GENEVA – Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen held forth at Wednesday’s Executive Committee meeting, presenting a series of letters and memos that challenged a legal opinion from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office on a vote at a special meeting March 21.
Speaking from a podium beneath a projection screen, Lauzen attacked an opinion from Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Lulves in which he said that according to Roberts Rules of Order, the vote required a two-thirds majority vote of 13, which nullified the board’s vote of 11-9.
The board had voted to rescind three union contracts for county clerk, health department and workforce development workers, all represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, because Lauzen said the offer the union ratified was not the same one the county board approved.
“The only thing more shameful than making an error in public [is] ... to refuse to correct it,” Lauzen said. “And that’s about where we are.”
In short, instead of 2 % raises in each year for four years, employees would get a 4 % raise in the first year because of a 2 % raise followed by another 2 % raise 10 days later, followed by two years of a 2 % raise, Lauzen had said at the March 21 special meeting.
Lauzen had sought to have the board rescind the contracts and renegotiate them to reflect that they should be four-year contracts with 2% raises in each.
In what is now a continuing conflict over the union contracts and Roberts Rules of Order, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon issued a 48-page document to County Board members, dated April 3, which was obtained by the Kane County Chronicle.
McMahon's report includes a letter, stating the union contract information was correct, that communications between Lauzen and others showed the intent was clear and that Lauzen is incorrect to say an error was made.
Emails McMahon collected in his report between county officials and Lauzen, “reveal who knew what and when about the financial terms of the [collective bargaining agreements] and the true cost to the county of two raises close in time,” McMahon’s letter stated.
When discussing the union contracts in closed session on Dec. 11, 2018, it was Lauzen who thought the raises “should be explained as four years at 2 % with no payment the first year and saving the taxpayers $1.2 million, although the employees would gain the impact of the first 2%,” McMahon's report stated.
“For the chairman to suggest or advance a narrative that he was neither informed of, nor understood the terms of the [collective bargaining agreements], is inconsistent with the email correspondence…,” McMahon’s letter stated.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, McMahon emphasized that the three opinions Lauzen paid for regarding Roberts Rules of Order, “are incorrect on this issue, in part, because they either cited an old version of Roberts Rules or because the attorneys do not appear to have been provided with all the facts surrounding the attempt to rescind" the collective bargaining resolution.
Lauzen disputed that, saying they had all the information and relied on the 11th Edition of Roberts Rules.
McMahon’s statement also details that the resolution was passed out at the special meeting, requiring board members to recess in order to review it before voting on it.
According to McMahon’s statement, the notice was also untimely.
“The failure to state the complete substance of the proposed motion to rescind in the notice requires a two-thirds majority or a majority of the entire membership,” according to McMahon’s statement.
Lauzen's response to McMahon's report and statement was that the state's attorney has “dug in deeper” rather than admit his office made a mistake.
“It’s obvious that’s wrong,” Lauzen said of McMahon’s explanation of Roberts Rules and the special meeting vote. “It was a motion to rescind. We gave the notice he [McMahon] instructed us to give. It’s a motion to rescind. What’s hard about that? ... Responsible people – when they make mistakes, they correct them rather than play ‘cover your rump.’”
The full County Board is expected to take up this issue at its next meeting on April 9.