SPRINGFIELD -- When two members of the Springfield Airport Authority get together, they can’t talk about airport business or they’ll be in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act. Their solution is to add members.
By DOUG FINKE
STATE CAPITOL BUREAU
SPRINGFIELD -- When two members of the Springfield Airport Authority get together, they can’t talk about airport business or they’ll be in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act.
Their solution is to add members.
The Illinois House voted 115-0 Tuesday to authorize the Springfield and Bloomington-Normal airport authorities to add two members to their five-member boards. Senate Bill 38 was previously approved by the Senate on a 55-0 vote and now goes to Gov. Rod Blagojevich for his signature.
Under the bill, Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin and Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter each would be allowed to appoint one additional member to the board. Currently, Davlin appoints three members and Van Meter two.
The bill started as a way for the Bloomington-Normal airport authority to expand to reflect growth there, said Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington. But when Springfield Airport Authority vice chairman William Foster heard about the legislation, he asked that Springfield be included.
“Under the current Open Meetings Act, two board members make up a majority of a quorum,” Foster said. “We can’t talk about anything to do with the airport unless there is a public meeting.”
Illinois’ Open Meetings Act requires public notice when a majority of a quorum of a public body meets. For a five-member airport authority, that is two members. If the board is expanded to seven members, two could meet and discuss airport business without it being considered a public meeting.
“Things come up, and we felt it would be better to have people talk,” Foster said. “Two members might at least be able to have a preliminary discussion about airport business without going to the trouble of calling a meeting. If you hear there is some problem at the airport, until we go through the process of calling a meeting, two of us can’t show up to address the problem.”
Foster said the chamber of commerce held a session at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport and invited authority members to attend.
“We had to post it as a public meeting since two of us were going to be there,” he said.
Springfield’s airport commissioners are paid $150 a month for their service.
Foster noted that the authority doesn’t necessarily have to expand if state law is changed so two members of a five-person board could meet without posting a public notice. An amendment to clarify that has been introduced in the Senate, but has not been attached to a bill.
“If that were to pass, we would encourage the governor to veto our portion out of the bill,” he said. “We’re really not interested in expanding the size of the board.”
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.