Franks Making Another Run at Gaining Approval of His Patronage Hires Wednesday

On the Agenda of the McHenry County Board’s Internal Support & Services Committee on Wednesday morning for the second time is an agenda item to legitimize the patronage hiring of Chairman Jack Frank’s two former employees.

To remind readers of what’s going on, here is a reprint of the last of three articles about the last meeting:

Franks’ Patronage Hires Fail HR Committee Test – Part 3

This is Part 3.  Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 is here.

Michael Rein

Michael Rein wondered if most jobs were not advertised on the internet and advertised.

“That’s correct,” County Administrator Peter Austin replied, [but] it varies for the electeds.

Rein asked if departments were “actively pursuing filling the two jobs now?”

“No,” Austin replied.

The Committee member wanted to know Austin was informed by Franks about his desired hires.

Peter Austin

“Before the first of the year” was the answer.

Austin told the members that he had been told that Franks had phoned “a number of the members” to tell them about the situation.

“Though this may have been legal, it was misleading, fraudulent in nature,” Rein concluded.

“Would you have done it differently?” Rein asked.

Austin referred to the cliche about 20-20 hind sight and repeated, “This isn’t the way we do things normally.”

He added, “This has been a real problem for me personally.”

I believe the next speaker was Chairman John Jung.

“I think we’ve talked about this enough and it’s getting too political,” he said.

There was a motion made to immediately proceed to a vote, but the motion failed to gain a two-thirds majority, which Jung said was required to end debate.

Craig Wilcox

Craig Wilcox drew State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally into the discussion and the State’s Attorney said, “We’re eager to serve when called upon.”

Then, Wilcox addressed Austin again.

“Could you see a rescinding of that employment?”

“I think that’s what’s before you,” Austin replied.

Jack Franks

“I don’t know how this gets further legitimizing,” he said, indicating the hiring was the same as the authority given other countywide elected officials.

Then came the stunning admission:

“I let the Chairman make the decision of who to hire.”

The legality of the hiring had been argued by the contention that the County Administrator has the authority to hire employees.

“I think we did not do our diligence.

“Hiring requires authorization from the County Board.

“There’s no way I can approve this resolution, Wilcox concluded.

Donna Kurtz

Donna Kurtz contended that the hiring process “should have allowed anyone interested to interview for the positions.”

She said she was getting “a dinging from the public.

“That doesn’t look right to the public.

“[State] statute does not say you can do that.

Mary McCann

Mary McCann then took the floor.

She saw two issues:

  1. the authority of the County Board Chairman
  2. the hiring issue

She pointed out that Austin had hired assistants before.

Supporting her, Austin pointed out, “The Board rarely approves hires.”

“I think it time for a realistic discussion of that [situation].” McCann added.

Wilcox saw three issues:

  1. the authority to hire
  2. the positions themselves
  3. the hiring process

John Jung

“Are you asking that these people be let go?” Chairman John Jung asked.

“I don’t like what happened,” he continued, “but Peter had been given the authority to approve up to the midpoint.

“It’s an elective office,” Jung pointed out knowing that the other countywide elected officials had the authority to hire the employees of their choice.

“You can hire Joe and not hire Mary,” Jung said.

Jack Franks patronage worker wearing Franks campaign stickers at the McHenry Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

“I see the other side.”

[The difference being that the office of at-large Chairman of the McHenry County Board was created by statute, while offices like the Sheriff, Treasurer, State’s Attorney, etc., were created by the 1970 State Constitution and, as such, had more authority vis-a-vis the County Board than Franks.]

“I don’t think believe it is clear Mr. Austin had the authority,” Kurtz said in rebuttal.

“When you have questions about what is proper, it is likely something was improper,” he concluded.

Seeing to frame the issue, McCann asked, “Is the Chairman Peter’s boss or are we all Peter’s boss?”

Bridgett Geenen’s McHenry County employee identification card.

She argued that not approving the resolution “doesn’t do much for the moral for many of the employees we have, department heads as well.

“‘Gee.  They’ll find an excuse to go after us for something they don’t like about us,’” McCann said, putting words into a county employee’s mouth.

Wilcox called for a request for a State’s Attorney’s opinion.

“Give me what you want to present to Patrick [Kenneally] and I’ll ask it,” Jung promised.

Austin said the issue was the re-classification of a position in mid-year without Board approval.

“In a nutshell, that is the issue..

“We did that, but there are parallels.”

Jung said the issue should be “come out of [the] Internal Services [Committee].”

“Just re-classifying doesn’t negate the packet posted,” Wilcox countered.

A vote was taken with Jung, Kopsell and McCann voting for the resolution which would legitimize, albeit belatedly, the hiring of Jack Franks’ two patronage employees.

Those three were outvoted by Kurtz, Rein, Wilcox and Wilbeck.


Franks Making Another Run at Gaining Approval of His Patronage Hires Wednesday — 36 Comments

  1. Another dog and pony show brought to you by the two weasels.

    Stand your ground folks.

  2. Wizard of id, good comment.

    New game in town “squeeze the weasel”, I am sure the folks will stand their ground.

  3. Given Chairman Franks’ public declaration that patronage hiring by publicly funded empowered individuals is quite all right, Woodstock D200 and other McHenry County Schools should make public their own patronage hiring practice policies.

    As school taxation accounts for 70% of property tax bill, taxpayers have a right to know if the same tactics and rationales employed by Chairman of County Board are employed by School Boards and Administrators empowered to hire.

    Does Chairman Franks publicly endorse patronage hiring practice as a recommended policy for McHenry County Schools?

  4. No one cares what you have to say Susan, you lost. Find a new project or reinvent yourself because clearly the voters weren’t buying.

  5. Doesn’t the Supreme Court ruling on Rutan have direct bearing on this case?

  6. Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, 497 U.S. 62 (1990), was a United States Supreme Court decision that held that the First Amendment forbids a government entity from basing its decision to promote, transfer, recall, or hire low-level public employees based upon their party affiliation


  7. If Susan is so concerned about patronage hires maybe she should start Sandra Salgado of people in her own party.

  8. Mens Rea Susan.

    You would need to know and then prove the mind of the hiring agent.

    Although Jack is partisan he ran this through the Administrator.

    From the Court’s perspective they may rule this is arms length enough to render this precedent moot.

    It is unlikely to find relief this direction through the courts.

    The best place to go is the County Board to stop Jackie boy.

  9. However, the Salary Administration Policy was not followed.

    Some hiring papers were signed by Administrator Austin in place of Human Resources Director, so it isn’t clear that Administration wasn’t under duress, perhaps at threat of their jobs.

    The mind of hiring agent can’t be known without investigation into the history of Salary Administration Policy bypass activities, and determination whether those under the Chairman (Transportation Director, Human Resources Director, and County Administrator) were coerced.

  10. All very valid points Susan.

    You and I both know there are plenty of cases which have been taken to the Judicial Branch due to the lack of legislative soine(passing the buck to not lose votes).

    There are always many ways to resolve governmental issues.

    In this case the legislative branch is the most direct, expedient, efficient and inexpensive way to get through this particular governmental crisis.

    The next easiest and inexpensive is to turn this into the political whip used to cut Jackie to ribbons during his entire tenure(this option should and will be used regardless).

    The most expensive, time consuming and least reliable route is to leave this in the judges hands.

    Your mind is incredible and you are constantly working every eventuality in the taxpayers defense.

    You need a group to focus your extraordinary talents toward winning.

    Jack’s largest fear is losing an election.

    If one wanted to crush his spirit and his ability to harm The People one might work very very hard to defeat him politically as well as his collaborators.

  11. I was thinking the County Board might want to demand investigation to protect the County from lawsuits by disgruntled employees who might feel entitled to have been considered for those plum job openings.

    If Salary Administration Policy had been followed, persons within departments would have been considered for the promotion along with outside applicants.

    If heads of Human Resources, Transportation Department, and County Executive were coerced to pass-over qualified applicants, they deserve to be protected from personal fallout if any discrimination charges are brought.

  12. Excellent thoughts. Two things there:

    You have an administrative problem in not following procedure or best practices.

    You have the potential for a legal problem.

    Administratively this still comes down to the bosses(County Board) writing up the County Administrator for not following policy(Ersel seems to make the best case there) and holding their employees to account.

    Legally someone would need to be found to take the mantle of the harmed party to make the failure of the administration and the County Board to follow any known HR best practices actionable.

    The first way keeps the harm to holding a runaway administration accountable internally with little to no negative effect to the Taxpayer.

    The second could end up costing the Taxpayer dearly.

    As you analyze the chess board and do what you do, think fifteen moves ahead, consider how best to hold those who worked against The People to account.

    Do Jack, his political hires, the County Administrator or the County Board care at all if the Taxpayer must pay for their folly?

    Do any of them care if they don’t have jobs, have their salaries clawed back, have their elected positions taken or their reputations destroyed?

    A political price may be more effective, faster and longer lasting than a legal one.

    But never ever take any weapon off the table when you are protecting The People from predators.

    Every single one should be explored.

  13. Hey, he’s saving us 10% off of our property taxes so leave the guy alone!

  14. Based on the discussion above, it appears the “victim’ approach has gained no traction!

    Great work Susan and Priest!

    Hey! Kevin! How about a post in the NWH?

  15. Next election, voters west of 47 need to dump Smith and Aavang!!

  16. Before he received the employment application of Oliver Serafini, Peter Austin, on December 21, 2016 at 3:40PM emailed Oliver Serafini that he (Oliver Serafini) would receive an offer letter.

    “Attached is the County employment application that I would like you to complete.

    If you can get that to me tomorrow morning that would be great.

    I’ll get you an an offer-letter tomorrow morning as well.”


    Where is the documentation indicating background checks and reference checks were performed.

    There was little time, from receipt of the employment applications until the emailing of the offer letters, to perform background checks and reference checks.

    Does the county have a policy about backgrounds checks, employment history checks, and reference checks being performed, prior to an offer letter being sent to a prospective employee.


    The offer letter was emailed by Peter Austin to Oliver Serafini on December 22, 2016 at 10:44AM.

    Background checks, employment history checks, and reference checks were performed between December 21, 2016 at 3:40PM and December 22, 2016 at 10:44AM?


    One of many issues with the Mr. Serafini and Ms. Geenen patronage hire process.

  17. Following is the offer letter from the county to Mr. Serafini.

    There was a short turnaround from the time the Mr. Serafini emailed his application to the county, to the time the county emailed the offer letter to Mr. Serafini.


    “From: Peter Austin

    Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 10:44AM

    To: Oliver Serafini

    Subject: offer letter

    Attachments: Serafini offer 12.22.16.pdf


    Attached is the letter offering employment with the County.

    Please call me if you have any questions.

    Peter B. Austin

    County Administrator

    McHenry, IL”

  18. Following is the email from Mr. Serafini, to Mr. Austin, containing Mr. Serafini’s employment application.

    The the short amount of time, from the time the employment application was emailed from Mr. Serafini to Mr. Austin, to the time Mr. Austin emailed the employment offer letter to Mr. Serafini.


    “From: Oliver Serafini

    Sent: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 9:57PM

    To: Peter Austin

    Subject: Oliver Serafini Application

    Attachments: Oliver Serafini Application .pdf; ATT00001.htm


    Completed application attached.

    Thanks for your help with everything.



  19. Mr. Serafini is a Democrat political operative, having worked on Democrat political campaigns and in the House Democrat office as a Program Specialist.

    Michael J Madigan is in charge of the House Democrats.

    Many Program Specialists have been temporarily released from their state jobs to perform work on political campaigns.

    After the political campaign, it is common for such employees to return to their state job as a Program Specialist.

    Such House Democrat employees have been referred to as Madigoons.

  20. Summary:

    The employment application was emailed by the applicant to the county on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 9:57 PM.

    The employment offer letter was emailed by the county to the applicant on Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 10:44AM.

    12 hours and 47 minutes elapsed between the time the employment application was emailed to the county, to the time the county emailed the offer letter.

    Most of that time was during non work hours.

    The applicant was Mr. Serafini.

    The person at the county was Mr. Austin.

    They were communicating via email.

  21. Not that it matters, but the NWH has an editorial about all the meanies over here.

    Fake news chastising Cal. LOL

  22. Someone could write a letter to the Northwest Herald about all the news covered here, for free, which does not appear in the Northwest Herald.

    Including information revealed here, for free, that was obtained via FOIA, not covered in the Northwest Herald.

    And remind the Northwest Herald they reported in 2014 that Jack Franks promised he would not run for county Board Chair in 2014.

    But the Northwest Herald did not remind readers of that when they endorsed Jack Franks for County Board Chair in 2016.

    Yes there are some people on the blog that are not polite, which is a matter of opinion to some.

    There is not a utopia news source.

    How about the TRS unfunded liability in 2015 meant taxpayers, given actuarial projections, have to come up with $4 billion dollars to make up for lost investment returns.

    Did the Northwest Herald cover that.

    Pension benefits that were hiked by legislators, including Jack Franks, while pensions were already underfunded.

    Has the Northwest Herald ever criticized Jack Franks?

    Where is a copy of the announcement of Jack Franks fearing for his life due to two blog comments, that was referenced in the Northwest Herald article.
    Was that a county announcement?

    Did any news source other than the Northwest Herald receive a copy of the announcement?

    The blog has the entire Weasel, Chicken, and government article and comments for everyone to read, to make their own determination, if those were in fact death threats, and if so, are they credible.

    An article reporting on what was said by a citizen making a public comment at a County Board meeting.

    Once again, a good question, why is the Northwest Herald not reporting on, and citing, this blog more frequently, about all the information that is revealed on the blog, that is noteworthy.

    Maybe because the Northwest Herald is for profit?

    Could profit be a motive of theirs for bashing the blog?

    Did the Northwest Herald report this seems to be the only blog in the state of illinois run by a former State Representative?

    Sure would be nice to have more former elected officials receiving a pension that covers politics.

    Would be nice if newspapers did not delete pension many comments which criticize the pension injustices that have occurred and are costing taxpayers a fortune.

    If there is another retired Illinois politician with a blog, please advise.

  23. Take note: The NWH concentrates on ‘blaming’ this blog – anyone else wonder why?

    Cal must be a threat!

    Why is Cal a threat?

    As Mark states – this blog is free – the NWH is not!

    Where in the editorial is there a reference to the REAL death threat of twenty people?

    Also, insofar a blogs are concerned, why are McHenry County taxpayers paying for the County Subscription to the Miller blog? (Capitol fax).

    Where is the editorial relative to that waste?

    Oh! I forgot, Rich Miller is one of the them – Progressive / Indivisible / Liberal.

  24. Didn’t the NW Herald, aka The Daily Franks, stop the comment section of its little online rag bc there were SO MANY terrible people commenting on their biased trash?

    Now a crybaby NWH editor whines about MCB bc more people read this blog rather than the dying rag.

    Message to scribbler Lyons: Start looking for new work, the Herald’s days are numbered and if the number is over 500, I’ll be surprised.

  25. Did the Northwest Herald mention in its editorial that the biggest agitator on the blog, Moderate, is a Jack Franks cheerleader, and someone close to the Jack Franks for McHenry County Board Chair campaign (as identified by Mike Walkup in the incident involving passing out campaign flyers at a Crystal Lake Park District location.

    So to have a nicer blog, the Northwest Herald could suggest that Jack Franks call off his attack dog, Moderate.

  26. Taxpayer funds should not be used for government employees or elected politicians to receive a paid subscription of a political newsletter (Capitolfax).

    The news in Capitolfax paid subscription is typically available for free at the same time or shortly after it appears in the paid subscription version of CapitolFax.

    We can use the savings to videotape more county board committee meetings.

    What is the Jack Franks Cut 10 and zero based budgeting position on taxpayer funds used for subscriptions to a paid political newsletter.

    What is so important in that newsletter that cannot wait a few days or be obtained elsewhere.

    How many paid subscriptions of CapitoFax are there in county government, who is receiving the subscriptions, and at what price,

  27. Franks has no control over anything (least of all the evil Rosa K.)

  28. Jack loves a parade and tossing out his goodies, but I guess he does not like anything tossed back.

    Skip along Jack.

  29. The story of Jack Franks alleging he feels his life has been threatened by two comments in a McHenry County Blog article has seemingly only been reported in the Northwest Herald.

    What about the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald, Crains Chicago Business, Better Government Association, CapitolFax, etc.

    Wonder how and why apparently only the Northwest Herald received notification of the story.

    The story is about weasels, chickens, and county government.

  30. Hey Cal,

    Who called you first the State’s Atty or Sheriff’s Office during their investigation? Or did the Northwest Herald you first?

    Just curious how long Franks waited to send out the press release.

  31. It’s your girlfriend that I told you about, Cal. The one that tries to besmirch you with anonymous phone calls? I’m leaving out her last name to be kind. She knows who she is.

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