Thumbs-down: To McHenry Township for not being transparent or fair in its process to select a new trustee. About a dozen residents attended Thursday night’s special meeting where Steve Verr was appointed to fill the seat left by former Trustee Bill Cunningham. At a special meeting Monday night, township officials interviewed three candidates interested in the seat. Although two were interviewed in public session, Verr requested his interview take place in a private executive session. Each candidate should go through the same process, and we question why Verr was the only one who wanted to do his interview behind closed doors.
The township didn’t even finish interviewing all interested candidates – three more were on the board’s list to be interviewed for the job, but never got the chance. Trustees Bob Anderson and Mike Rakestraw called for Thursday’s special meeting to name a replacement. Both men are vocal supporters of Verr. As John Macrito, who applied to fill the seat, said at Thursday’s meeting, not interviewing all candidates was a disservice to the residents the township serves.
Thumbs-up: To making Illinois colleges more affordable. This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a pilot program to provide $50 million in merit-based scholarships to encourage students to attend Illinois colleges and universities. The state will provide half of the funding for the program, with the schools providing the rest. It is about time that Illinois took steps to compete with schools in other states that are seeing success in aggressively recruiting Illinois high school grads. The state is among the top exporters of high school students in the country, with almost half of its students choosing schools in other states. That ís a trend that must be reversed to prevent a brain drain and keep Illinois colleges and universities alive.
Thumbs-down: To airborne acrimony. As is usual during the Illinois State Fair, the days set aside for each of the main political parties served as much to promote like-minded unity as to take shots at opponents. A plane chartered by the campaign of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner flew outside the hotel where Illinois Democrats were gathering for brunch, pulling a banner reading “Pritzker (heart) Madigan,” whom Rauner has made public enemy No. 1 during his brief political career.
Look, we understand the logic of political parties gathering at the state fair each year, as it’s a natural collection point for folks from all over Illinois. And obviously the campaign is on everyone’s mind. But sniping like this – and we’re including barbs Democrats fired at Republicans as well – can ruin the festive fair attitude for people who simply want to celebrate the state and its agricultural past, present and future. Can we tone it down a bit, or at least find a different venue?