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Out Here: The Great Doughnut Debate

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:18 a.m. CDT

We cover a lot of public boards and commissions in the area. They all have traditions.

Some are charming. In Mount Carroll, at the start of a City Council meeting, someone pulls a string to ring a bell in City Hall's tower, which alerts the public.

The Lee County Board has its tradition, too – a doughnut and coffee break, which takes at least 15 minutes after about an hour into its morning meeting.

Last year, member Tom Kitson, R-Dixon, asked the county to include more nutritious fare. And the county did, adding apples and bananas.

Others apparently liked the idea. Any number of members, including Kitson, chomp on fruit during breaks.

A couple of months ago, member Wes Morrissey, D-Amboy, proposed to push breaks to the end of meetings. Those with day jobs agreed.

Other members stood by the tradition, saying the chairman should have the right to call breaks. The doughnut debate was unlike any the board had seen in months, with one member accusing his bickering colleagues of "acting like Congress."

In the end, Chairman Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, said he would make the call, deciding whether to have doughnuts during or after the meeting. (Apparently, beforehand is not an option.)

In the two meetings since, Ketchum has called the breaks about an hour into the meeting. The status quo won.

During this month's break, I asked Morrissey about his bold, ultimately failed gambit.

Biting into a banana, Morrissey, one of the younger members, acknowledged defeat.

"We lose our momentum with the break," he said. "I'd like to get business done."

Unfortunately for Morrissey, many of his colleagues see breaks as icing on the cake – or doughnuts, in this case.

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