Financial news in Illinois is usually bad news for taxpayers, and Illinoisans haven't had much faith in politicians to turn things around. But the example set by one McHenry Township Trustee could be a little bit of inspiration the state needs. On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Brian Timpone talk to Wonder Lake's Bob Anderson about his decades-long efforts to consolidate government and save taxpayer money. Proft and Timpone also analyze new Illinois and Chicago financial numbers – both of which look bleak – with Wirepoints' Mark Glennon.
Is a barber from Wonder Lake the last best hope to change IL's political culture? Why is a seemingly good government policy causing so much pushback? Who are the invested parties? McHenry Township Trustee, Bob Anderson joins Dan and Shaun to talk government consolidation.
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Proft: Good morning, Dan...and in for Amy this morning is "Shaun from Elmwood Park" and... Thompson: Pruning the audience? Proft: *laughs* Yeah, there's no question about that. Appreciate the...feedback. (Thompson: Yeah.) Believe me, I'm passing along your...comments (?) to "Shaun from Elmwood Park", so perhaps we can modify his conduct. Thompson: Uh-huh. Proft: If you want an antidote for the fatalism that afflicts Illinois, I can't think of a better one than a gentleman named Bob Anderson. Bob Anderson, if I'm remembering correctly, came to McHenry County in 1947. So... Thompson: That's when cars were CARS, baby! Proft: So you want to talk about someone who's been in it for the long haul, and who has fought the fight against the kleptocracy that Illinois...there's a lot of politicians run around talking about things like government consolidation, eliminating redundant units of government, in a state that has the most units of government and the most elected officials in the country. Bob Anderson's been fighting that fight for the better part of the last three decades, while also operating a barber shop in McHenry Township, where he serves as a trustee, and it's been painstaking, but some progress is being made, thanks to Bob Anderson's stick-to-itiveness. There is a referendum on the November ballot, up McHenry Township way, that would eliminate the Township's Road District, and place it under the purview of the Township Board of Trustees. And you think that this is a relatively minor thing, perhaps, but this is a minor thing happening all over the state that turns out to be a MAJOR thing. And how major is it? How difficult is it to accomplish what, to hear me describe it, sounds like a relatively simple good government move? Well, I'll let Bob Anderson tell you how difficult it is, and what you're up again. Bob Anderson, McHenry County Trustee, Wonder Lake barber...thanks so much for joining us, Bob, appreciate it. Anderson: Thank you! Good morning, and thank you for those kinds words. Proft: Well... Anderson: And how tough it is? Well, I guess it's hard to find the words for that without repeating myself, except that...the resistance, the push back, I use the word "mob action" when you go to a trustee meeting when I'm there. It's very embarrassing to have people shout things at me, scream at me, say things there, they'll say "Well, what does he know? He's just the barber!" These people are brought in by the tax officials to actually scare me off of my position, which is not going to happen. But I can take those things in a personal situation, but when you sit there as an elected official, and hear things that people will say to protect this...this entity, is...is...kind of escapes my words right now, Dan, is...it's just not right. It's embarrassing for those people...go ahead, yeah? Proft: Tell us what this referendum would do, if it were passed, what this referendum would do, and who are the vested parties that are so opposed to it, what's the reason? Anderson: Okay, but first, I'm not gonna use the word IF...we're gonna win it, okay? Proft: Okay! All right. Anderson: I mean, you don't win things when you say IF. You only win things if you're DETERMINED to win it, okay? Proft: Okay, yes sir. Anderson: And the vested parties, basically would be the political establishment that supports all the government officials instead of Illinois, and it starts at the Township level. And, you know, I'm bringing this up too, had a great conversation last night with one of my supporters, and that would be...why is the Roads Commissioner even ELECTED? That should be something that's hired by the Township Board, and overseeing that. But, we have the Supervisor, he votes against us. He's been connected with the Road Commissioner...they both...they both were appointed to their positions. Our Supervisor was a Trustee, got appointed to Supervisor, the Road Commissioner was a Trustee, got appointed there, and all these things kind of go from one building block to another, and then they start supporting people at the County level, and that's in the County level, to the people you put down in Springfield. Proft: And they're all...and they're all working together because there are salaries and benefits at stake, and we saw this play out in one of the most extreme examples on record, which is in McHenry County, not your Township, but Algonquin Township, and Bob Miller, the Highway Commissioner there who was defeated in the last municipal election, but that was after half a century of fleecing taxpayers, of $400K worth of families on salary, just for that small Township's Highway Department, and this is some of the abuse I assume you're referencing. Anderson: There's no question about it, and also, speaking of Bob Miller, would be that his wife would be on the County Board year after year... Thompson: *sarcastically* SHOCKING! Anderson: ...in his office, and not one person on the County Board, because I've attended quite a few County Board members (sic), not one person would absolutely stand up and say "Anna May, you should not be on this County Board, and hold a seat there. You should resign, as long as you have those two jobs." Nobody stood up! Thompson: You know Bob, with an attitude like yours...you're NEVER gonna get a Poker Video Game, a liquor license, or a marijuana distribution license, you know! And these are gonna be the only things that are left, it's called the "Sam Giancana Economic Plan"! So I wanted to tell you that. Number two, Bob, I'm really only good at two things, and one of 'em is fighting in a parking lot, so you tell me when your next meeting is, because I'd LOVE to come up there, and let's see how they yell! Anderson: *laughing* Okay! Well I'll tell ya, our meetings are at 7 o'clock, at the second Thursday of the month. And I'm not so sure now, I'll tell you, it'd be interesting that,,,anybody invited from the press for sure could attend the meeting, but I'll tell you now, I'm not so sure now that it will be so violent, it could be. But the night that we got this vote reversed, that we failed by a 3-2 vote back in January, in February we got it through, THAT was a night that everybody should have been here to see what was going on. They loaded up the meeting with low commissioners from as far away as Wauconda! And it was...it was...it was a...sweating that night, I found the other trustee that minute, we both were threatened, we filed a police report the next day, the (?) police showed up at the end of the meeting, two squad cars, two police people came in, officers... Thompson: Sounds like a party! Anderson: It was just terrible! Proft: And your business has been vandalized as well for your positions, right? Anderson: That's right, I've had nails thrown at my barber shop, the day after the election last year in April...a year coming up in April. I'm working the afternoon, a customer left, came back and says "Bob, look what I found!", and there's nails behind the cars out there, 59 of 'em. Then a few weeks later, I had nails that were put behind my car at my home, I live about 4 blocks from the barber shop. I just recently had a guy go by from the Township...he was in a Township truck but had a Township shirt on, keeps you from...a safety vest on, but he saw me looking out the window, he gives me the finger. They've thrown cans...I've got...my barbershop's got an apartment on it, it's quite a long building, (Thompson: And WE have to pay those pension!) and the garbage cans were thrown to the barbershop side of the building...there was a message there. Proft: And, McHenry County Highway Commissioner James Condon has said that you're NOT spending your time and energy providing PROOF that what you have proposed to do with this consolidation saves any substantial taxpayer dollars. He said...and I've spoken with Condon before, I believe, he seemed like a reasonable guy, but he suggests that...you're telling half-truths and not really going to save taxpayer money with this consolidation. How do you respond? Anderson: I respond to that very plainly. First of all, this is a simple, common-sense question, and what that question is going to be for the voters to decide on is do you want the Road Commission...and it's not just, you know, Jim Condon, or my Road Commissioner in McHenry Township...it's every road commissioner in the state of Illinois...should that Road Commissioner have this kind of power? They have more power for spending public money than the governor of Illinois, and the question for the voters to decide on is this; do you want a committee of ONE, the Road Commissioner, to make a decision...in this case, $3M, also hiring/firing, or do you want that to be transferred over to the Township Board, we have a committee of five, overseeing that. You don't NEED an expensive study for that, and another...I haven't really put this out yet, this is the first time...I use it when I talk to people to come in my barber shop, my supporters though...is why doesn't Jim Condon come out...why doesn't he come out and say "Let's have a study, see if it's gonna cost more?" You can just reverse that. But there is nothing but stall tactic, stall tactic, stall tactic, and they all evolved when we brought in my state Representative, Steve Reick, and he makes a big speech about "You cannot move forward, you must have a study on jto prove you're going to save money on this, otherwise..." then he said "I'd be for it." Without question, he entered that bill, and that bill gets buried in Committee, but now they've got somebody in the Senate now, coming up in the Senate with a similar bill, that you must have a study to prove, before the boards can have a chance to weight on a simple subject like this, to prove that you're going to save money. This is more about saving money, the sums...the savings are becoming the future. But right now, this is about reducing the size and cost of government, we have those 7,000 governments, somewhere...you gotta start someplace, and I think this is a perfect place to start. Proft: Well, and the point that you raised, what you're getting to is this game that's played by public officials, "Hey, don't go after MY fiefdom, go after somebody else's fiefdom." Like, so "I agree in principle that we have too many units of government, too many public officials, too many taxing bodies, government is too expansive, too redundant, too expensive in Illinois. I agree with all that, but just don't go after my cynosure, or my position, or my unit of government, go after somebody else's." So they have you in this perpetual shell game...you know the Constitution, the state Constitution, provides for referendum to eliminate Township government. And it's not...this consolidation wouldn't be a first of its kind, but it's unfortunately fairly rare. But, but, you're always in this Shell Game with the political class, and nobody wants to provide the leadership. And so, hey, you know, the response to me for you, Bob, when people say "Hey, why are you targeting the Road Commissioner and not X, Y, or Z?", "Hey, I'm showing leadership where I can! If you all, or other people, want to show leadership at the municipal level, or the county level, or the state level, super-fantastic!" I mean, the whole point is, I think, part of your example is hoping that other people will pick it up and replicate it. Anderson: There's no question...those are great words, that really feed into what I've been trying to accomplish. But, first of all, I want to correct you, that we do have a local Representative here, David McSweeney... Proft: Yeah, right. Anderson: He is standing up for the people! He is taking this issue on! He is saying that he wants...and he knows this, okay? And he knows that we do not have the people that have got the backbone or the guts that are in the General Assembly or in County or municipal government to take on this whole thing about all these fiefdoms. But he...and what he's saying is "Let's get something on the ballot and let the people decide!" And that's what's so frustrating about Jim Condon and all these Road Commissioners, they have supported Bob Miller down through the years, is that they are afraid of the people. And even with it on the ballot, they have so much money, and so much clout, that it's going to be a fierce battle, but we're gonna win this, though, because it's a common-sense question and people are tired of this. In addition to this, as you've said on your program too, and it's in the papers all the time, people are leaving Illinois by the droves. In the last, what was this, since 2010, we've lost over half a million residents. If you lose half a million residents, don't you think you can get by with less government? No, not in this state, people do not have the backbone to stand up...and what I say to quite a few often...quite often to customers in my barbershop is if we have an elected official...which you'd believe this too Dan, if they were doing their jobs, you wouldn't even KNOW about me. It would be done! Proft: Mmhmm, yeah. He is... Anderson: They don't have the guts to do it. And even now, even now, even though this is getting a lot of news coverage, the momentum is building up, where ARE they? I'm not getting calls saying "Bob, you know...", sort of like my state Senator, Pamela Althoff, I've been in her office I don't know how many times dealing with stuff. Some of the things we'd go through would be like "Okay, we've got a little bit there." but all I've gotten is disappointment, she never had any LEADERSHIP, and now I find her name...and I can't remember the Senator that's taken up that new bill that you have to have a study here, but she is the first chief co-sponsor on that! That is so frustrating to me! But there, again, it's backstabbing, and how we deal with people from the public that come into your office, "Yeah Bob, you're right, you're right," but when it comes down to get something accomplished, nothing's there. Proft: Well, that's because we don't have enough Bob Anderson's in this state, it's just as simple as that, we don't have enough people that are courageous, we don't have people willing to suffer the slings and arrows that you have suffered to prosecute the case...but I'm glad that you are doing it! He is Wonder Lake barber Bob Anderson, McHenry Township...McHenry TOWNSHIP Trustee and Chairman of Citizens for Consolidation, this is the group pushing the referendum in McHenry Township this November. Bob, thanks so much for joining us and telling your story and putting in the fight, appreciate it. Anderson: Thank you very much, thanks for the kind words, have a nice day, and Happy Easter! Proft: Happy Easter to you, and your family. And he joined us on the Turnkey Dot Pro Answer Line.
With a backlog of bills and tax hike proposals at the state level – and nearly 7,000 taxing bodies in the state at the local level – Illinois taxpayers are hit from all over. On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes talk to Mark Glennon of Wirepoints.com about which proposals currently in Springfield actually help taxpayers, and which ones hurt. At the local level, they talk to a newly-elected McHenry Township trustee whose goal is to consolidate or eliminate the township entirely – savings taxpayers' money.
They also discuss the state's ongoing impasse with its largest government-worker union, AFSCME, and how a potential U.S. Supreme Court case could relieve fair share payers of the union's political stranglehold. And Proft and Hughes break down wasteful spending in higher education in the state.
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Exclusive interview with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner dropped the hammer on Rahm Emanuel this morning. He also discussed his plans for local government consolidations and the conditions to resolve the state's budget impasse.