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January 04, 2011

1. Call to Order

Mayor Pro Tem Marilyn Schnell called the regular meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Downers Grove Village Hall.  

Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

Mayor Schnell led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

2. Roll Call

Present: Commissioner Marilyn Schnell, Commissioner Bob Barnett, Commissioner William Waldack, Commissioner Sean P. Durkin, Commissioner Bruce E. Beckman and Commissioner Geoff Neustadt  Absent: Mayor Ron Sandack and Village Clerk April Holden  Non Voting: Village Manager David Fieldman, Village Attorney Enza Petrarca and Deputy Village Clerk Linda Brown  T he Council meeting is broadcast over the local FM radio station, WDGC.  In addition, a tape recording and videotape of the meeting are being made using Village owned equipment.  The videotape of the meeting will be used for later rebroadcast of the Council meeting over the Village cable television Channel 6.

The Council will follow the rules of conduct for this meeting as provided in Sec. 2.5 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code.  These offer the public the opportunity to comment at several points in the meeting.  First, immediately following approval of the minutes of the past meetings, an opportunity will be given for public comments and questions of a general matter.  If a public hearing is scheduled for this meeting, an opportunity is given for public comments and questions related to the subject of the hearing.  Finally, an opportunity is given for public comments and questions on items appearing on the Consent Agenda, the Active Agenda and the First Reading.

The presiding officer will ask, at the appropriate time, if there are any comments from the public.  If anyone wishes to speak, the individual should raise their hand to be recognized and, after acknowledgment from the presiding officer, approach the microphone and state their name and address.  Remarks should be limited to five minutes, and asked that individuals refrain from making repetitive statements.

Mayor Sandack said there are agendas located on either side of the Council Chambers, and he invited the audience to pick up an agenda and follow the progress of the Council meeting.

3. Minutes of Council Meetings

Executive Session Minutes for Approval Only - December 7, 2010  Council Meeting - December 21, 2010 There being no additions or corrections to the minutes, Mayor Schnell said they would be filed as submitted.

4. Public Comments - General Comments on Matters Not Appearing on Tonight's Agenda

Thomas LeCren, 545 Chicago Avenue, commented on the new meeting format instituted last year to save money and staff time.  He said there have been some criticisms and some praise, and he asked the Council members if they were satisfied with this change.  He then asked the Council members, as well as staff and the public, to make a New Year's resolution to disagree without being disagreeable in public meetings.

5. Public Hearings

6. Consent Agenda

COR 00-04378 A.  Claim Ordinance:  No. 5879, Payroll, December 17, 2010

Sponsors: Accounting A motion was made to Approve this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: N/A

BIL 00-04379 B.  List of Bills Payable:  No. 5872, January 4, 2011

Sponsors: Accounting A motion was made to Approve this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: N/A

MOT 00-04350 C.  Motion:  Approve a Contract with I/O Solutions, Inc. for Fire Lieutenant Promotional Process

Sponsors: Fire Department A motion was made to Approve this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Fire Department Passed The Consent Agenda

A motion was made by Commissioner Barnett, seconded by Commissioner Beckman, that the consent agenda be passed. The motion carried by the following vote: Votes: Y ea: Commissioner Schnell, Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Waldack, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Beckman and Commissioner Neustadt

7. Active Agenda

8. First Reading

MOT 00-04380 A.  Motion:  2011 Top Priority Action Items

Sponsors: Manager's Office V illage Manager Dave Fieldman provided the goals for 2011 and beyond.  The first four goals have been in existence since the 2006 strategic planning efforts.  He reviewed them as:  Stewards of Financial and Environmental Sustainability; Exceptional Municipal Services; Top Quality Infrastructure; and, Strong Local Economy.  This year they have added the goal of Continual Innovation.

The Manager then commented on this month's issue of Public Management Magazine, which contains an article on investing on innovation from within.  The article highlights Downers Grove's Innovation Team's cost-savings efforts and results.

The Council and staff have discussed the nine high priority action items over the course of the last year.  One item is how the Village will hold itself accountable on the Village website by updating activities every month.  In addition, staff will continue submitting quarterly reports to the Village Council.  The Village will also look for flexibility relative to financial items.  He noted that this is not a binding list, but is a work plan.

Commissioner Neustadt said that the Downtown Parking Study struck him as an important issue.  He recently received questions regarding handicapped parking in the downtown area.  Overall, these are great action items.  The downtown stores are pretty much full with few retail spots available.

Commissioner Beckman noted some modifications in terminology, such as in #4, Preparation for the 2012 Bond Issue Program.  He understood that the bonds were intended for the watershed implementation plan, and asked whether the Village is veering away from that intent.

Mr. Fieldman said it could shift priority a bit because there have been increased inquiries as to the condition of Village roads.  In addition, there is some money available from the 2008 bond issuance for stormwater.  Some bids came in lower than expected, so the funds from 2008 could be used for stormwater, while the 2012 funds could extend to other necessary projects.

Mayor Pro-Tem Schnell noted that these are not in any specific priority order, and the Manager said that was correct.  Mayor Schnell then noted that the 2012 bond issuance would not take place until after April 2011.

Commissioner Durkin asked if there is any reason why the Village should not act on that sooner to take advantage of the pricing.  The Manager responded that they intend to have the financial team look at this right away to determine options.  Staff will report back to the Council as soon as options are considered.  Indexes: Strategic Plan

RES 00-04381 B.  Resolution:  Provide for Electronic Attendance

Sponsors: Village Attorney M anager Fieldman explained that this resolution would allow Mayor Sandack to attend meetings electronically through the end of his Mayoral term this May.  This is at the request of Mayor Sandack.

1.  Bill Wrobel, 7800 Queens Court, said that he was pleased to address Commissioner Schnell as Mayor Pro-Tem.  He said he is somewhat disillusioned to have to address this issue.  He voted for Mayor Sandack proudly.  He did not vote for him for State Senator.  His State Senator is Ms. Radogno.  When he read the agenda for this meeting, and the dissertation on Elaine Johnson's blog, it expounded on the history of the request for electronic attendance at meetings.  In the past Martin Tully, Bill Waldack, and Marilyn Schnell have used electronic attendance.  In tonight's situation they are going into a situation predicated by a job taken willingly, and this predisposes any other precedent issued by the Council.  It presents the Council with a burden of about $6000 plus staff time if this is approved.  He has gone through the budget expenses and feels it is a burden to the Village to offer this assistance to Mayor Sandack.  If Mayor Sandack would want to do this, it should be an out-of-pocket expense to him, or by the State of Illinois.  This should not be borne by the citizens of Downers Grove.  The Mayor voluntarily accepted the position.

Mr. Fieldman corrected that the expected costs would be $500 in total, and not $500 per meeting.

Mr. Wrobel said the expense should still be Mayor Sandack's.

Commissioner Waldack commented that he has no problem with the Senator attending meetings electronically.  He said the proposed resolution is unnecessary and against the rules.  Commissioner Waldack then read a prepared statement regarding electronic attendance, which requested that the Council members pull this resolution from the Agenda.  He said he has no problem with the Senator attending meetings electronically.  Almost all the Council members here have done so at one time or another, including himself.  It is important that elected officials attend all meetings and attendance should not be used to gain political advantage.

Having said that, he finds that the proposed resolution is unnecessary, against the rules, that there really are no efficiencies, and the Council could take some steps in improving relations if it continued to operate under our same procedures.  With absolutely no changes, Senator Sandack could still attend all meetings as requested.  However, Commissioner Waldack said he would remind the Senator that we only meet three times a month, the Senator wants to keep the mayor position, and his vote represents 14% of the issue whereas in the Illinois Senate he represents less than 2% of the vote and has no leadership role.  Maybe he should attend the Senate sessions electronically instead.

Commissioner Waldack then addressed Section 2.5 Rule 2, which defines the requirements and procedures for attending Council meetings electronically.

Without going through the entire rule, there are elements or conditions that must be met.  One is that there must be a quorum at the beginning and throughout the meeting.  The resolution agrees.

The member must assert one of three reasons for not being able to attend physically, employment being one of them.  Commissioner Waldack agreed that Senator Sandack could be considered absent due to business purposes and meets that requirement.

The member is required to notify the Clerk or Village Manager 48 hours in advance, unless impractical, for the equipment to be set up.  Clearly, adequate notice has been given.  The only question is if the State schedule is adjusted, if Senator Sandack has another commitment to his family or mortgage-paying job or is himself ill.  Commissioner Waldack said he has no problem preparing agendas or arranging equipment in advance.

The serious problem with the resolution is that it is unnecessary, there are no efficiencies to be gained, and modifies current rules and allows advance voting which Commissioner Waldack said he is told is illegal.

The Council rule clearly states that a "Quorum is physically present throughout the meeting and a majority of the Village Council votes to approve the electronic attendance at the beginning of the meeting."  Clearly, the Council rules indicate that a vote will be taken "at the meeting."

Commissioner Waldack noted that the resolution includes a schedule, not facts - not reality.  Council members miss meetings, they have family emergencies.  We don't know the future, and so on these dates, if the equipment is ready and the Senator is at work, personal or state, or he is ill, or addressing a family emergency - he may attend the meeting electronically.  By the same token, at meeting time, he may not be able to attend.  We have to judge the facts as they occur at the time and place of the meeting because none of us here on January 11 is going to know the facts.

Commissioner Waldack said that regardless of the resolution, the same Rule Section C outlines the voting procedures.  "After a roll call establishing that a quorum is physically present, the presiding officer shall call for a motion that a member may be permitted to attend the meeting electronically after specifying the reason entitling the absent member to attend electronically. The motion must be approved by a vote of a majority of the Village Council."

A motion must be made, seconded, and voted upon by the attending members.  We can't vote on motions not made or seconded, we can't vote on future motions.  We can't vote on motions made at meetings that we might not be attending ourselves.  With this resolution, we may casting a future vote to allow attendance by a member at a future meeting that we may not be attending ourselves.

Commissioner Waldack said he asked the legal department to prepare a statement or resolution or something that said that if he was not attending a meeting, he would like to approve the Consent Agenda and vote against any motion that would increase property taxes if he was not physically or electronically present at a meeting.  In a sense, a future vote, just in case.

Commissioner Waldack said he was advised that such a statement or resolution would be illegal:  "State law provides only one means to vote when a member cannot be present at a meeting and that member must attend the meeting electronically in order to cast a vote (5 ILCS 120/7). Robert's Rules state that in a strictly deliberative assembly no member can vote who is not present when the question is put.  You are clearly asking to vote before the question is even put before the body, and this would violate Robert's rules.  If absentee voting, or the casting of a "future vote" prior to a question being put before the body is allowed it would be clearly provided for by State law or ordinance. The only form of "absentee" voting provided for when a member is unable to physically attend is contained in the electronic attendance act and Council rule 2."

This resolution clearly is an attempt at future or absentee voting and is therefore not allowed.

This resolution is possibly illegal, changes Council rules, and is totally unnecessary.

Commissioner Waldack said he recognizes that there may be a fear that if the right people are missing and the wrong people are in attendance, that a vote to not allow electronic attendance and a minority might decide in one meeting to stage some kind of legislative coup.  That is ludicrous.

Commissioner Waldack said he has taken advantage of electronic attendance.  Before four members of this Council were seated, a resolution of some importance was initiated by him and was on the agenda to be voted.  One member was missing who could not attend physically or electronically and Commissioner Waldack asked that his own agenda item be removed until that member was in attendance knowing that that member was opposed to the issue - it was the right thing to do.

Commissioner Waldack said he has been told that electronic attendance was never denied.  It is not only tradition, but a strong precedent.  Denial after such precedent would probably be found to be illegal.

The Senator has fulfilled the requirements and Commissioner Waldack said he sees no reason to deny electronic attendance provided that the requirements are still in fact met at the time of the actual meetings - and nobody will know that until actual meeting time.

Commissioner Waldack recalled a Saturday morning Council meeting about governance and trust.  This might be a step in the right direction.  He asked his fellow Council members to ask this resolution be pulled and agree that the Mayor is employed by the State and that timely legal notice has been met.

Attorney Petrarca said that the resolution includes a condition of when an electronic participation is allowed, it is legal and is allowed, and is simply an efficiency in order to take that vote at one time as opposed to each and every meeting.

Commissioner Neustadt supports the electronic means of attending.  In the case of Mayor Sandack, the Mayor is trying to outline his Senate schedule.  The Village is in a better place because of Mayor Sandack's position as State Senator.  He agreed that some of the things mentioned by Commissioner Waldack regarding voting might need more clarification.  In this particular case, there is efficiency, and he is happy to have a Senator from Downers Grove serving the Village and he will support this.

Commissioner Beckman had some serious concerns about this request.  He and the Mayor have had long conversations about this, and he is leaning toward supporting this next week.  He believes there are some marginal efficiencies to be gained.  It does give a signal to the staff to plan effectively and to gain financial efficiencies.  He doesn't expect that the Mayor will be needed at all of the meetings, but at least this sets a precedent for the future.

Commissioner Barnett stated that he was glad there is so much agreement on the dais, and it appears as though everyone agrees Mayor Sandack should and can participate electronically.  The Village Attorney believes this is legal.  He did research through Council policy going back to 1984 that speaks to two issues, including making use of modern management techniques to maintain and improve efficient and cost-effective delivery of Village services, participatory decision-making, and computer technology and other technological advantages from time to time.  The Council does not run the Village day-to-day, as that is the Manager's job.  Commissioner Barnett said he would support this and rely on the Village Attorney's opinion.

Commissioner Durkin said he supports this.

Mayor Pro-tem Schnell said she spoke with the Mayor, and most of these dates are not written in stone.  He said when he participates he would vote but not chair the meeting.  She indicated she would support this resolution as it gives the Village the opportunity to call Mayor Sandack and inform him of the upcoming meeting.  She also relies on the Village Attorney's opinion.

Commissioner Waldack said that they have all agreed and have been given the Attorney's opinion.  He said his problem with the resolution is the pre-approval since Council rules require the presiding chair to call the roll and determine if the electronic attendance is approved.  He asked why they are not revising the Council rule.

Village Attorney Petrarca said that the Council could determine their own rules.   Commissioner Waldack said he would not support the resolution if it allows pre-approval of attendance.

Commissioner Durkin said he values Commissioner Waldack's opinion, however, he believes Commissioner Waldack opened up a door in a unique situation.  The last time the Village had a State Senator was in the 1930s and O'Neill School is named after that Senator.  He would like to see this pass with a 6-0 vote to show unanimous support of Mayor Sandack.  He said if there is a way to get the information requested, and if the resolution has to be tabled for an additional week, he would like to see it done.  This is a unique situation.  As for the cost he thanked Mr. Wrobel for bringing that up, and that question can be directed to Mayor Sandack.  Commissioner Durkin said that the $500 investment is a great investment for the Village.

Commissioner Schnell asked whether extra time is necessary.  Village Attorney Petrarca said that the resolution could be revised, with the roll call taken at each individual meeting.  Commissioner Waldack said that was acceptable as long as all the statutes are met.      Indexes: Council Rules

9. Mayor's Report

Materials to be Received

Materials to be Placed on File

10. Manager's Report

REP 00-04375 Report: Environmental Sustainability Report M anager Fieldman asked Mary Van Milligen, Management Intern, to make the presentation, reporting on the most significant accomplishments of the Village in 2010.

Ms. Van Milligen said a more comprehensive report would be provided in early 2011.   She noted that the majority of accomplishments can be found in Fleet Services, including the establishment of an idling policy, installing 14 warming devices for snowplows, converting to nitrogen to fill tires, and 76% of the fleet using alternative fuel.  As to the Village facility improvements, there has been a lighting retrofit in the Village Hall, LED fixtures were installed in the Council Chambers, and two solar powered furnaces are now located in the well houses.  In Community Outreach, the third Annual Recycling Extravaganza was held, with 20,000 pounds of paper shredded, 600 pairs of eyeglasses collected, and 109,000 pounds of electronic equipment recycled.  In addition, the Village  is providing recycling of holiday lights, with 800 pounds already collected.  She said that staff and the Environmental Concerns Commission are  working together to establish 2011 environmental initiatives, and are also aggressively seeking grant opportunities.

Commissioner Beckman asked about the solar panels for the well houses, and Ms. Van Milligen said they are thermal heating panels to heat the well houses.

Commissioner Neustadt noted that some items outlined are about wind-powered turbines and solar power for residential uses.  He commented that there should be a connection between the Sustainability Report and the Community Development Department regarding Municipal Code and planning and zoning issues that would go through the ECC to allow those items.  The Manager replied that once the Council considers the Comprehensive Plan, attention will be turned to updating the Zoning Ordinance to include those issues.

Commissioner Neustadt reminded everyone that they can drop their Christmas lights off at Public Works through February 15.

Commissioner Waldack congratulated staff and the residents for these accomplishments.  He thinks the Village needs to set an example for the residents and should look at the building code to do even more with single-family homes.  He remembered an interview with the CEO of Waste Management saying that the maintenance on alternative fuel vehicles is expensive.  He hoped that staff would keep track of those expenses.  He looks forward to the upcoming programs of 2011.

Mayor Schnell then noted as solar panels and other types of uses come into play, it creates an esthetic issue, and she said they need to look carefully and alert people to what can and cannot be done in terms of how it affects neighbors.  There are grants available for people to convert to different energy sources and she asked if a whole package would be put together for the residents. The Manager said staff would continue to work with the ECC, which has been a driving force in this area, and work on putting such a package of information together.

Mayor Schnell then asked about items, such as old paint, and whether the Village would continue to put recycling events on the website.  Ms. Van Milligen said that DuPage County has information on its website, and Mayor Schnell asked that they find a way to link to other programs.

The Manager thanked ECC, as well as Brandon Dieter, Allison and Mary for their work.  Indexes: Sustainability Best Practices

11. Attorney's Report

Future Active Agenda

12. Council Member Reports and New Business

Commissioner Neustadt congratulated the Downers Grove North marching band for its attendance in the London New Year's Day parade.  They were great ambassadors for the Village of Downers Grove.  He also congratulated Brayer Teague who was given an award and recognized as a National Board Certified Teacher in November.

Commissioner Beckman said that the coat drive is still in effect and people can drop their coats off at Village Hall through January 7.    He then gave an update on his wife's situation with lung cancer, and, as of today, she has been given a clear bill of health.

Commissioner Durkin expressed his congratulations on that great news, echoed by the rest of the Council.    

13. Adjournment

Commissioner Barnett moved to adjourn.  Commissioner Beckman seconded the Motion.

Mayor Schnell declared the motion carried by voice vote and the meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.