Members and supporters of Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers filled the Algonquin Township Board meeting room Wednesday night.
Those attending and driving past the township building on Route 14 could not help but notice that they were mightily displeased with newly-elected Algonquin Township Road Commissioner Andrew Gasser.
Gasser fired a couple of highly-paid employees including two sons-in-law of the previous Road Commissioner Bob Miller.
They and their union, Local 150, contend they were protected by a union bargaining agreement signed by former Road Commissioner Bob Miller after he was defeated in the Republican Primary election by less than 150 votes.
The contract covered the last few weeks of Miller’s term, all of Gasser’s and the start of the next occupant of the office.
Approval of bills, which one, Trustee Melissa Victor, said she only saw 1-15 minutes before the 7 o’clock meeting began, went pretty smoothly.
The only exception was a successful effort by Trustee David Chapman to make certain that re-cycling assistant and security man Dwight Moore would be paid in monthly increments for the contract signed by Miller before he left office.
Next came public comments, which was limited to three minutes each for the eight who spoke.
First up was Tim Shepherd, who wondered why the Trustees were worried about one man’s continued employment, but not the three others who were let go by Gasser.
Local 150 official Bob Paddock decried “the disregard of employee rights.”
He said, that Algonquin Township had “become an embarrassment of the entire county.”
Paddock further criticized the engagement of outside counsel.
“What’s going on here?
“Don’t embarrass Algonquin Township with your games of political favor.”
Applause followed each of the union supporting speakers.
Derek Lee complained that Gasser “fired me, Andrew and Nick.
“We each have more experience that he has.
“We also have a valid contract.”
He complained that legal fees “will end up costing us more dollars in the long run.”
One of Township Clerk Karen Lukasik’s attorneys, Mark Gummerson stated that the Clerk had been “denied access to the records of the Supervisor and the Highway Commissioner.”
He asked for acknowledgement that such access would be provided.
There was no response.
“It is our position if we have to go to court we will to maintain the integrity of this township,” he concluded.
Nick Chirikos, a former Democratic Party member of the County Board, one of whom Gasser let go and whom Gasser unseated, spoke next.
He said he was “proud to have been selected by Bob Miller as an employee of this township.”
Continuing, he said, “The days of Algonquin Township’s meetings being small and insignificant are over.
“The actions of Mr. Gasser have ignited a firestorm of legal [action] against Algonquin Township.
“It breaks my heart.”
He asked people to look about the property and they would see that everything visible was the result of “the lifelong service and dedication of Mr. Bob Miller and his father before him.”
[I would add that his grandfather deserves recognition as well.]
“Mr. Miller has always been elected to do what he did,” Chirikos concluded.
Dan McLaughlin, an employee of the Chicago Regional Union of Carpenters spoke next about his “three brothers “who had been discharged with no explanation, no recourse.
“I’m quite appalled.
“It’s a downright shame.”
He, as well as others noted that Gasser was not in the meeting room, “hiding,” as he and audience members said.
“Elections do have consequences.”
That was his last line.
Former Township Trustee Larry Emery praised the beginning of video streaming of the meeting, as well as putting the Supervisor in charge of property security.
He urged the Board to develop a four-year plan and a cash flow analysis.
Kerri Barber, an unsuccessful Democratic Party candidate for the McHenry County Board, was next at the podium.
She criticized the Memorial Day re-cycling program.
She said she was at the Township property when five employees were fired.
“That is against the law.
“Look at what you have done now.
“And I am not paying for it out of the township budget.”
Wearing a pink tee shirt Road Commissioner Andrew Gasser entered from the overflow room to give his report.
He started out by quoting Mark Twain:
“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”
He pointed out that this was the first time in fifty years that the Road District was not controlled by the same family.
He assured the public that he was overcoming the challenges.
Then he listed problems that had been solved:
- bringing the fuel pit into EPA compliance
There was heckling from the crowd to which one of three Sheriff’s Deputies on the property said, “Let him talk.”
Continuing, Gasser pointed to
- reconstruction of East Crystal Lake Avenue and Three Oaks Road were completed on time
- three trucks without of date inspections
- one truck without an overweight permit
- talking about salt for 2017, he said, “We have not found any record for 2017 sale, that a contract was now in place
- flaggers were not certified, but now they are
- work zone signage was corrected with the help of County Transportation officials
We overcame these.
Gasser outlined his core values:
- Integrity first
- Service before self
- Excellence in all we do
- Community always
He revealed that
- all employees were nwt going to training
- the front office would be Microsoft certified by the end of the year
- paint recycling would be re-instituted when the Township became compliant with EPA regulations (55 55 gallon drums and 2,000+ gallon cans are not)
- mulch distribution continues, as does bush drop-offs
Gasser said that traffic on future recycling days, which will include old TVs, will “snake” through the township property, rather than backing up on Route 14 to Thorton’s gas station.
Gasser concluded by saying,
“We are an awesome team.
“We will not cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.”
Clerk Lukasik said, “Some of the records have not been secured. Some of the records I am not aware of.
“We’re going to make some changes and make sure the records are secure and safe.”
Trustee Chapman revealed that records going back to the 1960’s were going to be scanned.
Then he asked that a $20,000 legal retainer Gasser submitted be reconsidered.
It had been approved in a previous vote.
It was then that Trustee Victor complained about the lack of time to review the bills to which the
The Clerk said they had been in her office since the day before.
Referring to the $20,000 bill, Supervisor Lutzow said he had seen “no work product.”
Rachael Lawrence reported that she was going to attend a meeting of township youth commissions.
Victor asked for information on the October 14th meeting as well.
Shortly thereafter the Board went into Executive Session, excluding the Clerk and the Road Commissioner.
After the secret meeting, Robert Hanlon was authorized to represent Highway Commissioner Gasser, but the retained was not approved.
One would assume that an itemized bill will be submitted to the next Board meeting.
- The Prevailing Wage Ordinance passed 4-1 with Rachael Lawrence voting in opposition.
- The Clerk was named the Freedom of Information Officer with Dorothy Wildeboer, the Highway Department’s Administrative as her Assistant.
A video of the meeting can be found here. It appears to start about fourteen minutes before the meeting started.
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I would offer on suggestion.
How about putting all the bills and backup material on the internet so not only the Trustees, but also the public could examine them before the monthly meetings?
I am told that the live streaming was about ten minutes behind the actual meeting.
Perhaps that problem can be fixed.