Since The First Ward ran former Elgin Township employee Nichole Mackall’s letter verbatim, though the FCC Fairness Doctrine doesn’t apply here, I though it only fair to run Elgin Township Supervisor Franklin Ramirez’ response to those allegations, also verbatim!
So here you go:
In response to a deceptive post, my response is as follows:
It is my understanding that the Township Supervisor is available 365/24/7 and that I do not have “official days.” Contrary to your statement of “many days you simply didn’t come into the office at all,” I am in the office every day from 8:45a until 4:00p if I am not scheduled to be out of the office. If/when I needed to leave early, my staff always knew where I was going and I would say, “If you need me, please call or text.” Furthermore, does my former employee take into consideration my evenings and weekends assisting people with passports? Or the time I am out of the office on official business, etc.? I sit on the Board of the Township Supervisors of Illinois and regularly visit social service agencies and residents in the township during business hours. My position is not a Monday through Friday 8a-4p job. As to my “time off,” I have taken the same amount off as this former employee in the same amount of time – if her numbers are correct. Again, does my time away from the office equals an “official” day off?
The Assessor and I do not charge the township $350/mo. to “simply drive around Elgin.” Every November before the township elections, the salaries and travel stipend are discussed at the board meeting – all of which can be viewed on the township’s Facebook page –
Elgin Township (I am proud of the transparency we’ve established since being elected). By the way, the travel stipend has been in place for decades (while under Republican leadership).
The Senior Referendum monies are being used and debated over by the Committee on Seniors. A utility assistance fund was presented to the committee and to the board just over a year ago; It is still under review on how to execute the logistics of that new program.
The Emergency Assistance and General Assistance programs have never stopped providing services during the pandemic. On the contrary, funds were increased to help those that have been approved over the past year. To be eligible for township assistance – not just in Elgin Township, but across Illinois – you need to demonstrate that you have exhausted all other programs and resources available. We, Elgin Township, are fully aware of the tsunami of utility shutoffs and evictions that are soon to come after the Governor declares that the pandemic in Illinois is “over.” Furthermore, we have not received any additional funds from Illinois or the federal government to assist with the pandemic currently. As a steward of taxpayer dollars, I need to balance current needs versus what’s to come post-pandemic.
As for the $1.5M in CDs at the credit union, they are currently getting a higher rate of interest than otherwise sitting in the money market account. I use a zero-balance budgeting approach and realize that any good steward of taxpayer dollars would not allow the township to get close to being in the red. Other governments may call it a “rainy day fund,” I call it insurance to not continually raise taxes.
Since Ramirez tended to prove his former employee’s points at every turn, let’s further examine his rather mendacious meanderings.
1. The rampant absenteeism
Ramirez’ contention that “I am in the office every day from 8:45a until 4:00p” is the kind of blatant lie that woulda made Pinocchio’s nose grow at least 362 feet! A variety of sources, including some seeking general assistance, say Ramirez is never there. One prominent Elginian told me he didn’t to show up at the Township officer for his first two weeks in office!
What he does on other boards, his charitable endeavors, or his weekend activities have absolutely no bearing on his role as Township Supervisor, particularly during the COVID era when Zooming is the board meeting norm. The people of Elgin pay him 87 grand a year with the expectation that he’ll be in the office a reasonable amount of time and if his “extra-curricular activities” impinge on that, perhaps he should let some of them go.
Lastly, his contention that “I have taken the same amount off as this former employee in the same amount of time” is just another one of his more laughable lies. So, no one’s ever in that office? And even if it were true, one staffer taking 80 paid vacation days in three months doesn’t nearly justify another one doing it.
Perhaps Mr. Ramirez’ mother never told him that two wrongs don’t make a right!
2. The “travel stipend”
Yes! Travel stipends have been an Elgin Township Supervisor and Assessor perk for some time, but the issue here is, Ramirez happily accepted that $350 a month payment at a time when the pandemic rendered business travel impossible. And that adds up to 4,200 of the taxpayers hard-earned dollars. When I asked Ramirez if he’d returned the money, he abruptly ended our fascinating two-hour conversation.
But that’s not the only problem. As noted in part one, I have a problem with any Township Board doling out that kind of cash without any form of travel documentation required. And that kind makes the board co-conspirators.
3. The Senior Utility Assistance Fund
Apparently, Ramirez couldn’t decide which lie to apply, so he put ‘em all in one paragraph in the hope that one or two of ‘em might stick. It’s like throwing the whole pot of pasta against the wall instead of just one strand. Then he basically admitted that they’re still “debating” the topic and senior utility assistance “is still under review” after four long years in office.
I suppose there’s something to be said for not rushing into things, but Ramirez is turning it into an art form. And when you think about the amount of money he’s purposely withheld from seniors during the worst pandemic in our lifetime, I certainly wouldn’t risk standing too close to him during a thunderstorm.
4. The General Assistance funds
What Mr. Ramirez doesn’t know is, during my former database consulting days, I wrote a general assistance program for the Township of Evanston and maintained it for 17 years. Put more simply, I know the Illinois GA rules backwards and forwards, and almost every word out of his mouth in that regard is another blatant lie.
GA is NOT a last resort. It’s specifically intended to be a short-term bridge to another financial assistance program or a means to get a family through a rough patch.
That means his bovine manure about saving that money for the “impending storm” demonstrates a blatant, and perhaps criminal, misuse of those funds. Had Ramirez been distributing that money all along as it should’ve been, the “impending Tsunami” wouldn’t be nearly as bad.
5. The $1.5 million in savings
Again, Ramirez openly admits that he and the Township are hoarding money at a time when the plague has incited the kind of economic desperation we won’t likely see again in our lifetime.
C’mon! It doesn’t take a genius to see that this has nothing to do with raising taxes and everything to do with Ramirez’ utter contempt for the constituents he’s sworn to serve. Elgin Township needs to be audited NOW because I think I know exactly where all that money is going.
Monthlong trips to Paris and South Africa? Right! That ain’t cheap even on an $87,000 annual salary.
In the end – and I almost mean this as a compliment – Franklin Ramirez is one of the most accomplished con artists I’ve ever encountered. And when you considering how many of them I’ve covered, that’s really saying something. He’s so smooth that, After Township Trustee Susan Van Weelden was thrown off the ballot for screwing up her paperwork, he somehow managed to talk Randy Hopp out of running for the paying trustee gig and conned him into for the non-paying Library Board, instead.
And Ramirez did that because, as nutty as Randy is, he wouldn’t have gone along with their schemes to loot the Township.
Before we go, please don’t forget that, not only did Elgin State Senator Cristina Castro wholeheartedly endorse Ramirez’ reelection effort, but she refused to respond to my request for comment. Isn’t she the head of that Springfield ethics committee?
Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser also endorsed Ramirez, and when he’s inevitably charged for what I’m convinced will be outright criminal behavior, she will have to recuse her office from prosecuting the case.
In fact, by the time Ms. Mosser is done making these rather strange pronouncements, the KCSAO will have nothing left to prosecute. Though the first thing they might want to consider is, as part of a thinly veiled “severance” agreement, Ramirez offered Mackall $5,000 to keep her mouth shut. Both he and Assessor Steve Surnicki informed Mackall that “it would be in her best interest to sign it.”
As the legendary Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating!”
It’s time to vote Ramirez and his cronies out of office and you’ll have the amazing opportunity to do that next Tuesday!