County Board Asserts Its Legislative Role

Currently the McHenry County Board is a parliamentary system. Its structure is more like the British Parliament than state or national government. Up to 2016, when a Board Chairman will be elected at-large, the Chairman has been elected from among the members, just as Britan’s Prime Minister is.

After the 2016 elections there will be a separate Executive Branch under the at-large elected Chairman.

Rules were advanced from the Management Services Committee that would have given the post-2016 Executive Branch County Board Chairman the ability to appoint committee chairmen and the members of committees.

Under the proposal, County Board members would have to have approved the appointments and, if the Chairman’s recommendations were rejected twice, the County Board would make them.

Ken Koehler

Ken Koehler

At this morning’s meeting on Rules, former County Board Chairman Ken Koehler advanced a proposal that the Board members elected a Vice Chairman, who would be a leader of the Legislative Branch.  (In Will County, this person is called “Speaker,” but it could just as easily be called “President of the County Board,” as my father was President of the Easton, Maryland, Town Council, which had an at-large elected Mayor.)

There would still be a Committee on Committees, with one representative from each of the six County Board districts.

The new County Board Chairman would chair that committee in case there were tie votes. Unsettled today is how the six members of the committee assignment committee will be selected.

There are four members elected from each district. To be determined is whether the four would meet and select one of their number to serve on the Committee on Committees.

The question of whether these meetings would be public meetings under the Open Meetings Act has been referred to the State’s Attorney’s Office. (My guess is that they would be required to be open meetings.)

Current County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller told me of another possible approach.

The entire County Board would convene and then on a district by district order, the four would be asked who should be their representative on the committee.

If a majority agreed on one person, no problem and onto the next districts.

If there were a 2-2 vote, Gottemoller suggested that the entire board could vote on which should be selected.

Another approach would have the most senior member in the district serve on the Committee on Committees.

A third might be selecting the one who got the most votes.

There would be no problem with that approach during reapportionment year, but, thereafter, the two elected in non-presidential years would be highly unlikely to have the most votes.

However selected, the Committee on Committees will its recommendations to the Board as a whole, not to the new at-large elected County Board Chairman.

Koehler’s approach was echoed by a proposal from new Board member Chuck Wheeler.

Member comments were set to be after the Chairman’s comments.

The Committee proposed putting them after any secret session at the end of the meeting.

Carolyn Schofield put forth an amendment to eliminate wording that would prohibit a Chairman, Vice Chairman or any other member from bringing forth a motion they planned to oppose.
This would accommodate the current process of the Board which has the Chairman or Vice Chairman of the standing committee bring forth the motion.  The motion was approved on a voice vote.
She also brought forth amendments to the Zoning Petitions section which mirrored the process outlined in the Unified Development Ordinance adopted by the Board in October 2014.  This motion passed on voice vote.
She also proposed eliminating the statement that members are to specifically request if they would like a statement or information incorporated into the minutes.  This motion failed.



= = = = =
Below is County Board member Mike Walkup’s take on the meeting:

Mike Walkup

Mike Walkup

Just to let everyone know, we did decide to adopt the process of having each member of the Committee on Committees be selected by the members of each District as had been proposed originally in 2013.

Also we will be continuing to elect the Vice Chair from the membership but that person will not have any expanded powers.

The Chair will have a vote on the Committee on Committees and will chair that committee, and will also appoint liason positions with consent of the Board.

The Board will have to approve all of the committee assignments as well.

I think this is a great step forward and want to thank those who commented here.

The remarks on this blog were mentioned during the debate.

Therefore the new directly elected Chair will have the following powers:

(1) Chair and vote on the Committee on Committees.

(2) Select laison positions (ie. Mental Health Board, Valley Hi Board, MCCD Board etc.) subject to Board approval.

(3) Select appointments to the various Commissions and Boards subject to Board approval where allowed by state statute (currently each subject matter committee for that Commission or Board makes recommendations following interviews so that should continue. Some positions such as Metra Board do not require Board approval).

(4) Prepare the agenda for the full Board meetings and chair those meetings

(5) Interface with other units of local government and various agencies

(6) Other ceremonial functions (ie ribbon cutting). We also eliminated the provision that allowed the Chair to co administer the county departments on a day to day basis so that will no longer occur.


County Board Asserts Its Legislative Role — 3 Comments

  1. Very strange to see the board act this way.

    Statements from Walkup, Kurtz, Wheeler, and Gasser along with Koehler and Provenzano dominated the discussion.

    I am quite sure this is not what was planned.

  2. Strange… but how refreshing!

    Kudos to all who stood strong to help bring this level of government back to those who have elected them to their positions.

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.