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No good deed goes unpunished

Thursday, Jun 6, 2019


During an appearance Wednesday on “Chicago Tonight,” Senate President John Cullerton and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin both said they didn’t knew about a provision that would allow the Illinois Gaming Board, the regulatory body that oversees the gaming industry, to operate with less public scrutiny.

WBEZ and ProPublica Illinois first reported about a provision in the gaming bill that would give the Gaming Board authority to close off some of its meetings from the public under the State’s Open Meetings Act.

Durkin said he was unaware of the provision until earlier Wednesday.

* This is the language in question

Exceptions. A public body may hold closed meetings to consider the following subjects […]

Those deliberations or portions of deliberations for decisions of the Illinois Gaming Board in which there is discussed any of the following: (i) personal, commercial, financial, or other information obtained from any source that is privileged, proprietary, confidential, or a trade secret; or (ii) information specifically exempted from the disclosure by federal or State law.

* From the Senate President’s spokesperson…

There has been some media confusion regarding legislation that deals with the Gaming Board.

Senator Syverson has a constituent who sued the board after being denied a license. It is my understanding the court took issue with the way the board conducts business in closed session.

In response, Syverson filed SB 1245 in February. The intent was to force the board to do more in open session by reminding/spelling out the only reasons it could go to closed session. These exemptions are not unique to the Gaming Board. They exist elsewhere in the Open Meetings Act.

It’s an acknowledgement that lawmakers have concerns too with how the board was operating.

This provision has been part of negotiations ever since and was included in the final proposal that was approved.

This is a reform to address concerns at the Gaming Board.

* I called Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) today. “Are you kidding?” he asked when I explained the argument against his legislation which was included in the gaming bill. Syverson said his proposal was “just the opposite” of what ProPublica was claiming.

“They were using everything as a reason to go into closed door meetings,” Syverson said about the Gaming Board. “Some things they have to do closed-door, but it was just too broad,” he said.

“So I came back with legislation that would clarify that these are the only reasons that justify closed door meetings,” Syverson said. “Everything else has to be open. It was just the frickin’ opposite” of the gist of the criticism.

“I wish the reporter had called and asked me about that as opposed to making that kind of accusation,” Syverson added.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    ===“I wish the reporter had called and asked me about that as opposed to making that kind of accusation,” Syverson added.===

    Don’t they teach that on like the first day of reporter school?

  2. - Arsenal - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    That language is pretty well in line with OMA. Not sure what the problem here is.

  3. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    ===Not sure what the problem here is. ===

    Agreed. Some folks just naturally assume everything done in Springfield is automatically corrupt and they proceed accordingly. So even a decent reform is viewed as bad.

  4. - Ok - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    It was an oppo hit that wasn’t tied to Syverson since it was an omnibus bill, so they could have asked him.

    But they could have asked someone

  5. - Northsider - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    47th @ 1:02: They certainly did at my high school newspaper, at the Daily Cardinal (UW-Madison) and even if they hadn’t, Charlie Wheeler drilled that into us Public Affairs Reporting students on Day One.

  6. - Leslie K - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    This makes much more sense now. I didn’t think an anti-sunshine law was likely to slip through, even in the chaos of end-of-session giant bills.

  7. - Bourbon Street - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    Next time someone crabs about the legislators getting a $1600 raise, I’m going to cite this as an example of how, when they have done something good, they still have to waste valuable time responding to baseless accusations.

  8. - Da Lobsta - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 1:32 pm:

    Reading is hard. Writing is harder.

  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:07 pm:

    Looks like sloppy reporting. Hard to tell how, exactly, as the Pro Publica report has been taken down.

    However, anyone with some cursory knowledge of the Open Meetings Act would not read the language in question as a move to “less scrutiny.” It’s pretty boilerplate.

    I wonder who put the bug in their ears that something hinky was going on? Somebody was making mischief, I believe.

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