It couldn’t be characterized as “transparent,” but the secret meeting the McHenry County Board held on Feb. 14, 2011, to discuss legal bills from Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan doesn’t qualify as “Illegal.’
Former McHenry County Board member Lou Anne Majewski filed a complaint about it on March 28th with the Public Access Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office about the closed door session.
In a letter dated June 3, 2011, Assistant Public Access Counselor Amanda Lundeen ruled that the Board was discussing “pending litigation.” Weighing in on the matter is the fact that the County is an intervenor in the case involving the appointment of the special prosecutor. Majewski argued that the Appellate Prosecutor was the intervenor.
Majewski also argued that the meeting concerned the payment of the special prosecutor’s bills in his criminal case against McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi, which she contended was not eligible to hide from the public.
The Public Access Counselor’s Office ruled that the resolution concerning Tonigan’s bill was discussed “only as a part of the Board’s overall litigation strategy”… and, therefore, was “proper” to discuss in private.
Prior to issuing the opinion, AG Office staff read the minutes of the Executive Session and listened to a tape of the meeting behind closed doors.
Yesterday, Kevin Craver wrote an article for the Northwest Herald in which three members of the McHenry County Board’s Legislative Committee were reprorted to have met in private.
The Open Meetings Act provides that a majority of no committee may meet in private and, in any event, must give 48 hours notice.
Democrat Kathy Bergan Schmitt told the paper that such action was “inappropriate.”
The three committee members involved were Marc Munaretto, John Jung and Nick Provenzano.
Munaretto said that the three were not in the room at the same time, that when a third one came in another left.
The NW Herald has referred the matter to the Public Access Counselor, the article says.