Anybody Know what this is about ???Submitted by SwordSmyth on Wed, 02/17/2010 - 20:18
From : Cryptogon ( www.cryptogon.com )
Illinois Senate Meets in Secret Today
February 17th, 2010
This is pretty weird.
Via: Chicago Tribune:
The Illinois Senate plans to meet behind closed doors this morning to hear a presentation by experts about state budgets and the national economy, a move that open government advocates called baffling.
The unusual secret gathering is being billed as a “joint caucus” of the majority Democrats and the minority Republicans, two groups that represent the entire 59 members of the Illinois Senate. The caucuses routinely meet separately to plot partisan strategy, and the public is not invited. But a joint meeting is very rare.
The spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the event will be closed because the presentation to be given by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures will not fall under the state Constitution’s requirements to be open.
But David Morrison, a top official with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said the move doesn’t make sense.
“Setting aside the legal issues, I can’t imagine what the NCSL is going to say that’s so top secret that the general public will not be allowed to hear it,” Morrison said.
The Constitution says, “Sessions of each house of the General Assembly and meetings of committees, joint committees and legislative commissions shall be open to the public.
Sessions and committee meetings of a house may be closed to the public if two-thirds of the members elected to that house determine that the public interest so requires; and meetings of joint committees and legislative commissions may be so closed if two-thirds of the members elected to each house so determine.”
Cullerton’s spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon, said in an email, “Since a caucus is neither a legislative session or committee meeting, the public meeting and notice requirements of the constitution do not apply.”
Patty Schuh, the spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said the event was an initiative of Cullerton’s majority Democrats and that “they want it closed.” Schuh said she did not anticipate public business will be conducted.
Donald Craven, a longtime attorney for the Illinois Press Association who also has represented the Chicago Tribune on open government issues, disagreed with lawmakers’ interpretation.
“A joint caucus is a meeting of the Senate as a whole, either as the Senate or as a committee of the whole,” Craven said. “This is not a social gathering. This is designed to discuss public business.”
The same conclusion was reached by Charles N. Wheeler III, who has followed Senate activities for four decades as a statehouse reporter and journalism professor at the University of Illinois Springfield.
“What prompts this idea for secrecy?” Wheeler asked, saying it sets a “bad precedent.”
“This is not homeland security coming to brief the legislative leadership on plans to secure the capitol in the case of a terrorist attack,” said Wheeler. He said he could not recall the two caucuses in the Senate ever meeting together behind closed doors for such a presentation.