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Day meetings good for working folks?

Last week, the Lee County Board resisted the idea of holding meetings at night – a time when most working people can attend.

The vote was 12-10 in favor of keeping board meetings at 9 a.m. Some counties in northern Illinois have daytime meetings, as does at least one township in the area. But I have yet to find a city, village or school board that meets regularly during the day.

Even Lee County's zoning board meets at night. It sometimes deals with contentious issues – wind farms come to mind. Residents who want to protest would hardly put up with day meetings.

Cities, villages and school boards are more attached to their communities. They deal with many issues that affect the lives of their constituents, but people don't necessarily feel so close to their county and township governments.

In a city, people live close together, which creates more issues. When you live in the country, you might not feel such a strong attachment to the government.

At last week's County Board meeting, most of the younger members – Wes Morrissey, D-Amboy; Allyn Buhrow, R-Ashton; Ryan Marshall, R-Dixon; and Kasey Considine, D-Amboy – voted for day meetings. Why? They all work. 

"The only problem is, when we have daytime meetings exclusively, we eliminate a group of people who could run for this [governing body]," Morrissey told his colleagues. 

The board used to meet at night during the warm months and during the day when it got colder, but that changed a couple of years ago.

At least one member – Board Chairman Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy – has changed his mind on the issue.

In 2012, he said day meetings make more sense, but last week, he voted in the minority.

While we're on the subject of the Lee County Board, it's time for an update on its attendance record. Not once since January 2010 has every member shown up at a meeting. To be fair, former member Kathy Hummel, who was suffering from health problems, was absent from every meeting from April 2010 to November 2012. The county lost contact with her.

In Illinois, many county boards, including those in Lee and Whiteside, are among the largest in the country. So big that no one really cares when one member quits showing up for 2 1/2 years. 

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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