In an unexpected turn of events, the motion to discuss and vote on confirming and extending the state of emergency in Forest Park due to the COVID-19 pandemic was not seconded at a village council meeting Monday effectively ending the emergency status in the village. The meeting was held via Zoom video and technical issues may have kept one commissioner from offering a second on the agenda item.
When brought up at the meeting, Commissioner Jessica Voogd made a motion to discuss the resolution, but after several seconds, the motion was not seconded.
Mayor Rory Hoskins said if there was no second, the ordinance would die, but nobody spoke up.
“It appears there is no second on the ordinance extending the declared state of emergency,” said Hoskins, and the meeting progressed.
It seemed like a standard agenda item, something that would pass with very little discussion as it had two times in the past.
A state of emergency was originally declared on March 23 during a village council meeting in light of the pandemic. At that time, Hoskins as the mayor was also given temporary executive power. On April 13, and again on April 27, the council voted to extend the state of emergency and the mayor’s executive decision-making abilities.
Had the state of emergency and executive powers for Hoskins been extended once more, it would have been until the next regularly scheduled village council meeting on May 26.
Immediately following the meeting, Hoskins said in a phone call that although he was somewhat surprised by the turn of events, “It won’t keep the village from addressing issues that come up.”
He went on to say that Village Administrator Tim Gillian “will do a good job” with any issues or emergencies that arise.
“I know it sounds corny, but there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team,'” said Hoskins. “We’ll be just fine.”
“I don’t know what happened,” said Commissioner Jessica Voogd in an interview after the meeting. She said even if other commissioners choose to vote against something, it’s helpful to residents to discuss it publicly.
“I was disappointed that it wasn’t seconded so there was no opportunity to even discuss it,” she said.
Commissioner Joe Byrnes, who was having technical difficulties during the meeting with hearing the other commissioners remotely, said in an interview after the meeting that not seconding wasn’t intentional on his part; rather, it was a result of the computer issues he was having.
“I would have seconded it,” said Byrnes. “Extending the state of emergency is something we have to do every two weeks. We need to ensure that if things go wrong, the village can act quickly.”
Gillian said he was “taken by surprise” by the outcome of the agenda item.
Village attorney Nick Peppers could not be reached for comment, and Commissioners Dan Novak and Ryan Nero, who remained silent and did not second the motion to discuss the agenda item, did not respond by time of print.
Under the ordinance, the mayor was authorized “to exercise extraordinary power and authority, by executive order, during the possible state of emergency, to ensure that the effects of COVID-19 are mitigated and minimized and that residents and visitors in the village of Forest Park remain safe and secure.”
This included decisions and actions necessary to respond to the local state of emergency including:
- Approval of previously appropriated expenditures of the village for the purpose of continuing the operations of the village
- Canceling meetings of any board or commission to which the mayor appoints members.
- Suspension of licenses or permits for special events or any other licenses or permits issued by the village. This would be done if the mayor thinks the public’s health or well-being could be jeopardized.
- Authorization of any purchases related to the local state of emergency and for which funds are available
- Authorization to close village facilities as is reasonably required to protect the health of the public and employees of the village.