The elephant in the Lake in the Hills Village Board room, so to speak, was the law that determines who appoints members of the LITH Sanitary District.
I sponsored it in the early 1970’s.
When the new 1970 State Constitution went into effect, it said that Judges could no longer appoint members to boards of special districts.
So what to do?
With tax districts wholly within one county, the law gave the power of appointment to County Boards.
With tax districts crossing county lines, all I could figure out was giving state legislators the power of appointment.
Not ideal, perhaps, but the best I could come up with.
I don’t believe it has been amended since.
I watched its implementation from the inside during appointments to the Elgin Sanitary District Board, which crossed the Kane County line into Cook County.
Not living in the district, but representing Elgin west of McLean Boulevard, I joined with surrounding State Representatives and Senators and deferred to State Rep. John Friedland (R-Elgin).
Learning that the LITH Sanitary District had annexed in Kane County, I was surprised at McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks’ appointing and County Board members approving his appointments.
Both appointees were Democrats, as McHenry County Blog has revealed exclusively.
One was even a Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman.
The pay, set by state law, is $6,000 per year. (Also here revealed exclusively.)
Pretty impressive patronage.
Knowing the law, I figured that Franks, an attorney, just didn’t do his homework.
Neither did McHenry County Board members.
How they could have had the authority to make appointments is beyond me.
After Franks figured out the problem, he doubled down.
He got a front page article in the Northwest Herald about how he was going to fix whatever problem existed, how what the Sanitary District had done was inappropriate.
Today, there was a seventeen minute meeting at which Franks’ two appointees–Eric Hansen and Kyle Kane–
- called the roll (only the two Franks appointees were present)
- moved public comment to the end of the meeting
- elected Hansen President and Kane Vice President
- voted to rescind the ordinance that annexed property in Kane County
- stopped buying property in Kane County
- fired the District’s attorney Derek Price
- accepted public comment
That took seventeen minutes.
All the time Franks was sitting between the two men he want to get $6,000 a year.
Before the meeting Franks was explaining what Hansen was supposed to do.
There were even helpful hints during the meeting. (To Hansen re annexation nullification resolution: (“You make the motion.”)
County Administrator Peter Austin was providing assistance as well, although not during the meeting.
All the votes, to no one’s surprise, were 2-0.
The assertion was made that the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District “never existed in two counties.”
Kane said the two had “learned a lot over the last month.”
He claimed that “public money [was used] for political advocacy.”
Kane said it was “highly improper for governments to assist itself in [political] activity.
When Kane has finished, Franks talked quietly about the Public Comment period about to follow.
LITH Sanitary District Attorney Derke Price spoke.
He contended the meeting was illegal for three reasons:
- The County Board did not [have the authority to] make the appointments
- The County violated the Open Meetings Act because the word “resolution” did not appear in the published agenda
- The two acting as Sanitary District Trustees were never sworn in at any public noticed meeting and did not have a bond
He said he would continued to represent the Sanitary District as an attorney “until directed by a court” to do otherwise.
He said the money in escrow to purchase land in Kane County would remain there.
Price mentioned a quo warranto suit (an action requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising a power), presumably against County government challenging the Board’s right to fill Sanitary District vacancies.
“I’m not going to follow your direction,” Price said.
He countered the claims that Sanitary District funds had been used concerning a referendum by pointing out that no question was on the ballot.
Then, he asked County officials to explain the expenditures of County resources in the dispute.
A man from Crystal Lake then asked where the two were sworn in and, if sworn in, when that occurred.
There were no answers offered.
Attending the meeting were Mike Bissett, Chairman of the McHenry County Democratic Party and his wife, County Board member Paula Yensen.