Friday, April 9, 2010
Grafton Board Gives New Administrator A Raise
After warmup bickering over the order of the evening's agenda, accepting Supervisor's Moore's response to her months-old censure by Trustees and rules for preparing for future meetings, the Board buckled down to heavy duty argument about ordering Supervisor Linda Moore to return the computer backup drives of Township financial records Trustees said she removed last month. Moore's was the only vote against that and it probably didn't matter since the order didn't set any deadline, anyway.
Then the Board took up an employment contract for Pam Fender whom Trustees hired to fill the newly-created position of Township Administrator two months ago. A provision to pay Fender 10 months' severance wages and benefits if she were fired for no reason drew gasps from onlookers.
"What I got all my life was no contract (at all)," said Trustee Gerry McMahon.
"This clause was put in because of the very unstable environment she was hired into," said Trustee Rob LaPorta.
Argument was prolonged until Fender was finally allowed to comment that she didn't really care about severance in the first place. It was dropped to three months.
Trustee Betty Zirk complicated things with a motion to boost Fender's salary another $5,000 from the $35,000 level at her hiring. "(Moore's) assistant is getting $40,000 and Pam will be working harder," she said.
"Let's make it $240,000," shouted one onlooker. "Let's make it $300,000" cried a second.
Moore and McMahon were the only votes against a contract with $40,000 salary but only three months' severance. The latter won't count if a judge rules later that the Board shouldn't have hired Fender in the first place.
In public comment Huntley businessman Tom Halat complained, "These Board Members could never be businessmen but they're spending my money."
Later McMahon disparaged Halat saying, "I hear he's a friend of Judge Caldwell," the Circuit Judge who will hear more or less complementary cases next week in which Moore and the Trustees are suing each other.
Already in a war of dueling lawyers, the Board renewed a battle of dueling IT guys with a measure to make the the township's long-time tech its sole Information Technology person. Argument raged until Trustees remembered they'd already done that so they settled on specifically forbidding Moore's tech guy from touching township computers.
Also in the technical arena Moore, brandishing last week's court order returning things to "the last peaceable" status quo, demanded the password to the Township's website. Trustees said she couldn't have it because she'd never had it before.
"Give your stuff to (the Webmaster)," said Trustee Barbara Murphy. "He'll put it up for you."
The Board approved a big bill from AT&T which may have included charges for removing and restoring Township phone lines two weeks ago. McMahon objected saying, "We didn't approve moving phones to farmhouses," but Murphy observed, "We can't afford not to pay AT&T."
As far as next week's annual meeting goes, trustees decided to segregate onlookers from voters. That includes any reporters, if any besides FEN's show up, who will be kept in a corner.
After retiring to executive session McMahon and Zirk didn't come back so the public meeting closed for lack of a quorum.
In the pic: This photo of Trustee Rob LaPorta in hasty consultations with Administrator Pam Fender as he tried to leave in the middle of Thursday's meeting is the last you'll see of its kind. The Grafton Board voted to limit photographers to taking shots from the back of the room from now on. That's Trustee McMahon on the left; he'd already had his consult.