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YORKVILLE – The Illinois Attorney General's office has determined no further action is necessary for an Open Meetings Act complaint against the County Board filed by a Kendall County resident after he was turned away from attending a meeting in person.
State's attorney general officials wrote in a Tuesday, May 26 letter to unincorporated Yorkville resident Todd Milliron the Kendall County Board was not required to allow him to physically attend the May 5 meeting in question, since the board provided proper notice and instruction on how to participate in the meeting virtually. The office cited relaxed Open Meetings Act regulations previously issued amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which eased the requirements of public bodies holding in-person meetings.
Upon further review, state's attorney general officials wrote, the board provided a means to both observe and comment during these meetings through a shared conference call or other log-in information in the notice of the public meeting.
"Therefore, the guidance issued by this office does not support your claim that the board violated [the Open Meetings Act]," Joshua Jones, deputy bureau chief of the state's attorney's public access bureau, wrote in the letter to Milliron.
Citing a similar complaint that was filed with the state a few days before his, Milliron said he thought that the number of people physically in attendance might make a difference regarding his request, since a Joliet City Council meeting had well over 100 people wanting to attend as opposed to less than 10 people for the Kendall County Board meeting. He also said he has attended an April 28 Yorkville City Council meeting and an April 14 Oswego Township government meeting in person without issue, with no more than 10 people present in person for either of those meetings.
"And so I was operating under that scenario," Milliron said.
The update comes after Milliron wrote in a May 7 email to Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis that he arrived at the county office building before the May 5 Kendall County Board meeting and realized the doors were locked. After requesting entry from county officials, he said he was prevented from attending the County Board meeting in person, since he was not a county elected official or staff member and the county office building is closed to the general public due to COVID-19.
Milliron had said he was wearing a protective face mask and took his temperature before leaving home for the meeting. He had said he believed there were four county government officials in the room physically.
The agenda for the May 5 Kendall County Board meeting included a public hearing for two businesses applying for COVID-19 relief grant funding for downstate small businesses.
Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder had said that, from county government's perspective, they have been in full compliance with Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker's Open Meetings Act executive order regarding remote attendance. He had said members of the public still are able to participate during public comment remotely and someone even did so through remote means during the May 5 meeting.
If they cannot participate in real time through video or voice conference call either via internet or telephone, Gryder had said, members of the public also have the ability to send a letter to the county office building with a signed name and address of the sender. He had said non-anonymous physical letters sent to the building regarding county business also can be read aloud during remote County Board meetings, if requested.
“To say anything more than we’re following the requirements of the Open Meetings Act is just not true,” Gryder had said.
County meeting agendas and packets, along with remote meeting attendance instructions, are available on the calendar within the county's website, co.kendall.il.us.
Milliron said he plans on attending the upcoming Kendall County Board meeting in person after Gryder recently announced the county office building will re-open Monday, June 1.
At the very least, Milliron said, he now has a better idea of what to expect Open Meetings Act-wise in the event of another COVID-19 case wave.
"And other people will, too," Milliron said.
For more local news, visit KendallCountyNow.com at https://www.kendallcountynow.com.