County Board Doesn’t Seem to Understand Separation of Powers

Having read Kevin Craver’s article about the changes in the County Board’s rules after the 2016 at-large election of a McHenry County Board Chairman, I have concluded that were we in the 1770’s most members would have been Loyalists to King George III.

They would not have been throwing tea into the Boston harbor.

Joe Gotemoller

Joe Gotemoller

Not that I think, if elected, current County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller will act like a king, but the County Board is about to cede him powers that would allow him to be much more powerful than is necessary.

I strongly believe in decentralization of power.

In other words, separate of powers.

That’s what the Federalist Papers were all about.

As Lord Acton has states so well,

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

Don’t think the Joe Gottemolller you know here.

Think Mike Madigan.

What the majority of County Board members do not seem to understand is that the voters have switched the form of government from

  • a parliamentary system


  • an executive-legislative model.

Under a parliamentary system (think Great Britain), the members of the legislature elect a head person (Prime Minister) and that person organizes the government.

Under an executive-legislative system (think the U.S. or Illinois government), the Chief Executive is elected at-large and the legislators are elected from districts.

Think how newly-elected Republican Governor Bruce Rauner would love to be able to appoint all the House and Senate committee Chairmen, Vice Chairman and members in Springfield.

That’s what the new McHenry County Board Chairman will be able to do twice, plus chair the legislative meetings.

If the Board does not approve committee appointments in effort one and effort two, then the County Board organizes its own committees.

Obviously, Mike Madigan and John Cullerton will not follow the example of McHenry County Republican County Board members and give Rauner the power to appoint committees.

If I may digress to a family story, when my father was in his early 30’s we lived in Easton, Maryland.

The 50,00-person city had a Mayor and a City Council. The City Council has a President.

My little sister used to ask as Dad was leaving for a meeting, “Daddy going to President of the Town Council meeting?”

Mayor Walter (the name I remember, but “Joseph” is in the town records) Barnes, who ran the local men’s haberdashery on the Courthouse Square, asked him to run in a special election when the then-Council President resigned.

My first electoral memory is walking to the local firehouse when my mother voted for him. He was the only one on the ballot.

As I remember, my father told me that the Mayor could attend the meetings, but he, as President of the Town Council, ran the meetings.

That is different from the pending situation in McHenry County, where the at-large elected Chairman will run the meetings.

Trying to find when the senior Cal Skinner was elected, I discovered he was Vice Chairman of the first Planning and Zoning Commission Easton had. That was 1946.  So, I guess he was elected in the late 1940’s.  I know he served when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was opened in 1952, because he was one of the dignitaries in the opening parade.  (I missed the ferry rides.)

Jack Franks

Jack Franks

If Democrat Jack Franks changes his mind and runs for County Board Chairman and wins (most people think he would win), the proposed rules would give him inordinate power over the Republican-controlled legislative branch.

County Board Republicans will be scrambling after a November Jack Franks’ victory to change their rules to emulate those of Will County, which has a Democratic Party County Executive and a Republican County Board.

In Will County the Board has organized itself radically differently from what is proposed in McHenry County.

The head of the County Board is called “Speaker,” just as in the Illinois House.  (Seems a little pretentious, but Will County pretty much created this wheel.)

You can watch the County Board justify giving its power away to the Executive Branch on Thursday, April 9th, starting at 8:15 A.M., when there will be a Committee of the Whole meeting.  At the following 9 AM meeting, the Board is expected to adopt the new rules.

You can read the Will County rules here.


County Board Doesn’t Seem to Understand Separation of Powers — 3 Comments

  1. Many people are so disadvantaged by current policy, and ignored by current elected officials, so the ABCED rule will guide voters:

    Anyone But Current Evil Doers


  2. Approximately when was the Kevin Craver article written in the Northwest Herald?

    Presumably a follow up article is forthcoming.

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