Hanky Panky at the Courthouse

Yesterday, I attended the Transportation Committee meeting of the McHenry County Board.

That was where the Committee voted 3-2 to approve dropping the Continuous Flow Intersection in favor of a more conventional, yet innovative for Illinois, approach of three left lanes on Algonquin Road on both sides of Randall Road.

The agenda gave no indication of what alternative was to be considered.

Saturday Night Live's Church Lady's saying, "Isn't that special?" seems to fit this post, too.

Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady’s saying, “Isn’t that special?” seems to fit this post.

Read for yourself what was on the Agenda available at the meeting:

“Resolution adopting a preferred alternative for the Randall Road at Algonquin Road intersection.”

Today I went to web site page that list County meetings.

To my amazement, the above vague description of what would considered had been changed to the following:

“Resolution Adopting the Conventional Intersection as the Preferred Alternative for the Randall Road at Algonquin Road Intersection for the Randall Road Project.”

I think it’s time to run a picture of Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady.

Today I filed a “Question/Complaint” about whether the Transportation Committee complied with the Open Meetings Act with the Public Access Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Nick Provenzano

Nick Provenzano

During the meeting Committee member Nick Provenzano questioned whether the provisions of that law had been met.

“The public had no previous notice.  I think it’s against the law.  I’m quite concerned what we’re doing here is illegal,” he said.

The Assistant State’s Attorney at the meeting ruled that the notice requirement had been met.

To keep you in the loop, I reprint my email to the Attorney General below:

Yesterday the Transportation Committee of the McHenry County Board held a meeting that may not have met the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.

My question/complaint comes in two parts.

First, the agenda.

I have attached the agenda handed out at the meeting, plus the one that I found on the web site the day after the meeting.

For the Randall Road resolution, the one handed out says, 

“Resolution adopting a preferred alternative for the Randall Road at Algonquin Road intersection.”
Note that the “preferred alternative” is not mentioned.  (There was a hot dispute between a previously preferred alternative, a Continuous Flow Intersection, and adding lanes in a more conventional manner.)

To my astonishment, when I looked up the agenda for the meeting today, that part has been of the Agenda had been changed to read,
“Resolution Adopting the Conventional Intersection as the Preferred Alternative for the Randall Road at Algonquin Road Intersection for the Randall Road Project.”

I conclude that someone must have thought the original agenda notice was inadequate.

In any event, the original Agenda is not specific enough for anyone to figure out what specifics proposal would be considered and voted upon.

Secondly, the resolution itself is filled with blank spaces.  (See attachment.)  There was no way to know the substantive content of the resolution, any more than there was from the Agenda handed out at the meeting.

Under the resolution on the web site is a memo from Jeffrey Young dated 9-3-14 about the project.  It does not reveal details as to the “preferred alternative.”

From neither the resolution nor the memo can the public determine what specific proposal will be considered and voted upon.

Thirdly, an unnamed Exhibit is a key part of the resolution.  During the meeting it was called “Exhibit A.”

After that part of the meeting, I looked for Exhibit A.

The clerk of the meeting told me she did not have it.

Wally Dietrich, who is an executive in the Transportation Department told me that he did not have a copy, that it would be posted on the web site later in the day.

Three members of the five committee members at the meeting told me they did not have a copy of the memo.  They are Chairwoman Anna May Miller and members Nick Provenzano and Diane Evertsen.

Brian Fairchild, the VP of engineering consulting firm TranSystems, who made most of the over two-hour slide presentation, said he did not have a copy.

I think it is fair to conclude that no one in the meeting room had a copy of this crucial document.

I emailed the Randall Road page on the County web site asking for Exhibit A

Today I received the attached email saying the following (emphasis in the original):

“The design team presented two alternatives to the Transportation Committee.  The first was a modification to the Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI) that was presented in Phase I, now referred to as a Displaced Left Turn (DLT) Intersection; the second was a Conventional Intersection.  The Committee passed a resolution supporting a conventional intersection design with modifications as suggested by various stakeholders during the outreach process.  These modifications will be referred in the resolution approved by the Transportation Committee as Exhibit A and will be made available on the website soon The presentation materials have been added to theMeetings & Minutes page Click here for the presentation Click here for the conventional intersection exhibit Click here for the DLT intersection exhibit. Please click here for more information.

It’s pretty obvious that neither the members of the Transportation Committee nor anyone in attendance knew what was in fill-in-the-blank exhibit mentioned in the resolution.

So, my question is, “Was this a legal Open Meeting?”

“Was action taken by the committee members valid?”

A final vote by the County Board is scheduled in less than two weeks, so I urges swift action on this question/complaint.


Comments

Hanky Panky at the Courthouse — 9 Comments

  1. Smoke and mirrors?

    Uh, no.

    You can’t just conjure a new road plan up out of thin air like a genie.

  2. Kudos, Cal!!! When will you find out the answer?

    Props to Provenzano for asking that question and wanting the citizens to see the whole deal before they voted on it.

    Too bad that didn’t happen.

    As we’ve found out in this county, a lot of things are “Legal” are they ethical??

    Looking forward to hearing the answer as to whether this was legal.

  3. Cal, you should amend your complaint.

    The Transportation Committee passed a resolution not only for changing the Randall/Algonquin, but for a massive capital works project to widen Randall Road.

  4. The current Board has a Chair lady who started her term by appointing people to chair committees in a manner which violated County Rules at the time.

    Solution?

    Change the rules.

    This is another example of amateurs at work in the County.

    These amateurs think they are above the law!

    The States Attorney who advised the that the notice was legal needs to be looking for work elsewhere.

    He / she is definitely NOT working on the behalf of the taxpayers who elected her boss!!

    I look for feedback from Bianchi!

    Realize people, we are talking IN EXCESS OF ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!

  5. If Nick thought this meeting was illegal why would he continue and vote on it, anyone who participated in this meeting should be considered in violation of the open meeting act.

  6. It is worth noting that the PDF file of the 9/3 agenda was last modified on 7/2/2014- two months ago.

    That mean that the text is the document was A)last modified on July 2 of this year, or B) someone is altering the calendars on county computers.

    Giving the state of our county’s governance, either is likely.

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