Thursday, October 18, 2012
Lots Of Heat, Little Light At County Executive Debate
The Patriots United civic group debate at McHenry Community College was about a Franks-backed referendum on next months' ballot to create a directly-elected head of McHenry County government. Franks' logical opponent for the evening would have been County Board Chairman. But he and Ken Koehler have some sort of ongoing feud so even though Koehler was in the audience, Tryon ended up representing the status quo.
Franks painted a picture of domineering Chairman running roughshod over the rest of the County Board. "He appoints the head of all committees and sets the agenda," said Franks.
Tryon scoffed that would be nothing compared to a County Executive's power to hire and fire people, write the budget and veto any Board measure he didn't like. "That's too much power in one pair of hands," said Tryon.
"We need someone with veto power to stop the increase in taxes," said Franks, pointing to charts he'd brought along proving that Will County, the only one in the State with a County Executive, has a lower per-capita tax levy than Mchenry County. Net out the extra taxes that McHenry County voters approved but Will County ones didn't, said Tryon, and, "It's about the same in an apples to apples comparison."
Although the pair repeatedly declared their mutual respect and friendship, Franks' charge the Koehler regime held "an illegal meeting to gerrymander County Board districts" brought a sharp Tryon rebuke. "There was never any allegation it was to gerrymander districts," he said.
The only real new information at the debate was Franks' denial that, if the County Executive referendum passes, he wants the job. "I will not seek or accept the nomination for the office," Franks said.
"This will not be like Cook County government," promised Franks. No, said Tryon, "This works just like Springfield. " Then he added, "Springfield's not working too good for us right now."
In the pic: State Rep. Jack Franks (left) said Wednesday an elected County Executive would end "backroom deals." State Rep. Mike Tryon (right) said the State Open Meetings law won't apply when one meets with "political hacks."