No need for park board to shut the public out : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
No need for park board to shut the public out
We were disappointed when the Oswegoland Park District Board chose to meet behind closed doors Monday evening to discuss the appointment of a park district resident to complete the unexpired term of Leonard Wass.
Wass resigned from the board last month after serving 18 months of a six-year term.
The Illinois Open Meetings Act permits the park district board and the governing boards of other local governmental agencies to close their meetings to the public when they discuss appointments to vacant board seats. However, as we have pointed out several times in this space before, the boards are not obligated under the law to shut the public out of these meetings. The law allows them to conduct their deliberations and applicant interviews in full public view.
This spring candidates for the park board will be profiled in a special election section we will publish March 28. In addition, they will likely be subject to questioning by the public they wish to serve at candidate forums.
But in finding a replacement for Wass, the applicants will not be subject to the same public scrutiny. Instead, the board discussed the appointment in private Monday and are now expected to provide an update to the public in open session during a meeting Feb. 7.
We believe the whole appointment process should be open to the public. As candidates for their seats, current board members had to state their positions on issues affecting the agency at candidate forums and were each profiled in Ledger-Sentinel election sections. Why shouldn't the individual who the board now chooses to replace Wass be subject to the same public scrutiny? What does the park board want to discuss in private about this appointment that they don't want you-the taxpaying public--to hear?