Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 25, 2006 Meeting Notes - General Meeting

The meeting started off with the regular items; Roll Call, Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation.

Then it was time to adopt the agenda. I made a motion to amend the agenda to include a separate vote on the new committee members. According to the rules adopted last week:

3.10 - The Board, as the first order of business at the recessed meeting of the Organization Meeting shall approve all committee members by a majority vote of those present.

So, we had to approve the members of committees at this meeting. However, the vote to approve the members of the committees was not part of the published agenda, however:

8.7 - All items not appearing on the written Agenda or not delivered with the Agenda shall be out of order and shall not be considered by the Board at the particular meeting.

So, we are stuck with 2 rules that contradict one another. The first that we need to approve committees, the second that we cannot vote on approval because it is not an agenda item. We do have a 'catch all' in the rules for this, it is:

13.1 - Any of the Rules may be suspended by two-thirds vote of the members present, except Rules Number 3.8, 7.5, 11.0-11.5, 12.7, 13.1 which are not suspendable.

Therefore, to make sure all the ducks are in a row, we should have suspended the rules for the agenda and put the vote on the agenda. Chairman Abrecht indicated that the vote for the approval of the Committee on Committees' recommendation on membership would come out under his County Board Chairman's Report. Nowhere in the rules does it say that you can bring forward an item for voting during committee or chair reports.

If so, what is the point of resolutions? What is the point of committee work? The chair of any committee could bring any resolution to a vote, just by putting it into their report. The chair would have the power and right to bring any vote before the board.

My point is that rules matter. Process matters. It is through the process and rules that we make sure that the board business is done in a fair, open and honest matter. I do not believe that happened tonight.

I wanted to start a discussion on committee assignment. I believe the process was not open enough. I asked Chairman Albrecht to schedule the Committee on Committees meeting at a time that I could attend. It was not. I understand, I have to work during the day, and the members of the committee do not. However, I believe the meeting of the committee that decides the make-up of the board for the next 2 years should be as open as possible, not just for me, but for the rest of the supervisors, the general public and the media.

I also requested the minutes of the meeting. I asked them to be emailed to me in a timeframe that would make it possible to review before the meeting. I hoped that they would include some detail on the 'whys' of selection and appointment. The minutes were on our desks as we showed up for the meeting tonight. (Here they are: page 1 & page 2). They are pretty vague about the 'whys' of selection. This is the entire statement:

After discussions and comments, the committee made the following appointments:

This is, in my opinion, unacceptable. If you look at committee assignments, some supervisors received appointments to 4 committees, some received appointments to just one, and in at least one case a supervisor received no committee appointment. I think that the members of the board, as well as the citizens of Winnebago County deserve to know why elected officials are appointed.

Also, according to the rules:

5.4 The Chair shall act as ex officio member of all committees of the county board and, as ex officio committee member, shall have the power to vote in such committee only in the absence of one or more committee members. The Chair may delegate this power to the Vice-Chair.

The Chair is, by rules, a member of the Personnel and Finance Committee as well as the Legislative Committee. I take the above to mean that Chairman Albrecht is then a member of all other committees and cannot be appointed, as the Committee on Committes did appoint him to the Highway Committee.

The reason for rules and minutes is so that questions like this will not lead people to think that favoritism or 'old-boys network' thinking went on. This is why I tried to change the agenda. I wanted to make sure we were operating within the rules, as well as making sure that the Committee on Committees was accountable for their decisions. Unfortunately, my motion was talked down by Chairman Albrecht.

I am neither comfortable with the results of the committee appointments or the process in which they were made. If we do not keep to our own rules and make sure that the process is as open as possible, the stories in the local papers and other media about the board will not get any better.

18.3 - Any decision of any Standing Committee may be appealed to the Board by any Supervisor at any regular or special Board meeting.

I was going to use this rule to discuss the appointments, however it went pretty quick and I was not called on before the board. I will be bringing my concerns about the rules to the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee for a rules change to clarify this process in the future.

As for the resolutions we voted on during the evening, I have these comments:

County Highway FF - I believe that we need to fix dangerous intersections. It seemed to me that the people that were mentioned all thought that the intersection was dangerous, they were just not willing to pay the money. I used to check fields for Green Giant in college. I drove 200 miles a day on country roads, I understand the danger of these roads. That is why I supported this spending.

Airport Lease - Yes, $550 a year is very inexpensive for renting this land. I was going to ask the question Supervisor Weber did - Is this normal? Turns out that it is. Also, if you read the lease, the hangar that will be built on this land will become the property of Winnebago County at the end of the lease. That is why I supported this.

TRACS - I think this system sounds exciting. It saves time by not requiring multiple data entry and form forms to be filled out. It will save money in efficiency, and protect our officers by allowing them off the side of the road quicker.

Soliciting - I can see the point of wanting to keep the board members on the same page, however as I said at the meeting - we represent our constituents not the interests of the committees. We need to have the flexibility to research, and hopefully our board members will be mature enough not to abuse.

As always, please contact me at any time with questions or suggestions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Send a copy to the Northwestern.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't they send reporters to the meeting? I don't think they care about county board except to complain.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a slap in the face to Mike Norton. No committee appointments for a returning board member. It took a while but the board members figured out how incompetent he really is.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the real reason Mr. Norton was left off the committees? There are alot of rumors floating around.

11:29 AM  

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