Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore took her dispute with Township Trustees Betty Zirk, Gerald McMahon, Rob LaPorta and Barbara Murphy to court Wednesday.
She’s in civil court seeking injunctive relief to regain her role as chief executive of the township. She hoped for immediate relief, but Judge Maureen McIntyre “found there was no emergency,” Moore attorney John Nelson said. A court date will be set Monday.
“The Grafton Township Board of Trustees has, without legal authority, engaged in a broad course of conduct designed to eliminate Supervisor Moore from conducting any Grafton Township business,” the suit says.
As readers know, the township board, still smarting from its judicial loss of the new $5 million township hall on Haligus road and election of nemesis Moore as township supervisor, decided to strip Moore of all the executive functions that their attorney, Keri-Lyn Krafthefer advised was possible.
“I am sure my client’s (being a plaintiff in the suit and having) engineered the end of the $5 million palace they wanted to build has nothing to do with the board’s concerns…I say that with tongue firmly in cheek,” Nelson said after setting next Monday’s court date to set a court date for a hearing on the merits of Moore’s suit.
“I would encourage anyone who is interested in the case to watch the YouTube video of the last meeting.”
Moore not only seeks the return of her powers, but also, confirmation of the legitimacy of her firing of Ancil Glick partner Keri-Lyn Krafthefer and Township Administrator Pam Fender.
Nelson spoke of two court cases upon which he based his motion.
One says that the township supervisor is in charge of hiring and firing employees, as long as there are not more than five paid by the Town Fund. Excluded from the employee count are employees of the assessor and road commissioner, as well as those paid by the General Assistance Fund.
Grafton Township has three bus drivers who fit that category.
“Three are smaller than five,” Nelson said.
Another case rebuked Cicero Town officials for banishing its township collector to a closet and firing the two employees.
Moore’s new office is the township clerk’s old one, one without a window.
Trustees continually point out that the township attorney, selected by Moore, but later dismissed by Moore, “wrote the book.”
Nelson said he was a member of the Illinois Township Attorney’s Association.
“Our association is composed of real lawyers. We don’t write books about township law; we revise township laws.”
Apparently two criminal complaints have been made to the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office by Moore’s antagonists.
One is said to concern manipulation of the private bank accounts of township employees.
“I would categorically deny such accusation,” Nelson said.
The other, more recent, is that financial information has disappeared from township computers.
“The township computers are under the sole custody and control of the township supervisor,” Nelson said.
“They have no right, legal authority or interest in these computers. They are a legislative body.”
“That is an allegation without substance and without meaning. The elected supervisor is the sole custodian of the financial records. It’s really not their complaint to make.
“If the records have disappeared, it’s because of the illegally hired employee (Township Administrator Pam Fender),” Nelson continued.
“It’s a felony to threaten a criminal case to obtain a civil judgment or right,” Nelson pointed out.
Nelson outlined the duties of township trustees:
- They review the bills, audit the bills
- They approve the budget which has to provide adequate space for the assessor, supervisor and town collector to do his or her job.
- They can provide for salaries.
- They can provide conditions, if over five employees.
Township trustees are limited to what the law says.
“These township trustees have stepped way over those bounds,” Nelson charged.
“This is a separation of powers case that involved the fundamental right of people to elect their own political leaders.
“The core issue is that the voters of Grafton Township voted my client in as Grafton Township Supervisor. Their wisdom or lack thereof is no longer at issue.”
Nelson serves as Winnebago County’s Harlem Township Attorney. That township, north of Rockford, has a population comparable to Grafton’s.
And, who will pay Nelson’s bill?
“I represent her in her official capacity,” he said.
Read this section of the case:
“Supervisor Moore is entitled to legal counsel in her capacity as Grafton Township Supervisor as she is in legal conflict with defendants, and this litigation is necessary to settle the rights, obligations and duties of the parties. The necessity of payment for legal counsel paid for by Grafton Township is well-settled under the law. In Wayne Township Board of Auditors, DuPage County v. Ludwig, 154 Ill.App.3d 899, 507 N. E. 2d 199, 204, 107 Ill. Dec. 535, 540 (2nd Dist., 1987) the court held that where an actual conflict exists between a Town Board and one of the town’s officers the town officer is entitled to be represented by independent counsel. The court went on to say that independent counsel is entitled to a reasonable fee for same.”
McHenry County lies within the 2nd Appellate Court District.
What if Moore wins the case and the trustees won’t follow the judge’s order?
“I would be seeking jail time for contempt,” Nelson said. If it reaches that stage, it will not be the first time the four trustees have displeased a judge by not obeying a court order. It happened in the new township hall case, too.
Moore’s seeking judicial approval of her termination of the legal services of Keri-Lyn Krafthefer.
Nelson court document points out that Moore appointed her and says,
“Logic would dictate that Keri-Lyn Krafthefer serves at the pleasure of the Supervisor of Grafton Township. However, it appears that this is an issue of first impression.”
A link to the full court document can be found here.