On March 14, 2023, the Illinois Public Access Counselor’s (PAC) Office issued a binding PAC opinion finding a public body in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) by holding an improper private meeting. A copy of the PAC Opinion 23-003 can be found here

A Library Board Trustee submitted a Request for Review to the Public Access Bureau. The Board Trustee alleged that the Library Board had violated OMA when it held a “Meet and Greet” with Trustees and staff members. The Meet and Greet was attended by three members of the seven-member Board. The Board denied that it had violated OMA and alleged that the Meet and Greet was not a meeting pursuant to OMA but rather an informal gathering for staff and Trustees to meet, get to know each other and ask questions. The Board provided the Public Access Bureau with a link to a video recording of the Meet and Greet. 

Ultimately, the PAC determined that the Meet and Greet qualified as a meeting pursuant to OMA because a majority of a quorum of Board members engaged in the collective inquiry phase of deliberations by gathering and exchanging information in anticipation of possibly taking future action. The PAC reviewed the video recording and found that the Meet and Greet was substantive in nature and that discussions of public business occurred. Specifically, staff members were presenting questions and concerns about substantive library issues to the Board President and two Trustees in attendance. The PAC noted that while there was no indication that any decisions were made during the Meet and Greet, the fact that there was a discussion of public business by a majority of a quorum rendered the gathering subject to OMA. 

As such, the PAC found that the Board violated OMA by failing to provide proper public notice or comply with other requirements of OMA. The Board was directed to make the video recording of the Meet and Greet publicly available and generate and approve written minutes for the meeting. This PAC Opinion should serve as a reminder to public bodies to be cognizant not to discuss public business if a majority of a quorum is present unless OMA requirements have been met. 

If you have any questions regarding Open Meetings Act matters, please contact your Tressler attorney.

For more information about this article, contact Caitlin Frenzer at cfrenzer@tresslerllp.com.

About the Author

Caitlin focuses her practice on providing general counsel services to local governmental bodies. Caitlin represents clients on a variety of matters including zoning, contracts, employment, economic development, intergovernmental agreements, compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and Illinois Open Meetings Act, drafting legislation and policy.

Prior to joining Tressler, Caitlin served as general counsel for municipal and school district clients. She provided litigation services, liability defense, labor and employment support and land use counsel. She also acted as local prosecutor for misdemeanor offenses, ordinance violations, traffic court calls and administrative hearings on behalf of her municipal clients. Caitlin participated in collective bargaining with unions on behalf of school district clients. She assisted in the negotiation of payment of claims on behalf of municipalities for damages with responsible parties and insurers.