From a comment this week by Woodstock’s Susan Handlesman:
This case is illustrative of the condition of which Illinois taxpayers should be keenly aware:
There is no practical enforcement policy for Illinois law, County or Municipal Code, or any other policy created by elected officials past or present.Consider for an example the alleged patronage hirings in late 2016 by newly elected County Board Chair, allegedly in violation of County Code and established policy including Salary Administration Policy:
Because the County Board has refused to act, or been prevented from acting, citizens look for tangential solutions to what is considered to be another example of profligate waste of public funds by an official behaving without regard to established laws and standards to which other taxpayers are strictly held.
The original legal premise was that 55 ILCS 5/5-1013 (Neglect of Duty (by County Board Member…the sum of $200, to be recovered in a civil action”) had some enforcement mechanism.
Delving into convoluted Illinois law (Tort Immunity of elected officials, for example) raises competing standards.
(Not surprising, having been informed by IL States Atty, IL Atty Genl, ISBE counsel, and Regional Superintendent Schermerhorn that none of them have authority to enforce elected school board officials’ compliance with School Code, and to their knowledge no agency under Illinois law has any such power.)What seems to be the outcome: County Board Members may SELECTIVELY COMPLY with County Code in any way they see fit, without recourse available to individual taxpayer citizens.
However, if County Board Members fail to enforce County Code in hiring practices, any job applicant in 2016 who was discriminated against by not being given similar consideration of:
(in this case of 2 alleged improper 2016 patronage hirings)
R-200210-12-196 waiver, R-200305-12-113 waiver, R-200802-12-058 waiver
Position Reclassification Budget Directive
Salary Administration Policy (5 or more sections))
has a cause of action which may exceed the $200 per incident per Board Member liability cap under 55 ILCS 5/5-1013 Neglect of Duty.
Who is to say that those applicants didn’t receive SELECTIVE COMPLIANCE with COUNTY CODE due to reasons forbidden under federal anti-discrimination policies?
Furthermore, any McHenry County citizen forced to pay a fine or penalty to the County during 2016 for a County Code violation would arguably have standing to press suit, in that they were not made privy to special exemptions (selective enforcement of code) granted in the act of 2 alleged patronage hirings in violation of County Code and policies.
So rather than pursuing neglect of duty lawsuit against individual Board Members for damages limited to $200/member/incident, it appears the only recourse which ordinary taxpaying citizens have against patronage hiring at our expense is to seek out individuals with standing (overlooked job applicants, any citizen who paid a fine to the County or was disadvantaged by strict rather than selective enforcement of County Code) to bring discrimination suits against McHenry County Board and its members, and these individuals would have much larger potential damages to claim.
This case seems like a good opportunity for judicial review up to the highest levels, to develop standards for all of Illinois.
Citizen taxpayers should be made aware that at present they have no mechanism available to enforce compliance with Illinois law by elected officials, and if they would like that changed, citizens need to establish case law or other law to do so.
Now loow at the case at hand, and what it means and what it accomplishes.
A ‘quo Warrento’ suit might be applied to this example of alleged patronage hiring in violation of County Code and established hiring policy.
Quo warranto (Medieval Latin for “by what warrant?”) is a prerogative writ requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising some right or power (or “franchise”) they claim to hold.
In the United States today, quo warranto usually arises in a civil case as a plaintiff’s claim (and thus a “cause of action” instead of a writ) that some governmental or corporate official was not validly elected to that office or is wrongfully exercising powers beyond (or ultra vires) those authorized by statute or by the corporation’s charter.
Can county board chair prove authority to bypass or outright violate County Code in hiring practices?
This suit could be pressed by County Board members. But none of them have done so.
But we come back to the beginning: ordinary taxpayers in Illinois seem to have no available mechanism to prevent laws, Codes, and policies from being SELECTIVELY ENFORCED by humans who need to provide no other reason than that isn’t politically expedient for them to do so.