James Marter readily admits he knows little about the particulars where the Clark-Edgar Rural Water District (CERWD) is accused of violating tenements of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) back in April, but that hasn't stop him from stressing the importance of what could be at stake.
“The Open Meetings Act is there to keep information that should be publicly available in the public domain so it’s not done in private,” Marter, a Republican Congressional candidate in the 14th District, told the Kankakee Times. “It’s so the public has a chance to know, so that’s there’s no private, secret meetings going on.”
Soon after a May 1 special meeting, Edgar County Watchdog Jim Kraft filed an OMA Request for Review, charging that such subject matters as providing water to the village of Vermilion and grants/loans were discussed at that meeting without being on the list of agenda items.
CERWD officials denied the violations occurred, ultimately moving the Attorney General’s Office to render a verdict where they concluded “CERWD failed to provide sufficiently advanced notice that it would discuss various issues, including those concerning bulk water rates at its May 1 special meeting.”
A resident of Oswego, Marter said he’s learned through experience just how important rules like OMA can truly be.
“We had some deals in our town with some developers with a previous administration,” he said. “I’m not saying there was wrongdoing, but now we have seven elective officials in place, six trustees and a president, and you can’t have a meeting of three or more of them without it being made public with what’s on the agenda. You want notice where people can attend and find out what’s going on so that these deals aren’t done under the table.”