. In the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) it was discovered they possibly broke two provisions in calling this meeting. First, the public notice was in question. The OMA requires 48 hours notice be given to the public in an easy-to-find location on their website and in their building. The website homepage was empty of any such notice, the Events calendar was also devoid of any notice (even though the regularly scheduled meeting appeared there), their Facebook page did not include any notice and their Twitter account also did not tweet any notice of the special meeting. The only notice that appeared was buried many clicks into their website where no member of the public would think to look. These are the steps a person would have to go through to find the “public notice.”
Go to www.orlandparklibrary.org then click ABOUT then ABOUT US then scroll down and click on BOARD OF TRUSTEES and then finally find the PDF OF AGENDA.
There is no reasonable way to argue that this is easy for the public to find when normally, if the Library has something it wants people to know (like the “warning” they posted about me or Library closing dates) they put it on the Library’s home page, Facebook and Twitter!
Further, the Open Meetings Act in IL states;
“All meetings required by this Act to be public shall be held at specified times and places which are convenient and open to the public. No meeting required by this Act to be public shall be held on a legal holiday unless the regular meeting day falls on that holiday.”
In Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is a legal holiday and the government is shut down on that day. I found this out because I called the Attorney General’s office to report the illegal meeting and get an emergency injunction and they were closed (conveniently enough for the Library.) Chicago public schools also had the day off, Springfield government offices were closed and I found the law passed in Illinois by the legislature indeed making Abraham Lincoln’s birthday a legal holiday. The Library board held an illegal meeting.
Worse than that, they held all the controversial issues to vote on for this illegal meeting of which the public had no notice and were unable to attend. By provision in the OMA, special meetings are not required to allow public comment. The Board was able to vote on keeping obscene material available on their computers without having to worry about those bothersome taxpayers having anything to say about it.