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Question of the day

Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021

* Press release…

Mayors from across the state have joined the Illinois Municipal League (IML) to urge the General Assembly to pass measures that promote the long-term success of all 1,296 cities, villages and towns in Illinois during the upcoming 2021 Fall Veto Session.

Municipal leaders are backing several pieces of legislation that will protect local revenue, support businesses and economic recovery and remove barriers for cities, villages and towns to respond to public health emergencies. This includes proposals that would grant municipalities greater authority to conduct remote meetings, as well as allow municipalities to provide aid to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“The proposals outlined in our agenda not only empower local leaders to solve problems in times of crisis, but also ensure they are able to successfully rebuild their communities from damage caused by the pandemic,” said Brad Cole, IML Executive Director. “We’re asking state officials to take action to ensure local governments are able to address the many unique challenges facing their communities and best serve their constituents.”

One proposal includes SB 482 (Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin), which removes the requirement that a gubernatorial or Illinois Department of Public Health disaster declaration must be issued before municipal leaders can conduct remote meetings. In a crisis, and at other times, remote meetings provide additional transparency and more opportunities for residents to participate in the governing process.

* The Question: Should municipal governments be allowed to conduct remote meetings at will going forward? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


image polls

- Posted by Rich Miller        

36 Comments »
  1. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 11:59 am:

    Yes, reluctantly. In-person meetings open to the public are vital and necessary. However, public meetings weren’t designed to be venues to physically threaten people. With that potential, remote meetings are necessary.


  2. - northernwatersports - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:03 pm:

    Allowed to conduct meetings remotely? Yes.
    Allowed to conduct meetings ‘at will’ going forward? Maybe, with some guardrails….
    Still public notice, mixed with regular, physical presence meetings, or limits on some topics for voting (personnel, legal settlements, etc?).
    Gotta get into the weeds of ‘what if’ with this one….


  3. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:09 pm:

    One of the best things that could come out of this is streaming meetings and allowing observers not in attendance to participate by computer. We still need clear guidelines on making sure meetings are announced and widely available to public participation though. It’s not as simple as saying let’s let ‘em do online meetings without some rules.


  4. - Guzzlepot - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Yes. If the notice requirements are the same as for in person meetings why not. Remote meetings would also be useful in the winter when we have bad weather and icy roads.


  5. - Southern IL Bob Too - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Remote meetings only provide transparency if constituents have access to technology and know how to use it.


  6. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    Give elected officials a reason not to face the public and they will gladly take it. I certainly see the need for remote meetings as the exception but not the rule.


  7. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:14 pm:

    Yes.

    With conditions.

    For meetings that will be nothing more than a call to order and immediately go into executive session it should be allowed at-will.

    For meetings to discuss public business openly, more restrictions on when it would be allowed to be remote would be needed, such as an emergency situation.

    The rules for what constitutes a quorum would have to be thought out carefully as well. Currently, any gathering of a majority of board members outside of a meeting discussing public business is considered a quorum and all requirements of a public meeting need to be followed, including taking minutes of what is discussed. When a meeting is remote, what constitutes a quorum, and how would that impact other areas of gatherings when physical presence in a single location is no longer needed to be a quorum.

    At the least, a conversation should be started on how to accomplish this.


  8. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:14 pm:

    Voted “No.”

    Few if any of these municipalities have taken enforcement of pandemic safety measures seriously.

    I would allow remote school board meetings where school districts are requiring students to be masked and/or vaccinated.


  9. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:17 pm:

    No. Only for cause. Masked up or not kids go to schools people go to work. They have a job let them do it in public unless a very valid reason not to and then only on a case by case basis. And if people are disruptive and out of line have security escort them out or arrest them.


  10. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:20 pm:

    I said yes, but with caveats. On the one hand, we should encourage remote participation in meetings because it increases engagement and turnout when attendance only requires clicking a link. I attended many meetings over the past year that I never would have gone to had it only been in person. It is more efficient for scheduling, space, and transportation, especially with large crowds on a hot issue. The technology provides opportunities to make meetings more accessible with live captioning, to get instant feedback from the attendees using polls, etc.

    On the other hand, there is a lot of value in meeting in person. The transparency of seeing your elected officials together, with their non-verbal interactions with each other, cannot be matched by a cropped camera frame. The ability to advocate before a board in a public space cannot be matched from your couch looking at a handful of videos the size of a business card.

    So, I guess I support remote participation by the audience, and perhaps a non-majority of a quorum, but the meetings should generally be in person for voting members and allow for in-person audience. In a bona fide emergency, remote meetings should be allowed if necessary to protect the safety of the members or public, or due to the urgency. I could also see some provision that would allow for the occasional remote meeting. For instance, the board could vote at the prior in-person meeting to make the next meeting remote.


  11. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:23 pm:

    Yes, as long as they’re still accessible to the public,including allowing the public to speak if that’s an option when everyone is in the same room.


  12. - Red Ketcher - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    No
    At Will too broad


  13. - Frank talks - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:28 pm:

    No at will gives too many opportunities to just not do in person. Mayor is on vacation, alderman just decides they don’t want to go. Etc etc


  14. - Southern - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:36 pm:

    Undecided. But if they do remote meetings, they darned well better include a way for the public to participate — not just watch. Interestingly, a few weeks ago, a local school district was having a meeting about mask rules. I knew of several people who wanted to participate but didn’t want to attend in person because they have underlying health conditions or because they’ve seen the frightening behavior of some anti-maskers at public meetings. The superintendent said it would be too burdensome to set up electronic participation.


  15. - Huh? - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:39 pm:

    No, for reasons stated by others. And remote meetings assumes a degree of computer skills that may not be present in the community.


  16. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 12:51 pm:

    The computer savvy arguments don’t move me. It’s 2021. We are well into the electronic age. Figure it out already.

    I voted yes. No reason in this day and age you can’t meet remotely. We’ve been doing it for the past year and a half in many places. Figure out the public participation aspect and then meet remotely all you want.


  17. - Norseman - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:16 pm:

    No to at will. Yes to expanding the instances when remote meetings can be used. There needs to be guidelines to ensure the use remote meetings is not abused to limit public input.

    I like the idea of addressing the needs of locals to better respond to the breadth of issues that we saw develop during the pandemic. So long as they don’t interfere with public health response.


  18. - Payback - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:25 pm:

    Definitely no. Those who live in Chicago and Cook County have no idea whatsoever how one-party cliques control rural counties and small towns. Illinois does not even require video taping public meetings, and now they want to make it even less accountable? Insane.

    This is a “progressive” Democratic majority state of 12 million people, but Illinois policy makers can’t seem to understand why we are consistently rated most corrupt in the U.S. by the federal authorities? Stuff like this is going backwards.


  19. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:26 pm:

    Residents should be able to participate remotely but barring a good reason for members not to gather in person, physical proximity makes for much more productive meetings


  20. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:34 pm:

    == have no idea whatsoever how one-party cliques control rural counties and small towns. ==

    Yes we do.

    It’s one of the reasons why many of us don’t live there, or don’t want to.


  21. - Wally - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:34 pm:

    ===Illinois does not even require video taping public meetings, and now they want to make it even less accountable? Insane.===

    I trust you on what it’s like downstate with one party boards. Having said that–doesn’t having the meeting online, as long as it’s a meeting open to the public, make it easier to record and disseminate? With just a couple of easy to find plug ins, I could probably record most anything streaming across my screen. Not everyone will be computer savvy enough to do that, but you only need one person who is and can post it.

    ==The superintendent said it would be too burdensome to set up electronic participation.==

    That’s BS (what the superintendent said–not what you said, Southern). I’ve run a number of online meetings, and pretty much every off the shelf software makes it easy for people to register, raise hands to be recognized, and for the moderator to unmute and mute participants.


  22. - Former SB Member - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:35 pm:

    -. Those who live in Chicago and Cook County have no idea whatsoever how one-party cliques control rural counties and small town—

    Seriously? When was the last time Republicans controlled Chicago?

    Voted no because it eliminates the proverbial public square and makes it too easy to silence the public.


  23. - Montrose - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:36 pm:

    Yes, provided they still have to provide opportunities for community input, electeds have to stay on camera, etc. It should be a tool that allows for great participation and transparency, not the opposite.


  24. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 1:50 pm:

    ===Seriously? When was the last time Republicans controlled Chicago?===

    Big Bill Thompson. Owner of cash stash that made Paul Powell look like an amateur. While Powell had $700K 1970 ($4.9M current), Thompson had $1.8M 1944 ($28.0M current). And the probability he got the cash from Al Capone may have something to do with him being the last GOP Mayor of Chicago.


  25. - froganon - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 2:59 pm:

    Voted yes. Remote participation by both board members and the public make for more access and safer meetings. With so many folks refusing vaccines and masks as well as poor enforcement by some elected officials, remote participation feels much safer. Full discloser, I sit on a public board and the behavior of some audience members concerns me.


  26. - Amalia - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 2:59 pm:

    yes. just get stuff done.


  27. - AD - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 3:04 pm:

    Voted yes. In small towns, it’s hard enough to get capable people to run for some of these offices. Maybe less of a time commitment will get more talented people with full time jobs to run.


  28. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 3:09 pm:

    Voted no. With Former SB - eliminates a public square that virtual cannot replace. Plus, every local elected should have to sit through in-person public comments. They signed up for it, don’t let them off the hook.


  29. - H-W - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 3:38 pm:

    Voted no. Assuming Covid ends, Face-to-face meetings are essential to accountability, both before the membership, and the community. Internet communities are not true social gatherings. They are not bound by the same requirements of decorum, obviously. But more important, they lack the active, social bonding processes that occur during meetings. It is too easy to ignore discussion, vote one’s personal interests, and not be held accountable to the will of the group, or the needs of the served, when not in the presence of living community.


  30. - Flexible One - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 3:42 pm:

    Don’t forget that when the GA went remote without access to the Capitol many members of the GA forgot how to use their phones. They didn’t feel compelled to respond to constituents or lobbyists when they felt they were on opposite sides of an issue. They comfortably stayed in their own echo chamber without even hearing what the other side had to share.
    If municipalities can go remote at will they can escape the wrath of constituents who vehemently disagree with their agenda. Please don’t forget that.


  31. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 4:43 pm:

    ==they can escape the wrath of constituents who vehemently disagree with their agenda.==

    So what? If they don’t like it they can vote for someone else in the next election.


  32. - Huh? - Tuesday, Oct 12, 21 @ 8:21 pm:

    “The computer savvy arguments don’t move me. It’s 2021. We are well into the electronic age.”

    Given the number of local agencies, it is the wild west of virtual public involvement. There is no standard of virtual meetings, how the public interacts with officials, or is able to make comments.


  33. - GC - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 6:38 am:

    Yes. How munis conduct their own business is something the GA needs to get out of - conduct of meetings, retention of records, etc. The GA should make Sunshine-type guarantees as to access like making sure munis have to provide a viewing room and that public comment can occur electronically. After that, if voters don’t like how a muni conducts business, vote them out.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 6:55 am:

    Voted “No”, but world be a a solid “Yes” with defined guardrails and spelled out and required availability via electronics for all.

    If equal access and that equal access is easy and defined, I’d be a solid “yes”, but until then a unfettered continuation of remote is not my top choice, thus a “no”


  35. - South Side Sam - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 8:20 am:

    Yes. With proper notice & public access.


  36. - estubborn - Wednesday, Oct 13, 21 @ 4:02 pm:

    Voted “No” because too many public bodies are playing cute with their public comment rules. Residents have a right a to address their city council, park board, etc without having to jump through hoops to be heard. The public needs to have the ability to address their elected officials in person. An email that is read aloud by a clerk doesn’t have the same impact.


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