Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Merit Commission fizzles today

The Regular Meeting for October of the Merit Commission of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department was scheduled for 10:30AM today.

Several people made it - two commissioners, the secretary for the Commission, one staff member of the Sheriff's Department, and two visitors.

One commissioner had apparently indicated a planned absence, another commissioner was MIA, and the Chairperson of the Commission didn't make it. The Chairperson, Janelle Crowley, HR Director of the City of Woodstock, was apparently stuck in a directors' meeting at City Hall. (Wouldn't a scheduling conflict be obvious?) So those who were present for the scheduled meeting sat around until 10:50AM and then were informed that the meeting would not be held (no quorum) and that it would be re-scheduled.

The last meeting of the Merit Commission was April 8, 2009, six months ago. There were numerous items on the Agenda for today that needed attention, including approval of the April 8 Minutes.

At the April 8 meeting one commissioner asked about training in the Freedom of Information Act rules. Since no meeting has been held in six months, presumably nothing in the way of FOIA training has taken place.

A guest asked why the Merit Commission had not met in six months. Apparently, there was no business to discuss, and thus money was saved by not paying the per diem and mileage for commissioners to drive over to the County's Administration Building just for coffee.

However, it seems to me that there was business to discuss. There are numerous legal actions in the works that involve the Merit Commission and the Sheriff's Department. The attorney for the Merit Commission must need direction and authorization. From whom does she get that, if the Commission does not meet?

In fact, just yesterday there was a hearing relative to a matter involving the Merit Commission. The Commission should have met this morning to receive a report from its attorney on that hearing (Schlenkert vs. MCSD and McHenry County).

Until this morning I was unaware that Merit Commission members were compensated by per diem for attending meetings. If a member of a public body (the Merit Commission) is compensated for a meeting that is regularly held during the normal business hours of her job with a City that pays her for working for the City, should that compensation be handed over to the City, which allows her to leave her place of work and travel to and attend that meeting? Of course, it may already be the case that she does hand over that compensation or waive it.


GeneL said...

Gus , why would one of the merit commision members (Brian Goode-RITA Corp.)donate over $55,0000 to the Sheriff. What does he get for his money. It has to be more than his little merit badge. I don't think the merit comm. members should be so tight with the sheriff. That kind of takes away the impartiality when the sheriff is trying to fire a deputy. Anyone know what RITA corp. gets from Nygren. The Cronies Commission needs a cleaning out. Now that the law allows arbitration for the deputies I don't think anyone will put their future in the hands of Nygren's buddies. Voting out Nygren would be even better.

Gus said...

GeneL, the Purpose of the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission is:

"To ensure the citizens of McHenry County that there is a fair and equal opportunity system for the employment, promotion, discipline and discharge of full-time Deputy Sheriffs."

Help me here now... Is there a fair and equal opportunity system for ... discipline and discharge of full-time Deputy Sheriffs?

Maybe the rules should be revised to require the Sheriff to submit all suspensions of five days or more to the Merit Commission. But who makes the rules for the Merit Commission. The Sheriff?

If I recall the Merit Commission rules and procedures, the Sheriff need not submit suspensions of 30 days or less to the Merit Commission. Only a suspension of "more than 30 days" or a discharge must be submitted to the Merit Commission.