Citing “Politicization” of 708 Board, Brett Wisnauski Steps Down Four Months Early

Brett Wisnauski, a member of the 708 Mental Health Board whose term expires on January 1st, resigned as of August 28th.

He sent the following letter of resignation to McHenry County Chairwoman Tina Hill:

August 28, 2013

Dear Chairperson Hill,

It is with great regret that I write this letter to inform of you of my resignation from the McHenry County Mental Health Board (MCMHB), effective immediately.

Over the past eight months, I have witnessed the politicization of the MCMHB.

This has been a sad observation, as the State intended that such boards be composed of, and representative of the people, and free of political allegiance to person, group or organization.

It was meant to be a true volunteer board composed of caring people, donating their time and efforts to try and do the best they can to affect positive outcomes for their community.

As such, these volunteer members are responsible to two and only two groups of people: the taxpayers and those individuals who are in need of services.

This politicization reached a new level this past August 27, 2013, when the MCMHB chose to ignore both of the groups of people they are charged to serve.

The Advantage Group’s Pat Owens contends the 708 Board staff and old Board were targeting her TAG organization for extinction.

By failing to recognize that the granting of monies to the The Advantage Group to be fraught with ethical and fiduciary pitfalls, they plunged forward to award even more money to an organization that is not a funded entity for the MCMHB and with whom there exists unresolved financial accounts involving the receipt of taxpayer money.

The policy and systemic issues that this decision will create are yet to be seen.

It is an insult to taxpayers, people in need of services and the many providers working hard throughout the county.

Take notice providers.

With this decision the rules have changed.

There are no rules.

It is inconceivable that this request would be granted without first and foremost developing a strategy, procedure and goal, by which the MCMHB would resolve the outstanding monetary obligations and issues with The Advantage Group.

This decision was against the written advice of legal counsel, against the written policies of the MCMHB, and against all business sensibilities.

The money was awarded to an agency which is not a funded provider of the MCMHB, it was awarded without contract or stipulation, awarded without any knowledge or investigation into the financial viability and sustainability of this organization, awarded without any oversight or accountability.

This was a not so subtle insult delivered to the system of care, the service providers and most of all to McHenry County taxpayers, the most over taxed group in the State of Illinois.

As a result, I can no longer in good faith serve as a board member in an organization that no longer serves its charges and fails to look out for ALL the people of McHenry County.

I want to offer an immense “Thank You” to all of the talented, intelligent and caring staff at the MCMHB that work day in and day out to “Empower Minds and Transform Lives.”

Their work is unheralded and overlooked, but is integral to the system of care here in the county.

I want to say “Thank You” to all of the providers, their directors, their employees and the people they serve that I have met and who have befriended me along the way.

I am indeed a better person for having met, worked and served with you.

I wish you all the very best!


Brett Wisnauski

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Wisnauski did not attend the last 708 Board meeting I covered. I do not have a photo of him.


Citing “Politicization” of 708 Board, Brett Wisnauski Steps Down Four Months Early — 21 Comments

  1. For 25 dedicated years TAG has provided excellent guidance to youth with drug problems.

    The success speak for themselves.

    This NON PROFIT organization is being vilified by the greedy.

    A witch hunt that will only hurt those who need this help and leaving the community underserved.

    Be sure to click on the highlighted blue “The Advantage Group” for the real story.

  2. She was part of the boards that approved Frank Gosser’s bills.

    She deserves no sympathy.

  3. Dear Mr. Wisnauski.

    It is a shame that you chose to resign at this time.

    The new board demonstrated such open dialogue and discussion at the last board meeting and which was unheard of in the last couple of years.

    You had an opportunity to bring your compassion, wisdom, and experience but your stance has only exacerbated the “politicization” of which you protest.

    From my observations over the last several months, I give this new board and its leadership great credit for being capable, responsible, and committed to serving this community

  4. Its a shame that a board member chooses not to be part of the solution to adressing the well known and publicized problems that has plagued the Mental Health Board over the last year.

    No one can blame a board member who has had to deal with all of this to quit but the timing and method of sending this to Tina Hill appears to be blatant politics.

  5. Really Mr.Wisnauski?

    Perhaps there is more to this situation than meets the eye.

    Why does the State continue to fund TAG?

    Don’t they audit them?

    This has been a systematic campaign to target TAG who dared to defy the power of the Mental Health Board.

    They have recieved no funding for the last two years from the Mental Health Board but have continued to serve anyone who comes to there door.

    Now who is interested in serving the community?

  6. Stop the politics!

    Keep the lawyers out of it!

    We all know when lawyers are involved they have a vested interest in things not resolving.

    Tag has helped so many people over the years.

    In all of your years on the board, have you ever gone and seen what they do?

    It seems like something is not being communicated right here.

    I definitely think your allegations of the decision by the board is wrong.

  7. Having now for a year followed the never-ending story of the MCMHB warring with TAG, it seems to be a one-sided battle against TAG.

    What is their interest in being against an agency that serves hundreds of kids and ignoring TAG’s service to the community?

    Or is it in the financial interest of the “legal counsel” to keep the fight going?

    Just asking.

  8. This letter makes no sense.

    He is accusing his own board of being political when the letter itself is political.

    TAG was a funded agency for over 20 years until Family Services closed and the MCMCHB became too big and serious problems surfaced.

    The board made the right decision and it sounds like sour grapes that Mr. Wisnewski quit because he disagreed.

  9. I believe that the decision to help out Tag was meant to make sure that the residents in need can be served.

    I know for a fact that many schools both in and out of the county respect and value this organization.

    I wonder how they have survived the last two years with no funding from the Mental Health Board.

    I agree with Mary Margaret.

    This letter makes no sense.

  10. Watch – you are correct.

    It is the side against TAG that has politicized this issue along with lawyers.

    All TAG wants to do is help those in need that do not have insurance and they are the young school aged.

    A service not provided by those that want to take TAG over.

    I hope citizens will wake up and smell the coffee as to what is going on here.

  11. Under your watch Mr. Wisnauski, Family Services got a 1.4 million dollar loan in 2 months when everyone knew it was bankcrupt and you accuse the new board with not doing thier fudiciary responsibility?

    Quit harrassing TAG and pulling the whole County Board (which clearly isn’t political, right?), into the abuses of the past.

    Your letter is nothing but politicsl.

    A year from now, when the mental health board is cleaned up, and people count the lives lost and families torn apart from drugs and destruction, will your conscious be clear?

    I think not.

  12. Mr. Wisnauski it is unfortunate your latest concerns were not voiced in the past when you were apart of the MCMHB who “gave” the failing Family Services $1.4 million without any possibility of repayment.

    Where were your alliance to the taxpayers then?

    I believe the MCMHB is and will continue to make good decisions that are in the best interest of the tax payers and those clients who need the financial help.

  13. Thank you to the board for seeing past all this political ruse and bravely funding what should have been funded the last two years.

    Clearly no one is protesting that TAG provided help to this community for free 2 years.

    Tell me anyone else who would.

    Claim all you want Mr. Wisnauski, but the fact hundreds still seek TAG’s help says volumes and is louder than words.

  14. Remove everyone from the picture immediately and get some knowledgeable people from out of state to rip the whole thing apart.

    If anyone in the past is proved to have been involved in wrong doing, send them to jail and do not worry about feelings, social standing and buddyship.

    People in the system need something far better than Illinois nonsense.

  15. Run another referendum to repeal the 708.

    Taxpayers cannot afford the administration costs!

    Let Affordable Healthcare do the job!

  16. Cal-I am reading your posts and thinking if only the newspapers of McHenry County would do investigative reporting..there is a Pulitzer awaiting here..Shakespearean is all I have been thinking and now we at what I most fear, the demise of the Mental Health tax.

    People of McHenry County, former and first Executive Director of the MHB has offered gratis to mediate dispute between TAG and MHB.

    Board presiden Rob, members Carrie and Heather know this.

    Who better to negotiate this then someone who has first hand knowledge of TAG and Pat Owens as well as being the most successful exec of a mental health authority this state has ever seen.

    Dennis has battled the county board and the state for what is best for this county and our services are superb because of his visionary leadership.

    As an outsider to Sandy Lewis’ leadership, all I can say is Sandy tried hard to engage the county and agencies to a let’s play nice, we are here to serve milieu.

    Unfortunately, this failed because POLITICS is the name of the game here.

    I doubt that the MHB has the courage and the vision to ask Dennis to mediate because they are pawns in a game of chess that know one seems to know the rules.

    I have spent ,many hours this week talking with community leaders, movers and shakers in the mental health field.

    We are all befuddled but we notice Whom is huddling with Who.

    If any of you can drag yourself out of bed for the 7AM Tuesday meeting at the MHB, please do to make your public comments.

    I will be there.

    I doubt that I will be accompanied by my husband Dennis Smith-seeing the incredible Politicization of the MHB has been very painful–please Tina Hill, Al Jourdan,Mike Tryon, Pam Althoff–you are the official and unofficial face of leadership in McHenry County, please convince the MHB that Dennis Smith is the ideal mediator in this situation.

    Stop the rush, the lies the incredible time and energy that is being wasted and the possibility of critics pushing for a referendum to end the 708 tax, my greatest fear.

    No, people who think Affordable Health will properly address Mental Illness, your wrong, I am not speaking as a “holier than thou” person but as a longtime student of mental health policy and health insurance.

    You are lucky today with the very best insurance to get hospitalized for three days if you are admitted as a threat to yourself or others.

    Not that long ago I had to go to an emergency department to sign a petition to make sure that a resident was hospitalized against their will because the ED doctor was going to release the person with no insurance because they did not demonstrate in the doctor’s assessment, threat to self or others.

    I am licensed to make such assessments, and I disagreed with the doctor.

    Three weeks later, I visited this person at the state hospital which serves our county–Elgin Mental Health Center.

    If the person had had great insurance and a bed was available–maybe the insurance would “allow” a week at Centegra Specialty Hospital.

    I still would have had to sign the petition and lobby the doctor for hospitalizing because the doctor “CAN NOT” practice the way they want to or are trained to do because insurance has much too much say so in clinical decisions.

    The ED doctor was only being realistic..the tragedy was that a beautiful young person may have ended up dead on our streets without treatment and this person did not appear capable of violence to me but very vulnerable at the hands of another unstable or predatory person.

    Enough of the blog..I am giving my husband indigestion and spending too much time doing this.

    I hope I have laid the seeds of inquiry and fact finding, the MHB is young..I have to believe they are educable.

    The Truth will set us free of this macabre game of chess where the rules and players are clear.

    If you want resolution on TAG–choose the proven leader-Dennis G. Smith–he has offered, no one has said yes. Thanks for your attention and open mind.

    Judi Szilak

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