18-6 was the vote on the McHenry County Board to reject the Public Health and Human Services Committee nomination of former McHenry County College Board President Scott Summers to the 708 Mental Health Board.
But no one made a comment in public against Summers.
Immediately after the vote, Chairwoman Tina Hill invoked a specific rule that gives her the power to the make appointment without reference to committee.
“I’ve given this process a lot of thought,” Hill said after the vote.
“I will review the candidates, the tapes and possibility new candidates and bring a new candidate to you for a vote in two weeks,” Hill announced.
State law gives county board chairmen the power to make all sorts of appointments to boards and commissions, but the tradition, backed by rules with an apparent exception, has allowed committees to make the selections.
Shortly after the rejection of Summers’ nomination, the only alternative mentioned in the debate–Lake in the Hills Village Trustee Denise Bretto–released the following statement:
“I am officially withdrawing my name from consideration for the McHenry County Mental Health Board Appointment effective immediately.
“I stepped forward in April after reviewing the happenings of the last several months as well as the McHenry County Mental Health Board’s 2012-2013-2014 Three Year Plan.
“It has always been my intention to expand my service in McHenry County beyond my service on the Lake in the Hills Village Board.
“I saw this as an opportunity to serve on a board that expressly stated it was looking for diversity in leadership as well as someone with a tie the the Latino community.
“My business background, communication skills and reputation for being steadfast and fearless made me certain I’d be an asset to this board.
“I accepted and supported the committee’s decision to go with another candidate back on April 24, 2013 when I was notified.
“Since then, to my dismay, the process leading up to today’s McHenry County Board vote has been unprofessional and mean-spirited. While it is clear that the McHenry County Mental Health board needs fresh and diverse thinking to resolve its current issues, at this time, I am no longer interested in serving.
“I will continue to follow this board and others to make a determination in the future how to best leverage my talents for McHenry County. In the meantime, I will focus on my service to the residents of Lake in the Hills, who recently entrusted me with another term as Village Trustee.
“I appreciate the consideration of the Public Health and Human Services Committee and wish them the best as they seek to fill the vacancy.”
Speaking for Summers were citizens during the public comment period, plus Board members Donna Kurtz, who chairs the committee putting forth the nomination and Mike Walkup, a member of that committee.
Those opposing the nomination were
Scott Summers while he served on the McHenry County College Board.
- Yvonne Barnes
- Sue Drafkorn
- Joe Gottemoller
- Jim Heisler
- Tina Hill
- John Jung
- Ken Koehler
- Bob Martens
- Mary McCann
- Mary McClellan
- Anna May Miller
- Bob Nowak
- Nick Provenzano
- Ersel Schuster
- Carolyn Schofield
- Mike Skala
- Paula Yensen
In favor were
- Nick Chirikos
- Diane Evertsen
- John Hammerand
- Donna Kurtz
- Sandy Salgado
- Mike Walkup
Among the public speaking out in favor of Summers was Crystal Lake resident Charles Raymond. He told of his 17-year old daughter’s having lost “three friends to drug overdoses this year.”
“Put the politics aside,” he urged. “Please make the right choices today. I firmly believe Scott Summers is the right choice.”
Crystal Lake businessman Kevin Krak said he was “very worried about abuse of power, misappropriation of money, lack of oversight and accountability.”
He spoke of Summers’ being an attorney and having earned an MBA and being “a person of excellence.”
Cary’s David Ensor explained when he was a youth he had trouble with drugs and alcohol.
“These services seem to have been slowly gotten rid of. Heroin has become an epidemic in this county. ”
He accused the 708 Board of “padding their pockets” and expressed astonishment that “anyone would ever consider closing a facility that would help people.”
Eric Boyer, who has returned to Crystal Lake after five years in the military said he was speaking “because of my overall concerns about drug abuse and mental health issues.”
He said the “commonly held perception” was that there was “corruption among the mental health board.”
“You have taken over five months to elect Board members.
“Rome may have already fallen by the time you get there.”
An Algonquin Latina whose name I believe is Rosolba Compolonsso spoke softly of her role with the Spanish speaking community.
She referred to the “scandal at the McHenry Mental Health Board.
“Something needs to be done. The amount spent on administration takes away from [services].”
Ron McCone of Crystal Lake told of speaking to the Board previously “about the lack of accountability at the 708 Board.”
He supported Summers’ candidacy because “he has the skills, background…to halt needless spending and realign the Mental Health Board with its primary purpose.”
He also complained about administrative expenditures taking precedence over the “programs and services.”
After Kurtz nominated Summers, Walkup spoke up in support.
He reviewed how he had met Summers the night he and fellow McHenry County College Board member Kurtz stood up before the Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission and publicly admitted their mistake for voting for the minore league baseball stadium [that would have put local taxpayers on the hood for $25 million].
And, how both Summers and Kurtz had been formally taken to the woodshed by their fellow MCC Trustees.
“We need people on the Mental Health Board who will be questioners.”
He then went through what he had heard as reasons not to support Summers.
First was the fact that he is a Democrat.
Walkup rebutted that by pointing out that the Board had appointed a lot of Democrats to positions, including himself before he turned Republican.
Second was that Summers ran for County Board in District 6.
Walkup noted that two former members of the County Board had received appointments.
Third was the rumor that Summers was “planning to run for judge.”
Walkup debunked that suggestion by pointing out a district judicial vacancy does not even exist where Summers lives (Harvard).
“A judge[ship] is up in [County Board] Districts 4 and 3. Joe Gottemoller and I could run for that.”
Finally, Walkup asked fellow Board members to “respect the process.”
Kurtz pointed out that this was the second time that Summers had “finished at the top.” He was fourth with three to be selected in the first round of appointment interviews.
She said that Summers would have spoken to the Board, but that he had had to leave for a 9:30 court appearance.
Kurtz listed the failings of the 708 Board that she saw:
- focusing too much on itself and not enough on the agencies who provide services
- the questionable $1 million loan to Family Services “that’s never gong to be repaid”
- “two board members have left the Board to take jobs with agencies [they voted to fund]“
- a building housing 50% fewer employees that the Board of Health in a building that is twice as large
- “contentious, antagonistic relations with some agences
- loss of $2 million in annual revenues that will state this year
- Medicaid billing problems
“We need Mental Health Board members who will stand up.
She asked County Board members to look at Summers resume.
“I think we got it right in our last appointments,” Kurtz said.
In his approach to the community college, foremost in Summers’ mind was
“How do I serve the taxpayer?”
She then asked her colleagues to “bring up any questions you have.”
There were none.
After the roll call defeated Summers’ candidacy and Hill’s announcement that she would make the appointment herself, Walkup took the floor.
“I am appalled and aghast that the chair would usurp the powers of the committee.
He then referred to Hill’s post-election speech about her stewardship would bring “a new day.”
“It appears the sun has not risen on that new day.
He called on the Board to change Board rules to re-empower the County Board to run the County Board.
Kurtz pointed to the “highly politicized situation” and questioned Hill’s decision to usurp her committee’s power.
“It’s highly inappropriate for a political type of move to be made by yourself,” she continued.
“This is a vote of no confidence.”
Ersel Schuster, who ran unsuccessfully against Hill for Chairman and voted against Summers, added the following:
“I’m so sick and tired of the politics. We are here for the public.
“I, too, hope you will reconsider your decision.
“For us to stoop this low tears my heart out.
Nick Chirikos, the new Democrat on the Board from Algonquin also commented. He voted for Summers.
“I’m pretty shaken by this vote of the County Board.
“I never realized there was such a majority on this Board. I never expected a vote of this magnitude.
“It points to a political undercurrent of which I wasn’t aware,” he continued.
“I’m just inexperienced enough not to understand the full impact of this decision by the Chair.”
Kurtz was again given the floor.
She talked of the heroin overdose death in Cary two days ago.
“We have a problem. We’ve got a sense of urgency that you seem to be missing.
“A lot of people in this county get it,” she said, pointing to affected family members.
“…and you sit here and deny a perfectly legitimate and qualified candidate.
“The time was now to have taken action.
“We’re not here for politics.”