Here’s the part of the Republican candidate for Grafton Township Assessor’s last mailing that you have not seen before:
Zielinski is opposed by Independent Terra Jensen.
Here’s the part of the Republican candidate for Grafton Township Assessor’s last mailing that you have not seen before:
If candidates send me their literature, I’ll do my best to share it with a broader audience on McHenry County Blog. Same with press releases. I want this to be a place were candidates and officials can speak directly to their potential or present constituents.
I’ve found that the greatest viewership of this publication is in the 24 hours prior to election day. All sorts of people are searching for information.
Ads by the way are $50 a month, except for political campaigns during any part of the last month of a campaign, when they cost $100.
McHenry County Blog has obtained a copy of the transcript of the May 4th court hearing in the separation of powers suit brought by Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore last spring after the Township Trustees tried to strip her of virtually all of her power by giving it to a newly-appointed Township Administrator.
The main result was Judge Michael Caldwell’s slapping down that effort, plus dismissing the Township Attorney that Moore tried to fire, Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, a partner an the law firm of Ancel Glink.
The township officials continue to disagree, which requires continuing intervention by Judge Caldwell.
In a moment of levity not captured on the transcript, Judge Caldwell ended the hearing by saying,
“And the beat goes on.”
Caldwell also tried the case instigated by allies of Moore and including Moore as a plaintiff before she took office as Township Supervisor which ruled that the former Township Board had failed to provide adequate notice when they approved construction of a new township hall. His ruling was upheld by the 2nd Appellate Court.
In the early May court hearing, which you can read here, Caldwell ruled that the Township Trustees must approve Moore’s selection for Township Attorney. That choice is the Rockford attorney John Nelson, who won her separation of powers case against the Trustees.
Needless to say, the Trustees do not want to do so and after the Judge’s ruling, their attorney Ancel Glink litigator Thomas DiCianni asked for a stay of the order so that he could appear what he said was a separation of powers question to the Appellate Court.
The final part of the transcript is reproduced below:
THE COURT: While I’m not unsympathetic to some of the arguments made by Mr. DiCianni, I think the separation of powers question is probably a little overly broad to be applied directly to this particular dispute, primarily because we’re dealing with a unit of
We are not dealing with the United States of America where the separation of powers between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches is far more important than it is here at the local level.
I am also sensitive to the fact that courts should not be and I believe are prohibited ordinarily from interfering with the exercise of legislative discretion. I don’t want to get involved in the idea
that I have to tell the township that they have to approve this road or this contract or anything else.
I did not run for circuit judge for the purpose of being the township supervisor or the — or a township trustee. I have no interest in running this — this unit of local government.
However, this is a case pending before me in a court of equity. I do have the power to enjoin what I consider to be the continuing violation of a statute.
I believe — I don’t know — This is personal for me. This is a personal remark. I probably shouldn’t make it, but I don’t really know why you would want this job.
But that having been said, I believe the failure or refusal of the trustees to approve Mr. Nelson as the township attorney is merely a pretext to continue their ongoing dispute with Linda Moore, the township supervisor.
It will therefore be my order that at the next regular meeting of the town board that the trustees reported McMahon, Murphy, and Zirk approve the appointment of John Nelson as the township attorney. The fact that he disagrees with them or they with him quite frankly is one of the qualifications for the job.
I don’t come to this dispute or the issue of being an attorney for a local government without considerable experience in this arena, having served as a municipal attorney for 30 years, 25 of those with the City of Woodstock. If I had a reputation for one thing (indiscernible) of those years, it was my ability to tell the aldermen or councilmen of the City of Woodstock or really for that matter any other unit of government I represented, things they didn’t want to hear in the first place.
So I don’t regard the ongoing dispute as being a conflict of interest that would bar Mr. Nelson from serving.
That will be my order.
I want the trustees mentioned by name in any draft order that you give.
Now, I also advise– Somebody is going to have to advise these people if they don’t follow it– They are free not to follow it, but that will activate contempt proceedings.
MR. DICIANNI: Well, I would — I suppose I will have to do this by written motion, but I will be moving to stay the order pending appeal.
THE COURT: It’s not ripe.
MR. DICIANNI: Well, I think it is. It’s an injunction, and injunctions can be appealed–
THE COURT: Okay.
Continuing with Judge Michael Caldwell’s comments, today we look at three expenditures which the Township Trustees ordered and for which Supervisor Linda Moore was withholding payment when the judge ruled were legitimate.
On a matter of continuing contention, however, Moore won.
Trustee Rob LaPorta has been insistent that he wants to be able to look at the township books in a “read-only” format over the internet.
Moore’s investigations of the accounting system being used, Quick Books, led her to conclude this was not possible, so she has made them available during office hours at the township office, access that made it difficult for LaPorta to avail himself of.
Here is the part of the judge’s concluding comments in the hearing two weeks ago:
THE COURT: Q & A Reporting. The trustees have a right to have a transcript of their proceedings if they wish. The Q & A Reporting bill should be paid.
Excellence in Copying. If you want to have additional matters from the agenda printed up to be available for the public for the use and inspection at the meeting, that certainly is a legitimate cost.
Point of Video, the same thing.
Now, on the access to the bills, the court’s going to find that the access to the bills — to the financial records as described by me today by Linda Moore in her testimony is adequate to comply with the court’s order.
She has stated that the records are available during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. They are available at other times by appointment.
I don’t find that to be unreasonable on its face.
I am accepting Ms. Moore’s description of what she has made available on the laptop computer because, quite frankly, she is the only one that I know of who has actually seen it or used it or set it up.
The motion here is brought upon basically suspicion, innuendo, supposition and conjecture; that, because the trustees don’t like it. They want remote access, remote access isn’t necessary.
The problem I have with the Internet is that once you get on the Internet there are all sorts of opportunities for mischief, that quite frankly, in this township we don’t need.
I don’t need it and you don’t need it.
McHenry County Blog has been posting conclusions of Judge Michael Caldwell concerning whether and from where Grafton Township bills should be paid. We have looked at bills relating to the construction of a new township hall, the forensic examination of computer memory, installing a new lock on Township Supervisor Linda Moore’s office after she was kicked out by the Township Trustees.
Today we look at a mailing that the Township Trustees put out prior to the Annual Town Meeting at Huntley High School.
Here’s the interchange between Ancel Glink attorney Thomas DiCianni and Judge Caldwell about the mailing:
THE COURT: I will not approve — how did this mailing start, the mailing to Del Webb and why does Del Webb get mailings and the rest of the township doesn’t?
MR. DiCIANNI: Because they weren’t coming to the meetings and didn’t know about it.
THE COURT: They can do it like anybody else does, read it in the newspaper. That’s where it is. It’s in the Herald.
MR. DiCIANNI: Well, it doesn’t make it an illegal expenditure, your Honor, it’s a –
THE COURT: I think it’s purely political.
MR. DiCIANNI: So I –
THE COURT: I think it is political because it appeals to a voting block.
MR. DiCIANNI: There has been no evidence that that voting block has any particular predilection politically either way.
THE COURT: You target a mailing to a seniors’ community and you want me to believe that it’s not political?
MR. DiCIANNI: They would be the last ones to –
THE COURT: It would be hard to –
MR. DiCIANNI: They would be the last ones who would want to approve the building, if that’s what the insinuation is from the point –
THE COURT: I can’t say that.
MR. DiCIANNI: Well, there are suppositions there, your Honor, that I think are not part of the evidence.
THE COURT: She was justified in not paying it.
That’s the headline in the Daily Herald’s belated article about Judge Michael Caldwell’s decision in the separation of powers case brought by Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore after the four Township Trustees tried to take away virtually all of her power by appointing Pam Fender as Township Administrator.
There are two photos associated with the online article. One is of Linda Moore; the other of Township Administrator Pam Fender.
The judge ordered Fender and Ancel Glink, the law firm who crafted the strategy to replace Moore with Fender, off the payroll.
How that can be construed as a victory for the Trustees’ side of the case is beyond me.
I mention in my first article on the subject that it was a two-sided case. You can read the guts of the decision here.
Read what each side won and tell me why you think Moore didn’t come out the overall victor.
The dismissed Township Attorney, Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, offers this quote:
“I think it was a significant victory for the trustees. It basically orders Linda to do her job.”
When pressed by reporter Jameel Naqvi, Krafthefer called the firing of the Township Administrator and Krafthefer’s law firm “two minor issues.”
Ancel Glink can continue to represent the Township Trustees in the suit, so expect an appeal of Judge Caldwell’s decision.
The next court date is Friday.
Yesterday, McHenry County Blog summarized Judge Michael Caldwell’s conclusions in the lawsuit filed by Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore against her fellow Grafton Township Board members, Trustees Gerry McMahon, Rob LaPorta, Barbara Murphy and Betty Zirk.
Today, we’ll look at his logic.
After summarizing the testimony, Judge Caldwell wrote:
“There was voluminous evidence of
- canceled gasoline credit cards belonging to a department of the township,
- the failure to halt direct deposit of employees’ paychecks,
- Moore’s attempts to put the meetings of the township board on the the internet via the assessor’s website and the Illinois Township Officials Association,
- misdirected mail,
- the changes in the bus schedule (labeled as a “…complete failure…” by a single resident),
- the complete history of the Grafton Township Food Pantry,
- the history of the terms of Supervisors [Mildred] Ruth and [John] Rossi and
- an evidentiary comparison of the workings of Nunda Township with Grafton Township.
“None of this has any relevance to these proceedings”
“It may be interesting, even entertaining for some, but on the whole it is immaterial and irrelevant….It is nothing more than evidence of
- simple mistakes,
- poor judgment and
- a past that is over and not about to return any time soon.
“As such, none of this has any relevance to nor does it contribute to any decision that I must make regarding the state of affairs in Grafton Township.”
In his analysis section, the Judge pointed concluded,
“That there is an all-out, political and personal war between the Township Supervisor and the Board of Trustees of Grafton Township is readily apparent from the evidence.
“Not only do these parties intensely dislike one another, but both sides of this controversy seem dedicated to all out conflict, all of the time, regardless of its effect on township government or its programs.
“At the heart of these proceedings is the toxic relationship between the township board and the supervisor….
“Any ruling I make can affect some aspects of the relationship but not all of them.
“I cannot judicially regulate impolite, abusive, or course discourse between parties. It may be rude and hurtful, but the harm is not irrevocable and no one has the ‘right’ to compel others to be polite.
“Someone far wiser than I once said, when commenting on the First Amendment,
‘It takes a thick skin to be an American citizen.’
“Additionally, politics has always been a rough and tumble pursuit. Apparently in Grafton Township, it has been elevated to the level of a blood sport.
“That being said, there is nothing this court can do to compel these parties to be “…nice…” to one another, as was requested in one of the prayers of relief.
“The only think I can offer is the advice of the late President Harry Truman who said,
‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’”
Judge Caldwell then indicated he would rule on the “supervisor/ board relationship.”
In other words, on the separation of powers.
And, how those powers were balanced was reported in yesterday’s article.
The Judge confirmed Supervisor Moore’s authority to fire Township Administrator Pam Fender and Township Attorney Ancel Glink, usually represented by Keri-Lyn Krafthefer at township meetings.
Judge Caldwell’s reversal of the political strategy presumably concocted by Krafthefer to allow the Township Trustees to take control of what they could not win at the ballot box is nothing short of stunning.
He confirmed Moore’s authority to run the day-to-day business of the township the same way that a strong mayor or a village president does.
Caldwell did say the Township Trustees could set the agenda at the beginning of every meeting, had approval authority over large contracts and should have the ability to access township financial records.
Among unanswered questions are the following:
Judge Caldwell did rule that both Moore attorney John Nelson and the Trustees’ Ancel Glink litigator Thoma DiCianni and others in his firm would be paid by the taxpayers for services rendered in this lawsuit.
When I last looked at the bills, the Trustees were outspending the Supervisor 4 to 1.
Part 1 is here.
In the Grafton Township separation of powers case filed by Township Supervisor Linda Moore against her Township Trustees, Moore largely won.
Judge Caldwell wrote,
“What was done here by this board to the supervisor was not a policy but rather a deliberate usurpation of the supervisor’s authority and a clear case of unnecessary meddling and illegal micromanaging.”
On the other hand, the power of the Township Trustees to set the agenda, meeting times and places, plus award contracts and set employee salaries was affirmed.
Labeling the relationships “dysfunctional,” Judge Michael Caldwell ordered Trustees Betty Zirk, Gerald McMahon, Rob LaPorta and Barbara Murphy not to
employ or attempt to employ Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush Dicianni & Krafthefer as township attorneys
Moore was forbidden from
The Judge devotes most of his opinion to a summary of the facts and testimony, including the entire job description of Township Administrator Pam Fender, and relevant portions of the Township Code.
He points out that Moore “began her assault on the status quo in Grafton Township with a legal challenge to the township’s announced plans to issue bonds for the construction of at $3,00,000 town hall.’”
Caldwell notes Moore participation in the lawsuit to stop construction and her filing for office against incumbent Republican Supervisor John Rossi and her victory in both efforts. He notes that the Trustees spent $88,000 on attorney’s fees defending the new town hall. Half was spent in the case in which Judge Caldwell sided with Moore and her fellow plaintiffs and the other half was spent in the Trustees unsuccessful appeal.
“That is when the genesis of this lawsuit began,” he writes.
“Judging from the testimony elicited at the hearings before me, Moore’s term was marked by
from the very outset. She and the trustees battled over meeting notices, agendas, audits, access to public records and just about every facet of township government imaginable.”
He notes using Latin words I don’t understand even after two years of that language (sui generis rules) that the board stopped using Robert’s Rules of Order.
He points to the hiring of Pam Fender to be Township Administrator and installing her in Moore’s office.
Then, Moore filed her lawsuit and the trustees filed a counterclaim.
Reached for comment, Moore said,
“Until I hear from my attorney, it appears this ruling will enable me to do the job of Supervisor which is what the electors put me in office to do.”
Moore’s attorney is John Nelson. Thomas DiCianni represented the Township Trustees.
It’s time to agree with Grafton Township Administrator Pam Fender.
At least as far as this goes:
“Today’s (9-21-10) Editorial is another example of the Northwest Herald not doing it’s homework.”
After Wonder Lake’s Bob Anderson’s countywide referendum failed and after his referendum to abolish McHenry Township failed, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law making it impossible to abolish a single township.
That new law requires the abolition of all townships in a county.
Getting rid of a single township at the ballot box is no longer possible.
I spent another tiring day in Judge Michael T. Caldwell’s McHenry County courtroom today watching (more listening to) more witnesses in the Grafton Township separation of powers trial.
I didn’t have time to write anything about last Thursday’s morning session. Not like the blow-by-blow I wrote about Wednesday’s hearing. Getting ready to head off to Springfield for a long (rainy) weekend took my time.
I’ve been reflecting on what Linda Moore said and how she said it and the judge’s reaction to that when Ancel Glink litigator Thomas G. DiCianni asked him to direct Moore to answer his questions more directly than she had.
After about an hour of questions last Thursday during which Moore was not giving “Yes” or “No” answers, DiCianni asked the judge to direct Moore to answer his questions.
Caldwell, visibly disturbed, observed,
“She hasn’t answered a question directly since cross examination began.”
After that admonition, Moore became less loquacious.
Today, Huntley Village Trustee Pam Fender was on the stand talking about that job and her new one as Grafton Township Administrator.
“This is so childish,” Fender added to an answer to what happened between her and Moore after the end of March court hearing that put Moore back in her old offices.
“This is the third time this has happened. Do not make any statements of opinion,”
the judge admonished.
The third politician to receive harsh words from the judge was Township Trustee Rob LaPorta.
“Mr. LaPorta. Simply answer the question and stop the verbal jousting, the back and forth,”
the judge said.
So, politicians on both sides of the Grafton Township political fence appear to have a similar problem.
Each wants to explain her or his position, whether the question calls for such an explanation or not.
Perhaps that is a function of being a politician.