Local Editorials

Our view: Nunda Township board's initiative is a sham

Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings listens as Highway Commissioner Mike Lesperance weighs in during a board meeting Thursday in Crystal Lake.
Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings listens as Highway Commissioner Mike Lesperance weighs in during a board meeting Thursday in Crystal Lake.

The sham referendum approved Thursday by Nunda Township trustees is yet another example why townships should be dissolved in McHenry County.

This bit of political cunning, approved in a 3-0 vote with two trustees abstaining, will allow township voters to vote in March on whether to dissolve the township – in 2037.

Nunda Township Supervisor Lee Jennings pushed the plan, with some trustees complaining they had little advance notice and without public input.

It’s quite the bit of political cunning – run a ballot measure that would abolish the township but not for a generation, which is long enough that all the people now employed there should be able to retire with their full public pensions. If it fails, another proposition can’t be placed on the ballot for two years.

This episode further illustrates what some townships are truly about in 2019: self-preservation.

Jennings admitted as much in the meeting, saying it was important to push this do-nothing measure onto the ballot before the public could petition to place an initiative on the ballot that would eliminate the township sooner.

Nunda Township – which includes parts of Crystal Lake, Prairie Grove, McHenry, Bull Valley and other communities – is not the only one where people dedicated to preserving this largely redundant form of government are trying to game the process.

In McHenry Township, supporters petitioned to put a dissolution measure on the ballot in March, when they think fewer people will vote and the township’s safety can be better secured.

It’s odd to see people in these townships, which are supposed to be the form of government “closest to the people,” working to keep electors from having a real say in whether they want to pay for their continued operations.

Instead of playing these games, why don’t they just demonstrate their value to the public and let voters decide an honest question in a high-turnout election?

They must fear they’d lose.

The state law allowing township dissolution votes in McHenry County was meant to consolidate government and reduce property taxes now, not in the distant future.

If residents in Nunda and McHenry townships want a fair up-or-down vote, perhaps they should petition to put a resolution on the November 2020 ballot calling for the dissolution of Nunda Township within a year, and make the boards decide which will run.

Township government is supposed to be the form of government “closest to the people,” not one forced upon them.

Those who wish to defend township government by manipulating the system to their advantage are forsaking the people-first principles upon which townships are supposed to be based.

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