Madison County Board members of both parties pushed back against proposals by Chairman Kurt Prenzler on appointments, with two of three major votes siding against the chairman.
Board members of both parties have expressed dismay at the Prenzler administration’s ongoing process of firing existing employees to replace them with new hires.
Prenzler fired seven department heads when he took office in December and rescinded late-term appointments by his predecessor, Alan Dunstan. Since then he has replaced more department heads and people on various boards and commissions, often over the protests of board members.
In June, Prenzler attempted to replace chief county assessor Joseph Dauderman with a new appointee, who was not named and, according to county board member Kristen Novacich, was unable to take the job because he or she did not meet the statutory requirements.
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Thus Prenzler offered a resolution that would have reappointed Dauderman for 60 days, expiring shortly before the next board meeting.
However, county board members amended the appointment from 60 days to four years, essentially rehiring him over Prenzler’s objections.
Dauderman’s reappointment passed 20-6 in June. But the first item on the July agenda was reconsideration of the appointment at Prenzler’s request — essentially asking the board to vote a second time.
“I feel this reconsideration is not valid,” said Lisa Ciampoli, R-Collinsville. “As board members, we have a right to change the terms of the appointments and the salaries. It is quite clear.”
After some debate, the board unanimously reaffirmed its original decision to reappoint Dauderman to four years.
Meanwhile, Prenzler nominated Susan Presswood, of Pontoon Beach, to replace Helen Hawkins as board member for County Board District 16. Hawkins resigned to take a seat on the Metro-East Sanitary District, and according to a May 26 letter obtained by the News-Democrat, she had recommended Chris Hankins to take her seat for the remainder of her term.
Presswood has owned Tanglez, a Granite City hair salon, for the past nine years. She is married to Nameoki Township Supervisor Randy Presswood, according to news reports.
But two Republican board members protested her nomination. Raymond Wesley, R-Alton, said she had no experience in public service and had never run for office. “With all due respect to the effort and research you’ve put into this ... I feel the need to vote in the best interest of the citizens of Madison County,” he said.
Others agreed, including several Republicans. Some expressed dismay that Prenzler had disregarded Hawkins’ recommendation. As Hawkins was a Democrat, Prenzler was required to nominate another Democrat to her seat.
Presswood’s nomination failed 14 to 12.
The board did approve Prenzler’s proposal to replace two members of the Granite City Regional Wastewater Treatment board: current board member Kristen Novacich, D-Granite City, and former board member Brenda Roosevelt, D-Glen Carbon. They have served eight and six years on the board, respectively.
Roosevelt spoke before the vote, stating that she was reappointed to a four-year term in 2015. She said she received a letter from Prenzler stating that he would be appointing County Administrator Doug Hulme to complete her term.
“I was taken aback because I had not resigned my term and because Doug does not live in any of the areas served by the board,” she said. “I have not resigned, nor has Kristen Novacich.”
Prenzler’s original proposal was to replace Novacich and Roosevelt with Hulme and himself. Later he withdrew that proposal, nominating instead Kathy Goclan and Mike Dixon. Goclan was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for county board in 2016 and for township supervisor in April.
Prenzler said he believed that Novacich and Roosevelt were not properly reappointed to their current terms and thus were serving on expired terms.
County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza confirmed that there was no record found of Novacich and Roosevelt’s reappointments, which would have come from then-Chairman Alan Dunstan — or of any appointments to that board as far back as 2010.
“I have a real concern that these records are missing,” Roosevelt said. “Why would someone spend six years going to the Granite City Wastewater Treatment Board meetings if they were not appointed to the board?”
In the final proposal before the board, Dixon and Goclan were nominated to the board “to replace the previous board member if any.”
“I am ‘if any,’” Roosevelt said.
Board member Art Asadorian said his objections did not reflect on Dixon and Goclan. “These positions are not available yet,” he said. “If we had two more positions, you chose excellent people, but positions are not available.”
He also pointed out that Prenzler’s letter to Granite City stated that his appointments would be to complete the remainders of Roosevelt’s and Novacich’s terms.
“For there to be a remainder of a term, there has to be a term,” Asadorian said.
“There was no term. There were no valid appointments,” Prenzler said.
The motion carried 16-9, with Novacich abstaining as it involved her personally.
“It’s disappointing because common sense should have prevailed,” Roosevelt said, adding that she believes there should be an inquiry into the missing records. The board is an unpaid volunteer body, Roosevelt said.
In other news, several speakers addressed the board on both sides of the issue of five dogs who were euthanized last week at Madison County Animal Control. Originally it was believed three dogs were put to sleep, but later discussion revealed five dogs were put down.
Humane organizations have protested, stating that they had made it clear that they would take the animals, and that the euthanizations were against current policy. Others defended the officers’ actions, stating that while Prenzler’s campaign had called for a 10-day holding period for animals, official policy is much shorter, and the officers acted within that policy. One protester held up a sign that read, “Change the policy not the people.”