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By Randy Pierce
In order for the public safety committee of the Madison County Board to be able to attain a quorum when it meets, according to its chairman, Terry Eaker of Bethalto, one of its members has been removed.
Since the board’s current committee make-up was set after last November’s election, when a few new people took seats, however, only six of its 25 members, including Stacey Pace of Troy, have had perfect attendance at those committee meetings.
This scenario unfolded at the most recent meeting of the county board when the agenda showed a motion to add Charles “Skip” Schmidt of Edwardsville to the health department committee while removing him from the one dealing with public safety.
“It’s frustrating,” Eaker commented, “when you got eight people on there (the committee) and only have three or four people show up.”
With that in mind, Eaker stated, by removing one of the people from that committee, “This will help where we only need four for a quorum and it just seemed to be the logical choice.”
The motion that was passed by a margin of 18 yes and four no by the full board was amended from how it was originally proposed with Schmidt only being taken off the public safety committee but not added to the health department committee.
Board member Frank Dickerson of Worden suggested that, before the vote, this matter should be talked about in closed session because it dealt with personnel. County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler countered that contention by remarking that since Schmidt is an elected official, the subject should not be considered as personnel and therefore not justified for an executive session discussion closed to the public while adding that this item was put on that evening’s agenda by the pro-tem chair, Michael “Mick” Madison of Bethalto who is another one of the six with perfect committee meeting attendance thus far this year.
Since not long after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as a result of a provision authorized by Illinois Governor JB Pritzger that is due to expire this month, members of elected bodies like this one throughout the state are free to participate in meetings remotely and are counted as being in attendance for doing so along with those present in person.
Following the November 2022 election, there have been 10 functioning standing committees which have met about 50 times with 12 of those meetings or a bit less than one-fourth featuring complete attendance by all members.
A quorum is present when a sufficient number of members are present to participate with that total traditionally set at 50 per cent or better so with Eaker’s public safety committee being reduced from eight to seven, this means only four have to be present, in person or online, to attain a quorum. Without a quorum, the meetings cannot be officially conducted.
In more than one instance in the recent past, board members have been unable to attend in person and called in online as a result of health or physical issues they deal with, such as what happened when the late Bill Meyer, who passed away in January, was in a state of decline prior to his death.
Along with Eaker, Pace and Madison, the board members with perfect committee attendance since December include Michael Turner of Godfrey, Matthew King of East Alton and Michael Babcock of Bethalto.
Those recording four or more committee absences in addition to Schmidt are Bobby Ross of St. Jacob, Dalton Gray of Troy, Paul Niccolussi and Ryan Kneedler, both of Collinsville, Nick Petrillo and Shawndell Williams, both of Granite City, Victor Valentine Jr. of Edwardsville and Valerie Doucleff of Godfrey.