Steve Reick Weighs in On McSweeney’s Frank(s)enstein

McSweeney’s “Frank(s)enstein

It's AliveMcHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks is on record as supporting Representative David McSweeney’s Township consolidation bill (H.B. 4637), saying that “We want to be a laboratory for the state.”This may make for a good sound bite, but in this, the 200th anniversary year of the publication of “Frankenstein”, I’d just as soon not be one of the Chairman’s lab rats.

David McSweeney

The reason I say that is that H.B. 4637 will likely be up for a vote in the Senate next week. I’ve written about this before when it was introduced as H.B. 4244, which died. But like Mary Shelley’s monster, the bill has been resurrected, and its story bears repeating.

These are my main concerns with the bill:

  • It would allow voters in (only) McHenry County to abolish a township by forcing a referendum onto an election ballot with a petition containing signatures of at least 5 percent of voters from a previous comparable election. Think about that for a minute. On April 4, 2017, an election was held in Algonquin Township to elect sundry township-wide officials, and the average turnout of the 4 races was 5,956. If all it takes to put a dissolution referendum before the voters on a similar, off-peak ballot is 5% of the vote, then all it would take is for 298 people to allow proponents to force a vote upon over 90,000 of their neighbors to abolish the township.
  • Steve Reick at a committee hearing.

    It would require that the County take over the functions of a dissolved Township within 90 days of passage. Several months ago, over 20 members of the County Board sent a letter indicating that there is no way the County could undertake those functions in such a short period of time. Chairman Franks was visiting the House last week and I asked him how he expected to make that transition happen, and he told me that he’d be happy to enter into any number of inter-governmental agreements so as to delay the handover. Obviously this has not been thought through. When would he decide to get around to it? My guess is 2020, when he could use it to beat people over the head in an election year for a township’s failure to heed “the word of the people”.

  • The bill provides that the Township levies to be transferred to the County be reduced to 90% of the previous levy. This is an implicit acknowledgement that the mandate for Townships to provide General Assistance is being kicked to the curb. Ask Representative McSweeney about this. If he says that those functions can be taken over by the social service agencies that exist at the county level, where does he expect the money to come from, the levy having been cut by 10%? Answer: That burden will fall upon the rest of the taxpayers in McHenry County.
  • It’s likely that there will be a division of responsibility for road maintenance between municipalities within a dissolved township and the County. How is the motor fuel tax supposed to be allocated?
  • If this bill is so good, why has co-sponsor Sam Yingling not proposed it for his own county, or better yet, why haven’t McSweeney, Yingling, et al provided for statewide application?

H.B. 4637 (and its predecessor, H.B. 4244) is the legislative corollary to the old line “bad facts make bad law”.  From a story in the Northwest Herald discussing the bill:

McSweeney’s bill follows on the heels of the in-house lawsuits, budget-busting legal fees and corruption allegations that have engulfed Algonquin Township.

“[Algonquin Township] is the best example of bad government,” McSweeney said. “It is a great example of a government that will hopefully be eliminated.”

Andrew Gasser

This is rich, given that Representative McSweeney was instrumental in installing the person he now blames for the dysfunction in Algonquin Township. From the same Northwest Herald article:

“[Algonquin Township Road Commissioner Andrew] Gasser is a friend of McSweeney’s who helped him on the campaign trail in past elections. McSweeney donated $6,300 to the political efforts of Gasser, according to campaign finance records. Gasser previously supported township consolidation when he served on the McHenry County Board.”

Jack Franks

It’s almost as if McSweeney put sand in his own crankcase hoping that the insurance company would fall for it and give him a new car.

If you want to see a practical demonstration of the mood of McHenry County voters on the issue, you need look no further than the referendum that was on the ballot in the most recent election in which the voters of McHenry Township were asked if they wanted to eliminate the township road district and fold its functions into the township board. The measure failed 69%-31%.

There are legitimate concerns about the operations of county road districts, but those concerns should be addressed with a scalpel and not a meat-axe. Also, I’m not against consolidation per se, in fact I’ve written about it before, but if it’s going to be sold as a silver bullet for property tax reduction, all I ask is that the proponents show me the money.

Prove your case. H.B. 4637 is a bum’s rush to consolidate without having to do that.


Steve Reick Weighs in On McSweeney’s Frank(s)enstein — 35 Comments

  1. Abolish one, heck even two townships. The burden then falls to the rest of McHenry County. What a joke! Show the savings!

  2. 2028, Aphosis has high likelihood of smashing Earth and destroying an entire continent, also plunging entire planet into global nuclear winter indefinitely.

    2038, remaining computers crash due to 2038 glitch.

    2048, aliens, whom the government already admits are visiting us, decide to “finish” it.

    So lol have fun arguing about JACK FRANKS. He probably already got his family dibs to a DUMB… (look it up retard)

    Now go pump water you peasant.

  3. At least one locally elected official understands.

    Good write Steve.

    “Gasser previously supported township consolidation when he served on the McHenry County Board.” and threw his fellow Board members under the bus when the “Liar” worked on his voyage to sit in the ‘Chair’.

  4. Wilcox and Reick should stop talking about the problems with this legislation and offer up legislation that corrects the faults.
    Stop talking and do it.

  5. The bill is now dead. McSweeney place a procedural Ammendment after it passed both Chamber on 11/29. The last day of the 100 GA. Nothing but smoke n mirrors and wasting our taxpayer dollars on frivolous legislation that typically goes nowhere.

  6. Steve Reick has long complained about consolidation, yet offerred zero solutions to getting rid of some of Illinois’ more than 7,000 units of government.

    Give him a call at his offices and ask Steve, “How are you going to save Illinois from it’s 7,000 units of government?”
    State Rep – Spfld (217) 782-1717 WDSTK (815) 880-5340
    Law Office – (815) 943-4220 or (573) 465-1305
    Campaign – (815) 388-7517

  7. Is McSweeney another frustrated Township candidate with a similar background as Bob Anderson of Wonder Lake?

    It does appear McSweeney still has a Township Trustee campaign account that was established in 1997.

    The account now bears the signatures of what appears to be his spouse.

  8. Look up your own real estate tax bill at the McHenry County Treasurer web site. It will have a breakout of taxing bodies with a pie chart. Township part of our tax bill is tiny. Schools take from 2/3 to 3/4 of our high tax bills.

    The problem in our State of Illinois, the worst State of 50 in the U.S. fiscally, is outrageously high salaries, benefits and pensions for government workers including teachers and administrative staff. Rather than abolishing or consolidating townships, efforts should be directed at consolidating school districts, eliminating redundant school administrative positions, elimination of COLAs and haircuts for too-high salaries and pensions of all people working in government jobs or government retirees in Illinois.

  9. As a former Trustee, one could think that McSweeney could come up with a better bill.

    Is this why he has filed a motion to reconsider?

  10. DMAC57: Can you explain the “procedural amendment” further?

    Is he taking the complaints to heart and going back to the drawing board?

    Will the NWH publish a story correcting what they published previously?

  11. Seems to me Snowplow Bob is posting on this blog with the nom de plume Townships=Parasitism
    He is on record as saying “this isn’t over”

    I’m kinda surprised he can operate one of these newfangled computers.

  12. Thank you bred winner. Township expenditures on a property tax bill are miniscule compared to the school districts. This is a smoke and mirror “look at me trying to fix things” mistake compared to the REAL fiscal problems in this state. And consolidating what money the townships spend into the County doesn’t mean that money doesn’t still need to be spent (roads, assessments, GA, etc.). The fact of the matter is smaller units of government are more ACCOUNTABLE and RESPONSIVE to citizens’ problems than bigger units of government. Imagine having a local issue and trying to get your state representative to address it, much less fix it. If you climb the ladder by consolidating, now your problem is 1 of 10,000 instead of 1 of 10 that a local unit of government can address. And most of the money still needs to be spent.

    There are some concerning local examples of litigation issues in Townships, well covered by this blog. But by and large, especially in this fiscally conservative Republican county, township trustees examine literally every penny spent. And try their best to find ways to continue to cut levies – because they are accountable to, literally, their neighbors. I don’t see a solution with consolidation, just less responsive government and window-dressing savings. If this gets to a referendum, vote no.

  13. Now, let me get this straight:

    In McHenry County, Schools and the Community College last year accounted for 69.17 % of all property taxes;
    the County plus MCCD accounted for 11.13 %;

    Fire Districts 6.57 %;

    Municipalities 5.49 %;

    Townships including Road Districts 2.97 %;

    Libraries2.70 %;

    Park Districts 1.82 %;

    other misc. .17 %.

    Therefor, if we eliminate Townships we will save money.

    Right! I also understand there is a bridge in Lake Havasu, AZ that may be for sale.

    Not one elected official in my Township gets a pension. Those Townships that do offer pensions to elected officials and to some employees do so via IMRF which is stated to be 93 % funded.

    Here are some news quotes relative to Illinois public sector pensions:

    “Over the course of a decade, Chicago politicians redirected $3 billion in contributions away from the teachers’ pension fund, toward teachers’ salaries.”

    “Not only did this cause the teachers’ pension shortfall to skyrocket, but it also inflated teacher salaries, pushing teacher pension benefits to unaffordable levels.
    The same thing also happened to Chicago’s police and firefighter pension funds. Police and firefighter salaries grew 50 to 70 percentage points faster than inflation over the past 30 years.”

    “State spending on pensions, debt and other post-employment benefits is expected to grow by $1.3 billion and consume about 30% of the state’s revenue next year”

    Why are public sector pensions (other than IMRF) not being addressed by McSweeny and Link and Skillicorn?

    There is a solution, where is the action?

    BTW Illinois has about 650 public sector pension funds – Wisconsin has 2.

  14. To Bred Winner’s point, township consolidation would have minimal effect on your tax bill anyway. As a percentage of your property tax compared to school districts it is minimal. This smells of a window-dressing campaign issue, where the optics are good but the net result is nil or negative. The functions of a township (roads, assessments, GA) will continue to need to be met if it’s given to the County regardless.

    Having said that, I personally would always prefer a smaller government body to a larger one. It is more responsive, more attuned and more accessible. Litigation issues aside in some local townships, by and large the trustees examine every last penny being spent, do their best to hold the road and assessor’s offices accountable for their (independent and separate) budgets, and are easily accessed by concerned public citizens. Where does consolidation end? Do we absorb village government into County, County into State? Imagine where your concern is one of 10 in your township/road district. Now imagine it’s one of 100 in your village, one of 1000 in your county, on of 1,000,000 in your state? I’d always prefer the smaller unit, where elected officials are accountable to, literally, their neighbors.

    Here is a link to an earlier post on the blog about running for elected office, and it starts with the premise that “All politics is local” – which is largely true. Unless, of course, we consolidate the local out of politics.

  15. 11/29/2018 House Motion Filed to Reconsider Vote Rep. David McSweeney

    What a clown. McSweeney is a blowhard retard.

  16. Reick …all he can think to do is delay, delay, delay. He holds office and ,along with Althoff and Wilcox, they can do nothing but think of reasons to keep the status quo. McHenry County needs someone who is willing to get something accomplished. This bill starts at the bottom rung of the taxing base. It has passed because it is a start not an excuse. It is a slap in the face to the Township Officials of Illinois. Thank God there are some representatives in Springfield who don’t owe their political life to TOI and are working to get something accomplished. Reick, we’ve read the reasons you give to stagnate. They don’t hold water. Your biggest concern is what Jack Franks might do in 2020? Get a life and stop embarrassing the voters of this county with your thought process.

  17. I believe many commenters need to go back to basic civics class. The bill is dead as the 100th General Assembly has concluded. There is no path for this bill to get to the Governor’s Desk. McSweeney will have to start all over again in 2019 with the 101th General Assembly.
    This time I hope Rep Reick gets his legislation passed that would require a taxing entity to show property owners how much savings they would see as a result of consolidation. Last time Rep Reick tried that, the House Chairman of the local government Consolidation Committee (Yingling the tax cutter) WOULD NOT allow the bill to be heard in committee thereby rendering is dead.
    We really have issues with smoke-n-mirrors in Springfield on both sides of the aisle.

  18. The pathological liar Reick. He is a RINO. He never paid his own bills. He’s a sham.

    Reick is for amnesty of illegal aliens. And he’s a township whore. He’s still mad he lost the Queen of Hearts sweepstakes.

  19. For once I agree w/ Spotlight. Reick is a fake.

    He called McHenry County a ‘county of hillbillies and idiots’

  20. Steve Reick, like so very many stale politicians, has no empathy for taxpayers. He said he was a social moderate and a fiscal conservative. Just like the loser he replaced, Franks. He has proven to be a social liberal and a fiscal liberal! He is a rotten RINO. I will never support him again. McSweeney deserves high praise.

    Please read this about Rino-Reick (from:

    Townships are the cockroaches of governance. They won’t die.

    A great deal of what’s wrong in Illinois government can be explained by a socioeconomic theory called “concentrated benefits and diffuse costs.”

    What does that mean?

    The loudest people at the political bargaining table are usually the special interests who stand to gain or lose a lot from governments’ decisions. Meanwhile, the rest of us who might not see a big difference either way are too busy to care.

    This theory does a great job of explaining things like corporate welfare and pork barrel spending. But it also explains how the odd duck of Illinois government has evaded serious scrutiny for more than a century, and why both parties are to blame.

    Illinois has more units of local government than any state, including more than 1,400 township governments. Townships are allowed to do only three things: assess property values, provide poverty assistance and maintain roads.

    Sounds harmless, right?

    The problem is that these governments were established for a different time with different needs. Now, Illinoisans’ property tax bills are incredibly high and other units of local government – such as municipalities and counties – can capably deliver those services at a lower cost and with more effective oversight.

    This has been the case for decades. But township consolidation has been so difficult that only two places in Illinois – Evanston and Belleville – have successfully dissolved one.

    The reason: concentrated benefits and diffuse costs.

    Illinois homeowners don’t pay much of their property tax bill to townships, but township officials make a living on this antiquated system. They can be loud, they can be vicious and they have allies in the General Assembly from both parties.

    Northern Illinois barber Bob Anderson has been a township consolidation advocate for decades, and recently succeeded in getting a referendum on local ballots in November to consolidate his township road district. But that wasn’t without a massive fight.

    While Bob was working on township consolidation (and finding rusty nails scattered in his driveway and at his barbershop as a consequence) his township road district was retaining the “consulting” services of notorious Algonquin Township Road District Commissioner Bob Miller, who was ousted from his office amid a grand jury investigation into improper spending last year. Anderson’s local road district also gifted a job to the son of a nearby township commissioner without interviewing any other applicants.

    The road commissioner’s reply to questions about the clouted hire: “Do you have a problem with that?” His retort when asked why he didn’t make the township board aware of Miller’s consulting fees: “When did you ask?”

    In other words, consolidation seems like a no-brainer for this community.

    But sadly for local residents, the townships found a friend in Republican state Rep. Steven Reick, who vociferously opposed Anderson’s efforts and tried to pass a bill mandating a cost study before officials would be allowed to ask voters if they want to consolidate their township.

    Eric Jakobsson, a Democratic alderman in Urbana, has encountered the same resistance to township consolidation from the other side of the aisle.

    Despite the fact that Cunningham Township mirrors the Urbana city boundaries exactly and was home to a personnel controversy of its own in January, when the township assessor hired a former Champaign County worker facing felony charges for misuse of a county credit card, the office remains intact.

    “My guess is that if it came on the ballot in Urbana, the Republicans would be overwhelmingly supportive of abolishing the township and Democrats would be split … bitterly,” Jakobsson said.

    But there’s reason to believe the state is finally taking this problem seriously. State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, has filed a bill easing the process by which McHenry County voters can consolidate townships. Residents of the dissolved township would be guaranteed a property tax cut, as no more than 90 percent of the taxes levied by the former township government would be transferred in consolidation. The hope is that this measure will be expanded across the state.

    McSweeney’s bill passed the House by a strong margin. Among the 22 “no” votes: Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, who also serves as Rich Township Supervisor; and Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, who is a former township supervisor and trustee.

    Are the end times of townships nigh?

    That’s ultimately up to taxpayers, who might finally be screaming louder than those who benefit from local government largesse.

  21. I used to like Stevie Reick.

    Now he makes me sad.

    He turned on us, and spat at us.

    He’s really, really bad.

  22. Re: “Reick …all he can think to do is delay, delay, delay. He holds office and ,along with Althoff and Wilcox”

    Did Althoff not resign?

    Re: “We really have issues with smoke-n-mirrors in Springfield on both sides of the aisle.”

    Well said.

  23. Reeky Reick is a typical filthy pol, just like his predecessor “The Jackal.”

    In a sad way, he’s even worse than ‘The Jackal.’

    Franks was a phony, but, in time, everybody came to know this. With Reick, he feigns ‘concern’ and ‘care’ but laughs about the rubes here. He couldn’t care less. Just stuffs his pockets and his fat face w/ undeserved ‘goodies.’

  24. Is reick a real person, or some sort of parody?

    Has anyone actually seen him?

  25. Outoftowner, Althoff is not in Springfield but she is Wilcox’s mouthpiece in Springfield. He mimics her “no change” attitude. She has mentored him well. Now we’re stuck with her same psychology on the county board. She collects a $70,000 pension from the state, collects now as a paid lobbyist and will continue collecting from the county board for who knows how much. She is so happy to “serve” our community. Over six figures can bring a lot of happiness. Meanwhile we’re stuck again with the status quo and we can see what all her experience has brought us. Nothing.

  26. Still nothing in the NWHack about this bill being pulled….

  27. The following comment is indicative of something: “Althoff is not in Springfield but she is Wilcox’s mouthpiece in Springfield.”

  28. I’m going to offer my opinion here in the hope of trying to sort out some of the wheat from the chaff concerning this issue and to lower the level of invective.

    Let me being by saying I’m somewhat agnostic on this issue. I simply don’t have strong opinions in favor of or against townships, and that’s despite having served for four years on the Township Board in the People’s Soviet of Oak Park.

    But, whatever my ultimate conclusion, I think the decision should be based on logic and evidence, and so I propose the following discussion points.

    First, the argument that townships are a small part of the tax bill and therefore do not deserve attention is a non sequitur. We should work on cutting the tax bill of all our local governments, and townships are not exempt because of their size. Nor does it follow that we should wait to try to fix townships until other governments are fixed.

    Second, there are three arguments for eliminating townships, only one of which has something to do with cutting taxes, and all of which should be addressed by those who favor townships.

    Argument One is that there are too many governments, too many elected officials, for voters to follow. I have 58 local and county elected officials I’m supposed to monitor. It’s not possible for me to know all of them and if they’re doing a good job. Eliminating positions reduces the burden on me.

    (Having said that, the biggest problem isn’t the number of governments, it’s at large positions. For my five governments – two school districts, MCC, my Village and the park district, I have 35 elected officials to monitor. Just going to election by district would cut my burden by 30. Still, cutting the townships is a start.)

    Argument Two is that specifically because townships are so small, voters rationally pay little attention to them, which gives townships unique opportunities for nepotism and other waste. Having fewer governments to monitor empowers voters.

    (The counter to this argument IS the cost saving argument. There are virtually no economies of scale in government. In fact, larger governments are generally less cost effective than medium size governments, and I say that having explicitly studied the costs of governmental services of cities in Illinois based on population size. And, frankly, in my 40 years of experience following local government finance, I would say that for every tax dollar lost to graft, ten dollars is lost to pure bureaucratic ineptitude and waste, not including purely stupid programs.)

    Argument Three is that administrative/ministerial positions, such as Road Commissioner and Assessor, violate the basic principle of our government of checks and balances. Assessors and Road Commissioners don’t report to the Township Board, and it’s not possible for the voters to know if a good job or a bad job is being done.

    (This is not just true of townships, it’s true of ALL administrative positions, including positions such as Clerk, Assessor, etc. As an example, how would the voters ever know if the coroner was doing a bad job unless a story about moldering bodies showed up on the evening news? The voters lack the time and the access to the information needed to follow the performance of most administrative officials. I think the world of Joe Tirio. I think he’s doing a great job. He’s highly competent and scrupulously honest. But I don’t think the Clerk should be an elected office; it’s strictly administrative. And having said that, until it stops being an elective position, I’ll be supporting Joe Tirio.)

    Third, there is an old saw: the perfect is the enemy of the good. The bill may not be perfect, but the solution is not to do nothing until we have a perfect bill. Sometimes an imperfect action is better than no action, and it often leads to an improved outcome as we learn more through experience. So far the arguments I see against this bill are highly general and lack any proof that taxes would actually go up or that there would be serious disruption in services. If there is strong evidence to support the pro-township position and I’ll be pro-township.

    Fourth, I find it especially pernicious to argue that voters can’t be trusted to make good decisions. I say let the voters have their say. They have that right, and who here would deny them? If a referendum makes it to the ballot, pro-township forces will have their chance to argue that further study is needed, and the voters can decide if that’s sufficient reason to retain townships.

    As always, I’m open to logical arguments, especially with evidence, that address my points. But let’s decide this based on proof and logic, not name calling and platitudes.

    One final comment: I think it is a tribute to the respect that Rep. McSweeney obviously commands from his peers that he was able to guide this legislation through the Illinois Legislature. A less skilled or less respected legislator’s bill would have failed, especially when some of his regional and party colleagues opposed the bill.

  29. Steve, I don’t know you but you are correct in your assessment of McSweeney.

    He is to be commended for his efforts and success.

    We have none of that type of representation in our county.

  30. Steve W, since the average IQ of township stooges is somewhere around idiot level, I doubt the feebs could even understand what you wrote.

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