City Could Head Back to Court Over OMA Violations
City Could Head Back to Court Over OMA Violations

A Springfield attorney is all but certain the city will end up back in court for conducting illegally closed meetings.

Springfield’s corporation counsel says the city altered its Joint Labor/Management Health Care committee to deal only with union issues. It recently selected, in a closed meeting, a third party administrator for union workers’ health insurance programs. Attorney Don Craven says a judge hasn’t said that’s okay and the issue isn’t resolved.

“We again challenged whether the new committee was subject to the [Open Meetings] Act,” says Craven. “Judge Otwell took that under advisement on April 5th, and there’s been no ruling.”

The city was sued last year after a reporter was denied access to a committee meeting that gave city health benefits to dependents in civil unions. Craven represented the reporter, and won the lawsuit.

Springfield Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen contends the recent┬ávendor selection in a closed meeting is legal given the committee’s new structure, but some aldermen question its legality as they are now being asked whether the vendor should be used for all employees.

“That’s the charade they’re trying to present, yes,” said Craven. “The committee just decides what’s good for the union employees, then, by happenstance, everybody decides that’s what’s good for everybody else.”