For want of a Campton Hills nail…

If you’ve been trying to keep up with the recent Campton Hills electoral follies then you’re probably just as confused as I am. Here’s the Reader’s Digest condensed version:

It started with semi-outgoing village president, Patsy Smith, taking issue with four council candidates’ nominating petitions. When the post challenge smoke cleared, even though our Gang of Four made the cut, the village hadn’t sent their paperwork to the County Clerk in a timely matter. So when the documents finally did arrive in Building B, Jack Cunningham said it was too late! And when the Gang of Four sued the Clerk to reverse that decision, Judge David Akemann continued the proceedings to Thursday.

Are you still with me? Because he only thing I’m sure about here is there’s been no resolution to this kerfuffle.

campton

And the various newspaper accounts provide absolutely no help in unraveling this sixteen-hour German opera where everyone dies in the end. While it may be true that Campton Hills politicians never make anything easy, I knew this convoluted tale had to harbor an underlying thread of logic.

So I came up with three questions. First, who’s specifically at fault for the late petition submission? Second, if it’s the village, then why is the County Clerk fighting this lawsuit? And third, why wasn’t this resolved at Monday’s hearing?

Armed with those inquiries, I locked the doors, closed the blinds, donned some dark clothing and went into full Woodward and Bernstein mode. A scant ten minutes later I had all the answers which meant I had to unlock the doors, re-open the blinds and change my clothes.

Alright! Get your score cards out.

When interim Village Clerk, John Strauss, failed to certify and submit those petitions before the deadline, he – and the Village of Campton Hills – were utterly at fault. An impending petition challenge has absolutely no bearing on that process because the law clearly states that you’re on the ballot until you’re off!

Thus, a hopeful can submit the most horrifically error ridden nominating petition ever seen, but until and unless someone challenges it, he’s gonna go forward. The law has always leaned towards keeping candidates in the contest.

And the village’s attempt to complain that the clerk had a pre-Christmas family emergency is just another version of “the dog ate my homework” excuse. Quite frankly, I think the real “emergency” was Mayor Smith “encouraging” the clerk to hang onto those documents in an effort to make the Gang of Four as miserable as possible.

So, if the Gang bears no responsibility for this fiasco, why is the County Clerk fighting them in court?

Because he has no choice. In the law’s eyes, even the most magnificent alibi is utterly immaterial. All that matters is the petitions were late. The Second Appellate Court has been very clear on this; the only way any County Clerk can accept tardy petitions is via court order.

Since this seems so cut and dried, why didn’t the court issue the order on Monday?

Because the Gang of Fours’ attorneys failed to subpoena Village Clerk Strauss. And as Judge Akemann so aptly pointed out, how can they prove that Campton Hills was negligent without their sworn testimony? It certainly is comforting to know that some Kane County judges aren’t willing to throw up their hands and simply take an attorney’s word at face value.

When Judge Akemann asked the worthy counselors why they failed to bring the village into the courtroom, they said something to the effect of, “Well…We didn’t want to.” OK! So now the saga will continue on Thursday.

Are you with me so far? If not, to sum it up:

The Village of Campton Hills illegally failed to certify and submit four nominating petitions. But even though they’re to blame, the County Clerk cannot accept overdue petitions without a court order allowing him to do so. And this debacle would already be over if the plaintiffs’ attorneys “invited” the right folks to the first hearing.

As to how this will end, the Gang of Four will finally see their names on the ballot and the Village of Campton Hills will be on the hook for all their legal fees.

Only in Kane County folks!

10 thoughts on “For want of a Campton Hills nail…

  1. I am compiling an ever-thickening binder of newspaper clippings on the circus that calls itself
    “The government of the Village of Campton Hills.” Soon I will need a bigger binder.

    For years, people made jokes about Maple Park, No longer.
    Campton Hills now has that “honor,” and it will never end until the majority of RESIDENTS
    of Campton Hills petition and vote for the dissolution of the village’s government.

    The continually increasing number of law suits and court cases are costing Campton Hills
    taxpayers a fortune, These shenanigans have continued for YEARS.. Some residents in the southern part of the village have attempted to secede, but to no avail. People whose
    properties west of Rt. 47 were forcibly annexed by Campton Hills would also like to leave.

    “Campton Hills” was incorporated as a village because of fear that developers looking at
    property north of the area would petition Elgin for annexation. Eventually the Kane County
    Forest Preserve District bought that land, blocking Elgin’s expansion and eradicating the village’s
    main excuse for its existence.

    Now, it appears to me that it’s only reason it continues is to provide taxpayer-paid jobs for a few continually squabbling elected “officials.”

  2. My question, with the ugliness going on why didn’t the 4 just take their petitions directly to the Clerk’s office bypassing the ineptitude at their own village hall? Also, and I may be missing something here, but if the village clerk doesn’t certify the petitions don’t that have to give a reason other than “I forgot”? I didn’t hear a reason here. Seems Judge Akemann is the only one getting it right here.

    • DK,

      Because that is a massive no no and would have immediately invalidated those petitions. You have to go to the LEO (Local Election Official) first – end of story.

      But because that has been so problematic, this is the first year that Kane County school board candidates were allowed to submit their petitions directly to the County Clerk and not the school district.

      And yes, Judge Akemann is the only one getting it right here, but before he can rule he needs to hear the words, “I didn’t turn the petitions in on time” from the city clerk himself.

      Jeff

      • Yes, this is the first year the Kane County Clerk provided the petition materials
        and handled completed petitions and paperwork for school board elections. It was even publicized in the newspapers that candidacy “packets” were available from the County Clerk’s office, containing the necessary forms.

        However, that didn’t prevent three candidates for the Kaneland School Board
        from getting their forms (the WRONG forms) somewhere else. Then, when their petitions were challenged, making the accusation “it was politically motivated.”

        With this continuing mess in Campton Hills, I can foresee the County Clerk’s office
        having to take over this process for ALL, or nearly all, of the “local” elections.

  3. Since the county clerk’s office is the ultimate destination for these sorts of ballot petitions it would only make sense for them to go there right off. Adding in layers like a Local Election Official (never even heard of that one before much less know where to find one) only seems to add layers of potential conflict.

    Let the local clerks collect and file whatever they do and let the county clerk get people on a ballot, without getting a judge and who knows how much $$$ involved. Wasn’t that the rule of the day years ago, that is only the county clerk being involved with the filing of petitions?

    • DK, That would seem logical, but you really have to consider just how vast that will make the task! Because that would mean that every Kane County city council, township, park board, fire board, water reclamation/sewage board candidate etc… would be bringing their petitions to the County Clerk and the County Clerk would have to certify, i.e. review all of them.

      Right now they’re only receiving, scanning and filing those petitions. Thus, this centralized effort would require a budget increase and another employee.

      • Once again, this illustrates the ridiculous number of governmental, and quasi-governmental divisions we have in Illinois. About one-third to one-half of them could be merged or eliminated entirely, and the only change the public would see would be in their tax bills.

        A new resident, coming here from another state or from a major city with all services within its borders is so bewildered by all the inconsistent boundaries of school,
        library, fire, water reclamation and other districts, he doesn’t really know where he lives. Add to this the several postal zip codes in rural areas and he may believe he
        lives in a city which does not even include his home within its borders!

        Because of this, the County Clerk’s office already has the duty of compiling the special ballots required for each individual voter according to his address. The Clerk’s office might as well take on the responsibility of issuing and processing all candidates’ petitions, too.

  4. Mr. Ward, you should do your homework before you just spew the crap that you write. Mr. Strauss “Pre-Christmas family emergency” was the sudden and unexpected death of his son. Be careful what you say please. Have some respect.

    • Dear Concerned,

      Perhaps I should’ve been clearer. Mr. Strauss didn’t use it as an excuse – the Village of Campton Hills did. They’re the ones you should be pissed at because after they incorrectly told Mr. Strauss to withhold those petitions due to the challenges, they then used the death of his son in an attempt to mitigate their illegal actions.

  5. Pingback: Judge Akemann brings the hammer down on Campton Hills! | The First Ward

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