Attended my first Johnsburg Village Board meeting on Thursday.
In the public comment section a woman named Maggie Haney spoke extensively and critically of Village affairs.
Later I learned that she was running for Village President against incumbent Ed Hettermann.
Hettermann let her have her say, making no attempt to cut her off.
Haney pointed out that checks were clearing before they were approved by the Village Board.
She specifically mentioned a check paying real estate taxes to the McHenry County Treasurer “four days before the Property Taxes were even posted or mailed out to the property owners. This tax bill was for my property that at the time was in litigation. That means someone took taxpayer money without authorization and paid personal property taxes on property the Village did not own..”
As a former County Treasurer, that made my ears perk up.
She pointed out that check numbers were missing in the report to the Board and suggested there might be other financial problems.
She told of hearing that a subpoena had been issued on February 7th to the Village Administrator (Claudett Peters) to appear before the Grand Jury. (I later was told Haney was referring to the McHenry County Grand Jury.)
At this point, Village Trustee Mary Louise Hutchinson interjected, “I think the people deserve to know a lot of things and I think they will.”
When Haney finished her presentation, someone on the Board said that they “will look into all of you accusations.”
Laurie Cwerenz, the CPA who handles the Village’s finances took the floor next in the public comment period.
She explained her qualifications, which included a Master’s Degree in Business from Northwestern University in addition to her being a Certified Public Accountant.
She also explained that the “missing checks” were payroll checks.
The finance person explained that some bills were paid prior to Board approval in order to avoid late penalties. These had to do primarily with credit cards for fuel purchase at Johnsburg gas stations.
“Everything is transparent,” Trustee Hutchinson. There is a separation of duties. You’re running for office,” she told Haney, a surprise to me, I’ll have to admit.
Cwerenz then asked that Trustee “Ron Zanko be censured for what he said at the last meeting. I don’t feel any trustee should refer to our staff as a ‘greet to.’”
Fast forward to Friday afternoon.
A press release arrived from the Village of Johnsburg, which you can see below (I have cut it into more paragraphs to make it easier to read):
VILLAGE OF JOHNSBURG
March 8, 2013
This past fall, Judge Michael Caldwell rendered a decision in favor of the Village confirming it owns Maple Avenue in response to a frivolous suit brought against the Village by Margaret and Frank Haney.
The Village spent two years and more than $14,000 in legal costs defending itself against the suit through which the Haneys attempted to take public right of way from the citizens of Johnsburg.
Throughout the suit, Mrs. Haney pursued repeated delays, running up attorney’s fees for the Village.
Judge Caldwell described the Haneys’ filings as “abusive” and “drivel”.
It now appears that Mrs. Haney is attempting to overturn the judge’s decision through the Illinois State Police by attempting to implicate the Village in an alleged conspiracy regarding deeds related to her suit.
Her actions have resulted in even more cost to the taxpayers of Johnsburg through the production of documents in response to a Subpoena related to Judge Caldwell’s decision. Many of the documents requested were already on file with the circuit court.
At the Village Board meeting last night, Mrs. Haney fabricated more allegations against the Village by implying that there were missing checks and questionable financial practices.
Her allegations were easily disproven with statements she herself made at the meeting.
The minutes of the meeting will be available shortly on the Village’s website.
In total, actions pursued by Mrs. Haney in retaliation against the Village’s defense of its public roadway, have cost the taxpayers of Johnsburg more than $40,000 to date and continue to climb.
All of the Court pleadings regarding this matter are available for viewing at the McHenry County Government Center.
All of the deeds in connection with the litigation are publicly recorded with the McHenry County Recorder’s Office.
The Village is currently pursuing the reimbursement of its attorney’s fees through the Appellate Court.
Go the Village’s website at johnsburg.org to read the Appellate Court brief.
In response to the Village press release, Trustee Ron Zanko expressed his
“total lack of support for Village President Ed Hettermann’s actions and his apparent misuse of Village media resources to campaign for re-election under the guise of a press release.”
So, you might ask:
What is the fight about?
Here’s Haney’s description:
PROPERTY DISPUTE DIGS UP EVIDENCE
“The ‘Common Area’ property dispute between long-time residents of Johnsburg, Frank and Margaret Haney and the Johnsburg Administration that ended in a legal battle, uncovered a ‘Common Area of Corruption’ when evidence of alleged forgery, perjury, fiscal mismanagement, and official misconduct were innocently ‘dug’ up and then turned over to the Illinois State Police for investigation beginning in June of 2012.
“In June 2011, Frank and Margaret Haney exercised their right under the Freedom of Information Act by sending their first FOÍA to the Village of Johnsburg to answer their question of how a ‘Tax Exempt’ municipality spends Village assets to pay the private property taxes of one of their own residents.
“When the documents were released by the Village of Johnsburg, it was apparent that the expenditure of the check was made before the elected officials approved the expenditure.
“Frank and Margaret Haney had two choices
- to remain silent or
- to launch a Citizen investigation through the Freedom of Information Act to determine if this was an isolated case of fiscal mismanagement or if the Village of Johnsburg was operating outside of the parameters set by the US and Illinois Government Accounting Standards, the Illinois Statutes regarding municipalities, and their own policy and procedures or if it was a ‘Pattern of Practice’.
“Freedom of Information Requests were submitted according to the Segregation of Duties outlined by the Illinois Government Accounting Standards as well as reports, duties, and steps determined by law for municipalities and the results were clear.
“The dispute about this ‘Common Area”’ of property became overshadowed by the ‘Common Area of Corruption’ that was uncovered by the Village of Johnsburg’s own responses to the FOIA“ s.
“By refusing to comply with the Freedom of Information Act the Haney’s requested the intervention of the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor’s Office which opened seven investigations between the Village of Johnsburg and the Haney’s in defense of the Freedom of Information Act. Innocently, citizens Frank and Margaret Haney had to face very difficult choices with the evidence that was uncovered by the FOlA’S.
“They decided that silence was not an option and beginning in June of 2012 surrendered their evidence to the Illinois State Police.
“The Haneys believed that the evidence obtained through the FOIA’ S and the litigation was evidence of
- fiscal mismanagement and
- official misconduct
“Allegedly, the Illinois State Police are currently investigating the Village of Johnsburg.
“The Haney’s remain steadfast in their belief that ALL laws governing municipalities are to be followed not ignored.
“When Citizens exercise their right to ‘freely’ participate in the government process as protected by the Citizens Participation Act’s (5 ILCS 160/1.5) and innocently stumble onto alleged criminal evidence it is their duty as citizens to turn the evidence over to the appropriate authorities.
“I take my Citizenship duties, rights and privileges very seriously and while exercising those duties, rights and privileges the word Citizenship becomes a verb.
“The Haney’s private property dispute with the Village of Johnsburg Administration dug up the evidence that every private property owner’s rights in Johnsburg, protected by the Constitution, are at risk and even more alarming is the breach of the State Records Act’s (5 ILCS 160/1 .5) which defines the ‘ownership of property’ as it relates to the documents within a taxing body establishing the ownership of those documents belong to the Citizens of the State of Illinois.”
Haney said she is preparing a rebuttal to the Village’s press release.