So what is all the secrecy and lengthy discussions during Executive Session? Well, I guess I will break protocol and set the record straight by leaking everything we discuss.
Sorry, I'm not about to disclose the details of lawsuits, labor negotiations or disciplinary actions being considered, but I will tell you there are 5 basic things we can and do discuss in a closed session.
The law clearly dictates what can and cannot be discussed during the closed Executive Sessions of either the full County Board or any of its established committees. If we head into Executive Session we are discussing one of the following:
- Pending or current litigation
- Employment matters including discipline, discharge, complaints, charges or personnel evaluations
- Collective bargaining agreements
- Purchase of lease of real estate
- Review and release of closed meeting minutes
Why the secrecy? 4 of the five items listed above specifically relate to negotiations. If the County Board negotiated the County's position in public we would be giving the other side of the negotiation an unfair advantage. Let's look at a real world example:
Say the Kane County Department of Transportation (KDOT) is looking to acquire land for a right of way for a project. We would go into closed session to discuss the perceived value of the land as well as our ceiling for the purchase offer. If the seller knows what our ceiling is, then he or she will drive up the sales price of the property. In poker terms we would be showing our hand.
Matters of litigation are similar by nature. If we are party to a lawsuit, the County needs closed session to confer with our legal counsel (either State's Attorney Joe McMahon or his designee) to review our legal options and best determine the right course of action for the County as a whole. If the other party to the suit is aware of our position it will give them an unfair advantage in both the trial and/or any attempt to settle. A private party suing the County would never afford us the same favor of discussing their position in an open forum.
When members of the County Board deviate from the advice and counsel of our State's Attorney and leak the details of our closed sessions to the public or the opposite side of the negotiation they are doing every resident in Kane County a disservice by effectively working against the County's best interest. Sadly, the misinformation that is spread is difficult to counter since any attempt to do so would violate the rules of closed session. If someone approaches you with closed session details you should ask yourself what their political motivation may be to go against the advice of counsel. Then question the authenticity of what they are telling you before you accept it as truth.