Park Board Meeting Turns Contentious Again

Commissioner Len Wass again battled the board majority Tuesday night.

The discussions of executive sessions of local elected boards are rarely made public, but that’s just what happened at Tuesday night’s Board meeting at .

Commissioner Len Wass read from a statement, saying he again suffered from what he called intimidation from fellow board members during a Dec. 28 executive session meeting.  The attack, he said, was the second such incident. at the , during which Wass sparred with the board over park district spending.

“… At an executive session held on Dec. 28, 2011, this board once again continued its assault on me, asserting among other things, that I should seek the board’s permission before communication with outside bodies and to only write positive articles about the Park District when reporting to constituents,” Wass said in his statement. “It was another unpleasant attempt at intimidation. I might add it was also, in my opinion, an illegal use of executive session under the Illinois Open Meetings Act.”

The Illinois Open Meetings Act allows public bodies to adjourn to closes session for a variety of reasons, including pending litigation, employee discussions, land and investment deals, security matters and student records.

Commissioner Danielle Ebersole questioned whether Wass himself was violating the Open Meetings Act by discussing the executive session. Wass said he had asked Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis whether he could discuss publicly the contents of closed sessions and he had given his go-ahead.

Reached Wednesday, Weis said he consulted with Wass, telling him there are no laws preventing any board member from revealing the contents of a closed session and he was free to proceed as he wished. 

Board President Bob Mattingly and Wass also have battled over letters Wass has sent out to constituents and local press with his summaries of park board meetings. That issue was raised again Tuesday night with Wass saying he had been told by fellow board members to “get in line.”

Mattingly told Wass he is within his rights to send out the letters, but he asked Wass to provide complete reports.

“I was disappointed in you that as elected official as you were communicating to the paper that you wouldn’t cover the entire meeting,” Mattingly said. “… For the most part, I don’t see other members of other boards in this community writing letters after every meeting putting their slant on what happened at the meeting, but you’re certainly in your right to do that.”

From there, Wass said the differences between him and the board majority is that of ideology, business strategy and management processes. He also noted nearly every vote since he joined the board in May has been unanimous.

“After satisfying myself with the proposal, or the amended one, I have voted with you on all matters,” he said in his statement.

Commissioners Deb Krase attempted to move the meeting on to other topics, saying it was time to put this business in the past. Wass wasn't through yet, however.

“Stop beating me up,” he said. “What do you think I’m going to do, roll over? I hope you learned your lesson from that.”

With that, Commissioner Roy White had had enough.

“In all fairness to the people that are here, I think it’s time to go on with the business at hand, rather that the 'he said,' 'I said,' 'I did,' 'he did.' We don’t need that anymore," White said.

In other news, the board unanimously approved the sale of two separate bonds for $1.8 million and $4.5 million. The first bond sale will be used to fund various projects throughout the district, and the second will be used for the reconstruction of Winrock Pool. 

Editor's note: This story has been clarified to more accurately reflect the convesation between Mr. Wass and Mr. Weis. 

Ann Taylor February 02, 2012 at 02:45 PM
wass has been intimidating the people in this town for years. he can dish it out but he can't take it.
Chastity Barrick February 02, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I don't like this mans style. I would be more responsive if he presented a positive way to support the efforts of the Park District rather than the mud slinging this elected official does. What is he trying to achieve? Grand Poobah of the Park District??? "Stop beating me up"...what a baby
Jane Enviere February 02, 2012 at 02:52 PM
What a joke.
Scott Henderson February 02, 2012 at 02:57 PM
My respect for Roy White has increased a notch.
Mike Francis February 02, 2012 at 05:59 PM
How can anyone have a problem with the transparency that Mr. Wass is bringing to this process? I certainly don't, and it shows what's really going on behind the scenes at our Park District. Mattingly has no business telling Len what he should or shouldn't write to the local papers. Who made him King?
Felicia Slattery February 02, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I personally applaud Mr. Wass for communicating with the voters and sharing his "slant" with the community rather than bowing to political pressure to get in line. Each member of the board sees things in their own perspective and hearing from an elected official what his perspective is helps voters decide where they will stand in future elections. If the board does not discuss their disagreements at open meetings, where should they do so? Clearly they were able to take action on the bond sale issue, so the meeting was productive. Mr. Wass is standing up for his beliefs and rights. I don't see any intimidation in that and as an elected official he certainly has the right to speak up.
George Jones February 02, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I agree with Felicia. Len Wass has the skills and experience that taxpayers need. The other STATUS QUO Park District Members should take a deep breath and at least reach a compromise on cutting "non essential government services" in this tough economy when we have more than 6,000 unemployed persons in Kendall County. We are living in this "New Normal" age when we must cut back on local government expenses. About 21% (5100 persons) Working in Kendall County are Public Sector employees. Len knows that many of us have his back and will help him take on these other STATUS QUO Board Members when needed.
Adam Engler February 02, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Enough with the school yard antics Mr. Wass; do the business of government or stand aside!
bzmanya February 03, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Transparency is what Wass is looking for. Doesn't sound like this Closed Meeting had anything confidential, just spending more of our tax dollars. Does anyone take minutes? Mandatory minutes of closed meetings, date, time, attendees, decisions...publish online (Patch) so folks know what is taking place. $7 mil in bonds....oh well!
Scott Henderson February 03, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Steven Jack (Editor) February 03, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Well, I stand corrected. I see that the closed session minutes from a meeting on the park district's website. Thanks Mr. Henderson!
jerri powell February 03, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Mr. Waas thank you for looking out for us taxpayers. Looks like bond debt?????You have always wanted fiscal responsibility to be front and center. The folks that argue with you like to spend spend spend...... just like the "old current board" ...Mr. Waas you are to be thanked!!! Thank you for your perseverance. Lets swish swish old board members. They are out of touch. peace, Jerri


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