The McHenry County Board Minority’s Argument Against Granting Jack Franks Retroactive Approval for His Patronage Hire

McHenry County Blog reported in a timely fashion the names of those McHenry County Board members who voted to approve the highly irregularly hired patronage employees by Jack Franks last Christmas, but they seem worth posting against they are again before some text on what happened before the vote.

Those voting in favor of ex post facto and prospective approval of employees hired without public posting follow:

Jack Franks

  • Michele Aavang
  • Kay Bates
  • Chris Christensen
  • Joe Gottemoller
  • John Jung
  • Jim Kearns
  • Don Kopsell
  • Mary McCann
  • Robert Nowak
  • Mike Skala
  • Larry Smith
  • Chris Spoerl
  • Tom Wilbeck
  • Paula Yensen

All are Republicans, but Yensen.

The most thoughtful comments came quite calmly out of Woodstock Board member Michael Rein’s mouth:

Michael Rein

“On December 24, 2016 the Chairman secretly established two positions to hire two of his former campaign workers.

“This entire process was done without the knowledge or approval of the County Board.

“In addition, information about these hires was withheld from the County Board until late January 2017.

“Although Chairman Franks has desperately tried to suppress this issue, Board Members like myself have gone to extreme efforts to participate in a special meeting so this issue could be appropriately discussed.

“The lack of transparency and the underhanded approach taken by Chairman Franks so the board was prevented from attending to its official responsibilities to approve or deny the creation of new positions is truly reprehensible.

“Speaking of a lack of transparency I would also like to add that I have continuously requested that these two positions job descriptions and qualifications be attached to this resolution for the public to view.

“Being denied this request again undermines our trust to our citizens of McHenry County.

“We live in Illinois where people are so skeptical of government because of selfish dishonest politicians who circumvent laws, rules, and ordinances to get what they want and what is good for them. Chairman Franks should not be allowed to break our board rules.

“He is not above following the law, our ordinances, or our board rules.

“If he can do what he pleases I guarantee you this is the beginning of the slippery slope where corruption escalates out of control, and this is the beginning of ongoing, dirty, underhanded Springfield Politics in McHenry County.

“In addition, there are some practical reasons why these two hires are unnecessary and wasteful.

  1. Past County Board Chairpersons never requested the hiring of additional staff to help them address their responsibilities—let alone two full-time employees. In addition, Chairman Franks must realize that he is being paid a full-time salary, in which there was never an intent for him to hire additional people to do his job.

  2. In a time where taxes are crushing the people of this County and State, this Chairman wants to increase administrator costs to the taxpayers by closing in on $200,000 a year for these two positions. This is especially concerning because the current staff is perfectly capable of handling what needs to be done for the Chairman regarding County business. Our County should NOT support the Chairman’s irresponsible tax and spending.

“So to my fellow County Board members I encourage you vote NO, not just because these positions are unnecessary, but because you recognize that established processes were circumvented and that the honesty and integrity of our entire County government is at stake if these corrupt hiring practices are now approved.”

Following Rein’s comments, Donna Kurtz spoke up.

Her best line was,

“What the point of Cut 10 when it’s followed up with Hire 2.

“I say, ‘Cut 10, Cut 2!”

Michael Walkup then revealed probably what was the thrust of an opinion from McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.

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

“The Chairman will stand up there and with a straight face say that a suit would be forthcoming [if we don’t approve these resolutions creating two new jobs].

“We have an opinion that states the exact opposite.”

Walkup then pointed to how one Franks’ hire had staffed the County booth at the McHenry Expo “festooning himself with Mr. Franks campaign [stickers].”

Walkup charged that the “‘Communications Specialist’ was being used primarily to obtain favorable publicity for Mr. Franks.

“That’s not something the County Board should be paying for.

“I don’t see any need for these positions.”

Wilcox, one of the heavy lifters on this issue, spoke next, but my notes don’t show what he said. [See the linked article for Wilcox’ extensive timeline on the patronage hiring issue.]

Chuck Wheeler chastised the hiring, which was technically done by County Administrator Peter Austin without authorization of the County Board.

“If a position is open we are going to find out after the fact they have been filled beyond our control,” he said arguing against approval of the resolutions on the floor.

“We are here to represent the people, not staff, not the chairman, but you,” Wheeler said pointing to the public in the audience.

“We’re going to give it to you because our Chairman likes you, and, byt the way, these jobs were ot posted.

“We’re doing the thing that’s expedient.

“We’re doing the thing that will make everybody happy.”

Joe Gottemoller said as County Chairman he could have used a secretary.

He noted that he had used a secretary in his law firm to help out.

[Jack Franks is part of a law firm, too.]

“I don’t have any problem with the Chairman having a secretary and a half, [but] we should have [thought] to put it in the budget a year ago.

John Hammerand asked if the jobs would be posted.

“No,” Franks replied.

Gottemoller moved and Tom Wilbeck seconded the motion, which passed 14-10.


The McHenry County Board Minority’s Argument Against Granting Jack Franks Retroactive Approval for His Patronage Hire — 14 Comments

  1. Thank you Cal for the list of people soon to be out of a position on the board come their next election cycle.

  2. And yesterday Pam Althoff voted to override the Rauner veto of SB1905 which makes it a criminal act for a government body to create a Right to Work Zone.

    She originally voted AGAINST the bill!

    Imagine what she will do if she is elected to the County Board!!!

    The GOP must NOT support her in any future campaign!

  3. Re: “All are Republicans, but Yensen.”

    Not in my eyes!

    They ran with an “R” behind their name and they were elected with an “R” behind their name but they sure as H are NOT Republicans!

  4. 13 of those voting in favor were to cowardly to even speak and give us their reasoning why they were voting in favor and against County policy.

  5. Thank you Michael Donna and Mike, and Chuck for stepping in.

    You have laid it all out there.

    Neither the Chairman nor the Clerk has shown an interest in their role as a public servant.

    In fact, their own behavior and personalities seem to show that the term itself to them is offensive.

    They listen to no one; they’re always right; they refuse to consider the facts and the public good isn’t in their vocabulary.

    This is certainly NOT what we need in a Judge or a Chairman.

    It’s up to us to change the political climate.

    It CAN be done.

  6. They are being paid off.

    Keep a close eye and follow the money.

    My guess is Valley Hi.

  7. Remind me again. . . what was the reason that Pam Althoff, as “da mayor” of McHenry, made to stop micromanaging staff at the city?

    Was it because she was a brilliant administrator or was it because she was a . . .?

  8. Kopsell surprises me … I thought he was a decent sort.

    Wonder what Jacko has on him.

    Bates and Jung make me S I C K!

  9. Michael Rein’s speech, which was written by Diane Evertson, was littered with untruths and out right lies.

    Peter Austin had full authority to hire the individuals.

    The States Attorney read in the opinion that no laws were broken.

    All ordinances were followed and no county board rules were broken.

    The only people who attempted to break the County board rules are those trying to take away the county administrators right to hire employees.

    Mr. Austin has full authority on hires and does not need board approval.

    The only board approval for hires is for the County assessor and the county engineer nothing else.

    Mr. Rein is a liar.

  10. @Fairplay or is it Kevin Craver.

    One question Fair Play when a job opening comes up is that job posted or does Peter Austin just hire whoever he wants in that job?

    How about the Board Rules which states that if a job is vacant for more than 90 days and not being actively trying to be filled that it is suppose to be terminated.

    How are having 2 jobs under the County Board’s budget but works for the Chairman good policy?

    The County Board also has the power to take away positions if they want.

    After talking with County Board members I found out that Mr. Rein is not a liar but told the truth.

    And how would you know what the States Attorney’s opinion is?

    Did you see it?

    Did Jack Franks show it to you?

    And what part of Mr. Rein’s speech is false?

    You spew that it was lies so what lies are you talking about?

  11. Can the State’s Attorney’s opinion regarding the matter be obtained via FOIA request and posted on the blog?


    A FOIA request revealed that County Administrator Peter Austin (top hired employee in the county) told Oliver Serafini via email that he (Oliver Serafini) would receive an offer letter from the county, before Peter Austin even saw his (Oliver Serafini’s) employment application.

    Apparently Mr. Serafini had the job before he completed the application.

    Your taxpayer dollars at work.

    “Equal Opportunity Employer”

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