For the second year in a row Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore was out organized by forces supporting her arch-opponents, the four Township Trustees.
There were two meetings announced for Grafton Township citizens Tuesday night.
The first turned out to have improperly noticed.
The shouts from Moore opponents as it began somewhat after 6 PM was as close to raw democracy as is likely to be seen in McHenry County.
The word “raucous” comes to mind.
After the meeting was called to order, a couple of people shouted, “I make a motion to adjourn the meeting.”
Nothing wrong with such a motion at any time during a meeting.
The motion passed 87-75.
At some point Supervisor Moore pointed out that the meeting’s notices had not been properly posted and she hoped that people would use what was left of the scheduled hour to ask questions and listen to what her attorney and the Township Road Commissioner’s attorney had to say about the motions on the agenda for the 7 o’clock meeting.
Lakewood Turnberry subdivision resident Alan Zielinski, a newcomer, commented,
“I’m not sure whether I ought to appalled or amused…This is not Monopoly money. This is taxpayer money.”
He asked that the rest of the meeting be conducted in a civil manner and it was.
He also asked that factual material be presented and, for the most part, it was.
The one glaring, but inadvertent, omission was when Road Commissioner Patrick Coen forgot to announce that $66,000 of the purchase price went to real estate agent, McHenry County Board member and Algonquin Township Clerk Marc Munaretto. (The linked article shows where all the money went.) That money was paid to Munaretto even though there was no sale of the property to the buyer he found.
Karl Ottosen, Moore’s attorney in the case brought against her by Township Road Commissioner Jack Freund, pointed out that the 6 PM Special Meeting was called because the Township Trustees refused to put items on the agenda, such as whether a real estate agent should be hired to sell the Haligus Road property that the previous administration under Supervisor John Rossi had improperly purchased.
Two Annual Meetings ago, the Electors had voted to sell the property, but not for less than the $99,500 price that was paid for it.
Last September, a congregation wishing to build a mosque there offered $100,000, but the Township Trustees nixed the deal, countering with a request for $120,000. The prospective buyers were not heard from again.
Attorney Patrick Coen gave the Road Commissioner’s point of view, arguing that the unwinding of the deal found to have been improper by Judge Michael Caldwell was being accomplished over a three-year period with $200,000 having been repaid over the first two years and the final $300,000 due this Fiscal Year (that is, before the end of next March).
A CPA-lawyer from Algonquin, Martin Waitzman, was pretty scathing in his comments about “all this crap with infantile attacks and ill will.”
He was critical about all of the legal bills, saying,
“I’m an attorney. I like getting paid legal fees. I don’t like paying them. Stop all this extraneous crap that costs [taxpayers money].”
The major motion in the 7 PM meeting was to ratify that intergovernmental agreement between the Township Board and the Township Road Commissioner.
But first there was an election for Moderator of the Annual Meeting.
The three people listed below were nominated and you can see the votes they received:
- Marci Gorden – 89
- Tad Walters – 42
- Dawn Ellison – 13
There was much talk about the lack of an audit from the first year of Moore’ term of office, plus subsequent audits, but the outside auditing firm wrote a letter saying the firm would not submit more than a draft until it was paid the $14,470 owed for the FY 2010 and 2011 audits, both of which had been completed.
The Trustees were not at all pleased when CPA Paul Thermen offered his doubts as to the legality of the taking of the Grafton Township Food Pantry off-site. The verbal opinion last August about the accounts for the first year of Linda Moore’s term was,
“We really found nothing untoward in the audit.”
That fact did not come up in the discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting, but the lack of final audits was repeatedly mentioned by supporters of Trustee Rob LaPorta, Barb Murphy, Betty Zirk and Gerry McMahon.
Arguing that the Supervisor’s financial report should be presented during discussion of a motion for it not to be read, CPA Waitzman said,
“If unaudited, at least we have some data. [We'd be] looking at numbers, instead of conjecture.”
Unsuccessful candidate for Moderator Ellison pointed out that the reason the Township Board had not paid the auditor’s bill was that the auditors had not come and explained it “line by line.”
Waitzman regained the floor and pointed out it is “not typical for auditors to come in an explain line by line. [They present an opinion of whether] the accounts are fairly presented.” He added that this line of argument was “more finger pointing…more red herrings.”
The crowd decided not to hear neither the Supervisor’s nor the Road Commissioner’s financial reports. They were, however, included in the material handed out to attendees by Moore.
The main item on the agenda was approval of the intergovernmental agreement approved by the Road Commissioner and the Trustees. This calls for payment of $700,000 over three years.
Moore’s attorney pointed out the question was “whether or not you want to wait for transfer of the title.”
He pointed out that the Electors at the 2011 Annual Meeting had not approved the terms of the lease.
Without introducing herself, former Township Administration, fired by court order with the court ruling the Township Trustees had deliberately tried to usurp the executive powers of the Township Supervisor, took the microphone she was carrying to people to speak and defended the prior (Supervisor John Rossi’s) administration’s actions.
“Some said it was done legally, some said it was done illegally. The Board put the property up for sale. It was appraised.”
Someone from the audience chimed in that the appraisal was for $1 million.
Fender indicated that there was somebody that wanted to buy the property (the person found by real estate agent Munaretto), but “Jack decided he wanted to buy it.”
Fender, a Huntley Village Trustee then said, “The rules changed.”
She did not point out that Judge Caldwell ruled the sale was done improperly because a person reading the Township Meeting agenda would not have been able to figure out what the Board might be doing. In other words, improper notice.
“Don’t say things weren’t intended to be on the up and up,” Fender continued. “Things changed after John Rossi lost the election.”
Those with good memories will remember that Moore campaigned against the new township hall that Supervisor Rossi and holdover Trustees LaPorta, Murphy and Zirk supported.
Dan Ziller, Jr., who was the lead plaintiff in the suit that stopped the building of the new $5 million (cost with projected interest), said he was “holding the original [Annual Meeting] resolution” and that there was nothing in it concerning a twenty-year commitment to the Road District.
Zielinski, an appraiser by profession, asked if the appraisal were for $1 million, why the Township was paid $700,000.
“We bought the property, not the building,” Road Commissioner Freund pointed out.
“The Road District built the building we’re in.”
“We didn’t know where we stood financially,” Trustee Barb Murphy interjected.
“We didn’t have enough money to pay it in a lump sum,” Huntley’s Dawn Burke added.
After this and more debate, the intergovernmental agreement allowing a three-year payoff of the loan was approved by a vote of 99-23.
After the vote there was a period of public comment.
One man said,
“What is the building doing here?
“Someone with a power grab still wants to build a new building.
A Veteran who said he had not cast a vote during the evening, but was there as an observer said,
“It’s really disappointing.
“All I want is my money taken care of responsibly.
“If someone is wasting my tax dollars, stop wasting it now!”
A woman added,
“We voted in 2010 not to sell it [the Haligus Road property bought by the previous Board from the Village of Lake in the Hill on which to build a new Town Hall]. That’s probably why they haven’t sold it.”
Moore pointed out that the agenda item about selling the property was submitted to the Trustees, “but they refused to follow the statute, refused to put it on the agenda.”
Tom Halat added the information about the $100,000 offer and compared that to the $99,500 purchase price.
“I think they had an ulterior motive. ”
“That’s why we have all these problems. We can blame the Trustees for that.”
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You can read other articles on the meeting as well:
If anyone can find another one, please point people to it in a comment.