CRYSTAL LAKE – The in-house feud brewing between Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik and Trustee Rachael Lawrence continues to boil.
On Tuesday, the officials exchanged messages in an email spat stemming from a conversation Lawrence had with a recent college graduate who Lukasik contracted to help her around the office for 20 hours a week, making $17 an hour through March.
The exchange represents another layer of infighting that previously reached boiling point in November, when Lawrence accused Lukasik of slamming a heavy office door into her body and bruising her arm in a spat over documents – a squabble that landed no one in jail.
In a Tuesday morning email to Supervisor Charles Lutzow, township attorney James Kelly, Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser and the township’s four trustees, Lukasik attacked Lawrence for allegedly grilling her employee about his duties – a conversation Lawrence contends was friendly and pleasant.
To Lukasik, however, Lawrence overstepped her authority as a trustee.
“I will not have my employees, or any other employees for that matter, harassed by Ms. Lawrence, and would like to remind her that she has no business directing our employees what to do,” wrote Lukasik, who earns $18,000 a year as clerk. “Ms. Lawrence’s behavior toward our employees is unacceptable and only causes unnecessary stress and disruption to their workdays.”
Less than 15 minutes later, Lawrence replied, denying the charges and deeming the clerk’s behavior unprofessional.
“Not only is your email utte[r]ly false and out of line, it is beyond your scope of authority,” Lawrence said, claiming that her questioning was not harassment at all. “Once again, I am disappointed in what appears to be an extreme example of your inability to conduct yourself in a professional and cordial manner.”
The trustee wrote that the employee’s contract is a concern of the township board.
“Further, a contractor is not an employee of the township, and any contracts into which you have entered will be audited [by] the board of trustees at the next meeting,” Lawrence wrote. “For the second time, I politely request that you do not email me [again] unless it pertains to your official duties as clerk, and that it be done in a professional and mature manner.”
Lukasik replied with a warning and demand.
“Leave the employees and contractors alone,” Lukasik wrote. “They are not your responsibility. I have every right to say something. You need to know your role. You audit the bills. ... You do not oversee contractors or employees.
PERIOD. You will not speak to him anymore about what he is doing while at the township.”
“STOP,” Lawrence replied.
Less than 30 minutes later, Lukasik offered insight into what the employee does for her.
“He has been hired to help in the clerk’s office,” Lukasik said. “The scope of his responsibility is not your decision or oversight. This is official township business that needed to be discussed. This is not unprofessional but ensuring you understand your role in relation to contractors and employees.”
Lukasik could not be reached for comment. Lawrence told the Northwest Herald that the feud with Lukasik is one-sided, and she’s never looking to engage the clerk.
Lawrence said she introduced herself to Lukasik’s employee “under the friendliest of circumstances, and by all accounts, had a wonderful and pleasant conversation with him.”
“She has this pure, blind hatred toward me,” Lawrence said. “She’s got a personal problem with me, and I’m not participating.”
Other township officials said they do not want to get involved with the fight between Lukasik and Lawrence.
“This is between the clerk and the trustee,” Lutzow said.