Franks Makes Progess on Lowering Number of Committees

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks made significant progress in convincing Board members to lower the number of committees from twelve to seven.

Members of the Temporary Rules Committee got seats in the front row of the County Board chamer.

Members of the Temporary Rules Committee got seats in the front row of the County Board chamer.

Can’t imagine why readers might be intereste, but here’s an attempt to list the proposal:

  • Finance
  • Internal Support and Facilities Services (the new Management Services and Facilities Management)
  • Law and Government (Law and Justice, plus Legislative)
  • Liquor and License
  • Planning, Environment and Development (Natural & Environment Resources plus Pollution Control Facilities folded in)
  • Public Health and Community Services
  • Transporation
Temporary Rules Committee members arriving after the first row was filled sat in seats staff usually occupy. Three members are in the first row--Bob Nowak, Chuck Wheeler and Joe Gottemoller. Also attending were non-members Andrew Gasser and Jeff Thorsen in the front row, plus John Reinert and Craig Wilcox in the second row.

Temporary Rules Committee members arriving after the first row was filled sat in seats staff usually occupy. Three members are in the first row–Bob Nowak, Chuck Wheeler and Joe Gottemoller. Also attending were non-members Andrew Gasser and Jeff Thorsen in the front row, plus John Reinert and Craig Wilcox in the second row.

Rather extensive discussion occurred concerning the Pollution Control Facility Committee, which Franks saw no need for.

Joe Gottemoller explained that it met exhaustively if there was an application for a pollution control facility, e.g., a garbage dump.

Franks was educated by former Chairman Gottemoller, who pointed out that it could not be an ad hoc committee, because the losing side of any siting vote would go to court saying the committee had been stacked against their position.

The consensus was to put the function in with Planning.

Jack Franks

Jack Franks

Another issue tentatively settled is when the Board will meet.

Franks wanted a voting Board meeting on the third Thursday of each month preceded the Tuesday before by a Committee of the Whole in which no votes would be taken but at which questionsciykd be brought up and discussion had on any agenda issue by any board member the Tuesday before.

The idea would be to develope a consent agenda that could be passed with one roll call at the regular Board meeting.

Contensiouis items would thus be identified.

The Tuesday-Thursday schedule posed a problem for Michele Aavang, who attends Illinois Farm Bureau meetings on Wednesday, Thursaday and Friday during the third week of each month, driving to Bloomington each Tuesday night after the County Board meeting.

Andrew Gasser suggested keeping the Board meeting on the third Tuesday and holing a Committee of the Whole meeting the previous Thursday.

Andrew Gasser suggesting a meeting schedule compromise.

Andrew Gasser suggesting a meeting schedule compromise.

Agreement was reached on this schedule.

Replacement of members on committees was an interesting debate.

When I first read the proposal, it smelled like a really bad procedure in Springfield.

There party leaders (read Mike Madigan and the GOP Leader) could pretty much substitute at will any member off of a committee and replace them with someone.

So if a member wanted to duck a tough vote and was willing to be replaced with a more compliant member, a switch could be made.

Discussion indicated that several committees had had problems conducting meetings because enough members had not shown up to create a quorum.

Franks said he had noticed that in reading committee minutes.

“I’m not sure this would come up very often,” he said, “[but we] need to be able to do the people’s business if someone’s not there.”

Franks said the request from the member to be replaced would have to be in writing (that occurs in Springfield as well on a little slip of paper) for each meeting.

He told of his Springfield experience when a chairman “could stack a meeting.”

Jim Kearns

Jim Kearns

“I just want to have the flexibility.

“I’ve seen it work in other governments and it has been used inappropriately,” he continued.

Jim Keanrs wanted to know if the replacement would have to be from the same district.

Franks said he could agree with that.

Jim Heisler related having sat in a committee room for 30 to 45 minutes waiting for enough members to create a quorum.

“It happened twice,” he said.

“I don’t want any chicanery happening,” Franks said indicating something would have to be in writing to the committee chairman.

Chuck Wheeler pointed out that now meetings were going to be held in the County Board room, attendance by phone was an option.

Paula Yensen told of the problem of people leaving a committee meeting early.

“Perhaps they would allow us to know ahead of time and we can arrange for a replacement,” Franks replied.

At this point, Franks admitted that putting a bunch [of committee meetings] on one day was a bad idea.

Apparently he received a lot of negative feedback.

Keying in on Yensen’s comment, Mike Skala said, “I don’t view an individual missing a meeting when you have a quorum [as significant].”

He pointed out he had conducted Finance Committee meetings with four members [without a problem].

“This is not a mandate,” Franks emphasized.

“It will only be energized at the option of the member.”

Bob Nowak

Bob Nowak

Bob Novak told of the impossibility of sitting through meetings while he was being treated for prostrate cancer.

“I would have been happen to call Andy,” he said.

Kearns wanted more control by the member who was absent.

“What if a person says, ‘Yes,” but I don’t want [him/her]?’

“Pick your own substitute,” Franks replied.

“We can make that change.”

Wheeler summed up what he thought the consensus was:

  • 1st option – replacement would be a member of the same district
  • 2nd option – the members’ choice

All present approved the change.

“I appreciate the input.  That was helpful,” Franks concluded.

When asked when the proposed Rule changes might be posted on the County web site, Franks replied,

“We’ll get the changes and get them to the County Board and [then] to the public [which will have plenty of time to review them].”


Franks Makes Progess on Lowering Number of Committees — 30 Comments

  1. Franks and Gasser are going to rip the political class out by the bloody root.

    God I hope that this is a sign of good things to come from these two leaders.

    “There are no sacred cows.” Jack Franks

    “Control what you can control.” Andrew Gasser

  2. Reducing the number of committees increases the chance a Democrat is on a Committee, which has been a goal of the McHenry County Democrat Party for a long time.

    The proposal is for one Committee of the Whole and one Regular Board meeting per month, plus Committee meetings?

  3. Where is the Jack Franks plan to reduce property taxes in every property taxing district in McHenry County.

    Another commitment not met.


    “I’m running for McHenry County Board Chaman to cut property taxes levy by 10% across the board.

    This means a 10% property tax levy reduction from EVERY government body in our County.

    We can finally give relief to local property taxpayers if we eliminate government waste and fraud and more efficiently manage tax dollars.

    Join me in sending a message to McHenry County leaders in support of this 10% cut.

    And know that I will introduce this plan on my first day as your new McHenry County Board Chairman.

    – Jack Franks.” redirects to which is has been disabled.


    First Day – December 5, 2016

    Second Day – December 6, 2016

    Third Day – December 7, 2016
    County Board Chairman. -Jack Franks

  4. @Dan Marshall

    There is no one on that board who is a more entrenched member of the political class than Jack Franks.

    He is the person that he is warning us about.

  5. Reducing the number of committees is something that we have been talking about doing for several years once we had a popularly elected Chairman and didn’t need to have more committees to give the Chairman elected from the Board more goodies to hand out.

    Also we now have a majority of conservative reformers on the Board not beholden to a Chairman.

    This was achieved for the first time with this last election.

    I had been talking about these same changes in staff meetings for the past six months.

    We we would have gone forward with it in a more orderly fashion, such as having that discussion either at Management Services which had been scheduled for the 12th or within the committee on committees once that was formed.

    Franks had nothing to do with this but bludgeoned his way to it so he can take credit for a “reform” that would have happened anyway with less drama.

    That he did this by pulling dirty tricks such as establishing a hand picked committee where we already had a committee in place with this jurisdiction, and followed that up by springing a 4:30 surprise Rules re-write that went far beyond what he promised Members the committee was going to be limited to, has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth only two days into his term.

    It now appears that the other suggested Rules changes are going to be sent to the re-structured former Management Services Committee anyway which may be a concession on his part to the blow back he received.

    A less confrontational management style will go a lot further than the Springfield inspired tactics we have seen so far.

    He also needs to stop demigoging the property tax issue and pretending that county government is responsible for our high property taxes.

    State government is primarily responsible for our high property taxes by shoveling responsibility for taxation onto local governments so they could balance their budget in Springfield while continuing to give hand outs to special interests which support the Democrat Party.

    That approached worked only while the state continued to grow and the baby boomer state employees and teachers hadn’t yet reached retirement age.

    Both of these chickens came home to roost at the same time creating a perfect storm which has tanked the state finances. (I raise chickens).

    Franks bailed when that happened and came back here.

    If he continues with the approach he has exhibited thus far, it is going to be a rough 4 years for everyone concerned and he will accomplish exactly the same as he accomplished in Springpatch (bupkis), with the same results to our local government (disaster).

    You catch more bees with honey than with a club, and the club destroys the hive. (I keep bees).

    Stay warm today.

  6. Would you look at Walkup.

    Wherever something positive is accomplished by someone else on the county board, Mike is the first person to run out and take credit, saying “I thought of it first!” and “I’ve been discussing this!”

    All talk, no action (at least until his whetted raised finger is certain which way the political winds are blowing).

  7. Voters should be appalled that committee members can’t show up for meetings.

    Where is the outrage about that?

    I don’t get the apparent hatred of Mike Walkup by some of you goofs.

    He is a good and decent man.

    He’s done a hell of a lot more than most of the mannequins the low IQ voters of McHenry County keep sending back to office (See: Skala, Yensen, etc.)

    Prepare to reap what you’ve sown, McHenry County.

    Jack ain’t Moses.

  8. while he is whittling down the members I hope he is the first to let himself Go!

    out the door, he is already taking que’s from the courtroom that is run at the CL CC meetings… ha!

    real original… NOT!

  9. One of the reasons that Members may not show up for a committee meeting is that often those meetings had only a couple of routine matters on the agendas so Members would feel they were not needed.

    There was poor planning by staff who assumed they could count on there being a meeting on X date so they would wait until the last minute to bring something up for approval which had a deadline, without anyone looking at the time inefficiencies, so you would be dragging 7 people to Woodstock and pay for mileages just to approve a lawnmowing contract renewal.

    We had one NERC meeting where we lacked a quorum for a 9 AM meeting and two NERC Members who had 10 AM meeting for another committee in the adjoining room didn’t bother to come an hour earlier for NERC.

    We have also had people with day jobs who needed to leave if the meeting went on past a certain time.

    Some critical votes on PHHS for Mental Health Board appointments were affected by that.

    With fewer committees, each one will have more on it’s plate so we shouldn’t see so much of that.

  10. What about when the people lost their primary so they didn’t bother to show up because they lost?

    Miller, Draffkorn, etc.

    Ask Paula Yensen about that one as well.

  11. Mod: I would say the same things whether I won or lost.

    What I would not be doing is trying to grandstand every single day and create crises and conflicts where there are none so I can get an article in the paper.

    Now that the election is over, why don’t we drop the dirty tricks and demagoguery and start governing?

    Or do we have another target in mind?

  12. Mike?

    Do you recall what I said about their agenda a long time ago?

    You are catching on.

  13. Target?

    The target is lowering taxes.

    Look at all the leaders in McHenry County moving to cut taxes at a 10% rate.

    Do you really think that is an accident.

    Like it or not, Franks has started a movement that will be a template for the rest of the state.

    Why would you be so hung up in procedural nonsense when the result, thus far has been leaders cutting spending and taxes.

    You and Cal have had a target on Jack’a back for YEARS.

    If anyone is worried, it should be you and Cal Skinner. Other local party leaders need to question how much Skinner is really in the game for the greater good.

    Look at Cal’s record of supporting losing candidates.

    Look at Cal’s strict adherence to social issues.

    Look at Cal’s continual pontificating.

    He has brought the worst of this party out of the woodwork.

    Biggots like Cindy, racists like OldManWinter, libelists like DuncanMcHenry, and for what?

    To see these same crazies quick to type but slow to volunteer on the ground.

    Cal is a hindrance to this party doing the RIGHT thing, working with Franks, and cutting taxes from top to bottom county wide.

    Get on board.

  14. Re: ““I don’t want any chicanery happening,” Franks said”

    He is using ‘chicanery’ to ‘snow’ the infantile’ Board members!

    What was Lichte but chicanery?

  15. The McHenry County College Board has been leading the way by keeping its tax request the same for four years.

    I have seen no evidence that Jack Franks had anything to do with electing the ones who led that fight.

  16. I do not trust many in the Republican Party anymore but I do trust Andrew Gasser and I do trust Jack Franks.

    These are two individuals who see the sins of their parties and are trying to move beyond the body politics.

    Don’t like Franks?

    Republicans have no one to blame but themselves.

    Just look at what happened to the reformers of McHenry County.

    Just look at who “Republicans” put up for office year after year.

    Franks and Gasser owe no one anything and they have both proven they will talk to us, the people, first.

    I am under no illusion that Franks or Gasser is a saint but these guys actually do what they say… compared to others they both are a breath of fresh air.

  17. So, do you think Jack Franks promised to cut your home’s tax bill by 10% or 1%?

  18. It is one percent Cal.

    I attended Andrew Gasser’s tax forum and I understand that.

    In fact that is EXACTLY what Mr. Miller said at the forum.

    However, when you have elected Republicans saying there is nothing we can do I disagree with them.

    I also know that there are so many “Republicans” who just go along to get along.

    They are more worried about their seats than the people they are elected to represent.

  19. The above comment is exactly what is wrong with Cal Skinner and Mike Walkup.

    They are more interested in their own self serving, power hungry desires than actually working to lessen the burden of taxes on the citizens of McHenry county.

    Cal has offered snark and Mike had offered pedantically driven procedural obstruction.

    The local GOP should not stand for this.

    We need to work together!!!

    It’s time to come together.

  20. Jack Franks said he is running to cut property taxes 10% in every property taxing district in the county.

    That’s impossible given pension and bond debt.

    Which is probably why he has not submitted the plan he said he would submit his first day in office.

  21. Here is the unfunded liability (aka net pension liability aka taxpayer IOU to the pension fund) for McHenry County School Districts for TRS (teacher and administrator pension fund).

    School District – District unfunded liability – State unfunded liability (on behalf of district) – Total

    Nippersink School District 2 – $724,542 – $43,264,650 – $43,989,192

    Fox River Grove CSD 3 – $473,753 – $19,133,540 – $19,607,293

    Johnsburg CSD 12 – $2,083,275 – 77,592,875 – $79,676,150

    McHenry CCSD 15 – $5,346,877 – $174,745,548 – $180,092,425

    Riley CCSD 18 – $539,772 – $10,916,291 – $11,456,063

    Alden Hebron SD 19 – $338,837 – $20,233,002 – $20,571,839

    Cary CCSD 26 – $2,392,003 – $80,963,813 – $83,355,816

    Harrison School District 36 – $456,989 – $12,325,304 – $12,782,293

    Prairie Grove CSD 46 – $754,438 – $36,237,546 – $36,991,984

    Crystal Lake CCSD 47 – $8,854,161 – $271,376,166 – $280,230,327

    Harvard CUSD 50 – 4,652,441 – $74,458,911 – $79,111,352

    Marengo CHSD 154 – $611,545 – $30,671,748 – $31,283,293

    Community HSD 155 – $4,813,820 – $172,772,961 – $177,586,781

    McHenry CHSD 156 – $2,875,675 – $89,110,194 – $91,985,869

    Richmond Burton CHSD 157 – $477,532 – $28,514,923 – $28,992,455

    Huntley CSD 158 – $4,597,776 – $274,522,945 – $279,120,721

    Marengo Union ESD 165 – $523,625 – $27,060,484 – $27,584,109

    Woodstock CUSD 200 – $7,123,710 – $231,720,926 – $238,844,636

    Totals – $47,640,771 – $1,675,621,827 – $1,723,262,598


    How to read the data:

    McHenry County property taxpayers owe $47,640,771 to the TRS pension fund as of June 30, 2015.

    State taxpayers, on behalf of McHenry County property taxpayers, owe $1,675,621,827 to the TRS pension fund as of June 30, 2015.

    That $1,675,621,827 is attributable to McHenry County school district operations.


    The numbers don’t account for school districts that overlap county boundaries.

    For example, some of the Huntley School District falls in Kane County.

    Likewise, there are school districts that are categorized as being in Lake County by the Illinois State Board of Education that overlap into McHenry County.

    A total of $1.7 Billion Dollars is owed to the TRS pension fund attributable to McHenry County school district operations.



    CCSD = Community Consolidated School District (Elementary)

    CHSD = Community High School Disrict

    CSD = Consolidated School District (Elementary)

    CUSD = Community Unit School District (Elementary + High School)

    ESD = Elementary School District


    Nippersink School District covers Richmond and Spring Grove.


    TRS members are teachers and administrators with educational certificates / licenses.


    Many school district employees that are not in TRS are in the IMRF pension fund (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund).

    The IMRF pension fund also has an unfunded liability (aka net pension liability aka taxpayer IOU to the pension fund).



    Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois

    Information Required Under Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 68

    Based on Measurement Period Ending June 30, 2015

    Report dated January 22, 2016

  22. I know what I have done to dampen the tax hike machine.

    I’d be interested in what you have done locally and, for that matter, what Jack Franks has done.

  23. Moderate NOT/Jacko !

    Cal & Mike don’t have a power hungry bone
    In either of their bodies.

    YOU are the one PROJECTING your numerous
    Psychological issues onto others.

    “Look at all the leaders in McHenry County moving
    to cut taxes at a 10% rate.”

    That is hilarious & SUCH A LIE.

  24. Summary of McHenry County Unfunded Liability for TRS Teachers and Administrators Pension Fund:

    Local taxpayers owe $47 Million to the TRS Pension Fund.

    The $47 Million increases every day (using actuarial projections) the $47 Million is not in the pension fund.

    As an analogy, the return on investment of zero, is zero.

    Meaning, the $47 Million is missing so there is no return on investment on the missing $47 million..

    Any ideas on how to come up with $47 Million plus cut property taxes 10%?


    How about the State?

    The State could increase its funding to local.

    The Governor said he has increased education funding (not sure of the details on that).

    Anyways, the State taxpayers owe $1.6 Billion to the TRS pension fund, just for McHenry County TRS Pensions.

    Any ideas how to come up with $1.6 Billion plus cut state taxes?


    Thus, one way to think of the unfunded liability is a credit card balance on which monthly interest gets tacked on to the outstanding balance.

    That’s not technically the way it works, since investment returns are more variable than interest charges.

    But using actuarial projections, it’s the same basic idea.


    TRS operates in a dysfunctional fashion.

    In the majority of school districts in Illinois, the school district picks up some or all of the teacher contribution, to the pension fund.

    Then, the state picks up the vast majority of the school district contribution, to the pension fund.

    Meantime, benefits were repeatedly hiked over four+ decades (40+ years) while the pension was underfunded every single year.

    And, the legislators passed laws to mandate the state contribution, using an absurd ramp, where payments started low and gradually increased until at the end of the bogus schedule, it was known by many the payments would be unrealistic when the law was passed.

    An analogy for the bogus state pension funding schedule would be to buy a car or house, with payments that increase every year.

    To pour salt on the wound, one sentence was added to the state constitution in 1970, that benefits are contractual and cannot be diminished or impaired.

    That’s been interpreted to mean that:

    – If pensions are already underfunded, so what, benefits can be hiked anyways (that’s stupid).

    – Once a benefit his hiked, any worker employed receives that benefit for life.

    – Benefits can only be reduced for workers not yet employed.

    To double down, collective bargaining negotiations did not and do not consider the unfunded liability.

    So what was the result.

    Pension Benefits were hiked without regard to affordability, because benefits are contractual and cannot be diminished or impaired once hiked (a diminishment or impairment would only affect future workers).

    Collective bargaining agreements were hiked without regard to pension funding status.

    Pensions were maxed.

    Collective bargaining agreements were maxed.

    Pay was maxed.

    It was widespread dysfunctionality for 45 years.


    The largest single category of contributors to Jack Franks PACs have been teacher unions.

  25. Franks opened up his introductory speech by reciting that our county has one of the highest in property taxes in the country, and asking us on the county board to figure out how to fix it, thereby implying that county government is the problem.

    However, if you look at the other collar counties they are only fractionally behind us.

    This tells you that the culprit is not the county but the state government, which he just left after 18 years of futility.

    It is the tax mix that Illinois uses that forces more reliance on local property taxes so that the state can spend more and still balance their budget that drives up the local property taxes.

    Also the school districts give in too readily to strike backed teacher and administrator demands and they are 70% of the tax bill.

    Meanwhile, county government has been responsive to efforts to scale back costs over the last four years.

    The surplus at Valley Hi which he railed about is also caused by the State.

    It has reached the level it has because of the state imposed tax caps combined with fears that the state will renege on Medicaid payments in the future. Once the money is there it is difficult to pull out because it is dedicated to that purpose.

    We need to install a large mirror in the Chairman’s office.

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