I have to admit, there were a couple of times I was left scratching my head during the Grafton Township special meeting this week.
It was quite a scene with people at times talking at once; others having individual conversations about perceived violations of Robert’s Rules of Order; the catcalls and one guy complaining about the federal government.
What I’ve found is there’s nothing more entertaining than township government. It doesn’t matter how big or small the township, there is always some sort of drama unfolding.
Grafton Township has the best storyline nowadays, a storyline worthy of a reality TV show. A coalition of voters called for a special meeting to make the board of trustees take action on paying back a $700,000 loan to the Road District and making trustees legally liable _ basically seeking to authority to file lawsuits against each one _ if they don’t follow the voters’ direction.
Pat Coen got a round of applause when he introduced himself as the Road District’s, adding the district is not involved in any lawsuits.
“This motion does not have any authority under Illinois law….it goes beyond the authority of the electorate at a town hall meeting,” Coen said, of the attempt to hold trustees liable.
Under the law, elected official are protected against personal lawsuits stemming from actions they take as elected officials, he said.
“What you are voting on is something you have no authority to do,” Coen said.
Then there were voters who said the entire agenda for the special meeting was illegal because the electorate already voted on the issue of paying back the loan last year. Voters did not tell the township board how to pay back the funds or when. The argument was the special meeting should have had an agenda item amending last year’s motion.
Now you understand why this was a head scratching kind of meeting.
The first motion failed and no one voted for the second motion. But the entire meeting was contentious _ even selecting a moderator was politically tinged.
“Of course, railroaded again,” shouted one person when Jim Kearns was selected.
“Wait a minute, stop,” Kearns said at one point when the topic of why the township has not had an audit for two years was raised.
“Why? Why do I have to stop?” Township Trustee Barb Murphy said.
“I’m calling point of order, we are beating a dead horse,” Kearns said.
“I am trying to make an educated point,” Murphy said.
Around this time, the guy who had a beef with the federal government spoke up. At first, it didn’t seem like what he said applied to Grafton Township, but his statement applies to all elected officials.
Republican and Democratic leaders need to work together, he said. “It would be a great idea to represent the people rather than their own interests,” he added.