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Algonquin Township officials want highway commissioner moved out by June, trustee says

Trustee contends highway commissioner creates ‘hostile’ environment

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser sits in his office April 27.
Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser sits in his office April 27.

To move Andrew Gasser or not, that is the question.

Algonquin Township drama might not be as eloquent as Shakespeare, but bad blood continues to run through this tale.

“He has created a hostile work environment with all the other township officials,” said Trustee Melissa Victor, who motioned to kick Gasser out of the township’s main building and move him to Building 6 – a cavernous warehouse across the parking lot – to alleviate tensions.

The motion passed, 3-2, at the township’s April 11 meeting. Trustees Dan Shea, Dave Chapman and Victor voted “yes,” while Trustee Rachael Lawrence and Supervisor Charles Lutzow voted “no.”

But the question remains – when will that move happen?

Gasser, who did not attend the meeting that night, said he has no intentions of moving until the supervisor – the township’s “landlord,” he said – tells him otherwise.

“The trustees can do what they need to do,” Gasser said. “I’m going to keep running the highway department the best way I can.”

Lutzow told the Northwest Herald that there have been discussions between officials, including one meeting between Victor and Gasser, but no plans have been finalized.

“We don’t have a for sure plan at all,” Lutzow said. “We haven’t agreed exactly where he’s going to move or when he’s going to move.”

Victor, who said the move would draw a clear distinction between the township and highway department and put all of the clerk’s records under one building, told a different story.

“We’re giving him 30 days after our next board meeting,” Victor said.

That means Gasser could be relocated to Building 6 by June.

The narrative inside Algonquin Township the past year has been rife with in-house lawsuits, astronomical legal fees and numerous corruption allegations.

Gasser is involved in multiple lawsuits that have drained township and highway department budgets of more than $478,000 in the past year. He has since asked for a $250,000 legal budget for fiscal 2019.

The infighting and legal acrobatics inside Algonquin Township have put McHenry County’s most populous township under a microscope at the state and local levels.

Residents have attended meetings to voice concerns about the direction of their government. State Rep. David McSweeney has filed a bill to allow voters to consolidate townships with a majority vote. The Barrington Hills Republican has used Algonquin Township as the poster child of his campaign to get the bill passed.

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks wrote a letter to township officials urging them to put a referendum to voters asking whether the highway department should be eliminated.

Keeping the department and township as separate entities would eliminate tension brewing between Gasser and Algonquin Township Clerk Karen Lukasik, Victor said.

Much of the hostility inside Algonquin Township stems from the highway commissioner’s June 1 lawsuit against Lukasik, former Highway Commissioner Bob Miller and his wife, Anna May Miller, who worked as her husband’s secretary.

The complaint alleges that Lukasik is out to obstruct Gasser from reviewing records to cover up years of wrongdoing by the highway commissioner’s predecessor. The court document highlights receipts Gasser said show that Bob Miller used public funds to buy handbags, women’s clothing and other personal items – including plane tickets to Disneyland.

Lawrence, who voted against the relocation, said the move is ill-advised.

“It’s ridiculous,” Lawrence said. “It serves no public purpose whatsoever. I think it’s a juvenile act to act out a personal vendetta against the highway commissioner by somebody who doesn’t like him.”

Victor, Chapman and Lutzow ran on the same slate as Miller, who lost his seat to Gasser after four decades in the highway department.

“It’s a petty action,” Lawrence said, “to take out her political frustrations on Andrew Gasser without acknowledging that it will affect many people other than Andrew Gasser.”

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