ONARGA, IL. (ECWd) –
Our last article showed how the Onarga Community Public Library District voted to (unlawfully) remove a member of its elective board.
This article will explain how wrong that vote was.
How vacancies and appointments of Library District Trustee are supposed to work:
Each local government in Illinois has a specific statute designed to govern that specific unit of local government, for example, in the case of Special Districts:
- Library District (like the Onarga Community Public Library District): Public Library District Act of 1991
- For a complete list of all Special Districts in Illinois (click here)
All units of local government, including special districts and those created under Intergovernmental Agreements, only have those powers granted them by the Illinois Constitution and the Legislature by way of laws and statutes approved and signed into law. The only exception is for home-rule units of local government (municipalities under home-rule, and Cook County). This is called “Dillon’s Rule” and all non-home-rule units of local government are bound by Dillon’s Rule. In short, one must look for statutory language “permitting” the local government to do what they want to do, not for language “prohibiting” their actions. If nothing can be found in the governing statute(s) permitting an action or if the statute is silent, the action cannot be done.
With that said, a Library District is bound by the Public Library District Act of 1991 for their governing statute. The Act describes the powers and duties of trustees and the board. It describes how an elective office of Library Trustee becomes vacant, and who appoints / how appointments are made to fill board vacancies.
According to the Act, Section 30-25(a), the board can declare a vacancy only under any of the following conditions:
- when a trustee declines, fails, or is unable to serve
- when a trustee becomes a nonresident of the district
- when a trustee is convicted of a misdemeanor by failing, neglecting, or refusing to discharge any duty imposed upon him or her by this Act
- when a trustee has failed to pay the library taxes levied by the district
- when a trustee is absent without cause from all regular board meetings for a period of one year
Once a vacancy is declared by the board under one or more of the five above reasons, the vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the remaining trustees (Section 30-25(b)).
Was Doris Hubner properly appointed to a vacancy in the elective office of Library Trustee?
YES, according to the meeting minutes, dated May 9, 2017, the board appointed Doris Hubner as Library Trustee (here). May 9, 2017, Meeting Agenda was properly noticed for possible action and vote to appoint Trustees (here).
During the June 13, 2017 meeting, Doris Hubner was sworn in a Library Trustee (here). The June 13, 2017, Meeting Agenda was properly noticed for possible action to swear in newly appointed Trustees (here).
Unless the Library falsified its meeting minutes, we must assume they are correct, and Doris Hubner was properly appointed by a vote of the board to fill a vacancy in the office. It matters not which trustee or chairman nominated her for the vacancy, what matters is that the Agenda reflect action and vote for an appointment, and the Minutes reflect the appointment. Same for the swearing in of appointees.
Was Doris Hubner properly removed and a vacancy properly declared in her elective office of Library Trustee?
Chairman John Bank stated since “he” appointed her, “he” can rescind the appointment. Wrong answer. It doesn’t matter that the board “voted” to remove her as a Trustee. They do not have the power to make that decision, just as they do not have the power to remove any other board member unless they can declare a vacancy according to the statute for one or more of the five reasons listed above.
First, he did not appoint her, the board did according to their agenda and minutes.
Next, there is absolutely no statutory or legal authority to rescind an appointment to a vacant elective position
Finally, when I submitted a FOIA request asking for the specific reason(s) she was allegedly removed, there was no legitimate, legal, statutory reason given. Yes, there were excuses made up by their attorney pointing to the wrong statute and an irrelevant court case trying to manufacture a legitimate reason, but in the end, all of their excuses fail on their face.
In our next article, we will explain all of the excuses given and how each one is wrong.