Board meetings will take place in person, with live-streaming available for the public
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (April 8, 2020) – “Ladies and gentlemen, although this is not on the agenda,” Mayor Patty Eidam began the April 7 Village Board meeting, “before I go into the Mayor’s Report…I have a statement that I must read to you.” That statement follows below in its entirety:
April 7, 2020
Governor Pritzker’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ Executive Order of March 20th, which now extends through April 30th, is guiding all decisions made by our administration during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The language in the document states that “all persons may leave their homes or place of residence only for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.”
Essential Government Functions means “all services provided by the State or any municipal, township, county, subdivision or agency of government and needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies or to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.” It is the responsibility of each government body to determine its Essential Government Functions and identify employees necessary to the performance of those functions. For purposes of the Governor’s order, all governmental employees working for or to support Essential Business and Operations are categorically exempt from the Executive Order.
Almost all of the services provided by Village departments are essential under the definition provided by the Governor. One non-essential area of the Village we closed early on to help protect guests and employees was the Lansing Youth Center. However, health and safety-related departments such as police, fire, and public works must remain open and available to the community to provide essential services. Some non-essential responsibilities within these departments have been eliminated for now, and each one has instituted precautionary safety protocol to allow for safe interaction with the public.
Where possible we have provided options for staff at the Lansing Municipal Center to work remotely from home. The logistics and day-to-day procedures necessary for certain departments to function, however, require employees to be on site to conduct business. Per my order, strict social distancing guidelines are in place within the Lansing Municipal Center and all other departments within the Village. Department heads have been directed to create “work alone” tasks for their employees where applicable and to ensure no employees are stationed less than six feet apart while on duty. Municipal government has a responsibility to be present and available to its residents to help provide services, guidance and answers during incredibly difficult times. Even though all Village of Lansing buildings are closed to the public, the Village of Lansing is definitely not closed, but we are being careful.
Some residents have reached out to the Village about the section of the order that “prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited.” The order also reads, “Pursuant to current guidance from the CDC, any gathering of more than ten people is prohibited unless exempted by this Executive Order.” This exemption of the “more than 10” clause allows for Essential Governmental Functions such as Village Board meetings. Although various remote meeting options are available, the Village administration strongly believes that in-person meetings BEST allow for the most effective and accurate presentation of important Village issues and agenda items to our Board members. All elected officials, however, were given the option to attend the meetings remotely if they so desired. All in-person Village Board meetings deemed necessary will be conducted under strict social distancing protocol and will require only essential members of the Village staff be in attendance.
To provide an option for residents who desire to view these meetings but do not wish to attend in person, the Village will temporarily stream Board meetings live via You Tube. Links to join the meeting will be published in advance, and an email option for public comment has now been created. That email address is [email protected]. Only public comment emails sent during the window of time the meeting is actually being held will be read into the record and included in the official meeting minutes. In this manner, the Village hopes to conduct the most effective Village Board meetings possible, while also allowing the public to participate remotely and ensuring compliance with all requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
What we are currently experiencing as a village, state, country and world is a unique challenge none of us certainly envisioned. The word essential has currently taken on new meaning and certainly has different interpretations depending on viewpoint. In my view, the Village of Lansing and its employees have an essential civic responsibility to demonstrate effective leadership, maintain an active presence, and provide vitally important services to our residents. That is always our goal. To achieve it now, under these trying times, is difficult yet necessary.
The Village of Lansing is here and ready to help our community in any way it possibly can.
To see Governor’s Order 2020-10 issued on March 20th, click here.
To see Governor’s order 2020-17 issued on March 28th, click here.
Mayor Patty Eidam
Village of Lansing, IL