Does McHenry County Need Paid Lobbyists or Will Our Congressmen & Their Staffs Suffice?

A piece written by for McHenry County Board member Ersel Schuster:

Federal Lobbyists Not Needed

The U.S. Capitol as seen in 1983.

It is difficult to believe those elected to represent us, at all levels of government, did not get the resounding message of the 2016 election.

Clearly, the public wants laws enforced, civil order and financial accountability.

Simply put, the public wants accountability from those they elect to office.

During the May 16, 2017 McHenry County Board Meeting it was clear that the majority of these folks had not gotten this message.

Once again they blundered through the legislative process by ignoring rules and procedures.

Just one example was an agenda item to approve a resolution approving a “lobbying firm” to help McHenry County find Federal funds.

That issue, in and of itself is debatable however, it is not the point of this article.

The motion to approve this resolution was amended by Member Michael Walkup.

The amendment was to send the resolution back to the Law and Government Committee for review.

That amendment failed.

During discussion it was revealed that rules/procedures were ignored as “someone” had this resolution slipped around the controlling committee and brought to the floor by the Finance & Audit Committee.

This appears to have been a calculated, back room move devoid of transparency.

As guardians of our tax dollars and way of life, county board members should be outraged that 3 or 4 people, are circumventing board rules and procedures.

While this may sound petty to many, there is critical rationale for these procedures.

In this case the resolution was to have originated in the Law & Gov. Committee then moved to the Finance & Audit Committee.

Once approved by both committees, it goes to the full county board.

While going through the process, the goal is to have a broad array of members delving into each specific issue.

These people have a tremendous range of personal, and county board experience and the process brings out the pros and cons of each discussion.

In this example, the elimination of a step begs many questions; top on the list was the suggestion there may be a “conflict of interest” that should have been addressed.

These things happen when “someone” believes a committee may be too tough on a proposal and there is good chance it will not survive the scrutiny intended.

When our county board members and the public stands down, going along with the agenda of a few, McHenry County moves closer to the methods, procedures and ways of Springfield.

 


Comments

Does McHenry County Need Paid Lobbyists or Will Our Congressmen & Their Staffs Suffice? — 28 Comments

  1. McHenry County

    Regular County Board Meeting

    Tuesday May 16, 2017

    Meeting Agenda

    16. Routine Consent Agenda

    2. Approve the Following Recommendations

    A. Finance & Audit Committee

    12. Resolution Authorizing the Entry Into an Agreement with the National Group LLC for Lobbyist
    Services.

    https://mchenrycountyil.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=4238

    ———

    Meeting agendas are located in the McHenry County Meeting Portal.

  2. A copy of the above Resolution is located in the May 16, 2017 Agenda Packet for the Regular County Board Meeting.

    The agenda packet can be accessed at the above URL.

    The resolution includes the following sentence:

    “Whereas, the National Group LLC was selected to come before the Law and Government Committee and is now being recommended for consideration by the Finance and Audit Committee.”

    The Resolution has the following identifiers:

    —–

    “16.2.A.12”

    That’s the location of the agenda item in the Agenda Packet.

    —–

    “Packet Pg 175”

    That’s the page number in the pdf.

    —–

    “6024”

    What is 6024?

    Is that a resolution number?

  3. I am beginning to believe that the whole idea of boards is inherently evil. This particular one is corrupt just as much as every other board that was ever seated.

  4. The minutes of the April 13, 2017 Committee of the Whole meeting are also located in the May 16 2017 Agenda Packet for the Regular County Board meeting.

    Those minutes contain the following:

    “8. Other

    Full comments can be heard on the McHenry County website audio starting at 1:51:50.

    Ms. Aavang speaks to a proposal from The National Group.

    Mr. Wilbeck asks what the value is of having a lobbyist.

    Ms. Aavang responds and stated we need ways to bring money back McHenry County.

    Ms. McCann encourages the members to read Bench Press which Dan Wallis from the court systems puts out.

    Motion out of Regular by Mr. Skala second by Ms. Barnes all ayes.”

  5. Got to make corruption and graft look legit, it’s the way Illinois is run.

    Now onto the next topic, if you please.

  6. McHenry County

    Law & Government Committee meeting

    April 3, 2017 at 8:15 AM

    Meeting Agenda

    6. New Business

    >> 1. Federal Lobbyist Interview

    ++++++++++

    McHenry County

    Law & Government Committee meeting

    April 3, 2017 at 8:15 AM

    Agenda Packet

    The agenda packet contains the minutes from the March 6, 2017 Law & Government Committee Meeting.

    ———-

    https://mchenrycountyil.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=4485

  7. McHenry County

    Law & Government Committee meeting

    March 6, 2017 at 8:15 AM

    Agenda Packet

    6. New Business

    >> 10. Consideration for the Engagement of a Federal Lobbyist

    https://mchenrycountyil.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=4483

    +++++++++

    The agenda packet for the meeting contains no additional information about the, “consideration for the engagement of a Federal lobbyist.”

    +++++++++++++++

    The minutes for the meeting are not yet posted on the McHenry County Meeting Portal.

    As previously mentioned, the minutes for the meeting are found in the Agenda Packet for the April 3, 2017 Law & Government Committee meeting.

    So the were the minutes not approved at that meeting?

    Or were the minutes approved but for some reason never posted in the March 6, 2017 Minutes slot for the meeting?

  8. The May 1, 2017 Law & Government committee meeting was cancelled.

    When meetings are cancelled, the agendas and any agenda packets are removed from the website, or never placed there.

    That is notable because minutes from the previous meeting are typically posted in the agenda packet for the current meeting for approval.

    Thus the minutes for the April 3, 2017 Law & Government committee meeting were not included in the Agenda Packet for the May 1, 2017 Law & Government committee meeting.

    Because there is no agenda packet for the May 1, 2017 Law & Government meeting.

  9. McHenry County

    Law & Government Committee meeting

    February 6, 2017 at 8:15 AM

    No mention of the lobbyist in the Agenda or Agenda Packet.

    ++++++++++++

    McHenry County

    Law & Government Committee meeting

    January 9, 2017 at 8:30 AM

    Agenda Packet

    2. Minutes Approval

    >> 2. Legislative – Public Meeting – Nov 15, 2016 5:30 PM

    The minutes for the November 15, 2016 Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs committee were posted for approval in the January 9, 2017 Law & Government Committee meeting.

    The “Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee”, and the “Law and Justice Committee”, were consolidated to form the “Law & Government Committee” after Jack Franks took office.

    Those minutes included:

    5. New Business

    >> 2. Federal Lobbying Program

    The county had a lobbyist several years ago.

    Additional comments are in the minutes.

    https://mchenrycountyil.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=4338

  10. More accurately, the minutes for the November 15, 2016 Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee were posted for approval in the Agenda Packet of the January 9, 2017 Law & Government Committee meeting.

  11. McHenry County

    Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee

    November 15, 2016 at 5:30 P:M

    Clicking on “Federal Lobbying Program” at the above URL results in a display of the minutes for that item.

    https://mchenrycountyil.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Motion.aspx?Frame+&MeetingID=4227&MinutesID=3431&MediaPosition=&ID=48688&Type=50&CssClass=%20style=

    +++++++++++

    The General Election was November 6, 2016.

    New county board members & the county board chair took their oath of office on December 5, 2016.

  12. McHenry County

    Finance & Audit Committee meeting

    May 4, 2017

    Web Outline (Agenda, Agenda Packet, & Video) – video is actually only audio

    7. Items Removed From Routine Consent Agenda

    >> 7. Resolution Authorizing the Entry into an Agreement with The National Group LLP for Lobbyist Services
    Resolution Printout

    >>> Resolution Printout

    >>> a. #6024 attachment

    >>> b. #6024 attachment Vers.2

    https://mchenrycountyil.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=4464

  13. McHenry County – Finance & Audit Committee Meeting – May 4, 2017 – Resolution Authorizing the Entry into an Agreement with The National Group for Lobbyist Services

    >>> b. #6024 attachment Vers.2

    https://mchenrycountyil.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=4&ID=6875&MeetingID=4464

    ++++++++++

    The difference:

    a. #6024 attachment – May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018

    b. #6024 attachment Vers.2 – June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018

    ++++++++++

    Both are for $7,500 per month.

    $7,500 x 12 = $90,000 per year.

  14. The National Group (TNG)

    a Government Relations Partnership

    818 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20006

    http://www.TheNationalGroup.net

    Partners: Vincent Versage, Matthew Trant, Jeff Lawrence, Valerie Osborne, Bill Oldaker, Michael Szymanski, Drew Willison, & David McNitt.

    Of-Counsel: Sean O’Shea, Michael Alexander, John Borovicka, Jeffrey Goff, David Schmidley, Jennice Fuentes, Maureen Walsh, David Dunning, Javier Llano, Al Madison, Elliot Fieldler, Frank Lazarus, Kyle Mulroy, & Arthur Wu.

    Affiliates:

    – Oldaker Group, Washington, DC

    – Alexander Borovicka O’Shea (ABO), Chicago, IL

    – Lawrence International, Washington, DC

    – Dale Leibach & Associates, Washington, DC (public affairs)

    – Madison & Company, Washington, DC (public affairs)

    – Fuentes Strategies, Washington, DC

    – Fort Hill Advisors, Boston, MA

    – Peter Mirijanian Public Relations, Washington, DC

  15. Sean O’Shea is a Partner of Alexander, Borovicka and O’Shea, a lobbyist company with offices in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Springfield, Illinois.

    He was Deputy Chief of Staff to former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn from 2011 – 2014.

    He resigned from that state job in 2014 during the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) scandal which included IDOT hiring political referrals into the “staff assistant” position to circumvent patronage hiring rules.

    Designated state positions allow taking political factors into consideration when making employment decisions and staff assistant is not one of them.

    He was not charged with any wrong doing.

    The following sheds some more light on what transpired.

    +++++++++++++++

    United States District Court

    Northern District of Illinois

    Eastern Division

    Michael Shakman & Paul Lurie v Democratic Party of Illinois

    Case number 69 C 2145

    Sidney Schenkier

    United States Magistrate Judge

    Fifth Report to the Special Master

    – The Special Masters office interviewed Sean O’Shea on September 9, 2016.

    The Special Masters office reviewed a subset of Mr. O’Shea’s emails.

    “As explained more fully below, in many instances, the Governor’s Office initiated the hiring process, sent politically connected candidates to agencies, and was involved in all levels of approval.

    V. Governor’s Office Manipulated Rutan-Exempt Process”

    >> “B. Governor’s Office, Not Agency, Initiated and Directed Hiring Process”

    >>>> “2. Governor’s Office Would Persistently Follow Up on Candidates.

    “If the agency did not act quickly or schedule the interview, the Governor’s Office would aggressively follow up.

    A few examples illustrate the process.

    On November 15, 2011, an internal IDOT email stated: ‘O’Shea [from Governor’s Office] called last night.

    He would like us to keep him updated step by step regarding the interview process, etc. for [Staff Asst. 37] and [Staff Asst 41].’17”

    ————–

    “17 According to an AP reporter, [Staff Asst. 37] was a democratic donor; [ Staff Asst. 41] was a former Assistant County Clerk and donor to Dorothy Brown and the 13th Ward Democrats.

    (See Chronology at 5/7/14).”

    ———

    The Chronology at 5/7/14 is apparently not included in the document on the Shakman Illinois Illinois website.

    Possibly it is public information and available somewhere.

    ———

    The following information about Chronology is included in the document though.

    “The Special Master’s office prepared a Chronology of key documents discovered during the investigation, a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit 3.

    The Chronology contains over 500 entries and describes more than 1000 separate emails.

    A limited number of those emails are discussed herin, and the Chronology is referred to throughout the Report.”

    shakmanillinois.com > Pleadings > pleadings > April 24, 2017 – Fifth Report of the Special Master

    ++++++++++

    The list of his political contributions on Illinois Sunshine all go to Democrats:

    Anna Valencia, Andy Manar, Daniel Biss, Debra Shore, John Cullerton, Brian Hopkins, Andy Manar, Michael Carbonargi, & Rahm Emanuel.

    http://www.illinoissunshine.org/search/?term=Sean%20O%27Shea&table_name=candidates&table_name=committees&table_name=officers&table_name=receipts

  16. Mark, does this mean another case of McHnery County Board diverting public tax money to patronage-driven recipient. With little hope for any return on the investment (Illinois being in precarious financial condition)?

    Was County Code violated, or just OMA, do you think?

  17. It is possible taxpayers will receive a return on their lobbyist investment.

    Have seen no indication the firm is incapable of delivering results.

    ++++++

    Summary of what transpired:

    May 16, 2017 – Regular County Board meeting

    May 4, 2017 – Finance & Audit Committee meeting

    April 13, 2017 – Committee of the Whole meeting

    April 3, 2017 – Law & Government Committee meeting

    March 6, 2017 – Law & Government Committee meeting

    January 9, 2017 – Law & Government Committee meeting

    December 9, 2016 – Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs committee meeting cancelled

    November 15, 2016 – Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs committee meeting

    ++++++

    Have to listen to the May 16, 2017 Regular County Board meeting audio to understand exactly what Ersel described above, then think if board policy was violated.

    One would think Jack Franks would run this pass his parliamentarian, but unsure, and it may be a grey area.

    Mike Walkup was referring to the resolution flowing from the Committee of the Whole to the Finance & Audit Committee, rather than back to the Law & Government committee?

    May 4, 2017 – Finance & Audit Committee meeting

    April 13, 2017 – Committee of the Whole meeting

    April 3, 2017 – Law & Government Committee meeting

    ++++++

    The County Ethics policy could be strengthened.

    How about prior to a vendor vote, an ethics disclosure document is included in the agenda packet with board members and the chair checking yes or no, indicating if the County Board Chair or a County board member knows someone, or is a relative of someone, at the vendor’s firm.

    “Knows someone” is difficult to define to be enforceable, but several examples of “knows someone” could be included in the policy as a guideline.

    There is always the chance someone gets the word, directly or indirectly, to the Board Chair or Board member that this is the preferred vendor.

    In the Project Veritas Rigging the Election series, it was disclosed the Clinton campaign Democrats referenced use a “double blind” so there is plausible denial.

    Well, Jack Franks was an elected Hillary Clinton delegate.

    In other words if the flow of information is from person A > B > C > D; B & C are the double blinds.

    A never communicated directly with D.

    None the less, information flowed from A to D.

    So, the Ethics Policy could include that such transfer of information to circumvent the Ethics policy is prohibited.

    “Relative” would also have to be defined.

    Definition is key because people will try to find loopholes.

    And, the consequence of violating the ethics policy would have to be included.

    A toothless ethics policy is frustrating.

  18. What federal money to County might exceed $90,000 each and every year?

    Grants?

    I thought those were independently determined.

    Even then, the County tends to treat grants as if they are a pass-through conduit to Industrial Charity.

    General policy favoring McHenry County specifically?

    Really?

  19. It is a one year contract.

    Possibilities include President Trump wants to spend money on infrastructure.

    This firm has connections to Dick Durbin whom is a high ranking member of the US Senate, maybe that will help, maybe not.

    What should have already been disclosed upfront, clearly, in a fact sheet, before the contract was awarded, is a disclosure to the public of what the county has received in the past, say going back 5 years, and is expecting to receive in the upcoming year, so the lobbyist doesn’t claim credit for something the county would have received anyway.

    Even then, it can be difficult to determine sometimes, how much credit goes to the lobbyist.

    In other words, would McHenry County have received the money anyway.

    So to some degree it is a judgement call.

  20. Northwest Herald

    McHenry County Board to Vote on Obtaining Federal Lobbyist

    by Kevin Craver

    May 14, 2017

    “County Board members are scheduled to vote Tuesday evening whether to hire Washington, D.C.-based The National Group at a cost of $45,000 for one year.”

    http://www.nwherald.com/2017/05/12/mchenry-county-board-to-vote-on-obtaining-federal-lobbyist/apb2q5k

    +++++++++++++

    As indicated in the above comment

    “Mark on 05/17/2017 at 10:00 pm said:”

    The resolution is for $7,500 per month, which is $90,000 annually.

    The McHenry County fiscal year begins December 1, 2017.

    We are already 1/2 way through the fiscal year 2017.

    So the contract is presumably for:

    June – $7,500

    July – $7,500

    August – $7,500

    September – $7,500

    October – $7,500

    November – $7,500.

    Or, May through October.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    Read the comments above to learn about connections between The National Group and Illinois Democrats.

  21. A clarification, the current McHenry County fiscal year is December 1, 2016 through November 30, 2017.

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