Renner: Welcoming ordinance needs public resolution

Tari Renner
Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner says the email asking the welcoming city ordinance be pulled raised concerns about the Open Meetings Act. (Photo courtesy Facebook/Tari Renner)

By Eric Stock

BLOOMINGTON – Bloomington mayor Tari Renner said he was following the guidance of the Illinois Municipal League when he questioned the legality of an email sent by five aldermen asking the so-called welcoming ordinance be pulled.

Renner told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin he talked with the Municipal League Director Brad Cole because he worried the city could be in violation of the Open Meetings Act by not publicly addressing how it would handle an ordinance that it asked city staff to craft.

PODCAST: Listen to Scott’s interview with Renner on WJBC.

“When you do something in public, there has to be some kind of public resolution,” Renner said. “That doesn’t mean you have to vote on it.

“It could be that you vote not to vote, but there has to be some kind of resolution to avoid some appearance of impropriety.”

That email and the mayor’s response to it led to a contentious city council meeting on Monday night.

The Keep Families Together Coalition is pushing the city to pass the ordinance which they say would protect undocumented immigrants from being deported.

Road work

Renner said he’s not giving up on a plan to unclog a congested and dangerous intersection, even after he cast the tie-breaking vote on Monday against devoting city funds for the project. The city rejected a scaled-down $900,000 cost-sharing project with McLean County to widen the Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove road intersection.

“It is possible, for example, for us to explore other less expensive options such as perhaps posting a sheriff’s (deputy) and perhaps Bloomington PD (officer) to slow people down at that intersection, or maybe try to get one of the two elementary schools at peak times to change their starting times by even 10 minutes.”

Renner said there would be other compromise possibilities, but city officials have said they’d rather spend on infrastructure in the city’s historic neighborhoods which get more traffic.

Eric Stock can be reached at eric.stock@cumulus.com.

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