A Summary of Jack Franks and the McHenry County Board

Commenter Mark worked up the following on the interaction of Jack Franks with the McHenry County Board:

Does state statute or county board rules provide Jack Franks with any veto authority?


The form of government voters agreed to in McHenry County is one that gives more power to the board members and less to the County Board Chair.

Contradictory to that, Chair line item veto reduces the power of board members and increases the power of the Chair.


A form of government that would have given more power to the McHenry County Board leader was defeated by voters in the November 6, 2012 County Board Executive referendum.

It would be interesting to know if the County Board Executive form of government includes line item veto.

It would also be interesting to know what other counties provide the County Board Chair / Executive / President with line item veto power.

Cook County?

Will County?


Following is a

Summary of selected changes in the McHenry County Board over the last sixteen years with a focus on Jack Franks


Jack Franks was the most visible proponent of the unsuccessful November 6, 2012 County Board Executive referendum.

That was a referendum to change the form of government to County Board Executive, including an elected County Board Executive.

A County Board Executive has more power than a County Board Chair.

Jack Franks attacks cronyism on the McHenry County Board at the County Executive debate.

On October 17, 2012 at McHenry County College, there was a debate between Jack Franks and Michael Tryon about the County Board Executive referendum.

Then State Representative Jack Franks was for the County Board Executive form of government.

Mike Tryon got in his licks, pointing out that a County Executive could issue contracts up to $25,000 without Board approval and draw a County Board District map behind closed doors. Jack Franks criticized an illegal secret meeting of County Board members to discuss reapportionment.

Then State Representative Michael Tryon was against the County Board Executive form of government.

Here is a 3:31 video clip from that debate.


The clip highlights some of the powers granted to the leader of each form of government.


Jack Franks was the most visible proponent of the successful March 18, 2014 voter direct election of the County Board Chair referendum.

That referendum changed the method in which the County Board Chair is elected.

Previously there was no County Board Chair office on the ballot.

Rather, voters elected County Board Members, and after the election, the newly seated County Board elected one of their own to be County Board Chair.  [A parliamentary system.]

As of November 8, 2016, the voters directly elect the County Board Chair.


In the spring and summer of 2014, Jack Franks, then a State Representative, was promoting that the County Board place two non-binding advisory referendums on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

  1. Should the County Board reduce its membership from 24 to 16 by changing from six districts (4 members per district) to sixteen districts (1 member per district).
  2. Should local governments be prohibited from hiking property taxes if the overall assessed valuation of the district decreased.

The following appeared in the June 6, 2014 edition of the Northwest Herald.

“Franks made clear that he is not pushing for County Board changes as an effort to run for the chairman’s seat in two years, following the footsteps of former state senators Chris Lauzen and Dan Cronin, now chairmen of the Kane and DuPage county boards.

‘What I’m trying to do is reduce our property taxes in McHenry County and make it more livable so people don’t leave,’ Franks said.

‘I can promise you I am not running for county chairman in 2016.

This has nothing to do with me.

This is about good government.’”


The McHenry County Board did not pass either measure.


Jack Franks announced his candidacy for McHenry County Board Chair on May 15, 2016, was elected County Board Chair on November 8, 2016, and sworn into office on December 5, 2016.

Immediately after taking office he embarked on making several changes, frequently without consent of the full county board, such as:

– cancelling all county board committee meetings for about 2.5 weeks, then providing a 721 board packet with only a few days notice prior to the December 20, 2016 board meeting;

– posting board packets at the last minute for some meetings;

– changing county board rules;

– forming a temporary rules committee;

– forming ad hoc committees;

– completely changed the job descriptions and titles of two county positions and placed them in a different department (County Board Office – his office) without full consent of the County Board enabling Mr. Franks to hire two patronage employees as personal staff;

– The two new positions follow;

– Temporary Project Manager was reclassified to County Board Chairman’s Executive Assistant in the County Board Office;

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

– Utility Coordinator was reclassified to Communications Specialist in the County Board Office;

– one such employee wore a Jack Franks political campaign sticker and handed out Jack Franks political campaign items while representing McHenry County at a McHenry Chamber of Commerce expo;

– hired outside counsel for parliamentarian (an additional cost to taxpayers as the States Attorney’s office was previously providing such services);

– the outside counsel parliamentarian is from Cook County;

– proposed and passed an $80K property tax hike when he had campaigned to cut property taxes by 10% shortly after taking office (no expectation of an immediate 10% cut but the hike was unnecessary although small);

– bypassing the County Board and working directly with County Administrator Peter Austin whenever possible.


The following advisory question was placed by the County Board on the November 8, 2016 ballot and approved by voters:

“Shall the number of County Board Members be reduced from from the current 24 members to following the 2020 Decennial Census?”


Subsequently, on Tuesday September 18, 2018, the County Board voted to reduce the number of county board members from six four-member districts (24 members) to six three-member districts (18 members), a 25% decrease, effective with the March 15, 2022 primary and November 8, 2022 general elections.

[But significantly, on Board member Michael Rein’s motion, voted not for single-member districts but for a continuation of multi-member districts.]

The entire board is up for re-election then as a result of redistricting after the 2020 US Census.


A Summary of Jack Franks and the McHenry County Board — 4 Comments

  1. You were all warned………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  2. Inside of every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.

    Did that statement just “trigger” you, Joey Blowhard ?

    So sad to be you.

  3. Additionally, the former Management Services committee, which was traditionally charged with Rules rewrites at the beginning of each new two year Board term, was thwarted in its attempts to write Rules changes which would have tried to address some of the Franks maneuvers, such as specifying that ad hoc committees could not be created without Board approval.

    However, each time the committee tried to put the item on their committee agenda, it was prevented by Franks directing Peter Austin not to list it in the online meeting notices.

    This was a clear violation of Board Rules as interpreted by the States Attorney.

    Nevertheless, it persisted, with Austin refusing to follow the committee directives.

    A Special Meeting could have been called but by that time it was apparent that Franks would have enough votes on the now cowed full Board to introduce amendments from the floor that could give him even more powers while defeating attempts to curb his powers, so the effort was abandoned.

    You have to give the guy credit. He is a Master.

  4. Yep, as adept as he is as a fisherman, there’s no denying that he’s a master baiter. We can only long for the day when his ego gets the best of him and he convinces himself that he’s invincible. Then we may see him step on his appendage royally and fall flat on his face or trip and fall into a jail cell someplace

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