The River Forest village board appeared to make some progress Monday night in its struggle to adapt to a new political landscape, as well as with the learning curve related to Robert's Rules of Order. The regularly scheduled Monday night meeting was relatively calm after two very heated recent sessions.
Tensions from an underlying power struggle show no signs of easing, however. Simmering disagreement was more the rule than the exception Monday, with board members at times flatly disagreeing over matters of fact.
Two main points of contention Monday were the composition of the Village Board Police Committee, and a proposal by Trustee Steve Dudek that would amend the ordinance regulating the appointment of individuals to the chairmanship of the Development Review Board.
During a motion to approve the meeting minutes from July 23, Trustee Nancy Dillon asked that minutes from the July 9 meeting be changed. That July 9 meeting ended abruptly when Village President Frank Paris and trustees Dillon, Patrick O'Brien and Susan Conti walked out during a heated discussion, leaving trustees Steve Hoke, Dudek and Russ Nummer without a quorum. Those minutes reflect Paris directing Dillon to leave, something she said did not occur.
"I don't want this in the record because it's not correct what they've written in the minutes about my leaving," said Dillon. "I left the meeting because I was very disgusted with what was going on in the meeting and because I didn't feel well. Nobody encouraged me to leave. I left of my own will."
Hoke and Dudek, though, insist that a tape of the meeting will show that Paris said, "Nancy, we're leaving," and tapped her on the shoulder as he passed her chair.
Dudek later leaned over to O'Brien and told him that if he brought up Dillon's concerns at the next board meeting, he would play the tape of the meeting.
With that, O'Brien said loudly to Paris, "Mr. Chairman, I'm being threatened here," and that he wouldn't tolerate such behavior.
"I told him that I'd play the tape at the next meeting," Dudek said Tuesday. "He took that to be a threat."
Later on, O'Brien, who was removed Friday as chairman of the police committee by new members Dudek and Steve Hoke, questioned the legality of the meeting.
"The meeting may have been held in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA)," said O'Brien. "I as a board member did not receive 48 hours notice, nor did the public."
He then asked Village Attorney Jon Gilbert to investigate, saying, "I suggest the village attorney investigate the proceeding to determine if the minutes should be determined null and void [because of OMA violations]."
When Nummer asked Gutierrez if, in fact, he'd noticed the meeting, Gutierrez replied, "As far as I know it was properly noticed."
In fact, a printed notice of the Police Committee meeting agenda was taped on the glass at village hall just after 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. Tuesday morning, Hoke produced an e-mail, sent at 12:31 p.m., Aug. 8, from Dudek to Gutierrez asking that Gutierrez phone O'Brien by 3:30 p.m. to inform him of the meeting.
When Dudek proposed the amendment to the ordinance governing the appointment of chairmen to the Development Review Board, both Paris and later O'Brien claimed that Dudek made misstatements regarding the history of the Development Review Board chairmen.
"When you make statements that are absolutely not true I'm going to refute them," said Paris. However, a review of a digital recording made of the meeting confirmed Dudek's account.
O'Brien ultimately motioned that Dudek's motion be "indefinitely postponed."
That led to Gilbert flipping through his copy of Robert's Rules of Order to determine exactly what "indefinitely postponed" meant.
Hoke asked O'Brien to explain his reasons for the motion,
"I think what's being done here currently is working fine," said O'Brien, listing a series of accomplishments under the DRB. "I don't see any reason to change the ordinance," he added. "I think this is just a move on the part of Trustee Dudek to continue his obstructionist activities."
The board passed an ordinance setting a universal speed limit in all village alleys at 10 miles per hour, and approved four-way stop signs at the intersection of Oak Avenue and William Street. That intersection has seen over five accidents annually for the past several years.