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New Attorney General Ruling On Town Of Normal Meetings

Woman speaks to Normal council
Breanna Grow
Rules changes to allow more options for public comment at Normal Town Council meetings have reduced the force of two recent rulings by the Illinois attorney general.

The Illinois attorney general has ruled the Town of Normal should not have barred citizen comment on an issue back in 2019. It's the second such ruling in a month.

Karyn Smith filed the initial complaint in 2019 before she won election to the town council. She was prevented from speaking about saving the facades of buildings in Uptown because it was not on the agenda for that meeting. Smith said Thursday the town has since changed public comment rules and she is satisfied.

"I feel, as the ruling has stated, that there's not an issue that exists currently and the file is closed," said Smith.

Normal mayoral candidate Marc Tiritilli has tried to make it an issue in his campaign, even though the rule change came before the attorney general's ruling, saying incumbent Mayor Chris Koos has stifled dissent. Koos has laid out numerous ways the town has sought public input on major initiatives, including focus groups, public comment periods, and council member accessibility to citizens.

Smith declined to directly comment on the campaign.

"Since the policy was adopted by the council, we have only had one citizen who has exercised that opportunity to speak before the council off agenda topic. So, it appears to me that citizens are satisfied," said Smith. "I hope that citizens feel we are accessible to them. And I know this was an issue I voiced in my last campaign but I think it's a non-issue at this point."

The attorney general's opinion concerned the same issue as a recent ruling involving Tiritilli.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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