Caseyville Township resident files Open Meetings Act complaint

News-DemocratSeptember 28, 2013 

The Caseyville Township Board of Trustees is approving ordinances without notifying the public as required by state law, according to a resident's complaint with the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

The ordinances include changes to the township's expectations of employees, rules for purchasing equipment and the administration of a $6,000 medical stipend for each of the four trustees.

Mark Blackburn, a Fairview Heights resident living in the township, said he has asked the Attorney General's Office to review the trustees' actions during four meetings in July, August and September. Blackburn said the board violated the state's Open Meetings Act by failing to let residents know trustees were considering the ordinances.

"I'd like them to start following the rules and understand what the rules are," Blackburn said. "I simply want them to do the right thing."

The Illinois Open Meetings Act states agendas posted before the meeting must include "the general subject matter of any resolutions or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting."

The only description on agendas for the July, August and September Caseyville Township board meetings is the phrase "Resolutions/Ordinances."

Trustee James Lemansky said he would discuss with the township attorney, Tim Fleming, whether the township violated the Open Meetings Act.

"If we are in fault anywhere, I would surely endorse making it right if we are in violation of any kind," Lemansky said. "I am definitely in favor of making changes or doing whatever is necessary to make it right."

Along with Lemansky, the board is comprised of Caseyville Township Supervisor Bruce Canty and trustees Don Chrismore, Dorothy Moody and Richard Donovan. Chrismore, Moody and Donovan could not be reached for comment.

In July, the board approved an ordinance detailing how the four trustees are annually reimbursed up to $6,000 for medical expenses.

In 1994, then-Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris issued an opinion that an increase in health benefits for elected officials must wait until the following term of office.

The changes to the ordinance approved by the township board was a rewording of a previously approved policy, Lemansky said. The changes immediately went into effect allowing the current trustees to follow the new guidelines for reimbursement of life and health insurance premiums, and any other medical expenses.

Trustees in Belleville, St. Clair and Stookey townships do not receive any reimbursements for health costs.

Canty works full-time for the township and receives health benefits. The trustees are considered part-time and attend three regularly scheduled meetings per month. The trustees receive a $13,200 annual salary and do not receive health care insurance.

Canty said he believed the agendas should have more descriptions of the ordinances, but the agenda was set by Township Clerk David Jacknewitz. Jacknewitz could not be reached for comment.

"In my book, the agenda does need to have brief descriptions of the ordinances," Canty said. "Mr. Blackburn, that's his prerogative to file. That's what the Open Meetings Act is all about."

Canty said the township is "wide open" in terms of transparency, and works to place documents online and fulfill requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service