McHenry County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller went to a national convention and found out that Los Angeles County only has five commissioners.
That seems to be the immediate impetus to cutting the size of the McHenry County Board, which is a legislative body.
Had he looked further, he could have found other counties with only three commissioners.
My grandfather James Clayland Stevens served on one such board on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
The Eastern Shore was solidly Democratic then.
There were two factions in Queen Anne’s County.
Both courted my retired farmer grandfather.
He chose one side and won.
We grandkids were really impressed with one of the perks–free entrance to the Churchill movie theater.
I have no idea the connection of county government was to the movie theater.
Queen Anne’s County was an interesting one politically.
In the 1950’s Democratic Party boss Joe George brought home a brick faced bridge where Route 50 split into 301 going north to Wilmington.
During the 1930’s my grandfather told of a family with seven voters going from one side of the courthouse square to the other side, from one lawyer’s office to another, offering to sell their votes.
The final price was $35.
I’ll be plenty of people would be willing to accept that price today.
But, back to my headline.
There are now 24 county board members.
Cutting that number in half, as was originally proposed, would guarantee one thing:
Fewer people would control McHenry County politics
Of course any referendum to eliminate elected officials will pass.
Think of Pat Quinn’s Cutback Amendment.
He claimed it would save money.
It would improve government.
No one can show that either promise was fulfilled.
My prediction is that cutting the number of county board members in half will result in a doubling of their $21,000 salaries.
The argument will be that they are doing twice the work, so deserve twice the salary.
This might not happen during the first term, because 24 people will be setting the salaries and close to half will be resentful that they will lose their jobs.
Give in a couple of terms and any claims that the scheme will save money will be found to be false predictions.
But power will have been consolidated into fewer hands.