By Tina Richards
Villa Park’s appointee to the county Mosquito and Vector Control District Board has refused to provide reports of those meetings to the city because he was not asked to do so nicely.
Former City Councilman Bill Nelson did not run for reelection, but opted to retain his seat on the county board until his term expires in January 2020. Vector Control Board members are appointed to two-year terms and unlike other county commissions, cannot be removed unless they resign or “cease to discharge their duties.”
An attorney for Vector Control advised Villa Park that Nelson’s failure to report to the city on district activities does not constitute “ceasing to discharge his duties of office.” He also noted that trustees “represent the whole county and not just the interests of the city that appointed them.”
Don’t ask, don’t tell
Nelson has been attending the monthly meetings. He was asked by Villa Park's city manager and mayor to report on the meetings, if not in person, then via email. The city council wanted reports from Vector Control because mosquitoes, mosquito-born disease and potential aerial spraying are of interest to city residents.
After three months of silence, the council asked the city attorney whether or not Nelson could be removed from his position. The answer was "no." Mayor Vince Rossini offered to draft a letter to Nelson respectfully asking him to provide monthly updates.
Nelson had, early on, taken issue with “certain members of the council’s” demands that he resign his position from the board. He stated in a response to Rossini that he believed the council’s public and rude demands that he provide oral reports were “retaliation for declining to resign my position.” He chafed further at the council’s inquiries about removing him from Vector Control if he did not provide reports.
He advised that he would be willing to provide reports if Mayor Pro Tem Robbie Pitts publicly apologized for demanding that he stand at the podium and provide a monthly report on the board’s activities.
He asked for a public apology from the entire council for attempting to damage his reputation. He also wanted a public acknowledgement by the council that it had no authority to replace him as a Vector Control District trustee, assign him duties or vacate his position.
During every Villa Park council session, members report on the various board, commission and committee meetings they attend. When it came time for the Mosquito and Vector Control report at the April 23 meeting, no apology to Nelson was forthcoming.
City Manager Steve Franks told the council that he had obtained copies of the first three months of the Vector Control Board meeting minutes, and that they were available if needed. Councilmember Crystal Miles advised that she had read the minutes on the district's website and learned that the recent rain has brought in lots of mosquitoes, including those that carry the Zika virus. She added that she’d be happy to read the website and report on the posted minutes at subsequent council meetings.
Franks also said he would post the Mosquito and Vector Control District link on the city’s website so interested residents could easily access it.
VP on its own regarding mosquito and
vector control updates