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Digging Deeper: Winn. Co. Board’s attendance records under the microscope

ROCKFORD (WREX) — On Thursday night, a Winnebago County leader was publicly called out for his attendance record. 13 WREX dug deeper into the claims.

It began during a heated exchange at Thursday night's full county board meeting.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney stated that board member Fred Wescott had missed 40 percent of the Winnebago County Housing Authority meetings between September 2019 and June 2020.

13 WREX fact checked that claim by reviewing records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

From September 2019 through June 2020, the Housing Authority had 10 meetings. We found Wescott did miss 40 percent of the WHA meetings, as Haney had stated. However, two of the meetings Wescott missed conflicted with Special Winnebago County Board meetings.

Wescott missed meetings on Sept. 19, 2019, Dec. 19, 2019, March 19, 2020, and May 21, 2020.

However, that same FOIA request also showed Wescott's attendance for WHA meetings for the past five years is 83 percent.

Wescott has been on the Housing Authority Board for 20 years, but Chairman Haney recently nominated Rhonda Greer Robinson to replace him. Her nomination, along with three others, has been tabled by the board.

Chairman Haney also criticized Wescott's attendance on the Personnel and Policies Ad Hoc Committee.

That's the group that searched for the new county administrator and reviewed the county's governmental structure.

13 WREX found of the 12 meetings, dating back to last July, Wescott missed 11 of those meetings. The next worst attendance on that committee were board members John Buttita and Dorothy Redd, who only missed three out of the 12 total meetings.

We continued to dig deeper and we looked at board members' attendance for full county board meetings for the last two and a half years.

Dave Tassoni hasn't missed one meeting in two and a half years, attending all 59 meetings. Angie Goral and Keith McDonald only missed one meeting in their two and a half years of service.

The worst attendance is from board member Jas Bilich, who missed six out of 37 meetings.

Below is the full list of county board attendance from 2018 through 2020 (Note: This list does not include if a board member left early, it only shows attendance at the start of the meetings.)

Board MemberYears on Board (Data from 2018-2020)Total Number of MeetingsNumber of Meetings AttendedNumber of Meetings Missed
Arena1 1/237334
Bilich1 1/237316
Booker2 1/259545
Boomer2 1/350464
Butitta1 1/237352
Crosby2 1/259572
Fellars2 1/259572
Fiduccia2 1/259563
Gerl2 1/259554
Goral2 1/259581
Hoffman2 1/259563
Kelley2 1/259572
McDonald2 1/259581
Nabors1 1/237334
Redd2 1/259545
Salgado2 1/259572
Schultz2 1/259545
Tassoni2 1/259590
Webster2 1/259563
Wescott2 1/259545

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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