DIXON – Lee County Board Chairman Jim Seeberg said Tuesday that he plans to press a felony charge against a resident who recorded a public meeting last week.
Near the end of Tuesday’s board meeting, Seeberg said Franklin Grove resident John Kelley violated the law by recording last Wednesday’s meeting of the board’s Executive Committee, which Seeberg heads.
Kelley said he recorded the meeting because members discussed a proposed wind energy ordinance, and residents are interested in the issue.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Seeberg, R-Ashton, said he had referred the matter to the state’s attorney’s office, which prosecutes crimes. He said a person couldn’t record a meeting without the consent of those involved.
He said he was awaiting a determination from the state’s attorney.
Member Greg Witzleb, R-Dixon, another Executive Committee member, agreed with Seeberg’s interpretation.
Asked about a radio reporter who recorded Tuesday’s meeting, Seeberg said that was allowed because she belonged to the media.
Illinois has an eavesdropping law that is among the strictest in the nation, making it a crime to record a conversation without the consent of all parties present.
But the state Open Meetings Act allows anyone to record any public meeting subject to the act. The public body having the meeting should set “reasonable” rules to govern the right to make such recordings, the law says.
The Open Meetings Act applies to meetings of the County Board and its committees.
The attorney general’s guide to the Open Meetings Act reflects the state law. It doesn’t mention any requirement about getting everyone’s consent.
Kelley posted the audio recording on YouTube; he didn’t take any video.
“If it’s interesting to me, I feel it may interest others,” he said. “Why not record it if it’s legal? I don’t want to do anything illegally.
“I think it’s a misunderstanding for Mr. Seeberg.”
In an interview Tuesday night, Seeberg said he doesn’t mind people recording meetings, but they should let him know.
“This gentleman taped it and put it on the computer for everyone to hear,” he said. “That’s what gets me.”
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