Saturday, May 30, 2009

Voted Off the Island Lake?

The village of Island Lake describes itself as A Community of Friendly People, but your LakeCountyEye doesn't think the city hall there ever got the memo -- there is a political fault line dividing the Island Lake government. Resulting in what seems to be misconduct on the part of its elected officials.

The outcome of the April 2009 election found Island Lake's village board split down the middle. In one corner were John Ponio, Laurie Rabattini and Don Saville. In the other corner were Connie Mascillino, Donna O'Malley and Rich Garling. The Mayor, Debbie Herrmann, stood as the tie breaker.

The uneasy equilibrium broke when Garling resigned.

As the Northwest Herald reported last week, Herrmann, in her position as mayor, has the authority to name a replacement trustee. Mascillino, O'Malley and Herrmann want former trustee Don Verciglio. (Verciglio missed re-election in April by a few votes.) Herrmann intended to exercise this authority during a scheduled May 28 meeting.

Apparently Ponio, Rabattini and Saville caught wind of this -- and skipped the May 28 meeting. Lacking a quorum, Herrmann was unable to legally convene the meeting. As things stand, Island Lake is currently short a trustee.

According to the Daily Herald, Ponio, Rabattini and Saville denied that they had boycotted the meeting by pre-arrangement. Rabattini said she has the stomach flu. Ponio said he was out of town. Saville was not returning calls.

If you heard something sounding like a seismic seiche surging over Island Lake, that was really the sound of your LakeCountyEye's shit detector exploding.

Ponio, Rabattini and Saville seem to have agreed in secret and in advance to boycott their May 28 meeting. Isn't a conspiracy of that nature a violation of the Open Meetings Act? And aren't willful violations of the Open Meetings Act by elected officials prosecutable offenses?


Team America said...

BB- read the OMA. It's only a violation if they had a contemporaneous conversation. Trustee A can call Trustee B, and then Trustee B can call Trustee C, and talk about any village business they want, as long as the coversation is not between three at the same time. Whether they are otherwise acting unethically or improperly in this particular case I can't tell you as I'm not from Island Lake and not familiar with the facts. But I do know the OMA.

barney baxter said...

Hi TA, that's a good point -- it did not occur to me.

For all I know, Ponio may very well have called Rabattini. And Rabattini may very well have then called Saville.

Nicki said...

This may not be a violation of the letter of the Open Meetings Act, but it certainly seems to be a violation of its spirit. At some point they will have to show up for a meeting, presumably. Is there a provision in the law to remove village trustees from office if they miss a certain number of meetings?

redtail said...

Good point, Nicki. There must be some penalty or else a faction of trustee could simply stop showing up until the rest of the board knuckled under to what they wanted. Perhaps Michael Waller should look into this if these trustees don't show up at the next meeting.