DIXON – An open-minded approach and a passion for the city was expressed as members of the governmental task force called on to examine the city’s form of government met for the first time Wednesday.
When their task is done, they will recommend the most appropriate form of government to the City Council.
Mayor Jim Burke suggested July 1 as a tentative deadline, but he said each member of the group was appointed for a year, so they will not be constrained to that deadline.
While their recommendation is technically non-binding, task force members acknowledged their findings will have a strong public influence.
In other words: “The public is watching,” said Dixon attorney Robert Lesage.
Wednesday, the group started by asking what their vision for Dixon’s government should be.
In an effort to understand the different roles and structure of city government, the panel is scheduling its next meeting to meet with John Phillips from the Illinois City/County Management Association. The date and time have yet to be determined.
Members of the task force are Kelly Allen, Marilyn Coffey, the Rev. Michael Cole, Jim Marshall, Jack Schrauth, Tom Shaw and Bill Wadsworth. Each are appointed for one year.
Burke said the process started with about 20 candidates and was whittled down to seven based on their diversity, independent thinking, open-mindedness and intelligence.
He said the task force will not be influenced by him or the City Council. Burke will not attend any future meetings, he said, unless asked to speak.
“I had someone ask me the other day, ‘Is this committee going to do what you tell them to do?’” Burke said. “’Dream on,’ I told him.”
Police Chief Danny Langloss, who was named as a special assistant to the City Council, said the city still plans to hire a city administrator, because it needs a position to oversee the day-to-day operations of the city.
“This does not undermine your work,” Langloss said. “We are asking for a city administrator who will be able to serve under any form of government.”
The advisory panel named Coffey as its chairwoman, Schrauth as its vice chairman and Allen as its secretary. A city employee is scheduled to take minutes at every meeting and Langloss will be there to help answer any questions they have about the city.
All the committees meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Act, meaning the meetings are open to the public and an agenda must be made available 48 hours before they meet.
Documents from the meetings will be posted under the citizen’s information center tab online at discoverdixon.org.
The panel set every Wednesday at 9 a.m. as the tentative schedule for meetings at either City Hall or the Public Safety Building, unless otherwise noted.
Dixon resident Jill Polivka said the city government needs change, calling for more accountability and checks and balances.
Resident Terry Maclennan asked anyone with personal relationships to former comptroller Rita Crundwell or former City Engineer Shawn Ortgiesen to step down. None of the task force commented, or did so.
Shaw, president and CEO of Shaw Media, which owns Sauk Valley Media, spoke in his introduction to his involvement with Sauk Valley Media – which will be covering the panel meetings.
Shaw said he does not sit over the day-to-day operations of the editorial content of the newspaper – working at a separate corporate office – and said he has little influence over the editorial content.
“My influence is just a smidgeon more than anyone else,” Shaw said. “I contact the editors about stories, just like anyone else would have to contact the editor.”