Former McHenry County Board member Ersel Schuster gives another take on the last McHenry County Board’s Human Resources Committee:
3/15/17 Human Resources Committee meeting
It is necessary to continue on the bumpy trail of county government and the ongoing issues surrounding the at-large-election of the McHenry County Board Chairman.
At a recent Human Resources Committee (HR) meeting, members began working on the board Rules and the ill-advised hiring of the chairman’s “personal” staff.
A huge thank you to Members Craig Wilcox, Michael Rein, Donna Kurtz and Tom Wilbeck.
Touching a ”3rd rail” is not a comfortable place to be; however, it is a true public servant who is capable of standing up and willing to meet these difficult situations head on.
These folks came to the meeting well informed and made their case in voting against a resolution intended to “justify” the positions in question.
On the “hot seat” was County Administrator Peter Austin as over and over again, he stated
“…this was the first time a chairman has been elected at large…”
“it has created some unique problems.”
He went on to explained that, upon being sworn into office, the Chairman came to him with some strong opinions about how the office had been run and “was quite adamant in what he wanted.”
That, he, the chairman, “was going to run things differently.”
At one point the administrator stated, “…the chairman has the authority to ask for anything.”
This was the underlying rationale he used for carrying out the chair’s directive to figure out how he, the chairman, could get “his people” hired.
There upon, the Administrator went about “robbing-peter-to-pay-Paul…” so to speak, in finding open positions and money designated for other departments to accomplish this goal.
Member Mary McCann, defending the ultimate actions, suggested the administrator had the authority to figure out how to make these hiring’s happen.
In making these conclusions, she was telling half the truth and ignoring the whole truth.
The administrator has specific authorities… “with the county board’s consent.”
Unfortunately, far too many public officials deal with like issues in this manner.
The County Board, when placing the referendum on the ballot to elect the chairman at large, never intended for this elected chairman to perform any more, nor any less actions, or activities, than prior chairmen.
The intend was that this person would function in the same capacity as his/her predecessors and to be guided by the County Board Rules and State Statute.
From the discussion, and from all indications, there are those on the county board who, after the fact, are considering giving the position authority rejected by the voters when they shouted, by a 2 to 1 margin, NO!
No to a referendum on electing a chairman-at-large under the EXECUTIVE form of county government.
As simply as it can be stated… the chairman needs to cool his jets… accept the position as the board intended and work with the board… not in opposition, nor to undermine them at every turn.
He has a beautiful office.
He has a big fat salary and benefits.
He has access to secretarial staff.
He needs to come to grips with his role by listening to, and working with the county board to carry out their directives.
It was never intended that being elected to the position meant growing another whole department of county government.
That folks… is what is actually happening.
Interesting, for the guy who ran, and was elected because he was going to reduce our taxes!