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Attorney General finds Normal Town Council committed second ‘Open Meetings Act’ violation in 2019

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Council member Karyn Smith. (Town of Normal photo)

NORMAL (WEEK) - For the second time, the Illinois Attorney General's Office has found the Normal Town Council violated the state's Open Meetings Act for limiting public comment at council meetings in 2019.

Like the other violation, the Attorney General will impose no penalties against the town government because it changed its policy last fall to allow people to talk about topics that are not on council meeting agendas.

In February 2019, Karyn Smith filed a complaint to the Attorney General because she was not allowed to speak about possibly saving some of the exterior of three buildings set for demolition to make way for the Trail East development in Uptown Normal.

Two months later, Smith was elected to the town council, and two years later, the Attorney General's office ruled on her complaint.

Smith told 25 News there are more expanded discussions of various topics since her election to the council. Prior to that, Smith said the common practice was to hold a single vote on many items, with little or no discussion.

Last week, it was learned the Attorney General had issued a similar opinion favoring Marc Tiritilli, who was prevented from speaking two years ago about issues concerning Connect Transit, Bloomington-Normal public transit system.

Tiritilli is a candidate for Mayor, hoping to unseat long-time incumbent Chris Koos.

Town of Normal spokesperson Cathy Oloffson released a statement Wednesday evening.

"The council voted unanimously in favor of amending public comment guidelines last year. This request for review was filed more than two years ago. The public access counselor in the AG's office has issued another non-binding opinion recognizing the council has already taken action."

Howard Packowitz

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