Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting - January 19, 2017
Highlights from the Meeting:
Most of the MWRD Board Meeting was spent discussing the report on the rejection of a bid by Industria, Inc. on an RFP to Design, Build, Operate and Maintain a Native Plant and Tree Nursery at the Hanover Park Water Reclamation Plant, Fischer Farm. (Agenda Item #9)
Other Item of Note:
During Public Comment - Mr. Smith, who has a bee keeping business, made a case for partnering with the MWRD to have bee hives on MWRD property. He has been working on projects throughout the city establishing bee hives. The Board expressed interest.
Observer - Cynthia Schilsky Length of Meeting - 2 hours
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting - January 5, 2017
Highlights from the Meeting:
The following Board Members were nominated and elected unanimously:
A contract for a native plant and tree nursery at the Hanover Park Water Reclamation Plant was not approved. Comm. Shore stated that she hoped that native plants would be central and that this project would include plans for "work force development." Concerns with the bid also included that there was no bid deposit required and the same firm has been at least 20% over bid. The Director said that MWRD is beginning to learn what the cost of green-infrastructure is and he will have another bid process prepared. (Agenda Item 27)
Commissioners also expressed concern with another project that had many change orders to the contract. Apparently there was additional cost due to a ruptured pipe but the subcontractor was not at fault since the pipe was not properly drained. (Agenda Item 32)
During Public Comment, Citizen Mr Blackmore gave comments saying he was here to “count the cows”and “drink the milk” – he wants good policy and services for black people of Chicago and Cook County. He said there is a little clique that all elected themselves – he said the president of the MWRD should be elected by the people. There was objection voiced by the Board to Mr. Blakemore saying the Board is corrupt.
To view meeting agenda
Observer - Cate Whitcomb
Public Hearing on 2017 MWRD Budget - December 1, 2016
The Civic Federation was the only speaker at this Public Hearing. However, Commissioner Avila at the end of the hearing raised concerns about the process being followed for selecting people for Deputy Director positions.
Laurence Msall, President of the Civic Federation, a non-partisan government research organization, expressed support for the proposed $1.13 billion proposed budget, stating that:
However, Mr. Msall also expressed the concern over the size of the unfunded liabilities under the pension fund, despite the strides that the MWRD has taken and is taking. The Civic Federation’s report on the budget can be found HERE.
While not pertinent to the budget, Commissioner Avila expressed concern that only one person (presumably the Executive Director) was making decisions about who would be hired for Deputy Director positions. Executive Director St. Pierre stated that Deputy Directors are only hired when an existing Director states an intention to retire. When that happens and the Board approves a deputy position, there is a 3-person team who interviews candidates and makes a recommendation as to whom should be hired. President Spyropoulos suggested that the process be circulated for review by the Commissioners. Commissioner Shore pointed out that if any employee feels the process has been unfair, there are procedures in place to deal with any complaints.
Observer - Priscilla Mims
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting - October 6, 2016
President Spyropoulos called the 10:30 meeting to order at 10:50 am, and ended proceedings at noon. Public Speaker, Mr. George Blakemore, passionately questioned how a one-term MWRD Commissioner (no longer in office) could receive free lifetime health insurance from the district. No one at the meeting responded to this comment.
Significant Decisions Made:
Observer: Laurie Morse
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting - September 1, 2016
Significant Decisions Made:
Resource Recovery Ordinance Approved (Agenda Item 16-010B):
Health Plan Authorized (Agenda Item 16-0888):
Major items discussed:
Leasing of space in 101-111 East Erie Street Building (Agenda Item 16-0906):
Cal-Sag Channel Swimming Policies - Now that swimming is allowed in the Cal-Sag Channel, Commissioners thought that new policies should be created to allow for the safety of swimmers in an area that also has barges.
Other item of note:
Public speakers were given time to speak at the beginning of the meeting and when the board reconvened after a 5 minute break.
Observer: Nancy Marcus Meeting Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting - May 5, 2016
Major Items Discussed:
Restore the Canopy; Plant a Tree Program. Executive Director David St. Pierre asked the Board to help publicize that the MWRD is giving away 100,000 18 inch oak saplings to municipalities, community groups, and schools to distribute and plant throughout Cook County. Individuals can also pick up the free trees every Wednesday from 9 am to 12 noon at the Calumet, Egan, Hanover Park, Kirie, O’Brien, and Stickney Water Reclamation Plants, and during the public tours and open houses at these plants on Saturday, May 21. To find out more, contact the MWRD Office of Public Affairs at email@example.com or at 312-751-6633. Trees provide rain absorption (helping to reduce flooding) and a canopy that reduces city heat island effects. They can also absorb carbon gasses and produce oxygen.
Free Rain Barrel Program. The Board approved an increase in the contract for the furnishing and administration of the rain barrel program by $1.3 million from $2.5 million to $3.8 million. Agenda item 31, #16-0453. This will only carry the program to September, and Executive Director St. Pierre said that he will be coming back to the Board for additional money to continue the program to the end of 2016. Based on the discussion, this observer understands that there had been a consent decree under which the Board had agreed to distribute 15,000 rain barrels at no charge, but had also separately authorized the program through 2017. To date, approximately 45,000 rain barrels have been distributed. Several Commissioners asked for a study session to discuss whether to continue the program beyond 2016 and whether there would be a better use for the money currently being spent on the program. It was noted by Commissioners that if the decision is to end the program, then there needs to be lots of communication with the public about this. Executive Director St. Pierre said that the MWRD would probably continue to make rain barrels available at a charge in that case.
Other items of note:
New Rules on Public Comments in Effect. As discussed in prior Eyewitness Reports, this was the first meeting that the new rules limiting public comments to the beginning of the meeting went into effect. The presiding officer does have the discretion to allow comments at other times. At this meeting, citizen George Blakemore spoke at the beginning, prior to the convening of the Committee of the Whole (and he complained about the reduction this new rule has on public participation as compared to the old rules), and then again after the Board reconvened prior to the meeting ending (when he stated the Board members should be doing more to get the public to attend the meetings). This observer is seeking clarification on the rules from MWRD Staff.
Partnership Agreement with DuPage County Stormwater Management, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, and the DuPage River Salt Creek Work Group to facilitate the sharing of resources and responsibilities to better protect the West Branch of the DuPage River and the Salt Creek watershed in a responsible manner. There was no discussion of this agreement, but it was approved, and appears to this observer as a positive step to utilize the collective expertise to promote cost efficient resource allocations among the parties, which is the mission of the partnership.
Priscilla Mims - Observer
Individual authors are credited at the end of each report.