Observations of the Special County Board Meetings on Franks’ Patronage and Valley Hi Leasing

Observations from former McHenry County Board member Ersel Schuster on the meeting, which is available on YouTube below:

Out of control!

“Out of control” is the only description one can apply to the mess we have with our McHenry County Board.

An 8/23/17 special meeting of the McHenry County Board, called to discuss and take action on two issues dealing with actions taken by the board chairman void of board input or approval, have put a whole new light on this mess.

Meeting agenda item number 1, under “NEW BUSINESS,” is a resolution directing withdrawal of a “request for qualifications (RFQ),” released on 8/17/17, was designed to enter into an agreement with a “broker.”

The county board chairman and administrator’s objective is to enter into an agreement to “lease” McHenry County’s Valley Hi Nursing Home.

The chairman and administrator withheld their intent from the county board and Valley Hi Operating Board engaging in backroom tactics, con-cocked to conceal what they were doing.

Agenda item #2 is a resolution authorizing the elimination of 2 positions from the county board’s approved employee roster.

This action is intended to correct the illegal hiring to two patronage employees.

Patronage employees hired by the county board chairman without county board input, budget or approval.

At the outset of the special meeting, it was clear there would be no quorum to conduct business.

Following the hasty call to order and adjournment for lack of a quorum, it was discouraging to watch as the most of the 9 members who did have the courage to attended the meeting… ran for the exits as the chairman loudly proclaimed that any members remaining in the room would be violating the Open Meetings Act (OMA) if they stayed to listen to the public.

Clearly, desperation and control issues were on full display.

Over the last few months, it has been difficult listening to member after member quietly state their anxiety over speaking up about activities going on in the county board office.

Ersel Schuster is sitting the to right in this photo.

One by one, members have been made to feel threatened, intimidated and bullied until they are unwilling to openly speak up for fear of political assassination or being caught in another threatened lawsuit.

Issue after issue, county board members have lost the right and ability to participate in performing the work they were elected to perform… this problem appears to have permeated every facet of the operation.

This is not funny, nor is it something that should continue.

The 2 issues to have been discussed at the 8/23/17 special meeting, must be addressed.

The public has every right to know what is going on and how their representatives are being treated.

Members must gather the strength to set the record straight, assume their responsibilities and correct these problems on behalf of every taxpayer in the county.


Observations of the Special County Board Meetings on Franks’ Patronage and Valley Hi Leasing — 18 Comments

  1. This is a historic video.

    Two guys from Edgar County Illinois do what no one in McHenry County, including the County Board Chair and County Board, has been willing to do: video tape a county board meeting and post it for public viewing on the internet.

    At the 25 second point in the video, Mary McClellan, current County Clerk and Republican candidate for McHenry County Circuit Court Judge in the March 20, 2018 primary election, tells Kirk Allen of Edgar County Watchdogs:

    “There’s no video.

    We’re working on it.”

    She smiled.


    While McHenry County is “working on it” Edgar County Watchdogs made it happen.

    Sure is interesting two guys from Edgar County, for no charge, can accomplish the task faster than the taxpayer funded County government.


    That’s just the first 30 seconds of the video.

    Lots more to follow.

  2. I will repeat what I was told a long time ago – “The real Crooks in the County are not in the jail. They are in the courthouse.”

  3. Even before that 25 second point in the video, Mary McClellan asks Linda, “What’s the extension for security?”

    Linda responds, “I don’t have it.

    Want me to go down there?”

    Ms. McClellan responds, “No.

    Kathy will do it.”

    Ms. McClellan then picks up her phone, and makes the comment to Kirk Allen.


    So two unknown guys show up at the county board meeting with a video camera, and Ms. McClellan wants to know the extension for security.


    Next on the video, County Board Chair Jack Franks is talking to Peter Austin.

    Jack Franks says, “We are able to control our own….”

    Mr. Austin responds.

    Then Mr. Franks says, “But we don’t have a press box.

    That’s right, the press is back here.”

    Then Mr. Austin walks over to the local blogger, Cal Skinner, and has a conversation.


    The County banned seating in the former press box in the County Board meeting room?


    At the 2:30 second point in the video, Jack Franks walks up to John Kraft of Edgar County Watchdogs and asks, “Who are you with.”

    What a great way for the County Board Chair to represent the County and introduce himself to a member of the public.

    Can’t imagine why Edgar County Watchdogs has anointed him Lord Franks.

  4. At the 10:20 point in the video, County Board Chair Jack Franks calls the meeting to order.

    Included in his opening comments:

    “Because the people requested this meeting submitted two such requests, one regarding Valley Hi nursing home and the other to fire two lawfully hired employees.

    We put it together as one agenda, with both items done simultaneously.

    We’ll call two meetings in order to satisfy the requirement that this group probably wants.”

    Madam Clerk, will you please call the roll.”


    Neither the meeting request nor the resolution mentioned firing employees.

    There is a different between eliminating positions and firing employees.

    One portion of the requested meeting was to consider if positions #18001116 (Temporary Project Manager) and #82003699 (Utility Coordinator) should be eliminated from the County Board Approved Departmental Roster, and funding terminated for the positions.

    If approved the effective date would have been September 1, 2017, which seems to be too short of a notice for the employees in those positions.


    Following are the meeting requests and resolutions for eliminating the two positions and to cancel the Request for Qualifications RFQ # 17-37 for Valley Hi.

    One big issue with the Request for Qualifications is it was kept secret and not discussed by a county board committee or the full county board.

    It is absurd to issue a Request for Qualifications to potentially lease, dispose of, or substantially change Valley Hi finances without a discussion in a county board committee and by the full county board, and that is just one issue with the Request for Qualifications.


    McHenry County Blog

    GOP Members of County Board Seek Two Special Meetings Wed. Night

    August 22, 2017


  5. Why did a minority of the board stay and conduct county business in violation of the Open Meetings Act? If the county gets sued, they will have to pay for it personally!

  6. No, Ed Schuster, you’re wrong. Since more than a majority of the nine members who were present left, there is no violation of OMA. Four of the original nine remained, five left.

  7. Hats off to the Edgar County Watchdog Group: A noble mission not only ensuring laws, local rules and procedures of governing body are followed but also educating and empowering the very people who these elected officials are supposed to govern with their consent. This Watchdog Group is especially important when it comes to what appears to be an almost monolithic board in MCBOT who ostensibly serve at the behest of its Democrat Chairman rather than the people who elected them. This special meeting no doubt orchestrated in advance with the coordinated absentees ensuring a quorum could not be met was something you would expect in a third world banana republic but not a democratic republic in McHenry County, Illinois which is promoted as majority conservative republican.

  8. @ED they are not going to be sued because none of the members there would form a quorum for any one committee.

    So understand the rules before you make blanket comments.

  9. @Orange it does not matter about the quorum of the county board it matters of a quorum of a committee. When you talk about county board business understand it matters only that you don’t have 3 members of any one committee together talking amongst one another.

    Hence why many board members left because if there were 3 members of a committee in the room talking county business it constitutes a OMA violation.

    Has nothing to do with whether a quorum was met at the board meeting or not.

  10. There was never any hint of an OMA violation.

    The meeting had been adjourned.

    Just because a member of the public stands up and starts talking while members are gathering their things to leave is not an OMA violation.

    After that there was never a quorum of anything so again, no violation.

  11. @whynot thank you for your information. I was led to believe otherwise.

  12. The 9 members need to keep calling special meetings ever 72 hours until a quorum is met.

    Let’s see board members’ excuses for not attending multiple meetings.

    Make Franks have to convince members multiple times to not show up.

  13. I believe what constitutes a meeting under the IL OMA is a majority of a quorum of the members of the governing board; not a majority of a subcommittee which has been stated in the comment section of this blog.

    I do not believe you will find that language in the IL OMA.

    My recollection is there are AG opinions not in support of this proposition as well.

    Of further interest which has not been addressed here is whether MCB Chairman had a right to adjourn the “special meeting” without approval from the majority of the MCB then present; especially in light of the fact that it was MCB members who called for the special meeting in the first place and not the Chairman.

    Unless there is some MCB rule, I believe the Chairman may have exceeded his authority by adjourning the special meeting without a motion and vote for adjournment.

    While acknowledging no action in the form of a “vote” could have been taken at the “special meeting” for want of a quorum, Illinois law does allow for board discussion and public comment nonetheless.

    At a minimum, 1 of the 9 MCB members present should have called for a point of order to the Chairman requesting an opinion in this regard prior to allowing him to unilaterally adjourn the meeting without protest.

  14. At the 10:45 point in the video, County Clerk Mary McClellan called the roll.

    The following nine members were present:

    – Yvonne Barnes, District 1

    – John Hammerand, District 4

    – Jim Heisler, District 2

    – Michael Rein, District 5

    – Jeffrey Thorsen, District 2

    – Michael Walkup, District 3

    – Chuck Wheeler, District 4

    – Thomas Wilbeck, District 1

    – Craig Wilcox, District 4

    9 of 24 members does not constitute a quorum, so the meeting was adjourned.

    No members from District 6 were present at the meeting.

    District 6 encompasses the western part of the county and includes Marengo, the hometown of Jack Franks.


    At the 12:20 point in the video, County Board Chair Jack Franks speaks to the County Board Members:

    “Although you don’t have a quorum, your attendance here tonight does constitute the majority of a quorum, which means any discussions regarding public business would violate the Open Meetings Act.

    Please govern yourself accordingly.

    We don’t need to be sued again like what happened last year.

    Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.”


    At the 12:38 point in the video, Kirk Allen of Edgar County Watchdogs speaks –

    “Mr. Chairman, a point of order.

    For those board members that are here, there’s a lot of members of the public that would love to share some information with you.

    If you would be willing to stay, I’d be happy to share some stuff.”


    12:48 Jack Franks – “We are adjourned.”

    12:50 Kirk Allen –

    “Would you stay Chairman?”

    There’s some good information for county business that you might want to be aware of.”


    12:54 Jack Franks –

    “I think you are violating the Open Meetings Act.

    They can stay and break the law if they like.

    I like to follow the law.”


    12:59 John Kraft, Edgar County Watchdogs (ECWD), speaking to Jack Franks –

    “There’s no violation to listen to people.

    Did you call every body and tell them not to show up?

    Were you calling people and telling them not to show up?

    Were you calling people and asking them not to show up?”


    13:15 Jack Franks speaks to the audience –

    “I think we are in violation of the Open Meetings Act.”


    13:17 John Kraft ECWD speaking to Jack Franks –

    “No they’re not.

    You’re thinking wrong.”


    13:22 Jack Franks walks to the back row of the audience and speaks to someone –

    “I’d like to have them charged.”

    Jack Franks then walks past the audience and John Kraft.


    13:31 John Kraft ECWD speaking to Jack Franks –

    Did you call the other board members and tell them not to show up?

    No answer?


    Jack Franks walks out of the room.

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