Meeting rules force postponement on plan to replace health board members
WATSEKA — Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas' plan to replace three of his county's four appointees on the Ford-Iroquois Board of Health was postponed during Tuesday's meeting because the action was not listed on the agenda.
The Paxton Record informed Iroquois County State's Attorney Jim Devine of the agenda omission prior to an executive session. Copas had just called the closed session, citing a clause in the Illinois Open Meetings Act that allows closed meetings to discuss "the selection of a person to fill a public office" or "the discipline, performance or removal of the occupant of a public office."
After the hourlong closed-door meeting, Devine informed the board that the removal of board of health members was not listed on the agenda.
Meanwhile, Devine said, an item that was listed on the agenda — "a motion to ask for the resignation of three existing Iroquois County members of the Ford-Iroquois Board of Health" — appears to be the action that was intended to occur, as decided at a committee meeting last week.
The board then voted 11-3 to approve asking for the resignations of health board members Diane Clatterbuck, a registered nurse from Donovan; Jill Kaeb, a registered nurse from Cissna Park; and Dr. Alexander Michalow, a Bradley resident who has an orthopedic practice at Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka.
Voting "no" were Donna Crow of Milford, Dale Schultz of Clifton and Jean Hiles of Watseka. Abstaining were Jed Whitlow of Gilman and Susan Wynn Bence of Watseka. Six members were absent.
Copas said Monday that he had already called all three health board members and asked them if they would resign. He said earlier that he believed the policy and procedure committee's 6-0 vote Thursday authorized him to do so.
As of Monday, both Clatterbuck and Kaeb had told Copas they would not resign. Michalow had not returned Copas' call, Copas said.
Copas said last week that if the health board members do not resign, he would ask for the county board to remove all three at this week's meeting, and replacements would be appointed.
Following Tuesday's meeting, Copas said he was planning to set up a meeting for 8 a.m. Monday at the Administrative Center to vote on the removal of the health board appointees.
The county board's policy and procedure committee discussed a variety of concerns last week about the health board, including possible violations of the Illinois Open Meetings Act and other state statutes and neglecting to notify the Ford and Iroquois county boards of various actions taken. Copas has also raised questions about various expenses of the health department, which are currently being reviewed by his county auditor.
"We need to fix what's broken," Copas told the committee.
According to state statutes, "any member (of a multi-county board of health) may be removed for misconduct or neglect of duty by the chairman or president of the county board, with the approval of the county board, of the county which appointed him."
Clatterbuck said Tuesday that she would not resign, saying she believes that she has "upheld the bylaws of the policies as written."
"To be accused of neglect of duty is a serious allegation, especially when there has been no verification such as," she said. "And to remove Mrs. Kaeb, Dr. Michalow and myself from the board because of questions regarding expenses or policies or procedures, it is not an ethical or proper course of action.
"Just because Chairman Copas has questions regarding the day-to-day business of the public health department does not mean that members of the board of health have acted in ways of misconduct or neglect of duty. We have acted in accordance with the board's bylaws and policies."
Some Iroquois County Board members also questioned whether action was necessary.
"The idea of asking them for a resignation, in my opinion, is an absolute slap in the face to people who have served for years and years in the best way that they can," Schultz said. "I don't think anybody can say anything about any one of them trying to do something out of line, something illegal, something conceived as misconduct or neglect."
Paxton Record correspondent Sandy Coffey contributed to this report.