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posted: 6/10/2013 5:30 AM

Lombard relies on protocol for temporary leadership

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Lombard will make no law that spells out who will lead if Village President Keith Giagnorio is temporarily unavailable, but officials say a provision in normal meeting procedures has them covered.

The board is choosing to fall back on Robert's Rules of Order.

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The rules, standard for most governments, say governing bodies are to select a temporary chairman at the beginning of any meeting at which the chairman is absent.

Giagnorio said using this method to choose leadership in the event he is away allows the board to get on with business without sparking more political divisions than already have surfaced in recent months. He said he polled trustees and most were comfortable leaving out of Lombard's municipal code any mention of a procedure for choosing a president pro tem.

"We pretty much worked together on that and came up with the solution of just not having that position right now. The way it was looking, it could get contentious and it wasn't worth it," Giagnorio said. "I canvassed the board and everyone was pretty much in agreement that it didn't warrant us to start picking sides."

The issue of temporary leadership has caused political divides in Lombard since the death in August of longtime Village President William J. "Bill" Mueller.

A previous ordinance that gave the role of president pro tem to the senior trustee was deleted in October, leaving Lombard with nothing on the books about who should step in when the elected village president is absent but has not died or resigned his post.

Trustees Peter Breen and Laura Fitzpatrick suggested in January the board vote shortly after each election on a president pro tem to fill in during any temporary absence or illness of the village president.

But when the issue was reconsidered last month, several newly elected or appointed trustees said they were uncomfortable with casting such a vote so soon after joining the board, fearing too much politics could be inserted into the decision.

On Thursday, Breen moved for the latest proposal under consideration -- reverting to the senior trustee method for temporary leadership -- be tabled indefinitely.

Conversations with Giagnorio led him to agree it is best to proceed, for now, at least, without a specific ordinance governing the selection of short-term leadership. If an absence occurs, Breen said the board will find a way to handle it at that point, choosing a meeting presider from among themselves.

"That was the consensus of members of the board," he said. "And that allows us to move forward."

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