Executive Session Details to Remain Confidential
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Details from a closed-door meeting about the destruction of police internal affairs documents at Springfield's Municipal Complex will remain private, for now.
Aldermen delayed a vote Tuesday on releasing the minutes and audio recording from an executive session in May.
The reason is a letter sent to the city from the Illinois Office of the State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor.
The office is investigating the shredding of certain files at the Springfield Police Department to determine whether any criminal or public records laws were broken.
In the letter, the State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor indicates he'd prefer city council not make public the minutes and audio from the closed-door meeting until the investigation is complete.
The May 7 executive session is when aldermen were briefed on a change to the city's police union contract that allowed for the immediate shredding of dozens of police internal affairs documents.
Alderman Frank Edwards had called to release the information from the closed-door meeting after our exclusive investigation "Ready, Set, Shred."
He claims the city council was deceived during that meeting about who within the administration knew what and when.
"I think it's important for us to get ahead of things," Edwards said. "We didn't, we got behind it. I hope for the best."
"We are in a position that we would like to cooperate with them as much as we can to allow them to conduct a thorough investigation," Mayor Michael Houston said.
Houston says he'll waive attorney-client privilege during an investigation by the State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor and Illinois State Police.
That means the city's top lawyer and any other government employee can make statements to the police.
Emails obtained by ABC NewsChannel 20 show the mayor was copied on an email from the head of Springfield police internal affairs to the assistant city attorney on May 5.
In that email, Lieutenant Chris Mueller asks the city lawyer to inform the mayor of Mueller's conversation with the attorney reiterating concerns over expunging files subject to a valid FOIA request, before the destruction of those documents occurred.
The mayor says he met with Mueller the next day and also requested the attorney general to investigate.
But, when asked why he didn't bring the meeting up to aldermen during the closed-door session the next day, Houston says no one asked.
The mayor appointed Kenneth Winslow as interim police chief this week.
But, he couldn't provide a time frame for picking a new lead city attorney.
Mayor Houston announced Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen would step down on July 19.
Assistant Corporation Counsel Linda O'Brien served as the city's lawyer during Tuesday night's meeting.