Lisle: We didn't violate open meetings act

 
 
Updated 10/4/2016 5:13 PM
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  • Lisle trustees have agreed to appeal an Illinois Attorney General opinion that says the board violated the open meetings act when it talked behind closed doors about refinancing debt from the construction of the Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex.

    Lisle trustees have agreed to appeal an Illinois Attorney General opinion that says the board violated the open meetings act when it talked behind closed doors about refinancing debt from the construction of the Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex. Daily Herald file photo

Lisle will sue the Illinois Attorney General to avoid releasing the recording of a closed-door discussion among village trustees concerning refinancing debt from construction of the Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex.

The attorney general's public access counselor, or PAC, issued a binding opinion last month saying the village board violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act on June 6 when it talked about the bond sale outside the public eye. The opinion directed the board to release the "verbatim recording" of the closed session.

But Lisle trustees unanimously agreed to appeal the opinion. The village has until Oct. 17 to file a complaint for administrative review in either Cook or Sangamon counties.

"At some point, we just have to challenge the PAC when they exert authority they don't have," Mayor Joe Broda said in a written statement. "This type of PAC decision only encourages frivolous claims and more lost time and money for the village."

Broda said there's nothing in the recording that would embarrass the board and no one denies the need for government transparency.

"But there are certain actions and discussions that are legitimately protected by law to ensure frank and thoughtful deliberation by a board and its (legal) counsel," he said.

The attorney general's office said it plans to defend its opinion.

Trustees in August approved the sale of roughly $3.7 million in bonds to allow the village to take advantage of lower interest rates and eliminate a large balloon payment due in eight years for the sports complex. The debt will continue to be repaid with money generated from the village's hotel-motel tax.

But the village postponed the bond sale for more than two months. On June 6 -- the date originally set for the sale -- trustees held a closed-door session to discuss "pending/imminent litigation."

About a week later, resident Carolyn Bartelli asked the public access counselor to get involved. She said the closed-session discussion was improper because it didn't involve litigation.

When Lisle was contacted by the public access bureau, an attorney for the village said the board properly entered into closed session to discuss a "possible injunction and other legal action that had been threatened to overturn the village board's decision to refinance certain bonds."

Bartelli and other residents questioned whether Lisle had the authority to refinance the debt. And during a special village board meeting on May 31, some members of Bartelli's group talked about the possibility of a lawsuit.

But Bartelli clearly stated during the June 6 meeting that the group wouldn't take legal action against the village. Trustees went into closed session anyway.

According to the binding opinion, the board "did not have reasonable grounds to find that an injunction or other legal action related to the board's decision to issue new bonds for the Benedictine Sports Complex Facilities was probable or imminent."

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