With three current Algonquin Township officials the “judges,” the challenge to the petition for a referendum to consolidate Algonquin Township into McHenry County continues.
Two hours on Tuesday morning were set by the Township Electoral Board and the challenge filed by Republican Township Supervisor candidate Randolph Funk.
The first part was taken by petition supporter Robert Hanlon’s arguments for dismissing the petition objection,
Hanlon argued that the objection document was inadequate because it used a “shotgun” approach, while there was an obligation to set forth specifics.
Instead, the objectors were attempting to “shift the burden” of evidence, he said.
“It’s a game of hide the pea…almost a trial by surprise.”
The original petition contained “conclusions,” not “facts.”
He pointed out that no specific signature had been challenged.
Hanlon read from the Illinois State Board of Elections manual on petition challenges, characterizing it as a “learned thesis.”
The manual says, “Shotgun objections must be dismissed” and characterizes such as “attempts to shift the burden.”
“That’s exactly what’s going on here.
“What signatures are deficient?
“It’s as simple as that.”
Hanlon argued that affidavits as to the accuracy of the petition signatures were at the bottom of the petitions.
Entering such information at this point in the proceedings would be contrary to a Second Appellate Court decision, he continued.
In rebuttal, Funk’s attorney Michael Cortina said,
“The proponents are terrified that you will actually look at the number of signatures on their petitions.”
He then defended his petition’s not including specifics.
Cortina argued Hanlon was “asking the Board to read requirements into the Election Code that isn’t there.
“Itemization is not required by the Election Code.
“We have to state what is the nature of the objection.”
He said that the petition does not have to have “a line by line” revelation of the contents of the objection.
“The point of the hearing is to go line by line [to view] the evidence.
“The nature of the objection is that they do not have enough signatures.”
Later he added, “They are woefully shy of the number they need to get this on the ballot,” but did not specify a number.
Because this is an administrative hearing, “the rules of evidence are relaxed,” he continued.
“The point of this hearing is to show the evidence.
In rebuttal, Hanlon asked,
“Do I look terrified?”
He said the reason he had filed his motion to dismiss was to expedite the proceedings and to create a record for any necessary court hearing.
“I’d love to look at the evidence, if he had only provided it.”
Pointing out that he had participated in twenty such hearings, Hanlon said he had “never once…seen an objection that doesn’t specify signatures.”
At this point Clerk Lukasik observed, “This is the second hearing on the motion to strike.”
She indicated she wanted “more detail on invalid signatures.
“I think we need to vote to move forward with the hearing or not.
“I have to agree that Mr. Cortina did state the nature [of Funk’s petition].
“We need to hear what petitions may be invalid.”
Hanlon’s motion to dismiss the objection to the petitions was rejected 3-0.
As the meeting’s end was approaching, Funk’s attorney Michael Cortina was entering evidence that about signatures his researcher, unopposed Township Trustee candidate Theresa Sharpe Decker, thought were invalid.
She testified that she had spent six weeks comparing absentee ballot signatures at the County Clerk’s Office.
This submission, which Kelly said had been given to Hanlon and the Township, was objected to by referendum supporter attorney Robert Hanlon.
Township Attorney Jim Kelly advised that such discussion would be appropriate “after you make a decision to strike or allow his [Hanlon’s] motion.”
Supervisor Chuck Lutzow, Clerk Karen Lukasik and Trustee Dan Shea rejected the motion to prevent the evidence’s submission, as they had Hanlon’s motion to dismiss Funk’s petition objection for being a “shotgun approach” with no signatures being specifically cited as invalid.
The first example of a signature claimed to be invalid was that of Timothy V. Stegenga, 220 College Street in Crystal Lake. (See line 4.)
The suspect signature is on line 4 below:
Stegenga uses his nickname, “Tim.” and does not include the “V” that is on the voter registration records.
His signature appears to be above his wife’s.
Lutzow noted, “My signature changes by my mood.”
Hanlon continued offering objections concerning hearsay pointing out that an expert’s opinion was required on the handwriting.
“If everything is going to be objected to, we’ll never get to what…the original objection to these petitions are,” Lukasik observed.
“What would you like to see?” Lutzow asked.
“Let both parties present [their arguements].
“We need to get the ball rolling.”
Then, Shea asked whether people other than the signatory could fill in the rest of abbreviated street and town names, such as, “CL,” of which he said there were “loads of pages.”
Shea concluded that Tim Stegenga’s signature was invalid.
Just before the hearing ended, Electoral Board Chairman Lutzow ruled that the objector’s signature “evidence” should be allowed.
Lukasik said she could only meet on Fridays and the next one on which the attorney’s were free is Friday, January 15th. The hearing will run from 10 to noon, a half an hour for lunch, then back in session.