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Maywood Overhauls Village Committees And Commissions 

Friday, July 23, 2021 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

For decades, anyone looking to get involved in Maywood needed only to select from the village’s 19 different commissions and committees — many of them, such as the village’s Youth Commission, inactive. 

Starting next month, the village will consolidate most of those commissions and committees into six committees that will be chaired and co-chaired by Maywood trustees. Four already existing commissions, whose existence the state mandates — Fire & Police, Liquor Authority, Planning and Zoning, and Historic Preservation — will remain, but members of those bodies will need to reapply for appointment. 

The board voted unanimously to overhaul the committees and commissions structure during a regular meeting on July 13. 

Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker said members who currently sit on existing commissions and committees will be notified by letter about the changes and invited to a Committee of the Whole meeting on Aug. 3 to voice any concerns and feedback they may have. 

The board will ratify the village code on Aug. 17 and the new committee and commission structure will take effect on Aug. 18, Booker said. 

“The goal is to have two trustees and a department head from the administration working as a committee to work with residents to establish different things to move the community forward,” Booker said. 

According to a document outlining the proposed changes, the functions of the village’s Economic Development, Graffiti and Beautification commissions will be subsumed under the Planning and Development Committee. The director of Community Development will work with the trustee chair and co-chair to head up that committee. 

The functions of the Finance committee, and Police Pension and Fire Pension commissions will be subsumed under the Fiscal Accountability and Government Transparency Committee, with the finance director working with the trustees on that committee. 

The functions of the Traffic and Safety and Accessibility commissions will go under the Community Police and Public Safety Committee, with the police and fire chiefs teaming with trustees to head up that committee. 

The functions of the Special Events and Public Relations, Youth, Senior Citizens and Community Relations commissions will be under the Engagement and Communications Committee, with the director of Community Engagement pairing up with the trustees to lead that committee. 

The director of Public Works will pair with trustees to lead the Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee, which will take over the functions of the Water Review, Water Transmission Exploration, and Energy and Environment commissions. 

In addition, the village clerk and two trustees will head up the brand new Ordinance and Policy Committee. 

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The mayor will appoint the trustees who will chair and co-chair the committees after board discussion. In addition, residents and “community advocates” will voluntarily participate in the committees, according to the village document. 

Although all board members voted in favor of the measure to overhaul the committees and commissions (Maywood Trustee Melvin Lightford was absent during the July 13 meeting), some board members expressed reservations about whether or not the new committee structure will facilitate robust public engagement. 

“I’m like 50/50 on it really,” said Trustee Isiah Brandon. “I think it can get trustees more involved, but on the other side, it deactivates citizens from being involved and engaged in the process. When we are trying to get an increased level of participation, we have a lot of folks who are talented within the village.” 

Booker, who campaigned earlier this year on overhauling the village’s commissions, argued that the restructuring will force board members to be more accountable to the public and will enhance citizen engagement. 

“Realistically it’s not deactivating the village residents’ activity at all,” the mayor said. “It’s acknowledging that, as elected officials who receive salaries from this community, you are taking accountability [for the governance of the village].” 

Booker said that each committee will be required to post an agenda before meetings and that those meetings will be open to the public. He added that each trustee “should be reaching out” to residents and stakeholders in order to encourage community participation. 

Michael Jurusik, the village’s attorney, said that many trustee board or village council forms of government have a similar committee structure. 

“This trustee committee structure is very common in mayor/council forms of government, which you are,” Jurusik said. “This committee structure — where you have trustee committees overseeing certain aspects of the village’s operations, not really dealing with the employees on a day-to-day basis, but dealing with policy issues or different components of the village — is very common.”

Jurusik said that trustees will not usurp the authority of department heads or the village manager, but act as “a gathering house of information,” meeting and bringing forward various proposals from the manager, staffers and the public in their respective areas of oversight. 

The trustees who chair each committee will be responsible for reporting out the status of their oversight area roughly each month, Booker said. 

“[This overhaul] changes the dynamic of the board of trustees’ role,” Jurusik said. 

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