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.