Wauconda trustees tired of mayor's behavior
Sick of seemingly endless political conflict, Wauconda trustees are moving forward with plans to criticize Mayor Frank Bart with a no-confidence vote at Monday's village board meeting.
"We can't have the next two years be like the last two years," Trustee Linda Starkey told the Daily Herald on Friday. "We need to make sure that the board and the mayor establish some workable relationship."
A collaborative approach to governing has been a publicly stated goal for Bart and the trustees since he was elected in April 2013 -- but it's been evasive just as long.
They've feuded over the leadership of the police department, a plan to bring Lake Michigan water to town, the future of the village's emergency dispatch center and other issues.
"Those are the three biggies," Starkey said. "And there's just been constant conflict along the way."
Trustee Chuck Black said he's been particularly frustrated by the number of times the board has had to react to controversial comments Bart has made in electronic messages to the community or in public.
"There is a definite lack of communication and understanding between Mayor Bart and the board," Black said.
When asked to answer questions about the pending no-confidence vote Friday, Bart issued a statement in which he acknowledged work is needed to "establish and maintain a positive working relationship" in the boardroom.
He didn't accept the blame the trustees have assigned him, however.
"Regardless of what was said or what they intend to do, I will not stop trying to work cooperatively with the trustees for the betterment of the community," Bart said.
The most recent dispute between Bart and the trustees arose July 20 when the mayor participated in a privately orchestrated teleconference about the emergency dispatch center plan without first alerting or inviting them or most of the town's residents.
That clandestine action was the last straw for Trustee Lincoln Knight, who called for a no-confidence vote to be added to the agenda for Monday's meeting.
In an email Friday, Bart defended the teleconference, which was organized by a conservative political group and former state House candidate Danielle Rowe.
"I will not stop reaching out to the residents and freely sharing information and always welcome the opportunity to engage with residents who reach out to me," Bart said. "I certainly will not be muzzled."
Monday's meeting is set for 7 p.m. at village hall, 101 N. Main St.
Like a censure, a no-confidence vote has no legal or political power other than to embarrass the target.
All six trustees support the no-confidence proposal.
"We've gone through this too many times," said Trustee Ken Arnswald, who can't attend Monday's meeting because of a schedule conflict. "We've tried talking to him, and it just doesn't seem to work."
After the no-confidence vote was proposed two weeks ago, Bart said he would wear it as a badge of honor. When asked to elaborate, he downplayed the punitive action and called it a "political slap on the hand."
That irritated Arnswald, who said Bart hasn't learned anything from the conflict or the board's lack of faith in his leadership.
"Hopefully, this will make a difference," Arnswald said.