Council uses Open Meetings Act exception to hold closed door team-building workshop

By Bob Seidenberg
Evanston officials invoked an exception in the state Open Meetings Act to meet behind closed doors for a “team-building” session at a Special Council meeting on Friday, Nov. 4.
Under Section 2 of the state’s Open Meetings Act, all meetings of a public body are to be open.
City officials cited “self-evaluation, practices and procedures or professional ethics, when meeting with a representative of a statewide association of which the public body is a member of Illinois Municipal League,” on their meeting agenda as the basis for the executive session.

The Illinois Municipal League is a statewide organization representing municipalities throughout Illinois on common issues.
The organization provides educational seminars and conferences to support its members, the organization said on its website.
City manager Luke Stowe didn’t ‘t respond to a phone call or text seeking more details about the meeting. Mayor Daniel Biss explained briefly in an email that the meeting was “going to be a session for us to do some planning and work on our collaboration.”

Prior to the meeting, Council members were asked to prepare for the meeting by answering some questions.
They included
“What top three issues are you most passionate about?
“What makes you most proud of Evanston?  What makes you most proud of the City Council?
“If you could make only one thing happen in the next twelve months, what would it be?”
Council members voted 5-0 in favor of Alderperson Jonathan Nieuwsma’s motion to convene the meeting into closed door executive session.
Before the Council vote in favor, Brad Cole, the executive director of the Illinois Municipal League, addressed the Council, stating that the action they were about to take is appropriate and in accord with the exception to the Open Meetings Act. addressed the Council,
Voting in favor were Alderpersons Clare Kelly, 1st, Krissie Harris, 2nd, Nieuwsma, 4th, Eleanor Revelle, 7th, and Juan Geracaris, 9th.

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