generic meeting picture

By Bob Balgemann


POPLAR GROVE – Poplar Grove made history Monday evening, May 2, when the first-ever committee of the whole (COTW) meeting was held.

Elected officials in attendance were Village President John Neitzel and trustees Don Bawden, Owen Costanza, Neeley Erickson, Jeff Goings, Ron Quimby, and Judi Zangs.

There were two people in the audience, relative to an agenda item, and one observer.

The adopted format calls for two such meetings each month.

The committee meeting dealing with administrative and zoning issues will be at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of the month. Trustee Ron Quimby is the chairperson. The second meeting, to be held the second Monday of the month, also at 6:30 p.m., will focus on financial and public work matters. That committee chairperson is Trustee Judy Zangs.

Each committee is comprised of six trustees and a village president.

Next, committee members will sit as the village board at 7 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month and consider recommendations made at the previous two meetings.

Presumably, most of the discussion will take place at the committee level, allowing village board meetings to move along at a faster pace.

The length of meetings was one of the concerns often expressed before the board voted earlier this year to give the COTW process a try.

A short meeting

President Neitzel, who presided over the beginning of the meeting, pointed out that it lasted 49 minutes. “As this being our first COW meeting, we had a few awkward procedural moments, but for the first time through, I think it went well,” he said.

Committee Chairperson Quimby agreed concern over long meetings may have been premature. However, he cautioned that in the future long agendas, or issues requiring discussion, could dictate longer meetings.

Neitzel said the ultimate goal is to incorporate both committee agendas into one meeting. But, that renews the concern over one meeting taking a long time, such as three hours.

For the time being, he said, “We will be able to monitor this as we proceed with this new process.”

The City of Belvidere also uses the committee of the whole process, with that panel made up of 10 city council members and meeting the second and fourth Mondays of the month. The mayor, Mike Chamberlain, runs the committee meetings.

City council meets the first and third Mondays of each month, led by the mayor, and considers recommendations from the COTW sessions.

For Poplar Grove’s Quimby, this change really isn’t much of a change. He just went to being in charge of a committee with five members, rather than two.

“It went pretty well,” he said of the initial gathering. “We can tweak it as we go along, if necessary. The only real difference is now everyone can talk, legally.”

Improper discussions

In the past, some trustees often attended meetings of the standing committee on which they were not a member. Occasionally, while seated in the audience in an ex-officio capacity, they would become involved with discussions among committee members. Village Attorney Jim Stevens said this conduct was in violation of the Open Meetings Act and should stop.

In addition, residents who attended would interrupt committee meetings by interjecting their views on various issues. That, too, has come to an end.

The first COTW meeting had a light agenda, with most of the items being of a housekeeping nature.

One discussion point was timely with the weather starting to improve. That related to solicitors, who Village Administrator Diana Dykstra would be increasing in number along with the warmer temperatures. With that come complaints to the office at village hall.

In a memorandum to the committee, she said in the past the village “has taken an application with a letter from the employer, had the administrator approve, and provide an on the spot permit.”

She stated other communities tend to have varying degrees of supervision.

“I would like to clarify the process, include background checks with the county sheriff and provide some processing time,” she said.

The next step will be for attorney Stevens to prepare a draft, amended ordinance for the committee to consider.

Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.