Public Access Bureau concludes Village of Glenwood Board of Trustees violated the OMA

11/22/2017, noon | Updated on 11/22/2017, noon
“It just leaves a very bad taste in my mouth about how there is just a lack of regard for ...
The board of trustees of the Village of Glenwood held a special meeting on Sept. 14, 2017 at the Glenwood Village Hall (pictured) that was in violation of the Open Meeting Act, according to a notice from the Illinois Attorney Generals Office. Photo Credit: Citizen File Photo

Public Access Bureau concludes Village of Glenwood Board of Trustees violated the OMA

By: Katherine Newman

The Village of Glenwood board member, Trustee Adam Winston, recently filed a Request for Review with the Public Access Bureau

claiming that the Open Meeting Act (OMA) was violated during a special meeting on Sept. 14 where questionable raises were given to five Department Heads of the Village of Glenwood.

The Public Access Bureau is part of the Illinois Attorney General's office and was established to help people obtain public

documents and access public meetings. A Request for Review should be submitted if a person believes that a public body has improperly denied a FOIA request, or that a public body has violated the OMA in the way that it conducted, or failed to conduct, a public meeting, according to the Illinois Attorney General's office.

Winston is claiming that the required 48-hours public notice

was not given before having the special meeting and believes it is because the Village of Glenwood Mayor, Ronald Gardiner, wanted to push certain raises through as quietly as possible.

“For it to be jabbed through without any regard, it just seems kind of self-serving,” Winston said.

“It doesn’t serve the interest of the public.”

While all of the Village of Glenwood Board Members were due to receive their annual two percent cost-of-living raise, Mayor Gardiner reportedly selected five Village of Glenwood department heads to receive above two percent pay-raises, according to Winston.

“The challenge we had were certain individuals not only got the 2 percent raise, but certain people got excess amounts with no justification, no memorandum, no reason other than the Mayor saying they deserve these raises,” said Winston.

Winston expressed concern over Mayor Gardiner reportedly awarding raises to people who were helpful in his most recent Mayoral campaign.

“My concern is that these raises came after a pretty heated election where you typically don’t have a fire department campaigning against an opponent,” said Winston.

Trustee Winston was one of three board members who voted against the proposed above two percent pay-raises.

The Village of Glenwood Special Meeting Notice and Agenda from the meeting in question is signed by Mayor Gardiner and reads “Posted and Distributed: September 12, 2017.”

Winston claims he did not receive the notice of the special meeting until the morning of Sept. 13.

“I think it is totally them covering their tracks,” Winston said. “You can’t have a special meeting and then not do your due diligence to make sure people are aware of it.”

After realizing that the OMA had been violated, Winston said he contacted the attorney for the Village of Glenwood and asked him to nullify the above two percent pay-raises because, according to him, the public didn’t have an opportunity to give their input on the matter.

“He [the Village of Glenwood Attorney] told me that he would

not take that on unless I had the votes to get it done,” Winston

said. “First, it’s kind of insulting because I’m an elected official.

Secondly, who are you working for? Are you working for the interest of the public to make sure we’re protecting the public interest and following the letter of the law or are you just following the people with the votes?”

The Public Access Bureau concluded that the Village of Glenwood Board of Trustees violated the OMA by failing to provide a full 48-hours notice for the special meeting and

requested that the Board hold another vote on the budget that was approved during the meeting in order to remedy the violation, according to a notice sent to Mayor Gardiner and the Village of Glenwood Board of Trustees from the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Illinois, Lisa Madigan.

“It just leaves a very bad taste in my mouth about how there is just a lack of regard for the public,”said Winston.

Going forward Winston hopes that more attention can be brought to small communities like the Village of Glenwood who pay a great deal of taxes to maintain their neighborhoods.

Calls for a response from Mayor Gardiner were made, but went unreturned by the Citizen’s deadline.