Wauconda trustees want oversight of mayor's emails
Frustrated with the content of Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart's weekly emails to residents about village issues, trustees are looking to control the content and frequency of the missives.
Trustee Lincoln Knight publicly raised the issue at a meeting this month when he criticized and refuted statements Bart made about the village's finances in a Mayor's Message email March 27.
Then, at Tuesday night's board meeting, Knight said he wants an editorial committee to oversee the publication of the Mayor's Message. Knight didn't say who should serve on the committee.
If approved, such oversight would be required anytime the mayor, village clerk or a trustees wants to communicate on a large scale with the public using the village's electronic marketing system, Constant Contact, Knight said.
"This would be for all elected officials," he said.
Bart is the only Wauconda official who uses the system, however.
Knight said he also wants Bart's messages to be published quarterly rather than weekly. That request specifically targeted the Mayor's Message, which also are published on the village's Facebook page and its website, wauconda-il.gov.
Knight's proposal drew support from the other trustees at Tuesday's meeting. The board didn't actually vote on the proposed regulations, however.
Instead, Bart said the issue will be reviewed by a small committee and discussed at a future good-government summit.
In an email to the Daily Herald, Bart defended his weekly messages, saying they provide "accurate and current information."
"I believe we should openly and transparently communicate the actions of our government with the citizens we represent," he wrote.
Until a decision about the future of the messages is made, Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner will serve as "editor in chief" of the Mayor's Message and any other electronic communications from village hall, Bart said.
Maxeiner isn't crazy about that proposal. He doesn't think employees should be put in the middle of a dispute between elected officials about content.
"If elected officials are to be restricted from directly utilizing resources to prepare and disseminate public messages, staff may be put in an awkward position if directed to include content," Maxeiner wrote in a memo to the board. "For example, if a trustee or mayor directs staff to include a paragraph on a specific item, staff is not in a position to object."
Bart said he's individually spoken to each trustee about the issue. The details of those discussions weren't made public Tuesday, but trustees acknowledged they occurred.
"We've come to an understanding," Trustee Ken Arnswald said.
Proposed rules for electronic communication could come back to the board for a vote by June 1, officials said.