Meeting Violation: No notice, no reason to close committee meeting in Calumet

CALUMET — The village’s Personnel Committee met Wednesday without adequate public notice and then went into closed session without stating a reason on the record.

Both actions seemed to violate state law mandating open meetings of public bodies.

Sandra Johnson, a Village Council member on the committee, said prior public notice of the meeting was not necessary.

“Just to inform everybody,” Johnson said, “I spoke with two attorneys who said we did not have to post this committee meeting, and one of the reasons was I could look at the employees, if they want to stay in open session or closed session. So, as of right now, Coreen (Balbough), how would you like to proceed?”

Johnson did not identify the attorneys she consulted, nor explain what she communicated to them.

Village resident Nathan Anderson, who recorded the meeting on his phone camera, told the committee members they were in violation of the Open Meetings Act, regardless of what Johnson was informed by an attorney.

“You are required to give a notice at least 18 hours in advance, regardless of whether you go into closed session,” Anderson informed the committee. “The public deserves to be informed when a village committee meets. I suggest that you guys don’t do these things in secret, because there would be no reason to do this meeting in secret.”

Anderson said when the committee holds meetings without prior notice, actions of that nature only enhance the suspicions of the public.

“When you hold any meeting, you have to have 18 hours’ notice,” Anderson said. “You guys are breaking the law. If you want to continue having the meeting and break the law, that’s up to you.”

Johnson replied that while the committee was in open meeting at the time, the members chose to enter into executive session, again stating they do not have to publicly post the meeting in advance.

At one point, the comments from the committee members were indiscernible because they all were shouting at Anderson at the same time, but there appeared to be no reason cited for going into executive session, which is also a violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act.

“I want to go into closed session,” Abramson told Anderson, who was the only audience member. “And shut that camera off, too.”

Anderson said he wanted to be notified when the closed session would end, so he could return. He was refused the information, so it is not known what was conducted during the closed session, or if any actions were taken by the committee.