The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Michael Rodeffer, The Quill
La Harpe City Council action came to a halt Monday evening when a councilman walked out of a two hour executive session meeting and left City Hall.
The action left the City Council without a quorum and therefore no actions could be voted upon and approved, including the paying of all the bills.
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Ryan Kienast at 7:00 p.m. with all council members present, but just 13 minutes into the meeting, an Executive Session was called, with Tim Graves included, to discuss "the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of all city employees, to consider the performance of an occupant of a pubic office, probable/imminent litigation, and any other topics allowed."
Approximately 3/4ths the way into a two-hour session, Alderman Greg Wisslead came out of the executive meeting, left the building, and did not return. Executive session lasted from 7:13 to 9:12 p.m.
Approximately 25 persons attended the meeting and waited outside City Hall until regular session resumed.
Before executive session, the agenda listed committee reports on Legislative/Finance, public property, public safety, public inspections and ESDA but there were no reports given.
City Clerk Lucretia McPeak noted that City-Wide Clean-up Day is set for Friday, May 12th. She also reminded everyone to vote on Tuesday, April 4th.
Clerk McPeak said she would be putting on the upcoming agenda for April, the topic of Liquor License Renewals.
In other reports under employees: Water Dept. employee Tim Graves reported a problem with an electrical breaker. He had Mike James look at it and it appears it is old and is getting weak. He noted that it does have a setting on it to increase its capacity and it is working right now but it is very hard to find that type of breaker as it has been in there for thirty-some years. Graves also noted that they put the duck bill on at the discharge pipe at the Reservoir."
Graves ended with a request for a raise. "I would like to ask for a raise, not so much for the fact that David (Little) got a raise. I think it is wonderful that he got that raise. He deserved it. "But, you're paying a individual $40,000 which is just $8,000 less than what I am making and all he's got is a high school diploma and nothing else. That's about 17% difference!"
At this point Councilman Mike Bennett interrupted Graves and said, "These are items that should be discussed in executive session, not public." Graves said, "Okay. Thank you," and he took his seat.
During public comment, a resident and candidate for Trustee, Dave Clover stood up, saying he didn't think he was going to comment, but he felt that Tim Graves should be able to discuss a raise in open session if he wanted to and it should be legal.
He then questioned council as to if the City Attorney (Diana Diestler) has actually resigned.
Attorney Diestler commented, "I don't resign. I gave notice of termination of my contract."
Clover than asked, "So, are you done after tonight?"
Attorney Diestler responded, It's going through March 31st until:unless they ask me to stay until they find somebody else.
Also, Clover FOIA requested the attorney bills. He understood the council had bills up to November (from 9/2016 to 11/2016)
Clover said, Clerk McPeak informed him that: "you can't give them to me until they are approved to be paid and I think any citizen ought to be given the right to double check a bill when it is our tax money being spent.
"I myself would like a chance to go over them."
It was after public comment that Executive Session was called but for lack of a quorum, old business and new business was moved to the next agenda and only a few items were discussed and no action was taken.
With the absence of Greg Wisslead, there were only three councilmen left on the agenda - Darrell Kraft, Marcia Stiller, and Michael Bennett.
There was no action taken but there was discussion on some of the agenda items under OLD BUSINESS to discuss and take action on:
1. Resolution #2017-D (required by state law) reimbursement of travel expenses.
2. Purchasing Dock for reservoir with memorial money.
3. Purchasing Polymer and 6 meters for water plant.
4. Purchasing ammunition for K. Foster for 40 hour gun course.
5. Dave Berlet's request for City's Reimbursement of part of his cost of sidewalk replacement
6. The La Harpe Classic Car Show Account (previously set up by Jeanette Ford.)
7. Maintenance on driveway for citizens
8. other old business
For lack of a quorum, the following agenda items also were unable to be voted upon although some were discussed:
#1. Treasurer's Report and Bills - discuss and approve.
Discuss and take action on:
#2- retaining City Attorney.
#3- annual audit
#4- Hancock County Housing Authority's request for relief from water deposit requirement for time period between tenancies
#5- Authorizing a council member to contact McClure Engineering and WIRC to obtain the required information for the completion of the Illinois Dept. of Labor Contractor survey
#6- Discuss proposed changes to City Code and Personnel Policies Manual.
#7- Other new business for discussion only
Adjourned was at 9:31 p.m. The next meeting is at City Hall at Monday, April 10, at 7 p.m..