Serwatka Seeks Citizen Input on Lakewood Village Board Attendance

First it was the question of whether Lakewood should merge with Crystal Lake.

Now it’s a survey about Lakewood Village Board meeting attendance.

There were two emails. The first is below:

Lakewood Trustees Say NO to Accountability

I am seeking your input on this issue – by participating in the survey below – as well as your emailed thoughts.

Reporting on our most recent village board meeting of Tuesday, October 10, 2017, there are a few topics that I want to cover, however, I want to focus this report on just one, which deals with an ongoing issue that I feel needs to be addressed within our village board.

A Little Background

For many months now, we have been dealing with an ongoing issue in what I believe to be excessive absenteeism at our village board meetings, by some of our village board members.

On two separate occasions, very recently, our village board was faced with the concern that we may need to cancel our scheduled village board meetings for “lack of a quorum.”

For those not familiar with that official term, it simply means that the minimum number of trustees legally required to discuss village business and vote and take official board action, were not present.

In other instances we have had issues of great significance on the agenda for discussion and action, only to find ourselves discussing and voting on these issues, short two members.

And most often, we aren’t notified of these absences until the day before, or the day of, the meeting, so we are not able to plan accordingly.

In a few instances, we weren’t given any notification that a board member was going to be absent. They just didn’t show up to the meeting.

A Look at Attendance

Our village official offices run from May to May, with May 9th, 2017 marking the beginning of this new term of our village board.

Since the beginning of this term we have had 10 (ten) regularly scheduled village board meetings as we headed into our October 10th meeting.

Heading into this meeting, we had two trustees that had already missed 4 of these 10 scheduled meetings (40%), and in one case a trustee missed 3 (three) consecutive meetings, each with notice the day of, or the day before, the meeting.

This put 8 (eight) weeks in between village meetings attended by this trustee.

September 9, 2017, Lakewood Village Board saw Jason McMahon and Carl Davis missing.

Finding this degree of absence to be both troublesome and problematic, I proposed a means by which to address and hopefully correct this problem.

My Proposal

At our regularly scheduled October 10th Village Board Meeting, I proposed an ordinance that would address this excessive absenteeism.

Our village board meets twice per month (the second and fourth Tuesday of each month) and customarily does not schedule meetings during the Christmas holiday season and once during the summer – giving a total number of 22 scheduled meetings in a given year.

The ordinance, as I proposed, set two thresholds for absence at regularly scheduled village board meetings.

  1. The first being 5 absences within a 12-month period (22 meetings) – this equates to an approximate 23% rate of absence.
  2. The second threshold being 3 consecutive absences at scheduled meetings which equates to an 8-week hiatus between meetings.

August 8, 2017, Lakewood Village board saw Richard Ritchie absent.

The ordinance, as proposed, essentially stated that if either of these thresholds were met:

▪ The board would hold a special hearing, at which the trustee in question would have an opportunity to explain his/her failure to attend meetings.
▪ The board would then make a finding of fact and determine if circumstances of the absences were extenuating as such to “excuse” the absences or if the office should be declared vacant, and a replacement appointed or elected to that position.
My Surprising Disappointment

As we began deliberations over this ordinance, and the need for some measure of accountability among our village board, I really believed this to be a “No-Brainer”… a “slam-dunk”!

To my surprise, only one trustee – trustee Phil Stephan – saw the importance of holding ourselves accountable in attending the board meetings that we were elected to attend.

Trustee Ric Ritchie voiced his concern that the nature of his employment could very likely be cause for his absence for 8 or 10 meetings in any given 12 month period as well.

I pointed out, that 8 to 10 absences out of 22 scheduled meetings constituted more than a 40% absentee rate.

I asked if he felt this was acceptable and asked if anyone believed that any employer would find that degree of absenteeism acceptable.

No response was given.

I remarked that the only difference I see, is that our “employer” as trustees are the taxpayers.

In a final attempt, I asked trustee Ritchie: “at what point… what number of missed meetings, should there be some accountability for attendance?”

Again, trustee Ritchie didn’t respond.

I asked further: “Give me a number? 8 meetings? 10 meetings? 20 meetings?” There has to be a point at which we deem absenteeism to be excessive and hold ourselves accountable! What is that point? What is that number?”

Again, no response was given.

Trustee Carl Davis, echoed Trustee Ritchies sentiments, stating that his employment along with vacations were cause for his excessive absences and could not really be helped, but he didn’t believe that it inhibitted him from performing as a trustee.

Trustee Amy Odom, asked if Lakewood ever had such an ordinance regarding absence from meetings in our code. (Which we have not) and went on to state that if we never had one before, she “didn’t see why we needed one now.”

The end result: the motion to approve the ordinance failed miserably with only myself and trustee, Phil Stephan in favor of this much needed accountability measure.

Your Input is Requested

I am very interested in hearing YOUR thoughts on this issue.

Do you believe that attendance at our village meetings is important?

Should it be incumbent upon our board members to attend village board meetings?

I have created an electronic survey to measure resident input on this issue. Your participation in this survey will help me to better address this issue moving forward. You will find the survey located at the right hand side of the Lakewood Tax-Fighter webpage: under the “Community Resource Corner” or by clicking on the link below:


You can also read the Northwest Herald Coverage of this Issue at the link below:

Lakewood Village President Paul Serwatka’s meeting attendance ordinance ‘fails miserably’

As always, your thoughts, questions and concerns are always welcome and always valued.

= = = = =
The second email on the subject is below:

Follow-Up to Accountability/Attendance Survey

In follow-up to yesterday’s report: “Lakewood Trustees Say NO to Accountability” more than 100 residents have participated in the survey so far, and I have received a good number of email replies, expressing varying degrees of disapproval of this lack of accountability, many being, outright appalled. KEEP THEM COMING!

And, please encourage other Lakewood neighbors to participate as well.

A handful of residents have inquired as to my attendance – for which I thank you. I, too, must be held accountable!

Since being elected trustee, in April, 2015, and including the 10 (ten) scheduled meetings, to date, in this term serving as village president, there have been 57 scheduled board meetings.

I have been absent for 2 (two).

In both instances, sufficient notice of my absences were given in advance, so as to plan the meeting agendas accordingly.

I would also note that of the 10 (ten) scheduled meetings of this current term, trustee Phil Stephan, also, has been in attendance at every meeting.

Keep the surveys and emailed thoughts coming! TAKE THE SURVEY

Your thoughts, questions and concerns are always welcome and always valued.


Serwatka Seeks Citizen Input on Lakewood Village Board Attendance — 18 Comments

  1. What happened to the savior of Lakewood government, Julie Heather Meister?

    Please someone fill in the blank spaces?!

    What happened?

  2. I would like for anyone reading this to not judge based upon what is written here, or what anyone is telling you.

    Please, please go to the “Village of Lakewood” site and then under the “Government” tab on the left, find 2017 Minutes.

    Please make sure you listen to the last 4 meetings.

    Especially the last meeting on 10/10/17.

  3. Voters should decide if they want to get rid of their absent representation, not other members of the board.

  4. Didn’t like his outcome from the vote so he tries the ole’ end around.

    Not how it works Paul.

    His time is on a short rope.

  5. Dear Village of Lakewood president: there is still time to reconsider your grotesque rejection of Mayor Emanuel’s invitation to join the great city of Chicago in support of undocumented immigrants and declare Lakewood a sanctuary village. I know our paparazzi, freeloader, sunshine blogger supports this…tic, tock, tic, tock…

  6. There is no such precedence for this type of action in other communities.

    Carl Davis has been a Trustee for over 20 years and the voters who re-elect him every 4 years obviously do not feel there is a problem.

    Why is it an issue now? Is it because Davis and McMahon are not part of Paul’s inner circle?

    BTW, If Obama was judged on his attendance in both the Illinois House and US Senate, under this measure he would have been kicked out after 6 months.

  7. Seriously? Seriously! You are pointing to Barry Soetero as a reference for anything?!

  8. Thanks Cindy for trying to wake people up!

    Serwatka is what this state really needs.

  9. Paul Serwatka is a bully and an embarrassment.

    No wonder people aren’t showing up to meetings..

    Serwatka is a complete empty suit who just an angry tyrant.

    No one wants to work with this nasty grandstander who lies and puts down people every chance he gets.

    Thank goodness people like me and others in Lakewood are starting to wake up.

  10. There was talk of Lakewood annexing into CL years ago, when the Golf Course hit the residents with a Tax increase.

    But I think that was brought into the picture by those who did not want anyone looking into the Golf Course Deal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *