Transparency Improving at Algonquin Township Highway Department

When you elected me to be your Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner I made you several promises:

  1. I would refuse the politician healthcare plan
  2. I would refuse the politician pension plan
  3. I would term limit myself
  4. I would cut taxes
  5. I would improve transparency

I have kept all of my promises to you.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you all.  It is an honor to serve you and it is a privilege that I never take likely, or for granted.

Improving Transparency

We took our website design criteria from the Illinois Policy Institute’s website criteria.  We are not at the score we would like, yet.  The backbone and frame of the website is complete.  The website will be continuously updated and modified to comply with the transparency checklist as well as other important constituent tools.

The old highway department website was outdated, and while it did serve its purpose, the website needed to become much more functional.  Last month we rolled out the new website and today we made some more updates.  We added electronic forms that work.  We made our recycling page much more interactive and partnered with the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County.  Our bus service for seniors and disabled folks is now all interactive as well.  We will continuously make it better.

Look Up Budgets and Tax Levies Online

From the financial info tab on our home page you can now look up our budgets dating back to 2014-2015 and our levies dating back to to 2014.  It is important to note that the levies always tax for the prior year.  You pay property tax in 2018 on 2017’s value.  The FY 2017 levy is our most recent levy in which we cut the levy five (5) percent across the board.

Our monthly bills were never published online and trying to find the budgets and levies was difficult at best.  We changed that at the Algonquin Township and now we have located all of our bills, budgets, and levies online in a single location.  At the top of the home page and only taking one mouse click you can find all of our financial information for improved visibility and transparency.

One More Thing…

We know we have many tweaks and additions that we need to make.  Thank you to everyone who has given fair and honest criticism as well as positive and negative feedback.  We have implemented as many of the comments and ideas suggested as quickly as we could.

This leads me to the naysayers, mockers, scoffers, and political hacks who do not look at how far we have come at the Algonquin Township Highway Department but instead point out what is lacking, missing, or inadvertently inaccurate.  It is really a sad commentary on those who make these claims and refuse to acknowledge all the great things we did to get to this point.  It is even worse when they make decisions based on my personality and not the reality.

We have cut taxes.  We are more transparent than any other township and moving forward will only improve our processes and systems.

The outstanding achievements of the Algonquin Township Highway Department far exceed any website hiccups.  Special thanks to Dorothy, Colleen, Ryan, and IA Business Advisors for all of your efforts.

Great work team.

Northwest Herald – Unethical

The Northwest Herald is unethical.

When you elected me to be the Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner you knew what you were getting – a no nonsense guy who was just going to call it down the middle and tell it like it is.  As an elected official I have come to expect people are going to write some nasty things and frankly, that’s ok.  It’s a good thing.  It helps you focus and reevaluate your decision making process.  You also knew I would keep my promises to all of you and I have.  No pension, no healthcare, and I term limited myself.

What the Northwest Herald has done with respect to the Algonquin Township government is unethical.  So many “journalists” wonder why the media has such a low approval rating but they have no one to blame but themselves.  The readership continues to decline but the paper has no one to blame but itself.  Look no further than the paper today:

The Northwest Herald likes drama.

The Northwest Herald has done a maniacal  job of spinning a story with half truths and flat out refusing to cover the good things we have done in Algonquin Township worthy of CNN or MSNBC.

  • Where is the Northwest Herald story on the Algonquin Township Highway Department Tax Cut?  The Northwest Herald has done tax cut stories on many municipalities – but not ours and that is on purpose.
  • Where is the Northwest Herald story on the vastly improved Algonquin Township Highway Department recycling program?  We take paint, electronics, and styrofoam and have improved traffic safety.
  • Where is the Northwest Herald story on the new Algonquin Township Highway Department website?  We have the best township highway department website in Illinois.
  • Where is the Northwest Herald story on the Algonquin Township Highway Department posting all its bills online for inspection?  We are the most transparent township highway department in Illinois.
  • Where is the Northwest Herald story on how the Algonquin Township Highway Department has spent 56.1 percent of its budget through nine (9) months of the fiscal year (even with legal issues)?  This is on purpose – this doesn’t fit the Northwest Herald Algonquin Township narrative.
  • Where is the Northwest Herald story on employee salaries being posted online?  Again, it doesn’t fit the Northwest Herald narrative.

All of these good news stories about how things are actually getting better at the Algonquin Township Highway Department; however, that doesn’t fit the narrative of the reporters and editors at the Northwest Herald.  How shameful!  How unethical!  How biased!  The Northwest Herald said it themselves – drama.

The issue with all of this is how so many people refuse to recognize the problem we inherited at the highway department.  Whether it be local politicians, the Townships of Illinois (TOI) organization, or our local media – they all refuse to acknowledge the reality that we have real problems to solve.  I challenge all of you to take a look at the blatant bias of the Northwest Herald’s coverage.

Maybe the Northwest Herald will do a story about the beehives we plan to install on township property… this is much more of the “real news” that needs to be covered.  Never mind putting your personal corvette on the township IPASS account.

I have a lot more to say about this.

 

Nepotism: Anna May Miller Hauls in $94,638.76 in Overtime and Other Pay

When you elected me to be your Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner I promised you I wouldn’t take the healthcare plan or pension plan.  I promised I would improve transparency.  We have now put our bills online which you can view here.  Never in a billion years did I think we would find an eighth of the stuff that we did – but we have – and you cannot make this stuff up.

Nepotism Pays in the Algonquin Township Highway Department

Robert J. Miller
Photo courtesy of McHenry County Blog

Anna May Miller
Photo courtesy of McHenry County Blog

Payroll reports show that Anna May Miller, wife and employee of former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Robert J. Miller, was paid $94,638.76 for 1,374.64 hours of overtime and other pay between 2012-2017.  The data was pulled from the township payroll software that was left when we took office on May 15th, 2017 and which you can view in PDF format.  Specifically:

Documents show that the wife of the highway commissioner was paid for 1,374.64 hours of overtime as an administrative assistant.  How is it that an administrative assistant can accrue more overtime then the guys in the garage plowing snow?  This simply is in-congruent with how a highway department works.   Anna May Miller somehow worked 649.11 more hours than Doug Helman over five years?  Really?

Anyone who has followed the Algonquin Township Highway Department knows Doug Helman is not a good guy – he is a great guy.  The guys around the shop still answer questions with the phrase, “what would Doug do?”

Another way to look at this is to break it down by week.  Every week that Anna May Miller was employed at the Algonquin Township Highway Department she was paid 5.27 hours of overtime on average.  The next closest employee was at 2.79 hours of overtime per week and the average overtime per week paid was 2.28 hours.  I am not questioning any of the overtime accrued by the guys but I do question how an administrative assistant can accrue more hours than a guy who plows snow 17 hours straight on the Saturday after Thanksgiving or responds to an accident at 2:30 in the morning.

Other pay earned is sick pay, vacation pay, clothing allowance, and miscellaneous pay.  While it is not uncommon in the private sector for junior employees to leapfrog senior employees it is rare in the public sector, especially public works.  It is not impossible but it is improbable.

Got Nepotism?  There is absolutely no ethical explanation to how an administrative assistant hired in 1998 can out earn a guy working in the garage since 1978.  That is right, 1978.  The wife of the highway commissioner earned more straight overtime pay than anyone else at the highway department by $25,319.92.

Total overtime and “other pay” for Anna May Miller as compared to the guys in the garage.  The data speaks for itself.

Integrity First

The friends and family plan at the Algonquin Township Highway Department is over.

Nepotism paid handsomely for the political elite but when you elected me we ended it… together.  Not only did we end it but we are showing Illinois just how screwed up the Illinois Township Code is.  How can we allow highway commissioners to get away with things like this?

The standing joke about highway commissioners is the following:  “What is the difference between God and a Highway Commissioner?  One of them gets a truck.”

It is no wonder why so many people are turned off with local politics.  Look at all the people who endorsed this kind of behavior and made excuses for it.  No one can say they didn’t know about the nepotism in Algonquin Township.  We all did.  We all knew about it and were afraid to publicly talk about it.   So many politicians and community leaders tolerated it, accepted it, and then utilized it to justify their own personal and political ends.

One More Thing

The Northwest Herald continues to refuse to report the real news.  The Algonquin Township Highway Department cut taxes by five (5) percent and has only spent 48.2 percent of its budget through eight (8) months.  This only re-affirms to the majority of America, and our community, that our media is corrupt.  There has been a very calculated decision to demonize the transparency effort at the Algonquin Township Highway Department.  Why doesn’t the Northwest Herald put just as much energy into investigating the past 24 years of unethical behavior as they have in criticizing the township in the last six months?

The only reason the Northwest Herald has even begun to report this story is because of websites like McHenry County Blog and the Edgar County Watchdogs.  This is called “forced media”.  The paper would rather run softball editorials instead of addressing real problems that need correcting.  Shameful.

It is ok.  We press on and continue to expose it all because “the media” will not.

More is coming.

Rebecca Miller Lee’s Name on Algonquin Township Highway Department Phone Bill

When you elected me to be your Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner I promised you I wouldn’t take the healthcare plan, pension plan, and improve transparency.  We have now put our bills online which you can view here.  Never in a billion years did I think we would find an eighth of the stuff that we did – but we have – and you cannot make this stuff up.

Unethical Spending at the Algonquin Township Highway Department?

Rebecca Lee
Image courtesy of McHenry County Blog

Documents show Rebecca Miller Lee had a Verizon cell phone data plan provided to her through the Algonquin Township Highway Department.  Lee is the daughter of former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Robert J. Miller, who is under a grand jury investigation, and also the wife of an former employee.  There are no records that show Rebecca Miller Lee ever being an employee from October 2016 through May 2017.  In fact, Rebecca Miller Lee is a partner at the prestigious law firm Wand Lee Wambacher LLC.  

This begs one simple question:

WHY DOES REBECCA MILLER LEE NEED A CELL PHONE DATA PLAN PAID FOR BY THE TAXPAYERS?

What was that data used for?  As the duly elected Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner I will be contacting Verizon to see what that data was used for.  The people have a right to know if their tax dollars were funding a telecommunications data plan for a private use.

Here are links to the Verizon bills in PDF format for your inspection.

October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017

This is unethical at best.  Through inspection you will notice that as soon as the election was held this practice stopped.  Was it stopped because her father lost his election or was it because they knew this was a bad idea but never gave the election the respect it truly deserved?  This is exactly the kind of thing we find weekly at the Algonquin Township Highway Department.  For those of you who cannot open PDFs I am uploading PNGs of the October bill for your inspection at the bottom of this bill.

Full Disclosure

I didn’t find this one directly.  It was pointed out to me by someone.  Frankly, this is why you elected me.  You knew I wouldn’t bow to the political pressure.  You knew I would put it all out there without fear.  You knew I would shine the light of truth and those who committed unethical behavior are scattering like cockroaches.

I am nothing special – I am just a guy.

One More Thing

In 2015 the Northwest Herald called Rebecca Miller Lee the best under 40… and while the Northwest Herald reported yesterday that the Village of Fox River Grove may cut taxes on December 7th the local paper still cannot find time to write about the Algonquin Township Highway Department cutting its levy by five percent.  The yellow journalism exhibited by the Northwest Herald is really starting to show.  Where was the Northwest Herald all these years when all of this stuff was happening?

By refusing to cover the story in its entirety the Northwest Herald isn’t Missing In Action (MIA) – by refusing to cover the story in its entirety they are committing Dereliction of Duty.

It is there for everyone to see – yellow journalism is just as bad now as it was in the early 1900s.  Scrutinize me and my bills all you want.  I put them online so you do not have to FOIA them.  However, it isn’t my bills that have the women’s purses or women’s clothing on the credit card… that would be Bob Miller you lazy “journalists”.

In the interest of transparency…

Another Promise Kept – Transparency

I kept my promise to improve transparency on the McHenry County Board.

When you elected me to be your Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner we made a pact and I promised we would improve transparency at the Algonquin Township Highway Department.  I have a 100 percent track record of keeping my promises and transparency has always been high interest item.

If you remember when I was on the McHenry County Board we authored a simple transparency bill which passed overwhelmingly.  However, do you remember who voted AGAINST transparency and against this common sense bill?  Look here.  All of the county board members below voted against transparency.  Some of them are up for re-election.

  • Sue Draffkorn
  • Tina Hill
  • John Jung
  • Donald Kopsell
  • Robert Martens
  • Anna May Miller
  • Robert Nowak
  • Michael Smith

County Board Member Donald Kopsell and former Nunda Township Highway Commissioner voted AGAINST transparency.

Today Donald Kopsell was quoted in the Northwest Herald as saying the following:

“Andrew Gasser is the biggest mistake ever made in the state of Illinois,” Kopsell told the Northwest Herald. “He’s going to bankrupt [Algonquin Township] and put them out of business. He’s the perfect example of why people should get rid of townships.”

Is Kopsell now for abolishing townships?  Who is Kopsell kidding?  Kopsell is out of touch with reality just like so many politicians in Illinois.  How can anyone take Donald Kopsell seriously when he makes outlandish statements like this to the press?  Does Kopsell really believe that I am worse than any of the convicted convicts below?  How much damage did these convicts do to our state’s economy?  Can anyone with a shred of integrity really believe I have damaged Illinois more than Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, or Dan Rostenkowski?

Am I as bad as Michael Madigan?  Michael Madigan has been in office longer than I have been alive… and I am 45 years old.  How in three and a half short years could I have authored more damaging legislation that Michael Madigan?

Donald Kopsell should never be taken seriously if he thinks Andrew Gasser is worse for Illinois than Michael Madigan.  Don Kopsell should resign from the McHenry County Board immediately – he is mentally unfit for duty.

Never in a billion years did I ever thing we would face such obstruction in local government; from so many different units of government.  I voted to cut taxes last year when the county board raised taxes.  Don Kopsell – you voted to raise taxes.  You didn’t vote for transparency Kopsell – what are you hiding?  How many family members did you hire Don at the Nunda Township Highway Department?  More on this at a time of my choosing.

We Are Improving Transparency in Algonquin Township Highway Department

I openly admit it has taken us longer to get this up and running.  I’m sorry.  I genuinely thought I would have the ability to audit my own records and publish them online – but I do not.  I only have access to the bills that come into my office and then they are turned over to the clerk, locked away.  In those bills from yesteryear are tickets to Disneyland, women’s clothing, and gift cards… none of which in my opinion serve a government purpose but you, the taxpayers, paid for them anyways.  You deserve to see those bills.

We have created a google drive that houses all of our bills.  The current plan is to update the bills throughout the month.  Please realize these bills are not audited by the board.  We are simply scanning, removing the account number, and saving them in a PDF format and allowing you the taxpayers to view them.  Please note you will not find charges to any local diners, Hooters, or the Chesapeake Seafood Company.

Here is the link to our google drive: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B56WZRsgEPI5LW9ZdTRrTVVwdjQ

I realize we do not have May or June’s bills posted.  We simply do not have them scanned and they are already turned into the clerk’s office.  Moving forward we should have all of our bills online for your inspection.  We shall have our new website up before December 13th.  However, the verbiage will be tweaked some as me move along.  Please show us grace as we work to improve the Highway Department.  In the meantime feel free to look at our bills.

One More Thing

I am still waiting on the Northwest Herald to run that new story on our Algonquin Township Highway Department tax cut of five percent we passed last month.  Of course they won’t.  Instead the editors are more like the tabloid National Enquirer than a news organization and try to create stories to fit “Our View”.  I shall not “Stop It”.

I shall not stop trying to unearth what I believe to be unethical practices.  I shall not put my personal truck on the Algonquin Township Highway Department iPass account.  I shall not give salt that the taxpayer paid for to non-government agencies.  I shall not have Highway Department employees bag ice for private events.  I shall not sell township equipment to friends or family.  I shall not hire my family and pay them outrageous salaries.  I shall not ship alcohol to the Algonquin Township Highway Department.  I shall not use the Algonquin Township Credit Card for my personal use or gain.  I shall not have a soft drink dispenser at the township that dispenses alcohol.  I shall not habitually buy new equipment and then sell it at a loss to other municipalities for political support.

I shall not bend to political pressure.

Integrity First
Service Before Self
Excellence in all We Do
Community Always

5 Percent Tax Cut Proposed

When you elected me to by your Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner I made several promises with you.  To date I have kept them all and today is no exception.  Our property taxes are outrageous and I am cutting the levies I have control over.

This morning I forwarded on to the Algonquin Township Supervisor, Clerk, and Trustees a very fiscally responsible property tax cut of five (5) percent for 2017 to be collected in 2018 for the Algonquin Township Highway Department.

This a reduction of $196,391.48.

The tax levy will be voted on November 8th, 2017 at 7PM at the Algonquin Township monthly meeting.  Please click here to open up the draft tax reduction ordinance in PDF format.

With over $2.6 million in cash reserves we have the money to offer this reasonable request.  We are also releasing our levy in a searchable PDF format which is new.

I am quite certain that we can continue our fiscally responsible policies and lower levies in future years while maintaining the high level of service we enjoy.

My Challenge to Every Taxing Body in McHenry County

Obviously not every taxing body can cut five (5) percent in one year – but you can cut one (1) percent and not take the rate of inflation increase.  I challenge every taxing body to just cut one percent from their levy.  I realize not everyone can match me and there will be some over achievers but if every body just cut taxes by one (1) percent the impact on our residents would be enormous.

It is not difficult.  You just do it.  Cut your levies.  Save the endangered species that is the Illinois property owner.  They are leaving in droves.  They do not want excuses – they want results.  So give them results and cut your levies.

One More Thing…

As many of you are aware there is a concerted effort by a small, vocal minority to, execute summary judgement against some of my decisions in the court of public opinion instead of a court of law.  I look forward to explaining all of this in the coming months once the facts are out there and the courts are finished.  In the meantime, we cut taxes.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you all.  This journey is so enlightening and I have, for the most part, loved every minute of it.  We will get better.

I keep my promises.

Be Blessed,

Andrew