McHenry County Blog reported in a timely fashion the names of those McHenry County Board members who voted to approve the highly irregularly hired patronage employees by Jack Franks last Christmas, but they seem worth posting against they are again before some text on what happened before the vote.
Those voting in favor of ex post facto and prospective approval of employees hired without public posting follow:
- Michele Aavang
- Kay Bates
- Chris Christensen
- Joe Gottemoller
- John Jung
- Jim Kearns
- Don Kopsell
- Mary McCann
- Robert Nowak
- Mike Skala
- Larry Smith
- Chris Spoerl
- Tom Wilbeck
- Paula Yensen
All are Republicans, but Yensen.
The most thoughtful comments came quite calmly out of Woodstock Board member Michael Rein’s mouth:
“On December 24, 2016 the Chairman secretly established two positions to hire two of his former campaign workers.
“This entire process was done without the knowledge or approval of the County Board.
“In addition, information about these hires was withheld from the County Board until late January 2017.
“Although Chairman Franks has desperately tried to suppress this issue, Board Members like myself have gone to extreme efforts to participate in a special meeting so this issue could be appropriately discussed.
“The lack of transparency and the underhanded approach taken by Chairman Franks so the board was prevented from attending to its official responsibilities to approve or deny the creation of new positions is truly reprehensible.
“Speaking of a lack of transparency I would also like to add that I have continuously requested that these two positions job descriptions and qualifications be attached to this resolution for the public to view.
“Being denied this request again undermines our trust to our citizens of McHenry County.
“We live in Illinois where people are so skeptical of government because of selfish dishonest politicians who circumvent laws, rules, and ordinances to get what they want and what is good for them. Chairman Franks should not be allowed to break our board rules.
“He is not above following the law, our ordinances, or our board rules.
“If he can do what he pleases I guarantee you this is the beginning of the slippery slope where corruption escalates out of control, and this is the beginning of ongoing, dirty, underhanded Springfield Politics in McHenry County.
“In addition, there are some practical reasons why these two hires are unnecessary and wasteful.
Past County Board Chairpersons never requested the hiring of additional staff to help them address their responsibilities—let alone two full-time employees. In addition, Chairman Franks must realize that he is being paid a full-time salary, in which there was never an intent for him to hire additional people to do his job.
In a time where taxes are crushing the people of this County and State, this Chairman wants to increase administrator costs to the taxpayers by closing in on $200,000 a year for these two positions. This is especially concerning because the current staff is perfectly capable of handling what needs to be done for the Chairman regarding County business. Our County should NOT support the Chairman’s irresponsible tax and spending.
“So to my fellow County Board members I encourage you vote NO, not just because these positions are unnecessary, but because you recognize that established processes were circumvented and that the honesty and integrity of our entire County government is at stake if these corrupt hiring practices are now approved.”
Following Rein’s comments, Donna Kurtz spoke up.
Her best line was,
“What the point of Cut 10 when it’s followed up with Hire 2.
“I say, ‘Cut 10, Cut 2!”
Michael Walkup then revealed probably what was the thrust of an opinion from McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.
“The Chairman will stand up there and with a straight face say that a suit would be forthcoming [if we don’t approve these resolutions creating two new jobs].
“We have an opinion that states the exact opposite.”
Walkup then pointed to how one Franks’ hire had staffed the County booth at the McHenry Expo “festooning himself with Mr. Franks campaign [stickers].”
Walkup charged that the “‘Communications Specialist’ was being used primarily to obtain favorable publicity for Mr. Franks.
“That’s not something the County Board should be paying for.
“I don’t see any need for these positions.”
Wilcox, one of the heavy lifters on this issue, spoke next, but my notes don’t show what he said. [See the linked article for Wilcox’ extensive timeline on the patronage hiring issue.]
Chuck Wheeler chastised the hiring, which was technically done by County Administrator Peter Austin without authorization of the County Board.
“If a position is open we are going to find out after the fact they have been filled beyond our control,” he said arguing against approval of the resolutions on the floor.
“We are here to represent the people, not staff, not the chairman, but you,” Wheeler said pointing to the public in the audience.
“We’re going to give it to you because our Chairman likes you, and, byt the way, these jobs were ot posted.
“We’re doing the thing that’s expedient.
“We’re doing the thing that will make everybody happy.”
Joe Gottemoller said as County Chairman he could have used a secretary.
He noted that he had used a secretary in his law firm to help out.
[Jack Franks is part of a law firm, too.]
“I don’t have any problem with the Chairman having a secretary and a half, [but] we should have [thought] to put it in the budget a year ago.
John Hammerand asked if the jobs would be posted.
“No,” Franks replied.
Gottemoller moved and Tom Wilbeck seconded the motion, which passed 14-10.