Attorney general: Lisle didn't comply
by Bob Sanchez, Daily Herald The Illinois attorney general's office says Lisle did not fully comply with its directive when the village released an edited recording of a controversial closed-door discussion. The attorney general's public access counselor issued a binding opinion in September saying Lisle trustees violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act on June 6 when they talked outside the public eye about refinancing debt from the construction of the Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex. That opinion directed the board to release the "verbatim recording" of the closed session related to the bond sale. After initially appealing the opinion by filing a complaint for administrative review in Sangamon County, the village board on March 13 released an eight-minute recording and ended its appeal. But in a letter dated Thursday, the attorney general says the full closed session was nearly 22 minutes long. "The board's limited public disclosure of selected portions of the closed session recording does not fully comply with this office's directive in (the binding opinion)," the letter reads. In order to fully comply, the letter says the village board "must disclose the remaining portions of the recording related to the bond sale." Mayor Joe Broda said the village's attorneys didn't get copies of the letter until Friday morning. Village officials still are trying to determine what to do next. Before making a decision, Broda said officials need to get a clarification from the attorney general. Broda said the edited recording was released after the village's attorney reviewed the entire closed session. The board, he said, believed the release "was in accordance with what the attorney general requested." He said part of the discussion wasn't made public because it dealt with legal strategy. In August, trustees approved the sale of roughly $3.7 million in bonds to allow the village to take advantage of lower interest rates and eliminate a large balloon payment due in eight years for the sports complex. The debt will continue to be repaid with money generated from the village's hotel-motel tax. The village postponed the bond sale for more than two months. On June 6, 2016 -- the date originally set for the sale -- trustees held a closed-door session to discuss "pending/imminent litigation." About a week later, resident Carolyn Bartelli asked the public access counselor to get involved. She said the closed-session discussion was improper because it didn't involve litigation. Bartelli and other residents questioned whether Lisle had the authority to refinance the debt without going to referendum. During a special village board meeting May 31, 2016, some members of Bartelli's group talked about the possibility of a lawsuit. But Bartelli clearly stated during the June 6 meeting that the group wouldn't take legal action against the village. Trustees went into closed session anyway. According to the attorney general's binding opinion, the board "did not have reasonable grounds to find that an injunction or other legal action related to the board's decision to issue new bonds for the Benedictine Sports Complex Facilities was probable or imminent." In the edited recording of the closed-session meeting, village officials are heard acknowledging that Bartelli said no legal action would be taken. On Thursday night, Bartelli blamed Broda for the controversy. "It was bad enough to reject the bond referendum petition signed by over 900 residents, then breaking the law holding an illegal meeting," said Bartelli, adding the release of the edited recording was "totally unacceptable."