I have been contacted by Mr. Anthony Dini, Republican, District 2, and Ms. Terri Glass, Democratic, District 3, regarding their personal opposition and concerns regarding using a “consent agenda” on so many of the matters they vote upon at the full county board meetings. A consent agenda is a long list of motions which are handled with just one “nay” or “aye” vote by the county board. A formal statement from Ms. Glass has just been received—it is addressed to Boone County Taxpayers Association and to the residents of Boone County.
Sent: 2/3/2009 4:29:48 P.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: Fwd: Boone County- Do You smell something? Please forward to Boone County res...
Subj: Boone County- Do You smell something? Please forward to Boone County residents
Last night at the Administrative & Legislative Committee (02-01-2009) there was very heated discussion. The issue revolved around the proposal to change the way the County Board votes on Motions. There are some who are advocating for a consent agenda.
Currently the County Board is provided a Motion list. All of the Motions that the County Board will be voting on are itemized on that list. The list is itemized by committee and the vote coming out of committee is listed (for example if 2 voted against the motion the list would include the words- Motion passed 3-2).
Currently each motion is made independently and each issue is given floor time for questions and discussion not only from the board but from the public as well. I believe that this method provides the most transparent form of government as community members can hear the actual issues, understand what was done by their elected officials and actually be involved in the process.
There are members on this County Board who feel that if a motion is passed at the committee level then the Board should automatically pass the motion as well. There are members of the Board who feel that the County Board Meeting is NOT the appropriate place for discussion to take place. Yes, you read it right, discussion should NOT take place at the County Board level. Let me elaborate. All discussion should occur at the committee level. If a Board member has a question then he/she should attend the committee meeting. Community members should attend the committee meetings as well.
How are these two issues related.... the proposal is to place all of the Motions on a "CONSENT" agenda and one motion, one second and one vote approves everything.
Here is why I have a problem with this....
1. When does the community get to address and issue on the agenda? Sure, some Board members want to provide a sign in sheet for the community member. They sign in, state their issue and they will be given a few moments at the beginning of the meeting to address their issue. However, this limits the right of the citizen, voter and taxpayer to be fully informed on the issues. Well, maybe that's the way they want it.
What happens when a citizen comes to the meeting and doesn't understand that they have to sign in beforehand?
What happens when a citizen shows up a few minutes late, or has trouble finding a parking spot and walks in after the Motion to approve everything has been made.
2. When does the Board get to address an issue? Sure, they'll tell you that any Board member can pull an item out of the consent agenda for discussion. THe Board should only discuss things at the committee level. THat's what the committees are for, to perform the research and discussion and present the motion to the Board. And how many motions have been re-considered or sent back for further review BECAUSE the committee didn't do the homework or have all of the information.
3. Some argue that the Board meetings run too long. These are also the same people who complain that the committee meetings run too long. So, let me get this straight... they don't want to talk about issues at the board level and they want to rush things through at the committee level. Exactly, when should the discussion take place then? Oh wait, behind closed doors and in the backroom and in someone's basement maybe?-- ANYWHERE BUT IN THE PUBLIC EYE!
4. The idea of discussing things at different committees and again at the Board is to assure that due diligence has been performed, that all options have been discussed and that everyone is voting on the issues with all of the facts at hand. So, if you can't attend a committee meeting, you could effectively be prevented from asking questions. Although some tried to convince me that the motion to remove doesn't require a second, they didn't convince me that the issue would be openly discussed. Remember, there are many on the Board who feel that the claims shouldn't be questioned.
5. Here are the 4 people who voted, at committee level, to remove your right to read and understand the issues. Karl Johnson, Pat Mattison, Danny Anderson and Brad Rightnowar. I was the lone voice of opposition. Please feel free to contact them and ask them why they voted in this manner. I attached the list of ALL county Board members, their addresses and phone numbers.
6. Maybe I am a little pigheaded and stubborn. But I stubbornly refuse to do anything that even remotely looks as if the County Board is trying to be deceptive. I have no problem adding the Highway department bids or routine interfund transfers or approving the minutes and the agenda. These are monotonous items that are highly regulated and are frequently performed. Adding these to a consent agenda would free up time for discussion on other issues.
Many times I have sat in a County Board prepared to vote a certain way on an issue. Upon hearing the public or other Board member speak I was compelled to change my vote. I firmly believe that this consent agenda takes that away.
You should also know that the County Board voted to change the date of the County Board meeting and move it back one week. This was done to provide adequate time for Board members AND the public to read and understand all of the issues that are going to be voted on. The idea was that by providing more time perhaps we could alleviate some if the unnecessary discussion. (Karl Johnson and Danny Anderson voted NO on moving the meeting date). The new meeting date doesn't start until March and the Board hasn't even had a chance to see if it will work. To see if the meeting flows better. Instead, they want to push through the concept of the consent agenda.
Perhaps it isn't about the consent agenda but its about a hidden agenda.
And a final FYI- one Board member commented that the County Board now has meeting 3 out of 4 weeks per month and this would interfere with vacations.
One board member stated that the way to push through a tax referendum was NOT to educate the public, just try to keep it quiet because the more people know about it he more they oppose it.
Ever attend a meeting... listen to Board members when its over. Typically someone comments on how long or short the meeting was and a pat on the back is given to the one at the table who conducted the shortest meeting.
Geez, I though we were there to do the work of the County not see how fast we could do the work of the County.
Boone County Board Vice Chairman
District 3 Representative
Ms. Glass mentioned the names and addresses of county board members; they are available at: http://www.boonecountyil.org
Below is Mr. Dini’s press release. Click to enlarge
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