With a wish fulfillment that newly-elected Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore would go poof and disappear in the night in the Huntley Park District meeting room last night being unattainable, the other four members of the township board decided to do the next best thing.
To punish the person they blame for derailing their new $3.5 million township hall, they voted to hire a township administrator, a post unheard of in McHenry County, but apparently common in patronage-ridden Cook County Townships seeking ways to justify their existence.
The trustees’ minds were obviously made up before the meeting began.
As Trustee Gerry McMahon pointed out to Moore after LaPorta had taken the high road by vowing the township was going to “follow best practices,”
“There are going to be a lot of changes. Get used to it!”
The perfunctory discussion of the need for such an employee to effectively replace the township supervisor and the presence of the person being hired—political ally and Huntley Village Trustee Pam Fender—in the audience is evidence of the choreographed nature of the meeting.
The cost of the action to taxpayers taken by the four Grafton Township Trustees will be in the $50,000 range once family health benefits are added to the $35,000 salary.
LaPorta pointed out that the compensation “was about half what other townships pay their administrators.”
Linda Moore’s reaction:
“It’s another waste of taxpayers’ dollars. No township of similar size or in McHenry County has seen a need to spend money for this purposed.”
Led by Rob LaPorta, he, Barb Murphy, Betty Zirk and Gerry McMahon voted as a bloc to hire the Fender, who told McHenry County Blog she is a decorator and contractor as well as village trustee.
When asked, she said she considered this a full-time job.
Asked whether she would run for township supervisor, a rumor about town, Fender replied, “I have no idea at all.”
No job description was available and there was not evidence that anyone else had been considered for the position.
LaPorta turned to Ancel Glick attorney Keri-Lyn Krafterfer for help in explaining what a township administrator would do and other townships who had them.
“Counselor, explain what other townships do,”
“They serve the equivalent function of a city manager,” Krafterfer replied. She then added that an administrator could
- order the thank you plaque for the just-resigned Township Clerk Dina Frigo,
- get bids for surety bonds for trustees whom the board majority wants to countersign all checks and issue them, if Moore refuses to do so within a specified time,
- “do whatever,
- recreation programs,
- transportation services,
- day-to-day” management,
- “assemble the board packets,
- all the things that go into the day-to-day running of the township.”
When pressed for other townships that have administrators, Krafterfer cited
- Palatine (112,740 population found here)
- Orland (91,418)
- Elk Grove (94,969)
“There’s dozens of others. It’s very common.”
Grafton Township had 45,427 people as of 2007.
After that brief description that most people would think contains the duties of a township supervisor, LaPorta said,
“I would like to nominate somebody this evening to provide the best services to the township… Pam Fender.”
She had “significant government and leadership background, has a proven history of getting things done for the community…in a timely fashion.”
Dan Ziller, Sr., and Jr., strong supporters of Moore began expressing their displeasure.
“If you can’t keep quiet, I’m going to ask you to leave,” LaPorta said.
After a few more words, the two walked out the door.
“We need to diminish your troublesome conduct,” McMahon next said to Moore. “You’re not doing a good job for the township. It’s as simple as that.”
Fender then made a presentation including, “I would like to serve the whole of Grafton Township.”
Moore asked Fender,
“When the Village of Huntley hires someone do they hire a friend or the best qualified person?”
but received no satisfaction.
McMahon yet again aimed his ire at Moore by stating to 11-year resident Fender,
“We want you to be a good public relations person. You’re working for the board.”
Fender’s start date is Tuesday. Yet unsettled is where her office will be, but Trustee Zirk thought it ought to be near the front door in the same office as Moore.
Although no job description was available at the meeting, the attorney said,
“We’ll get a job description.”
Neither Barb Murphy nor Zirk had questions for Fender.
The hiring came after a another bill of particulars of things Moore had done wrong leading up to a second censure resolution.
Displeasure over the roll Moore played in killing the township hall was evident periodically throughout the meeting.
“We’d have our own building…”
Gerry McMahon said at the end of the meeting before being interrupted by Rob LaPorta, who said,
“Gerry don’t go there,”
as a lease requested by the Huntley Park District was discussed before being assigned to Fender for investigation.
Earlier McMahon strayed from the script by saying,
“We could have had our own building and been in it by now,”
adding, “That’s satire,” after Moore explained that the park district had expressed displeasure with the township board’s late meetings. (This one ended after 11.)
The meeting was calmer than the one Moore posted, first on the township web site, then on her own after outraged township trustees order them removed.
I only watched the first part of the meeting, but it must have been a doozy because when Loretta Wuich complained about the way she was treated, LaPorta offered an apology for not acting the way he does in other circumstances.
All the officials are Republican.