The third installment of former alderman Terry O’Neill’s revelations about attending secret meetings about the Hummel property and having to remain silent:
The August 8th, 2011 closed session meeting appears to have been called to “Barbeque me” for the article that I put into the Regional News about “The Geneva Ridge Comprehensive Plan Change Request”.
What bothered the insurance company’s lawyers the most about the article was that I had identified myself as a “4th District Alderman,” which attracted the attention of the Geneva Ridge attorneys. He said that they had not backed out of the agreement, but they were concerned about the issue. Although in the closed session I was accused of violating the confidentiality of the Closed Session Meeting, I pointed out that everything in the article was carefully worded to avoid violating the closed session confidentiality. The council (and in particular myself) was warned about revealing anything discussed in closed session especially the insurance company’s $2.1 million payment to Geneva Ridge as their part of the settlement. The irony, as I sat there being accused of violating the closed session meeting law, was that I knew that another alderman on the city council had explained what went on in the previous closed session meeting to someone, who related the content of that conversation to me!
The key elements that were discussed in the closed session were about the upcoming vote on the Geneva Ridge Request. Although we knew the consequences of our vote from the previous closed session, we had not been told the justification that was needed for our vote. The second closed session covered that by telling us that we were to base our decision on the comprehensive plan, and that although we did not have to explain our vote, the insurance’s attorney explained it was easier for him to defend our vote if we did explain the reasons for casting our vote at the time of the vote.
Otherwise he could only speculate on our reasons for the vote, and that could make our defense more difficult. To me this sounded like a self-defensive move on the part of the insurance company’s lawyer. Apparently, one of the aldermen took that Closed Session warning to heart, because after the first failed vote where he had voted “No” against the Geneva Ridge Comprehensive Plan change request, he read a list of reason for his vote and then changed his previous vote from a “No” vote against the change request to a “Yes” for the Geneva Ridge Comprehensive Plan Change Request. Because secrecy held sway over everything, the attorney for Geneva Ridge could use fear as a motivating tool, and get away with it to this very day.