No need to state a topic before meetings

July 10, 2014 

Madison County Board Member Helen Hawkins, of Granite City, sent a copy of the July 1 letter to all of the County Board members. That provoked me to write regarding the letter she sent to me. Obviously she did not grasp the seriousness of sending the copies.

I addressed the board three times prior to her letter about the form that must be submitted, which requires stating the topic that the speaker will talk about.

Hawkins states she provided a procedure in March 2003 for county residents in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. The letter copied to the board states: "If any time this present procedure needs to change, I will work with the Madison County state's attorney and the attorney general for such."

Apparently Hawkins was not aware that effective Jan. 1, 2011, Illinois required all public bodies to provide residents the right to speak.

I believe residents have a right to speak without stating the topic. At last December's meeting I said the form used only benefits this board and administrators and clearly not the county taxpayers.

State's Attorney Tom Gibbons has been criticized for allowing committee meetings to be held at times not convenient to the public, which violates the Open Meetings Act.

Since the public can't get to the meetings, the meetings can be taken to the public by video broadcast.

The terms of nine board members end in 2014. No one should be re-elected who opposes the transparency of committee meetings.

Bob DesPain

Collinsville

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