Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Board Livid On Franks' County Executive Referendum
"Who has name recognition and a pile of money sitting around and isn't going to get his statewide position?" asked McHenry Board member Peter Merkel, McHenry, for instance.
If Marengo Democrat Franks' petitions are approved, November's ballot will ask voters if they want to add a new County elected official in charge of hiring, firing and budgeting with a veto over Board decisions. "The County Executive has authorities that are pretty significant," said County Administrator Peter Austin who, most suppose, will be on his way elsewhere if the measure passes. Austin said he took no position on the question but said, "This topic can be easily misinterpreted or misrepresented."
"Bait and switch" was what McHenry Member Nick Provenzano called Franks' referendum tactics claiming that, since last month's McHenry Fiesta Days, petition circulators had told signers it was all about direct election of the County Board Chairman.
There's some support for that on the Republican-dominated Board, but even Franks' fellow-Democrat Member Kathy Bergen Schmitt, Crystal Lake, opposed the idea of replacing Chairman Ken Koehler with what many Board members called a County Czar. "We need to keep saying, 'Executive is not equal to Chair'," she said.
McHenry Member Sandy Salgado wanted to put another question on the ballot about the Chairman's direct election. However, Austin said a quick read of State law indicated that might not matter. "In the event they both passed, the question that could change the type of government trumps," he said. Besides, said Austin, the deadline for including another question would be Aug. 20 and the Board's not scheduled to meet until Aug. 21.
In that case, said Salgado, let's have a special meeting. But Koehler said the Board couldn't vote on that because it wasn't on the agenda. Nevertheless, after more sputtering and fuming among members, Koehler concluded, "It seems to me as if we're going to have a meeting on the Franks issue."