A judge has scheduled a hearing on a complaint filed by LGBT activists who say the Chicago City Council is in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act ( OMA ).
According to a statement from activist Andy Thayer, Circuit Court Judge Diane J. Larsen, on Aug. 3, ordered that a hearing be held on the motion for a preliminary injunction that would force the Council's abidance with the OMA. The hearing will be held Sept. 12 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2405 of the Daley Center, 50 W. Washington Blvd.
Activist Rick Garcia is also a plaintiff.
Thayer and Garcia maintain that they've lined up nearly an hour and a half before the start of scheduled City Council meetings, only to be told that the audience is at capacity even before any of the general public has been admitted. The audience seems to consist largely of invited guests of council members, Thayer said. The activists also want to the City Council to allot time for public comment.
"The Illinois Open Meetings Act requires that public bodies, of which the Chicago City Council is the most powerful in the State governed by the Act, to maintain access to the public, including the right to attend and comment on their proceedings," Thayer added.
Thayer and colleagues were barred from entering the May 2016 meeting, when the City Council debated a TIF proposal that circumvented affordable-housing requirements that would take effect a few months later. They hope the judge will rule that, if the OMA was violated, the decisions reached at that meeting would be voided.
"The fact that the Council used their closed meetings to bogart thru a deeply unpopular TIF … illustrates the very essence of why the Open Meetings Act exists," Thayer said. "While most Illinoisans struggle with stagnant wages and the rising cost of living expressed in higher taxes, housing and health care costs, legislators of both parties try to shield themselves from public outrage as they ram through measures to help the already wealthy and well-connected."