Political influence & the ballot box
By Examiner Staff
With the Illinois primary just six days away, it is timely to consider how the unsavory conduct of local officials interacts with the people and power in Springfield.
Our recent reportage has made plain Hanover Township Supervisor Brian McGuire’s pernicious influence not only throughout the township, but particularly within Bartlett’s Village Hall. Though our readership has expressed uniform outrage at recent uses and abuses of political power, it behooves us all to not be blinded by what is happening nearby. For potentially, much greater harm to our community now emanates from the state capitol.
McGuire, a lobbyist by trade, is naturally accustomed to buying political influence. Unfortunately, his friend, State Representative and Illinois Senate candidate Randy Ramey has shown signs of being for sale. McGuire’s relentless and well-documented scheming for more power becomes a fearsome thing in light of his cozy relationship with Ramey, and the latter’s pliable principles.
If there was any doubt about the threat this political alliance holds, House Bill 2550 tells the tale. At the request of McGuire, Ramey sponsored and was able to pass HB2550, which will allow McGuire to appoint officers in Hanover Township with law enforcement authority equal to that of county sheriff’s deputies. So too will be the case in Wayne Township, where Ramey holds sway, as well as in all the other townships where partisan politics, rather than good government, are the first order of business. For the reader not instantly concerned, let us review recent history…
McGuire was the moving force behind the creation of the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) at Hanover Township. Dishonestly sold as little more than a phone tree of volunteers to fill sandbags during flooding emergencies, the mask quickly dropped to expose a patronage boondoggle. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars were fast out the door to purchase multiple, expensive emergency vehicles, full fire turnout gear, police-style uniforms, and elaborate radio equipment.
A further digression into history is warranted here. McGuire, along with his father, John, have demonstrated a disturbing fetish for dressing up in first-responder uniforms. When John McGuire was a Bartlett Fire Protection District trustee, he was known for dressing up as a firefighter at fire scenes and barking orders with neither the authority nor the training to do so.
His son, Brian, as a paid-on-call part-timer, was promoted to the rank of Captain when his father became the Fire District’s Board President. It was a neat two-step: 1) John McGuire first hired Chicago crony Bill O’Boyle to be fire chief; 2) O’Boyle promoted Brian McGuire. Some thought this was quid pro quo corruption on steroids. Perhaps it was just another of the coincidences we’ve been unearthing lately.
Whatever the truth, young McGuire didn’t last long as Captain. The next election saw John McGuire’s 3-2 majority flip to a 2-3 minority. The election after that, John McGuire and his lone remaining ally were bounced off the board as well. Gone too was O’Boyle. Left without what the Chicago machine calls “clout,” Brian McGuire, and his pals like Kevin Forkin and Mike Dexter, decided the Fire District had nothing left to offer them. So, they quit.
Quickly, Supervisor McGuire populated his own little fiefdom, the Township’s EMA, with his acolytes. Forkin, for example, is Deputy Director of the EMA. Forkin now likes to dress up like a police commander, complete with white shirt, gold badge, and gold stars on his collar (all paid for by us). Thanks to McGuire, Forkin and what one high-ranking fire official calls all the other “wannabes” have our tax dollars to play dress up and drive around in their marked vehicles doing nothing more than burning gasoline.
They also have a clubhouse to loiter around at the Bartlett Fire Barn and saloon, where, as Township Supervisor, McGuire
has contracted with tax dollars to store the EMA vehicles. That rent replaces revenue the privately-owned Fire Barn lost when the real fire department severed ties to the Fire Barn, partly over concerns about mixing alcohol and
emergency services. (See “Arrogance and Abuse of Power
” at www.examinerpublications.com for full details.)
And here is where it all ties together with Springfield.
Not content with his pretend police and fire operations, not content with a taxpayer-subsidized saloon, McGuire has set his sights upon seizing real police power, all with the help of his political ally Ramey. Self-fashioned small-government, conservative Ramey abandoned his so-called principles when McGuire asked him to sponsor a bill to expand the size and scope of township government to give McGuire punitive power—HB2550.
Ramey’s HB2550, with the unanimous cooperation of Illinois Senate Democrats and Governor Quinn, became Public Act 097-0330 last August. The new law reads, in relevant part: The township enforcement officers shall have the same power and authority within the township as a deputy sheriff…. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Section, township enforcement officers are authorized to enforce county ordinances…pursuant to intergovernmental agreements.
So thanks to Ramey, McGuire
and his cronies now have—in addition to valuable, salaried patronage jobs to hand out—a deputy sheriff’s authority to punish their political enemies. That is, members of the same group of untrained hangers-on that endangered the public along Route 59 last summer by illegally using emergency-lighted vehicles to draw people into the beer tent at McGuire’s
“vote-for-me” bash at the Township will now have—to use and abuse—the power of a deputy sheriff. (See “Arrogance and Abuse of Power
” at www.examinerpublications.com for full details.)
Beyond men of ill will, though, residents have even more to fear with respect to their property taxes. Recently incorporated next to St. Charles, the sleepy little hamlet of Campton Hills had to form its own police department. With only four officers working full time, that department’s budget for the fiscal year just ending was $1,111,500. Enforcement doesn’t come cheap. Since McGuire has already demonstrated his willingness to spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to operate the EMA—an agency with no authority, little training, and no responsibilities—we tremble to imagine what the taxpayers are in for now thanks to HB2550.
Circling back to men of ill will, though, we find of further and relevant interest Ramey’s D-2 semi-annual report, available from the Illinois State Board of Elections. The report discloses campaign contributions through Dec. 31, 2010, just 49 days before Ramey filed HB2550 with the Clerk in Springfield. It shows further that Ramey received big cash donations from the Tooling and Manufacturing Association. What is the Tooling and Manufacturing Association? None other than the political lobby whose president is Brian McGuire. The same Brian McGuire who now has more corruptible power to further his ongoing efforts to destroy his predecessor in the Supervisor’s office, Mike Kelly.
One more interesting big money donor appears on Ramey’s
D-2: Mike Airdo
close personal and political friend. Documented abuser of police. McGuire’s
collaborator in the war of personal destruction against Mike Kelly. Bartlett’s usurper and Acting Village President. (See “Power Corrupts
” and Bartlett Ombudsman
at www.examinerpublications.com for full details.)
As we’ve written before, these are mighty and many coincidences.
We need to enter the polling place with our eyes wide open. We need to be informed, cautious, and thorough voters. Real and lasting consequences attach to successful candidates up and down the ballot, and we are the ultimate gatekeepers. Our future, now more than ever, rests in our own hands.