Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Confusion, Ambiguities Mark County Executive Referendum
The way the referendum is worded, specified by State statute, is guaranteed to confuse people. There's an implication McHenry County would go "Home Rule" unless it OK's an elected County Executive. That would probably be anathema to most McHenry County voters since Home Rule would lift the cap on property tax increases. A young McHenry County attorney who shall remain nameless decided to vote early last week. He'd boned up on the pros and cons of an elected County Executive but when he read the actual question including the part about Home Rule, "I had to stop and think really hard about it," he said.
Bottom line, there's another County Executive referendum formulation that calls for a change to Home Rule but this one isn't it. As far as that's concerned, it doesn't matter if the referendum passes or not.
If it passes, however, it doesn't necessarily mean the Chairman of the McHenry County Board will be done away with. A legal analysis of the referendum two months ago by Assistant State's Attorney Jana Blake Dickson included an adverb lawyers don't usually use. "The position of chairman would presumably (emphasis added) be eliminated," she wrote. "Well, (if the referendum passes) there won't be much left for him to do," Dickson told FEN. An examination of Board Rules show's he'd still be Ex-officio County Liquor Commissioner, for instance.
There's only one model for what happens when a County adopts the elected County Executive form of government. In 1988 Will County did it but the county still retains a County Board Chairman. FEN tried to ask the current Chairman what he does in Will County but Jim Moustis didn't return calls.
Dickson used "presumably" a second time in her analysis. The Illinois Governing Bodies statute gives an elected County Executive the power to appoint persons to serve on boards and commissions and special districts with the "advice and consent" of the County Board. However, in a Fun Facts-style footnote, Dickson observed, "There is no statutory definition for the term 'advice and consent of the board'." Dickson added that the Board would "presumably" have to come up with one.