Under this story, local resident Steve Willson offers his opinion on the McHenry County Board’s pension problem:
It was a witch hunt, pure and simple, and a selective one at that, given that former board members and downstate County board members were not targeted.
There are two issues here:
- should the County Board members have pensions?
- did they do something wrong?
Certain parties have wrongly sought to conflate the two issues.
With regard to the first issue, I believe as a matter of policy that County Board members should NOT receive pensions.
The legislature should change the law and make this clear.
But, THAT issue is completely separate from the second issue.
The second issue is did the board members do something wrong or illegal by signing up for the pension.
Let’s look at the facts.
The County administration has OFFERED the pension to board members since 1998.
Understand that: the pension was not something demanded by board members or done under the table.
It was offered BY THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATION.
A new member gets elected, he or she sits down with someone from HR, they give the new board member forms to fill out — federal tax forms, state income tax forms, and a form for the IMRF.
No one — not from HR, not from the IMRF, ever said, in eighteen years, “you aren’t eligible”.
In fact, HR told the members they WERE eligible, and under the law it is HR’s responsibility to check.
I opposed Joe Gottemoller for election as Board Chair.
But if he’s getting a pension for that position, he didn’t do anything wrong.
I opposed Anna May Miller for the board.
But if she’s getting a pension for that position, she didn’t do anything wrong.
Illegal action requires intent.
It’s clear there was NEVER any intent to do anything wrong.
Quite the opposite:
the members relied in good faith on what they were told by the people who’s job it is to know, including the IMRF.
It’s time for the IMRF to call this thing off, too.
It’s time for a definitive conclusion to this witch hunt.