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Citizen inquiries sparked Buffalo Grove's recall pursuit
By Steve Zalusky | Daily Herald Staff

Jeffery Berman


Steven Trilling


Lisa Stone


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Published: 9/20/2009 12:01 AM

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The trustees who are asking the Buffalo Grove village board to consider a recall ordinance Monday night deny it's aimed at any specific trustee - namely new Trustee Lisa Stone - but they do say they were motivated by inquiries from the public.

"There have been a large number of people who have been dismayed at the way the village board has been conducted," Steven Trilling said. He said citizens have been asking, "What can be done to effectuate change within the board?"

Jeffrey Berman said "when the number of inquiries rose to a crescendo," he began looking at the question and conducting research. Last weekend, he sat down at his kitchen table and constructed the draft ordinance, thought about it for a couple of days and ultimately asked Village Manager William Brimm to place the matter on the agenda, he said.

If adopted, the ordinance would give voters the power to recall elected municipal officials.

Stone though, says the proposed ordinance is aimed squarely at her. Calling the village board a "rubber-stamp group that did not want any newcomers," she said, "They are trying to move me out of the way. It's really an incredible situation. It's just a sad situation that that's how politics are. They want to handpick" the board members.

"If I'm there, they just can't breathe," she added, "because I'm not willing to go along with business as usual."

Berman demurred. "I can't change the way (Stone) will perceive this and I will have some fairly strong comments to make Monday night," he said. "This is not simply directed at one individual. I think there is a frustration among the community that things seem to be taking on an air of incivility and lack of constructiveness that they wish to address."

Berman did not cite any concrete examples, but the board meetings have been permeated by recriminations, countercharges and insinuations and dominated by conflicts between Stone and more established trustees, including Jeffrey Braiman and DeAnn Glover. Sometimes the conflicts have stemmed from issues, such as off-track betting. Other times, they have been spurred by issues that go beyond the meetings, such as e-mail exchanges and lingering bitterness from a contentious campaign.

In the process, orderly procedure, once the hallmark of the board, has often been cast to the winds, resulting in meetings that have sometimes run as late as 3 a.m. Some have compared the meetings, which are televised locally, to reality television, with one village commission member saying he has heard people who normally do not watch the meetings say they are now must-see TV.

As Stone perceives the situation, "I'm the individual in government that's willing to stand up and tell the truth. That's not real popular on that board."

In her view, the ordinance is a tactic to dislodge her from the dais and undermine the will of the voters. "They've got a lot of hatred toward me. They need me out of the way," she said.

Trilling, however, said the ordinance affects more than any single board member. "It affects me. It affects every other board member. It affects the village president along with the village clerk."

And Berman said, "This is an effort to give the voters an opportunity to express their will."

The proposed ordinance doesn't require any reason to be given for seeking recall. Petitions must be circulated and filed within 90 calendar days after a notice of intention to recall is filed with the village clerk and must be signed by people equaling 25 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last preceding municipal election. A majority vote would result in the official's removal from office. The vote is subject to appeal before the circuit court.

"The objective is not for this to be used casually, cavalierly or in an effort to harangue and harass somebody," Berman said. "If 1,200 of your friends and neighbors are willing to sign a petition, and more than 50 percent are willing to come out and vote to recall you, on what basis would you cling tenaciously to that seat?"

• Staff Writer Diana Wallace contributed to this report.