Due to improper notice by the Park 550 Advisory Council, there were no elections held last night as planned. According to Chicago Park District guidelines, announcement of PAC elections are to be posted 14 days prior to the election in "its respective park." Ironically, the Park 550 Advisory Council Web site has a link to the CPD Web site that includes the above requirement.
The sample bylaws provided by the CPD, Section 3, has this to say regarding elections: "Written notice of all elections shall be posted in the [name of facility] Park Field house. If there is no field house at the respective park, notice shall be posted at the nearest park and/or community facility 14-days prior to the election." In Section 4 of the sample bylaws it says "All meetings of the PAC shall be open to the public and proper notice must be posted at the park field house at least 14 days prior to the meeting date." Section 2 which speaks to the term of office says this: "Officers are limited to [a] one year term of office."
|The South Loop field house at 1801 S. Indiana Ave.|
If the elections were held on January 25, 2011 as planned, all council positions (president, vice president, treasurer) would have been up. An entirely new council could have been elected last night. According to PAC president, Jeffrey Ayersman, the CPD's recommended or suggested bylaws can be amended. It is not clear whether or not the current PAC is operating under any bylaws. Ayersman expressed concern about the "continuity of the council" and the impact a complete turnover might have on the "momentum" of the PAC and its goals. Ayersman is working to "amend" the bylaws to prevent a complete turnover.
The information that the CPD provides PACs includes information on its policy. Under section A. "Memberships and Meetings," it states "Once the initial officers have been elected the PAC is free to amend its bylaws to address its purposes, goals and membership needs." The current PAC was elected over a year ago (October 22, of 2009 to be exact, which begs the question why the elections were scheduled for January?). Why schedule an election without having bylaws in place and the election process clearly defined? Despite their stated "momentum" and "progress," governance should have been a priority from the outset. Bylaws should have been adopted early on to make sure they demonstrated transparency (a key to building trust with the community).
The information posted on the Park 550 Web site included no information on what positions were up for election. The Web site also said (as of today, it still says) "A more detailed agenda will be provided after the holidays." As far as anyone can tell, an agenda wasn't made public until the day of the meeting, even though the elections were only canceled on Friday January 21, 2011. There was no mass e-mail, there was no notice posted to the Park 550 Web site, nothing posted at the field house itself to make the community aware of this. As noted already, the Web site still reads "Park 550 Advisory Council Open Meeting and Elections Tuesday January 25th, 2011, 6:30pm - at the facility location, 1801 S. Indiana Ave." To anyone visiting the Web site, it would appear that the elections took place.
|As of this writing, January 26, 2011, the election announcement is still posted.|
The PAC have yet to complete a 501c3 application as stated last night. In spite of the expense, shouldn't the council make sure that the fund raising they do can be deemed tax exempt? Is this why no further fund raising has been done? The board can pat themselves on the back for "progress" but one fundraiser in over 12 months of existence could be improved upon. Community members are asking if they can organize to raise funds for the childrens's area of the park. It is sad that an effort by parents was delayed for another six weeks to further stall progress. Let's hope that the parents get their say in the future of the park by running for an advisory council position.
The South Loop community appreciates the volunteers who help make our quality of life better. However, when recommended processes and procedures are not followed, it should give us pause.Why was an election scheduled without bylaws in place? When will we be informed of the new bylaws' adoption and the impact they will have on the PAC elections? These are questions the community needs answers to so we can be informed and make good decisions when electing members to the council.
The PAC council election has been rescheduled for March 1, 2011. For more information, please contact the Park 550 Web site and/or contact the advisory council directly. If you have trouble contacting the Advisory Council, please let me know.
Update: The Park 550 Advisory Council updated their Web site to include the rescheduled election date today, Thursday January 27, 2011. This is almost a week after acknowledging the election was canceled Friday January 21, two business days before the scheduled election was to take place on January 25, 2011. There is no new information at the Web site, no information on why the date was rescheduled. Additionally, there are no specifics on the number of council positions up for election or about the process.