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Palos Township board meeting postponed for second time

The trustees of the Palos Township Board are in search of a temporary home. A home for a meeting, that is.

“I’m trying my darnedest,” Township Supervisor Colleen Schumann told The Regional News Monday, hours before a scheduled meeting Monday that was to take place at a location that had not yet been determined.

A location was not secured and the meeting did not take place.

The board needs a larger facility to meet because public attendance is expected to again outstrip the capacity of the township’s regular meeting room at 10802 S. Roberts Road, which has 42 seats.

On July 10, Aug. 14 and Sept. 11, more than 100 people showed up for the regular monthly meetings of the Palos Township Board. The July meeting was held with more than half the crowd standing in the vestibule and even outside the building.

The sudden interest in the typically sparsely attended township meetings is in reaction to comments posted on social media by Trustee Sharon Brannigan that many people have found offensive to Muslims and people of Middle Eastern ethnicity.

The comments, which were removed shortly after protests began, questioned the documentation of Middle Eastern students in the district and compared the growing population of Middle Eastern students as a “flood,” among other positions.

Brannigan read a statement at the July 10 meeting which she said clarified her intent. Following that, she was publicly silent for more than two months until apologizing recently in a written statement. Many individuals and members of a coalition seeking her resignation from the board have not accepted her apology.

After the initial meeting in July, a similar-sized crowd attended the Aug. 14 meeting, but seconds before it was scheduled to begin it was cancelled by board officials because of the overflow of attendees.

Fire code and concerns about violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act were cited as the reasons for cancelling. The Act requires public bodies to provide meeting space that will accommodate all attendees and the board has now received two letters from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan about the situation.

At the September meeting, on the 11th, with another crowd of 100+ people on-site, the board attempted to accommodate all in attendance by providing a public-address speaker outside the building so all attendees could hear the proceedings. A wireless microphone was passed around in an effort to give an opportunity for all those who wished to speak. Some in the crowd stated they didn’t have a chance to use the microphone.

PalosTownshipSchumann

Colleen Schumann

The October meeting was scheduled for the 9th, postponed until the 16th and postponed again until the 23rd as the board continues to search for a place to meet.

“We’ve gone in good faith to any public-access place (to hold a meeting) and we’ve been turned down,” said Supervisor Schumann.

By law, the meeting place must be within Palos Township borders.

Schumann said among the many places the board has attempted to secure include the Green Hills Library and Moraine Valley Community College. The library reportedly has activities already planned for many dates and the college turned the board down.

“I’ve even tried to pay places. I’ve tried to find a place at minimal cost” without success, she said.

The town halls at many municipalities within Palos Township don’t hold enough people, the supervisor said.

Palos Township government provides a variety of services to all or parts of Bridgeview, Hickory Hills, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Willow Springs and Worth.

Schumann said that one the solutions the board may attempt is to seek legal permission to hold the meeting at a facility outside township boundaries.

“We’re back to the drawing board,” she said.

Updates will be posted at www.palostownship.org.

 

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