Does Our Village Board Really Represent Us?

May 21, 2012

Village Government

by Rock Rockett

The issues getting the most attention at Village Hall these days have to do with the Board considering outsourcing the police function for our Village to the County Sheriff’s Department. That’s certainly a sensitive issue with residents, but what is capturing the headlines is the expulsion of a Village Trustee for releasing documents related to executive session meetings of the Winfield Village Board wherein reducing or eliminating the police force has been discussed for the past 10 months or so.To boil this down to its key elements, here’s the way I see it:

1) Regarding the expulsion of Trustee Erik Spande at the most recent meeting of the Winfield Village Board, various people are weighing in on who’s at fault here. In the ‘court of public opinion’, as they say, it is the Village Board that ends up looking bad instead of Trustee Spande. Note the opening line of the Daily Herald article where Robert Sanchez refers to the 4 Trustees voting for expulsion contrary to the advice of counsel and the ordinances of the Village. That was further supported by a Daily Herald editorial calling Trustee Spande the hero and NOT the villain in it’s Sunday, May 20th issue.

2) In my personal opinion, Trustee Spande’s actions were justified due to the abuse of power inherent in holding executive sessions for nearly a year regarding this issue. Withholding this information from the public is obviously damaging to the reputations of the same 4 Trustees – Olson, Reyes, Allen and Hughes. Similarly, the majority of the Board recently voted to withhold information from the public regarding the pluses and minuses of districting prior to a referendum on districing promoted by Trustee Tim Allen.

3) Trustee Tony Reyes holds a position with the Sheriff’s department, albeit virtually a volunteer board-type position ($4,800/yr.) This makes his strong push for outsourcing police services to the County (now verified by Spande’s notes) appear to be suspicious and smacks of good old boy cronyism, which, of course, he is well known for.

4) Trustee Allen noted in his comments after Spande’s departure that he was surprised at the expression of so much anger at last Thursday’s Board meeting……I’m paraphrasing here. Again, in my opinion, this anger has been building as a result of several recent Board decisions that seemed to go very contrary to public opinion…..not just the residents speaking at the meeting. Those inflammatory decisions include the decision on zoning that negatively affected the Beecher Street residents, the push by Reyes and Allen for districting (residents voted this down by a 2-1 margin), the vote to be the 1st community in Illinois to allow video gambling, and now the apparent strong sentiment by some Trustees, particularly Allen and Reyes, to outsource the police department.

As a member of the Public Works Commission, I realize that we fall seriously short of funds needed to maintain our roads. But trying to fund road development with video gambling proceeds or with savings from outsourcing the police department are not in my best interests as a property owner and as a resident of Winfield. I am strongly against both of these and will do my best to defeat them at every opportunity.

Please join all concerned Winfield residents in opposing these contrarian ideas that are being promoted by Olson, Reyes, Allen and Hughes and let’s return to open government for the Village of Winfield.

About Positive on Winfield

Positive on Winfield is a blog with articles on local issues, local events, and local interests in Winfield, IL. Positive on Winfield is the blog website of the local civic action group, Winfield United for a Better Community.

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