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New Island Lake mayor 'not surprised' by absences
By Russell Lissau and Hayley Kaplan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/29/2009 10:49 AM | Updated: 5/29/2009 2:47 PM

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Debbie Herrmann's first full meeting as Island Lake's new mayor never got off the ground Thursday night.

Trustees John Ponio, Laurie Rabattini and Don Saville skipped the gathering, leaving Herrmann with only two board members - not the four legally needed to call a meeting to order.

Connie Mascillino and Donna O'Malley were the only trustees present. Rich Garling, who until recently was the panel's sixth member, had announced his resignation and was not present.

Herrmann had to cancel the session and send home the audience and staff members who'd gathered for a night of small-town politics. She sounded as if she took the absences personally.

"My apologies for the rest of the board not feeling it (the meeting) was as important was we did," she told the audience. She said she was disappointed but "not surprised" by the absent trustees, all of whom are her political foes.

Ponio ran against Herrmann in April for the mayor's post; Rabattini was the only member of Ponio's trustee slate to win a seat.

Herrmann said she had hoped the election would have brought a clean slate to the board and end the long-standing acrimony on the panel. She accused the trio of "wasting village hours."

When reached Friday by phone, Rabattini and Ponio denied the absences were an organized boycott of the meeting, at which Herrmann planned to appoint former trustee and political ally Don Verciglio to replace Garling.

Word of that move drew criticism from Ponio and others earlier in the week.

Rabattini said she didn't attend because she's recovering from recent abdominal surgery and a stomach flu. She said she alerted village officials Wednesday that she would be absent.

Ponio said he didn't attend because he was out of town Thursday night. He admitted not letting village leaders know about the absence in advance and said he wouldn't expect to do so in the future, either.

Saville could not be reached for comment.

Verciglio, who arrived at village hall Thursday after the meeting was canceled, called the three no-shows odd but didn't think they were organized.

O'Malley, who joined the board earlier this month, expressed disappointment the meeting, which would have been her first full session, was canceled.

"I was looking forward to getting started and to represent the people of the village," she said.

As for the anticipated vote that could bring Verciglio back to the board, Herrmann said it'll be rescheduled.

"They just prolonged it until next week," she said.

Trustees are next scheduled to meet as a nonvoting committee Thursday, June 4. Herrmann plans to hold a special voting session that night to deal with the vacancy and other business.