Unintended consequences of reducing size of county board

First, the Winnebago County board relinquished its role in the Forest Preserve District and the constiuents voted for an independent board to handle the job. How’s that working out for you so far?

The Rockford Register Star has an ongoing poll which askes almost daily, “If you had a do-over, would you still vote to create a separate board of commissioners to govern the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?”

The options include, “Yes. The controversies the board has dealt with are just part of normal growing pains for a new entity. No. The board is a mess and I see no hope for it. And Undecided. Let’s see what happens after the election.”

Then the county board voted to reduce spending and improve its accountability by reducing the size of the board from 28 to 20 members, by reducing the number of representatives from 2 in each of the 14 districts to 20 single member districts.

So, while reducing the board members by 8, six districts were added, so the unintended consequencies were not as obvious as one might think.

Republicans controlled 20 of the 28 seats prior to this decision, and following this weeks election, Republicans will control 13 of the 20 County board seats when new members take their seats on December 3.

Unlike the Democrats in Springfield, run by Chicago, the county board equitably distributed the reapportioned districts with both parties having input into the process and placed an equal number of both parties against each other in targeted districts to reduce the number of members by eight.

The unintended consequence of the election Tueday night, coupled with the reapprotionment process, is that the Republicans were reduced from 20 to 13 and the Democrats will be reduced from 8 to 7.

The Republican caucus lost the equivalent of 7 of the 8 seats reduced! Since the total members are reduced by 8, the percentage only decreases from 71.5% to 65% but …

The committee chair positions will still be picked by the majority Republican caucus, however, the committees will be smaller or combinations of committees is a possiblity, to lessen problems with committee quorems or conflicting times, since there are only so many hours in the day, board members and staff have jobs and limited number of days in any given week and board members are usually assigned multiple committees to attend.

Also, the possibility exists that three members of the Republican caucus could threaten to vote with the Democratic caucus creating a tie vote holding hostage the county board on a given issue, which was almost impossible with a 28 member county board.

Also, budget amendments currently require a two-thirds vote, which may need to be amended, so that the hostage scenario may be less likely to occur.

Rather than leading to a more efficient process, this decision might lead to inefficiencies due to unintended consequences reminiscent of the new Winnebago County Forest Preserve District.




  1. JRM_CommonSense

    Congratulations on winning your Board seat again, Ted. Since we have returned to this area I have been impressed with how the County Board operates and keeps the views and needs of the voters in mind. I am sure that you guys will be able to get over the reduction in size and be smart enough to not back yourselves into the Forest Preserve corner. All you have to do is remember that you are responsible for doing the will of the electorate, not of your political party. After all, not every member of a political party agrees with all of the verbage and postions put forth by the party.

  2. Milton Waddams

    Additionally, should there really be that much difference in the 2 parties at the local level? Most of the divisiveness at the National level are due to National issues that don’t enter into the local stuff much. While I have little hope of the 2 parties tring to work through their differences at the National level, I sincerely hope that the members of the County board can get stuff done for the people of winnebago County like they have done in the past, despite the rancor at the National level.

    • Ted Biondo

      Milton, you are absolutely correct. Most of the votes taken are not along party lines, nor should they be. There are no Republican or Democratic ways to fix roads and other infrastructure. These elections are only partisan since that’s the way state law sets it up. This level of government should be bipartisan. Thank you both for the comments!

  3. JRM_CommonSense

    BTW Ted, I took my Harlem 15 ballot the other morning, voted and every single person I voted for won their race.

  4. Adam Faber

    County board members are not dealing with abortion, gay rights or foreign policy. That you even wrote this piece and calculated your caucus’s loss of seats reveals that you may be more interested in playing partisan politics than fulfilling the will of the electorate. I certainly hope that is not the case and that you will take your elected role seriously.

  5. Adam Faber

    Fixer: Ted certainly deletes posts that strike too close to the truth.

    • Ted Biondo

      Adam, I tried to respond to you once again. I didn’t for awhile but I’m through. I get over 10,000 hits on this blog a month, I’m not going to waste anymore of my time on either you, Brian, AmazingScott or Fixer. I did remove Fixer’s comment because it made an accusation concerning a crime about someone I don’t even know. Why don’t all of you go back to a blog where you will feel more comfortable. I don’t need your comments and I’m certainly not going to respond to any of you again.

      None of you are entitled to my time, not anymore.

  6. I agree with previous posters, Ted. If the concern is with the electorate and not along party lines, then there is no point for your post. By you agreeing with these previous posters, it makes you sound contradictory with yourself.

  7. Adam Faber

    “I get over 10,000 hits on this blog a month…”

    Ted, let’s dispense with this nonsense first. Gatehouse gets hits, not you, and hits are irrelevant in this context. A hit is any file that is served whether that is this page or any of the images, CSS elements, Java scripts, etc. on the page. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_traffic#Measuring_web_traffic) Just by loading this page, you have generated many hits. Of greater importance are page views and — certainly to Gatehouse — ad impressions and clickthroughs.

    “Adam, I tried to respond to you once again. I didn’t for awhile but I’m through.”

    Let’s examine the issues that I recently raised which you refused to respond to:

    You wrote that Democrats had sued to block voter ID laws “using one excuse after another”. When I cited the basis for these rulings from the actual rulings — and included links — you irrationally dismissed that text written by judges as my “emotional appeal” and then refused to acknowledge that I made no such argument but merely cited the court rulings. You refused to acknowledge that what you called “excuses” federal judges cited as reasons to enjoin these laws. (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2012/10/30/obama-had-to-show-id-before-voting-in-chicago-last-week/)

    You refused to acknowledge that the theft of campaign signs is not a first amendment violation. Instead, you repeated that fallacy over and over. (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2012/10/09/political-sign-thieves-are-back-for-2012-elections/) Then, you refused to respond when I pointed out that you were cherry picking stories about Romney signs being stolen and ignoring stories of Obama signs getting ripped off to make the issue look one-sided. You had no response — none at all, even though plenty of Obama signs were stolen. (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2012/10/30/and-the-political-sign-destruction-continues-nationally/)

    When you wrote about retired military personnel endorsements for presidential candidates, you refused to respond when I asked why you referred to Mr. Obama as “Barack Hussein Obama” while you did not use Mr. Romney’s full name of “Willard Mitt Romney”. Clearly, you were trying to use Obama’s name against him, but you refused to respond. Then, in the same thread, you accused Obama and Democrats of trying to “stop some of the military … from voting”. When I asked you what you were referring to, you refused to cite any factual evidence to support this serious attack. I asked you five times and you refused to explain your basis for this unfounded attack. (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2012/11/05/senior-retired-military-personnel-presidential-endorsements/)

    When you posted a preposterous list of changes during Obama’s first term and I refuted the first four before I felt I had made my point, you stated that you were not going to respond to my refutations because you don’t respond to “personal attacks”. (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2012/11/06/not-the-change-obama-supporters-had-hoped-for/) The only problem, though, is that I made no such attack. Indeed, I attacked the merits of your argument, but I did not make any ad hominem attack. Conversely, it is you who frequently makes personal attacks when you cannot defend your baseless arguments. On October 29, you told readingmike94 “You are really ignorant.” (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2012/10/09/political-sign-thieves-are-back-for-2012-elections/) On September 17, 2011, you told Steve Noll “What is the matter with you?…I had children you idiot…” (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2011/09/16/california-students-without-vaccinations-sent-home/) On December 22, 2011, you called on your readers to come up with derogatory names for me. (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2011/12/18/barney-frank-also-guilty-of-lying-about-fannie-and-freddie/) The evidence is clear: it is you who engages in personal attacks, not me.

    Ted, you have deleted my comments for no valid reason. Please see the Terms of Service that control our discussion here at http://www.gatehousemedia.com/terms_of_use and then, for example, refer to my last post on your wholly inaccurate column about the firefighting strategies of the U.S. Forest Service at http://blogs.e-rockford.com/tedbiondo/2012/06/23/putting-out-fires-now-secondary-to-endangered-plants-or-fish/. Nothing in that post violated Gatehouse’s Terms of Service, and yet you deleted it and I had to repost it the next morning. From this example and the examples above, I have established a pattern: you either delete or refuse to respond to comments that challenge your accuracy and integrity and then claim that it is a personal attack and you call people names like a third-grader.

    Ted, when you ask, “Why don’t all of you go back to a blog where you will feel more comfortable”, I must counter that I feel quite comfortable refuting your untenable positions and pointing out your grave mistakes and lies. You do a disservice to our community when you propagate misinformation that has no basis in fact. I will not allow that to happen; the truth benefits all of us. The only way to escape this type of criticism is to engage in thoughtful, factual discussion, but you have persisted in your lies and propaganda.

  8. Luke Fredrickson

    Well reasoned commentary, Adam. I especially commend your last paragraph.

    I hope Mr. Biondo realizes that there are many readers who object to his ludicrous propaganda.

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