Springfield Aldermen didn’t vote to release minutes and audio recordings from a closed door meeting discussing the police department’s document shredding scandal.
Mayor Mike Houston says the state’s attorney’s prosecutors office requested they not do so until the Illinois State Police’s criminal investigation is complete.
“We are in a position where we’d like to cooperate with [the state's attorney's prosecutors office] as much as we can to allow them to conduct a thorough investigation, and come back with whatever report they give us,” says Houston.
Some of the material in the meeting involves attorney-client privilege, which ordinarily means no one can access the information unless the client waives that right. However, the mayor has the authority to waive it himself — and he plans to do so.
That means attorney client privilege would no longer apply to any city government employees if the information they have is relevant to the investigation.
“As an employee of the city of Springfield, we would be waiving this for everyone in the city of Springfield, in city government,” says Houston.
Attorney Jon Gray Noll, who’s representing the city in the Illinois State Police’s criminal investigation, gave alderman an informational presentation. He says, as far as he knows, only once in documented Illinois history has an elected official waived attorney-client privilege during a criminal investigation. That’s Secretary of State Jesse White.
Corporation Counsel’s Office Off to Rocky Start Without Cullen
Tuesday marked the first Springfield City Council meeting since Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen resigned after his involvement in the police department’s document shredding scandal came to light.
Sitting in for him was Linda O’Brien, the office’s most senior Assistant Corporation Counsel according to Mayor Mike Houston. O’Brien could answer few questions from aldermen, and bristled at reporters after the meeting — quickly directing questions to the city’s spokesman.
Mayor Houston says everything is fine.
“I don’t know that it’s impeding city business,” he says. “City government is functioning. The Corporation Counsel’s Office is functioning.”
O’Brien has not been named interim, and Houston couldn’t give any information as to who might be named or when a name could be announced. He also has no timetable for filling the position permanently.