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Local Editorials

Our view: End patronage at Algonquin Township

Ryan Provenzano was hired at Algonquin Township as a result of political patronage, and anyone who claims otherwise either is lying to you or doesn’t understand the meaning of the term.

Patronage hiring is not illegal, but it is not good government. If township officials want to demonstrate that they are concerned about wise use of public funds, they will eliminate Provenzano’s positions or, if they are truly necessary, open them to the public.

Provenzano is a 23-year-old without a college degree who earns $63,000 a year as chief of staff for Algonquin Township Supervisor Charles Lutzow, with a separate position as Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser’s deputy, through which he can earn an additional $33 an hour for as many hours a week as Gasser needs him. If he averages 10 hours a week with the highway department, Provenzano could earn $80,000 a year all told.

Although he is second-in-command to two of the most powerful elected officials at the township, Provenzano has no apparent credentials in public administration, professional engineering, or road construction and maintenance.

He has political connections. He has been a local campaign manager for politicians including Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett.

Provenzano’s father, Nick, is a former Republican McHenry County Board member who now works for Congressman Randy Hultgren, R-Plano.

Ryan and Nick Provenzano helped Lutzow win the election for township supervisor last year, and Ryan was rewarded afterward, with a $32-an-hour position that Lutzow created for him.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Northwest Herald in December, a township lawyer said the township has no résumé on file for Ryan Provenzano. They have no contract with him. There also apparently are no memos that mention him or letters of recommendation for him.

There also is no job description for the position he holds as the township supervisor’s chief of staff.

Gasser declined to comment on how much time Provenzano spends working for the highway department, or anything else about their employment arrangement, but it seems likely he’ll earn at least $70,000 a year.

Patronage hiring is a longstanding practice at Algonquin Township and others around the state. Elected officials can hire who they please and set their salaries as they see fit.

This practice also is a reason many people would like to see townships go away – and why the political class insists on their necessity.

We think citizens should demand better from local government. As one highway department employee, who earns $20 an hour after four years of service, said, patronage hiring is “unacceptable, and it’s unfair.”

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