Rabattini blames recent absences on illness but won't give details
Island Lake trustee cites undisclosed illness as reason for repeated absences
Noticeably absent from board meetings in recent months because of an unspecified malady, Island Lake trustee Laurie Rabattini on Monday said she plans to return to work "effective immediately."
In a July 16 email acquired this weekend by the Daily Herald, Rabattini informed Mayor Debbie Herrmann, her fellow trustees and the village's attorney that she was unable to fulfill her elected responsibilities because of illness.
On Monday, however, Rabattini sent emails to officials and the Daily Herald saying she's back on the job.
"I have found it near impossible to get the needed break and rest needed, and my constituents will no longer be without a voice at the dais," Rabattini said.
Rabattini has suffered from an undisclosed ailment since her 2009 election. When asked by the Daily Herald about her illness, Rabattini refused to disclose the nature of the ailment, saying only it is not life-threatening.
"My condition is private," Rabattini said. "I do not feel obligated to share my diagnosis with anyone."
Rabattini said her decision to end her medical leave was prompted by a growing controversy over developing plans to build a new village hall and police station.
At last Thursday's board meeting, former Mayor Charles Amrich and other residents questioned the proposal and requested that voters be allowed to choose if a new facility should be built. People have complained about the plan at dailyherald.com and elsewhere online, too.
"The latest village hall controversy and the resident uproar has made it impossible for me to stay out of village politics or the boardroom," Rabattini told the Daily Herald.
If she can't attend meetings in person, Rabattini said she will participate by telephone, which is allowed by state law.
Rabattini's announcement came as the Daily Herald was investigating her multiple absences.
According to village records, Rabattini has missed nine of the 15 board meetings held this year, more than any other trustee.
Rabattini last attended a board meeting May 24, records show.
Herrmann called Rabattini's absences excessive.
Trustees said they're aware Rabattini has been ill, but they don't know the extent of the problem.
Some believe Rabattini should have disclosed her intended absences to the media and the public, not just to the board.
"The public has a right to know when one of their elected officials is going to be absent for an extended length of time," trustee Thea Morris said.
Illinois law does not recognize a local elected official's ability to take medical leave, but they can skip meetings, no explanation needed. The law doesn't require trustees to attend a minimum number of meetings, either.
Rabattini is the latest Illinois politician whose health has affected job performance.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park suffered a stroke in January that has kept him out of the office.
More recently, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Chicago has been on medical leave since June. His conditions — identified as depression and gastrointestinal issues — were only disclosed last week by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he is being treated.
In an email to the Daily Herald, Rabattini defended Jackson's right to privacy.
"Also, I am a public servant of a small town, not a major city or the country, so my medical issues, I felt, were private, and I didn't want them in the paper voluntarily," she said.
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