McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has launched a robocall urging thousands of Algonquin Township residents to pressure the township board to put a referendum on the November ballot giving voters the choice to eliminate the highway department at the polls.
The heart of the Marengo Democrat’s call was an attack on Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser – the face of an expensive legal campaign the Fox River Grove Republican contends has uncovered years of corruption under the leadership of his predecessor, Bob Miller.
“Hi, this is McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks with an important message about your township highway commissioner,” Franks said in the call that went out Wednesday. “He has squandered hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars on legal bills and political vendettas with no end in sight.”
Franks highlighted state law that allows voters to eliminate the highway department with a majority vote at the polls.
“But Supervisor [Charles] Lutzow doesn’t want to put it on the agenda,” Franks said. “Please call him at 847-639-2700 and demand a referendum be placed on the November ballot to eliminate the highway commissioner’s office.”
The robocall was paid for by Supporters of Jack Franks, the chairman’s campaign committee.
Lutzow said the law allowing voters to eliminate the highway department – House Bill 607 – is “flawed.”
In effect Jan. 1, the law allows township trustees to ask voters whether they want the road district abolished and its responsibilities given to the township.
A majority vote at the polls would push that plan into motion, eliminating the department at the end of the current highway commissioner’s term.
If voters were to eliminate the road district, the change would not happen until 2021, Lutzow said.
“We don’t need to put it out this year. There’s no reason to rush,” he said.
Lutzow said better laws governing the elimination or consolidation of government can come out between now and the end of Gasser’s term.
“I am not part of the McHenry County political class [led] by Jack Franks and Bob Miller,” Gasser said in a statement. “There is no political vendetta, as my legal fees are solely associated with [International Union Of Operating Engineers] Local 150 matters.”
Trustee Rachael Lawrence supports putting a referendum on the ballot and giving voters the power to choose.
“The voting public controls our government,” Lawrence said in a statement, “not the other way around. Those who oppose this referendum are the same people who believe you’re too stupid to remember that.”
In February, McHenry Township officials voted to put a referendum to voters asking whether the road district should be eliminated.
Earlier this month – after McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally ruled he would not prosecute Miller – Franks wrote a letter to Algonquin Township officials.
Franks highlighted a “nonstop barrage of negative headlines” about ongoing turmoil and questionable behavior inside the township.
“You do not have to make the difficult decision here – the voters have to do that,” Franks said. “All you have to do is put the question on the ballot. Algonquin Township taxpayers have the right to decide whether they want this office to continue to exist.”
To Franks, there’s no sense in township officials waiting for a better law to come along.
“Why would anyone wait?” Franks said. “Why are we scared of the voters? That’s the threshold question.”