September 15, 2014

Elyria
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Council members attend, usually

ELYRIA — Elyria City Council members are elected to represent the voters — a duty that inevitably means they’ll be attending a lot of meetings.

And, for the most part, they are pretty diligent about being there.

A review of attendance records for 2006 and 2007 shows that while nearly every Council member missed an occasional meeting, none had a blatant string of absences.

Over the two-year period, two Council members whose names appear slightly more often than their colleagues on the absentee list are Councilman Eddie Mitchell, D-6th Ward, and outgoing Councilman Jack Baird, R-at large, neither of whom is seeking re-election.

A third, Councilman Michael Lotko, D-at large, had a similar percentage of attendance. He is seeking re-election.
Meanwhile, the Council member that appeared to have the worst attendance record in 2007 — Bonnie Ivancic, D-4th Ward — is disputing that she missed 17 percent of her committee meetings this year, saying the Clerk of Council’s records are wrong.

Other attendance records showed:
Councilman Mike Lotko, D-at large, and Councilman Herman Larkins, D-5th Ward, both missed the same number of committee meetings each year: three in 2006 and two in 2007, according to the Elyria Clerk of Council records. 
In terms of percentage of meetings missed, Lotko missed 11.7 percent of his committee meetings in 2007 — 2 of 17 — while Larkins missed just 8.3 percent, or 2 of 24.  Larkins was also late to one Council meeting in 2006, while Lotko missed two of 22 Council meetings the same year.

Council meeting attendance was not factored into the percentages for committee meeting attendance, since most Council members rarely miss a Council meeting.

And because of that relatively high attendance for meetings by the Council, a single missed meeting can elevate a member to the top of the worst attendance list when using percentages.

For his part, Lotko said he was still pleased with his attendance.

“I’ve seen in the past where people have missed six or seven meetings,” Lotko said. “Two out of 17 is not a big deal — whether it’s being sick or whatever, I don’t skip just to skip. I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I’m one of the few that hardly misses any.”
Larkins did not return calls seeking comment.

Other Council members who missed one or two committee meetings each year included Garry Gibbs, R-3rd Ward, and E. Kenneth Burkhard, D-7th Ward. Both men missed one Council meeting in 2007.

The best attendance in the past two years came from Councilmen Victor Stewart, D-at large, and Thomas Callahan, D-at large, each of whom missed one committee meeting in 2007, though Stewart also missed a Council meeting in 2006.

For 2006, Ivancic’s attendance record was virtually unimpeachable: She didn’t miss a single one of her 34 committee meetings and missed just one Council meeting.

However, in 2007, Community Development and Safety committee records show she missed four of her 23 committee meetings — roughly 17 percent — and she was late to a fifth, possibly the worst attendance record for an Elyria committee member in 2007 if the records are correct.

But Ivancic disputes the attendance records kept by the Clerk of Council’s office, and said Tuesday that she missed only two of her 23 committee meetings this year — not four.

“I think attendance is very important, and I take it seriously,” Ivancic said. “The only time I’m aware that I missed was when I was out of town.”

Ivancic said when she knew she was going to miss the two committee meetings, she let her fellow committee members know ahead of time.

Ivancic says those records are wrong and she plans to have them amended at the next Community Development Committee meeting.
In the minutes from the disputed meetings, Ivancic is not recorded as talking during the meeting — the tape-recorded versions of committee meetings are erased after the minutes are approved — but her name was the last one signed on a committee petition that’s dated the same day as the meeting.

If Ivancic did indeed miss only two of her 23 committee meetings in 2007, that means she missed just 8 percent.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or foucher@chroniclet.com.