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Article posted: 2/13/2013 5:31 PM

Pressure forces change in chairman's policy

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen

 
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A third initiative pushed by Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen dissolved Wednesday following push back from his fellow elected officials against a new policy restricting their ability to voice potential opposition.

Lauzen last week put new restrictions on which county board members could speak at his Executive Committee meetings. The restrictions forced the only 10 members of the county board not on the committee to sign up to speak as a member of the public if they wished to voice an opinion. Several board members said with the change Lauzen was robbing them of their ability to adequately represent their constituents.

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Responding to that peer pressure Wednesday, Lauzen said he would again allow all board members to comment at Executive Committee. In announcing the change of heart, Lauzen said he believed he was being held to a higher standard than his predecessor, Karen McConnaughay. At one point she implemented a change, which came to be known as the "Bonnie Rule," that restricted non-Executive Committee members to only making comments on issues before the committee. They could not ask questions. The rule was an effort to curb frequent cross examinations of county staff by county board member Bonnie Kunkel at Executive Committee meetings.

"Did anyone really complain during the Bonnie Kunkel rule?" Lauzen asked. "I couldn't find any objection in the minutes of the meetings. But I understand there is a new, higher standard. And I'm happy to accommodate that."

So was the county board, which unanimously approved the reversal.

"Thank you for listening," county board member Mark Davoust said. He was one of the 10 board members who would've been restricted. "I did advocate for this change. It was never with the intention of abandoning decorum."

This is the third time in as many months a Lauzen initiative has fallen by the wayside following criticism from a large portion of the county board. Last month, Lauzen abandoned the idea of creating a new deputy chairman position when the parameters for the new role disintegrated in a rare partisan battle on the board.

The county board also rebuffed Lauzen's effort to hire a political ally, Robert Sauceda, to be the new animal control director.

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