AG’s Access Officer requests written explanation concerning who maintains the county website.
As noted by this posting on another of my blogs [http://boonecountyminutes.blogspot.com/] I have requested since March that the Boone County Board Minutes be posted on the county’s website. Such posting is mandated by state law.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
March 8, 2010
Boone County Administration Campus
1212 Logan Avenue, Suite 102
Belvidere, IL 61008
Dear Mr. Terrinoni:
I understand that you are the freedom of information officer. I have been unable to determine who was appointed the open meetings officer and therefore have made the assumption that you have been appointed to that post as well.
Back in early February 2010, I emailed the County Board Chairman, Robert Walberg, requesting that county board minutes be publish on the county’s web site. To date I have heard nothing from him or the county board. Based upon these facts I am contacted you today. I respectfully request that you respond to this request within thirty days.
I request that the Boone County Board begin posting the minutes of its meetings on its website as prescribed by law. I believe the appropriate legal citation is 5 Illinois Consolidated Statutes 120/2.06 b. That citation is below, please note the underlining which I provided you.
(a) All public bodies shall keep written minutes of all their meetings, whether open or closed, and a verbatim record of all their closed meetings in the form of an audio or video recording. Minutes shall include, but need not be limited to:
(1) the date, time and place of the meeting;
(2) the members of the public body recorded as either present of absent and whether the members were physically present or present by means of video or audio conference; and
3) a summary of discussion on all matters proposed, deliberated, or decided, and a record of any votes taken.
(b) The minutes of meetings open to the public shall be available for public inspection within 7 days of the approval of such minutes by the public body. Beginning July 1, 2006, at the time it complies with the other requirements of this subsection, a public body that has a website that the full-time staff of the public body maintains shall post the minutes of a regular meeting of its governing body open to the public on the public body's website within 7 days of the approval of the minutes by the public body. Beginning July 1, 2006, any minutes of meetings open to the public posted on the public body's website shall remain posted on the website for at least 60 days after their initial posting.
I thank you in advance for your cooperation regarding this matter.
WILLIAM J. PYSSON
9592 Denver Drive
Belvidere, Il 61008
815 544 5115
CC: Robert Walberg
Daniel D. Anderson
This was Boone County’s answer. (Click on the photocopy to enlarge) A website upgrade is happening, however it is questionable if voters will be given any minutes. Neither the committee, the board nor its administrator indicate that they will comply with the law.
My answer was to take the law into my own hands—obtain the minutes and post them myself.
Since September the”new” Boone County website has been up and running but no board minutes. Minutes for the Health Board have been available for several years but nothing for the county board. In October and November I discussed with Chairman Bob Walberg the posting of the minutes. He stated that the county was not required to do so because it did not have a full time employee dedicated to maintaining the website. He stated that he received this opinion from the Boone County States Attorney, Michelle Courier. I personally talked to Ms. Courier after the November board meeting and she stated that she had called the Illinois Attorney General Office and based upon her research and the conversation with the AG’s Office gave the opinion that Boone County was not subject to the mandate. I stated to her I did not question her legal sources but believed the facts indicated Boone County had the necessary full time employees.
Back in April I also emailed the Public Access Officer at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office concerning this matter. That email as well as Boone County’s States Attorney response to my inquiry is shown below.
I received no reply from the state until this week when the Attorney General’s office telephoned me. Based upon our conversation and conversations the Access Officer had with the Boone County States Attorney, the following additional information is being requested. (See the Illinois Attorney General’s letter below and circled area) Basically a written explanation as to how the current website is maintained.
The Access Officer emailed this letter to the various board members. Knowing that many members do not regularly check their county email boxes I email the letter to their regular email addresses the AG letter along with this note:
In case you do not check your county email address on a regular basis, I am forwarding this letter from the Illinois Attorney General to Boone County States Attorney.
I still do not understand why Boone County Board refuses to post its minutes (which are usually less than 6 pages each month). I have requested posting of board minutes numerous times; to my county representatives, to the County Board President and to the Admin Committee. All to no avail.
As a final resort I filed this request to the Public Access Officer. Why must a citizen go to these extremes to be granted the access granted by law? The law granted the "full time employee exemption" so that townships and other political subdivision were not unduly financially burdened by a state mandate to post board minutes on the Internet when they did not have such facilities. Can Boone County really plead that posting monthly board minutes is a financial burden when the entire county budget (hundreds of pages) is posted? When monthly agenda for all county committees and the county board itself are posted each month on the county website?
The Illinois Attorney General apparently believes that my request deserves a review of the issues and facts. Are the taxpayers being well served when valuable time at the Boone County States Attorney and at the Attorney General Office are being wasted on whether Boone County must comply with the state mandate. Hundreds of dollars of taxpayers money are being wasted for the few pennies of costs entailed in posting six pages on the Internet. What is this proving?
I respectfully request that the new Boone County Board take action and order that Boone County Board Minutes be posted on the Boone County Website. BILL PYSSON
Page 31 on the Boone County Budget is shown below. $166,945 is budgeted for Information Technology. $44,ooo is paid for a computer coordinator and $19,387 for professional services for the website. Yet Boone County is claiming an exemption because it does not have a full time employee to imput the minutes onto the website.
Today I submitted the following Freedom Of Information Act request to gain a clear understanding if Boone County actually has a full time employee involved with the website.
Just tonight the minutes for the Boone County Board were posted on the county’s website. All the approved minutes going back to January 2010 are listed.