Dr. Amaal Tokars, Kendall County Health Department Executive Director, had some choice words for the Kendall County Board Tuesday morning.
Referring to a prepared statement she brought to the board’s meeting, Tokars said, “It is very difficult for me to read and it will be difficult for you to hear.”
A press conference scheduled last month by the health department to discuss the impact of the state’s budget impasse on health department services was abruptly canceled without a specific reason for the cancellation. Tokars issued a statement hours before the conference was to be held at the county’s health and human services building in Yorkville stating that “due to concern expressed regarding this public press conference, the press conference has been canceled.”
The Record Newspapers later learned that Tokars met with a representative of Governor Bruce Rauner’s staff shortly before the press conference was to be held at the Kendall County Health Department in Yorkville.
On Tuesday, Tokars spoke during the citizens’ comment portion of the county board’s bi-monthly meeting. She said that some County Board members were engaging in “heavy handed activities” towards the health department and accused board members of “gossiping about the health department by repeating the claim that the department is speaking against the governor.”
Tokars also charged she had heard allegations that county employees were warned not to attend the press conference scheduled for last month without obtaining county board permission.
Continuing, Tokars said some board members accused health department staff of speaking out against the governor while the department was planning the press conference, something that she would not condone.
County Board members have also threatened to force health department employees to pay for employee benefits or face a reduction of tax levy funds for the department, according to Tokars.
She continued, “If I have misunderstood or mistaken in any of these actions or misunderstood that these county board members condone such things I am very happy to be corrected. But the culmination of this kind of destructive discourse are manifestations of and/or contribute to threatening the reduction of the diverse health and human services much needed throughout the county.”
While many people live wonderful and fulfilling lives many individuals are suffering with addiction, distress, isolation and other hardships that the department helps treat, Tokars said.
“Persons wishing to serve under the capacity of a county official must not cheat the good faith of the community by harboring an agenda to actually destroy the diverse services provided by the departments of the county once gaining access to that public office,” she warned.
Board members did not respond to Tokars’ remarks.