Openness and transparency. That’s the platform on which Mayor Sandra Bury, Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, and their slate of Trustee candidates ran on. According to some residents, that seems to be unraveling, starting with the Village website.
The Village of Oak Lawn has a number of committees, commissions, and boards which meet regularly and semi-regularly to discuss various issues. Among these is one recently championed by Trustee Mike Carberry (District 6), the Legislative License and Ethics Committee which he chairs. At recent Board of Trustees meetings, Carberry has made the point that important matters are discussed in his committee. According to the Village website, the committee is made up of Carberry, Trustee Tim Desmond (District 1), Trustee Alex Olejniczak (District 2), and Trustee Terry Vorderer (District 4). The website is wrong about the committee members. But that’s the least of the site’s problems.
As of May 26th, Carberry’s Legislative Committee had met 4 times in 2015. According to the Illinois Open Meeting Act, the official meeting minutes for the meetings must be provided on the Village website within 10 days of the minutes being approved. As of May 26th, none of those meeting minutes had been provided. This is in direct violation of 5 ILCS 120 / 2.06(a)(3).
Another issue with Carberry’s Committee is that the meetings aren’t posted to the Village website’s calendar. In order for a resident to know that the committee is meeting, they have to dig through a somewhat byzantine maze of links to find the agendas for the committees. And even then, the notice might be filed in the wrong place (which some are). On top of this, the full Board of Trustees isn’t officially notified of the committee meetings, either.
Carberry has made comments at past Board of Trustees meetings that the video cameras should be done away with. With so much Village business being shunted to committees like Carberry’s, he may just be getting his wish. Carberry’s Committee isn’t televised.
For all intents and purposes, nobody knows when these meetings are going to be held, and once held nobody knows what goes on in these meetings.
For an administration that touts its openness and transparency, one would think that allowing the masses to watch Village business would be a prime goal.
In January of 2014, Bury touted the then-new website design. “Whether real or perceived that things are being concealed makes people mistrustful of each other and elected officials,” Bury said. “The more we can be up front and open, the better it is for everyone.”
Perhaps it’s time for the Mayor to take her own advice.