Naperville Park District loses fight for temporary restraining order against governor

 
 
Updated 6/5/2020 5:38 PM

A DuPage County judge refused Friday to temporarily restrain Gov. J.B. Pritzker from applying the terms of his emergency executive orders to the property and programs of the Naperville Park District.

Judge Bonnie Wheaton said the district didn't meet one of four required legal standards: showing there was a substantial likelihood it would ultimately win its case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's not likely to win, according to Wheaton, because the district's contention that Pritzker doesn't have the authority to issue emergency orders that affect the district would make "meaningless" the powers granted to him by state law.

"By logical extension," Wheaton said, that would mean each of the thousands of units of local government in Illinois would be able to determine for themselves if executive orders apply to them.

The park district's attorney, Derek Price, argued it has the authority and duty to help residents manage their overall health and welfare, and that the governor's orders showed he was concerned with just one health threat, COVID-19. He said the orders are causing irreparable harm -- one of the other standards that has to be met for a temporary restraining order.

He cited statistics about increases in child abuse, domestic violence and suicides during the pandemic as other physical and mental health concerns the district can help address.

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But Pritzker's attorney, Assistant Attorney General Maggie Jones, said the orders did not prevent the district from maintaining its properties or creating programs. And the executive orders have always allowed for outdoor recreation, she said, such as hiking and bicycling.

The orders have gradually increased authorized activities, she said, to include golfing, fishing, camping, indoor and outdoor tennis, boating, personal training at gyms, outdoor exercise classes and youth camps.

Price mentioned the district's Fort Hill Activity Center, where it hosts exercise programs for senior citizens and has an indoor walking track. The orders interfere with the ability of that population -- one of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 -- to build their health and strength, he said.

"We stand ready to provide our resources to promote the health, safety and welfare of the public, and the governor says 'no,'" Price said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wheaton didn't rule on the district's request for an injunction against the governor.

No new court date was set.

Executive Director Ray McGury said Friday the district "always has followed the guidelines relative to COVID-19 and intends to continue doing so. The health and well-being of our residents is central to our mission and will remain so."

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