To the Editor:

Madison County Board Member Helen Hawkins of Granite City sent a copy of a July 1 letter she wrote to me to all of the CountyBoard Members. I felt that was unfair, and it provoked me to write this letter. Obviously, she did not grasp the seriousness of sending copies to Board Members.

I addressed the Board on Dec. 13, 2013, Feb. 14, 2014 and June 18, 2014 about a form that must be submitted stating the topic that the speaker will talk about.

The lady from Granite City states she provided a procedure in March 2003 for County residents in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. The letter that was copied to the Board states, “If at any time this present procedure needs to change, I will work with the Madison County States Attorney and the Attorney General for such.”

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

That law states, “Any person shall be permitted an opportunity to address public officials under the rules established and recorded by the public body.” (PA 96-1473, eff. 1-1-11).

I believe residents have a right to speak without stating the topic that the speaker will talk about. At last December’s meeting I said the form used to request to address the Board for an explanation of what the resident wants to talk about and, “That only benefits this Board and Administrators and clearly not County taxpayers whom you represent.”

The minutes on the County website give the speaker’s comments.

State’s Attorney Thomas Gibbons has been criticized for allowing committee meetings to be held at times that are not convenient to the public. It is a clear violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Since the public can’t get to the meeting, the meeting can be taken to the public. Their meetings should be video broadcast.

The terms of nine Board Members end in 2014. Non one should be reelected who opposes the transparency of committee meetings.

Bob DesPain


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