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McHenry Township officials will not vote on controversial referendum Thursday

Trustees Bill Cunningham (left) and Bob Anderson talk before a McHenry Township meeting Jan. 11. McHenry Township trustees voted down putting a referendum to voters in the November election asking whether they want to abolish the road district and consolidate it into the township. Cunningham and Anderson both voted in favor of the referendum.
Trustees Bill Cunningham (left) and Bob Anderson talk before a McHenry Township meeting Jan. 11. McHenry Township trustees voted down putting a referendum to voters in the November election asking whether they want to abolish the road district and consolidate it into the township. Cunningham and Anderson both voted in favor of the referendum.

JOHNSBURG – McHenry Township officials expected to take a second vote Thursday night on whether they should put a question to voters asking whether the road district should be eliminated.

That vote won’t happen, Township Supervisor Craig Adams said.

There will be a discussion of the agenda item but no vote at the meeting because McHenry Township’s protocol calls for a discourse about topics before the board takes a vote, Adams said. Since that did not happen, Trustee Mike Rakestraw’s request to vote on the topic is void, the supervisor said.

“I’m not trying to obstruct this question from being on the ballot,” Adams said. “They just have to do it correctly.”

Adams also took issue with Rakestraw’s Jan. 19 request to put the referendum vote on the agenda because it did not offer the precise language outlined in House Bill 607, the law that allows residents to abolish road districts with a vote.

“I consulted the township attorney,” Adams said. “You cannot vote on an illegal motion.”

The agenda mix-up frustrated township trustees who expected to vote on the controversial topic one month after the board voted down the measure – and the state representative who chairs the consolidation committee in Springfield that pushed forward the law allowing such a referendum is calling the supervisor’s decision to delay the vote nothing but obstruction.

“It appears to me it is a clear stall tactic,” said state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, the legislator leading the state’s consolidation committee in Springfield.

Bob Anderson, a Wonder Lake barber and township trustee spearheading the consolidation effort in McHenry Township, agreed.

“There’s no question he’s stalling,” Anderson said.

Rakestraw could not be reached for comment. His request to put a vote on the agenda offered an abbreviated version of the referendum question: “Discussion regarding drafting a resolution to add to the Nov. 6, 2018, general election ballot a referendum question; should the McHenry Township Road District be eliminated ... ?”

Jim Militello, the township’s attorney, said the board should vote on the precise language that appears in law: “Shall the road district of the township of ... be abolished with all the rights, powers, duties, assets, property, liabilities, obligations and responsibilities being assumed by the township of ... ?”

“It should reflect that,” Militello said.

Yingling – the state’s 62nd District representative, chairman of the Government Consolidation and Modernization Committee and chief sponsor of the new law, said that’s bogus.

“That is not a legitimate argument,” Yingling said.

Only one official should be concerned with the precise language of the law: the clerk who prepares the ballots, Yingling said.

McHenry Township trustees voted down the measure Jan. 11. The 3-2 vote brought to a standstill the consolidation efforts of Anderson, who began his fight to abolish townships three decades ago.

Anderson’s resolution came on the heels of a new state law that went into effect Jan. 1.

House Bill 607 allows township trustees to ask voters whether they want the road district abolished and its responsibilities given to the township supervisor. A majority vote would push that plan into motion, eliminating the road district at the end of the current highway commissioner’s term.

In 1994, Anderson spearheaded a referendum to eliminate the county’s townships the only way state law allowed – by switching from a county board to a three-member panel of county commissioners.

By a 3-1 margin, voters defeated Anderson’s referendum to abolish townships in the November 1994 election.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: McHenry Township meeting to discuss whether voters should have the opportunity to eliminate the road district with a majority vote at the polls in the November election.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: 3703 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg

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