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Board Meeting Minutes Nov. 29

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District
District Headquarters
November 29, 2011

Mary McNamara-Bernsten – Vice President Jamie Johannsen, Marketing
Judy Barnard Steve Chapman, Finance
Audrey Johnson
Cheryl Maggio

Jay Ferraro
Gloria Lind
Randy Olson

The meeting was called to order at 5:33 PM. Recording secretary Ronelle Johnson called the roll. Four Commissioners were present. Vice President Mary McNamara-Bernsten presided.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Cheryl Maggio led the assemblage in the Pledge of Allegiance.

APPROVAL of MINUTES Minutes for November 8 were amended to include the following correction to the BINA Hearing minutes: “President opened up the hearing for comments. No comments were received and the hearing was then closed.” Amended minutes were approved.

Closed session minutes. Motion to approve closed minutes as discussed in closed session on 11/8: The following closed session minutes are hereby open for public view:
January 18, 2011 April 19, 2011 August 9, 2011
March 15, 2011 July 20, 2011
Motion passed unanimously.

Sale of Bonds – Steve Chapman distributed the Moody’s Investors Service report for the Commissioners. Steve then distributed a letter to Randy Olson from Spear Financial. The bid was negotiated with Robert Baird & Company, and the interest rate was better than anticipated, which generates an additional $250,000 for land acquisition. The closing date is possibly December 13. Mary McNamara-Bernsten read the ordinance to the Commissioners. Steve indicated that the reason the District is not refunding the entire amount is because there is a bond payment due at end of December. Audrey asked if some of this money will be used to pay for the Four Lakes addition. Judy thought that was not the intent. Cheryl indicated that it would qualify to be used for that. Audrey’s concern is that it isn’t taken out of the wrong funds. Judy said she thought the money is already planned for and this money is to be used for the parcels of land the District needs and wants. We always need match money and if we don’t leave it for that, we don’t get grants. Audrey then made a motion to approve the sale of bonds in the amount of $2,455,000 for the purpose of refunding a portion of the $2,715,104 2002A outstanding aggregate principal amount of Series 2002A Limited General Obligation Bonds of the District (the “Series 2002A Bonds”), Land Acquisition, and issuance costs of the bonds. The motion was seconded by Cheryl and Judy. Roll call vote was made and motion passed unanimously.
Judy brought up the polluting of Kilbuck Creek and that the District has invited IEPA to come to the December 6 meeting to address the issues. She would also like to have someone come from William Charles to speak to the Commissioners as to how they will be mitigating this issue and put them on notice that the District is deeply concerned.

Soil and Water Commission Board Meeting – Judy indicated that there were reports on the Baxter Road corridor. It is getting set to burst open the land at I39 and it backs up to the Kishwaukee Forest Preserve, which is also William Charles property, and they have come in for zoning on that. As part of the 2030 plan, there is a buffer requirement and because the ordinance part has not been completed, there’s nothing to enforce that as a buffered area. It is necessary for the District to stay on top of these developments that will affect our property. Judy would like to talk to Troy and Chuck Thompson at William Charles for the January board meeting.

Judy would like to review the Commissioners Rules of Order and Procedure and would like to discuss these at the January meeting or possibly at the December meeting, putting together a committee that would sit down with the District’s attorney and go over the Rules of Order.

Judy would also like to be sure the Commissioners address the residency of Jay Ferraro. He has admitted to moving to Moline, and that he has six months and one day to resign, and that needs to be followed up on. She feels the District needs a legal opinion on the right thing to do. He should not be voting if he is not legally able to. Another question as to his residency, if he has a house here and one in Moline, what affect does this have on his residency. Mary suggested asking Mike Scheurich about the legality of it all, and talk to Jay and ask him to leave. The District needs to make sure that everything is being done right.

Judy also mentioned that when the Commissioners are getting legal opinions, there needs to be a process for getting that information to the Commissioners. She thinks that if somebody gets a legal opinion, the Board needs to know what the legal opinion is from the Attorney. Everybody needs to be on the same playing field.

Audrey believes that at the next meeting there needs to be a discussion with Randy about discussing things in public or in the media without the Commissioners having previously discussed it. Referring to the fact that Randy stated that there will be a moratorium on sharpshooting, and things have gotten out of hand. A Commissioner cannot come across to the public as the Board has decided something, when they haven’t. Jamie Johannsen indicated that the deer population issue has not been a Board decision in the past, it is an operations decision.

Judy indicated that former County Board member, Gary Jury, would like to talk to her about the Chuck Sweeny article on Sunday, November 27, in the Rockford Register Star. Cheryl indicated she is not willing to let Chuck Sweeny badmouth the District with inaccurate information. Judy thinks the Board needs to talk about a policy regarding responding to the articles in the paper, especially the negative articles. Cheryl thinks a guest editorial in the paper to rebut the negative press is a good idea. Mary distributed a draft guest editorial for consideration of submitting to the newspaper. Cheryl believes the District needs to include a list of what they have accomplished since the new Commissioners have been in place, and that the District should submit a guest editorial every month to keep public updated on what is being done.

Hunting in the forest preserves is an issue that needs to be discussed in the strategic planning process. The deer population issue needs be discussed further to a much greater extent, and the impact of CWD and hunting. The District’s Mission is to protect the quality of the resources in the forest preserve and make sure the plants and the animals are a thriving ecosystem, and a balance needs to be kept. Public perception is that the sharp shooting started due to CWD, and that is not true. Cheryl and Judy would rather do a guest editorial as to the strategic planning process as opposed to the deer population issues.

Cheryl then thought it would be a good idea to have Chuck Sweeny invited to a focus group. Judy agreed and also thought it would be good to have all the people that ran for Commissioner invited to a focus group or be their own focus group. Jamie will talk to Tom Kalousek and Pam Clark Reidenbach about Chuck Sweeny being in a group as well as former candidates. There was further discussion about the media being their own focus group. Jamie will talk to Tom and Pam about that as well.

Mary and Judy believe the board meetings may need to be changed, due to the fact that the District meetings are same nights as the Park District meetings and the press covers the Park District and the District is not getting fair coverage. This will be further discussed on December 6.

Jamie reported that three focus groups are complete and have been well attended. She described to the Commissioners the process of what happens during the focus groups, and gave an update of what groups are left and been added.

Meeting adjourned at 6:36
Next board meeting 5:30 PM, Tuesday, December 6, District Headquarters

Ronelle Johnson
Recording Secretary