URBANA – During public input session of the April 5th, 2021 City Council meeting, Council member Maryalice Wu requested that members of the public state their city of residence before speaking. There is no legal basis in the Urbana City Code for requiring a member of the public to state where they live before speaking. The Illinois Open Meeting Act (OMA) also provides no authority to Council to make such a requirement.
Wu even singled out a member of the public for not providing that information. There are many reasons someone might not be comfortable disclosing where they live in public, and having it as a prerequisite for speaking during public input is another barrier put up by the Council that discourages public dialogue.
This is not the first time the Urbana City Council has tried to control public comment. In the past year, the Council passed an ordinance which laid out heavy-handed speech regulations resulting in OMA violations and an OMA lawsuit (articles here, here, and here). This is also not the first time Wu has been implicated in OMA violations (article here).
Later in the meeting, Council member Jared Miller asked Wu why she was asking people where they live. Wu immediately backtracked and said that it was not a requirement, and speakers could say that they preferred not to provide that information.
“It sounded a lot like tell me, or else, I won’t, I won’t let you comment”, said Miller.
“It’s not a requirement, it’s just part of the process,” Wu responded.
The exchange can be viewed here: