During Public Comment at the February 17th County Board Meeting Joe Alger addressed the Board.
He started off by saying that many people in the community are upset about the Clerk hiring her husband and he sees this as a “skirting of the system and sees how the public is upset and infuriated by this. He sees this as skirting the system when spouses are hired when in fact the “public would be better served by hiring people on the outside”.
Alger views the issue of nepotism as pervasive throughout the County and as well as occurring in townships such as Algonquin, and others.
Given the level of unemployment in the County there are many citizens who would “love that opportunity” to obtain one of these jobs and that is one of the reasons he thinks nepotism is unfair.
“Despite hearing a lot about ethics and conflict of interest here it is amazing that we have some (conflict of interests) right in front of us and we just tip-toe around because the County government can’t do anything about this”.
Later in Member Comments County Board Member Michael Walkup provided the
“I want to thank Mr. Alger for coming in and making his comments tonight.”When I first got out of law school I lived and worked in Chicago for legal aid and I was really appalled, having grown up in pristine McHenry County, at the level of corruption that existed in Chicago and Cook County government, and I immediately threw in with some of the groups that were working to end that, like the Better Government Association and the Chicago Council of Lawyers.
“And we succeeded over the years.
“They did anyway, in eliminating a lot of that, believe it or not.
“Unfortunately now, it seems to have moved to the suburbs.
“Mayor Daley was once asked about nepotism and responded ‘What kind of a father would I be if I didn’t help out my family members?’
“That may have been funny back in the 1970’s, but it’s not so funny today.
“I think that nepotism is a form of corruption.
“People who engage in nepotism are corrupt.
“Hiring your spouse is an even worse form of nepotism because it means that you are kicking back another pay check to yourself.
“What is the harm to the public?
“The harm to the public is that an elected official may hire somebody who is not qualified, and may overpay them.
“That elected official may allow their family member/spouse to work a second job when they are supposed to have a full time job that they are being paid a full time salary for already, and you don’t care because you are getting the income from that one too.
“It’s got to stop.
“I think it can stop.
“We have 102 counties in Illinois, each of which has 7 or 8 Constitutional countywide elected officials, not to mention all of the townships, so the potential for this is enormous.
“So I would like to call upon Chairman Provenzano in the Legislative Committee to take this up in terms of what we can do to ask our state legislators to introduce legislation to give the boards which oversee these units of local government some type of oversight over this type of hiring, and impose the same sort of rules on them as we impose on our own departments here in the county government.”
Donna Kurtz supported Walkup’s comments that nepotism is way for elected officials to use taxpayer money to expand their paycheck by hiring a spouse to increase take home pay and stated that “this is not right”.
She also stated that Chairman Gottemoller was “dodging the issue of nepotism” when he declared that the “Board can not control what elected officials do, whether we like it or not,” alluding to the issue of nepotism with the Clerk hiring her husband.
Kurtz said that such comments by the Chairman show a lack of responsibility in addressing nepotism,
which is an issue that the public wants stopped.
Diane Evertson stated that because the County has a policy on nepotism she is requesting that all County Board members receive a copy of this and encouraged County Board Members to consistently apply these rules to issues as they occur.
In response to Kurtz’s assertion that Chairman Gottemoller was dodging the issue of nepotism, Gottemoller stated that his comments were to explain “the difference between what the County is allowed to do and what responsibilities we are allowed to take when it comes to our elected officials.
“That is not an endorsement from my end of saying that I approve, or for that matter disapprove of what various elected officials have done.”
Chuck Wheeler followed up and stated that it is “not fair to hire a close (family) member,
and if we allow this continue it is going to get worse.”
Wheeler went on to explain how he saw nepotism expand at Glenview Heights when the village president hired two family members and later this expanded to five family members.
He encouraged Gottemoller to follow through with the recommendation by Walkup to refer to the issue to nepotism to be addressed through the Legislative Committee by recommending support for corrective statewide legislation to end the practice of nepotism in Illinois Government.