McSweeney Introduces Bill to Give Jack Franks Tremendously More Power, Abolish Independently-Elected Auditor’s Office, Power of County Board Pretty Much Disappears

This article was published late Friday. I am putting it back on top because it represents the most audacious grab for virtually absolute power in county government that I can imagine. He could only make himself more powerful by having all countywide elected officials report to him directly and abolishing the County Board.

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McHenry County, from a structural viewpoint, has a weak County Board Chairman.

Under House Bill 3317, sponsored by State Rep. David McSweeney, that would change drastically.

Jack Franks would become the most powerful County Board Chairman outside of Cook County.

Here is how the Legislative Reference Bureau, the legislature’s bill drafting agency summarizes the proposal:

Creates the McHenry County Equitable Standards and Governmental Efficiency Law in the Counties Code.

    • Allows the county board to require the election of specified special district trustees that it appoints. [Seems to apply to Conservation District, Mental Health Board, TB Board, Board of Health, Fire Protection District]
    • Allows the county board chairperson to:

      McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks seeks legislative authority to be in pretty much complete control.

      • eliminate advisory committees or commissions;
      • create standing committees and appoint members;
      • set county board or committee meeting agendas;
      • have line-item veto powers; and
      • hire independent legal counsel or a parliamentarian or both;
      • approve all appropriation expenditures before they are paid;
      • reduce or divert moneys from a county fund with assets exceeding 150% of the previous year’s expenditures on a ratable basis to taxpayers.
    • Allows the county board to appoint an inspector general to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse.
    • Provides that, on the effective date of the amendatory Act, the elected chairperson of the county board is a county office distinct from the county board.
    • Terminates the office of county recorder and the office of the county auditor.

    Amends the Local Government Reduction and Efficiency Division of the Counties Code.

    Provides that a county board may prohibit or limit a unit of local government that it has proposed to consolidate from starting a capital program, building project, or land acquisition for a set period of time, not to exceed 2 years, while the county board pursues possible consolidation.

    Effective immediately.

Not in the summary above are proposed requirements that

  • the Chairman may reduce or line item any appropriation [same power the Governor has]
  • the County Board may not reduce the powers of the County Board Chairman except by a three-fourths vote
  • the Chairman will have a line item veto which can only be overridden by a three-fifths vote of the County Board
  • the Chairman may hire his own legal counsel and/or parliamentarian to be financed by county funds, such county funds to be obtained from elsewhere in the budget at the Chairmen’s discretion
  • the office of Chairman is given equal status with other officials elected countywide
  • the County Board shall provide adequate funding for the chairperson to have the resources and staff required to fulfill his or her duties.
  • the County Board may not reclassify employees in the chairperson’s office or transfer employees out of the chairperson’s office without the chairperson’s permission
  • health insurance for County Board members is abolished and the amount saved can be transferred to the Chairman’s budget
  • Chairman has to approve all county expenditures [now a function of the independentally elected County Auditor]
  • ratable tax rebates allowed at the Chairman’s discretion from any fund that has more than 150% of what was spent the year before

What Legislators Told about 2019 Economic Future

Prepared for the State of Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability:

State of Illinois Forecast Report Summary

Illinois’ economy is having its share of ups and downs, but overall, 2018 was better than the
year before.

The state has moved beyond full employment into late-cycle expansion, which is characterized by labor supply constraints and increasing wage and cost pressures.

The first on-time state budget in more than three years is an important step toward restoring private sector confidence.

Several private sector industries are strengthening, and greater fiscal certainty and growth in tax revenues have allowed the public sector to recoup some jobs.

Income growth has accelerated to a greater degree than employment.

Accelerating wage growth, based on average hourly earnings for the state and the Employment Cost Index for Chicago, reflects the tight labor market and the improving quality of new jobs.

On a four-quarter moving average basis, Illinois’ personal income growth is now leading the regional pack.

In a turnabout from most of the past decade, downstate Illinois has outperformed upstate economies for much of the last year thanks to a revival in the pivotal manufacturing industry.

Although the economy has strengthened compared with the previous few years, Illinois still trails the rest of the country in most gauges of economic performance.

Employment is increasing more slowly than the Midwest and U.S. averages, the labor force is near its lowest point in more than 10 years, and weaker consumer demand than in other states is weighing on population-dependent industries such as retail, leisure/hospitality and real estate.

Progress in the housing market has slowed; single-family house price appreciation is about half the regional and national rates, and builders are putting up fewer units than a year earlier.

Illinois will sustain some of its recent momentum in the near term while remaining a national laggard.

The pace of employment and income growth will peak and the unemployment rate will drop to a new low by late 2019.

Moderating job gains in the rest of the region over the coming quarters will narrow the gap between the Midwest and Illinois growth rates.

The expansion will wind down nationwide in 2020 as higher interest rates, the diminished impact of fiscal stimulus, and deficits begin to take their toll.

To be a solid performer longer term, Illinois must navigate its fiscal challenges without doing lasting damage to its business climate.

The state’s demographics present it with another challenge, as an aging population coupled with a trend toward fewer workers hampers job and income gains, which are forecast to be below average
over the extended forecast horizon.

Defenders Plan to Lobby County Board

From the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County:

Stand up for Climate Solutions

The McHenry County Chapter for Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL)  is asking members of the McHenry County board to endorse the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 763).

We need you to come to the county board meeting to support the CCL members who will be making public comments about the bill. Let’s show our elected officials this bill has community support.

Time to advocate!

Plan to attend and share with family and friends:
7 p.m. February 19
McHenry County Government Center
2200 North Seminary Ave., Woodstock

Arriving 10-15 minutes early is advised. For details about the bill: energyinnovationact.org.
https://community.citizensclimatelobby.org/energy-innovation-act/

Analysis of the Mess Illinois Finds Itself – Fact 4

A continuation of the analysis of the current situation in Illinois by WirePoints:

Fact 4

4. Retiree health insurance debts. Illinois politicians racked another debt over the past few decades by offering state workers free health insurance in retirement. By 2014, the total value of that perk exceeded $53 billion and yet politicians had set aside nothing for this debt. The entire debt is unfunded. (New accounting rules implemented in 2016 pushed up the value of the perk for state workers to $73 billion.)

 

McConchie Proposes Budget Balancing Bill, Plus Prohibition of Using Road Money to Pay RTA Bonds

From State Senator Dan McConchie:

McConchie plan injects fiscal responsibility in budget-making process

Would protect Road Fund, cap state spending, and provide better revenue estimates

Springfield, IL… In an effort to promote fiscal responsibility in the budget-making process, State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) introduced a package of bills, at the center of which caps state spending and eliminates diversions from the Road Fund.

Under McConchie’s set of proposals, state spending would be capped at 97 percent of what it is expected to take in.

Also, his legislation would require the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) to provide quarterly revenue estimate reports to the General Assembly, instead of an annual one, giving legislators more accurate predictions.

Dan McConchie

“Implementing a 97 percent revenue cap for state spending ensures that the state isn’t spending more than it should, while also providing enough funds left over in case of emergency situations,” said Sen. McConchie.

McConchie’s proposal also addresses the improper use of the Road Fund—a tactic that is frequently used to help balance state budgets.

In last year’s budget, the Regional Transportation Authority debt payments, which generally come out of the General Revenue Fund, came from the Road Fund instead.

“Even though voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 to provide a lockbox for transportation funds, legislators still found a way to continue to divert money away from transportation priorities,” said Sen. McConchie.

“This diversion tactic decreased the amount of money available for our crumbling roads and bridges.

“The structural failure of a bridge on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive illustrates why such diversions are so problematic.

“It must stop.”

More on Sen. McConchie’s plan can be found in the following pieces of legislation: Senate Bill 1981, Senate Bill 1982, Senate Bill 1983, Senate Bill 1984, and Senate Bill 1985.

Homeland Security’s Take on Bill Congress Passed and the President Signed

From the Department of Homeland Security:

Secretary Nielsen Statement on FY19 Homeland Security Funding Bill and National Emergency Declaration

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released the following statement on the signing of the legislation that funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and on the President’s declaration of a national emergency:

“The legislation passed by both chambers of Congress and signed today by the President gives the Department of Homeland Security critical funding to protect the homeland, including some resources to secure our borders and enforce our nation’s immigration laws.

“It increases the DHS overall budget by $1.7 billion, including

  • $1.375 billion to build new border barriers where our frontline personnel need it most, and contains no restrictions on total barrier mileage.

The legislation also includes

  • $415 million in humanitarian assistance to address the serious crisis at our southern border,
  • 4,754 additional beds for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain illegal aliens humanely and keep our citizens safe, and
  • $570 million for specialized screening equipment at our Ports of Entry to detect illegal drugs and human smuggling.

Moreover, the bill provides additional resources to combat

  • child exploitation,
  • human trafficking,
  • transnational criminal organizations, and
  • other cross-border criminal activity.

“Finally, the bill

  • funds the Coast Guard’s Polar Security Cutter,
  • increases important funding for the newly created Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and
  • provides funding for 200 computed tomography machines that will help our dedicated TSA employees keep our skies safe.

“But the legislation doesn’t provide everything we need, and it gets nowhere close to completely solving the serious humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.

“Time and again, Congress has failed to fully fund DHS to confront this situation and to handle the influx of aliens, drugs, and other illicit traffic into our country. That is why I strongly support the President’s decision to unlock additional funding for physical barriers, including resources from the Department of Treasury and the Department of Defense. Moreover, I applaud the President’s decision to declare a national emergency.  This is a crisis—pure and simple—and we need to respond accordingly.  We cannot standby as our border security is further compromised and our immigration laws are exploited.  Now is the time to act and to uphold our fundamental responsibility to our citizens and our nation to safeguard U.S. territory.”

McSweeney’s Township Abolition by Referendum on House Floor

David McSweeney

State Rep. David McSweeney succeeded in getting his McHenry County township elimination bill after passage of a referendum out of the Committee on Counties and Townships.

He is the Republican Spokesman on that committee.

The vote was 11-4-1.

The bill was put on the short debate calendar, meaning the number of legislators allowed to speak on the merits or demerits of the bill is quite limited.

Analysis of the Mess Illinois Finds Itself – Fact 3

A continuation of the analysis of the current situation in Illinois by WirePoints:

Fact 3

3. Pension shortfalls. Illinois’ pension shortfall tripled to over $100 billion in the decade before Rauner took office. That was despite the $17 billion in pension obligation bonds and the 2011-2014 tax hike that in total dumped nearly $45 billion into the state pension funds. By 2014, Illinois politicians had already created the nation’s worst pension crisis.

The crisis was so deep that in 2014 Democratic lawmakers and then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan defended pension reform bill SB1 in front of the Illinois Supreme Court. The state argued the severity of the crisis justified the use of emergency powers to override the state’s constitutional pension protection clause.

Lincoln Day Dinner Scheduled for February 23rd Features Jeannie Ives

The McHenry County Republican Party is holding its Lincoln Day fundraiser at the Bull Valley Country Club on February 23rd.

Featured speaker will be Jeanne Ives, the woman who almost knocked Governor Bruce Rauner out of the box in the primary election.

The price is $100.

Here is the invitation:


Woodstock Man Arrested for Predatory Sexual Abuse after Victim Reports Crime to Woodstock School Staff

A press release from the Woodstock Police Department:

Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child Arrest

On February 13th, 2019, the Woodstock Police Department’s Investigations Division was contacted by representatives from Woodstock School District 200 regarding a victim reporting to school staff that she had been the victim of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault.

A Woodstock Police Department detective met with members of a multi-disciplinary team including School District 200, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the McHenry County Child Advocacy Center (CAC), and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The goal of the team was to provide services to the victim and to hold the alleged suspect
accountable for his actions.

The investigation revealed that a male family member of the victim had committed numerous acts of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of Child to the victim.

Upon conferring with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, numerous charges were approved against the suspect.

Jose Vega

The suspect, Jose J. Vega, was taken into custody without incident on Thursday, February 14th.

He remains in custody at the McHenry County Jail at this time.

Due to the victim being a juvenile, no further information will be released.

Arrested Person: Jose J. Vega (M/W/31), 362 Railroad Street, Woodstock, IL 60098
Charges:

  • 3 Counts – Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child (Class X Felony)
  • 1 Count – Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse (Class 2 Felony)
  • 1 Count – Sexual Exploitation of a child (Class 4 Felony)
  • 2 Counts – Domestic Battery (Class A Misdemeanor)

Court Date: 02-20-19 @ 9:00 A.M., Bond: $200,000 (10% Applies)

The public is reminded that an arrest is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case
are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Allen Skillicorn Reflects on Eventual Minimum Wage Hike to $15 per Hour

From State Rep. Allen Skillicorn:

Rep. Allen Skillicorn: Minimum Wage Increase will Lead to More Job Loss and More People Leaving Illinois

East Dundee, IL – State Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) is warning Illinois residents about the high cost of the minimum wage increase the House just approved.

Allen Skillicorn

“I had the privilege of sitting in a great burger restaurant, and I was talking to the owner and she explained to me how she pays her cooks $18 per hour and if we increase the wages for dishwashers and other lower skilled positions then she is going to have to pay her cooks more,” Skillicorn said.

“It is not just about the entry level positions.

“Everyone’s salary will have to go up.”

She said the only way it can work will be to lay some people off and for her to do even more
work than she is doing now.

The consequences of this legislation will be felt across the state for a long time to come.”

The Illinois House today approved legislation (SB 1) to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour in six years.

“The price of goods and services in Illinois is going to go up and the cost to taxpayers is going to be enormous,” Skillicorn said.

“State government alone is looking at an increase of more than $1 billion in payroll costs.

“Where is the state going to get an extra $1 billion?

“We can hardly pay the bills we have now.

“We are only going to drive jobs away from Illinois and this will lead to Illinois losing even more people.”

House Bill 1 now moves to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

New State Rep. Tom Weber on Eventual Minimum Wage Hike to $15 per Hour

From State Rep. Tom Weber:

Weber Concerned Senate Bill 1 Will Drive More Jobs Out of Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Yesterday, the Illinois House of Representatives voted largely along party lines to send Senate Bill 1 to Governor Pritzker. Senate Bill 1 would nearly double the state’s minimum wage.

State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) expressed concern that so large an increase in a short period of time will leave many small businesses unable to stay afloat.

“There is a myth that small business owners are millionaires,” said Weber.

“Maybe some are wealthy, but the vast majority, are far from it.

Tom Weber

“I have been in contact with a wide variety of employers including

  • community college
  • daycare centers
  • catering services
  • landscapers
  • lawn care
  • restaurant owners, etc.

“These and many others, offer entry level positions and operate on fine margins.

“Even a minor increase in operating cost can raise several other costs at the same time.

“That’s what concerns me so much about Senate Bill 1.

“This isn’t just a small increase, it’s a drastic increase that raises costs across the board, but it does nothing to reduce the multitude of other costs Illinois puts on the backs of small business.

“Most small businesses work very hard to pay their employees a decent wage and strive to reward their hard work.

“If business is slow, it’s usually the owner who takes a hit so employees don’t.

“Particularly the smallest businesses who only have five or ten employees.

“In the case of Senate Bill 1, it’s going to raise costs so much and so quickly for so many small businesses in my district they won’t be able to manage the extra costs.

“I’m worried about our local employers who are panicking they will have to cut services, reduce hours or lay off employees to stay open.

“When that happens, the people who this wage hike is meant to help, end up suffering the most.”

Senate Bill 1 proposes increasing the state minimum wage from $8.25 (already above the national rate of $7.25) to $15.00 by 2025, an 82% increase.

Weber noted that according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, very few hourly employees are actually earning the minimum wage and most of those earning the minimum wage are young, part-time workers.

Only 1.4% of those who earn the federal minimum wage are over 25 and those earning minimum wage has fallen by nearly half since 2013. This represents one of the lowest points in history and a sign that an improving economy has driven up wages.

Weber also pointed out that for a small business like his, worker’s compensation alone is about 1/5 of wages, one of the most prohibitive cost drivers to increasing wages.

Illinois has the highest worker’s compensation cost in the Midwest and would now also have the highest minimum wage, as well as already having the highest overall business and personal tax burden in the Midwest.

All of which will further exacerbate the ongoing outmigration affecting Illinois.

New State Rep. Dan Ugaste Comments on Eventual $15 Minimum Wage

From State Rep. Dan Ugaste:

Ugaste Wary of Statewide Minimum Wage Hike

SPRINGFIELD . . .The House of Representatives recently voted to increase the minimum wage rate from $8.25 an hour to $15 an hour.

The bill, SB1, would gradually enact the increase over the course of six years.

State Representative Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) is a member on the Labor and Commerce Committee in the House, and first had the opportunity to hear the bill, SB1, presented in committee, with various panels providing testimony on the issue.

The Representative voiced his concerns on the measure this week, which included the increased cost for businesses, especially when Illinois continually loses families and businesses to neighboring states.

During today’s debate, many questions were left unanswered and Representative Ugaste could not vote in favor of the minimum wage increase.

Dan Ugaste

“This bill has been pushed through with little concern about the impact it would have on businesses, employers, and employees,” said Ugaste.

“I have many doubts that increasing the minimum wage rate in Illinois will be beneficial to our state and our residents, especially at a time when there are so many other pertinent challenges we should address first.

“We cannot afford to lose any more businesses or residents and increasing Illinois’ minimum wage will only increase that struggle.

“I certainly support helping our lowest wage earners earn a better living; but this was not the way to do it. We need to tackle the problems Illinois faces regarding pensions, taxes, unbalanced budgets and regulations.

“Fixing these issues would help us bring new employers with good paying jobs to Illinois causing its own upward pressure on wages.

“I was willing to work with the Democrats on these issues before this bill passed and stand willing to work with them now.”

“After a lengthy debate on the issue, SB1 passed with 69 members voting in favor of the legislation.”
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Dan Ugaste is a first term State Representative for the 65th District, and represents portions of northwestern Kane and southern McHenry Counties, which includes Elgin, South Elgin, St. Charles, Hampshire, Huntley, Pingree Grove, Batavia and Geneva.

Illinois House Democrats Ignore that Susan B. Anthony Was Pro-Life

Illinois House Democrats observed Susan B. Anthony’s birthday with the following Tweet:

Funny how the Democrats forgot to remind people that Susan B. Anthony was opposed to abortion.

Or maybe not.

There is a Political Action Committee which supports Pro-Life candidates called the Susan B. Anthony Fund.

More on Jack Franks’ Riding Roughshod over County Board Members’ Rights

KnowExtremist, a commenter, adds this bit of history of Jack Franks’ usurping County Board members’ authority:

Jack Franks in an “I’m in charge” mode.

Additionally, the former Management Services committee, which was traditionally charged with Rules rewrites at the beginning of each new two year Board term, was thwarted in its attempts to write Rules changes which would have tried to address some of the Franks maneuvers, such as specifying that ad hoc committees could not be created without Board approval.

However, each time the committee tried to put the item on their committee agenda, it was prevented by Franks directing Peter Austin not to list it in the online meeting notices.

This was a clear violation of Board Rules as interpreted by the States Attorney.

Nevertheless, it persisted, with Austin refusing to follow the committee directives.

A Special Meeting could have been called but by that time it was apparent that Franks would have enough votes on the now cowed full Board to introduce amendments from the floor that could give him even more powers while defeating attempts to curb his powers, so the effort was abandoned.

You have to give the guy credit.

He is a Master.

A Township Where Someone Cares About Falsified Time Cards

From Illinois Leaks, republished with permission:

Plainfield Township – Time Card Thursday, Algonquin Township is not alone

Will Co. (ECWd) –Our work of exposing local government malfeasance has many facets. 
While any particular article may be focused on a specific unit of government, one facet commonly overlooked is the exposure of one local problem opens the door for other local governments and citizens to look for the same thing in their operations.
Plainfield Township appears to have identified some time card issues similar to those we identified in the articles herehere, and here.We have confirmed former Plainfield Township employee Christy Woolley was terminated for matters tied to time card manipulation.

We need to note the differences between Plainfield Township and Algonquin Township as to how such matters are dealt with.

In Algonquin, it appears no one cares about the time card manipulation that has resulted in thousands of extra dollars into the pocket of former employees.

In Plainfield, they have taken a proactive approach and are actually performing an audit of the matter and have plans of forwarding their findings to the Will County State’s Attorney to pursue all remedies available.

We point this out so people can understand why some reporting is more detailed with one unit of government versus another.

When the public officials take appropriate action to address the malfeasance, our work is minimized and there is no need to continue digging and exposing.

However, when public bodies go to extremes to avoid transparency and ignore requests for records like Algonquin Township has done, it requires far more public exposure to ensure the public can see how their officials are failing them.

We recently met with the Plainfield Township Supervisor, Tony Fremarek, and provided him a substantial pile of additional documents for their auditor to look at.

Thanks to whistleblowers we were able to provide what appeared to be massive improper personal purchases to include thousands of dollars in gift cards purchased that the Township had no records of.

These documents were tied directly to the past administrator Andi French, who was apparently involved in self-dealing exposed in these articles.

The records provided are additional personal purchases on the Township credit card which appears to have been a practice for years.

We look forward to sharing the results of the forensic audit being performed so that other townships can learn from those who take appropriate steps to identify and correct malfeasance in their operations.

It should be noted that Algonquin Township has refused to allow a forensic audit of the Road District even though the duly elected highway commissioner has demanded one be performed.

You can download the communications between Plainfield Township and the Illinois Unemployment office, who has denied Woolley unemployment benefits based on the misconduct described at this link, or view below.

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Transient Male Who Invaded Oakwood Hills Home with Mom Carrying Child at Home Arrested

A press release from the

Weekend Arrest on Home Invasion Charge

David Derita

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of David Derita, 36, on charges of Home Invasion and Domestic Battery stemming from an incident Saturday morning in the 10 block of Hillcrest Road in Oakwood Hills.

At about 9:20 a.m., deputies responded to Hillcrest Road to assist Oakwood Hills Police Department with a domestic battery that had just occurred.

When deputies arrived on scene, they observed that force had been used to gain entry into the house through the front door.

They located the victim and two small children inside the home.

An investigation was launched and it was discovered that Derita had come to the house for unknown reasons.

Once inside, he forced his way into a room where the victim was hiding while attempting to call 911.

David then allegedly battered the victim while she was holding a small child, grabbed her phone and left the residence.

Arrest warrants were obtained for

  • Home Invasion
  • Criminal Damage to Property
  • Domestic Battery
  • Interfering with the Reporting of a Domestic

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Apprehension Unit, the U.S. Marshalls Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force, Kane
County Sheriff’s Office, and Elgin Police Department worked together to apprehend Derita, who was located and subsequently arrested today in Elgin.

Arrested:  David Derita, Male, 36, Transient, IL

Charges:

  • Home Invasion (class X)
  • Criminal Damage to Property (class A)
  • Domestic Battery (class A)
  • Interfering with the Reporting of a Domestic (class A)

Bond: No Bond, Next Court Date: February 13th at 8:00 a.m.

The charges against this individual are merely allegations.