Lombard trustees trying -- and so far failing -- to choose an acting leader in the month since former Village President Bill Mueller's death aren't necessarily working against a ticking clock.
State law requires village board members to elect an acting president from among themselves, but does not set any deadline for them to do so, village attorney Tom Bayer said Friday.
In the wake of the second unsuccessful attempt to pick a president to serve until the April election, most trustees say it will take one-on-one conversations and a fresh idea for a consensus to develop.
"It's going to have to be a new idea, something that will make both sides compromise," said Trustee Bill Ware, referring to two voting groups that have deadlocked in a 3-3 vote over almost every option.
Ware and trustees Greg Gron and Keith Giagnorio form one side, while trustees Peter Breen, Zachary Wilson and Laura Fitzpatrick make up the other.
"It does need to be a new idea," Fitzpatrick said Friday. "We're more than agreeable to try something new."
Trustees already have suggested -- and shot down -- multiple options. Motions to elect Wilson, Gron, Fitzpatrick, Ware and Breen have been rejected, along with a plan to rotate the position monthly.
Other ideas, such as electing the trustee who receives the fewest points when all rank themselves from one to six or splitting the time between now and April in half between one trustee from each faction, have been shunned without an official vote.
While state statute provides no deadline for picking an acting president, trustees in both groups say they are feeling pressure from residents to resolve the matter.
"It's a shame we got to this point," Ware said. "We should be able to move on with the business of the village."
Still, in the mind of at least one trustee, negotiations took a step backward Thursday night when the Gron-Giagnorio-Ware bloc abruptly left the board meeting during a recess about 9:15 p.m.
Breen called the walkout "deceptive and underhanded" and said he believes it was premeditated.
"The actions taken by the three trustees last night were deceptive and a breach of trust," Breen said Friday. "How can anyone on that side claim to be able to lead the village?"
The trustees who left said they had some idea they may need to exit suddenly if negotiations stalled, but they tried to avoid the walkout by calling for a vote to adjourn. After that vote failed 3-3 along the typical voting lines, Gron called for a recess.
"It seemed like it wasn't gong anywhere," he said. "There weren't any new ideas being produced. I thought it was futile."
Trustees who stayed at the meeting said discussions were moving slowly forward. The sides say they were using recesses to have one-on-one conversations away from the crowd of about 25 people at village hall and the cameras recording the meeting for live public-access TV. Those who stayed expected the break Gron called to be productive.
"The conversations were starting," about new possibilities for how to fill the leadership void, Fitzpatrick said. "They decided not to even discuss it ... The mere fact that they left the chambers, that's conduct unbecoming of a public official."
Giagnorio is the only trustee who has not been suggested as acting village president because he said he intends to run for the seat in April. Wilson also has said he plans to run, but Fitzpatrick and Breen nominated him before the board agreed to remove announced village president candidates from consideration.
"One of the six of us needs to step up and compromise," Wilson said. "Someone will have to be the bigger man and hopefully minimize the damage in the next eight months."