County Board keeps 'size' resolution in committee

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115575653012614.jpg’, ‘Graphic by Jason Carson Wilson’, ”);

During the board’s Aug. 10 meeting, Winnebago County Board member Eugene Quinn (R-14) made a resolution to reduce the number of members of the board. “I made that motion just to make them vote on it,” Quinn said, during the meeting. But his proposed legislation died.

Quinn alleged the resolution, which proposes to put the question asking voters to approve creating an 18-member county board on the Nov. 7 ballot, has been languishing in the County Board Executive Committee.

County Board member Bob Kinnison (R-10), Executive Committee chairman, rejected the Quinn’s assertion.

However, according to Quinn, who was chairman of the Compensation and Reorganization sub-Committee Taskforce, the resolution was initially introduced to the Executive Committee in March. Quinn said he submitted the resolution again May 25, after the executive committee asked for more clarification.

The other members of the committee were County Board Members Tuffy Quinonez (D-11) and Tim Simms (R-14).

According to Quinn, if the county board doesn’t approve the resolution by the end of August, it has no chance of getting on the ballot.

“It’s a stall tactic,” he said, during an Aug. 14 interview.

If the resolution makes it to the floor, Quinn said, rules must be suspended for a vote to take place at the Aug. 29 County Board meeting. The resolution must be approved at least 65 days before a scheduled election. He said the committee’s goal is simple: “All we’re trying to do is to let the public vote on this.”

Quinn said the proposed reorganization wouldn’t take effect until 2012. He said whittling it down would provide constituents more control: “This (County Board) is too unwieldy.”

Kinnison described the vote on tabling the motion, which could kill it because of the required timeline, as purely procedural. He said action would have to be taken at the next Executive Committee meeting.

County Board member Gary Jury (R-3) made the motion to table Quinn’s resolution, and said, “How can you vote for something when you have no plan?”

Quinn said a map had been drawn, but couldn’t be put into place until after 2012, after redistricting had taken place. He noted board members were concerned about gerrymandering, a process in which district boundaries are manipulated for political gain. But Quinn said there’d be less chance of gerrymandering if the board were reorganized.

Kinnison said the Executive committee sent the resolution back to Quinn’s committee twice in search of more information. Quinn disputed Kinnison’s claim that the resolution was sent back to his committee. He said the special committee was dissolved immediately after he made his presentation.

“There was literally conjecture by committee members,” he said.

Kinnison said his committee wanted more statistics. Jury noted there was no information regarding the cost-effectiveness of reducing the size of the board. Quinn said it was impossible to determine the cost-effectiveness of something that hasn’t happened yet. He also disputed the claim that the committee only offered conjecture.

According to Quinn, he submitted an 18-member map, a comparison of Winnebago County with a select group of other counties as well as University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northern Illinois University research on county boards. The committee also included a 1973 report on modernizing the county board, which suggested the body be decreased to 14 members.

Other critics have complained that reducing the size of the board will reduce minority representation and give more power to fewer people, making it easier for special interest to gain control through campaign contributions or social pressure.

From the Aug. 16-22, 2006, issue

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