Let's have 'government by e-mail' all the time


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Jack Crowe

Some members of the village board like to communicate by e-mail before board meetings. Bob Milstein, Geoff Baker and Greg Marsey believe behind-the-scenes e-mail communications make the operations of village hall more efficient. Baker treats the e-mails as straw polls where he can vote on an issue "maybe a half-dozen times" before the real vote.

I agree with his approach, but we must take this idea one step further. Village trustees should communicate only by e-mail. Imagine. No more interminable board meetings. No more live temperamental outbursts. No more face-to-face meetings of trustees who do not like one another. All the village board business would be conducted on one long e-mail string.

Some may be concerned that my idea violates the letter or the spirit of the Open Meetings Act, which provides that when three or more trustees are gathered in the name of village business, they must do so in a properly-noticed open meeting. After all, the New Leadership Party trustees campaigned on the theme of a more open village government in response to claims that the prior board misused executive sessions.

That is why I need to take what I dub my "Government by E-mail" proposal one step further. To make sure that we comply with the Open Meetings Act, we will post all of the trustees' e-mails on a publicly accessible Yahoo website.

If a trustee is bored at work, he or she can click and send some government missives. If a trustee suffers from insomnia, the board work can be done after 2 a.m. Heck, we could even make the e-mail deliberations available in real time.

Even better, anytime a trustee posts a new message, it could be sent to every electronic mailbox in the village. Talk about direct democracy.

There would be no need to publish notices about upcoming meetings because this virtual board will be always in session.

Even better, the trustees can get real-time feedback from their constituents. Cranky residents can sound off at will as trustees float concepts. Imagine the following board meeting chatroom:

TrusteeA: To hell with retailers who want a new parking garage by Christmas. I order that this shall be a giftless Christmas.

Fox: Did he say what I think he just said?

Trustee B: No garage. No garage. No garage!!!!!!

TrusteeC: LOL.

CitizenQ: So does this affect when the new Trader Joe's opens?

TrusteeA: Pahleeeezzzzz.

TrusteeB: We'll get to opening that in say 2020.

TrusteeC: You guys are killing me.

CitizenZ: Hello. Would you all please vote already. Commander in Chief starts in five minutes.

Trustee B: Hey, CitizenZ. Take a chill pill. Now, where were we? Ah, the garage.

CitizenO: Does anyone know when the flu shots start at village hall?

Trustee B: Do I have a motion?

Get my drift? Virtual board meetings would spice up Internet traffic in the village and might be educational for our kids. We must harness the energy of the Internet now and trustee e-mails are just the way to do it.

But, of course, we will have to allow apolitical Oak Parkers to block the board chat as unwanted spam.

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