Pursuant to a complaint from a person unknown, Lou Bianchi’s McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office is trying to kick two McHenry County College candidates off the ballot
They are Cary Grade School Board member Chris Jenner, who was seeking re-election, plus running for the McHenry County College Board, and EriK Sivertsen, who is running for both the McHenry Grade School District Board and the MCC Board.
Jenner is in his second two-year term on the District 26 Board and has taken part in the downsizing necessitated by teacher contracts which paid excessive salaries and benefits.
Sivertsen is a Young Republican who has firsthand experience at MCC as a student.
There are nine running for three vacancies on the MCC Board. Below they are listed in alphabetical order.
- Scott Alford
- Chris Jenner
- Carol Larson
- Erik Sivertsen
- Mike Smith
- Molly Walsh
- Arne Waltmire
- Tom Wilbeck
Bianchi filed suit based on a 1993 Attorney General’s decision that held service on a grade school and a junior college board simultaneously was incompatible.
Sivertsen told me that as he read the opinion, serving on both boards at the same time was not allowed, but he pointed out there was nothing in the opinion about running for both boards.
Following advice of a top State’s Attorney assistant, Jenner on Monday asked District 26 to de-certify his candidacy. The district did so.
The suit was filed anyway.
A hearing will be held in Judge Thomas Meyer’s courtroom on Monday afternoon, the deadline for finalizing ballots.
Perhaps you would like to play detective.
Read the following statements made by Chris Jenner at the MCC candidates night last week.
Any of the candidates would benefit from having fewer candidates on the ballot.
The questions I pose is “Whose candidacy is threatened most by Chris Jenner’s being on the ballot? Who or whose supporters would have wanted him off the ballot enough to file a complaint with the State’s Attorney’s Office?”
Opening Statement at MCC Candidates’ Forum
My name is Chris Jenner. I’ve lived in Cary for the past 20 years. My main qualification to serve in this office is my accomplishments in nearly 8 years of service on the Cary D-26 school board.
Last summer, someone asked me if I knew what was going on with the management of my local community college. Over the next several months I found a number of things that seemed wrong to me.
- A budget that forgot McHenry County is under the tax cap, with no apparent consequences or discipline for the mistake, and a proposal to make up the shortfall through a tuition hike instead of dipping into the
college’s healthy cash reserves.
- 22,000 taxpayer dollars spent to send 5 trustees, 2 administrators, and the student trustee to Boston to stay in $319 a night hotel rooms and eat lobster dinners.
- Use of a so-called consultant with an obvious conflict of interest to justify a $45 million health sciences facility and health club.
- A plan to issue $45 million in debt without asking for permission from the voters.
These are all symptoms. The root cause of these problems is that for years, the MCC board has been dominated by insiders, by people with
ties to the college, by advocates of big government, and long term incumbents. The field of candidates this year includes several insiders and long term incumbents.
Yes, the trustees do advocate for the college. If elected, I will advocate for the college. I will also advocate for the taxpayers, students, and local businesses, which seem to be taking a back seat to the effort to expand the college’s facilities. I will also vote against the college incurring debt or even putting the taxpayers at risk without asking the voters’ permission through the use of double barreled bonds or a backdoor referendum.
Closing Statement at MCC Candidates’ Forum
Thank you League of Women Voters and the other groups for hosting this important forum. I’d like to highlight and expand on a few points I made in my opening statement.
A health sciences facility and lab and classroom expansion may be warranted, but not nearly to the extent that is being proposed. A fitness center certainly is not needed — McHenry County already has 20, many of which are struggling. The proposal on the table nearly doubles MCC’s existing classroom and lab space, when the existing space is
less than 50% utilized. In difficult economic times, utilization of public resources needs to go up, not down.
Trying to portray a health club management firm that could become a financial partner in the project as an “independent expert” to perform a feasibility study is blatantly wrong. Power Wellness lacks expertise in the breadth of the project being proposed, and is certainly not independent.
An opinion of an independent expert is what the law requires to issue Alternative Revenue Bonds. Ask the residents of Lakewood whose property taxes jumped to pay for Red Tail Golf Course whether Alternative Revenue Bonds put the taxpayers at risk. A public entity issuing debt without asking the voters is wrong, as evidenced by recent legislation filed specifically due to how MCC has proposed to fund the expansion.
As I mentioned at the opening, the root cause of MCC’s management problems is domination of the board by insiders and long term incumbents beholden to the college. If elected, I will bring an outside, independent voice that will advocate not just for the sake of the college, but for our students, local businesses, and taxpayers. I will not vote for the college to incur millions of dollars of debt without asking your opinion at the ballot box first.
I’ll close by discussing policy, which is supposed to guide and govern the board and administration in decision making. In all 8 years that I’ve been on the D-26 school board, I have been on the Policy Committee, being the chair for 6 of those 8 years. I’ve authored several good governance policies, which the D-26 board unanimously passed.
I’ve reviewed the MCC policy manual and I find it lacking in good governance policies. If elected, I will bring good governance policies for the MCC board to consider, including the one we adopted in D-26 several years ago that forbids the district from issuing debt without voter approval.
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McHenry County Blog’s article about the MCC candidates’ night can be found here.