Who Says You Can’t Beat City Hall?

These Oakwood Hills residents know their village board stepped over the line.

These Oakwood Hills residents know their village board stepped over the line.

There’s a line between voter-taxpayers and their elected officials.

Oakwood Hills Village Board members just learned about the line.

The problem is that neither the taxpayers nor the elected officials know where that line is.

One can only figure out where it was in retrospect.

For example, during the 1960’s Lou Goosens was Mayor of Crystal Lake.

Sometime in the late 1960’s ethical standards changed.

It was OK for Goosens to work for Ladd Enterprises, the builders of the Coventry subdivision prior to that shift. After all, everyone had to have a job.

I remember the Crystal Lake Jaycees doing a fire safety study and finding that if a car were parked on the street in the newest section of the subdivision where many members resided that a fire engine could not get down the street.

There were large numbers of people who attended city council meetings for that and, I would assume, other reasons that pushed their buttons, such as developer impact fees.

I remember one meeting in the second floor room of the old City Hall on Williams Street at the first street north of the train tracks in which my high school classmate and citizen-activist in the Involved Citizens Association, Judy Bathrick, and the wife of City Councilman Bill McCormick (a Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman) got into it.

Mrs. McCormick referred to Judy and other filling the chairs as “Damn transients!”

Judy, who lived on South Shore Drive between Gate 3 and 5 and rode the bus to high school with me, exploded.

“Transients!  Damn Transients,” she shouted.

“If it weren’t for us ‘damn transients,’ you wouldn’t have a job.”

Mrs. McCormick was the nurse at Coventry Elementary School.

I’ve just seen that I wrote an article on the subject in 2007.  I’ll post it below before making some additional comments:

Are We Having a Sea Change in Illinois Ethics?

As Niranjan Shah resigned the chairmanship of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, he issued a statement that may be significant. Quoting from the Chicago Tribune article on Tuesday, this caught my eye:

“WhenAre We Having a Sea Change in Illinois Ethics? I became a Trustee…many of the stakeholders in the University of Illinois system–Trustees, university administrators and staff, legislators and others–operated under a set of rules and norms that seemed appropriate at the time.”Today, I recognize that those rules are changing with the times, and I think that change is a very good thing.

Back in 1969 there may have been another change in ethical norms in Illinois.

Lou Goosens was mayor of Crystal Lake. He worked for the biggest developer, Ladd Enterprises. I remember taking him with me to the DuPage County Republican Central Committee’s summer golf outing.

Since there are so many new readers, let me re-run the April 18, 2006, story:

Shifting Ethical Sands

All sorts of folks are hoping that the conviction of former Governor George Ryan might signal a change in ethics for the Illinois political class and the bi-partisan political combine that the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass so aptly tagged.

Having been in and around the political arena since 1966, I remember only one shift in ethical standards in the last forty years.

The shift so shocked me that I even remember when I learned about it. I was driving by former McHenry County Sheriff and Recorder of Deeds Harry Herendeen’s home across from the Dole Mansion when Crystal Lake Mayor Lou Goosens told me.

I had invited him to accompany me to the DuPage County Republican Party golf outing when, at the last minute, a newly minted attorney and high school friend decided not to come.

That was 1969, the year of the first Earth Day.

I don’t know whether or not there was any connection with the emerging environmental activism, but I started noticing things changing ethically.

Mayor Goosens worked for Crystal Lake’s biggest developer, Ladd Enterprises. In 1969, the attitude was pretty much,

“Everyone has to work somewhere.”

About 1970, the Crystal Lake Jaycees did a fire safety project in the back end of Ladd’s Coventry subdivision. The committee found that a fire engine could not get down the street if cars were parked on both sides.

All of a sudden, it made a difference where the mayor worked.

At the state level, when re-apportionment came along in 1971, lots of house and senate members decided it was time to retire. For years afterward, indictments of the new 1972 crop were non-existent.

(That did end, maybe with the surprising indictment and conviction of State Rep. Larry Bullock, who is now a minister in Schaumburg’s Living Faith African Methodist Episcopal Church. I think he was found to have owned an interest in the building where he rented his legislative office.)

In 1974, the Illinois Campaign Disclosure Law was passed, taking effect, of course, after the fall elections.

And, now, Rich Miller reports that House Speaker Mike Madigan is making phone calls on a cell phone in the hall outside of his office.

Something is clearly happening.

Could it be another shift in ethical standards?

Has the sand liquefied into quicksand? Will the political establishment struggle enough to sink Illinois’ corrupt political system?

In Crystal Lake about 1970, Ladd came in for another big subdivision, Four Colonies. By that time in Crystal Lake’s growth cycle, residents could tell that growth in no way paid its own way.

The second floor city council meetings were packed. As one meeting ended, the city treasurer’s wife, a nurse in the new Coventry grade school, was heard to say, “Damn transients,” after one particularly raucous meeting.

Judy Bathrick Lawrence, a woman with whom I had ridden the bus to high school and by then a resident of Coventry, pretty much went berserk at the hypocrisy. Judy knew that our chemistry teacher’s wife had moved to Crystal Lake after her family had and wouldn’t have the job as nurse, if the “Damn transients” hadn’t moved to Coventry. Judy’s husband Don had to separate her from the treasurer’s wife as Judy repeatedly shouted,

“Transients! Damn transients! If it weren’t for the ‘damn transients,’ she wouldn’t have her job.”

In 1971, three-term Mayor Louis J. Goosens (1959-71) was handily defeated by Tony Wujcik, the president of the Involved Citizens Association. The victor was a heat treatment department worker who, when he announced for office, said that he knew that Crystal Lake was not a blue collar town and that, if someone else ran against the mayor, he would drop out.

No one else announced and Wujcik won the election handily.

I was reminded of this not only by the Oakwood Hills residents’ victory in the electric power plant fight, but also by the Northwest Herald’s selection of majors to feature in its 100th anniversary advertiser.

May 7, 1972: The McHenry County Historical Society takes over the former Union Grade School building as its official headquarters. From left, front: Oral Herendeen, secretary; Everett Thomas, vice president; Dorothy McEachren, president and founder of the Historical Society and one of the major financial contributers; Ed Ocanasek, Cary, director. Back: Union Village President George C. Schmitt; Melvin Stuessy, Woodstock Mayor; Audrey Walgenbach, county treasurer; Anthony Wujcik, Crystal Lake Mayor and Delbert Gehrke. (Don Peasley Photo Collection).

May 7, 1972: The McHenry County Historical Society takes over the former Union Grade School building as its official headquarters. From left, front: Oral Herendeen, secretary; Everett Thomas, vice president; Dorothy McEachren, president and founder of the Historical Society and one of the major financial contributers; Ed Ocanasek, Cary, director. Back: Union Village President George C. Schmitt; Melvin Stuessy, Woodstock Mayor; Audrey Walgenbach, county treasurer; Anthony Wujcik, Crystal Lake Mayor and Delbert Gehrke. (Don Peasley Photo Collection).  Used with permission of the McHenry County Historical Society.

There was Goosens and the first and only female mayor, Arlene Fetzner, but Tony Wujcik, the man who beat Goosens and the Establishment did not have his photo in the publication.

As I re-read the 2009 article above,I remember that the citizen movement at the time was for new subdivisions to pay for their own schools, fire stations, etc.

When no one else would run, Wujcik, then President of the Involved Citizens Association, which had spear-headed property tax assessment appeals when I was McHenry County Treasurer, put his name forth.

He said he would withdraw if anyone else would run.

He worked in the heat treatment plant at Union Special in Huntley.

I remember his referencing his blue collar job and that type of employment not being what Crystal Lake mayors did for a living.

He walked away with the race, getting, my memory tells me, over 60% of the vote.

Wujcik’s election truly represented a watershed in Crystal Lake politics.

It’s probable that no one at the Northwest Herald remembers the context of that 1971 election.  (I remember standing outside of the Fire Station polling place that spring day handing out his literature.)

Wujcik resigned in his third or fourth year and the council selected Fetzner, a councilwoman with similar instincts and interests.

Part of a comment under the Oakwood Hills article might be of interest:

“It started with a garbage dump in the County and then a gravel pit south of Woodstock and then Alden Road and then Fleming Road and then the County GOP plus Bill Prim and then Randall Road and then RVs plus horse racing and now the Power plant.”

 


Comments

Who Says You Can’t Beat City Hall? — 5 Comments

  1. So, what are you really saying, Cal?

    (I liked the nurse. I never knew she was a bigot.)

  2. Background for moral decline:

    Nikita Khrushchev said: “We will bury you!”

    He was wrong.

    We are burying ourselves.

    Alan Ginsburg named them “flower children”.

    Those flower children now govern / rule our country.

    The “flower children” were raised by many parents who had read: “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care”.

    Parents who were influenced by Dr. Spock had a lot to do with what has happened to our country.

    Believe it or not, one of the main attractions of Islam is the law of Sharia.

    Sharia has no Dr. Spock but D.C. and Springfield and local governments sure do.

    TRhUntil we start to elect people who understand this, our decline will continue to accelerate because Alinsky’s rules do work!

  3. Cautious voter, you are right on when it came from that book by Dr. Spock.

    If I remember correctly before he died he apologized and said he was paid to write it.

    I wish more would come out about him and who was working with him . . . what a mess he created!

  4. Another example of improvement for the County ……

    such citizen success would never have taken place during the creepy ‘Jordanian’ years of corruption …………………..

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