Council votes on malpractice ordinance tonight

By Gus Bode

Another tie possible because of Simon’s scheduled absence

Just three weeks after a medical malpractice ordinance was seen and denied by the Carbondale City Council, the same proposal is appearing back on the agenda for round two.

Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole has put the proposed ordinance, which was not approved by the City Council at the June 15 meeting, back on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

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“Other communities are starting to act on our proposal, so I thought it was time,” Cole said.

Since Carbondale’s last meeting, the Marion City Council approved a similar ordinance that limits the amount recovered in a medical malpractice case.

“I shared with them what we did and I’m glad for them,” Cole said. “I am hoping that is what will happen for us.”

The proposed ordinance the Carbondale City Council will vote on uses the city’s home rule authority to limit the non-economic damage rewarded in a medical malpractice suit and requires cases that took place in Carbondale to be seen in a Jackson County court.

The ordinance did not get approval at the June 15 meeting when council members became deadlocked on the issue resulting in a vote of 3-3.

Council members Sheila Simon, Lance Jack and Chris Wissmann voted against the ordinance while Corene McDaniel, Steven Haynes and Cole all voted in favor of the proposal.

Councilwoman Maggie Flanagan, who was absent at the last Council meeting, has said she would not have voted in favor of the proposed ordinance.

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Flanagan’s absence left the council without a deciding vote at the last meeting, and this time Simon will be absent for tonight’s 7 p.m. meeting at the Carbondale Civic Center.

Simon said she voted against the ordinance because she is concerned the city had no control in regulating venue, which is carefully regulated by the state.

With Simon scheduled to be absent at this meeting, another tie is possible.

“The council may or may not take action on it,” Cole said.

The City Council sat for almost two hours listening to citizens’ views on the proposal at the last meeting but will limit the time for discussion at tonight’s meeting because the issue has been discussed before.

Medical professionals and attorneys gave opinions on the subject, all stating that something needs to be done, but disagreeing on concrete solutions.

It was argued that the proposed ordinance’s limit of non-economic damage discriminates against individuals that have lower or no income.

In addition to the malpractice ordinance proposal, the City Council will be voting on an ordinance that changes the number of Class C liquor licenses from eight to seven.

This proposal would keep the number of liquor stores in Carbondale at its current number, which is seven.

The proposed ordinance cites the reasons for the deduction is to restrict the sale of alcohol to minors, reduce the number of places police have to monitor and promote a positive image for Carbondale.

The Illinois Local Control Commission will hold a meeting immediately before the City Council meeting, at which time it will vote on the proposal to allow Hangar 9 to include a back porch.

If approved, Hangar 9 owners Sally Carter and James Duke plan on adding a screened-in seating area in the rear of the building.

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