Thanks to a recent ruling by the state attorney general, people speaking during public comment sessions at Evanston City Council meetings no longer need to say where they live.

The ruling came on a complaint filed by a Lemont resident, Janet Hughes, who objected to being required to state her address before she spoke to the Lemont village board at a meeting in June.

The attorney general’s opinion says the village’s rule violated the state open meetings act “because it is not reasonably related to promoting meeting order or decorum, or ensuring that other speakers have an opportunity to address the public body.”

At Monday’s Evanston City Council meeting Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl told speakers they no longer had to announce their address and most chose not to.

In the past the mayor has asked people to state their address, but people who have declined to do that — or offered only a general indication of where they live, rather than a specific street address — have generally still been allowed to speak.

The Evanston City Council’s rules don’t specifically cover the public recitation of addresses, but the rules do require that persons who sign up to speak to the council “sign their name, address and the agenda item or other topic to be addressed” on a signup sheet.

The attorney general’s opinion does not appear to address what information a government body can ask for on a speaker sign up sheet.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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