Friday, May 29, 2009

Committed Volunteers

Sorry for the hiatus, I've been packing up everything I own to get a better tan 3,000 miles away. Luckily, I'm done with that now.

This week's Village Board Meeting, the last for The Gatekeeper and The Renegade, was a disaster. Because there was no meeting. See, The Mayor and The Gatekeeper showed up, but The Renegade, The Butterfly and The Financier were all absent. Apparently The Financier's absence was excused (this time) due to a personal issue. No one seems to know where The Butterfly was, although her husband was present for the first time in anyone's memory. The Renegade was simply out, due to personal obligations and priorities that may or may not have been communicated or excused. So, without a quorum, the meeting was never called to order and business in the VoNP is stalled, yet again.

In the wake of The Butterfly's unjustified and unprofessional tirade against the NPFD, many of her defenders are pointing to the meager stipend and supreme level of commitment that she has demonstrated in her capacity as Trustee. So, as is my way, I did some data entry and found even my overly cynical self disappointed by the results.

Instead of dealing with the personal qualities of The Butterfly as Trustee, and without even attempting to tackle the subjective issue of voting record, let's stick to something we can all agree is a requirement of office: attendance. We all know that Trustees should show up and participation is apparently a bonus. But I've been stating that The Butterfly and The Financier fall far short of even this basic obligation and we don't need to have a philosophical debate about positions or abilities; the facts back this one up.

Section 31-5 of the Village Code outlines that "Any person appointed to a board, commission or committee of the Village shall be expected to attend at least 75% in number of the regular and special meetings of such board, commission or committee during a period of 12 consecutive months." There does not appear to be an attendance policy for elected board members, but I think it is reasonable to assume that these officers should be held to this standard at a minimum. I'm assuming the absence of this specification is for this exact reason; we shouldn't have to hold elected officials to an attendance policy. After all, they're the ones who chose to seek public office!

Of the 54 available meetings for all of 2008 and 2009 (38 available meetings for The Renegade), who actually shows up?

For the purpose of my averages, "attendance" is considered complete attendance. You show up to the meeting, on time, and stay until the meeting is adjourned. I did not count instances where someone leaves the meeting for a few minutes, as these are expected to occur. Also, as a courtesy to The Butterfly, I did not count instances where she left for significant blocks of time, as it would be nearly impossible to calculate due to the frequency and duration of such "emergency" phone calls, snacking, socializing and web surfing. Each instance of arriving late and leaving early, even from the same meeting, is counted as a separate, distinct violation. I could've weighted lates and earlys as being less offensive than full absences, and also could've formed penalties based on the extent of lateness or leaving-earlyness, but I didn't. They're all equally offensive as far as I'm concerned, plus it's early and I'm not that big into math. I'll gladly email my spreadsheet to anyone who would like to tackle it.

- 100% Attendance Record. The Mayor has attended all joint, special, and regular meetings of the Village Board. He has not been late, nor left early, for any of these meetings. This isn't surprising; The Mayor strikes me as exactly the type of person who would graduate High School with the prestigious K-12 Perfect Attendance Award. Plus, they're his meetings and his agenda and clearly nobody else is going to run them, so it makes sense that he would have to be present in order for business to be conducted.

- 87% Attendance Record. The Renegade, with fewer meetings being counted since he did not take office until June 1, 2008, has missed 1 regular meeting and was late to 1 regular meeting (although, at the request of the VB, was present at a School Board meeting as the Village representative on the evening in question). He was present at both joint meetings and missed 3 special meetings, one of which he would've been late to had it lasted longer than 10 minutes.

- 83% Attendance Record. The Gatekeeper is in third place, being absent from 2 regular meetings, late to 1 regular meeting and leaving early for 4 regular meetings. The Gatekeeper has faced a tremendous loss in his family in 2009, thus excusing one of these absences. He was absent from 1 special meeting and 1 joint meeting.

- 65% Attendance Record. The Financier, in a dead heat with The Butterfly, has an abysmal attendance record. She has been absent from 7 regular meetings, late to 5 regular meetings, and left early for 3 regular meetings. She has also been absent from 3 special meetings.

- 54% Attendance Record. The Butterfly comes in last, being absent from 6 regular meetings, late to 12 regular meetings and leaving early for 5 regular meetings. She has also been absent from 2 special meetings.

Now I know there will still be some who are uppity and defensive about the attendance record.

"But the meetings run so LATE!" Well, shorten the agenda or your soliloquies. Either way.

"But they can't be expected to be at everything, all the time!" I agree. But Village Board meetings are a basic requirement of their office. Showing up occasionally is disrespectful to the voters, the community and the other officials.

"Well, The Financier CALLED into a meeting, shouldn't that count?!" No, it shouldn't. If you're not present to vote, you're not there. For all we know, Scott Schulte could've taken the called-in Trustee hostage, forcing them to make comments at gunpoint.

I am sure there are plenty more pathetic excuses for why Trustees shouldn't be expected to participate in their own meetings. Please, let me know. Especially The Butterfly and Financier. I think an explanation is long overdue.

Also, I think it's worth pointing out that the two Trustee-Elects, Patrick O'Donnell and Brian Kimbiz, have been showing up to meetings for a few weeks. Kudos. Sadly, no one has ever seen their faces at a meeting until recently. We can only hope that they follow the example of The Mayor, The Renegade and The Gatekeeper when it comes to attendance. Actually, we can hope O'Donnell does. We might be better off if Kimbiz just stays home.


  1. omg! I have got to tell scott about your blog!
    perhaps this is one of the reasons why julia switched to dem? I missed 2 regular meetings in 4 years, they started one budget meeting without me and adjourned as I was coming up the steps. Interestly enough, the Financier as clerk knew I was on my way and had a few points to discuss but ignored that fact, if ignored is the right term. Missed a joint meeting, back was out and it was followed by a regular meeting. Jason missed about 2 meetings and I believe a third when his grandparents died. Point being, proof of the Green commitment we discussed at our caucus! Now we need to see these meetings streamed online so you can continue your commitment as legislative barbie.....

  2. wow. nice work, i would like to see the spreadsheet. hoping you can continue all sorts of fun analysis while you search for a job out there on the left coast.


  3. Great article. Especially as the board held a special meeting today at 10:30 A.M. for what was suppose to be finacial items that needed to be paid but turned out to have included certain items by the Mayor which could have waited until the regular meeting where the public could have observed.Especially as the Mayor prohibited public input at this meeting Fortunatly the the trustees made him table until the public could observe and input.P.S. guess who was not there?

  4. the special 10:30 brunch session, which the "butterfly" didnt attend, the mayor was questioned about the lawsuit from Bruce Kazen. The clerk and trustees knew nothing about it eventhough it was served 3 weeks ago, he became confused or angry when questioned about why others didnt have this information. Shouldnt this information be shared? The mayor was also questioned on legal expenses. He offered no answers - I am guessing he will deal with "his" board like the press, only communicate with email when he wants since when you speak one has to actually think and tell the truth. See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil - just be evil?

  5. Brittany, as usual, you are my hero. I'd like to think I would go to the board meetings in your absence and watch the fireworks, but man oh man that's a lot of time to give.

  6. when one runs for an elected seat, they know how much time they have to give. They know that those meetings can run until stupid O clock at night. There is no excuse for poor attendance. 54%? Really? And she's still a trustee? How is she representing their constituency if she isn't there to vote? She's not doing this village any good if she's uninformed (due to frequent breaks) and just plain not showing up.

  7. Let's get this straight. She missed the last two meetings? The meeting prior to these last two was on public access. Although she technically "attended" that meeting she spent most of her energy reading a nasty personal statement that maligned two local journalists for quoting her at a public meeting where she made offensive comments to and about the volunteer fire department. She claimed that these were "off the record."

    There is no "off-the-record" at a public meeting, by a public official. If that wasn't bizare enough, she then, from what we could see on channel 23, kept getting up to answer her cell-phone and would not return for long stretches of time, only to answer another cell phone call.

    She missed the majority of the board discussion and subsequent votes. I read that she asked for a raise during village budget time. What would this raise be for? Maybe to help off-set her egregious cell phone use?

  8. we miss barbieblog really timing burning blazing hottest question under the orange halfmoon midsummer queen's quixotic crest while eclipsing all the rest with a whimper not a bang from newplazoons wishing her the best almost totally eclipsed blue partiest zest!

  9. i'll second anything maria davila posts since i met her in the flesh & we parted in earnest best terms re. any future partially miscoded communication on account of transcoastal relay/delay gaps between differing wof-wof / miaou-miaou heartfelt intermitent frequency beats = stars * signals ^ mermaids & ducks must be included as well as counted as other(s) write-ins meaning all pets r equal.

  10. maria d. can also vote as my proxy when i'm in wheelchair on account of non-flex back muscles due 2 not enough trancing nor dancing on the streets because of the unheard of amount of trucks/rerouted detoured/retoured overturned or crashed down or simply burning vehicles of all sorts on Main Street quickly turning in2 Santa Monica Blvd. !!! ~~ long live turkey Vultures & sexy flipflops all over the shrinking parched out spitting ember coolata globe !