The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe City Council Rejects Mayor's Board Appointments

by Deb Olson, The Quill

In an attempt to fill vacant La Harpe City Council seats on Monday evening, January 9th, La Harpe City Mayor Ryan Kienast appointed Karlene Kurtz of Ward 1 to fill a seat vacated by the resignation of elected alderman Kenny Foster. A motion made to that effect was defeated 3–1. (Nay, Wisslead, Kraft, Bennett) and (Yea, Stiller).

Next Mayor Kienast tried to appoint Troy Lemarr to the vacant third ward seat, but no one followed up with a motion to that effect and the council asked to postpone the question until next meeting in order to research the appointee.

At this time, the absence of any alderman would mean that there would be no quorum and therefore, no meeting.

City Clerk Lucretia McPeak asked those present to consider running although at this point, (several weeks past the deadline for filing papers) the only options for anyone who might want to fill any of the 6 vacant seats would need to contact Hancock County Clerk Kerry Asbridge and file papers to be available as a write in candidate.

Asbridge outlined the process as follows: The applicant would file a statement of candidacy with the clerk. Then provide a statement of economic interest. Finally the candidate would declare their intent to be a write in candidate . This must be done within 60 days prior to the election.

As has been noted before, in the worst case scenario, if the council can not be filled by election, one of the judges of the 9th circuit would appoint council members because as stated before the positions need to be filled so the council can work effectively.

The following positions need to be filled:

One thing that was accomplished at the meeting was the hiring of Ken Foster Jr. as a new police officer. Foster passed the required class and the background check. He will begin training immediately and can work while training.

The issue of construction to make secure office space for both the police chief and the treasurer was solved by moving Chief Livingston’s office upstairs and bringing the treasurer’s office to the 1st floor.

Tim Graves notified the council that a turbity meter was offline but is now working. It does however need calibrating. This may have caused a problem with free chlorine. Graves noted that recent tests for haloacetic acid have been within EPA accepted parameters. This should get the city off the violation list, however the city will remain on a restricted list for 1 year. He also discussed acquisition of CO2 tanks from Praxair in West Burlington, IA.

The Council went into executive session at 7:45 for about 1 hour to discuss the appointment, employment compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific city employees (OMA Sec. 2 (c) (1) probable imminent litigation (OMA Sec. 2 (c)(11)and any other topics allowed.

Public Comments:

Dave Clover expressed the opinion that Mayor Kienast can not appoint a replacement to fill Dave Mershon’s 3rd Ward seat because according to state statute such a vacancy must be made within 60 days of the vacancy. He expressed his disapproval of changing the office of treasurer from an elective one to an appointed one, He described the Illinois Municipal League, to which City Attorney Diane Diestler often refers as “basically a union of mayors” or rather “an organization of mayors for mayors with a legal team to find ways to allow them to act according to what they want.”

He also provided packets for each alderman and council member containing all the information regarding his FOIA requests and other information he has complied.

Chad Burt addressed the council on the following items. He questioned the continuing delays in submission of bills by the City Attorney. He posed several questions regarding the delays including: questioning of accuracy of bills when finally submitted over such a long period of time, whether this makes good financial sense and is this being financially responsible with tax payer money. In addition he questioned why the mayor never gives a report during a council meeting.

Finally he commended Alderman Bennett for accepting responsibility for those agenda items he (Bennett) placed on the agenda. Burt expressed concern that often times no one seems to know why or how items appear on meeting agendas. He reminded the council that Wayne Humphrey informed the council that he would retire at the end of 2016 but that the council took 6 months just to write a job description and still has not filled the position.

Dean Spangler informed the council that to date he is still having a problem with his pension. He expressed extreme displeasure that nothing seems to have been done to correct this oversight.

Randy Shoemaker offered his services as a temporary alderman to fill the 3rd ward seat vacated by Dave Mershon. Although the mayor thanked Shoemaker he noted that another citizen has been selected for the position. No action was taken by the council later on this position.

The council tabled the following agenda items:

In other business, council:

When the meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m., several in attendance expressed annoyance with "lengthy meetings that seem to accomplish so little."

Absent was City Attorney Diane Diestler.