Meetings didn't make quorum, state rules

2011-01-24T00:00:00Z Meetings didn't make quorum, state rulesBy Steve Zabroski Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 24, 2011 12:00 am  • 

EAST CHICAGO | Just three trustees attended the Library Board meeting last month, and state regulators could void actions taken because of a lack of a quorum.

State Librarian Roberta Brooker recommended last week the board "redo" the meeting so the financial, contractual and organizational decisions made would be in compliance with state law.

That hasn't happened yet.

A lot was riding on that Dec. 15 meeting. Library trustees had just days to refinance about $1.7 million for 2010 debts and much of this year's expenses.

Two members of the seven-member panel had resigned their positions in the preceding week, and four of the remaining trustees were needed for an official quorum to conduct business.

When just three trustees showed up, library attorney Carmen Fernandez advised the board she interpreted state statute to permit a quorum of three members because that would be a majority of the five current trustees.

The trio then approved the refinancing, signed a one-year contract for legal services with Fernandez and elected new officers for 2011.

Those decisions have questionable standing, said James Corrigan, deputy state librarian, because conducting business with just three members is contrary to accepted state government practice.

When Chasidy Gomez, elected board president in December, attempted to convene the panel's  meeting this month, her standing as leader was challenged by Clifton Johnson, the board's president since 2009.

With a copy of state recommendations in hand, Johnson said he still was board president because the Dec. 15 election was invalid.

After an exchange over proper procedures with Fernandez, Johnson and Trustee Hector Cavazos left the meeting, which was adjourned by Gomez just shy of the three-minute mark, with no actions taken.

"The state library counsel said that at our next meeting we should ratify the business conducted at the December meeting," Fernandez said. "That's what we tried to do but (Johnson and Cavazos) walked out."

Johnson said the board likely would have to hold a special session soon to straighten out matters.

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