RICO board votes to make major reform

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A political power play began in Rock Island County as board members voted for major reforms.

Some Rock Island County Board members say the moves push the county in the right direction.

"We're optimistic the ball is moving forward. Maybe not as fast as some of us would hope, but it's moving now," said board member Scott Terry.

In the first vote on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, the board unanimously approved hiring Rock Island's first-ever county administrator.

"I think moving forward with a county administrator is necessary," said board member, Steve Meersman.

The responsibilities of that position will be discussed later by the board, but many of the duties could overlap with those of the board chairman. That position is currently held by Phil Banaszek.

"The whole objective to having a county administrator is to restore some professionalism in the day-to-day operation. We're badly lacking that and, ultimately, that is why we need the county administrator," said Terry.

Related: Harris says RICO needs to quit being “laughingstock” of area

The board also voted on a plan that gives them the authority to remove a board chairman in the future. The resolution passed 15-8.

"That resolution was never wrote for Mr. Banasek.  It was wrote because it's a good policy. It's a policy that I would encourage every county to have," said Terry.

"I think that was done in haste and for reasons that do not benefit the county as a whole," said Meersman.

Right now Banaszek's job is still secure. If the board votes him out before his current term is up in December, State's Attorney John McGehee warns there could be legal action.

"I think we've opened up a can of worms that may result in litigation," said Meersman.

For now the board answering two big questions about the future and it's leadership.

Also up for discussion, the potential reduction in the board's size.  A proposed referendum for the public to vote on was sent back to committee to be fine tuned.