Illinois House Chainsaws Jack Franks

It hasn’t been a good week for Democratic Party State Representative Jack Franks.

“Chainsaw Jack” got lots of blowback from his venture into playing gofer for the electric utilities of Illinois.

Look at these trees next to the sidewalk and electric power lines at Crystal Lake's Main Beach. Under "Chainsaw Jack" Franks' bill, Com Ed would be permitted to chop them down.

He quickly figured out he did not have the juice to get his bill to allow Com Ed and Ameren to cut down ever tree within twenty feet of a power line and turned the hearing into a “subject matter” hearing only.

What happened?

Locally, opponents mobilized.

Although Franks introduced the bill on November 21, 2011, amendatory language didn’t show up until February 21, 2012, a week before Franks received a $1,000 contribution from Ameren (Com Ed’s monopoly counterpart in Central and Southern Illinois).

A hearing was set a week later.

McHenry County Conservation District leaders reacted negatively to the language, sending the letter you see below to Franks:

The day of the Public Utilities Committee meeting, on which Franks’ serves, the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County sent out an email to its members urging them to contact Franks in opposition to tree demolition bill.

Jack Franks

Today Franks told Republican colleague Mike Tryon that his House Bill 3884 needed an amendment and that he probably wouldn’t call the bill.

And today was a worse day for Franks than the day of the Committee hearing.

Franks carried his fight with the McHenry County Board to the House floor.

His bill to force election of the County Board Chairmen in McHenry and Lake Counties in an at-large election was voted upon.

“He didn’t even give the voters a chance,” Tryon told me of the bill.

Franks astonished Tryon by explaining on the House floor that the idea came from DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.

“This could have been an ‘Elect Jack Franks for Life’ bill.

Tryon, a former McHenry County Board Chairman said,  “That’s not what McHenry County needs.  We need a facilitator, someone to make sure the County Board policies are being followed.

“We pay an administrator,” he stressed.

“We don’t need a ‘Boss Hog’-type.”

There was a vote on that House Bill 3953 today and it went down in flames.

16 votes “Yes” and 100 voting “No.”

Tryon argued against the bill, as did newly-appointed State Rep. Rita Mayfield, who served on the Lake County Board prior to being appointed to fill a vacancy last summer.  Mayfield explained that the Lake County Board was unanimous in its opposition to Franks’ bill.

The way things work in Springfield, her membership in the Black Caucus brought all of them to vote “No.”

As the roll call was being taken, retiring State Rep. Dave Winter stood up to observe that it appeared that Jack Franks was going to join “The Century Club.”

That’s a designation used to mock those who manage to get a bill out onto the floor, but who see it go down in flames with 100 or more of the 116 members voting against it.  When liberal Robert Mann chaired the Criminal Justice Committee, his criminal bills regularly got slaughtered by his generally “law and order” colleagues.

The 16-100 roll call on House bill 3953 calling for the at-large election of county board chairmen in McHenry and Lake Counties follows:

State Rep. Kent Gaffney one one of 19 people who voted for Jack Franks' House Bill 3953 to force at-large election of the county board chairmen in McHenry and Lake Counties.

Now Franks isn’t the only McHenry County State Representative to have achieved that “honor.”

Yours truly, Cal Skinner, Jr., got the Century Club “award” on June 7, 1994, when I filed an amendment to Senate Bill 1595 that would require the DCFS to

  • “maintain a central registry of all cases in which the Director of Children and Family Services, following an investigation and hearing as provided in this Act or the Department’s rules, determines that a person who is certified as a school teacher or administrator in Illinois is a perpetrator of sexual or physical abuse of a child,
  • “the Department shall send the name of such person, by mail, to the chief administrator and president of the school board of each school district in this state and to the chief education officer of each state, the District of Columbia, and each territory of the United States.

“The Department shall make available to members of the public, upon request and without charge, copies of any information contained in the register maintained under this Section.”

I think the amendment was inspired by a former principal of Lundahl Junior High School in Crystal Lake named Virgil Lauglin, who led one of my honorary pages into a life of homosexuality, even molesting him in his Lundahl office, but it may have been a teacher there whom DCFS found had abused a student either sexually or physically or both.

When the “problem” with the principal was discovered, he was allowed to quietly resign and move to Iowa.

Exporting such “problems” or covering them up since then would have been a lot more difficult had my amendment be adopted in 1994.

Needless to say, the teachers unions killed the proposed amendment to Senate Bill 1695.

Click to enlarge the image above, examine the names, and you will find some current political figures who wouldn’t want this roll call used against them.

Only two besides myself were brave enough to vote for it:

  • Bernie Pedersen and
  • Al Salvi

Two, Terry Parke and future Congressman Jerry Weller, voted “Present.”

One of the best pieces of legislation I ever lost.


Illinois House Chainsaws Jack Franks — 5 Comments

  1. Yes Cal, it was one of the best pieces of Legislation put up for a vote!

    Save those names . . . . could be put into the catagory of Birds of A Feather.

    Has District 47 changed procedures?

    Or does the Teacher’s Union belong in that catagory of Birds of A Feather too!!

  2. Love the insider story of the Century Club!

    Funny stuff!

    Sounds like this should be Franks’ new MI-6 code name ala James Bond for his next election bid — “Franks. Jack Franks. Agent 100.”

  3. Cal

    I would like some yard signs with CHAIN SAW JACK on them.

    To remind Franks continents what NO good he had been up to.

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