Since State Rep. David McSweeney shared with the Northwest Herald part of the contents of his bill to reshape McHenry County government by providing Chairman Jack Franks with line item veto power, albeit with a Board veto override power to three-fifths of the County Board, I’ve been trying to figure out why.
Yesterday, it seemed to me a solution in search of a problem.
McHenry county has a de facto Executive Budget.
It is prepared by someone who reports directly toe County Executive Peter Austin and we know that Austin acts as if Franks is his boss, regardless that his contract says he reports to the County Board.
We also know that the budget is provided to the Finance Committee, whose strong ally chairs, so shortly before the decision-making meeting that Board members have very little input.
So, why would Franks want line item veto power?
Surely it was not because he wanted what may have been the first satirical headline about himself I have ever seen the NWH dare to run:
Future County Board Governor?
We know from the over $1 million that family and friends pumped into his campaign fund when people were thinking of challenging appointed Governor Pat Quinn that Franks really does want to be Governor.
But his family’s wealth while great, is not big enough to challenge a billionaire.
So, what’s it all about, Jackie (with apologies to the songwriter Burt Bacharach who wrote, of “What’s it all about, Alphie”)?
I woke up this morning with what probably is the answer.
A line item veto would provide Franks with new leverage over the budgets of independently-elected county officials, that is, the
- Circuit Clerk
- County Clerk
- Regional Superintendent of Education
- State’s Attorney
All are centers of power with potential influence over County Board members.
So, let’s just suppose that Franks sees a political opponent working for an independently-elected official that he wants off the County payroll.
Now, he can meet with that official, do some version of his infamous ranting and raving, in attempt to get his way.
But, the official can ll him to go pound sand.
With a line item veto, Franks could just threaten to get rid of a favored part of the official’s budget.