Mayor Sandra Bury defended her failure to follow the law she and her allies created over a year ago, whereby all ordinances were supposed to be discussed in a “committee of the whole” meeting prior to being voted on at a regular board meeting.
The defense came at a recent meeting as Bury named five local residents to a newly created Liquor Commission that she instituted claiming she needed assistance. Bury first raised the issue in another regularly scheduled meeting in August but the board did not discuss the matter. Instead, she asked for Trustees to contact her privately rather than discussing it in an open meeting.
At the September 8th meeting, Bury introduced an ordinance, that had already been prepared by the village’s legal counsel, to create a Liquor Commission. With no discussion, she asked for and received a motion and a second to pass the ordinance while claiming that the new process would bring democracy to the process of liquor license issues.
Trustee Robert Streit (Dist. 3), who has previously objected to the administration’s “historic lack of transparency”, questioned Bury on the process. Streit asked Bury whether the new ordinance had been vetted before a committee. Bury said that “it doesn’t need to per state statute but I do want to make it clear at a board meeting…”.
Streit then asked if the proposal had been brought before the committee of the whole, which was a meeting created for the purpose of not surprising any Trustee with business and allowing a full discussion of the issue. Bury answered that the proposal had not gone before the Committee of the Whole because “certain times when we would have the committee of the whole it was turned into a circus and I thought it would be more effective to make the introduction to the concept at the last meeting, request feedback and input and for the trustees that provided it I’m very appreciative and then it’s discussed again in open forum. And I feel this is good government,” Bury stated.
Bury failed to state which Trustees provided any input and what the feedback was that she used in drafting the ordinance. As reported by the Oak Lawn Leaf last week, Trustee William “Bud” Stalker and Streit made several suggestions at the village board meeting when the matter was discussed and none of the suggestions were used. The Mayor’s four allies on the board, voted in favor of the proposal but did not mention if they provided any changes to the Mayor’s original idea.
The “Committee of the Whole” is a meeting that was created by Trustee Michael Carberry (Dist. 6) and includes all six Trustees as well as the Mayor. The committee structure, despite Bury’s description of it being a “circus”, is codified as an ordinance in the village’s code of ordinances. The stated purpose of the committee, as set forth in the ordinance is as follows:
The purpose of the committee of the whole meetings shall be primarily for discussing and vetting items which will be brought before the village board for eventual consideration and approval. Routine committee and commission referrals need not be placed on the committee of the whole agenda unless said referrals require a presentation and/or upon which discussion is anticipated. In no event shall the committee of the whole vote on ordinances or resolutions.
Streit said that the Mayor’s actions and the board majority’s acquiescence shows that the Mayor opposes real transparency. “She intentionally violates the ordinance, has private rather than public discussions about appointments and the creation of a new commission and then tells us it is good government when we all know better, ” said Streit.
Streit said that the administration began with a secret meeting and a hit list and has continued down the same path of making decisions behind closed doors without public input.