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updated: 3/20/2011 11:02 PM

End the bad behavior in Island Lake

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Daily Herald Editorial Board

The dysfunctional Island Lake village board continues to set the standard for politicians behaving badly.

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We've criticized them before in this space for squabbling like alley cats instead of concentrating on the people's business, but they show no signs of changing. It appears we'll have to pin hopes for a new course on the April 5 election when three newcomers will replace three incumbents who aren't seeking re-election.

The current theme of the infighting is political retribution, and it started a few weeks ago with Trustee Donna O'Malley's sudden shift of alliance on the board.

She joined the group that was formerly the board minority who had complained for years they were bullied by a series of 4-3 votes. Laurie Rabattini, John Ponio and Don Saville, along with O'Malley, now have the votes to do the bullying.

Instead of tackling any number of important issues facing the village and making improvements, the new majority is wielding its power like a cudgel, specifically attempting to strip authority from political nemesis and Mayor Debbie Herrmann.

For weeks now, they have been focused on removing her power to hire and fire the police chief and replacing the village's longtime law firm of Ancel Glink.

They have pointed to Herrmann's heavy-handedness in replacing the former police chief, and spiraling legal fees.

But part of their response has been to hire their own attorney. How can that help reduce legal bills?

Herrmann has fought back with her own form of political revenge by filing a lawsuit targeting her four opponents -- O'Malley, Ponio, Saville and Rabattini -- to block their continuing efforts to erode her powers.

In doing so, she has taken potentially costly and unnecessary action.

Village Attorney Stewart H. Diamond has pointed out publicly that any ordinance in conflict with state law is nullified. If the ordinance is illegal, it doesn't have to be enforced.

To that end, Diamond has told the board Illinois law empowers only mayors -- not village boards -- to appoint legal counsel. Only mayors and police commissions can hire and fire police chiefs, he has said.

This is a local government board spinning its proverbial wheels in the mud.

Clearly, there are no statesmen here, no one who has displayed any behavior that resembles looking out for residents' interests in a responsible way.

We hope the six newcomers running for trustee seats are watching carefully and taking notes. The current Island Lake village board is a prime example of bad governance at work and we'll look to the newcomers to correct the situation.

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