Fired political insider Ryan Provenzano keeps job as Algonquin Township's deputy highway commissioner

ALGONQUIN TOWNSHIP – Ryan Provenzano, a political insider fired from his role as the Algonquin Township supervisor’s chief of staff in January, still is employed as deputy highway commissioner in the Algonquin Township Road District.

At the time of his firing, it was unclear if Ryan Provenzano, who at one time earned more than $32 an hour in both offices, would keep his job as deputy highway commissioner – but a recent Facebook post from Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser and a phone call to Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow confirmed that.

“I have no comment on his hiring,” Lutzow said about Ryan Provenzano, who received a check from the road district Feb. 2. “The highway department is separate from the township.’ ”

The Northwest Herald could not reach Gasser or Ryan Provenzano by telephone Friday, but a video published on the Algonquin Township Highway Department’s Facebook page Thursday night featured the highway commissioner talking about his crews clearing snow from the road – and his deputy, Ryan Provenzano.

“We’ve done all the pre-treatment we can do, so we’re gonna go to an overnight crew with me and my deputy, Ryan Provenzano,” Gasser said in the video, published at 11:08 p.m. Thursday.

Gasser posted again to his personal Facebook page early Friday morning and mentioned his deputy highway commissioner.

“Plan worked perfectly,” Gasser wrote. “Ryan Provenzano and I got the main roads through the night until the Illinois Allstars that is the Algonquin Township Highway Department came in at 4 a.m.”

Lutzow terminated the 23-year-old Jan. 16 and banned him from the premises. The supervisor would not comment on whether the ban had been lifted to allow Ryan Provenzano to work on Algonquin Township property.

James Kelly, the township’s attorney, said he would not comment on personnel matters.

Lutzow also would not comment on why he fired Provenzano, whose roles in two offices raised questions among township officials and road district employees who contend that his hiring was the product of patronage and cronyism.

Provenzano’s return has at least one Algonquin Township trustee concerned.

“I’m disappointed to see the highway commissioner has continued to employ this person,” Trustee Rachael Lawrence said. “He was an unqualified patronage hire.”

The Northwest Herald could not reach Trustees Dave Chapman, Dan Shea and Melissa Victor for comment Friday.

The Republican had agreements in place to earn $32 an hour and $63,000 a year working full time as the chief of staff in Lutzow’s office, and another deal working part time as deputy highway commissioner at the Algonquin Township Highway Department, where he made $33 an hour.

That’s about $4 more an hour than the road district’s highest-paid employee, Randy Voss, who has worked for the highway department for 44 years and earns $29.14 an hour.

Provenzano is the son of former McHenry County Board member Nick Provenzano, who now works for U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, and the nephew of former Maine Township Highway Commissioner Robert Provenzano. 

He is a graduate of Marian Central Catholic High School and a former employee of McHenry Harley-Davidson. Ryan Provenzano spent 10 months as a front house manager at Plum Garden Restaurant – a popular Chinese eatery in McHenry owned by former McHenry County Board member Perry Moy, who donated $550 to Nick Provenzano’s political efforts in 2004, according to campaign finance records.

Ryan Provenzano helped McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett win election as his campaign manager, and he worked as a field director for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign operations in McHenry County.

Ryan Provenzano and his father helped Lutzow run his campaign for township supervisor. Lutzow has denied Ryan Provenzano was hired as a political favor.

Former Algonquin Township Supervisor Dianne Klemm hired Ryan Provenzano early last year to help transition the office into the hands of Lutzow, who recently was elected supervisor. Provenzano then earned $13 an hour as an administrative assistant – a job that belonged to Judith Kreklow, who worked at Algonquin Township for more than two decades.

In 2015, Kreklow earned a $70,824 annual salary. The township spent $30,302 to cover her health insurance for a total compensation package of $101,127, according to payroll documents.

In November, the Northwest Herald filed a Freedom of Information Act request with township officials asking for documents inside Ryan Provenzano’s personnel file, including a job description, contracts, résumés and letters of recommendation.

Township attorney James Kelly told the Northwest Herald on Dec. 5 that no such records exist.

Questioned by the Northwest Herald at a Jan 10. township meeting, Gasser would not comment on the specifics of Ryan Provenzano’s duties at the highway department or how many hours he would work every week. At the same meeting, Trustee Rachael Lawrence asked Gasser to explain why he brought Ryan Provenzano into his office.

“I needed a deputy, and I found one, and Ryan is already at the township, [and] he already has a great understanding of how the township works, and he is not a full-time employee, by any means,” Gasser said at the meeting. “He’s worth every friggin’ penny, and I am tired – I am tired of certain people coming around here and questioning everything I’ve done.”

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