WIU violates open meeting laws

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Macomb, IL (WGEM) — The Illinois Attorney General’s Office says Western Illinois University’s Board of Trustees, a board accountable to taxpayers, met illegally back in June and kept public information from the public.

This prompted the resignation of the board’s chair and new plans to train the trustees on the Open Meetings Act.

That meeting was held on campus at the Grand Ballroom on June 28.

People impacted by layoffs and other cuts say they could have had more time to prepare if the board hadn’t met behind closed doors.

Tri-States Public Radio faces money problems after the WIU Board of Trustees decided cut-off funding to the station.

Sharon Faust the Director of Development at Tri-States Public Radio said,

“It came as a surprise to us and they didn’t give us a lot of time for us to get on our feet. We are doing what we can to make sure our listeners aren’t left out in the cold without knowing what we are doing and what our options are.”

The station found out in August, two months after the June 28 closed-session meeting during which the board discussed the cuts.

The organization says it needs to raise $660,000 beyond what they typically raise for the running of the radio station. The next Board of Trustees meeting will be December 13 on campus.

WIU officials turned down our request for an interview but issued the following statement.

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees acknowledges that it did not comply with the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

It is with regret that I accept the resignation of trustee and former chair Cathy Early. The University has always been central to Cathy’s life, and her service and commitment to Western over the years are greatly appreciated. Cathy will remain an important part of the Western Illinois University community.

The Board will, in tandem with University General Counsel Liz Duvall, ensure compliance with the Act, and the Board will participate in additional Open Meetings Act training in cooperation with the Illinois Attorney General Public Access Counselor (PAC).

As directed by the Illinois Attorney General PAC, the June 28, 2018 closed session audio recording and minutes can be found here.

Sincerely,
Carolyn Ehlert Fuller
Chair
WIU Board of Trustees

Full audio of the June 28 meeting and the minutes of the meeting are below.

Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WGEM.

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