Have you noticed that sometimes Naperville city council meeting agendas list “Closed Session” prior to the regular open session meeting. ‘Closed’, why does it have to be closed? What goes on in there that we don’t know about?
I imagine it’s all sorts of things such as:
- Who is going to get fired next?
- What’s the latest law suit against the city?
- How do we get residents to do something they don’t want to do?
- I bet I can beat you at arm wrestling.
- Don’t even think about trying to make me look like a fool.
- Short straw has to read the proclamations tonight.
- How do we keep a lid on it? (you pick the ‘it’)
- We have 248 speakers tonight. Anybody want to play video poker during Public Forum?
‘Closed sessions’ make it appear something nefarious is going on in there, otherwise why would it be closed. If you walk by the room you can’t hear any yelling or screaming, nor can you hear the sound of furniture being thrown around the room. Every now and then with previous members of the city council, you could see them entering council chambers after a closed session, looking as though they had eaten some really bad food, or their hair was on fire.
Just as athletes need their own ‘safe’ place off stage like a club house or locker room, council members need a place to ‘loosen the tie’ or ‘get it together’ so closed sessions are needed or maybe therapeutic. Every now and then a council member will give us a glimpse of what happens in closed session. Watch and listen as Naperville councilwoman Patty Gustin, possibly speaking in code, gives us such a glimpse:
I say, “good for Patty Gustin’; her openness is refreshing. And as for councilman Paul Hinterlong, a plumber by trade, apparently he still has the gift of using his tools.
Under the state’s open meeting statue the only things that can be discussed in closed session are agenda items that involve protected personal information (PPI – names, addresses, etc) of city employees or litigates. As well as details of litigation the city is involved in.
They are also allowed to discuss issues like possible land purchases the city is considering, since a public discussion of these issues could cause speculation that results in increased costs for the city.