Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen announced committee appointments Tuesday that would not only alter the balance of power in the county but also the structure of the government itself. And not all elected officials are happy about it.
Lauzen asked the county board for support in creating a new "deputy chairperson." Lauzen would appoint the deputy, who would act as a legislative whip, working to gather county board votes for Lauzen's initiatives.
Lauzen's first appointmentsKane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen announced committee appointments with an eye for equality in race, gender, geography and political parties, he said Tuesday.
Ÿ There will be 13 standing committees if the county board supports Lauzen's push for a new Jobs Committee and new Agriculture Committee.
Ÿ Democrats would have a chairman role in six of those committees. Republicans would have nine chairman slots including the Executive Committee, which Lauzen leads.
Ÿ The county has its first two female, Hispanic committee chairmen. They are both Democrats. Monica Silva is chairman of the Public Health Committee. Cristina Castro is chairman of the Human Services Committee.
Ÿ Drew Frasz is the new vice chairman of the county board. Democrat Jennifer Laesch attempted to nominate an unknown alternate candidate but was denied the chance.
Ÿ Three freshmen board members were given chairman roles. Republican Kurt Kojzarek is the chairman of the Energy and Environmental Committee. Democrat Brian Pollock is the proposed co-chairman of the new Jobs Committee.
Ÿ The busiest member of the new county board will be Melisa Taylor. She was appointed to seven committees.
Ÿ Three county board members were appointed to only two committees: Silva, Republican Susan Starrett, and Lauzen political rival, Republican Mike Kenyon.
Lauzen also announced a desire to create two new county board committees: Agriculture and Jobs. Lauzen said the local agricultural industry deserves its own committee because it is one of the county's largest employers. The formation of a Jobs Committee is in response to the tough economy and campaign promises.
"There wasn't a campaign that was run in this past cycle that didn't focus on jobs," Lauzen said. "We need to organize a task force for people employing currently or thinking about growing their business in Kane County."
Finally, Lauzen introduced the concept of using co-chairmen, one Democrat and one Republican, for the Legislative and Jobs committees. Those voting groups should have a visibly bipartisan approach, Lauzen said, to set an example for Springfield and Washington, D.C.
Lauzen's ideas appeared on the full county board agenda Tuesday as if they were ready for a vote. Several board members, including Mike Donahue, Mark Davoust and Jesse Vazquez, called for a full discussion of the ideas, and public comment, before any final decision.
That alone indicates Lauzen does not yet have the legislative force wielded by his predecessor, Karen McConnaughay. McConnaughay created the Energy and Environmental Committee with no review, public comment or formal alteration of county code.
Board members all agreed a thorough review, and the transparency that comes with it, is a good idea. In an interview, Vazquez said he intends to use the committee process to raise some major concerns with Lauzen's initiatives.
Vazquez believes Lauzen's two new committees grow the size and cost of county government in contrast to Lauzen's pledge to be lean. He also believes the idea of co-chairmen will render both the Legislative and Jobs committees ineffective anytime the chairmen don't agree on an issue. Vazquez was the Legislative Committee chairman in the McConnaughay administration. Under Lauzen, Vazquez is set to share that duty with Republican Maggie Auger.
"It would be dysfunctional," Vazquez said. "Robert's Rules of Order doesn't call for any co-chairs. Parliamentary procedure doesn't call for any co-chairs. So I have questioned the ability of that committee to work. You say you want to be bipartisan, and you want to be a team player. Show it. You're not showing it now."
Vazquez said he was also disappointed that board members didn't get the language for Lauzen's proposed changes to the county code until Monday night. That left little time for board members, including himself, to truly review the intricacies of Lauzen's plans, he said.
"If you want to be transparent, start doing it," Vazquez said.
"Quit saying you're going to do it, then do something else."
Lauzen rejected an interview request following the board meeting in favor of attending a charity food drive.