More on the Last HR Meeting on Making It OK for Jack Franks to Keep His Two Patronage Employees

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

Ersel Schuster

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.

Peter Austin

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.

Bottom line.

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.

Jack Franks

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!


More on the Last HR Meeting on Making It OK for Jack Franks to Keep His Two Patronage Employees — 21 Comments

  1. The “round mound” is an empty suit born with a ‘silver spoon’.

    The voters who elected him probably thought they were electing a leader but in place they hired an ‘Emperor with no clothes’ for four years!

    Call / email your County Board members and demand the two positions filled by Austin be removed from the County Payroll.

    You can find their phone numbers at this link:

    Clink on the name to get their email address.

  2. I would suggest calling board members rather than email.

    Many board members seem to not respond to emails, hiding rather than responding to constituents

    Those members who need the most pressure (who would pervert McHenry County Government to please Franks):

    District 1:
    Bob Nowak 847-977-5516

    District 2:
    James Heisler: h: 815-459-1971, w: 815-459-0171
    John Reinert: h: 815-382-0384, w: 815-459-5900

    District 3:
    Joe Gottemoller: h: 815-382-9940, w: 815-459-5152
    Chris Christensen: h: 815-334-7225
    Donald Kopsell: h: 815-459-7206

    District 4:
    Kay Bates: h: 815-276-5073, w: 815-385-4300

    District 5:
    Paula Yensen: c: 815-404-3918
    John Jung: h: 815-338-6201

    District 6:
    Michelle Aavang: h: 815-648-4210
    Mary McCann: h: 815-568-1061
    James Kearns: w: 847-875-4852
    Larry Smith: h: 815-353-8043

  3. Now he’s hiding in his basement wearing his pink hat cause some blogger called him a weasel.

    He’s a joke and everybody knows it.

  4. Why is not the existing County staff that is experienced and knowledgeable sufficient?

  5. Exactly Fred!

    And now he wants police protection also?

    Who does he think he is?

  6. While promoting the voter elected County Board Chair referendum that passed in 2014, Jack Franks gave no indication of all the changes he immediately instituted when sworn into office as County Board Chair.

    In fact, a few months after the 2014 referendum passed, Jack Franks promised he would not run for County Board Chair (he said that while advocating that two county board related questions be placed on the ballot).

    As county board chair, rather that working with the county board to vet his ideas, Jack Franks charged ahead with his ideas.

    He has done so in a variety of ways, including creating ad hoc committees on which he sits.

    Somehow a budget was created for the county board chair office with Peter Austin, when Mike Walkup said during the campaign that the county board chair has no budget beyond an expense account and some other small items.

    Somehow he was able to create, up to this point, two positions reporting to the county board chair, which did not previously exist.

    Somehow he was able to hire an outside Parliamentarian to interpret the county board rules.

    And the list goes on and on and on.

  7. This arguement makes me laugh.

    Where is the outrage when it comes to Trump and his son-in-law or his daughter or for that matter the outrage when Sandy Salgado was hired by Bill Prim.

    One can only wait until Mr. Gasser takes over in Algonquin.

  8. Unfortunately Inish, the County Board has no authority to control who elected officials hire under state statute.

    However, the County Chairman has no authority to hire personnnel or create his own department.

    The County Board does have recourse against Franks’ improper actions.

  9. You do realize that Presidents get to pick their cabinet officers, too, right?

  10. Actually Reality check- you are incorrect. The County Chairman is identical to the Sheriff’s department in the ability to hire.

  11. @Inish, Yes he does have the authority to hire who he wants but he doesn’t have a budget to do it!

    The County Board controls all elected officials budget.

    Though they can not tell them who to fire or hire if they do not work with the board the board can simply lower there budget.

    Now Jack Franks did not have a budget to work with so Peter Austin created those 2 positions within the County Budget not the County Board Chairman budget.

    So this was never approved by any County Board vote.

    This is why the County Board needs to vote on these 2 positions.

    Now when the new year comes around the County Board can vote to give the County Board Chairman a budget or not.

    That will be an interesting debate.

  12. Questions,

    Do board members have the authority to hire people/staff?

  13. Regardless of the board’s intent, they created a position that has the authority to hire.

    That is why those positions remain filled.

    Take about the manner in which they were hired- sure, but the validity of the ability to hire is not in question.

    It is a governance board- not a managing arm.

    How about they start working on fixing something moving forward.

  14. @Badabing, Yes they do. I

    happened to listen to part of the Internal Services Meeting today and Mrs. Kurtz put it in perspective.

    The IT position that was created was only going to be a job for a short period of time.

    This was not intended to be a job forever.

    The HR Committee debated whether to make this position available.

    Many Dept. Heads made an argument for that position.

    This happens all the time when Dept. Heads come in front of HR Committee to justify making or combining positions and what pay scale they should be.

    The 2 positions that Jack Franks wants are right now under the County Board authority not the County Board Chairman authority.

    Also Mrs. Kurtz is right when you say well if you let it slide now then what happens down the road?

    Well you did it before why don’t we do it again.

    This makes for bad government not good transparent government.

    I also agree with Ms. Barnes on what she had to say.

  15. @Inish, Now that your argument is a poor one and you have deflected to “How about they start working on fixing something and moving forward”

    What Peter Austin should have done was come in front of the board with 2 new positions, job titles, and pay/benefit and let the Board decide.

    Instead he circumvented that and created a mess.

    Bottom line

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