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Stroger meeting in Palatine is off again

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Daily Herald
by Kimberly Pohl

Get out those date books yet again: the June 16 community meeting Cook County Board President Todd Stroger agreed to in Palatine is off.

This time, it's not a matter of Stroger backing out.

His appearance at Harper College to discuss the logic behind a recent 1 percent sales tax hike would have conflicted with the Palatine village council meeting across town.

That prompted Commissioner Gregg Goslin to ask Stroger representatives for a new date.

"It's a public forum and (Palatine officials) are members of the public too," said Goslin, who has worked on organizing a new meeting ever since the first, which was to be a joint meeting featuring Stroger and the Palatine village board, fell apart.

There never should have been a conflict, according to Goslin. The Glenview Republican said he expected Stroger's office to submit three dates he would pass along to the Palatine Chamber of Commerce, which is facilitating the upcoming meeting.

County board spokesman Eugene Mullins - who couldn't be reached for comment - said earlier this week he understood that to be the plan as well.

What Goslin got in place of a choice was a voice mail late Tuesday informing him of a firm day and time.

"They're going to get back to me with two more days like we originally discussed," Goslin said Wednesday.

Towns such as Wheeling and Hoffman Estates would have been unable to attend June 16 because their boards also meet. They want to know how their businesses can compete for shoppers crossing the street to Lake County in search of a lower sales tax.

As far as Harper College knows, the meeting is still a done deal. The contract for June 16 has been signed and representatives say they haven't heard about a change in date from anyone.

The confusion over the meeting's format has been sorted out, at least.

Eugene Mullins said earlier in the week he thought the meeting would be limited to Stroger, the chamber and other select business leaders the chamber invites.

But both sides now agree the meeting is a public forum and that the 250-seat Wojcik Conference Center will be open to all. The president will likely make an opening statement and then he and county department heads will answer questions from the audience, Goslin said.

Mayor Rita Mullins, who is not related to Eugene Mullins, said she wants to go to the meeting should the date change. But she's still unsure whether a majority of the council could attend and still abide by the state's Open Meetings Act since discussion would center on the village's economic future.

Village attorney Bob Kenny has said the council's attendance is fine - as long as they sit in silence.

Staying in the shadows would be fine with Rita Mullins, who has said Palatine was partially to blame for the prior meeting falling apart.

Stroger cited political grandstanding by some Palatine officials for his cancellation of the earlier meeting.

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