This Huntley High School Gym was packed to the rafters--over 700 people--with several rows of chairs in front before the Annual Town Meeting began. Certainly this meeting was the largest Annual Town Meeting in McHenry County I've seen since 1966.
Township Attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, partner of the law firm Ancel Glink. Citizens petitioned for a Annual Town Meeting vote on whether to fire the firm, but another Ancel Glink lawyer, Rob Bush, ruled the people did not have that power, so that motion was not listed no the meeting agenda.
With over 700 registered voters in attendance, electors at the Annual Town Meeting overwhelmingly refused to follow the script laid out by Ancel Glink partner Keri-Lyn Krafthefer.
There were so many people in attendance that the 700 pink ballots designed by Township Administrator Pam Fender ran out.
About ten people stood on the sidelines as a result of the slight miscalculation.
They were told if there were ever a close vote, their vote would count.
They were not happy campers.
But none of the votes were close and none were taken by paper ballot.
There were so many people that the meeting did not start until after 7:30.
T-Shirted Grafton Township activists like Loretta Wuich passed out "poop" sheets as people were entering the Huntley High School Gym. The huge number of people could not be processed in time for the meeting to start at its advertised 7 PM beginning.
The opponents to the Trustees’ position clearly outmaneuvered the proponents.
On the way in people in bright green (they look yellow to me, but I’m color blind) tee-shirts saying,
“NO MORE TAXES,”
handed out a one-page explanation of what the meeting was all about…from the opponents’ viewpoint, of course.
Huntley Police were out in force. No problem occasioned their services to be required, except for traffic control getting out onto Harmony Road.
The Huntley Police, including its Chief were visible throughout the night and quite helpfully had flashing lights to slow down Harmony Road traffic as hundreds of cars left one by one after the meeting.
Most of the nine intricately worded resolutions written by the Trustee’s lawyer were ignored as it became obvious that opponents to the Township Trustees’ desire for new offices were not in control of the only form of direct democracy left in Illinois.
The test vote came when Jim
Newly-appointed Township Clerk Harriet Ford swears in Jim Kearns as Annual Town Meeting Moderator.
Kearns overwhelming was elected Moderator of the meeting.
My guess is that about 80% of the audience voted for him.
Next came a motion to do first what Ancel Glink put last on the agenda, a motion proposed by Township Road Commissioned Jack Freund to “unwind” (undo) the sale of the township hall to the Grafton Township Road District.
A motion was made to make the last first and it passed overwhelmingly without a paper ballot.
The desires of Township Road Commissioner Freund were explained by his attorney Pat Coen and after its combination with the sale of the Haligus Road property—the subject of three other resolutions—was split, that reversal of the past Supervisor John Rossi Board action was accomplished.
Trustees Betty Zirk and Rob LaPorta were sitting front and center next to Pam Fender, who did not get the opportunity to present the visual presentation she had prepared.
Six irrelevant resolutions that were intended to be considered first were then almost summarily disposed of. Among them were ones ratify the unlawful sale of the Town Hall to the Road District.
“Hot button issues should not rule the day,” Diane Ayers said. “Maybe by leaving this at the end of the agenda some of the tempers will cool, so we can have a reasonable discussion.” Ayers is a Democratic Party precinct committeeman.
Numerous attempts to slow down the meeting were made by those supporting the Trustees’ desires.
District 158 Board member Don Drzal calling for a paper ballot.
More and more mainly older residents left the meeting confident that their side was winning the day.
District 158 School Board member Paul Troy calling for a paper ballot.
District 158 School Board members Don Drzal and Paul Troy, at different times, tried to slow down the meeting by requiring a paper ballot.
“This sounds like the township meetings,” Don Glogovsky, a Sun City man who ran for township trustee, interjected.
“Let’s continue with the agenda and do away with all the minutia and let democracy prevail.”
Opponents of unlawful action taken by the previous townshp board win a vote. Electors are holding up numbered and padded ballots intended to be used in a paper count. (Click to enlarge any photo.)
The first Haligus Road property resolution would have ratified the unlawful purchase. It was voted down. There was no question as to the outcome, although one supporter of the Trustees wanted to delay resolution until the next meeting.
His suggestion was met with a chorus of ‘No’s.”
A third school board member, Aileen Seedorf addressed the motion:
“They’re trying to ratify what they did.” (If you want to do that, vote ‘Yes.’ If not, then, Vote ‘No.’”
Before the meeting Ancel Glink attorney Rob Bush confers with Township Trustee Rob LaPorta with Trustee Barbara Murphy seen on the right.
The second Ancel Glink attorney at the meeting, Rob Bush, explained people who want to approve the purchase should vote in favor.
‘If you don’t want to take the deed, you should vote, ‘No.’”
The vote was not even close.
“Is this the way Christ would want it?” a man from the far end of the bleachers asked.
The next Haligus Road resolution would have the Trustees offer the property back to the Village of Lake in the Hills for the price the township paid, about $99,500. The motion carried with, it seemed, both sides’ support.
Both Huntley School Board member Aileen Seedorf and Crystal Lake City Councilman Jeff Thorsen were sitting in this section of the gym, a place where supporters of the Trustees were clustered.
The final motion would have the Trustees sell the property if Lake in the Hills did not want to buy it back. The motion was amended to require that the sale would have to be for at least $99,400.
Crystal Lake City Councilman Jeff Thorsen, sitting among a stronghold of Trustees’ supporters, observed,
“I don’t see anything here that that makes (the motions) mutually exclusive.”
During discussion, one man said, “Any price that’s market value should be acceptable.”
The amendment was adopted requiring the $99,500 payment, which Peter Hoffman figured would be about $36,000 an acre.
Prior to some votes, opponents of the Township Trustees' plan to obtain new township offices held up signs saying, "Yes" or "No."
The amended motion passed overwhelmingly.
Except for giving the Township Road Commissioner the right to sell some surplus property, that pretty much ended the meeting. It was after 9:30 and people were leaving in droves.
Afterward I asked each Trustee the same question:
Gerry McMahon, who had been most out front in his desire for the township to have new offices, said,
“I don’t know. (We) have to digest it first and then proceed with bankruptcy…maybe.”
This Grafton Township Elector confronted Township Trustee Rob LaPorta after the meeting was adjourned.
Betty Zirk’s reply?
As I was approaching Rob LaPorta, a man was berating him, telling him he got $100 a meeting for (doing less than a stellar job).
“Who are you serving?”
he said in a loud voice, using a barn yard epitaph to LaPorta’s reply.
“Who is this Bozo?” LaPorta asked.
“We don’t do anything behind closed doors,” I heard LaPorta say.
Lake in the Hills Trustee Steve Harlfiner, who lost the role of Moderator to Kearns, approached the cluster, saying, “Good luck selling (the property).”
This unhappy taxpayers told Trustee Barb Murphy that Linda Moore would not have been elected if the Trustees had not decided to spend $3.5 million on a new township hall without asking the voters.
“Linda Moore wouldn’t be in office if you hadn’t bought that building,” a second man said.
“We went by the advice we were given,” LaPorta replied.
“We made mistakes,” Trustee Barb Murphy, standing nearby, conceded.
“If you hadn’t tried to get that three and a half million dollar building, Linda wouldn’t have been elected,” the second mean reiterated.
I asked Murphy what was next.
“We can unwind,” a position she was the first Trustee to suggest last November.
You'll see me wearing a tee shirt like this one being wore by Rick Lueth at the Grafton Township meeting at the Crystal Lake TEA Party on Route 14 in front on Best Buy from 3-6:30 this Thursday afternoon.
When I got to talk to the acknowledged leader of the Trustees, LaPorta told me,
“We’re going to follow what was completed tonight and get the township processes to run smoothly.”
As I was walking out the meeting with two folks I was taking home, I asked Fender if I could have a commemorative ballot.
I had already been given an extra large tee-shirt saying,
“No More Taxes,”
which folks will see me wearing this Thursday at the Crystal Lake TEA (Taxed Enough Already) at the corner of Route 14 and Main Street.
“That’s the most fraudulent meeting I even saw in my entire life,” the Township Administrator remarked.
The separation of powers suit that Township Supervisor Linda Moore filed against the four trustees is scheduled for arguments during the second week of May before the same judge, Michael Caldwell, who issued the ruling that stopped the new township hall dead in its tracks.