Appellate Court Considers Several Issues of First Impression in Algonquin Township Road District v. Local 150 Unionization Case

From Illinois Leaks, reprinted with permisison:

Algonquin Township Road District Appeal heard in 2nd District Appellate Court


  • McHenry Co. (ECWd) –

The Algonquin Township Road District appeal in the Local 150 case was heard by the 2nd District Appellate Court yesterday.

The entire oral arguments can be heard at this link.

Attorneys for Local 150

We attended the hearing and noted some key issues regarding first impression, which is a matter not having been before the courts before nor having any binding authority on the matter.

One of those issues is the Freedom of Information Act and whether a Township Road District is subject to its provisions. 

Justice McLaren raised the first impression question to both arguing attorneys and it was clear, that matter is a first impression issue. 

The importance of that point is directly tied to attorney fees that were awarded to Local 150 in the FOIA case against the Road District. 

If the court follows the definition of “public body” found in the FOI Act, a Road District would not be considered a public body.

A legislative attempt was made this year to include Road Districts in the definition of a Public Body, however, it was never allowed to be brought for a vote in committee.  

The Justices asked several questions on this point and one thing that was clear, there is no direct language found in the definition of “Public Body” in the FOI Act that points to a Road District. 

While we all agree they are a unit of government, no language such as such “all units of government” is found in the law. 

The fact the law specifically provided a breakdown of who the law applies to and there being no standing authority on the matter for a Road District is what made this point a first impression matter. 

In short, this court will get to make the authority on this point.

If they side with the Road District’s plain reading of the law and application of statutory construction, the attorney fees awarded in the lower court would be reversed. 

If they side with Local 150 by expanding the legislative definition with judicial action, then new law is created and Road District’s will be subject to FOIA and Local 150 attorney fees “may” be upheld.

Case law used to support the Road District’s argument outlines how the law is supposed to be applied.

“The lodestar of statutory construction is the legislature’s intent. Id.

The best indication of such intent is the statute’s language, which must be given its plain and ordinary meaning. Sangamon County Sherrif’s Department v. Illinois Human Rights Comm’n, 233 Ill.2d 125, 136, 330 Ill.Dec. 187, 908 N.E.2d 39 (2009). 

Where a statute’s language is clear and unambiguous, it is unnecessary to resort to other rules of interpretation. Id.

If a statute is ambiguous, however, we may consider extrinsic aids of construction to determine the legislature’s intent. Young America’s Foundation v. Doris A. Pistole Revocable Living Trust, 2013 IL App (2d) 121122, ¶ 25, 375 Ill.Dec. 802, 998 N.E.2d 94.

A statute is ambiguous when reasonably well-informed persons could interpret the statute in different ways. Sangamon County Sherriff’s Department, 233 Ill.2d at 136, 330 Ill.Dec. 187, 908 N.E.2d 39.”

As it relates to the attorney fees “may” be upheld, there was a secondary argument on the attorney fee aspects of this case. 

The Road District cited the Uptown case above which appears to be on point.  

“attorneys in a law firm representing themselves in a collection action against a client incurred no legal fees on their own behalf and thus, were not entitled to attorney fees for their collection action”)

As we understand the argument before the court, Local 150 used in-house counsel and did not incur any legal fees because of the FOIA submitted and litigated.

To simplify, if there was no FOIA ever sent, those same in-house attorney’s still get paid. 

The case cited was clear on this point.

“Accordingly, we hold that the reasoning of Hamer prohibits a not-for-profit legal organization from being awarded legal fees that were not actually incurred in pursuing an FOIA request on the organization’s behalf. Uptown is not entitled to fees under these circumstances.”

The other issue before the court was the matter of an outgoing elected Highway Commissioner binding the hands of the next elected Highway Commissioner. 

In this case, the outgoing elected official entered a 5-year contract with local 150, essentially binding the hands of the newly elected official. 

Long-standing case law on similar matters is found in Edgar vs. Millikan where the Illinois Supreme court held such action of binding the hands of future officials improper unless the law expressly permits it. (Millikin v. Edgar Cty., 142 Ill. 528, 533 (1892), Cannizzo v. Berwyn Twp., 318 Ill. App. 3d 478, 482-83 (1st Dist. 2000), and Grassini v. DuPage Twp., 279 Ill. App. 3d 614, 620 (3d Dist. 1996))

A good read on the topic of binding hands of future officials is currently being litigate in the Federal Courts in the College of Dupage v. Robert Breuder case.  Item #2 is where the College’s arguments on the matter begin and can be found at this link.

The concept of not allowing a board to tie the hands of a future board or officials is pretty simple to understand and the concept lies with the fact voters have a right to vote elected officials out of office, which allows the voter’s voice to control their government.

Allowing an elected board or official to enter into agreements that totally bind the hands of the succssor takes control away from the voters as the newly elected officials are unable to exercise their legislative authority.

Short of legislative authority, we are not sure how an elected official’s power to set compensation of his employees can be stripped from him for his entire term. 

An example of such legilsative permission would be School Boards being given the power to enter into a 5-year contract for a Superintendent. 

The law specificaly allows that, thus the legislation has given permission for the binding the hands of future elected officials.

We have found no language in the Highway Code that permits a Highway Commissioner to bind the hands of his replacement.

The Fair Labor Relations Act which was cited to during oral argument states:

(5 ILCS 315/21) (from Ch. 48, par. 1621)
    Sec. 21. Subject to the appropriation power of the employer, employers and exclusive representatives may negotiate multi-year collective bargaining agreements pursuant to the provisions of this Act.
(Source: P.A. 83-1012.)

We believe this may too be a first impression matter as it relates to applying the FLR Act to a 5-year contract for a Road District. 

Multi-year is not defined in the statute and while we agree a 5-year contract would be a multi-year contract, how does the court apply established case law on binding hands of future elected officials?

When the courts provide their ruling we will update accordingly.


Appellate Court Considers Several Issues of First Impression in Algonquin Township Road District v. Local 150 Unionization Case — 17 Comments

  1. **A legislative attempt was made this year to include Road Districts in the definition of a Public Body, however, it was never allowed to be brought for a vote in committee**


    You assured us that the bill was going to move, and that the General Assembly appeared to agree with you!

  2. I gave no such assurance and know many legislatures agreed with the needed language.

    We all know the power of the union with Madigan and few are surprised he would not allow it to be heard in committee.

    Such passage would have validated the Road Districts position and hurt the unions case.

  3. When are the Anna Mae Bob CROOKS going to prison and pay for there criminal activity????

    When they are in Canada 🇨🇦?

  4. **I gave no such assurance and know many legislatures agreed with the needed language … few are surprised he would not allow it to be heard in committee

    “our current General Assembly appears to agree”

    “The rules committee passed this to committee. Committee has indicated it will pass.”

    You made all kinds of claims that the GA agreed with you/Hanlon, that it would pass committee (because you’ve talked to the sponsor!), etc.

  5. Has Hanlin ever donated to Edgar County Watchdogs?

    You seemingly having sold your “corruption fighting soul” to be Hanlon’s hillbilly publicist is just shameless.

    You seem to hold yourself out as a guy that wants taxpayer money to be used responsibly.

    But, on this Hanlon thing, you’re all hat and no cattle as they would say in Edgar County.

    Let’s see what $400,000 in Hanlon legal fees got taxpayers in 17CH482.

    17CH482, Local 150 v Road District

    – Local 150 filed FOIA lawsuit claiming Gasser failed to comply with FOIA requesting Gasser emails.
    – Local 150 also sought to compel arbitration in bargaining agreement entered into prior to Gasser taking over.
    – Gasser through Hanlon filed counterclaim seeking to invalidate bargaining agreement road district employees entered into prior to Gasser taking over.

    Hanlon’s Representation Resulted In:

    1. Local 150 winning in the FOIA lawsuit
    2. Local 150 being awarded $30,000 in attorneys fees in taxpayer money.
    3. Local 150 winning on motion to compel arbitration
    4. Hanlon’s counterclaim seeking to invalidate contract being dismissed.
    5. Hanlon’s client Gasser being held in contempt and required to pay over $8,000

    In other words, $400,000 to Hanlon and he lost spectacularly on every single issue involved in the lawsuit and got his client held in contempt.

    About as bad and wasteful as it gets.

    And now we are appealing some “novel” issues…again on the taxpayer dime.

    Interesting that Hanlon and Road District are arguing road District not subject to FOIA. Wonder why they failed to take that position when u
    Mr. Allen, in keeping with your little cottage industry, filed your predatory FOIA suit against Road District and Hanlon sought to settle for $40,000.

    Thanks for for fighting “corruption” here in McHenry Mr. Allen and Hanlon we get that it’s making you rich, but could you please

    BTW, Mr Skinner,start doing your job.

    I know your enamored with Gasser but it’s about time you stopped publishing every thought not involving venison jerky the ECW have and start scrutinizing the cost of all these lawyers continuing to rape the Golden Goose with impunity.

  6. This is top-notch entertainment.

    Egdar dogs, are you gonna pay those taxpayers back the money Hanlon handed out to you from your Foia lawsuit against them?

    Or do laws only apply to OTHER PEOPLE?


    Kevbo whoever you are you nailed it.

    These manchildren fancy themself as righteous celebrity folk.

    Well let me tell you they are just opportinitistc inflated wanna be lawyers who crave attention from their halfwit fans who dont know any better!

    Nobody likes them down here either!!!!!!

  7. Townships are really the whole problem.

    They ought not exist in the 21st century.

  8. As I have said, kirk and the watch dogs are stealing our tax dollars while hiding behind their false reporting and assumptions.

    I kike the term cottage industry for thieves.

    cal still thinks he is relevant, but has become nothing more than another old guy taking a 100,000 dollar plus pension for little work for a few years.

    He is not capable of stepping up and calling out gasser.

  9. Kevbo, “predatory FOIA suit” ROFL… “…FOIA’s goals, albeit in varying degrees, of expeditiously disclosing information to the public and encouraging the public to seek judicial relief…” Uptown v. DOC, 1st App Ct

  10. Calvin Skinner Jr. Won’t denounce Gasser because he cant admit he was wrong. He says he’s a libertarian but he cant admit when he backed up the wrong guy. That’s okay. He still gets his pension and gets to complain about it at the same time. Perfect hypocrite.

  11. More respect for my freeloader, sunshine blogger and the Edgar County mangy watch dog please! Courageous journalism and government transparency was never so well represented until this cat’s-meow sunshine blog was launched into the cyberspace. Stay tuned…tic, tock, tic, tock, tic, tock, meeeeeeoooooooowwwwwwwwwwww…

  12. Get rid of townships and everybody will be happy except the pigs.

  13. To see the problem is the Watchdog group who is asking for the foia request from the government agency is ridiculous.

    The problem clear and simple are the government agencies who refused to get off their ass and do their job and get the foia request out to people within the 7 days.

    I have a little personal experience with government entities not giving foia requests out in 7 days I have a binding decision against the village of Ringwood for them not following the law I have been fighting with them for two years now trying to get information from them and have never received the complete foia request that I have asked for.

    At this moment I had a Oma dispute in with the village of Ringwood for not following the open meetings act I have a investigation with the attorney general going on with the foia request for not turning over all the evidence where I received binding decision.

    I have another for your requests in that they have completely ignored as they did all the other ones and have not given me the information on that one.

    I have two non binding decisions I have received information from another person that they have received two non-binding decisions against the village of Ringwood where they didn’t even answer the Attorney General Nor this person.

    Not to mention the village of Ringwood paid out a settlement to a group that asked for for your request that they never complied with until it went to court and they had to pay.

    The reason the government put in foia laws is for government.

    When the government refuses to answer foia or does a half ass answer of foia it is not government transparency it is them in my humble opinion trying to hide information from either they’re board or from the General Public.

    This has to stop the attorney general has to get on these government agencies and the attorneys who seem to be the consistently the same attorneys doing this over and over again and put some teeth in their law and start finding attorneys and start signing the government agencies that are doing this and maybe this will stop.

    There seems to be a few lawyers in this County that this is regular Behavior.

    And there are few government agencies where this seems to be regular behavior and it needs to stop the government is run by the people for the people not by the government for their own damn agenda.

    It’s time to vote these people out of office.

    Any board member who is on the board that does not follow oma or who does not follow the foia request or any government agency that does not let the board know of these issues going on I believe they should all be replaced I believe the Attorney General should come into a few of these government agencies and clean house so this stops.

    The law is clear what foia is for the law is clear and how it’s supposed to be followed.

    The law is clear on what training each and every board member is supposed to have and what each and every clerk is supposed to have and when they don’t follow these procedures they’re damaging the public and there should be penalties.

    So the problem is not with the foia request the problem is with the government agency not doing what legally they are supposed to do. This is from first-hand experience.

  14. Kevbo – you nailed it. I have been saying this for a long time.

    All the dogs do is fuel a fire that has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and have uncovered nothing that wasn’t already known.

    They have inserted themselves into the problem to pat themselves on the back.

    I’m glad to see that others are finally waking up to the hypocrisy of the dogs.

    The problem is we can’t vote them out.

    we are stuck with their BS.

  15. Did you see an article about the Appellate Court arguments in the Northwest Herald?

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