City of Springfield in Contempt of Court?
City of Springfield in Contempt of Court?

The motions have been filed and movement is underway to take the city back to court over alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act.

Springfield attorney Don Craven says Sangamon County Associate Judge Brian Otwell won’t rule on whether the city’s Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee is in contempt of his previous ruling until they appear before him.

“The judge has a point,” says Craven. “We’re asking people be held in contempt of court for violating his order, and he wants them named individually.”

Springfield aldermen, in their committee of the whole meeting last week, discussed whether the city should hire Core Source as a third party administrator for health insurance programs for all employees. The committee in question chose Core Source, in a closed meeting, to cover union employees. That raised questions about whether a firm selected in a closed meeting could cover all employees.

The city’s corporation counsel, Mark Cullen, responded that aldermen were being asked to approve the selection for all employees in an open session, and because the newly revised committee deals only with union issues, there is no Open Meetings Act violation. Per Otwell’s previous ruling, which said the city violated OMA when discussing city health benefits for dependents in civil unions, the city revised the committee structure to deal only with union issues.

Craven says that’s not enough, and believes the committee is in contempt. He’s filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain the names of those on the committee.

“I’ll prepare a summons for each of those individuals, I’ll have them served with a copy of the lawsuit and a copy of the order and a copy of the petition, now two petitions, saying they’re in contempt of the judge’s order to comply with the [Open Meetings] Act,” says Craven. “Then we’ll have a hearing in front of Judge Otwell.”