EDITORIAL - Clark Hopkins was right to file

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

The Germantown Hills Village Board  barely dodged a bullet.

Recently the Illinois Attorney General found three village board members — Trustees Terry Quinn and Clark Hopkins and Mayor Kenny Mitchell — did not violate the Open Meetings Act.

Hopkins got the ball rolling on this issue when he filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Though Hopkins filed the complaint it was Quinn who put the village in this potential legal jackpot.

The general rule public officials operate under is that a majority of a quorum of members of the same public body do not gather together without prior public notice. In Germantown Hills case three is a majority of a quorum.

Quinn wanted to go to the Feb. 7 planning commission meeting. He asked the mayor by email not to attend. The mayor notified Quinn he was going to the meeting.  

Quinn has complained in the past that Hopkins and Mitchell go to all the planning commission meetings to block other trustees from going. Hopkins is the village board’s liaison to the commission. He should be there. Whether Mitchell went just to block Quinn is open to debate. But, when Quinn arrived, Mitchell and Hopkins were already there.

Quinn knew he was in danger of violating the law. He, and every other member of the village board, had been warned by the village attorney about this when the same situation occurred months before.

Quinn, in his email of Feb. 5 indicating he wanted to attend the Feb. 7 planning commission meeting wrote, “To avoid violation of the (Open Meetings Act) I’d appreciate it if just Clark (Hopkins) and I from the (village board) were at the meeting.”

When Quinn saw Hopkins and Mitchell he should have left. Quinn has a fiduciary responsibility to the residents of Germantown Hills. Instead of upholding that responsibility he attended the meeting exposing the village to a large legal bill.

That the legal bill ended up being only $2,466.85 — so far — is of no matter. What would the bill have been if all three of these public officials had been found in violation?

Quinn was wrong.

Hopkins was right to file a complaint. If any reporter or citizen — knowledgeable about the Open Meetings Act — had been there they surely would have been on the phone with the attorney general’s office the next morning.

That $2,466.85 would have been much better spent on a seminar for the trustees on how to get along.