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Article updated: 3/18/2013 1:28 PM

Island Lake candidates split on transparency at village hall

By Russell Lissau

Some of the candidates for seats on Island Lake's village board say the town's leaders haven't been open enough with the public.

Others are comfortable with the level of government transparency in the village.

Six candidates are running for three seats on the board. None are incumbents.

The candidates are divided into two slates. Mark Beeson, Keith Johns and Tony Sciarrone are running under the For the People banner; Ed McGinty, Ken Nitz and Josh Rohde are part of the United for Progress slate.

The candidates talked about transparency, ways to improve government openness and other issues in endorsement interviews with the Daily Herald.

Beeson, a local activist and outspoken critic of Mayor Debbie Herrmann and her allies, described what he sees as a "terrible lack of transparency in our village."

He was particularly concerned about the amount of business that's discussed privately in closed session and only voted upon publicly.

Under Illinois law, government agencies can discuss land acquisition, pending litigation, labor union issues and many other matters behind closed doors. Votes, however, must be public.

Beeson also criticized the board's recent decision to eliminate one of the two public-comment segments of board meetings. He also thinks board meetings should be videotaped for subsequent broadcast.

"That could be done now," he said. "If they wanted to do it, they would."

Johns was critical of the level of transparency, too. Like Beeson, he called for meetings to be videotaped and shown on the village's website.

"I feel every village resident has the right to know what's going on," Johns said.

McGinty believes village officials are being "as transparent as they can."

Still, he suggested the village's website should be better used to share information with the public. Some of the information on the site, he said, is obsolete.

As for videotaping meetings, McGinty said he's not familiar with the issue.

Nitz didn't see a problem with transparency at village hall, although he suggests residents could be a little more involved in decisions.

He doesn't see videotaping meetings as an imperative.

"That's more money that we want to spend if we want to do all that," Nitz said.

If people are concerned about an issue, they should attend meetings, he added.

Rohde differed with his slate mates on this issue, saying officials need to be more open with the public.

"There is an issue," he said. "Residents deserve to know what is happening before it happens."

Rohde was particularly critical of the online collection of meeting summaries, which are months behind.

"Bring those up to date," he said.

Rohde also suggested village hall publish newsletters bimonthly instead of quarterly.

Rohde said he's "not necessarily opposed" to videotaping meetings. He wants to study the pros and cons of the issue.

Sciarrone said he didn't believe the current administration's actions are very transparent, but he didn't cite any specific problems or shortcomings.

He said the board should get suggestions from residents "on just about most issues."

The For the People team also includes mayoral hopeful Charles Amrich and clerk candidate Teresa Ponio.

The United for Progress slate includes Herrmann and incumbent Clerk Connie Mascillino.

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