Cops called to oust board member

A Montgomery County sheriff's deputy listens as Palatine Board member Chris Novak, hidden from view, holding pen on right, tells him he has a right to be at the meeting and was not disrupting the course of the meeting. (Source: YouTube)

PALATINE — Last month’s Town Board meeting got heated when Supervisor William MacLauchlin had the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office called to remove board member Chris Novak for “interfering” with the meeting.

Tensions started early in the meeting when MacLauchlin attempted to have the board go into executive session to discuss a building negotiation. Novak stopped the move, saying there were “things that need to be addressed first.”

In an ongoing feud between MacLauchlin, who took office in January, and Novak, MacLauchlin has repeatedly stated he is trying to bring more order to the meetings that have been plagued with discourse from the previous administration.

Novak questioned the validity of several resolutions passed by the Town Board over the past few months, stating because a quorum was not met and a supermajority vote of five was needed for four the resolutions, all but one were “null and void.”

Town attorney Kirsten Dunn, who admitted she only had “the paperwork in front of me,” to work from, said the “majority constitutes the quorum for the transaction of any business, so therefore, the majority of your quorum is sufficient to pass.”

Novak interrupted Dunn, stating the Association of Towns said all votes had to be “conducted in the entirety of the full membership of the board, whether absent or not.”

“Why would you need a quorum [then]?” she asked. “That means you could never have a vote or meeting [without] everyone there.”

Novak interrupted Dunn again and said there were only three people present, so he did not agree with her assessment of town law on quorums.

“[The Association of Towns] law does not say what you said,” Novak said.

Bob Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, said not all members of the board need to be present in order for a resolution to be passed.

“To be brief, a quorum is a majority of a public body’s total membership, notwithstanding absences or vacancies,” Freeman said. “To take action of any kind, [such as] approving a motion, there must be an affirmative vote of a majority of the total membership. If, for example, a board consists of five members, three are present, and the vote on a motion is 2 to 1, it doesn’t carry. There would have to be 3 affirmative votes to approve the motion, even though 2 members were absent.”

After the discussion on quorums, MacLauchlin attempted to get the board meeting back on track, stating they would get to matters less “controversial.”

The meeting seemed to be moving along until MacLauchlin asked former Ethics Board member Paul Spencer about handing over paperwork involving recent meetings.

Spencer noted that the board had met on two complaints before finding out his letter of intent to serve as an Ethics Board member had never been picked up — he had addressed it incorrectly and had sent it by registered mail — and the Oath of Office had not been taken, therefore, when MacLauchlin dissolved the board, it technically never actually existed, so there was no “paperwork” to hand over.

“We had the meeting not knowing the oath of office had not been taken and then the supervisor dissolved the Ethics Board, in my opinion, in error,” Spencer said.

As MacLauchlin began to question Spencer again about the paperwork from the meetings, Novak interrupted, saying, “Stop. Stop. Stop.”

MacLauchlin rapped the gavel and told Novak, “You are out of order.”

Novak continued and said that he was not out of order and that MacLauchlin was wrong for his questioning of Spencer.

“I am not out of order, you can’t speak to a citizen like that,” Novak said as MacLauchlin rapped the gavel again.

Rapping it a third time, MacLauchlin asked one of the councilmen to call the sheriff’s office to request a deputy be dispatched to the meeting.

Board members and residents waited for the deputy to arrive and when he did, MacLauchlin told the deputy that Novak was “out of order.”

“I am trying to run this meeting and this man is interfering — Chris Novak,” said MacLauchlin pointing in Novak’s direction. “I would ask you to remove him and ask him not to come back tonight.”

Novak told the deputy he had not been disruptive and that he had a right to be at the meeting.

“Sorry, but I am a member of this council. I have been voted in and I have a right to be here,’ Novak said.

The deputy asked Novak if he minded stepping outside to talk, to which Novak agreed, not before telling the other board members to not continue the meeting without him.

Novak was not arrested, nor did he return to meeting and after more than 25 minutes, the meeting resumed, with Novak’s seat clearly visible.

MacLauchlin did not return a call seeking comment.

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