You might guess that having spent most of my government service in the legislative branch that I identify with it most closely.
(Yes, I know I was in the Executive Branch when I worked in the Executive Office of the President’s Budget Bureau and as McHenry County Treasurer, but my heart is with the Legislative Branch.)
Most of McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks’ experience has been in the Legislative Branch, too.
All of it was spent under the protection of House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Madigan provided the leadership example for Franks.
A recent example:
When State Rep. Scott Drury refused to vote for Madigan for House Speaker, Madigan took money away from him by not appointing him as a committee chairman.
Madigan’s not so subtle message:
“Do what I want or you’ll be punished.”
Now we have Franks threatening McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler with criminal prosecution.
That’s what came out at the Human Resources Committee meeting this morning (1:28 minutes into the meeting; listen here) when Mike Walkup revealed he had found a letter from Franks to Wheeler in his Administrative Building mailbox.
In his “Dear Mr. Wheeler” letter, dated Monday, April 3, 2017, and addressed to his home, Franks writes,
I have been informed that you refused to vacate the meeting room during closed executive session on March 28, 2017 at the McHenry County Mental Health Board regular meeting.
As you know, Dr. Paula Yensen, the duly appointed liaison, was present to represent the County Board.
You did not have actual or implied authority to represent the County Board or government at that meeting.
As such, your attendance was solely as a private citizen.
For you to make representations to members of the Mental Health Board that you were entitled to appear in a closed executive session because of your position as an elected official, despite clear legal restrictions proscribing your presence is inexcusable.
Nonetheless, you improperly and illegally attended a closed session where sensitive personnel matters were discussed.
Article 4, Section 1, Rule 1.5 of the McHenry County Board Rules state that “d]iscussions held in executive session are considered privileged and confidential. Not County Board member shall breach the confidentiality of privileged information.”
As a result of your actions, the attorney/client privilege has now been compromised and the individuals who were discussed at the meeting may now be entitled to all information discussed.
Pursuant to 5ILCS 120/3, you have now subjected both yourself and the County to potential civil action.
Please also be award that 5 ILCS 120/4 provides for violations of this kind to be prosecuted as a Class C Misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500.00 fine.
It will be up to the State’s Attorney or a special prosecutor to determine whether you should be prosecuted for your conduct.
Please be award that should you be sued civilly, it would be improper for the State’s Attorney to defend you, as you acted solely as a private citizen and not as a member of the County Board.
Please be advised that further actions may be taken.
Should you wish to discuss this matter, please contact me.
Very truly yours,
Jack D. Franks
McHenry County Board
cc: McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, Members of the County Board.