Discussion: Acting Mayor

WEEKS AGO I heard that 4th Ward Alderman Donna Gorski was considered a front-runner for acting mayor to fill out Mayor Van Buer’s term.

Rumors being nearly as essential to the average informed DeKalbite as air, this was just something to file away mentally. It didn’t seem reasonable. Ald. Povlsen is not only the senior member of Council, he shows a bit of aptitude in leadership including consideration of his constituency and the courage to buck staff from time to time.

As of today, however, I have heard from no fewer than 4 people (whom I have no reason to believe to be talking together) that Ald. Gorski is the consensus pick—if by “consensus” one means that staff would love to see the deferential Donna in place and most of Council could be expected to go along with it. Such is the nature of my own personal brand of denial that it took awhile to see this “non-reasonable” possibility, as I would find the fact of it—if fact it is—to be breathtakingly cynical.

But it is still not clear to me that the majority of council members would fall into step with such a plan if it exists. We have seen significant acts of independence and a couple surprises lately, possible indicators of aldermanic awareness that the interests of city administrators and those of other residents have parted ways and that they are making a choice for one side or another on many a vote.

In short, IMO there’s no done deal, and next Monday’s meeting is not to be missed.

4 thoughts on “Discussion: Acting Mayor”

  1. I was trying to hold my tongue to avoid discussing this until after the funeral. Scheduling this topic for the last meeting was a huge mistake. It seemed that the city attorney was the one to request the closed session because she was fretting that some papers will go unsigned for a couple weeks until this gets resolved. Seriously, deal with it.

    Now we have a cloak-and-dagger game of rumors going on. Just what we need to help restore trust in our local government bodies.

    I guess I should say that just because the OMA says that they technically CAN discuss this in closed session doesn’t mean they HAVE TO or that they SHOULD. I would consider it a sensationally unwise decision on all fronts if they did so. This council doesn’t have a lot of trust with the public to use on such a thing and they should be reminded that we will hold many of them to account essentially immediately afterwards in April.

    Well now to indulge the rumors since we don’t have any public information to work with (thanks council!):

    It’s possible that Ald. Polvsen has declined the job to keep his Ald. seat which is up for reelection and that is why he is not considered to be the front-runner.

    It’s possible that Ald. Gorski will choose not to run for reelection for her Ald. seat and may instead either run for mayor outright or simply retire after serving out the acting mayoral term. If this is the case (that the others see her as being “on the way out” anyway) then she could become a safer pick.

    Ald. Baker — don’t know. Probably not popular enough with the establishment and would probably want to keep his Ald. seat for reelection for strategic reasons. Guess it depends on his motivations.

    Ald. Naylor wouldn’t get support from Baker for sure and perhaps not Polvsen or Keller either. Are the other four ready to start a war over this? Also a legitimacy issue since he ran unopposed and doesn’t have as wide of a standing with the whole city.

    Ald. Simpson doesn’t strike me as being interested in the job (or his existing one to be honest) and may end up being a swing vote. Ald. Keller is seen as too young, plus his ward is a bit of a toss-up to find a replacement which could upset the balance.

    Do I really need to list Slick? No I don’t think so. I don’t think the city is prepared to handle the rioting that would ensue if they did something foolish and stupid like that.

    Or they could all agree to decline the job and then any other citizen would become eligible. Not likely unless there is a crippling impasse which goes on for days and this becomes the only way to resolve it.

    No matter what happens, the acting mayor is not going to have a lot of swing power with the masses. City staff should not get to excited about having an establishment person since at the end of the day, there is a major path-changing election coming and a lot of things they have done and will do in the interim will be aired out for public retribution.

    (PS: comments seem to be broken when using Firefox, error message says “Error: This file cannot be used on its own” when submitting.)

  2. Usually, my black and white cat eats things. Instead, Mac’s blog ate a message I wrote last night. I re-wrote it but I do not want to lose it a second time so I am sticking it here.

    I think everybody reads both blogs, if not more. If not, I sent a message to the Attorney General’s office asking for help about the Open Meetings Act, and had e-mail exchange with the city manager and Alderman Povlsen.

    I received permission to post the response that Alderman Kris Povlsen sent yesterday:

    “Thanks for looking into this. While I want more and more to come out of closed session, I am following the direction of our City Attorney on this issue. I certainly have nothing that I would not want to share publicly related to the appointment.



    After checking on the resource suggested to me from the city manager, I sent the following message:

    City Manager Biernacki,

    Thank you for your prompt reply. I looked at the resource you suggested, as found under Sunshine Laws link on the Palos Park document directory here:


    pages five and six. I also looked at (5 ILCS 120) Open Meetings Act linked from here:


    specifically (b) and (c) from (5 ILCS 120/2) (from Ch. 102, par. 42). It appears to me that having a closed session in regards to replacing our Mayor is not required and that discussion could be held in an open meeting. It comes down to this important sentence:

    “The exceptions authorize but do not require the holding of a closed meeting to discuss a subject included within an enumerated exception.”

    Although I have not yet heard a ‘second opinion’ from the Attorney General’s office which may arrive too late, in the interest of trying to reduce the number of angry picketers who will probably show up to the next city meeting and to quell the wild rumors and speculation about what is going on in the city, the option seems to exist to hold discussions out in the open. I request of the city that discussion on the Mayor’s replacement be held in the open.

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Kay Shelton


    I received a second message from Alderman Povlsen explaining that there are already conversations about what should and could become part of the open meetings.


  3. I was very glad that one citizen spoke upon folks feeling sort of in the dark about the process.

    Now, we need someone good to replace Polvsen as alderman, someone who can think for him or herself instead of following everything the staff wants.

  4. Hypocrisy Run Amok!

    Out of the seven choices available for the Acting mayor position, I would have put Ald Povlsen at #2 on my list (behind Ald Baker). Ald Baker is generally the most independent thinker and would have made a better choice.

    This mayoral selection process was more like the election of a POPE (though, without the chimney smoke) Did anyone catch Ald Povlsen’s lovely speeches last night? Kris Stated:

    “We had the “option” to make this into closed session and that’s how was presented to us. I personally would have seen it in open, but that was the process that we decided.“

    He goes on to say:

    “I’m dedicated to open Government”

    He also tossed in the phrases …”Inclusion and openness”

    Kris – GIVE ME A BREAK! He indicated they had the “option”. I believe the word “option” means CHOICE. Instead of choosing open government as “Mayor Select” Povlsen professes, he chooses CLOSED government to begin his Acting mayor term.

    I’m hoping Kris can see the differences between his statements and his actions and will choose the path of open government for his tenure as acting Mayor.

    Now Let’s go Skating!

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