ALGONQUIN TWP (ECWd) -
Is Trustee Victor intimidating Gasser using threats of police action and the withholding of official action?
According to the executive session minutes of a recent special meeting, the Township presented the Road District with a settlement offer in which the township and road district would pay $250,000 to settle the tax objection lawsuit. When Gasser made a counter-offer which would have required the Township to pay the District's lawful bills, restore the $100,000 back to the Road District's legal line item of his presented budget which was improperly taken by the Township months ago, and an additional demand that the Township enter into settlement negotiations with the Road District on all the other lawsuits, some Trustees became "offended."
Then, after declining the counter-offer, it appears it was time for payback through the filing of what we see as a frivolous criminal complaint against Gasser alleging extortion and intimidation. We believe these filings are attempts at intimidating and extorting Gasser into agreeing to the tax objection lawsuit - or at the very least, force him to cower down and agree to any additional demands they may make out of fear of more frivolous complaints. After all, how dare he make a counter-offer to a settlement and make any demands of his own. Considering there were multiple attorneys present during this event we find it most telling that none of them raised any concerns of criminal intimidation through this negotiation process.
Making the case for intimidation against the Highway Commissioner, Trustee Melissa Victor makes it easy...and public. She is a public official, and she is withholding official action and appears to be proud of it.
The Criminal Code's definition of intimidation:
720 ILCS 5/12-6(a): A person commits intimidation when, with the intent to cause another to perform or to omit the performance of any act, he or she communicates to another, directly or indirectly by any means, a threat to perform without lawful authority any of the following acts:
720 ILCS 5/12-6(a)(6): Take action as a public official against anyone or anything, or withhold official action, or cause such action or withholding.
Clearly, the record shows Trustee Victor has withheld official action that has not only cost the Road District more money, but such withholding also restricted the Highway Commissioner's ability to perform his job.
What is “official action”?
Official action is an action that the accused public official(s) have a mandatory or discretionary power to act upon.
IE: the Township Board has the power to examine and audit bills of a Township Road District.
Auditing of Bills:
A Township Trustee, such as Victor, has the duty to examine and audit bills presented for payment by the Road District.
Victor has declined on multiple occasion to vote to pay the attorney (and other) bills presented for payment by the Road District. Much of her refusal to pay certain bills are based on her personal feelings.
Not only has she refused to vote to pay, but she has also made public statements that "the union needs to be hired back and given back pay" and "I will never vote to pay Hanlon's bill" - this appears to be personal feelings getting in the way of her statutory duty.
She advocates in favor of the Union while trying to eliminate the Road District's attorney through either trying to not pay for his time researching the legal issues, not pay the bill in its entirety or by delaying payment on the bill. It appears as if she is attempting to affect the outcome of the Road District's lawsuit against the Union by purposely, and unlawfully, withholding the official action of paying lawfully presented Road District bills.
While we don't believe there will ever be a criminal charge of intimidation issued in this case, the scales are leaning hard against the trustees as the ones possibly violating that state statute, not Gasser.
Timeline of the established pattern of withholding official action:
- Sep 13, 2017: Victor and Chapman try to remove “legal research” from the attorney bills for the Road District. Victor said she would not vote to pay the legal bill
- Feb 14, 2018: Victor and Chapman state the attorney bills are not necessary and would not support paying them
- March 14, 2018: The Board refused to pay computer forensic audit bill saying they didn’t think it was needed (it's not their job to decide what is or is not "needed")
- May 14, 2018: Board tries establishing a new resolution that would eliminate the Road District’s attorney from representing the District - Motion tabled (again, not their job)
- June 13, 2018: Board approved a resolution requesting attorney representing the township carry certain insurances. Some board members object to Road District’s Ordinance to prohibit nepotism and other hiring practices
- Aug 8, 2018: Lawrence and Chapman motion, and the board approved to hold attorney bills for 20 days (not their job)
- Oct 10, 2018: Board refused to pay a settlement of Road District FOIA lawsuit – causing it to increase by $15,000
- Oct 19, 2018: Lawrence and Victor refuse to transfer $18,000 to the Road District legal fund, explaining that Gasser should have allowed himself enough legal expenses when the budget was created (conveniently forgetting that they stripped $100,000.00 from the budget presented to them). Shae states Gasser should not be allowed any more legal funds since lawsuits are continuing. This is the first meeting where the Board starts hounding Gasser about not attending meetings. Lawrence and Victor said they did not want to transfer anything into the Road District’s training fund because Gasser was not at the meeting to answer her questions. Lawrence, Victor, and Shae didn’t think the training was necessary. Board voted to not pay the settlement with the Road District FOIA case, causing it to increase by $15,000 (because he never consulted with them prior to the settlement). Lawrence opines that it is her duty as an Algonquin Township Trustee to ensure full compliance with the law (but apparently that duty only applies to the Road District issues)
- Nov 14, 2018: Board refuses to pay Road District attorney bills. Victor inserts her personal feelings into the attorney bills discussion and decision-making process. Victor says she will never approve any RD legal (Hanlon's) bills. Victor falsely states that the Union has won (the lawsuit) three times
- Dec 12, 2018: Board refuses to pay Road District attorney bills. Victor says she will not vote to pay any more of Hanlon's bills. She wrongly claims the RD lost and needs to move forward. Chairman Shae appears to laugh as if he is making fun of their perceived ability to refuse to pay the bills. Victor inserts her personal feelings in the discussion again.
- Jan 9, 2019 (here and here): Victor again refuses to vote to pay legal bills. Says she will never vote to pay any Road District legal bills. She inserts her personal feelings and lots of other unreasonable reasons to not approve them. Victor calls it “dirty money” and wrongly claims the Union has won their lawsuit multiple times. Wrongly claiming they are to approve bills that are deemed “justified” – that language is not found in the Township Code nor is it the board’s responsibility to deem any bill “justified.” Lutzow talks about the budget and how they need to further limit Gasser’s legal expenses (we don’t think the board has the power to limit his legal fees). Meanwhile, the Board has, in the recent past, approved transferring additional funds to the Clerk for her legal bills, and without question. Other trustees say they welcome lawsuits, while at the same time know they are attempting to settle a tax objection suit for $250,000. Lawrence says she is not the “police” for the Highway Commissioner (then later decides to sic the police on Gasser)
It is our opinion, that certain Trustees have been blinded by their extreme and unwarranted hatred of the Highway Commissioner, and will do whatever they can do, legal or not, to try and force him to resign.
While we have mentioned before it would do them well to focus on their duties, we find it necessary once again to point out Trustee Victor's inability to follow the most basic obligations of her office. Not only in the approving of lawfully presented bills, but also in filing a true and accurate Statement of Economic Interest document.
Even after being exposed months ago in this article, Victor still can't get it right. Melissa Victor, a sitting Algonquin Township Trustee filed a false and incomplete SEI with the County Clerk in April of 2018. Under question number 7 it requires the listing of any other unit of government that employed the person filing the SEI. Melissa Victor listed Algonquin Township Trustee. She did not disclose her College of DuPage employment as required by law. According to COD pay records, she has worked there for several years. In 2017 she was paid $33,068.87, which is confirmation of employment.
Now you would think after being called out for filing a false and incomplete SEI you might do better next time but that is not the case with Victor. Her recent filing to run for a Park District Trustee position she filed a required SEI document and guess what she did. Yes, filed another false and incomplete SEI filing with the County Clerk.
She now claims to have an ownership interest in the Algonquin Township under item 1 on the SEI and then fails to disclose her position as trustee under item 7, as required. Yes, Township trustees are considered employees. You can view her false and incomplete SEI at this link.
For those that may be confused on the SEI issue, Algonquin Township is not a business doing business with itself, nor does it pay dividends in excess of $1,200.00 the prior year, or any year for that matter. While being exposed for not disclosing her COD employment in the past we are pleased to see she did disclose it this time, however, she failed to disclose her position as trustee under item number 7.
If this person is not able to even follow the simplest of laws by properly filling out an SEI document, how can anyone expect her to follow other laws for the Township?
Stay tuned for exposure of her use of Township attorney James Kelly to address her private political concerns and having the taxpayers pay for it.