The McHenry County Board is developing a code of conduct for appointees to its many boards and commissions in the wake of new legislation that allows it and other collar county boards to remove members for egregious conduct.
The board appoints about 250 people to about 35 entities that oversee important aspects of county government, including the Mental Health Board, the McHenry County Conservation District, the Zoning Board of Appeals and many others.
These board and commission members, who are not elected, perform vital roles, and many of them do so with little thanks, little fanfare and no pay. While there are occasional disagreements and acrimony on some of the boards, the individuals appointed are trying to do what’s best for their community.
But the sheer number of appointees makes it quite possible that the wrong person could make it through the vetting process and end up in a key position. Or more likely, a person appointed could begin to make very questionable decisions and neglect his duties for myriad reasons.
Before Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 3552, the elected officials who appointed such a member had no recourse other than to let the appointee fill out the term.
It’s wise to allow these appointees to operate with as little direct political influence as possible so they can concentrate on the task at hand instead of constantly fighting political battles, but a complete lack of accountability is too big of a risk.
Under the law, the county will first devise its standards for accountability, fiscal responsibility, transparency, efficiency and ethics. If an appointee fails to meet those standards, he can only be removed after a hearing with a two-thirds vote of the County Board.
That bar is set in the right place and allows government to get rid of ineffective appointees without making them subject to the political whim of one or a small group of elected officials.