Metro-East News

Collinsville councilmen protest cancellation of meeting

The Collinsville City Council meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. But the city website has a notice up that states the meeting on March 13 was canceled due to “a lack of business items.”
The Collinsville City Council meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. But the city website has a notice up that states the meeting on March 13 was canceled due to “a lack of business items.”

At least two councilmen in Collinsville are not happy a scheduled city council meeting on Monday night was canceled.

The Collinsville City Council meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. But the city website has a notice up that states the March 13 meeting was canceled due to “a lack of business items.”

That shouldn’t be enough to cancel a meeting, according to councilmen Nancy Moss and Jeff Kypta.

“There are always business items; there’s always a consent agenda,” Moss said. “To me, this is a terrible idea. I frankly don’t know if it’s even allowed.”

Moss said the council had been informed city manager Mitch Bair would be on vacation for several days, and later were informed of the cancellation with the same notice posted on the website instead of the council packet they usually receive. She posted a protest on Facebook, which is now circulating on social media.

“Don’t let anyone tell you this is not a big deal. It’s a very big deal,” Moss wrote. “The council sets its meeting schedule by official resolution near the end of each year for the coming year. Those are the dates we are to meet. There is never a ‘lack of business items’ for any regular meeting.”

I think it’s outrageous. If we did nothing but show up and sit there, and wait to see if people wanted to address the council in public input, that, to me, is our job.

Collinsville City Councilmen Nancy Moss

Moss said she has been on the council for 12 years, and until very recently, she had never seen a meeting canceled for lack of business. On one prior occasion in October 2016, she said, the meeting was canceled. All other times they have been postponed or rescheduled, she said, but there are always bills and payroll to approve, minutes from previous meetings, and the opportunity for residents to come address the council with their concerns.

“I think it’s outrageous,” Moss said. “If we did nothing but show up and sit there, and wait to see if people wanted to address the council in public input, that, to me, is our job.”

Mayor John Miller said that Bair informed him there was no business for the March 13 meeting, and he and Miller made the decision to cancel it. He said the routine payroll and bills approvals will still take place at the March 27 meeting.

“We canceled the meeting on the 10th of October and (Moss and Kypta) weren’t upset then,” Miller said. “I don’t know why they’re upset now.”

The council meeting is not a political forum.

Collinsville Mayor John Miller

Kypta said he didn’t understand why the meeting was being canceled, when previous meetings have taken place that only included the consent agenda of routine items, payroll, minutes and public input. “It takes away the option for people to speak, and they only get 23 chances a year and for four minutes at that,” he said.

Moss said she believes the meetings are part of their job, and not everyone will check the city website to see that it’s been canceled. “We are elected to meet and do the people’s business,” Moss said. “And if that business on that night is to vote on the consent agenda and listen to public input ... People want to give us their issues and problems, and we’re not there? They plan on us being there, and they should.”

Of the four council members and mayor, Moss and Kypta are up for reelection. Moss said with the election only three weeks away, she feels the meeting’s cancellation may be an attempt to silence the two councilmen who have been the most critical of the city’s administration.

Miller disagreed. “The council meeting is not a political forum,” he said.

Councilmen Jeff Stehman and Cheryl Brombolich could not be immediately reached for comment.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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