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         November 1, 2010        

Complaint filed with Attorney General
against Buffalo Grove Village Clerk

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A formal complaint has been filed with the Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General against Buffalo Grove Village Clerk Jan Sirabian.  Sirabian, 69, has been Village Clerk for over 31 years.

The complaint, which was filed by me, asks that the Public Access Counselor determine whether or not Jan's Minutes of the September 27th meeting by Village Trustees complies with the intent of the Open Meetings Act.

The September 27th meeting was, quite likely, the most important meeting of the year by the Buffalo Grove Village Trustees.  The meeting was all about whether taxes should be raised and, if so, which taxes should be the ones that are raised.

One possible tax increase was in regards to whether taxes on property owners should be increased to help subsidize the cost of operating the two municipal golf courses.  Why should wealthy golfers pay for the cost of playing a round, when they can stick it to low and moderate income homeowners and struggling business people to subsidize their recreational activities?

Even though the September 27th meeting lasted nearly three hours, Jan's Minutes lasted only a page-and-a-half.  We'll never know which Trustees may have supported or opposed having wealthy golfers stick it to the taxpayers, because Jan's Minutes on the subject, at the bottom of Page 1 of her 2-page minutes, merely states, "Staff presented a report related to the fiscal condition of both Golf Courses.  Board discussion followed, with Staff answering questions from the Board."

That's it?  What did they say, Jan?  Who said what on the subject?  Who supported and who opposed this tax increase?

I can understand why certain Trustees would want to keep from the taxpayers information that they might be proposing to help out their wealthy buddies by shifting the cost of leisure activities to financially oppressed homeowners, but the job of the Village Clerk is to reveal that information to us, not conceal it from us.

Nobody is asking Jan to take sides on the merits of any proposed tax increases.  What I am asking Jan to do is just tell us who expresses support for which tax increases at meetings of Village Trustees, and who expresses support at those meetings for shifting to the downtrodden the cost of leisure activities for the wealthy, rather than covering up for the Trustees by concealing that information from us, just as the Open Meetings Act intends for Jan to do.

That's why I'm running for Village Clerk.  That type of cover-up scandal won't take place when I'm Village Clerk.

Here's what I said in my Complaint Letter to the Public Access Counselor:

Greetings:
 
On Friday, October 15th, I spoke with Cara Smith and Michael Luke regarding whether the Minutes of the September 27, 2010, Village of Buffalo Grove Committee of the Whole meeting
 
http://ww2.vbg.org/BoardAgendas2007.nsf/a9f3507b05a6a54a862575df0073393e/03a3b0226c9b3a82862577b300144fd2/$FILE/CW092710.pdf
 
comply with the Summary of Discussion clause 5 ILCS 120/2.06(3) of the Minutes statute 5 ILCS 120/2.06 of the Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120/.
 
The September 27th meeting lasted nearly three hours, yet the Minutes consist of a page-and-a-half, mostly consisting of such phrases as:
 
"Discussion followed, with staff answering questions from Board members."
"Board discussion followed, with staff answering questions from the Board."
"Discussion on the proposal ensued." 
 
That doesn't tell anybody anything.
 
My understanding of what Mr. Luke said is that the intent of the statute is that there be sufficient specificity so as to provide transparency about who said what at a public meeting.  From my perspective, "Discussion ensued" fails to do that.
 
I believe that the law does not merely require noting that a discussion took place about topics, but rather what that discussion consisted of by specifying, generally but not verbatim, who said what about the topics.
 
I request that the Office of Public Access Counselor review those Minutes.  Please provide me with your determination on two issues:
 
1)  Do the Minutes comply with the letter of the law?  I believe that, even though the law does not state "specificity," the Minutes still lack a sufficient summary of discussion to be regarded as being in compliance with the law.
 
2)  Do the Minutes comply with the spirit of the law?  I believe that the Minutes do not come anywhere close to complying with the spirit of the law and, in fact, are in outright defiance of the spirit of the law.
 
Thank you for looking into this matter.
 
Sincerely,
Rob Sherman

Previous Rob Sherman News stories about this subject matter:

Monday, October 18:  Illinois Public Access Counselor condemns Minutes of gov't meetings that lack specificity

Thursday, October 14:  Village Clerk says losing keys to Village Hall is no big deal

Tuesday, October 12:  Sherman declares candidacy for Buffalo Grove Village Clerk

Monday, October 11:  Sherman renews call for Buffalo Grove Village Clerk to resign

Wednesday, October 6:  Term Limits of 32 years proposed for Buffalo Grove elected officials

Tues, 10/5: New scandal regarding Buffalo Grove "Minutes": Was it Finance Committee or Comm of the Whole?

Monday, October 4:  Buffalo Grove Village Clerk doesn't get it in dispute over meeting Minutes

Sunday, October 3:  Buffalo Grove Trustee backs Sherman in dispute over meeting Minutes

Saturday, October 2:  Illinois Open Meetings Act backs Sherman in dispute over Buffalo Grove meeting Minutes

Friday, October 1:  Sherman to challenge Minutes of Buffalo Grove Committee of the Whole meeting

 

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