LWVCC Recommendations May at Last Lead to Reform of Cook County Board Meeting Schedule
Cook County Board and Committee Meetings - July 13, 2016
Issue of Concern:
Twelve Committee Meetings beginning at 8:15 am were scheduled today prior to the 11am Board Meeting. Total time spent meeting was 7 hours, 15 minutes - 2 meetings held after that time in Executive Session and not open to the public. Comm. Suffredin decided to reschedule the Legislation & Intergovernmental Relations Committee hearing on the impact of the Family Medical Leave Act on staffing and the County budget when it became apparent that the meeting scheduled for 1pm would not begin until closer to 5pm, and those waiting to testify would probably not still be available.
Putting this issue into some context:
For the past 5 years, the League has been talking and writing letters to the Commissioners and President recommending that:
Perhaps as a result of what occurred at this meeting, the Commissioners may now be ready to act on the League’s recommendations. The July 13 meeting schedule was totally unrealistic and was aggravated by the fact that there were several times when there was an insufficient number of Commissioners present to establish a quorum. While some Committees still had to meet, the Board Meeting was begun 30 minutes late in order to deal with the Consent Agenda (when people are honored) and take public testimony. An hour was spent on the Consent Agenda, which was not unusual. Public testimony took 45 minutes (see below). The Board Meeting was then recessed in order to allow the remaining Committee meetings to be held, prior to resuming the Board meeting at 3:00, which ended at 3:30.
As a result, the Finance Committee did not begin taking public testimony until 2 pm, four (4) hours after the scheduled time. Only a handful of Commissioners were present when League Co-President Karin Hribar began to speak regarding the proposed amendment to Performance Based Management and Budgeting (see the first item below under “Actions Taken”). Ms. Hribar started by saying how disappointed she was that more Commissioners were not present to hear what the League had to say after having to wait so long to speak.
After her testimony, Commissioner Suffredin vowed that the Rules Committee, which he chairs, would find a solution to how to deal with the Consent Agenda so people can be honored without delaying the business of the Board. Commissioner Silvestri also urged that Committees, other than Committees of the Whole, be scheduled on a day prior to the Board meeting. Commissioners Daley, Goslin, and Sims expressed support for these changes.
Any reforms will be reported in future Eyewitness Reports.
Significant Actions Taken:
1. Approval of an ordinance amendment on Performance Based Management & Budgeting.
3. Appointments to the Cook County Health & Hospitals System (HHS) Independent Board:
(Items 16-4179, 4180, 4181, 4182, and 4178)
5. Received for filing:
Significant Items Referred to Committee:
Public Testimony at Board Meeting:
There were 15 speakers all urging that the Board take up a previously introduced proposed ordinance called the Responsible Business Act. Among other things, this ordinance would require companies to pay the County an amount for each employee not being paid a “living wage” as defined in the ordinance. The sponsor of the ordinance, Commissioner Steele urged its supporters to be respectful of the Commissioners with whom they were meeting, and said that he was working to get sufficient votes as well as to obtain a State law, which was preferable to a local County law.
Observer - Priscilla Mims
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