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SUBSCRIPT: Who defines a 'progressive' alderman? ... Joe Moore's technicalities against elected school board give the story a bigger lift.

By the end of the first day of August 2012, it was clear to anyone paying attention to the growing debate over whether Chicago should have an elected school board that Alderman Joe Moore made both a tactical and strategic error by nit picking ten of his fellow City Council members. The facts are clear. Moore disallowed the aldermen's attempt to get the matter before the City Council Human Relations Committee, which he chairs, based on a highly technical and dubious version of the Illinois Open Meetings Act. The objective of the ten aldermen was to have an advisory referendum on the November ballot in each of their wards. Everyone knew that Chicago alone can't vote to have an elected school board for Chicago (that vote has to take place by changing Illinois school law, which is structured on the basis of apartheid against Chicago).

Chicago alderman Joe Moore (above, center, holding microphone) wasn't always an obsequious toady of the mayor. On September 13, 2006 (above) Moore joined other aldermen and community activists in a protest against the plan by then Mayor Richard M. Daley to bring more Wal-Mart stores to Chicago. The massive protests against the "Big Box" stores (and for the living wage ordinance) thundered at Chicago's City Hall and at other locations across the city, with Moore among the leaders in City Council opposing the proliferation of the anti-union Wal-Mart stores. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.But an advisory referendum, which hundreds of people across the city have also been petitioning for, would send a loud and clear message that the citizens of Chicago are fed up with mayoral control in the city that pioneered it for the whole USA. So Rahm Emanuel is against it. And Joe Moore, once thought of as a "progressive" because, among other things, of his concerns for the livers of geese, did Rahm's wishes and blocked the referendum on a technicality.

The technicality here is the requirement under the Illinois Open Meetings Act that an agenda for a meeting of a public body be posted in a public place 48 hours before the meeting. As readers can learn (if they are willing to go through all the commentary below; and it is considerable), the 48-hour requirement is rarely nit-picked at the level Joe Moore did on July 21 - 23. (CPS has taken to posting its agenda by 10:00 a.m. or so on the Monday before its Wednesday Board of Education meetings; the agendas are the available in print at CPS headquarters and on the Board's website).

Although it was a tactical triumph of sorts, it actually gave the story of the elected school board greater life. Had the erstwhile "progressive" simply allowed the motion to get before the committee, there would have been less interest. This has to be called a Phyrric Victory, for both Rahm Emanuel and Joe Moore. Here's why. As readers of the three reports below can learn, Moore's reputation as an "independent" is in tatters, and is unlikely to be resurrected in the present political climate. That's the first point of interest.

Second, although the advisory referendum would have dealt a blow to Rahm Emanuel's dwindling fortunes (the biggest blow to that came with the successful moves by the Chicago Teachers Union to achieve the supposedly insurmountable 75 percent level in the strike authorization referendum of June 6 to June 8 and the less well know success by CTU and its supporters in Springfield to head off Rahm's hysterical attempt during the final days of the General Assembly to get his Springfield toadies to pass a law making Chicago teachers strikes — but not strikes of teachers anywhere else in Illinois — illegal.

Third, the boost given to the movement for an elected school board by Rahm Emanuel and Moore has elevated the debate to prominence it was unlikely to achieve without the Joe Moore toadyism. The final question will be decided in Springfield, not Chicago, and if Rahm's first year in Springfield is any indication, he is using up his influence there faster than he could say, one year ago, "Fuck you Lewis!" when Karen Lewis told him that the union was not going to agree to his "Longer School Day" push without the union's members being paid for the extra work.

Fourth, and finally, Rahm's own Board of Education (seven members appointed by the mayor) is the gift that keeps on giving to anyone who is demanding more democracy. Even with the pressure on to show a little sense of democracy and place, the Board, at its July 25 meeting, continued its expensive policy of ignoring every talented educator from Chicago, hiring two more out of towners with no Chicago teachers experience for top administrative posts. (This time, a guy from McKinsey consultants will be running the new million dollar office of strategic planning, while a lady from Cincinnati was the only person CPS could find to replace Dick Smith as head of special education). Even the editorial writer of the Chicago Sun-Times, who has rarely met a CPS talking point she didn't adore and long to repeat, had to admit that the Board's arrogant, boorish, and rude behavior since Rahm took over almost matches the legendary record of their master, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel himself.

Below, Substance reprints three recent articles on the Joe Moore thing, along with the comments appended to two as of midnight August 2, 2012, We don't intend to go further at this point.

BEN JORAVSKY'S AUGUST 1, 2012 READER ARTICLE AND COMMENTS:

Moore and Emanuel block elected school board... Longtime independent Joe Moore helps Mayor Emanuel stall the movement for an elected school board

By Ben Joravsky @joravben

You might have missed it with all the hubbub over Chick-fil-A, but last month Mayor Rahm Emanuel teamed up with Alderman Joe Moore, of all people, to temporarily stall the elected school board movement.

I say temporarily because I really want it to stay alive. I'm hoping it can set off a political movement leading to another Harold Washington.

OK, maybe that's too much wishful thinking for one column. But even if it merely fires up a few thousand more engaged parents, I'll be rooting for it.

Before we get to the details, a word about the issue. Chicago remains the only school district in Illinois without an elected school board. Ours consists of five appointees carefully selected by the mayor to make sure they do whatever he says, including, though not limited to, doling out more and more millions to his charter school cronies.

Then they sit there stone-faced, barely pretending to give a shit, while outraged parents, teachers, and students show up to board hearings to howl in protest. Meanwhile, the mayor says it would be a mistake to inject politics into the board of education.

Over the last several months, the Communities Organized for Democracy in Education — a coalition of parents, activists, retired teachers, and members of the Chicago Teachers Union — began advancing the idea of an elected board. On June 8, they announced they were gathering petition signatures for a citywide advisory referendum on November's ballot: Should the current rubber-stamp board be replaced by a group of people you've had the chance to vote for?

Well, their language might have ended up a little different, but that was the gist of the question.

Mayor Emanuel counterattacked. By law citywide ballots can't include more than three questions per election. So on June 27, Emanuel got the City Council — speaking of rubber stamps — to place three questions on the November ballot.

One, having to do with replacing ComEd as an electricity provider, was required. But the others are almost laughably trivial. Should the state pick up more teacher pension costs, "which will free up local funding that can be invested in the classroom?" Like anyone would vote no on that.

And should the U.S. Congress pass a bill "empowering the federal government and the states to regulate and limit political contributions from corporations?" You know, like House speaker John Boehner is waiting to hear from Chicago's predominantly Democratic voters to tell him what to do.

They might as well have asked voters if they want the Bears to beat the Packers this year.

Anyway, after being outmaneuvered by Emanuel, the coalition went to plan two. They found ten aldermen willing to support putting the question on the November ballot in their wards.

But to make the deadline for getting on the ballot, they needed council approval by the July 25 meeting. And to get council approval, they first had to move the issue through a council committee.

That meant finding a committee chairman with the guts to defy Emanuel—no easy task. In the strange universe that is Chicago politics, the mayor decides who chairs the City Council committees. If chairmen want to keep their posts—along with whatever jobs, budget funds, perks, and prestige come with it—they can't run afoul of the boss.

The obvious committee for such a matter was education. But it's chaired by Alderman Latasha Thomas, an unbending mayoral loyalist, so that wasn't going to work.

Having pretty much nowhere else to go, they turned to Moore. The 49th Ward alderman fought the good fight against Mayor Daley for 20 years before Emanuel tapped him last year to chair the human relations committee.

On Wednesday, July 11, aldermen Robert Fioretti (Second) and John Arena (45th) met with Moore in the Leona's restaurant in his ward.

"We said, 'Joe, you gotta do it,'" recalls Arena. "He said, 'Is it relevant to my committee?' And we said, 'Yes—President Obama himself said education is a human rights issue.'"

Moore says he then called one of the mayor's legislative aides to let them know, as a matter of courtesy, that he was planning to give the measure a hearing. "She wasn't happy," Moore says. "I've been around long enough to know that an elected school board is anathema to the mayor."

Just to make sure of the ground rules, he called on a lawyer for the city's corporation counsel. "I asked for a ruling on the deadlines," says Moore. "He told me it had to be stamped by the city clerk's office 48 hours before the meeting. I asked, 'Forty-eight business hours or 48 regular hours?' And he said, 'Business hours.'"

His committee's next meeting was at 10 AM on Monday, July 23, which meant the school board measure had to be stamped by the clerk's office "no later than Thursday, July 19, at ten," says Moore. "And I told this to John [Arena]."

But by the time Arena got the proposal to the clerk's office, it was 10:03 AM. So Moore announced that the deadline had passed and the matter wouldn't be on the committee agenda.

In other words, the mayor avoided a potentially embarrassing referendum in ten wards, just as he avoided a potentially even more embarrassing setback citywide.

All in all, it was a great three minutes for the mayor.

Arena remains irritated at Moore, who he claims backed off after hearing from Emanuel. "Joe said the mayor called and told him he was personally offended we were doing this," says Arena.

To which Moore says that the mayor never personally called him. "I never talked to the mayor and I never told John I talked to the mayor."

To which Arena says that he finds it "abhorrent and very disappointing" that an old independent like Moore would fold under mayoral pressure. "Joe acquiesced to the mayor—he blocked it for him. I'd expected something like this from Ed Burke but not Joe Moore."

To which Moore says that it's Arena and his allies who want it both ways. "The irony doesn't escape me that the same group of aldermen who are strict adherents to openness and transparency for things like the mayor's infrastructure trust are suddenly saying standards are technicalities when it's their ox being gored."

To which I say: Joe, there's a big difference between three minutes on a filing deadline and giving the mayor carte blanche to sell off billions of dollars worth of assets.

To which Moore says: Hey Ben — kiss my ass!

He didn't really say that. Might not even have thought it. But I'll tell you this: I definitely want to be on the invite list the next time John and Joe get together at Leona's.

So here's what I make of all this.

Did Moore's strict reading of council rules help the mayor hold on to some of his power? Absolutely.

Is that in the best interests of Chicago's citizenry? Not unless you favor despotism over democracy — or remain one of the mayor's charter school cronies.

Would Moore have stuck to such a strict standard if Arena's proposal wasn't threatening the mayor's power? C'mon, people, you don't even have to ask that question.

So should I rant and rail against Alderman Moore for being Emanuel's tool? No, sorry — I can't do it. As far as I'm concerned, Moore's fought too many good fights for me to bash him for not wanting to put up with a tirade from Mayor F-bomb. At least this time around.

Besides, Moore's right on one crucial point. If you're going to fight the most powerful man in Chicago, you've got to dot all the i's and cross all the t's.

In politics as in boxing, the champ gets all the calls.

Ben Joravsky on Politics archives »

COMMENTS TO JORAVSKY:

Ben, I helped with both the efforts to get an elected school board referendum and the Move to Amend referendum on the ballot. It does look like the elected school board referendum fell due to Mayoral pressure. We have to come back even stronger on it. However, the Move to Amend referendum is the one that says: "should the U.S. Congress pass a bill 'empowering the federal government and the states to regulate and limit political contributions from corporations?'" It is far from inconsequential. It is a victory for Chicago citizens to have it on the ballot.

Our group, Move to Amend Chicago, is part of a national movement that aims to do no less than amend the Constitution to declare that corporations are not people and money is not speech. That is, to nullify the Citizen's United decision. We are starting with municipalities and moving to a state-level effort. We intend to take our democracy back from corporate rule.

I'm sure you don't consider the Move to Amend effort "laughably trivial". It is fundamental to reclaiming our democracy. Nancy Wade, Green Party candidate for congress, 5th District

Posted by Nancy Wade on 08/01/2012 at 2:04 PM

Whatever happened on the education bill, you should know that those of who staffed the campaign to get both the resolution and a ballot question regarding political contributions have been working in every state to push similar measures. We also did our own research on deadlines and were careful to make sure all our i's were dotted and t's were crossed OURSELVES. Regardless of whether the conspiracy theory outlined here is true, somebody dropped the ball on the organizing. we got what we needed in because we did our jobs. Even getting it in at 9:59 would have demonstrated incompetence.

Rey Lopez-Calderon, Director, Common Cause Illinois. Posted by Rey Lopez-Calderon on 08/01/2012 at 3:34 PM

What about Rahm Emanuel's connection to Barack Obama? Aren't they buddies? I really like Obama, but I'm not sure about Emanuel. I don't think I like him. I would like to see an elected school board also. The CEO of CPS is just a puppet as well as the board members. Something needs to change. 34 years recently retired teacher CPS

Posted by Marlene Schulman Winn on 08/01/2012 at 5:54 PM

"Would Moore have stuck to such a strict standard if Arena's proposal wasn't threatening the mayor's power?"

ok, thanks for the report, but now you are obligated to pull the filings and check the time stamps on all the legislation passed at the next full Council meeting and report on the committees' IL Open Meetings compliance - I'll start the over/under at 25% non-compliance (less than 48 hours)

Posted by Hugh on 08/01/2012 at 9:53 PM

What Joe Moore does NOT want to get out is the FACT THE MAYOR EMMANUEL had a PRIVATE FUNDRAISER for him just before this. I wonder if MONEY is the root of this. We all know Joe has tried to weasel his way up the politicians pyramid. He has never liked being alderman. He always manages to botch anything he has lined up. Just recently he boasted about how he was to be appointed to the Illlinois EPA, and privately he wanted his wife Barbara appointed alderman afterwards. Joe could not handle it and once again bungled the plan Quinn had set up for him. Sad to see a man that had so much potential just stumble left and right and sell his soul to the machine for nothing but "promises."

Posted by RogersParkinsider on 08/02/2012 at 12:41 AM

"I'll start the over/under at 25% non-compliance (less than 48 hours)"

I figured that the odds of you posting on a Joe Moore story was a lead-pipe cinch. What the Cappleman!

Posted by FGFM on 08/02/2012 at 7:21 AM

ERIC ZORN'S AUGUST 1, 2012 CHICAGO TRIBUNE COLUMN AND COMMENTS BELOW HERE:

‘Presto Joe’ makes more than just a school-reform idea vanish... With one metaphorical, magical swing of his gavel, Ald. Joe Moore, 49th, recently turned 96 hours into 48 hours and — zim zalla bim! — made a potential embarrassment for Mayor Rahm Emanuel disappear.

Here’s the play-by-play:

Several weeks ago, a group of 10 aldermen decided to try to help two education-reform groups — Raise Your Hand and Communities Organized for Democracy in Education — that are gathering signatures to put an advisory referendum measure on the November ballot asking Chicago voters if they’d prefer to have an elected school board rather than a school board handpicked by the mayor.

A vote for such a change — no matter how symbolic — would be a repudiation of Emanuel's leadership of the schools.

To get around the signature requirement and simply place the question on the ballot in their wards, the 10 aldermen needed the pro-forma OK of the City Council. But time was short, several deadlines had passed, so they pinned their last hopes on Moore (right), chair of the Human Relations Committee.

Moore, who is not part of the group of 10 but has long been seen as a populist willing to fight the good fight, said he “readily agreed” to amend his committee meeting agenda for Monday, July 23, to allow for expedited consideration of these referendum requests.

But he told his colleagues to be sure their paperwork was in by 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 19 — four full days before the committee meeting.

Why so far in advance? We’ll get to that in a moment.

A leader of the group, Ald. John Arena, 45th, said he was at Moore’s office, papers in hand, at 9:45 a.m. that Thursday morning. Moore said it could have been as late at 9:50 a.m.

Anyway, for reasons Arena said are unclear to him, Moore’s assistant began retyping and photocopying the submissions. So by the time the documents were submitted and time-stamped at the city clerk’s office, it was 10:03 a.m., 95 hours and 57 minutes prior to the meeting.

Both the Illinois Open Meetings Act and the City Council’s Rules of Order and Procedure call for only a 48-hour prior public notice on such agenda changes (see below for citations). But Moore, to the surprise and disappointment of many, ruled at the Monday meeting that the clock stops on weekends, so the referendum submissions had been submitted only 47 hours and 57 minutes in advance of the meeting, three minutes late, and therefore he would not consider them.

Neither the Open Meetings law nor the rules specify that the 48-hour clock run only on “business days,” and in the only remotely similar passage in the rules, the word “day” specifically excludes Sundays and holidays but not Saturdays. And anyway, all such postings are available to the public 24/7 online.

Nevertheless, in an excess of caution, the city’s legal department has advised committee chairs not to include weekends when setting 48-hour advance deadlines, according to spokesman Roderick Drew. At the same time, Drew said, deputy corporation counsel Jeffrey Levine has concluded that being three minutes late was not a legitimate reason for Moore to block consideration of the referendum measures.

So why’d he do it? Why did erstwhile Champion of the People Joe Moore take an extremely generous interpretation of the meaning of “48 hours,” tie it to an extremely stingy interpretation of the deadline and kill a measure designed to promote democracy and accountability in government?

After all, even those of us on the fence or even highly doubtful about an elected school board for Chicago ought to be OK with letting the voters have their say, right?

Moore’s explanation — that to have let the three minutes slide would have been “to undermine the very integrity of the open government rules” — beggars belief. Neither the rules nor the law nor state Appellate Court precedent forwarded by the Illinois attorney general’s office nor common sense itself required him to interpret “48 hours” as “two business days.”

And, in fact, he acknowledged as much when he told me, “I have the complete discretion to interpret the Open Meetings Act requirements broadly.”

Other explanations — that Moore now sees a brighter future in cozying up to power rather than fighting it — make more sense.

Either way, in that one magical moment, Moore made more than those referendum proposals and those 48 hours disappear. His reputation as a reformer went poof! as well

RESOURCES:

Ald. Joe Moore responded to concern from his constitutents about the abolve matter by releasing the following statement:

A successful democracy requires transparency. There is a reason that we have rules in place requiring adequate notice for meetings so that the public knows what their government is doing. The Open Meetings Act requires a committee to post its agenda at least 48 hours in advance of a meeting, so that the public is given fair notice of the meetings of public bodies and the matters that will be considered at those meetings. When my colleagues asked me to amend my meeting agenda to include a direct introduction of the advisory referendums, I readily agreed, but I cautioned them to be aware of the process that was entailed. After days passed and I hadn't heard from them, I contacted one of the leading aldermanic proponents the afternoon before the filing deadline and advised him of the approaching deadline. He assured me he would meet the deadline, and I instructed my staff assistant to arrive at City Hall early the next day so that she would be available to help him file the necessary paperwork. Unfortunately, he arrived too late to meet the filing deadline, despite my staff assistant's efforts to help him make the deadline. If I wanted to kill the measure, I certainly wouldn't have reminded my colleague of the notice deadline. That he didn't make the deadline is not my fault, it's his fault. The 48-hour notice rule is not a suggestion. It's a mandate. It's there to protect open and transparent government which is fundamental to a functioning democracy. The law does not provide a fudge factor. It doesn't say, the committee shall undertake it's best efforts to provide notice, or do the best it can. The 48 hour rule is a mandate, which I take very seriously. I cannot play favorites by ignoring the notice rules for one group simply because they have noble intentions. To do so would be to undermine the very integrity of the open government rules and I'm not prepared to do that.

Yes, three minutes is "cutting it close," but what if the next time the notice deadline is missed by five minutes or 10 minutes or 30 minutes or three hours or one day? Where do you draw the line? I think it's far better to be fair and consistent across the board. Other avenues are available to submit advisory referendums to the voters. Citizens can submit petitions for advisory referendums in their ward or precinct. But they have to submit them by the deadline. If you're even one minute late, the Board of Elections won't accept the petitions. The same rule applies to candidates filing their nominating petitions. It's a fair and even handed way to avoid playing favorites. Isn't that what democracy should be about?

His office sent me the above statement when I inquired after this issue . and I responded to his spokesman:

I don't understand the calculation of the deadline. Rules require 48 hour notice — not two days, not two business days — indeed a close reading of the council rules .pdf (see excerpts below) finds only one mention of days and deadlines and it excludes only Sunday and holidays in the count.

Thursday at 10:03 a.m. is 97 hours and 57 minutes prior to Monday at 10 a.m.. subtract for Sunday and you're still at 71 hours and 57 minutes. In what universe are these time spans less than 48 hours?

Finally, there is the issue of when Ald. Arena was at your office. He and Ald. Sawyer tell me it was from 10 to 15 minutes before 10 a.m. on that Thursday. They say that your staff person did some retyping and feinted at photocopying, which explains why the filing didn't get to the clerk's office until a bit past 10.

And of course beyond that is the peculiar precision invoked when we all know that it's common in legislative matters to be somewhat generous, shall we say, about the clock. The White Sox are in Chicago today, as Ald. Moore surely remembers, because the minute hand was stopped in Springfield while the legislators dickered over stadium funding.

I'm told by Arena that he checked with legal staff at the city and they indicated there really wouldn't have been a problem or a legal challenge to the timing here. I'm agnostic on the question of elected school boards, but very, very skeptical about the process here.

Note that I did check later with the Corporation Counsel's office and a spokesman confirmed that the three minutes would not have been an issue on which a successful challenge couild have been mounted.

Moore replied to me:

Thanks for giving me an opportunity to clarify any confusion you may have. To answer your first question, the Corporation Counsel has always interpreted the 48-hour rule to mean 48 business hours. To interpret it otherwise would lead to the incongruous result that you could post in City Hall at 4:59 p.m., Friday, a notice for a 9:00 a.m., Monday, meeting, thereby depriving the public of any effective notice at all. With regard to when Alderman Arena was in my office, it's true he arrived at my office somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes before 10 a.m. (after being forewarned of the notice requirement for at least a week and reminded the day before). However, my office is not the official venue for filing meeting agenda notices; it's the City Clerk's office. Though my staff assistant and I had a general idea of what the alderman intended to file, we did not have the specific language of the resolutions, nor a list of the wards where the advisory referendums were to held. Once my staff assistant received the resolutions and the suggested language for the notice, she performed a yeoman's task of typing the notice, making the requisite number of photocopies required for filing and literally running down the stairs to the City Clerk's office. John Arena ran with her, so for him to say she "dilly dallied," is a blatant falsehood and a diversion from his own inability to get his act together.

I'd like to note for the record that Alderman Sawyer was not present at the time, so his account is based entirely on John Arena's version of the facts. Of course Arena and Sawyer are suggesting I was doing the Mayor's bidding by refusing to accept direct introduction of the resolutions into my committee. If that were the case, why did I agree a week earlier to accept the resolutions? It's no secret the idea of an elected school board is an anathema to the Mayor. Why did I remind Arena the day before that the notice was due and he needed to get the resolutions and language to my office? Why did I send my staff person down to my City Hall office at 8:30 in the morning to await his arrival?

The fact is I did everything short of drafting the notice and resolutions myself, and he blew it, but I got the blow-back. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. Finally, you should note that introduction of a proposed ordinance or resolution directly into committee is not a matter of right. Rule 41 of the City Council Rules of Order and Procedure sets forth the normal procedure, which is introduction at a City Council meeting and referral to the appropriate subject matter committee. Though Rule 41 goes on to provide that nothing in the rules "shall preclude" the introduction of legislation directly into a committee "by an operating department, office or agency in order to facilitate an expeditious hearing on said matter or where an emergency exists," it is not a mandate. And traditionally in the City Council committee chairmen have been given sole discretion as to whether to allow direct introduction of a piece of legislation into their committee.

99.99% of all legislation considered by the City Council is first introduced through the City Council itself, not a committee, and it is by far the preferred course. The good government reason for this is that it allows legislation to be more easily tracked by the public. The City Council Journal of Proceedings provides a written notice and record of every matter introduced into the City Council and the committee to which it is referred. When a matter is introduced directly into committee, the only notice of the legislation the public receives is the Committee agenda, which must be posted within 48 hours of the committee meeting.

So even in the unlikely event my interpretation of the notice requirement is somehow faulty, I'm the chairman of the Committee and have the complete discretion to interpret the Open Meetings Act requirements broadly and err on the side of openness and transparency.

One more thing. With regard to your White Sox reference, certainly you're not suggesting that "stopping the clock" is the preferred method of dealing with legal deadlines. I must admit, I'm somewhat disappointed, if not surprised, in some of the so-called progressives who preach strict adherence to standards of openness, notice, transparency and fairness, but suddenly decry those standards as mere technicalities when it's their ox getting gored

I replied:

Can you cite some authority for your view that the Corporation Counsel has always interpreted 48 hours as being two business days? I see that as at the very least a highly debatable proposition -- the rules say 48 hours, not two days, not two days excluding weekends and holidays. Likewise the Open Meetings Act which you cited in your message to constituents. I can't find any authority that says the law ACTUALLY means two business days, and indeed anyone who would have challenged a simple 48-hour interpretation would have been hard pressed, far as I can tell, to locate legal precedent supporting this.

What about the Friday, 5 p.m. stealth filing? I guess one would have to take that hypothetical up with those who wrote the law, but that's not at all the situation here. In fact, as I read this, even giving you the Saturdays-don't-count rule, which, again, strikes me as whimsical, everything would still be fine if the Tuesday meeting gaveled open at 10:04 a.m....or was in fact postponed by five minutes for that purpose.

I anticipate your "what about10 minutes, what about 20 minutes, what about...?" etc. objection and reply that, yes, if there were anything stealthy or covert about this effort; if, in fact, this effort weren't exactly ABOUT giving the public a voice in the matter of school boards; weren't ABOUT trying to democratize the undemocratic situation of having an unelected school board (that would raise concerns).

Why did you choose to exercise a hyper-literal reading of the rules on a measure that you invited into your committee? I have no idea. You've certainly heard from many people who think they DO have an idea, and your explanation to them (and to me) why you didn't err on the side of democracy instead of on the side of hyper-literalism that happens to favor the mayor's position simply doesn't make sense. Can you cite me authority on this 48-hour interpretation that gave you no other choice?

Note that I sent this response before I got confirmation from the Corporation Counsel's office that the law department does routinely advise committee chairs to not include weekend days in their 48-hour counts. Though that confirmation contained no particular legal reasoning.

Moore responded:

My authority for interpreting the 48 hour rule to be two business days is Assistant Corporation Counsel Jeff Levine, who is the Law Department's liaison to the City Council. He told me this on Wednesday, July 18th, in response to my inquiry about the procedures for a direct introduction into committee, which is why I told Alderman Arena he needed to get me the paperwork first thing Thursday morning.

Since you're asking me a bunch of hypothetical questions, why don't you ask Alderman Arena and the others why they simply didn't submit the resolutions to the City Council at its June meeting? If they had followed the normal course of procedures, they wouldn't have needed to come to me and ask for a direct introduction into my committee, which doesn't even have jurisdiction over education and election issues. Or ask him why he couldn't get his act together and get the paperwork to my assistant first thing Thursday morning, as I instructed and to which he agreed. As I stated before, I told Arena and the others a week and a half prior to my scheduled meeting that I would accept a direct introduction. I cautioned them, however, to research the rules for direct introduction. When it was clear they weren't doing their homework, I researched the rules for them and told them what they needed to do and they still didn't do it.

If you're a candidate for office and you file your nominating petitions one minute late, you're not on the ballot, even if you spent months collecting thousands of signatures. Is that a "hyper-literal" application of the rules? Perhaps. But that's the way the law operates. A smooth functioning democracy requires an agreed-upon set of rules of procedure that are applied equally and fairly across the board. The moment you start cutting someone slack is the moment the rules begin to lose their meaning. Fair and consistent application of rules avoids the potential for favoritism down the road. We can continue to argue back and forth about this, but the bottom line is this. As chairman of the committee, I have the complete discretion to interpret the Open Meetings Act requirements broadly. Based on my conversation with the assistant corporation counsel, I interpreted the 48-hour rule to be two business days. I told Arena those ground rules in advance. He didn't object to them until he blew the deadline. Those aldermen who want to get the advisory measure on the ballot in their wards still have an opportunity to do so through citizen initiative. As I understand it, they are required to collect signatures of registered voters in a number equal to at least eight percent of the number of votes cast in the last election. Hardly an insurmountable obstacle for any ward organization worth its salt. But they better make sure they file their petitions by 5 p.m. on the day they're due. If they're one minute late, they're out of luck.

I replied:

At once you say " As chairman of the committee, I have the complete discretion to interpret the Open Meetings Act requirements broadly" and that you had no choice but to heed the strict time limit as as it was interpreted for you by the Corp. Counsel. Which is it? Complete discretion or no choice?

As I'm sure you know, critics are saying that you've been cozying up to Mayor Emanuel; our story on this (controversy) said

For two decades, Far North Side Ald. Joe Moore railed against the city's political system, especially at the guy who oc-cupied the mayor's office. On Monday, the 49th Ward alderman found himself taking flak from some of his City Council colleagues for what they said was bow-ing to the will of Mayor Rahm Emanuel....

During former Mayor Richard Daley's two decades in office, Moore was his most outspoken council critic. Under Emanuel, who engineered Moore's appointment as a committee chairman, Moore has not op-posed a single major mayoral initiative.

Is this true? Or have you opposed major mayoral initiatives from Emanuel's office?

Moore replied:

My understanding of the Open Meetings Act notice requirement is that I had no choice. I just wanted to point out as an alternative argument that it was within my discretion, as chairman, to deny a direct introduction even if my understanding of the law was in error.

The media in Chicago has been reporting City Hall news using the same Independent vs. Machine paradigm for the last 60 years. This one dimensional coverage ignores the fact that the Democratic Machine as we once knew it (an organization fueled by political patronage) no longer exists and hasn't really existed for quite some time. But unfortunately rather than report on the nuances, the media tends to fall back on the old bromides. The Tribune story which you site is an example of that.

Look, I never opposed Daley just for the sake of opposing him, and I supported him on a lot of initiatives over the 20 years we served together. I've always approached each issue on its merits. A blind vote of opposition is just as thoughtless as a blind vote in support.

In his first year in office, I've supported Emanuel's initiatives because I've agreed with the final product. And when I thought he was wrong, he's listened to me and altered his position to address my concerns. Both the parade ordinance and the Infrastructure Trust are prime examples of that. I was strongly leaning against supporting him on both those initiatives, but after conversations with me (and I'm sure others) he made changes to his original proposals that addressed the vast majority of my concerns. I would be happy to expound on those concessions if you'd like, but in the meantime feel free to read the following statements I issued on on both measures that outlined my reasons for supporting them. Alderman Moore's Statement on the Proposed Parade and Public Assembly Ordinance

Alderman Moore's Statement on the Infrastructure Trust

If Moore would like to take the last word after the publication of this column, I'll post it here. Meanwhile, more references:

As far as I can tell there's only one portion of the Illinois Open Meetings Act that refers to hours -- (excerpted):

(5 ILCS 120/2.02) (from Ch. 102, par. 42.02) Sec. 2.02. Public notice of all meetings, whether open or closed to the pub-lic, shall be given as follows: (a) Every public body shall give public notice of the schedule of regular meetings at the beginning of each calendar or fiscal year and shall state the regular dates, times, and places of such meetings. An agenda for each regular meeting shall be posted at the principal office of the public body and at the location where the meeting is to be held at least 48 hours in advance of the holding of the meeting...... Public notice of any special meeting except a meeting held in the event of a bona fide emergency, or of any rescheduled regular meeting, or of any reconvened meeting, shall be given at least 48 hours be-fore such meeting..... The requirement of public notice of reconvened meetings does not apply to any case where the meeting was open to the public and (1) it is to be reconvened within 24 hours, or .....

Nothing in the wording of this law would seem to refer to Sundays, holidays or other non-business days that would in effect stop the clock on the 48 hours or the 24 hours.

The concept of "days" appears in just three of the 56 rules in the Rules and Order of Procedure Of the City Council (.pdf), the relevant portions of which are:

Rule 39: Except in cases of emergency, not less than three (3) days, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, shall intervene between the issuance of a call for a committee meeting and the date set in the call for that meeting, and each member shall attend promptly at the hour stated in the notice.

Rule 41: Whenever any referred matter shall not have been reported back to the City Council by the committee to which referred, within a period of thirty (30) days from the date of referral, the chairman of the committee shall at the written request of the sponsor submit a report in writing to the Council at its next regular meeting...Whenever any referred matter shall not have been reported back to the City Council by the committee to which referred, within a period of sixty (60) days from the date of referral, any Alderman may move to discharge the committee from further consideration of that matter.

Rule 52: The City Clerk shall cause the Rules of Order and Procedure for Years 2011 --2015 adopted by the City Council to be published on a website owned by the City of Chicago, and printed in a separate pamphlet for distribution to members of the City Council and the general public, no later than 60 days after these Rules have been adopted.

The concept of "hours" appears in two Council rules, the relevant portions are:

Rule 40: Notice of all committee meetings .....shall be prepared and distributed to all Aldermen by the Chairman not less than forty-eight hours prior to the meeting....

Rule 41: No deferred matter, whether deferred pursuant to these rules or pursuant to statute, may þe called for a vote unless written notice, identifying each matter to be called for a vote, is delivered to, and time stamped by, the City Clerk and copies delivered to all Aldermen at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the City Council meeting.

When I asked a spokeswoman at the Illinois Attorney General's office if there were any relevant precedents, she forwarded the December, 2009 Second District Appellate Court of Illinois decision in Foxfield Subdivision, v. The Village of Campton Hills (.rtf), the relevant portion of which reads:

Sections 2.02(a) and (b) (5 ILCS 120/2.02(a), (b) (West 2008)) require that an agenda for a special meeting be posted at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting, at “the principal office of the body holding the meeting” or, if no such office exists, at “the building in which the meeting is to be held.

Although no Illinois court has dealt with this exact issue, we find instructive the Texas cases cited by the Village. The ***517 **1107 Texas Open Meetings Act requires that notices be posted “on a bulletin board located at a place convenient to the public.” Texas Gov't Code Ann. § 551.0411(b) (Vernon). Texas courts have held that posting an agenda within a government building that is locked during nonbusiness hours does not violate the letter or spirit of their Act. For example, in City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 820 S.W.2d 762, 768 (Tex.1991), the court held that, although the notice “was not continuously available” because one of the notices was posted on a bulletin board inside City Hall, which was locked during nonbusiness hours, “[m]any, if not most, cities are ill able to afford the additional security and utility costs which an 'open door' policy for the nocturnally curious would require.” In *994Lipscomb Independent School District v. County School Trustees of Lipscomb County, 498 S.W.2d 364, 366 (Tex.Civ.App.1973), the notice, which on a Friday was posted on a bulletin board inside the county courthouse and which recited that a meeting of the county board would be held on the following Tuesday, was held to be proper. The court held that, although the courthouse assertedly was locked on Friday and remained closed on the weekend, the notice did not violate the Texas Open Meetings Act because the law made “no requirement that such notice be accessible to the public at all times.” Lipscomb Independent School District, 498 S.W.2d at 366.

[5] Based on a plain reading of our Open Meetings Act, it is clear that the legislature does not require that an agenda be posted in a specific place so that it is publicly accessible for 48 continuous hours before the meeting. Section 2.02 requires simply that the agenda be posted 48 hours before the meeting, at the public body's principal office or at the building where the meeting will be held. Under the facts here, posting the agenda on Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Village Hall business hours certainly passes muster. Petitioners do not dispute that the notice was posted and accessible to members of the public both at the Village Hall and also at the Community Center, where the meeting was held, 48 hours before the meeting. Accordingly, we find no violation.



Comments:

August 3, 2012 at 8:37 AM

By: Anthony Smith

Great interview, good tit for tat!

Darn good interview!

Very good back and forth.

This is the way reporting should be done in Chicago and, with the exception of the Reader and a few reporters, is not.

Alderman Moore gave as good as he got, for the most part, with the nod going to George.

Bottom line though, if you are going to fight the good fight and go up against Rahm and his millionaire & billionaire cronies club you best come prepared to put up a respectable fight. Otherwise you are gonna get clobbered. And it seems that is what happened with the Alderman involved. Incompetency on their part or complicity?

This round goes to Rahm. But the fight ain't over.

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