A Friend of McHenry County Blog listened to the Internal Support and Facilities Committee meeting’s discussion about the trouble that County Board committee chairmen have had putting items on agendas.
A transcript of part of the meeting is below:
INTERNAL SUPPORT AND FACILITIES COMMITTEE MEETING. 2/8/17
CHAIRMAN BARNES: …the Temporary Rules Committee (formed by Chairman Franks and consisting of Board Members hand picked by him) met and initially established and sent the County Board Rules to this committee (Internal Support and Facilities) for discussion and update and we have been working to get that on the agenda. As all of the County Board Members are aware there is a new States’ Attorney Opinion that has been received by all of us, and by Mr. Franks and by Mr. Austin, clarifying the role of our committee and our ability to do work, put items on our agenda, and have discussions…
MEMBER WALKUP : …… I would like to inquire of the Administrator, if he intends to abide by the Opinion of our States’Attorney with regard to allowing this committee and other committees to set their own agendas and to post those agendas so that those matters can be considered in conformance with the Open Meetings Act. For the Record, are you going to be allowing this committee to decide it’s own agendas pursuant to the States’ Attorney’s Opinion?
MR. AUSTIN: ….. .(discussion about placing items on today’s agenda) In response to your question Mike, the request was made (for the SA’s Opinion and we will follow it.
MR. WALKUP: And so this committee is going to be able to set it’s own agenda and it’s going to be posted in the future?
MR. AUSTIN: I’m going to continue to consult with all the resources and all the policies that I have and am going to continue to walk this incredibly difficult line that I’m being put in.
MR. WALKUP: There is no line. The State’s Attorney has given us an Opinion, so that’s the side of the line that you are on. OK? So what I would like to know is are you going to follow the State’s Attorney’s Opinion, yes or no?
MR. AUSTIN: I am going to continue to look at each case as….
MR. WALKUP: There’s no “each case”.
MR. AUSTIN: …. I am going to continue to look at each case, as I have to.
MR. WALKUP : There’s no each case, this is a blanket rule.
MR. AUSTIN: It doesn’t apply necessarily uniformly everywhere.
MR. WALKUP: Yes it does. It applies to all of the standing committees. Now if we have special committees and crazy committees and silly committees that get set up that’s maybe different but insofar as standing committees go this is a clear, bright line rule.
MR. AUSTIN: First, what are committees’ responsibilities? I am going to continue to consult the State’s Attorney’s Opinion and everyone else in terms of how we thread that.
MR. WALKUP: We have a State’s Attorney’s Opinion. So that’s done.
MR. AUSTIN: And I acknowledge that, and I have lived up to that Opinion this time around.
MR. WALKUP: “This time around”?
MR. AUSTIN: If you decide to put on Route 23 and I 90 I would again have to look at Board Rules, where do these issues lie? That’s all I’m saying. I can’t give you all or one answer. I’m going to continue to look at each one.
MR. WALKUP: Well, we need to know that we are going to be able to pursue our own agendas on our own committees . We can’t have a maybe, who knows, depends on what the weather is each day.
MR. AUSTIN: I appreciate that you want to take me into a clear box and I’m not going to do that. I am going to continue to look at all of the professional resources and all of the legal opinions that we have.
Mr. WALKUP: We have a legal opinion. The legal opinion that we have is a generic opinion having to do with the ability of standing committees to set their agendas and it is not subject to change based on the individual circumstances.
MR. AUSTIN: I think you state it well when you say ‘generic’. It doesn’t apply necessarily to every
situation . What if you want to talk about Route 23 and I 90? I do have some discretion to work with…
MR.WALKUP: What you are saying is if this committee wants to talk about something that is not within it’s jurisdiction, is that what you are saying?
MR. AUSTIN: It’s my responsibility to decide where things go.
MR. WALKUP: Assuming that it is within the jurisdiction of this committee and the committee wants to discuss it, the committee determines it’s own jurisdiction…
MR. AUSTIN: This is not black and white and I appreciate that you are trying to make it black and white. Please, I want nothing more than for it to be black and white . I want nothing more.
MR. WALKUP: Okay, so getting down now to this situation, are you saying that you are going to make a determination that this committee doesn’t decide Rules of the Board and that therefore if this committee decides it wants to discuss Rules of the Board that you won’t put it on?
Mr. AUSTIN: I’m not ready. I’m trying. I’m trying.
MR. WALKUP: We need to know right now, today, if we are going to be able to consider Rules of the Board.
MR. AUSTIN: (unintelligible).
CHAIRMAN BARNES; (Interrupts and closes the discussion).