Rock Island County Governance, Health, and Administration Committee met April 9.
Rock Island County Governance, Health, and Administration Committee met April 9.
Here is the minutes provided by the Committee:
1) Call to order and roll call
Committee members present: Mia Mayberry, Pat Moreno, Kim Callaway-Thompson (via phone), Drue Mielke, Cecilia O’Brien (via phone), Mike Steffen (via phone), Scott Terry
Committee members absent: Ron Oelke
Others present: Kenneth Maranda, Hayleigh Covella, Amanda Van Daele, Bill Long, Dewayne Cremeens, Derrick Hendrickx, Diane Baker, Chris Payne, Gary Bryant, Darren Hart, Brian Gustafson, Kurt Davis, Sarah Hayden, Nick Camlin
2) Public comments
There were no public comments.
3) Approval of minutes from the March 12, 2018 meeting
Motion to approve: Scott Terry
2nd: Pat Moreno
4) Reports to the committee
Mr. Camlin presented the County Clerk’s Office report for Ms. Kinney. He provided the vitals report to the committee and noted that everything looks about average. The numbers look about average for this time of year. They’ll be getting into heavy marriage season hopefully with spring coming soon and summer as well.
Mr. Camlin reported that last Thursday, the County Clerk’s Office had the official canvass of the primary election results. They do have those results posted officially on the website. Mr. Camlin noted that he does have copy if anyone would like to have a look.
He can have copies made downstairs as well. After Election Day, there were another 18 ballots received in the County Clerk’s office. Four of them were postmarked after Election Day, so they were not counted. The remaining were counted and included in the new results. Mr. Terry thanked Mr. Camlin for coming today and asked if those votes changed any outcomes. Mr. Camlin said no.
Mr. Terry noted that a while ago, he had asked Ms. Kinney if she could put the year prior for these numbers. She said she would and that’s never occurred. He is just wondering if that’s possible, as far as Mr. Camlin’s knowledge goes, so they can see the comparison. Mr. Camlin said it’s possible. Mr. Terry asked if he can make note of that. Mr. Camlin said yes.
University of Illinois Extension-
Ms. Baker from the University of Illinois Extension introduced herself. She noted that she always enjoys the opportunity to share the kinds of things going on. She wanted to share a couple of things for her coworkers. There is a lot coming up in the horticulture master gardener program, so she did bring some information on the spring horticulture series. She will leave copies of that information.
Ms. Baker reported that the Extension is doing a tick study. Evidently, there’s a big increase in the varieties of ticks that are bringing with them a lot of disease that hasn’t been normal to the area. The Extension is doing training for volunteers to do some local collection and send to the university any samples of ticks they find in the area. Ms. Baker noted that this is not an issue she knew was going on, so she appreciates what her coworkers are doing.
Another coworker, Kirsten Bogdonas, is focusing on a new initiative: food rescue. That’s rescuing food that otherwise be wasted. She’s got a couple of things going up and Ms. Baker left flyers for those events.
Ms. Baker noted that when she was here last time, the Extension was getting started on the 4H Juntos Program. They have finished the major portion of that. That was funded through Global Communities. It was targeted to eighth grade youth and their parents, although they did open it up to kids who were a little older. There were 25 students plus family members who participated in that five-week parent engagement series. They met with the families for two hours a week for five weeks. It was all targeted to Latino families, most of them first generation students from Mexico.
First, they emphasized the importance of staying in high school and completing high school. Secondly was family communication and expectations in Midwestern culture. Then they discussed opportunities beyond high school. A number of people came in and served on college panels. They helped with career planning and helping families talk together about the kinds of things they have for kids. They had 45-50 family members at every session. Now they are participating in college visits. They have been able to visit the University of Illinois, Augustana College, and Saint Ambrose. Coming up, they have Western Illinois University Quad Cities, Blackhawk College, and University of Iowa. The program had some extra funding, so they are going to take students to University of Iowa as well. It’s been a good opportunity to get those families onto college campuses and talk about what college is like in the U.S. and opportunities for Latino students.
Ms. Baker noted that she wanted to be sure to promote the 4H Pork Chop Barbecue this Thursday, which always has good pies for auction. That’s an opportunity to support the 4H program. Ms. Baker thanked everyone on the Rock Island County Board for their support of the 4H Program. She has had the opportunity to work 25 of her 30 years in Extension here in the Quad Cities and is retiring at the end of this month. Ms. Baker said, “Thank you very much for your support. This is a wonderful community to work in and a wonderful opportunity. I really have enjoyed my career here.”
Mr. Terry thanked Ms. Baker for her many years of service. He noted that he has a quick question in regards to the ticks. It sounds like Ms. Baker just got this in her ear, but he was wondering if there was any concern about potential health risks accompanying that information. Ms. Baker said that’s a really good question for her coworker Ms. Smith, the Horticulture Educator. She thinks what they are really looking at is keeping an eye on what health risks may be coming with these new species. Mr. Terry asked if there’s nothing they red-flagged Ms. Baker to advise the committee of. Ms. Baker said no.
Mr. Gustafson provided his monthly report. He noted that he did have another suspected overdose over the weekend. His pathologist had six autopsies today, so he pushed Mr. Gustafson back to tomorrow.
Ms. Mayberry asked if Mr. Gustafson’s office is in the middle of moving now. Mr. Gustafson said no. They are still in the process of trying to figure out taking walls down and things like that.
Mr. Maranda asked Mr. Bryant if they’ve heard anything at the Health Department about the ticks. Mr. Bryant said he isn’t aware of anything and doesn’t recall seeing anything. He’s not in the Environmental Health Department normally. He does hear things (inaudible) watch for mosquitos and Zika, but he hasn’t heard anything concerning ticks.
Mr. Davis reported that as far as Hope Creek, he has been working with Ms. Baker on trying to review the staffing needs out there and reduce staffing. Ms. Baker has reduced CNA staff by six positions so far. All of those are outside agency. They are trying to control the outside agency costs and are working closely on that. They are working to move the nurses, the RNs and LPNs, to 12-hour shifts to again help reduce the outside agency costs.
They are working to try to bring in more private rooms. There have been some requests from residents wanting private rooms. Hope Creek does make more money off those rooms.
Hope Creek will be hosting a job fair on April 19th for all RNs, LPNs, and CNAs. Ms. Baker is going to send an email out this week sometime.
As far as other activities, National Volunteer Week is April 15-21. Hope Creek is serving a Volunteer Lunch on April 20th at 12:00 for all volunteers. Hope Creek’s Senior Prom is on April 25 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. This year’s theme is “Making Dreams Come True.” April 26 is National Bring Your Kids to Work Day. Hope Creek staff’s children are invited to spend the day in the Activities Department. Staff will provide a day filled with activities and lunch will be served. Hope Creek is also hosting a Mother’s Day Tea on May 12 at 2:00 p.m. National Nursing Home Week is May 14-18. Hope Creek will also be having a yard sale.
Mr. Davis reported that he will be meeting with Ms. Baker on a weekly basis to take control of the budget situation out there. Mr. Moreno asked what exactly the budget situation out there is. Mr. Davis explained that right now, the number one problem is that the outside agency costs are just astronomical. In the report he sent out, those costs are almost in line with last year at this time. They are a tad bit higher, but they are trying to reduce that. When Mr. Ross was here, he was trying to get handle on that and it was reduced a bit. Outside agency costs are upwards of $100,000/month. They need to get that down. They cannot eliminate it, they need outside agency, but if they can get it down to $20,000-40,000 that’s a significant savings per year.
Mr. Terry asked Mr. Davis to correct him if he’s wrong, but he believes that’s an industry- wide situation in regards to using outside agency. He believes all local nursing homes use outside agencies from time to time. He doesn’t think this is unique to Hope Creek. Mr. Davis said that’s correct. Mr. Terry noted that he heard Mr. Davis say they are looking at cutting back the amount of outside agency CNA usage. He believes they have also talked about a shortage of CNAs on their own staff. Mr. Davis confirmed that there is a shortage of CNAs on Hope Creek’s staff; that’s why they are using agency. Mr. Terry said he’s curious what specific steps they are taking at Hope Creek that Ms. Baker has informed Mr. Davis of that she is doing to recruit CNAs. Mr. Davis said the job fairs are all he knows about at this time.
Mr. Terry asked if Ms. Baker has given Mr. Davis any idea in terms of feedback from current staff on extending those hours. Mr. Davis explained that they are trying to move from eight-hour to 12-hour shifts. The initial feedback was very positive. They do have some concerns. Some nursing staff has concerns with childcare and everything else. They are going to try to work with them. They need to negotiate this into the contract and are working towards that. They have a meeting this Thursday regarding the contract.
5) Update on County Office Building
Mr. Maranda said there’s nothing going on right now.
Mr. Davis elaborated that things are kind of at a standstill right now. When they were challenged with moving the Recorder of Deeds Office into this building, it was determined to move them to the second floor at the west end of the building. That has changed because the architect came in and determined the building will not support the files. Now they are looking at the east end of the building, which is actually this area [they are sitting in now]. If the Recorder moves to this area on the east end, they will have to relocate the committee room, County Board Chairman’s Office, and HR. Ms. Mayberry asked where they would go. Mr. Davis said it sounds like they would have to flip flop. Ms. Mayberry asked what is in that current area right now. Mr. Davis said it’s the Board of Review, Rep. Mike Halpin’s office, and JPTA. They would shuffle them and relocate them to other areas. Ms. Mayberry asked if there’s a room like [the committee room]. Mr. Davis said the Board of Review room is about this size or pretty close.
Mr. Mielke asked if there are any other areas of the building that would be eligible for what he assumes is a weight load issue. He asked if the basement is an option, not necessarily for the entire office, but for some records. Mr. Davis confirmed that it is a weight load issue. He explained that the basement is configured differently than these areas on the first, second, and third floors. He’s doesn’t know if that would be an option. He’s not sure if there’s a large enough space for them down there. The Recorder needs access to those records on a daily basis. Mr. Mielke asked if they’d have to be on same level, then. Mr. Davis confirmed. Mr. Mielke said his only input would be if that’s a viable option or a cheaper option. He’s not sure what expenses are involved with moving, but they might be looking at a lot of expenses. His other concern is monies for any kind of remodeling/moving. He asked where they are getting that money. Mr. Davis said that is part of the PBC’s bond. It is legal for the county to use those monies available for this type of construction because they have to relocate that office. Mr. Mielke said he just has a concern that the county is legal, of course, with the moving. He guesses he needs to see what the real scope is for what was bonded. He was looking at this last night and it says, “None of the proceeds of the bonds will be expended other than with respect to the project to be leased to the county.” The lease agreement was for the annex to the Justice Center. He is just concerned with that and if it’s within the law.
Mr. Maranda explained that at the last Board meeting, that was spoken on. Mr. McGehee had checked that out. If Mr. Mielke has questions on it, call Mr. McGehee. Mr. McGehee has checked all of that out. To empty that courthouse, it’s legal. Check with Mr. McGehee if you have questions on that. Mr. Mielke said it might be legal to empty it, but he’s concerned about where they are spending money. Mr. Maranda asked Mr. Mielke to check with Mr. McGehee; Mr. McGehee has already called the bond company. Mr. Mielke said if Mr. McGehee could pass on something from the bond company, it would make him feel a lot better. He will ask him if he can do that. Mr. Maranda said to check with him. He reported on that at the last meeting. Mr. Mielke said he was there. Mr. Maranda noted that nobody had any questions for Mr. McGehee at that time. He wishes Mr. Mielke had brought it up then. Mr. Mielke said he thinks he did. Mr. Maranda asked him to just check with Mr. McGehee and move on.
Mr. Davis said he does have one more thing. He is waiting for the new plans from the architect. Like Mr. Maranda said originally, things are at a standstill now. Mr. Moreno asked how long that should take. Mr. Davis asked if Mr. Maranda has talked to the architect. Mr. Maranda said he called him the other day and didn’t get an answer. Ms. Mayberry asked if Mr. Davis or Mr. Maranda can email the County Board an update when they know more. Mr. Davis said they can do that.
Mr. Terry said he wanted to make a quick note thanking Ms. Fisher for her time. She has always done a wonderful job and has provided a lot of support on multiple occasions in terms of budgetary issues. Once again she is being flexible and Mr. Terry appreciates it. He appreciates what Mr. Davis and Mr. Maranda are doing. He knows it’s a complicated, convoluted situation. They only have so much space and infrastructure to utilize and he thinks they are doing the best they can. He appreciates those efforts. He wanted to thank Ms. Fisher once again for her flexibility and for being willing to be there for the team.
6) Consider Quad Cities Big Table Proclamation
Ms. Mayberry explained that the Quad Cities Big Table Proclamation expresses Rock Island County’s support for the QC Big Table, which seeks to “unite 5,000 Quad Citizens around 500 tables during the weekend of April 20th and 21st, where Quad Citizens are invited to talk about what matters most to them and how individually and together we can make our communities stronger and more connected.” More information and registration links can be found at www.quadcitiesbigtable.com.
Mr. Maranda noted that Ms. Gomez has addressed all of this and he thinks she has a morning session and an afternoon session for the Big Table. If anyone wants to sign on, they can check with Ms. Gomez. She’s been coordinating that. She signed on for the county. Ms. Mayberry asked if the county’s session is on the 20th or 21st. Mr. Maranda said it’s on the 20th. Mr. Terry asked, for streamlining purposes and because not all the County Board members are here, if Mr. Davis can have Ms. Gomez send a mass email to the Board members. Ms. Mayberry said that would be great and asked Mr. Maranda if it’s geared toward Board members. Mr. Maranda said no. He explained that Board members should go to Bettendorf or anywhere but their own home. That’s the idea. You can look online and find a spot that you might want to visit. He doesn’t know exactly how many they’ve got. He’ll be in Utica on the 20th and can’t attend any of them, but that’s what they are saying. Find something that. they don’t want people together. They want you with another group. That’s the point of it. They have 500 tables, so find a group you know nothing about to take your knowledge to.
Motion to approve the Proclamation and pass to full County Board: Scott Terry
2nd: Pat Moreno
Mr. Davis asked what information the committee would like from Ms. Gomez. Ms. Mayberry said just the dates and times. Mr. Terry suggested framing it as something County Board members can pass along to anyone who is interested.
7) Consider resolution re: courthouse
Ms. Mayberry explained that this item is to consider the resolution to enter into an IGA with the PBC for the courthouse. This resolution was provided at last month’s County Board meeting and is also linked on the agenda.
Motion to approve the resolution re: courthouse: Scott Terry
Mr. Moreno asked if this is just to move it to County Board. Mr. Terry and Ms. Mayberry said yes, it’s to move it to County Board.
2nd: Pat Moreno
Ms. O’Brien asked why there is still a date that’s blank on #2 on the resolution. Ms. Mayberry asked if Mr. Davis knows. Mr. Davis said he does not have an answer for that. Ms. Mayberry asked if Mr. Maranda knows. Mr. Maranda explained that Mr. McGehee just left it blank. They’re ahead a month and a half. If there’s any consideration to move it off to July or a month or whatever, that’s the only reason why Mr. McGehee left it blank. Ms. O’Brien said she guesses she’s not sure why he would do that. Mr. Maranda said because they are ahead of schedule over there. They’ll discuss it if there’s any more information he can bring to the County Board. He doesn’t know if they are at the end of that line. He said if Ms. O’Brien has got more information that she needs to be looking for or have the county look for, please bring it to him.
Ms. O’Brien explained that what she is saying is that the date has been a huge point of discussion from the beginning, so having it blank seems weird to her. Mr. Maranda asked, “What was that?” Ms. O’Brien said when they talked about this originally last fall, there were dates involved in every document. Now suddenly there is no date. Mr. Maranda said they’ll put one there come committee or at the County Board. Ms. O’Brien said they can talk about it then. She just can’t support a document with a blank.
Ms. Mayberry recognized Mr. Terry. Ms. Callaway-Thompson requested to speak. Ms. Mayberry noted that Mr. Terry has the floor. Mr. Terry ceded to Ms. Callaway-Thompson because she hasn’t spoken yet.
Ms. Callaway-Thompson agreed with Ms. O’Brien. She said she guesses she is confused as well as to the date and why there has been a language change. She was under the impression that after much discussion, they had looked at a document with different language. At this point, she would just like to know who is presenting this draft again and why. She asked if someone can explain that at this point. Mr. Maranda said it came from the State’s Attorney’s Office. Ms. Callaway-Thompson asked, “Wasn’t there new language that we agreed upon at a previous meeting? And also to take a look at July as the date where we might have to make some type of definitive decision?” Mr. Maranda said that was the problem. He doesn’t have it in front of him right now, but it was taken back to put more definite language in there, to put precise language in there instead of bringing it back in July to kick it down the road to December and whatever.
Ms. Callaway-Thompson said she would just like it to be clear that she is of the opinion that they still need a lot more discussion about this – open discussion, thorough discussion. They need some robust debate. At this point, she is not going to be voting to approve this language.
Mr. Terry said he certainly can appreciate the concerns regarding the blank. Being a micromanager as he is, he would typically not agree to move even out of committee something with a blank. He thinks in this case, it’s such a delicate issue. He thinks the reason that was left blank was really out of respect for the body, the County Board, because he thinks everybody knows that is the most contentious aspect of this. He doesn’t know if there is much more debate about whether or not to raze it. The question is when to raze it. Mr. Terry’s thought process, and in speaking with Mr. McGehee, his understanding, was to leave it up to the County Board. That’s what they are doing here today is just passing this along to the Board.
Mr. Terry said he doesn’t need to remind any of them of their abilities to make amendments to propose things after the due debate. Here they have a document that has been reviewed and majority authored by the State’s Attorney. In terms of legal language and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, they have it right before them. They ought to be very grateful. Now, if you look through document and read through the document and you have any concerns about any particulars, whether it be the blank spot for the date or whether it be some spelling or grammar issues (which he found one), in the Board meeting make an amendment. If Ms. O’Brien or any other colleagues want a date in there and have a proposed date they would like to see, they can stand up and make that motion. It’s not like this is unalterable.
Mr. Terry said he thinks it’s important, in his opinion, to keep this process moving forward at this point. He thinks after the last Board meeting, there is really no question anymore as to whether to raze it or not. Now the question is when to do it and how to go about it and all those types of things. That is why he moved to move this forward. He wholeheartedly agrees that by the Board meeting, this better not be passed without a date. He agrees that it should be July as it was outlined by his colleague here just recently. He was frustrated because in December a majority of the Board.There was some discussion about the County Board talking more about the date and that sort of thing. That has already been decided. That was July. The majority of this Board in December self-imposed a July deadline. He would be amazed if all of the sudden the majority of the Board three months later wanted to extend that further. That’s all he has to say.
Ms. Mayberry noted that to Mr. Terry’s point, they also have to keep in mind that this is a construction project that is ever moving. Dates get put in place that at times may have to change. They are not over there. Mr. Terry agreed. He noted that if you read this, though, this is a very general document. This is giving permission to raze the courthouse. Ms. Mayberry said she understands that.
Ms. O’Brien requested to speak. Ms. Mayberry noted that Mr. Mielke has the floor. Mr. Mielke said he doesn’t have any issues if the building needs to be demolished. If that’s the way it’s going to be, it’s the way it’s going to be. He is going to send an email to the State’s Attorney just so he understands the scope of this project. His understanding is a little different than what this document covers and he probably needs more illumination. He thinks they need to pass a quality document to the full Board and he guesses he’s just not sure that he can be on board with this. Since the way they’re talking, this is satisfying the project’s scope. He guesses somehow he doesn’t understand or he misinterpreted or he is right – he doesn’t know which. The scope, he thought, was to build this building and it is being built. In past meetings where they passed the bonds, he never remembers hearing anything about demolition of the courthouse. So the scope has changed, or at least what he understands has. He can’t pass this to the full County Board because he thinks there’s some discussion or at least some clarification needed on the scope of this project.
Ms. O’Brien stated that this document does not contain any of the information that was printed in one of the resolutions they all liked where it talked about due diligence and looking into some way of repurposing building rather than tearing it down. It’s clear they don’t have enough space. Kelly Fisher needs space. There’s all kinds of lack of space problems being discussed. Now they have this document that.the way this was handled at the last Board meeting where it was handed out as a hard copy and the press couldn’t get a copy of it, the whole thing smells. She will not support this document. It has a blank date. It still doesn’t have the language, as Ms. Callaway-Thompson says. The language they discussed is missing. She doesn’t understand what kinds of games are being played here, but she is not happy with how this is going. There’s a lot of people who are trying to tear that building down. That’s a 100-plus year decision they are making here. It’s not something that is without its weight. This is an extremely important decision. She knows the Sheriff doesn’t want to be responsible for the building. There’s a lot of people in the corner squawking about various concerns. She doesn’t think they’ve given any due diligence to saving the building. She thinks that presentation they had from three or four engineering firms was frankly a joke because all they did was talk about apples to oranges on how they might do things and they didn’t spend a lot of time. Her opinion is this is badly done and she doesn’t support it.
Ms. Callaway-Thompson stated, just to piggyback on what Ms. O’Brien said, that she agrees the county needs to put forth the due diligence that’s needed. She is not convinced as well that they have had a true, independent space needs study for the building. She is still not convinced. They need to be assured before they make any decision whatsoever concerning the courthouse that that has taken place. They have fiduciary responsibility to the constituents of this county to do that and to prove that.
Mr. Terry said this is his second time on the same subject, so this will be it. He guesses he is perplexed when Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Callaway-Thompson say they have had no independent space needs assessments. He asked if it is the company they don’t feel is independent. Ms. O’Brien said there is no reason to be confused. Mr. Terry noted that he has the floor. There is a reason to be perplexed when people say there hasn’t been an independent review of space needs when there has been. This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, one of the proponents of putting this off longer co-chaired a committee that went almost a year that ultimately recommended a completely new structure for the courthouse. He is genuinely perplexed, and he’s using that term to be respectful. He could use other terms. Maybe he could say he’s frustrated when he has to keep hearing over and over that they are not doing their due diligence when this has been looked at in 1994, 2008, 2012, 2013.Ms. O’Brien said, “Okay.” Ms. Mayberry asked Ms. O’Brien to please wait for Mr. Terry to finish. Mr. Terry said he hasn’t been on the board that long and can respect those who feel that due diligence hasn’t been done because they either weren’t aware of those previous studies or weren’t present. He can respect that. There are plenty of County Board members who, in their tenure, have known this was an issue. He has been on for six years and it was a hot button issue back when he was elected in 2012.
Mr. Terry noted that this is his last comment. Some of the members here today.and he appreciates everybody who expresses their opinion because that’s what they’re here for, whether they agree or not. He is sure they appreciate him expressing his. To the same folks who are sitting here in April saying they need to do their due diligence, Mr. Terry would ask them, noting that is what the majority said back in November, “What has been done since November?” He does know they have had three independent construction companies come in and do space needs assessments. He asked the members who are decrying that they need to hold off what they have done to create efforts to bring resolution; not just for him or themselves, but for the people they serve who will ultimately be footing the bill if the county loses this deal with the PBC. They have a vacant building that is decrepit. Ultimately this County Board has to figure out how to demolish it. It will no longer be when to raze it; it will be how to pay for it. Right now they have the opportunity. It is on the table. If they keep messing around and keep living up to their reputation of not being able to make the simplest decisions, their children, grandchildren, or someone (inaudible; Ms. O’Brien stated that she wants to respond) tear it down. Ms. Mayberry said she understands but is going to take the floor for just a minute. Real quick, to Mr. Terry’s point and Ms. O’Brien’s point regarding the companies that came in. She thinks they need to show them a little bit of respect for taking time out of their busy schedules to prepare those cost estimates and very detailed plans for the County Board. To say that’s a joke, she doesn’t really agree with. They presented that it’s between $14-16 million for three different options. Quite frankly the county doesn’t have the money for that unless somebody knows something she does not.
Ms. O’Brien said, frankly, the sky is not falling. She thinks the building can be saved. The reason she is frustrated, and she apologizes for using the term “joke,” is she doesn’t think they had apples to apples. All three companies admitted they didn’t do a thorough study and didn’t really have good answers. Frankly, she doesn’t think the PBC will fail to spend the money if ultimately they decide to spend the money and it’s past some arbitrary deadline. However, she does see that there are certain people who are vocal about tearing that building down. They just can’t wait and they want to push this. She doesn’t think it should be pushed. For god’s sakes, they don’t have room for Ms. Fisher in the new annex. They wasted part of a section of the new annex for a lounge for people to have coffee or private discussions or whatever when there are already offices for that purpose. She is not a lawyer and not a judge, but she does think that building sitting next to the annex is valuable. She thinks the first floor could be used for something and the building can be secured. To repair the building is probably not feasible, but she thinks they can make it secure to where one of the floors, the main entry floor, would be usable. There is a lot of history in that building. She is not going to rush to tear that building down. She thinks it is foolish to do so. Their children and grandchildren would be cheated out of their heritage. There is a lot of passion out there for saving the building. She thinks a couple of very loud people want to tear it down and she doesn’t think they are in the majority. She doesn’t. Those are her thoughts and she’s done with the subject.
Ms. Mayberry explained, to Ms. O’Brien’s point, that they have discussed this before about the lounge. She doesn’t know what her concern with it is. They have discussed the lawyer’s lounge. There is not room for Ms. Fisher in that space. There is not room for a courtroom in that space. It is not an anomaly to have a lawyer’s lounge in a courthouse.
Mr. Moreno said he is confused about one thing: the money. He thought, when they initially met with the PBC, that they couldn’t do anything with the supposedly $900,000 that would be leftover to tear down the courthouse until the building was done. He thought they couldn’t do anything with that money. For them to say or to lead that something could happen to that money between now and before it gets torn down is wrong. Nothing, from what he understands, is going to happen to any of that money until the building is completely done. He kind of agrees with a few people here that they do have some time because they can’t do anything with that money. They have to make a decision before that building is done and only then. They can’t do anything else with the money the way the agreement reads. That’s what he thought. He asked if he is wrong or right that they can’t do anything with that money. Ms. Mayberry said she thought if they didn’t come to an agreement, the PBC could go ahead and use the money on the annex if the need came up. Mr. Moreno said he thought they couldn’t specify that money for something else until the building was completely done.
Mr. Terry explained that the State’s Attorney has advised that they are within their right.Mr. Moreno asked what the agreement says. Mr. Terry said he is relying upon what his attorney is telling him. That’s the best he can do. To sit and argue with his attorney is not something he typically does. He understands the concerns. He thinks Mr. Moreno brought about a very legitimate concern, maybe more so than the ones he has heard. He thinks it’s very easy to remedy by taking out the blank space and putting in there that the county agrees to authorize demolition on the county property, specifically courthouse and grounds undertaken by the PBC, on or after.What? November? Or December? One thing to keep in mind is they don’t have all the time in the world. It’s April now. The County Board meets once a month. They are being told the annex will be complete now in November. The thing about construction, though, is if those funds aren’t being used for this razing, they are going to be used for something with the annex. That gives the County Board less time. He asked the committee to think about the realistic timeline here. They’ve had November, December, January, February, March, and April. They are four months in. They’ve had four months. What substance do they have to show? In regards to Mr. Moreno’s question, which was very good, the reason he thinks it’s important to move forward, though you can say to wait until they get closer to completion of the annex and that’s a fair argument, but the reason against it is that the people deserve resolution. They deserve to know what to expect. Not only the taxpayers because they have to see this every other month in their paper and are seeing something different every other month, but the people who work over there deserve to know what’s happening. This resolution as a whole, not only are they on strong legal standing here, they should take it as an opportunity. They can amend this. He asked if anyone has taken time to read it line by line and said, “This line I don’t like. Let’s strike it.”
The blank space is not a big deal. Get into the County Board meeting and propose a date. They would have the discussion they are having now. That’s why he is saying to push this to the County Board meeting. He appreciates Mr. Moreno’s second.
Mr. Mielke noted that he wants to say a few things. One: he does not want to demolish this courthouse, but two: he doesn’t want to raise taxes to refurbish it. He was looking for another path. He was on a committee to explore these avenues. They’ve done a lot of work to try to save this courthouse. They looked at companies like Restoration St. Louis and at developers. One problem they found was the fact that the market isn’t there to support having this building. Mr. Mielke wanted to see if [the County Office] building could be sold and move facilities there. If there was a market in Rock Island city that supported.there will be someday, but right now there is no market there and the county needs that money now. Three: he respects the State’s Attorney, but this is the third time he has disagreed with the State’s Attorney’s opinion. The first time was with the previous State’s Attorney and he had to go to the Attorney General and get a review. Mr. Mielke was proven correct on really flagrant OMA issues with the 2010-2012 Board. He wasn’t even a County Board member then, but he was an Elected Official. He respectfully disagreed with that State’s Attorney. He is not going to blindly take an opinion without thorough.without knowing it is right. He can determine, too, what he thinks is right. He appreciates legal counsel, but he just can’t. The second time he proved himself right, and it took him two years to do it, was the issue with the downsizing. Mr. Mielke said it can be done. There’s an exception. That State’s Attorney’s advice was it can’t be done. Mr. Mielke found out it could have been done. That wasn’t chosen. They ran the clock out. He doesn’t think there is anything wrong with taking the State’s Attorney’s opinion, analyzing it, and saying that’s his opinion and it’s appreciated. He is not always going to agree with everybody’s opinion. In this case, he needs more information from the bond counsel. He is not going to blindly do anything. In his heart, he represents his district and they appreciate and expect him to do his due diligence that this is correct even though the State’s Attorney said it’s correct.
Ms. Mayberry asked if the State’s Attorney is planning to be at Committee of the Whole on Wednesday so they can address some of these questions. Mr. Maranda said he can request that. Like he said, though, Mr. McGehee was there at full County Board. No questions were asked of him when he said he had talked to bond counsel and everything was fine. Again, they are just beating themselves to death. That question was answered at the County Board meeting last month. Ms. Mayberry asked if Mr. Maranda can request him at full County Board as well. Mr. Maranda said yes. Someone from the Civil Division is always there. He will request that Mr. McGehee definitely be at Committee of the Whole. Hopefully he is available.
Mr. Terry asked, before they vote on the question, for the committee to remember what they are doing. They are setting this on the Board agenda. This argument can be made at Board. Mr. Mielke said he thinks they need to send a quality document to the Board.
Mr. Mielke said he sees Ms. O’Brien’s points. He sees Ms. Callaway-Thompson’s points. He sees Mr. Terry’s points. He just thinks this document needs revision before it is sent to County Board. Mr. Terry said he respects Mr. Mielke’s reservation, but can he ask what specifically about the document he questions or what he doesn’t like, however he wants to phrase it. What gives him pause? Mr. Mielke said his specific issue is with the scope. Mr. Terry said then it’s not the document itself. Mr. Mielke said it is. The document says, “Thereby satisfying the project’s ‘scope.’” He has a question about that. That’s all there is to it. It’s as simple as that. He also acknowledges Ms. O’Brien and thinks she has valid points, too. There are enough open questions. Whether or not he specifically agrees with every point she made, he thinks there are enough questions that they need to make sure this document is what they should be passing to the full County Board. That’s all he is saying.
Ms. Mayberry noted that they are on Item 7, which is just the resolution. The next item on the agenda is the Intergovernmental Agreement.
Ms. Mayberry asked if there is any further discussion. There was none. Ms. Mayberry called for a roll call vote to make sure they get this right. She noted that Ms. Callaway- Thompson had to drop off of the conference call for work-related reasons.
Mr. Moreno asked for clarification that this is just to take it to County Board. Ms. Mayberry and Mr. Terry confirmed.
Yes: Pat Moreno, Scott Terry (2)
No: Drue Mielke, Cecilia O’Brien, Mike Steffen (3)
Ms. Mayberry explained that there is no need to consider Item 8 because it is directly tied to the resolution. They won’t need to take a vote on that.
Mr. Maranda asked how to proceed now. Ms. Mayberry said that’s up to the committee and especially those who voted this down. She asked how they would like to proceed and what they would like to see in this document. Mr. Maranda said his only question is what more they have to offer to move it to County Board. Two months ago, nobody would even second anything to discuss. Like Mr. Terry, he’s a little frustrated because as soon as he got it he handed it out “secretly.” But anyway, he got it to the County Board, who complains about not getting material until the last minute. The minute it was brought over, he knew it was sensitive so he handed it out. He put it in an envelope so it wouldn’t disrupt Mr. Swanson’s next meeting. He explained that. Here it is. It was so they would pay attention to Mr. Swanson instead of sitting there reading it. That was completely wrong. That was not a good move on his part. Mr. Mielke said he didn’t have a problem with it. Mr. Maranda said that everyone else did. He is looking for direction. He’s got to have direction. Ms. Mayberry said she understands that and impressed upon the members who voted no to give them some direction here on what they are looking for.
Mr. Mielke asked for more information from the bond counsel that says they can use this money elsewhere. That’s all he needs.
Ms. Mayberry asked if this will be on the Committee of the Whole agenda at this point. Mr. Maranda said absolutely not; the committee didn’t move it forward. It’s done.
Mr. Mielke said he needs to know they can legally. That’s the thing: is it legal? If the courthouse needs to be torn down, he’ll do what needs to be done. He asked if it’s legal to use the money in the fashion they are intending in this document. Mr. Maranda said, not to bring this up again, but Mr. Mielke heard Mr. McGehee say he checked with bond counsel and Mr. Mielke never said a word. Now he is coming in here with a big issue. That’s his prerogative and he said he should check with Mr. McGehee. Mr. Mielke said that was only a week ago. He is going to send an email as soon as he is out of this meeting. Mr. Maranda said if they do not move this forward, the people of this county are going to be kicking them again. Mr. Mielke said, to paraphrase what Ms. O’Brien said, that she may say they are rushing things. He is not saying they are rushing. Mr. Terry noted that earlier, Mr. Mielke said that the county had done its due diligence. Mr. Mielke clarified that he said they did their due diligence in the community minds to not tear down the courthouse. Mr. Maranda said they had three developers and three construction people. Restoration St. Louis sent Mr. Mielke an email that they are done with it. There is nothing there for them to even consider. Mr. Mielke said he is not arguing whether or not the courthouse is going to be torn down. Mr. Maranda said he’s just looking for guidance to move forward with this. If it’s done, it’s done.
Ms. Mayberry noted that she understands because at this point, they are at the April GHA meeting and are not going to be discussing this until next month at this meeting. Mr. Maranda said that’s why he brought it back. If it dies another month, they’ll be putting plywood on the windows. It will boil down to that, he supposes.
Ms. O’Brien said there are a couple things they can do here. She thinks Mr. Moreno’s question is a good one. She doesn’t think any of them understand the financing regulations on the PBC. It’s kind of confusing. Those like herself who were not around when this was all put forth a few years ago need an answer to Mr. Moreno’s question. She respects the three companies that gave them an estimate of cost, but she thinks they need a better apples-to-apples comparison on the three. She also thinks it’s probably a better idea to look outside the box on how the courthouse gets saved. Instead of having the county shoulder it, she thinks they should look into having a partnership with the people in the community. She thinks that’s possible. She thinks there are people out there who would look at that. In her opinion, wanting to tear it down and have a plan to tear it down is the last possible thing they should do. She is not in any hurry to move forward until they look at everything they can. She does not think they’ve done that yet.
Ms. Mayberry asked Ms. O’Brien what else she thinks there is to explore that they haven’t already. Ms. O’Brien said if the money is needed to tear it down, they will have it she believes. She doesn’t think the PBC is being totally clear or understands their position here. Ms. Mayberry said she thinks that is what is at issue at this point. If they don’t tell them in a document that they want the money, then the PBC can use it toward the project they are currently building. Ms. O’Brien said she would like to know if that’s true. Ms. Mayberry asked if that is not their understanding. Ms. O’Brien said she does not know enough about how the financials work with this project and the annex. Ms. Mayberry noted that the Administrator believes that is the understanding. Mr. Davis noted that he has to say that it is in their best interest to withhold that money for the county to raze the courthouse. They want the building gone, he believes. He can’t speak for them, but it sounds to him like they want the building razed. He would believe it’s in their best interest to save that money. Ms. O’Brien said if they have to wait a few more months until the courthouse annex is done.She said to quit calling it the annex; it is the courthouse. If they have to wait until that’s done, so be it. Ms. Mayberry asked what happens if the money isn’t there. What if they decided to go ahead and use the money? What would they do at that point with the courthouse? Ms. O’Brien said they’ll look into it at that time. Sorry, but she is not going to change her position. Ms. Mayberry noted that she is not trying to change Ms. O’Brien’s position. She’s just bringing up a valid point that if they don’t have that money, what options are they left with. If they don’t have any money to renovate any of the buildings, create a new structure, or demolish the courthouse, where that leaves them, especially in terms of the safety position. Ms. O’Brien said she frankly wouldn’t have voted to do the money for the annex through the PBC if she had been on the Board. If you look backwards, what they have done so far she unfortunately doesn’t agree with. It is what it is. Let’s just wait and see. She’s not Chicken Little. They’re not looking at the sky falling now. She thinks it’s too soon to panic.
Mr. Moreno noted that he thinks they just need to realize that the vote they took today was just to get it to County Board. There is nothing being decided. Any changes they need to make, they can make those changes at County Board. Anything they need to find out, they can at County Board. He thinks there isn’t an urgency, but they at least need to get to all of the County Board members and let them talk about it and have an open discussion about it. That’s why he voted to have it taken to County Board. He thinks all the County Board members need to be in on the discussion and then decide what they want to do. They are just arguing to hold it up and not let all the County Board members hear what they have to say and he thinks that’s a mistake. Ms. Mayberry agreed. They know this is a huge issue. To not let all the County Board members.ultimately five of them got to vote and speak on it and it is an issue.
Mr. Mielke said, to hearken back, he did not vote for having this annex done the way it was. What he was wanting was to get out of the threat of lawsuits based on the size of the courtrooms based on Supreme Court standards, period. He didn’t want to build another courthouse. They circumvented the will of the people. He doesn’t know why it’s not a big deal. It’s a done deal like Ms. O’Brien said, but it’s a big deal because they built a $25 million structure to replace the courthouse without increasing the powers of the PBC, which is what should have been done because that’s what the public expects. Mr. Terry noted that the annex question is not on the agenda. Mr. Mielke said fine. This is the thing about his question about scope. When he looked at they voted for on the bonds, it says the scope of the building is, “Vacating 14th Street, 13th Street, and 3rd Avenue, all in the City of Rock Island.” It doesn’t say anything about extending to 15th Street or the scope of this project as including the courthouse. Ms. Mayberry asked what Mr. Mielke is reading from. Mr. Mielke said it’s from what they voted on for the bonds for this project. This was the next meeting in March when they voted for it. He reviewed it last night to make sure he was not missing something. If he is, he knows the State’s Attorney will let him know.
Mr. Terry said that in terms of parliamentary procedure, for any of his colleagues who opted to vote no, he strongly impressed calling for reconsideration of the vote, if nothing else for the reason Mr. Moreno presented to all of them which he 100% concurs with. That’s out of respect for County Board members. This is a momentous subject. They are essentially not allowing 2/3 of the county, represented via their colleagues, to have any voice in this matter by shutting it down in committee. He strongly impressed and pleaded that any of those who voted no call for reconsideration of the vote and take it to County Board.
Ms. Mayberry explained, hearing nothing by way of a reconsideration vote, that the motion has failed for Item 7, the resolution regarding the courthouse.
8) Consider Intergovernmental Agreement re: courthouse
Ms. Mayberry noted that because Item 8 is tied to Item 7, the committee can’t vote on Item 8. There is nothing to vote on. She opened the floor for discussion.
Mr. Mielke said he might as well speak now and clear things up. One of the issues he has is the third “whereas” in the document: “Whereas upon completion of the new annex, all court functions will cease in the current courthouse and be transferred to the Justice Center and annex, which will therefore be designated the Rock Island County Courthouse.” That’s interesting. He guesses he never knew they were going to call it the courthouse, but then again he never knew they were going to tear down the courthouse. That language concerns him. It’s a moot point right now. He will form a question if he has more clarification. Ms. Mayberry said she understands.
Mr. Terry said that in his six years he has never been more disappointed to be part of this body than he is today. Not because of the people he represents, but because of the people he has always up until today felt blessed that he has gotten the opportunity to serve with. This is once again a demonstration of the fact that there are folks who are unwilling to make a decision and move forward. He finds it very disappointing for himself. He will leave it at that.
9) Consider approval of low bids for IACBM Discount Equipment List
Ms. Mayberry explained that every few years, the county takes bids for the Illinois Association of County Board Members for discounted equipment. This is the year to renew the bids. John Deere was the only, and thus the lowest, bidder. Rock Island County is not currently purchasing any of these items; they are just hosting the bid for IACBM.
Motion to approve: Pat Moreno
2nd: Scott Terry
10) Consider vacation time carry-over request in Circuit Clerk’s Office
Ms. Payne explained that this is for a staff member who has an FMLA-approved event for her husband’s surgery. He was having both knees replaced. She originally expected to be off for two weeks. He went for his original surgery on February 16. One healed very well. The other knee has two different kinds of infections in it. One is a staph infection, the other is something else. He has now had a total of three surgeries. She has had to take a considerable amount of time off. She has exhausted all her sick time and went into vacation time. He has at least one more surgery, which will be sometime in May. He is on serious antibiotics that have to be given to him intravenously. She stands to lose 7.26 vacation hours because she can only carry over 40. The Circuit Clerk’s Office is requesting that she be allowed to keep her 7.26 hours that she stands to lose because he is still facing major medical issues.
Mr. Moreno asked how long she wants to carry it over. Ms. Payne said she’ll be using it very quickly. His next surgery is either May 2 or May 9.
Mr. Terry said he appreciates Ms. Weikert and Ms. Payne coming to present this. Perhaps there is something in a manual that he is not aware of. He asked if this particular employee is in good standing. Ms. Payne said absolutely and she is not paid out of the General Fund. Mr. Terry said he thinks this should be under Ms. Weikert’s discretion. This is why the elect their county officials. He thinks that the Board should vote to leave it at her discretion. Ms. Mayberry noted that is pretty much the same as a motion to approve and asked if Mr. Terry would like to motion.
Motion to approve carry over request: Scott Terry
2nd: Drue Mielke
Mr. Davis noted that this coming to committee is partly his doing. Ms. Weikert approached him with the request and he just asked her to bring it to the Board to be transparent. Mr. Mielke said he thinks it’s great. He admires Ms. Weikert for being very open and letting them know what’s going on. He appreciates it. Mr. Davis noted that he knows other Elected Officials have approached the County Board with requests similar to this, so he asked Ms. Weikert to bring it to the Board.
11) Review of pending/proposed state legislation & policy matters affecting Rock Island County
There was no discussion of Item 11.
12) Committee member opportunity for brief comments (no decisions will be made)
Mr. Davis noted that he did not include it in his report, but IDPH was at Hope Creek last week doing their annual study. It appears that they received a glowing review. He is still waiting on the actual written report from IDPH and he will report on that next month.
Ms. Mayberry said she thinks they know where this vote they made on the resolution regarding the courthouse leaves them today. Unless someone calls a special meeting, they will be right here next month back in the same position. She asked the committee to keep that in mind.
Chair Mayberry declared the meeting adjourned at 11:06 a.m.