SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE DEKALB PUBLIC LIBRARY
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2010
- Call to Order
- Open Meetings Act Work Shop – Phil Lenzini
- Vote to go into Closed Session
a. To discuss litigation as permitted under Illinois Law: 5 ILCS 120/ (c)(11)
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Thanks. I was glad to find definitive answers in the CAFR without having to commit FOIA abuse. 😉
Since the library board is not listening to its attorney, who is advising them and why are they taking this bad advice?
Thanks for a great article, Lynn. The roles and jurisdictions of a municipal library are confusing and you sort it out for us.
Often a local attorney will serve on a board such as the library and give much of their time as pro-bono services. Cordes gives a lot back to the community, always has, and I'd bet his time billed is less than time served for the library.
Real estate transactions are not an area to expect pro-bono legal services.
The July 13 fiasco did not appear to be of Cordes' doing. The meeting (public session) had an 8pm start due to an announced 7pm closed session. When I walked into the meeting room Dee Coover told Cordes to take us "media-types" up to her office and give us the special announcement. Cordes seemed reluctant and was obviously unprepared to do so. The Announcement was that the contract to acquire the property had been approved. Just about everything Cordes told us in that meeting has since been retracted.
I was and still am upset that I was diverted from attending a public meeting.
OK, I asked the question mainly because I thought the City of DeKalb's attorney would have oversight over the Library but that is wrong. Outside of approval over board appointments, annual budget and tax levy, the library is considered a separate legal entity.
I still wonder if most library districts have an attorney present at every meeting, or just when they are making big real estate deals?
Mac, why does the DPL Board have its own attorney? Is this just for the land purchase?
For the public record: I sent the following letter to the Illinois Attorney General's office:
This letter is relative to Open Meetings Act Request for Review No. 8459. I am confused as to how to proceed. I don't know whether to expand #8459 or to file a new request for review. I seek direction from the Attorney General's office for further instruction.
The DeKalb Public Library Board met on August 11, 2010 (a regularly scheduled meeting). The agenda for that meeting included three items related to Open Meetings Act Request for Review No. 8459.
1) In open session the library's attorney, Gary Cordes, discussed similar allegations made in #8459 that were made by the Daily Chronicle newspaper. There was no mention of #8459 but Cordes did admit that the Library Board had not held any meetings to discuss review of minutes of all closed sessions as required under Illinois Law: 5 ILCS 120/2.06 (d). The Board also voted to ratify the May 12th 2010 vote taken in closed session that authorized the $1.8 million purchase of the DeKalb Clinic properties.
2) In closed session, according to the agenda, the Board discussed: "b) For semi-annual review of minutes of all closed sessions as permitted under Illinois Law: 5 ILCS 120/2.06 (d)"
3) In closed session, according to the agenda, the Board discussed: "c) To discuss probable or imminent litigation as permitted under Illinois Law: 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(11)"
The closed session lasted a little more than an hour. According to the agenda the closed session also included real estate transaction discussion. When public session was reconvened the Board President, Wendell Johnson, reported that the Board voted unanimously, in closed session, to keep all of the minutes closed. Every word.
I am aware that a Request for Review must be submitted to the PAC within 60 calendar days after the denial of the FOIA request or the conduct that is alleged to have violated OMA. (5 ILCS 140/9.5(a); 5 ILCS 120/3.5(a)). I also appreciate the Library Board conducting its first ever review of minutes of all closed session on August 11, 2010. As the purpose of my actions related to #8459 is to determine if the public's rights under the Illinois Open Meetings Act were violated I believe it necessary to expand the scope of my Request for Review to include the following meetings and violations:
July 13, 2010: OMA was violated as the purpose stated for closed session was citing 5 ILCS 120/2(2)(5). There was no real estate negotiations taking place, the transaction had already been consummated on May 12, 2010. The purpose of the closed session meeting, based on attendance, was to review architectural firms for a proposed new construction project. Reviewing architectural firms is not an exemption under OMA. I believe a review of the mandatory audio recording of this closed session meeting will confirm this allegation.
June 16, 2010: According to the DPL legal counsel, Gary Cordes, other architectural firms were interviewed during this closed session meeting. Cordes also said that formal public announcement of the transaction was purposely delayed so that details including financing could be worked out. Reviewing architectural firms is not an exemption under OMA. I believe a review of the mandatory audio recording of this closed session meeting will confirm this allegation.
June 9, 2010: The published agenda states that the Board would go into closed session without any reference for cause or exemption under the Open Meetings Act. Minutes from that meeting state "Board voted to go into Closed Session at 8:04 p.m. Board came out of Closed Session at 8:46 p.m." As is consistently the case, the Board failed to report on any summary or detail as to the reason for the closed session or of any decisions.
Nov 18, 2009: This is one of eleven (11) special meetings dating back to March 19, 2008 called by the Board in which minutes are not available. The agenda for this meeting included approving the Library's tax levy request and while that topic was not identified as closed session no minutes are available and, by the vote taken in closed session of the Aug. 11, 2010 Review of Closed Session Minutes, no minutes will be available. Identified as closed session discussion is the item "Approve Letter of Intent." That letter of intent, between the Library and DeKalb Clinic Chartered, commits public funds towards the purchase of the DeKalb Clinic properties in the form of earnest payments. The letter was provided to me in response to a FOIA request albeit the Library representives have stated publicly that they made a mistake in providing it to me. It is attached to this email. An illegal vote was taken in closed session. Withholding minutes related to the library's tax levy is clearly a violation of the Open Meetings Act. I believe a review of the mandatory audio recording of this closed session meeting will confirm this allegation.
July 30, 2008: According to the agenda the Building Program was the topic for the closed session meeting. The Building Program is a proposal to build a new library and as such is not an exemption allowed under OMA. I believe a review of the mandatory audio recording of this closed session meeting will confirm this allegation.
April 12, 2008: The agenda items for this "entirely closed session" were "Travel to Remote Sites – Visit to Other Libraries." Neither of these items are exemptions allowed under OMA. The purpose of these items was to get ideas for building a new library which is far beyond the scope of discussing a real estate transaction. I believe a review of the mandatory audio recording of this closed session meeting will confirm this allegation.
Nov. 20, 2007: As an example of the blatant disregard for the Open Meetings Act, minutes of the November 14, 2007 regular scheduled meeting reports that the Library's property tax levy would be voted on at a Special Meeting to be held Tuesday, November 20th at 5:00 p.m. There is no published agenda for this meeting. Likewise there are no minutes available. This is pertinent as there are now no minutes available to two meetings which the library's tax levy is discussed. At the time of the May 12, 2010 property acquisition the library had amassed more than $1.6 million in surplus funds that were used or earmarked for the transaction.
Dates of Special Meetings in which an agenda is provided but minutes are not available: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2008; FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008; SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2008; FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2008; FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2008; SATURDAY, JULY 26, 2008; WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2008; WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2009; WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6, 2010; and WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 2010.
I formally request that the Library Board be mandated to provide the Illinois Attorney General with audio copies for the above meetings to determine if OMA or other laws have been broken.
After the August 11, 2010 meeting was adjourned, library attorney Gary Cordes, told me he received the Aug. 9, 2010 letter from the Illinois Attorney General’s office informing him that my request for review warranted further investigation was discussed in closed session. I asked him why it was not discussed or acknowledged under the published agenda item, "Correspondence."
“You started all of this,” said Cordes. “You know why it was discussed in closed session.”
For the record I want to state that I did not purchase property with public funds in closed session.
A new violation of OMA may have occurred at the July 13, 2010 regularly scheduled meeting. I was taken away from this public meeting, along with Daily Chronicle reporter, Elena Grimm, at its published 8:00pm start on the instructions of Dee Coover, library director. We were taken to an office by Gary Cordes and given an "announcement" that the property had been purchased. As the Library Board and its attorney, Gary Cordes, has since recanted on just about every statement Cordes made during this "announcement" I have no choice other than to believe the action was a deliberate manuever to usurp the Open Meetings Act. I formally request that this complaint be included in #8459 or that a new Request for Review be initiated.
The actions taken by the DeKalb Public Library Board is an affront the the Open Meetings Act. It is not just about an illegal $1.8 million real estate transaction. The Building Program, the property purchase, etc., are an attempt by the Library Board to obtain tens of millions of public funds to 1) acquire the property; 2) use TIF funds to demolish buildings that exist on the purchased property; and 3) to bond (debt) to pay for the construction of a new library. The intent is to skirt the Open Meetings Act to obtains those funds without going to referendum.
It is for the reasons above and in the full spirit and intent of the Open Meetings Act that I ask that the real estate acquisition be set aside until all investigations are complete and public hearings are held into this matter. I would appreciate any direction or action that would assist in making sure the laws are enforced and the matter is settled in full public view.
Mac A. McIntyre
Will be very interesting to hear the results of the "audio listen"… sounds like the press/watchdog/lunatic fringe types are not welcome and MOST public body meetings… hmmm???