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Andrew Gasser files new lawsuit against Algonquin Township officials

Highway commissioner alleges officials slashed his budget unlawfully

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser addresses trustees during the public comment portion of a meeting Wednesday in Crystal Lake.
Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser addresses trustees during the public comment portion of a meeting Wednesday in Crystal Lake.

Algonquin Township officials challenged the power of Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser and tried to control budget-busting legal spending.

Now he’s suing them for it.

A new lawsuit naming the supervisor and all but one Algonquin Township trustee was filed Thursday in McHenry County Circuit Court.

Robert Hanlon – the $400-an-hour Woodstock attorney representing Gasser in multiple lawsuits – alleged in the new lawsuit that township officials “unlawfully restricted and interfered” with Gasser’s “constitutionally protected interests as an elected official to run a unit of local government.”

The lawsuit appeared on the website of the Edgar County Watchdogs under the headline “Algonquin Township being sued for actions taken beyond their authority.”

“The lawsuit is about the township board commanding another unit of government to adopt policies in violation of known legal precedent,” Hanlon said in an email.

Township officials – minus Trustee Rachael Lawrence – broke the law when they voted to slash Gasser’s proposed legal budget from $250,000 to $150,000, the lawsuit said.

The move jeopardizes his “ability to protect the road district as mandated by law as his responsibility,” it read.

“No Illinois law gives the defendants the power to force another unit of local government, such as the road district, to act in any particular manner or to abandon its legal rights by constraining the funding for its legal needs,” wrote Hanlon, who got a check from the highway department Thursday for $45,380 for his work on two lawsuits spanning May 5 to June 6.

The lawsuit also alleges officials broke the law when they voted Wednesday night for the highway department to adopt a prevailing wage ordinance and a resolution requiring all lawyers representing the township and road district to carry malpractice insurance.

“I have insurance covered under one of the ordinances,” Hanlon wrote. “The board reacted without investigation. Much like your reporting about a lack of malpractice insurance, you should be aware that lawyers have various policies that provide coverage that is not necessarily called malpractice. The ordinance says ‘professional responsibility insurance.’ ”

Gasser’s latest lawsuit seeks a court order requiring township officials to approve his budget. He also wants the courts to declare that changing his budget or passing ordinances to control his department is unlawful.

Hanlon also asked that the court award Gasser the cost for attorney fees and “appropriate sufficient funds to pay for this litigation.”

“Unsurprisingly,” Lawrence said, “the rest of the board’s utter disregard for state law has resulted in yet another lawsuit despite bemoaning the already-astronomical legal expenditures.”

Gasser could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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