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updated: 6/21/2011 5:57 PM

Island Lake mayor's vetoes stand

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  • New trustees Thea Morris, left, and Shannon Fox have helped defeat recent veto overrides in Island Lake.

      New trustees Thea Morris, left, and Shannon Fox have helped defeat recent veto overrides in Island Lake.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Shannon Fox

      Shannon Fox

  • Thea Morris

      Thea Morris

 
 

For much of this year, Island Lake village board meetings have been bogged down by battles over proposals pushed by the board majority but opposed by Mayor Debbie Herrmann.

Herrmann has vetoed many of these attempts, which have included efforts to hire a second law firm for the village and to give the board power to hire a police chief. But for months, trustees overrode every veto, forcing the issues through.

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Last week, however, two newly elected trustees -- both part of a campaign slate that was critical of Herrmann -- cast votes that helped kill several new override attempts.

Those two trustees, Shannon Fox and Thea Morris, joined with board members Chuck Cermak and Connie Mascillino to oppose three overrides, which meant Herrmann's vetoes in the matters -- all made before the new trustees took office -- will stand.

Fox said she agreed with Herrmann's vetoes because the changes being proposed would have removed the mayor from certain decisions, giving power completely to the board.

"We were all elected, and items demand for all of our opinions to be considered," Fox explained Tuesday.

Morris could not be reached for comment.

In Island Lake, a mayor can veto any ordinance or amendment approved by the board. The board can override the veto and push forward the proposal with a simple majority vote.

The overrides rejected at last week's board meeting covered a variety of topics.

One concerned how the town's ethics adviser is chosen. It would have let the board choose the adviser without a recommendation from the mayor.

Another would have given trustees control of the town's lake management board, again taking the mayor out of the appointment process.

The third concerned aspects of the police department, including giving the board sole power to hire a police chief. The board votes to hire a chief now, but only after a recommendation from the mayor.

In all three cases, Fox, Morris, Cermak and Mascillino voted against reconsidering the proposals, a necessary step before an override vote. Trustees Laurie Rabattini and Donna O'Malley cast the only "yes" votes each time.

Rabattini, the most vocal critic of Herrmann's on the board, declined to comment. O'Malley could not be reached for comment.

The village board originally had approved the proposals in April and Herrmann vetoed them in May. Even though Fox wasn't on the board yet, when she saw the efforts sought to remove Herrmann from key personnel decisions, she knew she would oppose overrides.

"You don't leave somebody out in the cold because you don't like their politics," Fox said.

Herrmann praised Fox and Morris as "independent thinkers" for opposing the overrides. Board decisions should be based on what's good for the village, Herrmann said, not personal grudges.

"I don't think a village board should have sides," Herrmann said. "Hopefully that's gone."

Fox and Morris did vote to approve one override, an effort to pay attorney David McArdle for legal work done on behalf of the board. For that proposal, Mascillino and Cermak were in the minority.

"I pay my bills," Fox said. "If they use the services, we have to pay for them."

Another proposed override, concerning the potential hiring of a recreational program director, was rendered moot after the board opted to reinstate employee Karen Luebbers. Luebbers has been on unpaid leave following a December 2010 battery arrest.

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