Partial Transcript of Gathering After Special County Board Meetings Adjourned for Lack of a Quorum

Commenter Mark has taken the time to prepare a transcript of that part of the Wednesday, August 23, 2017, discussion in the McHenry County Board meeting between Edgar County Watchdog Kirk Allen and County Administrator Peter Austin.

Mark’s analysis of the meeting and the transcript follow:

There are two main parts to the article.

1. A Request for Qualifications for brokerage services to “..assist the county in outlining the options, lease or other disposition…” of Valley Hi, the county owned nursing home.

The information in quotes was from the county issued Request for Qualifications RFQ 17-37 found at the county purchasing website and here:

2. A little known entity of local government called the Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB), which is in involved with 911 service.

Kirk Allen of Edgar County Watchdogs is the preeminent watchdog expert in Illinois on ETSB’s and (along with his partner John Kraft) on local government in general.


First is the process the county has chosen to use to select a broker to explore the leasing of, disposing of, or other options for Valley Hi.

That bleeds into a conversation about ETSB.

Let’s start at the 58:30 point in the video where a teacher asks Craig Wilcox about the Request for Qualifications.

Time permitting, it’s worthwhile to watch the entire video.

Craig Wilcox gives his perspective on the Request for Qualification process then asks for the Peter Austin’s opinion.

Peter Austin replies at 59:55 – “In this instance there probably wouldn’t be any expenditure ever, because it’s a broker, if it ever came to be, would be compensated through the lease.”


County Board member Jeff Thorsen at 1:00:00 – “Which, when you’re not really, really seriously considering getting to that state where you actually have a transaction, you’re really putting that poor broker out to come out, do some work, set up a RFQ, spend some time that they could be doing to spend some time to put some food on their table.”


Kirk Allen at 1:00:30 – “Regards to your RFQ and this whole process, if it comes to the board for resolution to vote on and you have one person to select from, how are you getting around the requirement when you’re spending more than $20,000, or $30,000 by statute, of not having it bid out?”

Jeff Thorsen at 1:00:43 – “Peter?”

Peter Austin

Peter Austin at 1:00:50 – “First of all, that would be Legal Qualifications for Professional Services.

We’d be fine there.”

Kirk Allen at 1:00:57 – “Professional Services of what?”

There’s a Professional Services Selection Act, and that’s not listed under that.”

Peter Austin at 1:01:09 – “Sir, we would be following a very legal purchasing process, if we continued down this path.”

Kirk Allen at 1:01:13 – “That’s not what I said.

You said it was under the Professional Services.

There’s a Professional Services Selection Act, and it lists three criteria, three occupations…”

Peter Austin at 1:01:21 – “Surveyors?, Architects, …”

Kirk Allen at 1:01:23 – “and Engineers.

A broker is not one of those three.”

Peter Austin at 1:01:29 – “Fair.

And that’s why we’re not using that Professional Services angle.

We don’t even need to go out to bid.

This is out to bid.

This is a public request for …”

Kirk Allen at 1:01:36 – “Oh, you’re not going out for bid.

You’re going out for…”

Peter Austin at 1:01:37 – “It’s a Request for Qualifications Sir.”

Kirk Allen at 1:01:38 – “There’s a big difference for Request for Proposals versus…”

Peter Austin at 1:01:42 – “This is not a Request for Proposal.”

Kirk Allen at 1:01:48 – “So it’s a Request for Questions?

Peter Austin at 10:01:49 – “Qualifications.”

Kirk Allen at 1:01:50 – “Qualifications.

And my question, when it comes to the board as a resolution [at that moment Peter Austin turns to speak to two Sheriff Deputies] to hire that contractor, what was the bidding process?

It wasn’t followed.”

[Peter Austin stops speaking to the police officers and turns back to the room.]

John Kraft at 1:02:03 – “And you said there was a committee to select, a committee of two, what were, where were there…”

Craig Wilcox at 1:02:10 – “We don’t know what that evaluation committee was going….”

John Kraft at 1:02:11 – “Where was that? in the meeting minutes.

And all that stuff has to be open in public.

Not in private individual, in somebody’s back office sweatshop, it doesn’t happen that way.”

Craig Wilcox at 1:02:23 – “That’s the concern.”

So Peter, would you like to close down…”

Peter Austin at 1:02:30 – “No.

Craig, staff has a very prominent role in all sorts of Professional Services or other bids.

We have a process here, it’s quite legal, and quite professional, and I’d love for you to take a look at our purchasing ordinance.

And we have the ability as staff to make recommendations to committee for a dump truck, professional services, or a broker, or whatever it is.

Now, in many instances, the committee wants to be more involved.

In this instance the committee certainly would be more involved.

It’s not one size fits all.”

Kirk Allen at 1:03:04 – “Oh I understand that totally.

What’s your position here?

Are you a board member?”

Peter Austin at 1:03:08 – “I’m the County Administrator.”

Kirk Allen at 1:03:10 – “County Administrator.

Well, in regards to a professional process and everything, i just pointed out numerous illegal actions going on with your ETSB.

So I appreciate your pointing out, that, you know, hey, it’s all been legal.

But there are some things that are not.”

Peter Austin at 1:03:25 – “I’m not familiar with what you are referring to.


You know that they are their own local government and they report to the …”

Kirk Allen of Edgar County Watchdogs..

Kirk Allen at 1:03:31 – “Actually, they report to the county board.”

Peter Austin at 1:03:32 – “Correct.”

Kirk Allen at 1:03:33 – “They are under the county board.

They answer to the State’s Attorney for legal counsel.

And they are spending money outside legal authority.”

Peter Austin at 1:03:38 – “They report to their own board.

Their board…”

Kirk Allen at 1:03:42 – “Right.

And there’s numerous AG opinions.

I’ll be happy to forward them to you.”

Peter Austin at 1:03:45 – “You don’t need to do that.”

Kirk Allen at 1:03:46 – “They answer to the county board.

They can’t be sued or sue.

And that’s the key criteria as far as are they an agency.

They can’t sue or be sued.

If I want to sue your ETSB I sue the County, because they are county government.

They are not their own independent government.”

Peter Austin at 1:04:02 – “The ETSB consists of a mixture of county board appointees…”

Kirk Allen at 1:04:07 – “You bet.”

Peter Austin at 1:04:08 – “…and village appointees.”

Kirk Allen at 1:04:09 – “You betcha.

I understand ETSB inside and out.

They are not a separate local government.

That is not true.”

Peter Austin at 1:04:14 – “Ok.”

Kirk Allen at 1:04:15 – “They cannot sue or be sued.

Ask your State’s Attorney.

This agency would be the one that gets sued.

So when you tell me…”

Peter Austin at 1:04:22 – “I’m not telling you anything sir.”

Kirk Allen at 1:04:24 – “You did.

You told me that this was a legal process, that you have all these professionals, in essence, you are telling me you know what you are doing.

I just gave you examples that somebody doesn’t know what they are doing.”


The meeting goes on for a bit.


Partial Transcript of Gathering After Special County Board Meetings Adjourned for Lack of a Quorum — 20 Comments

  1. There is a pre-RFQ meeting today, August 31, 2017 at 10AM in the County Administration Building, 667 Ware Rd, Woodstock for the Valley Hi RFQ # 17-37 which is titled, “Broker Services for the Lease of McHenry County’s Valley Hi Nursing Home.”

    Despite its title, the 11 page RFQ, as noted in the blog post, is not limited to leasing Valley Hi.

    Rather, the RFQ is to “…assist the county in outlining the options, lease or other disposition…” of Valley Hi.”


    Here is the definition of “Request for Qualifications” as defined in the 11 page RFQ.

    “Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is a method of procurement permitting discussions with responsible Professionals and revisions to Qualifications prior to negotiation of a contract.

    Qualifications will be opened and evaluated in private.

    Selection will be based on the criteria set forth herein.”


    The RFQ acronym is more commonly used for something known as a Request for Quotation.

    A Request for Quotation is different than a Request for Qualifications.

  2. Expounding on my prior comment on the first part of this blog series regarding the August 23, 2017 special meeting of MCBOT, once a meeting is opened by the Chairman only a majority of those present can close it.

    The Chairman does not have unilateral authority to close a meeting which was done here without a single BOT member objection.

    By keeping the meeting open:

    (1) the BOT could have rescheduled the special meeting on a future date certain;

    (2) listened to public comment and

    (3) have general discussion without taking any action or vote.

    This rudimentary knowledge of parliamentary procedure would have allowed the very informed individual from “Edgar County Watch” to speak on the record before the Board, prevented that awkward and for the most part meaningless ex-parte post meeting lecture by the two unidentified BOT members and via motion and majority vote of board then present forced the Chairman to reschedule the meeting on a future date certain.

    The MCB Chairman is emboldened to act like a generalissimo wielding power he does not have due to the passivity of the board who are either afraid or are not armed with sufficient knowledge to properly challenge him.

    It is time BOT get some game or retire from the sport!

  3. The last sentence of Mr. Stieper’s comment says it all. Do us all a favor and retire.

    For the good people who remain, stand up, or step aside.

    It can’t get much worse.

  4. I have been thinking (dangerous as that is) Mark. David.

    Wouldn’t we make a good team on that board?

  5. Who’s Who in the blog post:

    Kirk Allen and John Kraft are with Edgar County Watchdogs.

    Craig Wilcox (District 4) and Jeff Thorsen (District 2) are McHenry County Board members.

    Peter Austin is McHenry County Administrator (top non elected employee of McHenry County government).


    What do they look like (for those watching the video)?

    Following are the names of the people pictured in video (as the video appears when the web page is loaded).

    This applies, of course, only before the play button is clicked.

    Craig Wilcox is prominently displayed in the foreground; he’s wearing a dark suit, purple shirt, and a tie.

    Looking at the video, standing to the right of Craig Wilcox is Jeff Thorsen, in a blue sport coat and white shirt.

    Seated to the left of Craig Wilcox are two additional county board members, both with mustaches from District 2.

    Jim Heisler has his legs crossed; he’s wearing a dark colored sports coat with no tie.

    The arm of John Reinert can be seen; he’s wearing a blue short sleeve shirt.

    Walking out the door is Peter Austin in the brown suit; he wore a green tie that day.

    Seated in the “press box” with his camera, but blocked from view by the body of Craig Wilcox, is the local blogger in a yellow shirt.


    Here are the 9 of 24 county board members that were present for the roll call of the cancelled meeting.

    The meeting was cancelled because the minimum threshold of 13 members to constitute a quorum were not present for the meeting.

    – Yvonne Barnes, District 1.

    – John Hammerand, District 4.

    – Jim Heisler, District 2.

    – Michael Rein, District 5.

    – Jeff Thorsen, District 2

    – Mike Walkup, District 3

    – Chuck Wheeler, District 4.

    – Thomas Wilbeck, District 1.

    – Craig Wilcox, District 4.


    John Reinert, District 2, showed up 3 minutes after the meeting was cancelled.


    Craig Wilcox, Jeff Thorsen, Jim Heisler, and John Reinert were present for the unofficial “citizens meeting” that took place after the scheduled meetings were cancelled.

    The scheduled meetings were cancelled due to lack of a quorum (13 of the 24 board members would have constituted a quorum for this meeting).

    Some or all of those who didn’t stay for the citizens meeting were concerned with a potential Open Meetings Act (OMA) violation.

    There are various rules about what is and is not an OMA violation.

    If no board business is discussed, regardless of how many people are present, there is no OMA violation.

    If it is determined board business is discussed, then one has to determine if there is a quorum present.

    There are quorum rules for committees, for the full board, and apparently for the 9 members who were present for the roll call.

    Last year the IUOE Local 150 union filed a lawsuit alleging the county board violated the OMA act at a Bruce Rauner event in Woodstock.

    Rather than fighting the allegation in trial court, the county board reached a settlement.

    So lets say the County Board had a quorum at the citizens meeting, and in their opinion no board business was discussed, someone could still file a lawsuit alleging an OMA violation, and the county would have to fight or settle.

    It seems 5 of 9 members would constitute a quorum for the citizens meeting which was held after the cancelled meeting.

    Since only 4 members were present, there was no quorum, and thus no OMA violation.

    And it appears there was no quorum at the special meeting for any board committees.

    Could be wrong on some of those points, but that’s the general idea.

    Hopefully one result of the cancelled meetings will be a better understanding of such OMA rules.

    Its in the best interest of board members, watchdogs, and concerned citizens to have a good understanding of OMA, FOIA, and Roberts Rules of Order.

    The Edgar County Watchdogs website is filled with OMA & FOIA violations by local governments from all over the state.


    Not sure if a parliamentarian is present at all special or regular county board meetings.

    The Board Chair has hired outside counsel for his parliamentarian (Edgar County Watchdogs may not be aware of that).

    The Board, and past Board Chairs, have used the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s office for its parliamentarian.

  6. When watching the video, look at all the technology in that board room.

    There are speakers at the tables.

    Speakers at the podium (disconnected for the citizens meeting…thanks Jack Franks or Peter Austin, whoever gave that order).

    AV equipment suspended from the ceiling.

    Two monitors on walls.

    Equipment at the table by the speakers podium.

    There is a technology guy running around disconnecting this and that at the citizens meeting.

    But a video camera?

    That has to come 4 hours away from Edgar County (8 hour round trip).

    McHenry County looks like a bunch of secretive chumps.

  7. Mark says “the meeting was cancelled due to lack of a quorum”.

    This is incorrect the meeting was opened by the Chairman, attendance taken and was then improperly adjourned by the Chairman.

    The Chairman even uses the word “adjourned” not cancelled when describing his unilateral act to halt the meeting before pacing the floor and abruptly walking out while mumbling overtures of potential IL OMA violations.

    Point being Chairman has no legal authority to adjourn a meeting unless there is a motion to do so and majority vote of those BOT members present approving.

    This is the case even if there is not a quorum.

    Not having a quorum only prohibits the board from “taking action” under Illinois municipal law meaning barred from voting on any matter whatsoever.

    This does not prevent the board from discussion, rescheduling the meeting and taking public comment.

    I think choosing the word “cancelled” to describe the events of August 23rd is materially inaccurate given the irrefutable evidence on the tape.

    My review of prior posts by Mark indicates he is thorough and accurate who upon further reflection will likely agree with me on this point.

    It is an important point nonetheless as language matters.

  8. Good luck David, with that language matters business. I have been trying to teach the people on this blog that exact theme. Not getting anywhere it seems. People are very stupid. Franks displayed his complete ignorance for all to hear; and yet I am quite sure he STILL doesn’t know what he said wrong.

  9. Mark, I don’t know if your preceding comment is directed to me.

    If it is, I am quite familiar with how to file OMA complaints with IL AG and in court as I have a record of doing so based upon past bad practices by municipal boards including the former board in my village, Barrington Hills.

    The parliamentary process for opening and closing a meeting is not found under the IL OMA.

    Further, the only individuals who would have standing to object to Chairman’s conduct would be any BOT member who was present.

    This being said, any objection was likely waived by the fact that not one of the nine BOT members voting present verbally objected to Chairman’s decision to co-opt the process by unilaterally adjourning the meeting without calling for a motion and obtaining majority vote to do so.

  10. Apparently the county parliamentarian has not given that advice to the board.

  11. Pete Austin is a smug, know it all, rear-end kisser.

    He provides no real value with his 200,000 a year salary.

    His assistant Scott Hartman, who was fired from prior municipal jobs, is another no value salary on the county’s payroll.

    Remember this taxpayers when you look at the county levies for general/corporate and pensions.

  12. I am used to using phrase Board of Trustee (“BOT”) predominately for Barrington Hills.

    This is not proper phrase when referring to McHenry County Board (“MCB”) member.

    I should be using the acronym MCB followed by “member” which is more appropriate when describing MCB; just a habit.

    In the future I will remember when referring to McHenry County Board (“MCB”) never incorporate any word when referring to this body or individual member which has any thing to do with “trust”.

    This will be simple to do.

    Apologize for any confusion.

  13. So, still don’t know.

    Is there an official parliatermerian present at all Board Meetings?

    Someone with authority that can guide the meetings as necessary?

  14. So a few thoughts.

    Given the parliamentary explanations by Mr. Stieper and assuming all that is accurate, did Jack Franks intentionally improperly adjourn the meeting, knowing there was a lot to gain and little to lose (other than being called out for improperly adjourning a meeting).

    Was either the county board chair parliamentarian or the county board parliamentarian at the meeting?

    Did the county board consult with the county board parliamentarian in advance to be sure she/he could be at the meeting?


    What’s Next?

    The county board can research the parliamentarian issues, and prepare in advance of the next meeting a document listing the exact procedure and language to accomplish their parliamentary goals.

    The board can then call for another special board meeting.

    During that subsequent meeting, the board can get their points on the record and in board minutes.

    The board could arrange for someone to video record the meeting.


    Outcomes and Goals of Next Meeting:

    Thus at the very least, even if there is not a quorum at this next special meeting, and before the meeting would be adjourned, as Mr. Stieper pointed out in the 8:12AM comment, the following would be accomplished during the meeting (not after the meeting as was done Wednesday):

    – Schedule a future meeting with its specific date and time determined.

    – The public can make public comments (and thus on the record).

    – The board can have a discussion without taking any action or voting, even if there is not a quorum.

    And another point is board members can submit documents for the public record.


    That is a drastically different result just by following the parliamentary rules, being knowledgeable enough to identify when parliamentary rules are not being followed, having the courage to speak out and insist that proper parliamentary rules be followed, and knowing ones options.

    A major different is a lot of what was off the record at the special county board meeting on Wednesday August 23, 2017 would have been on the record if these parliamentary steps were followed.

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