I’m reminded of what my daughter Alexandra said when she was two and a half and on her first weekend visitation provided in divorce proceedings with Robin Geist.
Alexandra was all dressed up in a pretty outfit that first weekend. We had taken her to some craft show at the Methodist Church’s Wesley Hall where she got a clothespin Big Bird, complete with feathers) and played outside on the monkey bars.
I decided to take her to the Crystal Lake Police station to get her fingerprinted.
Alexandra threw a fit.
“I don’t need it. I don’t need it,” she screamed.
The police officer took her into a room, put the ink on her fingers, pressed them down and then helped her wash her hands in a nearby bathroom.
“That didn’t hurt a bit,” said a beaming Alexandra as she walked out of the washroom.
I thought of all the sturm und drum, the beating of breasts (use your own characterization) that preceded the passage of the conflict of interest ordinance inspired by the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water (ALAW) in its pre-February, 2010, primary election questionnaire.
You’ll remember ethics was on the front burner then. Most County Board candidates voluntarily completed ALAW’s questionnaire, even when it took a lot of time and effort, as it did with Vic Narusis’.
From the commotion during County Board consideration you’d think revealing real estate holdings within McHenry County was going to be so, so damaging to the officials who serve McHenry County residents.
Certainly, it was a reasonable request, considering zoning is a way to vastly increase the value of land. Potential conflicts of interest should be public knowledge for everyone having a hand in the process.
And certainly if family members are going to make a buck from county work that should be common knowledge before contracts are let or products sold.
I went to the McHenry County Clerk’s Office this week to see any of the Statements of Economic Interests had been filed.
There were about a half an inch of the blue sheets, too many for me to want to examine.
So I only asked for those of County Board members.
A number had filed.
Most showed nothing more than the old “None, None, None” Forms.
County Board Chairman Ken Koehler’s had the most writing, so today we’ll take a look at it.
One question asks if the official or members of the immediate family has “interests in real property located within the county.”
If the answer is “Yes,” the following information is requested:
“The nature of your interest in the real estate and your instrument or ownership 5ILCS 420/1-115 (deeds. common stock or preferred stock certificates, rights, warrants, options, bills of sale, contracts, interests in proprietorships, partnerships and join ventures, and beneficial interests in trusts or land trusts).”
Common Stock – Flowerwood Inc+/- 17 acres located NW corner Rt.14 + 176 C.L.
- Trust-partnership 50% +/- 17 acres located Country Club Rd Ridgefield
- Trust-partnership 1/3 – Residence 273 Plymouth Lane, Crystal Lake
The next question asks for the location of the real property.
- Trusts both IL Rt 176 + US 14 just NW of Flowerwood Garden Center + Flowershop
- Trusts Country Club Road in Ridgefield NW of Alexander Lumber/borders U.P.R.R.
- 273 Plymouth Lane, Crystal Lake
Next the Property Index Numbers are requested
On page two, the first question is whether the person or any immediate family member has an interest in any business or professional entity doing business with McHenry County.
Koehler answered, “No.”
Then there’s a question about whether immediate family or the individual is “an officer or director or any business or professional entity doing business with the County or any other local, public governmental agency within McHenry County.”
Koehler answered, “Yes.”
He is a member of the Board of Directors of Sherman Heath Systems, which provides “health care.”
Officials are asked if they owe anyone more than $1,200. Excluded are student loans, installment loans (cars, household effects, etc.), medical and dental debts, credit card purchases, support or alimony obligations, debts owed to spouse or close relative, and debts incurred in the maintenance of your household.”
Koehler answered, “No.”
Since he answered in the negative, he has no one to list as being indebted to.
The final question relates to having been release from an debt of $1,200 or more.
Koehler answered, “NA.”
Officials are then asked to sign a “verification” which, in part says,
“I understand that the penalty for knowingly and intentionally filing a false or incomplete statement shall be an ordinance violation subject to fines and penalties not to exceed $1,000 (55 ILCS 5/5-113).”