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updated: 5/1/2014 9:58 PM

Island Lake's lawyer says there's a mole at village hall

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  • David McArdle

      David McArdle

 
 

The Island Lake village board's proposal to create a special four-member committee that would discuss litigation and other sensitive issues was prompted by concerns about leaks from the panel, the village's attorney confirmed Thursday.

"We believe that someone from closed session is disclosing information discussed to members of the public," attorney David McArdle told the Daily Herald in an email. "Because this is a breach of the trust of a closed session discussion, we are considering an alternative smaller committee to discuss certain topics."

Governmental boards in Illinois can go into private meetings -- called executive sessions -- to discuss litigation, land purchases, personnel moves and other sensitive issues specified in the state's Open Meetings Act. Otherwise, deliberations must be open to the public.

Typically, all board members are invited to attend executive-session discussions, along with key staffers and often attorneys.

The Island Lake proposal would limit the committee's membership to Mayor Charles Amrich and three trustees whose identities haven't been publicized. Three trustees would be left out.

Trustee Keith Johns, an Amrich ally, said he's heard comments in the community and read things on Facebook and in the media indicating information is being leaked from executive-session meetings.

Officials have been warned about revealing information discussed privately, Johns said, but he believes the leaks have continued.

"When somebody breaks the trust of that executive session, you need to be able to continue business and remove the mole," Johns said in a telephone interview.

But Trustee Mark Beeson, another Amrich ally, said he hasn't heard or read anything indicating someone is leaking information to the public.

"I hear rumblings about it, but nobody has made a specific claim," Beeson said.

Trustee Shannon Fox, a regular target of Amrich's supporters, has opposed the proposal. The full board should discuss issues that qualify for closed sessions, she has said, not a smaller group.

The board was expected to create the committee last week, but officials tabled the proposal at John's request.

In Thursday's interview, Johns said he requested the delay because he didn't like how the proposal was worded.

Johns particularly objected to the specific inclusion of a dispute with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources over a $239,000 grant for the village's Greenleaf Woods Park that was awarded in 1992. The state agency wants the money back, saying the cash was used improperly.

The committee's focus shouldn't be the Greenleaf Woods issue, Johns said.

He didn't have a target date for when a reworked proposal could be back before the board.

Amrich said he hopes the panel will revisit the committee proposal after a May 20 hearing on the Greenleaf Woods grant in Springfield.

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