I’m losing count. Was today the fourth day of testimony in the Grafton Township separation of powers suit?
Maybe it was that I arrived by the expected start time, but an argument over a Temporary Restraining Order wanted by the McHenry County Health Department on a two-year old issue postponed testimony until 1:30.
In any event at least I remembered to take a cushion to soften the hard bench in Judge Michael Caldwell’s court today.
But listening to the who hit whom when and where is wearing on me.
If the question is whether Grafton Township government is dysfunctional, that has long since been proven.
Again it was Township Supervisor Linda Moore’s political enemies on the witness stand.
First up was a Forensicom “Senior Forensic Examiner” testifying that his firm had not finished its work because it had not been paid by Grafton Township. While not privy to contractual details Yoniv Schiff explained how people he supervised in the six-man firm for whom he works, copied a computer “in Pam’s office” and told a server to Chicago to copy because it was taking too long in Huntley.
Schiff explained how a program called Eraser, one version of which is available over the internet, was used to erase data from the computer, but not the server. February 8th was the day version 5.8 of the program was installed on the computer. It was “run against specific files and over(wrote) the data on those files,” he said.
The folder erased and overwritten was called “QuickBooks.” It “was sent to the recycle bin for deletion.”
On February 9th, he continued, “a flash storage device was attached to the computer.”
March 2nd saw “two separate external hard drives…attached to the computer.”
Under cross examination by Moore’s attorney John Nelson, Schiff revealed that his firm had been retained by Ancel Glink.
Admitting his lack of computer expertise, Nelson revealed,
“I want you to understand that the next email I send will be my first.”
Schiff confirmed that whatever was erased can be recreated, although he testified that he had not don’t any actual examination of the computer, rather his study was on “the forensic images of the computer.”
“At this point there is no evidence that an eraser program has been installed in the server?” Nelson asked.
“That is correct,” was the reply.
When asked whether February 29th was the only date the flash storage device was used, Shirff did not recall.
Schiff couldn’t testify to what happened when the external hard drives were attached because his firm had not been paid.
“Did you discover any deletions from a year prior?” Nelson asked. “Did you examine for that?”
“No,” Schiff replied.
There has been talk that Moore’s predecessor removed data from a township computer before leaving office.
The Judge asked some clarifying questions including one concerning the server. Schiff explained that his firm had “not determined what, if any, metadata (“data about data”) has been removed from the computer.”
Next up was Dina Frigo, the former Township Clerk.
It was pretty obvious she and Moore didn’t get along.
“Not a very pleasant relationship,” was how she started her testimony.
She intimated that Moore had a key to her office and had put a copy machine and files inside without her knowledge or permission. Moore had previously denied that and on cross examination, pointed out that if Moore had a key she would not have had to file Freedom of Information requests about which Frigo complained.
Moore did say that the building’s landlord, the Township Road Commission had keys to all the rooms.
How many FOI requests?
“Too numerous to mention.”
“You’re telling me you received FOI requests for information that was in the township hall?” Judge Caldwell asked.
“Yes. She would FOI my mail, too.”
Frigo did quote Moore assistant Trudy Jurs as asking via email, “Will you please give me information on the xerox I placed in your room?”
Frigo reported that Moore had opened her mail, specifically citing one from the Local Archives Division of the Secretary of State’s Office.
There were accusations concerning Moore’s putting up and taking down meeting notices.
Re-enforcing testimony was provided that Moore usually kept the door to what used to be the reception area closed and locked.
Frigo generalized about Moore’s treatment of her. A sample follows:
“She was getting hostile, persistent, argumentative. You could not talk to her at all. I’d excuse myself from the situation.”
Then there was the Milestone Mortgage call.
A representative from the firm called to verify Frigo’s employment and how long she had worked for Grafton Township.
Did Moore refuse to do so out of privacy concerns?
No way to know.
Under cross examination Frigo admitted she had not told Moore that a mortgage company might be inquiring.
All apparently ended well because McHenry County Clerk Kathie Schultz was able to fax the evidence needed to the firm.
It was again pointed out that Moore did not have contact information for the Grafton Township Food Pantry as she provided for other ones.
On December 17th, Frigo said she filed a police report because she thought Moore had used a date stamp that was unique to her office.
When asked why she resigned, it was because
“I could not work with Linda Moore anymore. It was very stressful for me and my family, the continual turning things around, twisting things…”
“When you resigned, didn’t you say you resigned because you had obtained full-time employment?” Nelson asked.
“That was one of the reasons,” Frigo replied.
Just before, the court learned Frigo was working for Huntley School District 158 as a lunchroom worker and recess person. The word “substitute” was used but I didn’t catch with regard to which assignment.
Disputes over the content of minutes Frigo wrote, which were not approved until after she resigned took up a good bit of time.
Nelson inquired about when the Food Pantry was moved out of the township office complex.
Despite being on its board, Frigo couldn’t remember.
Nelson sought specifics about what Moore had said she did that she didn’t do and what she said she didn’t do that she did and got a few.
Frigo revealed to the Judge that the Township Board stopped operating under Robert’s Rules of Order after revealing board meetings under Supervisor Rossi lasted ten minutes to an hour, while those after Moore took office lasted 3-4 hours.
She was asked the question about which I filed a Freedom of Information request:
Did she recall the board under Rossi ever voting on the hiring or firing of any attorneys?
“I can’t recall off hand.”
The next witness was Frigo’s successor Harriet Ford.
Township Trustees’ attorney Thomas G. DiCianni put into evidence seven sets of township minutes. Nelson observed they “do not bear your seal” when he questioned her.
“She can certify by seal or testimony,” DiCianni said.
Nelson asked Ford the same question I had filed a Freedom of Information request about, that is, whether any of the minutes report the “hiring or firing of any attorneys?” as Trustee Rob LaPorta had affirmed on the last court date.
“I’m unaware,” Ford replied.
At 4:40 the last witness of the day, Trustee Betty Zirk, took the stand.
She was asked if the Grafton Township Food Pantry had ever been an official part of Grafton Township.
The answer was, “No.”
She went through what appeared to be rehearsed answers to questions about her views of the duties of township trustees.
In answer to a question of whether she was “motivated by a political dispute over a township hall,” she answered in the negative.
She was asked how she voted at the 2010 Annual Town Meeting.
She said she voted with the majority.
“It’s just we’re having problems with some of the duties,” she said.
The locked door objection was reprised,
- as was the intercepting “some of our mail,” including one from the Herb and Jack Franks law firm,
- as was Moore’s not having presented a proposal of Brown Accounting to the board for the 2008-2009 audit,
- as was charging Rutland Township senior bus riders $3, instead of the $1 charged Grafton Township residents,
- as was not paying the Huntley Chamber of Commerce dues, as was the firing of part-time employees by Moore,
- as was the budget (“We found so many problems. I finally said it was time to have the auditor come in and revise it.”),
- as were meeting agendas,
- as was the delay in payment of Attorney Jim Kelly’s bill for representing the trustees in their appeal of Judge Caldwell’s “You can’t build the township hall without giving proper notice” decision.
Four of the Grafton Township Trustees coalition left the courthouse first today.
Court adjourned just before 5 PM. The ceiling lights blinked out as I was approaching the stairs.