Franks’ Patronage Hires Fail HR Committee Test – Part 2

Part 1 can be read here.

Craig Wilcox

Continuing the questioning of McHenry County Administrator Peter Austin, Human Resources
Board member Craig Wilcox said,

“You exercised an authority that the County Board is responsible for, that we do spell out in [your contract].

“You admit that you [did this at the request of Chairman Jack Franks].”

Wilcox asked State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally to comment.

“The authority would be through Mr. Austin, who is to provide for the Chairman,” Kenneally said.

He said he didn’t want to offer an opinion about “a legal question that the State’s Attorney has not been asked.”

(Committee Chairman, the County Board Chairman and the County Administrator can ask the State’s Attorney for legal opinions, which do not have to be made public.)

Tom Wilbeck

Committee member Tom Wilbeck wanted to know why the decision on the hiring had to be made by the end of December.

Austin said that Chairman Jack Franks was “quite adamant he wanted to get these people in. January 1 was the target.”

Wilbeck observed that approval of the resolution would “set a precedent for another emergency to get something done.”

Austin disagreed.

“I don’t think it’s precedent-setting.

“We don’t bend the rules very often, but this was an atypical situation, pretty unique.”

The Administrator then turned to the argument contained in the memo accompanying the resolution (also not released until late in the afternoon of the day before the Human Resources meeting):

“We are not adding to headcount, not raising the budget.”

“I want to believe that,” Wilbeck said.

Mary McCann, a consistent Franks’ supporter chimed in.

“I see this as part and parcel of administering the administrative development which comes as part of [an at-large elected Chairman].

Wilcox wondered if the County Administration had done “due diligence” before hiring the two.

He wanted to know if the two positions filed were valid ones.

He asked whether the positions should not have been vacated, if not filled within 90 days.

If so, Wilcox suggested that both headcount and the budget would be increased by the hiring.

Michael Rein

Michael Rein, who led the effort to save the Human Resources Committee after Jack Franks took action to eliminate it, had two points:

  1. “You stated this should go before the County Board.  Why didn’t it go before the County Board?  In December we had no committee meetings.  That was because of the Chairman, not the Board members.
  2. “The ordinance doesn’t even signify what these two new hires are [supposed to do].”

After another question by Wilcox about the 90-day policy, Austin pointed out, “Hitting the 91st day does not automatically invalidate a county position.

“All our rules say that…[It depends on whether they] are actively trying to fill them.”

Austin continued that there may be a good reason to hold a position open.

He explained that the IT Department had decided to handle its open position by combining the duties with other jobs.

Wilcox pointed out that policy stated that a department had to be “actively trying to fill” a job for the 90-day rule to be ignored.

Austin explained the Department of Transpiration was struggling to fill the position (which is financing half of Communication Specialist Oliver Serafini’s salary).

[The only evidence of activity on behalf of McDOT was a two hour tour in January.]

Donna Kurtz pointed out that the two jobs were “completely re-configured,” which “logically doesn’t make sense.

“The 90-day policy makes sense when we’re hiring like to like.  [If the position is “redefined, it is not like-to-like and not in keeping with our whole accountability approach.”

Austin re-iterated that hiring the two would cost less than if the originally described jobs had been filled.

Peter Austin

Another member made a comment I did not catch, but Austin’s reply was, “I agree, but I had to acknowledge this was a pretty unique situation.

“I was confronted with a pretty unique situation and I found a way to do it.

“Whether or not you accept it is the question.”

“People aren’t really being honest about what’s going on,” Kurtz said.

“There was plenty of opportunity for open, honest dialogue–a simple email just to be honest and open.

Donna Kurtz

“This casts a dark cloud on the integrity of the whole process.”

“What bugs you so much is that this isn’t a normal situation.”

“That isn’t acceptable to me,” Kurtz replied.

“Why don’t we do it the normal way?

“Now we’ve set the part for this to continue…if this goes through.

“It’s just not acceptable.”

= = = = =
More tomorrow.


Franks’ Patronage Hires Fail HR Committee Test – Part 2 — 15 Comments

  1. Let us pray that Wilbeck has ‘seen the light’.

    Thank you Craig Wilcox for succinctly searching for the truth.

  2. This is unacceptable to the people Austin and Franks work for – US.

    Actively trying to fill positions would be posting them to the public as a job opening.

    Mr. Austin’s contract needs to be terminated. He violated policy and public trust and tried
    to hide it.

    Mr. Franks needs to be advised what his realm of authority is, at a public meeting.

    Then we can all move forward on the same page as we are stuck with Franks.

  3. If Jacko is not put in his place right now and held accountable for this crony hiring it will only get much, much worse.

  4. It doesn’t matter if he gets them or not because it is going to get worse!

  5. Mary McCann needs to start educating herself before blindly agrees to support Franks and his agenda.

    She was completely dumbfounded after her snide comment and then being corrected by HR members.

    At 1:48:10

    (laughing at Mr. Wilcox’s previous statement)

    “Sorry about this but this is the third time you’ve (Wilcox) mentioned that we rejected the executive form of government but that was never even considered… or did I miss something?”

    A conversation between members explained to McCann that there actually was a referendum on the executive form of government.

    Which would have occurred while she was on the board!

    And she would have voted to put it on the ballot!

    Take a listen it’s only a minute or two; it will make folks realize how some of these board members are clueless and just do as they are told by higher ups rather than actually listen to their constituents.

  6. Actually Leeeeeery the Board did not vote to put the county executive referndum on the ballot, but McCann still should have known about the 2012 county executive referndum.

    Franks collected signatures (a rediculously low number of signatures was required for such an important and big change in government IMO) to get it on the ballot.

    “While a majority of board members in the past have opposed leaving the chairmanship up to the voters, many seem to have changed their minds because they find the idea more palatable than creating a county executive.

    An executive wields significant power, voting only to break ties, but having veto power over board legislation. The executive also is responsible for preparing the county budget, recommending appointments of department heads, and entering intergovernmental agreements.”

    “Franks’ petition had more than 1,500 signatures, three times the minimum of 500 required.”

    “Will County is the only Illinois county with an executive.”

    “Several board members have accused Franks of wanting to create the executive position so he could run for it himself in 2014. Franks stated Wednesday that he has no intention of running for either the office of executive or county board chairman.”


    “EXECUTIVE TRYON? – I saw it coming that Franks would rule out running for the office is is trying to create. He’s said it to me on the record, and stated the same at least twice to his audience.

    I think the question that was asked to them both was tailored for Franks – after all, it’s a very legitimate thing to ask him or any other official seeking to create a new elected office or government position.

    I did not see it coming that Tryon, former McHenry County Board chairman, would not rule it out himself.

    Tryon prefaced his answer by saying that he was working to defeat the referendum so the office never gets created in the first place. But he then said he could not rule out a run.

    Besides saying that coming back to run a county would have something of an appeal to him, Tryon added that he would have a real concern – i.e. consider a run – “if the wrong person emerges as a candidate.”

    If Tryon does run, he secured his first vote on stage.

    “I’d vote for you, Mike,” Franks said. “I think you’d do a good job.””

    Senior Writer Kevin Craver can be reached at


    “Under a county-executive form of government, voters elect their county board representatives, as they do now, but also elect a chief executive to a four-year term to run county government’s day-to-day operations.

    The law grants the executive powers that far exceed what the chairman now exercises, such as veto power over board legislation. The executive also is responsible for developing the county budget, recommending appointments of department heads and entering intergovernmental agreements.”


    “Under Illinois law, the County Board chairman, under the current system, has some limited powers above other board members. The chairman sets the agenda for County Board meetings, runs the meetings, and assigns committee chairmanships with the consent of the full board. The chairman also serves as the board’s liaison to other local, regional and state governments, giving him more political muscle.”

    “Proponents of the executive form of government also say that it will lead to better transparency, and that illegal meetings such as the one that occured during post-census redistricting last year couldn’t happen. We disagree, and think that there would be less transparency because of the executive’s expanded powers.

    For example, under the current form, the county’s budgeting process takes place in committee meetings that are posted and open to the public. Under the executive form of government, the county executive drafts the budget and can do so behind close doors.

    Opponents of the referendum argue that it unnecessarily creates another layer of government. The county executive would be able to hire his own staff, attorney, etc.

    In the end, we recommend that voters vote “no” on the executive form of government.”


    “McHenry County currently operates under the county administrator form of government where the 24 County Board members set the direction and policy for McHenry County and the county administrator, who is hired by the board, and must implement those policies established by the board. Additionally, the county administrator oversees the day-to-day operation of the organization, prepares the county’s budget as well as being responsible for the hiring and firing of most county employees.

    The benefits to having the county administrator form of government are numerous, but most importantly, a professionally-run government organization facilitates consistent and efficient implementation of policies, rules and regulations.

    Moreover, one of biggest benefits of having a professionally-managed government organization is to separate those elected from those hired to provide the day-to-day administration of the organization. This can be an important factor for maintaining a fair playing field for business to operate within, as well as for facilitating an efficiently-operated government organization. “

  11. Did Wilcox surgically implant a spine into Wilbeck?

    It’s a medical and political wonder.

    But I congratulate the surgeon and the patient.

    Mr. Wilbeck, nopw you have to exercise that spinal column in opposing Franks the Unmagnificent …and we’ll support every time!!!

  12. I see we can eliminate not only 3 positions but include jacko’s and we save a lot of $$ now there we have a win/win situation.. for the tax payers and transparency for all.

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