More Details Come To Light On County Board Walkout

Republican members of the Will County Board walked out of a special meeting yesterday, regarding an increase in pay. Board Member Sherry Williams, a Democrat from Crest Hill, told WJOL that the board members were debating on a resolution to raise the pay of countywide elected officials by one percent. Their pay hasn’t been raised in 18 years.

During the debate, a proposal was turned down. That’s when Chairwoman Ogalla made a comment and left the chambers. Her fellow GOP members soon followed.

Following release of this story, Chairwoman Judy Ogalla reached out to WJOL with her own statement.

A person who chooses to run for elected office should do so because they want to be a public servant, after all, their salary is paid for by the taxpayer.

It should be noted that nothing has prevented the Democratic members of the Will County Board from having discussions outside of a formal meeting to discuss salary increases for County Wide Elected officials and County Board members. They did not take the initiative. A proposal could have been prepared and presented at a Special Board Meeting anytime if they had taken the initiative. This failure lies solely in their lap.

Republican County Board members were against any type of raise. As a republican and the County Board Chair Judy Ogalla, scheduled a Committee of the Whole to have this discussion on May 14th. The Democratic Board members, that took the time to attend, did not come forward with a proposal or any substantive discussion. In fact, the Democratic Leader left the meeting after 12 minutes. There was never any intention to have meaningful discussion on the salary increase.

Chair Ogalla then took the initiative, against her caucus’ wishes, to schedule a Special Board meeting to have a vote on salary increases prior to the statutory deadline (keep in mind any member of the County Board could set a special meeting, at any time, by obtaining 8 signatures of other County Board Members ).

Attendance at the Special Board Meeting was equal with 9 Republicans and 9 Democrats. Any tie would have been broken by the County Executive. The morning was spent attempting to work out an agreement between the two parties. Chair Ogalla would have agreed to a small raise, and her vote in the affirmative would have passed the salary increases.

It became obvious that the Democratic Caucus, the County Executive, and the County Clerk were working together to stall the meeting. The County Executive, who never likes to start a meeting late, called the meeting to order approximately 15 minutes late. The County Clerk called roll call like she was unfamiliar with the names of the County Board members. The Democratic County Board Members asked inane questions about a resolution to hire a consultant to assist the Landfill Committee. The clear evidence of the stalling tactic was the late arrival (40 minutes after the scheduled start of the meeting) of County Board Member El Costa, who previously advised she could not attend the meeting due to a previously scheduled work matter.

The Republican caucus stopped the manipulation by the Democrats. The Democrats took a calculated risk, instead of negotiating in good faith, and lost.