WHAT PART OF “SUNSHINE” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?
It didn’t take long for Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John “Quick Draw” Schmidt to gun down an attempt by the City of Springfield to wriggle out from under a court order barring the city council from violating the state Open Meetings Act. The best judge east of the Rockies took barely three minutes on Monday to reject the city’s plea to reconsider an injunction that Schmidt issued last year in connection with a lawsuit against the city filed by Illinois Times staff writer Bruce “Deadeye” Rushton, who successfully sued after the city council went behind closed doors to discuss privatizing Oak Ridge Cemetery. Under terms of Schmidt’s injunction, the city could be held in contempt of court if the council gets cute with the law again and discusses public policy in a closed meeting. Assistant corporation counsel Steve “Hopalong” Rahn argued that that the violation wasn’t intentional and that the injunction was overly broad – if the city breaks the law again, the remedy should be a brand-new lawsuit, not a motion to hold the city in contempt. Not so, argued Don “Gatling Gun” Craven, Rushton’s attorney. The injunction should be a reminder to city officials of their responsibility to conduct the public’s business in public, Craven told the judge. “The Open Meetings Act isn’t that hard,” Craven drawled. “It’s not rocket science.” Schmidt, rumored to be in line for the next open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, agreed. “My order is not changed,” Schmidt thundered. “I think the law tells us we need to be careful in our discussions in private as public bodies.”