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DeKALB – The DeKalb Public Library Board inadvertently did not follow regulations laid out by the state Open Meetings Act when it voted to enter into a purchase agreement to buy the former DeKalb Clinic, the library's attorney said Wednesday, and will take corrective action at its next meeting.
On Tuesday, the library's attorney, Gary Cordes, announced before a regular meeting of the library's board of trustees that the library had entered into a purchase agreement to buy the old DeKalb Clinic for $1.8 million. Library officials told the Daily Chronicle that the contract was voted on and signed June 9 in open session. Cordes said Tuesday that they library waited until July to make an announcement because of a 90-day due diligence period.
But during a phone interview Wednesday, Cordes said the board actually voted on the purchase agreement in closed session during a May 12 meeting. Cordes said the Daily Chronicle was incorrectly told Tuesday that the agreement was approved June 9 and that "everybody was shooting from the hip (last night) when it comes to dates."
The board had convened in closed session at the May 12 meeting, as allowed under the Open Meetings Act, to discuss property acquisition. However, in their excitement that an agreement had been reached, the board failed to end the closed session and approved the deal in executive session, Cordes said.
The Illinois Open Meetings Act mandates that the purchase of property be done in open session. The clinic signed the contract May 29, Cordes said.
The agenda for the May 12 meeting did not state that the board would go into closed session, but Don Craven, the attorney for the Illinois Press Association, said that is not necessary. The Daily Chronicle is a member of the IPA.
To remedy the situation, Cordes said the library board, at its next meeting in August, will vacate the motion approved in closed session in May, then turn around and make a new motion to authorize the agreement.
"There is case law that says if there has been a non-intentional violation of the Open Meetings Act it can be corrected," Cordes said.
"That is absolutely the proper way" for the library board to remedy its error, Craven said.
• For more on this story, pick up Thursday's Daily Chronicle or return to daily-chronicle.com for updates