Thursday, December 03, 2015

Everybody should be able to watch Lake County Committee meetings

Lake County Board Member Sandy Hart brought forward a request to start video recording our Finance Committee so the public could watch and hear our deliberations. The reason she chose the Finance Committee is most all agenda items deliberated by the Lake County Board comes through the Finance Committee. Starting at Finance would also be a pilot of sorts by demonstration of the more informative discussion at committees.

Our Finance Chairman Brent Paxton, Member Steve Carlson and Member Diane Hewitt spoke against video taping any committee meetings. Members Strongly supporting Member Sandy Hart's efforts to video tape the Finance meetings were myself and Member Nick Sauer of Lake Barrington. While our Chairman Aaron Lawlor and Member Mike Rummel had supportive words, they both had qualified support to move forward.

Bottom line is all the action at Lake County happens at the Committee level. Unless you can personally attend a committee meeting there is no way to experience the verbatim conversation on the many issues we vote on monthly at the Lake County Board. There are not even public accessible audio recordings of the committee meetings.

Listening to Members Carlson and Hewitt's vehement condemnation of an public open accessible video recording or live presentation of these meetings really left me without words. I am not understanding what the secret is and why they would not want to integrate our public in these deliberations. What is there to hide? Is there a different Member Carlson and Hewitt representing their constituents away from the cameras then in front of them? I would hope not.

Citizens have a right to be able to watch us speak and represent them at these committee meetings. They have a right to better understand the work we do on their behalf. Interaction is essential to our representations and video recordings of these meetings will allow the public and press to experience verbatim explanations of agenda items, questions, concerns, and hear new ideas. Since the press hardly comes to any of our meetings, it will give them a better chance to write about our agenda items, better understanding of facts and motivations.

Come on! Its almost 2016 and still members of this Lake County Board want to keep government in the 1950's. Please, lets open our doors, let the sunshine in and promote video taping at the committee meetings. PLEASE

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Representing The People

Current events in Chicago and Fox Lake have again made me reflect on my role as an elected official being challenged with official misconduct. Along with just reacting to these matters, we must always review policy as new data emerges to be sure there are sufficient checks and balances in place to prevent misconduct.

During my time representing Lake County and Highland Park there have been several times I have been challenged to understand the actions of our employees when their actions were contrary to our values or policy. When we are elected to public office we become trustees of that municipal corporation but are still ultimately accountable to our residents. When our governments produce misconduct events it is incumbent on us to fully understand how and why these actions occurred. We should never put our head in the sand and must always take immediate and appropriate action to remedy any wrongdoing. There can't be any tolerance to criminal behavior, resulting safety of our public, and possible financial cost to our taxpayers.

While I was in Highland Park we were challenged by racial profiling charges and came up with measures to mitigate profiling. We challenged our officers to have more open and transparent interactions with the public. We started recording all stops and created a public safety committee of Councilman that reviewed video of those stops, periodically and unscheduled. We also handed out cards to all citizens that were pulled over and gave them a contact number to our Human Relations Commission and how they could go to make a complaint if they felt they were not treated properly.

When you're in government as an elected official there is constant talk about protecting the services and operations of government. I am always surprised that we don't have more discussion about the tolerance of citizens to shoulder the burden of government and deal with the aggressive nature we sometimes exhibit, either being from regulations, restrictions, or police enforcement. 

I always reaffirm in government meetings that my first responsibility is not to ensure the protection of the government but rather the citizens, the shareholders of the government. Dr. Thomas Rudd, our Lake County Corner, has demonstrated his welcomed independent view on several matters over the last few years offering his opinion on matters, even though they were in direct conflict with others in Lake County government. Dr. Rudd's efforts have challenged closed door decisions within our government jurisdictions, provided much needed sunshine on wrongful actions, and promoted transparency for our citizens.

While we should always promote a positive team spirit within our governments, it is incumbent for us including our staff,  to realize that the first team we are all on is the Citizen team, led by all the citizens and families that support and depend on us. Leadership like that of Dr Rudd demonstrates that we should always support our communities values and always pursue uncovering wrongdoing when something just doesn't seem right. We should always voice our opinions, suggestions, and demand dialog on remedies to possible conflicts, even before they might occur.