McHenry and Woodstock Library Officials Charged with Conspiring in Years Past to Gerrymander Wonder Lake

In an email below, Wonder Lake’s Jeff Gerhardt explains some history about efforts to get a library for his town.

The missive outlines his and other local residents’ frustration with the McHenry Library Board’s apparent refusal to meet with residents from Wonder Lake.

Gehardt raises the fascinating possibility that the Woodstock Library District and the McHenry Library District may have “conspired” to divide the Wonder Lake area into the two districts in order to keep Wonder Lake from having its own library district. He even hints at the possibility of a Federal lawsuit to challenge what he calls “gerrymandering” Wonder Lake “to increase your funding.”

Geherdt’s email follows:

The following is a letter being sent to the Executive Director of the McHenry Library. The purpose of this letter to to remind people of how badly Wonder Lake has been used as well as use as a tool to inform people that are not yet familiar with the issue. PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE IN WONDER LAKE THAT YOU KNOW. This is important.
Mr. Scholtz,

I am copying this email to Sue Draffkorn and John Naatz. It will also be forwarded to many other in Wonder Lake. But I am specifically forwarding this to John and Sue so that they can forward this to their respective levels of government. I plan on attending the next county board meeting and asking for their support.

Lastly, I have contacted the office of the Lt Governor and US Senator Durbin in an attempt to head off the need for legal action to resolve the conflict between your library district and the desire of the people of Wonder Lake to create their own library district. As an act of courtesy, I will also send a copy to state Senator Pam Althoff as she is an obvious supporter of your district, and we do want to be fair.

Although I do understand that we are talking about tax funds and tax money does make people act in horrible ways, I still find it amazing that a bunch of people who are supposedly library people (your board) are so predatory in preventing a new library district. I will repeat the comment I have made to you many times, “is it not time for McHenry to be grateful to the people of Wonder Lake for paying millions in taxes to your library district, and to help us to get launched in creating our own Library District ?”

I have to say that I am very surprised by your continued silence and refusal to talk to us. You have been active in lobbying in the press against us, including spreading 100% falsehoods, and yet you will not speak with us. This gross mistreatment of tax payers is pretty bewildering.

Indeed, the comments that you have made to people in meetings and in the newspaper about how wrong it was for Wonder Lake to “go it alone” in building a library is such a gross misstatement of the facts, and yet that same comment still comes up.

We, if we are allowed to create a library, can join the same North Suburban Library System as YOUR library is a member of right now. We can do that, if your employees do not continue to slander and belittle the people of Wonder Lake as they did during the July 29th meeting.

The truth is we expect to use every resource possible be it joining a library system or application for grants. Those grants mind you, we can only get if we have our own library and are no longer the “poor relation” of the McHenry Library.

The fact that the Wonder Lake CDC Library Development Committee has on it members from the Wonder Lake Village, the MPOA, the School District and a number of community organizations and you still continue to refuse to meet and negotiate with us is highly disrespectful to the people of Wonder Lake. Many of these people were selected by governmental organizations that have publicly elected boards that represent the cross section of people from our community.

How you can continue to disrespect us is beyond all sense and reason?

Recently, your library district suffered a loss at the ballot box.

It is probable in these economic times that you would have lost anyway, but rest assured that many in the Wonder Lake community voted against your initiative simply because we feel we are being treated unfairly by your library district.

You are using us as a cash cow.

If we reflect back on the history of your district, it was admitted in your July 29th joint board meeting with the Woodstock Library District that your board and the Woodstock board conspired to Gerrymander Wonder Lake to increase your funding; using the excuse that Wonder Lake was a resort community.

However, just as in the day when the library districts were formed, a TINY percentage of the homes (lake front) were in fact “resort” as the majority of homes (off the lake) were year round residences of low income families that had lived in the area since the days of the great depression.

The “lake front” properties of Wonder Lake constitute some 350 of the 4000 plus homes in Wonder Lake. And until the last 10-15 years, even the lake front properties had a tendency of being tiny 2 bedroom fishing shacks.

Having just gone through a period of tear down building, a large percentage of what has happened in the last 5 years, the economic status of the lake front has finally reached that “resort” kind of description

But, I have to tell you I find it hard to believe that the people responsible for the Gerrymandering did not know the historic facts behind the development of Wonder Lake; and just used the “resort” status of a few of the homes as an excuse to draw lines that kept McHenry and Woodstock in power and the people of Wonder Lake powerless.

Indeed, the label of “Wondertucky” was placed upon Wonder Lake by people from McHenry and Woodstock as a demeaning label of our communities economic status.

Pretending this is not so is ignoring the facts.

We have through our 80 year history been looked down upon as the “white trash” of McHenry county.

So my belief is that the “resort” label may salve some of the consciences of people in Woodstock and McHenry, but it has little respect for the TRUTH of the situation.

I know I have told you this before, but one of YOUR staff people commented to my niece when she was checking out a book from your library recently that she

“did not know people from Wondertucky knew how to read.”

Your district’s behavior toward the people of Wonder Lake has been a continuation of the litany of predatory activities.

Your refusal to meet with us to discuss Wonder Lake removing itself from your library district is an insult to the voters of Wonder Lake. Forget about the gray areas of legality that your district uses to justify its actions; does your district have a moral center or does it NOT?

Your only response was to run behind our backs and have what was possibly an illegal meeting with Tony Topf (village president of Wonder Lake) in partnership with the Woodstock Library.

Imagine the shock of our village president (Tony), when I told him, that you had informed me, that during that meeting an agreement was struck with the Village of Wonder Lake to partner in the development of a library with the Woodstock and McHenry libraries.

All Tony said to you was his desire for all parties to talk and communicate.

I still have the document you sent me bragging about a “unprecedented multi-governmental agreement.” In my opinion, you took advantage of Tony’s good will and USED him.

Hmmm, is it perhaps possible that the mere suggestion of such an agreement would constitute that your meeting was a violation of the Open Meetings Act?

Indeed, you have done just the opposite of what Tony asked.

You have slammed the door in the face of people from Wonder Lake, including John Naatz, the village board member who was assigned to represent the village’s interests on our Library Development Committee.

Do you not get it that you are flying in the face of the elected bodies of Wonder Lake?

Imagine the shock of Jill Gildea to hear that the supposed agreement was to build a library INSIDE the new Harrison School; when in-fact you had up to that point never spoken to her.

The arrogance and usurpation of authority by your library district it seems has few limits. You owe a huge apology to the people of Wonder Lake.

You have NO moral authority left in this community.

Now that the Wonder Lake Community Development Council has created a committee that has represents a broad cross section of Wonder Lake, including the Boy and Girl Scout troops of our area, you would think that you would finally give in and talk to us.

But NOOOOO, not the McHenry Library District.

We have been informed by a board member of the Harrison School District that you have contacted them to discuss a joint library project with the McHenry and Woodstock Library Districts.

Just as in the case of sneaking around to talk to Village President Topf, you sneak around and try to meet with the school district.

To be clear, first you ran to Tony to try to stop our efforts. Now you run to the school district to try to drive a wedge in and break apart our community driven efforts.

And you are not bothered by these actions?

You are library people, doing all in your power to stop the creation of a library.


The best long term outcome for the community of Wonder Lake is for you to release us while you have zero debt and allow us to create our own library district.

Your board could do this with a simple resolution and then the referendum in the spring would be binding instead of advisory.

I once again plead with you, as we have done since we first talked, to NOT ignore the feelings of the people of Wonder Lake.

The decades of Gerrymandering and manipulation by the political powers in the county has to stop.

It is clear that the 1965 Voting Rights Act says that the Gerrymandering of one community by another for the benefit of the Gerrymandering parties at the expense of the Gerrymandered parties is wrong and should be corrected.

Although Illinois State Library Law may give you a bit of a shield, I like our chances.

If it goes to the Federal courts and we win, it could cost your district millions of dollars.

I DO NOT want to see that happen.

We are all much better off just sitting down and talking and coming up with a resolution to the issue that is fair for all.

The longer you delay, the less willing the people of Wonder Lake will be to being “understanding” of your situation.

This is NOT a gray issue.

It is black and white.

What your district is doing to the people of Wonder Lake is WRONG.

Millions out of the community in tax dollars and not a penny back into the community.

I do not think we need to say any more then that.


Jeff Gerhardt
Wonder Lake Community Development Council

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Family members keep asking why I take so many pictures. Most of the ones you see above were taken on July 4th, 2007. (If you want to see where we were this past Independence Day, you’ll have to read McHenry County Blog on Thanksgiving Day.)

You can see various ways people enjoy Wonder Lake. There are people boating, skiing, tubing, surf boarding, “canoeing” on an unstable raft, paddle boating, kayaking, jet skiing, parasailing, swimming at Highland Shores Beach, resting in a hammock, partying hard and, taken on a darker day, just enjoying the night air and views as another day at the lake nears its end. There was even a sailor bold enough to brave the choppy waters. He probably looked at it as a challenge.

There’s one shot of a dog climbing up a ladder onto a pier after going for a swim.

The Wonder Lake Marina is seen and, in another photo, people line the shore on the East side of the lake watching the water ski show.

And at the bottom you see “Brett’s DAmN Bar – Please Drink Responsibly – WINK, WINK.” I guess the party goers were out on the lake because the place was empty when we went by.

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