To the Editor:
Ersel Schuster’s column regarding rules reform for our McHenry County Board was excellent.
Illinois, unfortunately, appears to specialize in a strong-man model of government. Specifically, Illinois statutes give the governor more power than any other state, according to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. In addition, Illinois statutes have permitted Speaker Madigan, who is not elected statewide, but selected by his peers, to hold Illinois captive for decades with seemingly limitless power. This is why advocates for good government support distributed, rather than concentrated, governmental powers.
Currently, our County Board rules provide the chairman with extensive assignment and appointment authority for County Board committees, and external boards and commissions, such as Mental Health Board and Metra. Consequently, the chairman can make appointments without input or scrutiny before either an up or down vote by the full board.
This should deeply concern every citizen for several reasons. First, like Madigan, our chairman is not elected by the county, but rather by fellow board members. This creates the potential for bargaining influence and accountability gaps.
Secondly, county government appointments involve more than 40 commissions, agencies and boards that have budgets to protect, authority to wield, and may control millions of taxpayer dollars.
Further, according to the nonpartisan Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, separate governmental enclaves create “ways for small islands of graft and corruption to stay hidden.”
It is my hope that board members will approve these reforms as a first step in providing fundamental checks and balances essential for open, transparent government in McHenry County.
McHenry County Board, District 2 representative