Grafton Township Court Order Fires Pam Fender and Ancel Glick – Part 2

Judge Michael Caldwell

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog summarized Judge Michael Caldwell’s conclusions in the lawsuit filed by Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore against her fellow Grafton Township Board members, Trustees Gerry McMahon, Rob LaPorta, Barbara Murphy and Betty Zirk.

Today, we’ll look at his logic.

After summarizing the testimony, Judge Caldwell wrote:

“There was voluminous evidence of

  • canceled gasoline credit cards belonging to a department of the township,
  • the failure to halt direct deposit of employees’ paychecks,
  • Moore’s attempts to put the meetings of the township board on the the internet via the assessor’s website and the Illinois Township Officials Association,
  • misdirected mail,
  • the changes in the bus schedule (labeled as a “…complete failure…” by a single resident),
  • the complete history of the Grafton Township Food Pantry,
  • the history of the terms of Supervisors [Mildred] Ruth and [John] Rossi and
  • an evidentiary comparison of the workings of Nunda Township with Grafton Township.

“None of this has any relevance to these proceedings”

“It may be interesting, even entertaining for some, but on the whole it is immaterial and irrelevant….It is nothing more than evidence of

  • simple mistakes,
  • poor judgment and
  • a past that is over and not about to return any time soon.

“As such, none of this has any relevance to nor does it contribute to any decision that I must make regarding the state of affairs in Grafton Township.”

From a video of the October 12, 2009 Grafton Township Board meeting that Judge Michael Caldwell's ruling seems to say that Supervisor Linda Moore has the right to post on the township web site in her role of having control of the day-to-day operations of Grafton Township.

In his analysis section, the Judge pointed concluded,

“That there is an all-out, political and personal war between the Township Supervisor and the Board of Trustees of Grafton Township is readily apparent from the evidence.

“Not only do these parties intensely dislike one another, but both sides of this controversy seem dedicated to all out conflict, all of the time, regardless of its effect on township government or its programs.

“At the heart of these proceedings is the toxic relationship between the township board and the supervisor….

“Any ruling I make can affect some aspects of the relationship but not all of them.

“I cannot judicially regulate impolite, abusive, or course discourse between parties. It may be rude and hurtful, but the harm is not irrevocable and no one has the ‘right’ to compel others to be polite.

“Someone far wiser than I once said, when commenting on the First Amendment,

‘It takes a thick skin to be an American citizen.’

“Additionally, politics has always been a rough and tumble pursuit. Apparently in Grafton Township, it has been elevated to the level of a blood sport.

“That being said, there is nothing this court can do to compel these parties to be “…nice…” to one another, as was requested in one of the prayers of relief.

“The only think I can offer is the advice of the late President Harry Truman who said,

‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’”

Ancel Glink partner Keri-Lyn Krafthefer looks up a point of township law after she had been dismissed by Supervisor Linda Moore.

Judge Caldwell then indicated he would rule on the “supervisor/ board relationship.”

In other words, on the separation of powers.

And, how those powers were balanced was reported in yesterday’s article.

The Judge confirmed Supervisor Moore’s authority to fire Township Administrator Pam Fender and Township Attorney Ancel Glink, usually represented by Keri-Lyn Krafthefer at township meetings.

Judge Caldwell’s reversal of the political strategy presumably concocted by Krafthefer to allow the Township Trustees to take control of what they could not win at the ballot box is nothing short of stunning.

He confirmed Moore’s authority to run the day-to-day business of the township the same way that a strong mayor or a village president does.

Caldwell did say the Township Trustees could set the agenda at the beginning of every meeting, had approval authority over large contracts and should have the ability to access township financial records.

Among unanswered questions are the following:

  • whether forensic computer firm Forensicon’s bill would have to be paid with taxpayer dollars or by the two trustees–Betty Zirk and Rob LaPorta–who signed the contract
  • whether taxpayers have any call on the money that was paid to Township Administrator Pam Fender and Ancel Glink after Moore dismissed them from township service
  • whether paying off the Town Hall loan to the Township
    Road District mandated at the Annual Meeting requires Board approval
  • whether the severance clause in the contract approved by the Trustees for Pam Fender is enforceable
  • whether the Supervisor can select the outside auditor (since advice and consent is required for the attorney’s selection

John Nelson

Judge Caldwell did rule that both Moore attorney John Nelson and the Trustees’ Ancel Glink litigator Thoma DiCianni and others in his firm would be paid by the taxpayers for services rendered in this lawsuit.

When I last looked at the bills, the Trustees were outspending the Supervisor 4 to 1.

Part 1 is here.


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