Board suspends administrator's hiring authority

Board suspends administrator's hiring authority

GILMAN — The Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department's administrator was temporarily stripped of his ability to hire, fire, re-assign or discipline his employees Monday afternoon.

Following a two-hour closed session, the board of health voted unanimously to "suspend all hiring, firing, duty re-assignments or disciplinary action until further discussion by the board."

The board also voted unanimously to draft a letter to all health department employees in order to "better evaluate" their work environment, morale and goals.

Board of health member Rod Copas, who also serves as Iroquois County Board chairman, said after the meeting that the measures were taken to "protect our employees." Copas declined to comment further.

Before the board met in executive session, Public Health Administrator Doug Corbett advised the board that the closed-session item he had listed on the meeting's agenda was no longer necessary, saying the matter in question had already been addressed.

Copas then insisted the closed-door meeting occur anyway, since he wanted to discuss the issue further.

The board first met behind closed doors with Corbett. After Corbett exited the meeting, the board then met individually with two health department nurses. Also in attendance was Iroquois County State's Attorney Jim Devine, in his capacity representing the health department.

After the meeting was re-opened to the public, the board immediately approved the two motions with no further discussion.

The meeting's agenda, drafted by Corbett, cited a clause in the Illinois Open Meetings Act that allows executive sessions to discuss "security procedures and the use of personnel and equipment or respond to an actual, a threatened, or a reasonably potential danger to the safety of employees, staff, the public, or public property."

Devine told the Paxton Record after the meeting, however, that the closed meeting was actually to discuss the "discipline of a specific employee."

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