Ethics Committee on the Hotseat

The McHenry County Board’s Management Services Committee meeting yesterday started at 8:30 and was scheduled to end at noon, when two members said they had to leave for other meetings.

The Committee heard budget presentations for three hours, then decided to postpone the rest of the topics on the agenda, except to electing the County Board Chairman/woman and the procedures followed by the Ethics Committee.

The McHenry County Board's Management Services Committee.

The McHenry County Board’s Management Services Committee.

The final topic was how the Ethics Commission operates. It is under the jurisdiction of the Management Services Committee.

Mike Walkup started the discussion by asking,

“Do we have the authority to look at the Rules of the Ethics and Commission and change them?”

The short answer was “Yes.”

Walkup wanted to know if there were “any records made of the proceedings.”

John LaBaj said that there were “draft notes, fairly detailed.”

Donna Kurtz wanted to know if it were recorded.

She indicated that she thought the Ethics Commission did not look ethical.

She said reactions to the reports of the hearing (McHenry County Blog’s is here) haven’t “achieved a comfort level with the public.” (See Northwest Herald Editor’s reaction here.)

She wondered if the Commission’s operation could put on a future meeting agenda.

“I think we all need to join hands on this and [improve the process].”

Kurtz pointed out that the proceedings were not explained.

Comparing them to the ethical complaint process McHenry County College has in place, she concluded that improvement was necessary for the County.

“If someone complains, should that person be held accountable for what we call here frivolous?”

“The complainant in this situation is now being threatened with a lawsuit.”

[Andy Zinke Attorney Mark Gummerson threatened to file a suit against the complainant–me–with penalties up to $5,000.]

“Does the State’s Attorney not provide assistance to the Committee [Commission]?” Anna Miller, mother of Zinke’s other attorney Becky Lee, asked.

She also noted that the County has an Ethics Officer, who is the Human Relations Director.

“This was the first opportunity one of these complaints [was heard],” she reminded people, noting, “Anyone can sue anyone anytime…”

Miller also pointed out, “They can do their decision making in Executive Session [secret].

“They need to create a process that is open when it’s an ethical issue,” Committee Chairwoman Paula Yensen said. “It should be out there for people to hear the pros and cons.”

She added that there “should be a findings report.”

John Labaj, who sat in on the closed Ethics Commission session, pointed out that there were differences between the way that gift ban and prohibited activities complaints were handled.

“There was no hearing,” Yensen interjected.

“And there was the disappearing sign-up sheet,” Mike Walkup added.

Walkup wondered if the potential of a $5,000 fine should be left in the rules, suggesting it could inhibit “someone’s First Amendment rights.”

The consensus was that the topic would be discussed at a future meeting.


Ethics Committee on the Hotseat — 4 Comments

  1. I applaud the County Board members to speak out about this “ethics committee “.

    Zinke, once again, has put McHenry County into a tail spin. He was the one that clearly was unethical, and when brought before the Committee they put their tail between their legs because of some lawyer named Gummerson ?.

    The residents of McHenry County want true transparency. They should not back down because of some Nygren tied lawyer.

    Again, another example of why this clown should not be Sheriff.

    The citizens are going to vote 2014 for the change that this County needs, and that vote is for Mr. Bill Prim.

    I understand that some major developments will be heading McHenry County way with the weeks coming up.
    If your a corrupt politician ( who all know whom I am talking about ), you should go on line and order your one way plane ticket out of dodge now.

  2. The first rule of order of a government should be transparency.

    Meetings and committee meetings should be taped and put online.

    There should be very few reasons to go to closed session.

    Governments are typically more concerned about their image and liability than being transparent.
    “[Andy Zinke Attorney Mark Gummerson threatened to file a suit against the complainant–me–with penalties up to $5,000.]”

    Was the complaint for Zinke flipping off the public?

    If so since when is a public official flipping off in uniform in a police vehicle during a 4th of July parade frivolous?

    Hello, there are many kids at that parade.

    Nice role model.

    Irregardless it’s ridiculous and unethical to sue someone for complaining.

    You can’t even complain any more?

    Too many rules have been changed by Illinois governments to benefit special interests as opposed to the public as a whole.

    The special interests in this case is the government itself.

    Zinke has zero chance of getting elected in 2014.

    A policeman cannot win an election after being caught on camera flipping off the public while driving a police vehicle in uniform in a 4th of July parade in broad daylight.

    It’s not even a grainy picture.

    The evidence is clear as day.

    Since the evidence cannot be disputed they are then grasping for straws, resting finger, frivolous, etc.

    Would have been and would be better off just apologizing and moving no.

  3. You tell who the good guys and the bad guys are based on this meeting.

    I find it hysterical that Ann Miller sits in on a discussion that is directly related to her child.

    Yeah, she will be impartial.

    Donna Kurtz and Mike Walkup are the future of this county.

    The others better start backing their plays.

    After Nygren and Zinke are gone the Millers and those in Gummerson’s circle are next.

    Time to clean up this county.

  4. AMEN Donna Kurtz and Mike Walkup..

    Fining someone $5,000 is a violation of First Amendment rights.

    In essence, it is like fining someone for their right to free speech, which is protected by the Constitution….

    It is true anyone one can sue another person at anytime.

    However, they cannot impose laws or penalties that violate the basic fundamentals of the Constitution.

    Most notably, they cannot prevent someones right to free speech by threat of a law suit…

    As for the Eithics Committee, we all know that they did not act ethically, follow protocol or do the job that had been assigned to them, and that is very clear.

    Again, thank you Donna Kurtz and Mike Walkup for taking an ethical approach to this matter, for which others were not able or were unwilling to do.

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