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Old battle comes up again in Lee County

Officials unclear on chairman's power

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – Lee County Board Chairman Jim Seeberg created a controversy last year when he tried to remove the board's liaison to the 911 board.

The board member, Greg Witzleb, R-Dixon, contended Seeberg had no power to remove him before his term expired. He got backing from Dixon police Lt. Brad Sibley, chairman of the 911 board, which runs the county's emergency dispatch system.

Seeberg argued he had the authority.

On Tuesday, the County Board unanimously approved new board rules and procedures, including a provision that gives the chairman the power to select the board liaison to the 911 panel without seeking the full County Board's consent.

Before the vote, Witzleb said Seeberg believed he had the power to remove the liaison but that State's Attorney Henry Dixon thought otherwise. He asked member Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, for his opinion. 

Ketchum said he didn't know the right answer, adding that Dixon tried to get an opinion from the state government in Springfield but was unsuccessful.

Ketchum acknowledged that some believed the board should approve the appointment to the 911 panel, but he didn't necessarily agree. 

Dixon attended Tuesday's County Board meeting but didn't speak about the issue.

Last year, Seeberg, R-Ashton, said he wanted Witzleb removed because Witzleb had lobbied members to vote against giving money for infrastructure to a planned Interstate 39 truck stop.

Witzleb, who twice voted in the slim majority against the truck stop, denied lobbying others. The two sparred verbally over the issue at a committee meeting.

Seeberg appointed another board member, John Ferrone, R-Dixon, in Witzleb's place. But Witzleb kept attending 911 meetings and Seeberg quietly backed off. 

The men later mended fences. 

Seeberg, the chairman for the past decade, decided against running again. Ketchum is the only announced candidate for chairman, whom board members elect. The new term starts Dec. 1.

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