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Citizen’s arrest of park district board spurs change in open-meetings policy

Posted Jul 7, 2014 8:56 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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After being placed under citizen's arrest, a park district board in Illinois has adopted a new policy allowing up to 30 minutes of public comment at every meeting.

At a meeting of the Clark County Park District Board in May, activist John Kraft said he was placing the board under citizen's arrest for violation of the Illinois Open Meeting Act, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, referring to earlier coverage by NBC Chicago.

Kraft, co-founder of the group Illinois Leaks, acted after he and other observers waited to speak to the board while members met for 2½ hours in closed session. When the board resumed its open session, its members said there would be no public comment.

Clark County Sheriff Jerry Parsley responded to a 911 call and advised board members they had violated the Open Meetings Law, Illinois Leaks says at its website. He told members of Illinois Leaks they could file a criminal complaint, which he would forward to appropriate authorities, according to the Illinois Leaks account.

Parsley told NBC Chicago that the board had violated the open-meetings law, and Clark had initiated his citizen's arrest responsibly. The board's new open meetings policy would settle a lawsuit filed by another Illinois Leaks co-founder.

Updated on July 12 to add word left out of sentence.

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