By Michael Romain
At a January 15, 2014, Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, Mayor Perkins presented the Board of Trustees with profiles of candidates chosen to fill empty seats on the Village’s various volunteer commissions. A motion to present the nominations at the next regular board meeting was voted down 4-3, with Mayor Perkins, Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross and Trustee Michael Rogers providing the only affirmative votes. This was at least the Board’s third failed attempt to fill the commission vacancies.
At a December 17, 2013, regular board meeting, there were complaints from Trustees Melvin Lightford, Antoinette Dorris, Audrey Jaycox and Ron Rivers about the quality of, and rushed manner in which they recieved, the background information about the candidates.
“We as a Board would like to know something about these candidates,” said Trustee Ron Rivers. Trustee Melvin Lightford said that he was getting the list of the Mayor’s personnel recommendations for the first time at the December meeting.
“The only one I know is Dorothy Lane,” said Lightford, referring to the longtime Maywood resident and member of the Village’s Water Review Commission.
At the January LLOC meeting, Mayor Perkins was under the impression that she had accommodated the trustees’ concerns. She said that she’d sent out a revised candidate application that the prospective commissioners filled out. The completed applications were included in the trustees’ board packets. They included information regarding money owed to the Village, business dealings and past professional experience.
But the new information was accompanied by a host of problems that acquired new-found urgency among the four dissatisfied trustees, primarily the facts that only one candidate, Dorothy Lane Thomas, who is up for reappointment to the Water Review Commission, submitted a professional resume, and few of the candidates (except for Ms. Thomas) were present in person to be vetted by the Board.
“When this first started, we asked that people submit resumes,” said Trustee Dorris. “If we required some to present resumes, then all should present them.”
“I recall on several occasions us discussing this,” said Trustee Ealey-Cross. “Many of these willing to serve are retirees….They don’t get paid for this…I’m not quite sure why we’re now requiring a resume when they’re serving in a capacity of volunteerism….It’s very hard to get people to volunteer these days….I was a volunteer on two commissions here and when I was asked, it required a bio. A bio pretty much just tells what you’ve done and what service you provide for that particular need….Everybody doesn’t have a resume.”
Trustee Dorris retorted that if Ms. Thomas, who is 77, can provide a resume, so can all the other retired candidates.
Trustee Rivers said that he had a problem confirming all of the candidates’ nominations in a group–similar to the way line items are lumped together in an omnibus agenda. To this concern, Trustee Rogers suggested that if certain trustees took issue with particular candidates, they could simply pull them from the grouping and vote on them individually, similar to the way the Board pulls items it wants to examine further from an omnibus agenda.
Trustee Jaycox cited some examples of candidates with potential conflicts of interest. One, for instance, serves on the board of a school district, Lindop School District 92, while another candidate wrote that he had a business interest in the Village that provided ice cream to senior citizens. Ms. Jaycox also noted that there seemed to be no Maywoodians on the economic development committee.
Attorney Michael Jurusik said that there are no residency requirements for the economic development commission, since non-residents may nonetheless own businesses in Maywood, giving them a major stake in the community’s economic development. With respect to the ice cream vendor, he said that a change in the law allows “volunteers to serve on board committees and commissions in certain limited instances…as long as their contracts and services never come before that committee.”
With respect to the school board member, Mr. Jurusik said that any conflict ultimately hinges on whether District 92 constitutes a taxing district that overlaps with Maywood’s taxing districts. That doesn’t appear to be the case based on a perusal of property tax records. An example of an overlapping taxing district is District 209, which receives tax revenue from residents in Maywood, Forest Park and Westchester, among other municipalities. No Maywoodian, however, pays taxes to District 92, which is solely supported, it seems, by the Village of Broadview.
What’s less ambiguous is the fact that, as these appointments continue to be delayed, some key commissions that the Village is bound by municipal law to fill will continue to sit empty. VFP
For a complete list of commission candidates and their completed application forms, click here.