For now, Welch pulls township merger bill

River Forest Township adds legal, PR support as Springfield merger debate begins

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By Deb Kadin

Contributing Reporter

The sponsor of legislation allowing River Forest voters to decide whether to merge village and township governments elected Tuesday morning to find other avenues to get his legislation heard in Springfield.

After a hearing before the Counties and Townships committee, Rep. Chris Welch (D-7th) pulled his bill and said he will pursue all available avenues in House rules to give it a fair chance during the current session.

"When I walked into the room, I knew the members of the committee would not support it," Welch said. "I want a fair hearing and want it to be considered on its merits. It has strong bipartisan support. I'll see if it gets called."

Welch also listened to testimony on legislation sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks (D-63) on similar consolidation issues, watched the committee and did not think the panel would approve it.

Welch and River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm testified in favor of the bill; River Forest Township Supervisor Carla Sloan spoke against it. Attending the hearing and providing a bit of information about the township was Patrick Deady, the agency's attorney.

Until the bill reaches the House floor, lobbying on Welch's proposal very well may grow. A flurry of email in opposition had been sent around River Forest from township Supervisor Carla Sloan and Assessor Pam Kende urging residents to call Springfield to keep the measure from passing in committee. One email contained a memorandum to Township Officials from Bryan E. Smith, executive director of the Township Officials of Illinois, which is heavily lobbying against the measure.

Meanwhile village government supporters of the consolidation, including Village President Cathy Adduci and Trustee Tom Cargie, worked their e-mail lists urging calls to Springfield, too.

The township will continue doing its own legal work related to the legislation. Township trustees, during their February meeting, voted to retain their attorney, in a separate contract, to work predominantly on issues related to HB 4425. A PR firm was also brought on board in February to hone the township's message and raise its visibility.

Both actions and their associated costs raised the intensity of the debate in River Forest.

The law firm Hogan Marren and Patrick Deady, an attorney with the firm, will receive $2,500 a month for three months to help the township with questions on how to proceed legally, Sloan said. That special contract could be renewed after it expires, she added. Deady has been the township's attorney since 2009.

"Someone is attempting to eliminate us," said Sloan, who commented that Deady would not be lobbying the township's position in Springfield. "We are required to understand the legislation and what's going on with the legislature. The work involving the bill was becoming larger in scope and more complex. We need all the assistance we can get."

Matt Baron, a local public relations person, will be paid $10,000 for 3-1/2 months; that agreement also could be extended.

"Who knows where it (HB 4425) is going and how long it's going to last," said Sloan.

Both efforts were blasted by Adduci, who said the village has no intention of hiring any lobbyists or communications PR person to help in its efforts.

"I don't see the value in one unit of government fighting the other and spending its money to do it. I would have put that money into additional human services such as youth services," she said.

Adduci said she and the village board strongly feel it is in the best interests of River Forest for the two boards to sit down collaboratively with each other and talk about how this merger can be successful, "as opposed to hiring outside consultants to argue each other's positions," she said.

Earlier this year, River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm and Sloan met for about an hour to talk about mutual concerns related to consolidation. In February, the township invited the village to talk about the former's positions; the village board chose to continue discussions between Palm and Sloan.

The township's moves also were criticized by Welch, who commented that money would be better spent on seniors and youth and other programs. "This bill allows for citizen participation in the democratic process; whether residents want township government or not. I don't see what's wrong with that."

The legislation would allow a referendum to be placed on the ballot calling for consolidation of a coterminous village and township. If successful, services would be transferred to and performed by the village six months after the measure is approved by voters. The bill also calls for a tax to be levied that would be designated to pay for social services. The village would assume oversight of all township assets, including the Community Center. The role of the township elected officials also would end.

The responsible party for placing the question on the ballot would rest with the township.

If the township fails to do that, residents can submit to township trustees petitions containing the signatures of 5 percent of the registered voters; that would require the board to put the question on the General Election ballot on Nov. 4 or the consolidated election ballot in April 2015. If the township still fails to do that, residents can take the township to court.

A spokesman for Cook County Clerk David Orr could not comment on any pending legislation and would be able to do so – and speak to prospective deadlines – once the bill becomes law.

The bill was amended because when it was analyzed, the House Democratic General Counsel's office found that the township is not coterminous with the village, Welch said. There is a part of unincorporated Cook County with River Forest addresses, but that is not part of the village. Specifics on that were not available.

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Truth in Sunshine from RF  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 7:22 PM

The Village is attempting a hostile takeover to seize the building the Township occupies. They don't realize that it won't work.

Mary Rose from River Forest  

Posted: March 31st, 2014 10:04 AM

We just got back from spring break and read this article in the WJ. I also received an email from C. Sloan with a fact sheet attached urging me to call the Township committee members. I favor the Roosevelt Project. After reading both the article and fact sheet, I was stunned to learn that HFGB which is coordinated by Patty Henek received in kind services from the township.I could not find where to get in kind services on the Township's website.Is this a handshake and a wink to help Patty Henek?

Jim Jumick from River Forest  

Posted: March 31st, 2014 7:24 AM

I urge Cathy Adduci to continue to pursue consolidation of the Township. Her leadership on property taxes and how to save taxpayers money is refreshing. Keep up the good work, Cathy we are 100% behind you!

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 4:43 PM

So, an engaged debate over a political issue in a democracy constitutes chaos, two cents? Thank God timid types like yourself weren't around while those rowdy boys who eventually signed the Declaration of Independence screamed and hollered at each other for months in Philadelphia. I guess some people just don't have the stomach for practicing democracy.

Greg From River Forest  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 4:39 PM

Wow. So Semisweet, TWo Cents, Supporter, Real River Forest...we are all suppose to believe you are real and do not carry a Township agenda? I am a frequent poster here for over 5 years and have never seen your posts? If we all come out in the open the Township goes down. Do you remember the PD referendum of 2009...it lost 82 to 18. How about the Home Rule? Bring it to a vote and have residents decide. Prediction...its will go down 80 to 20.

Real River Forester  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 4:23 PM

I'm a heterosexual man and I'm not ashamed to say that Matt Baron is quite the looker http://www.insideedgepr.com/about/matt-baron-inside-edge-pr-photo-sept-2013/

Real River Forester  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 4:22 PM

This fantastic Tribune article should shut up all you Township haters http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/oak_park_river_forest_forest_park/community/chi-ugc-article-rep-welch-pulls-bill-calling-for-referendum-2014-03-25,0,4515112,full.story

SEJ@ from River Forest  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 3:08 PM

I agree very bad leadership. Sloan and Belmonte should have taken the Village offer up 2 years ago when the Rigas Administration and Board ask to sit down and talk. The Township refused, bad leadership on the Township. I just did the math, for the Township to hire their lobbyist and PR cost the taxpayer 33% of the Youth Services budget. Bad leadership on the Township!

Two cents  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 2:57 PM

Amen, SEJ. Given the chaos being caused here my question was whether this is intentional or unintentional. Either way, it's bad leadership and deserves to blow up in the face of anyone who has touched it.

SEJ from River Forest  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 2:49 PM

The route Cathy Adduci chose to take with this possible dissolution was wrong. This possible dissolution has its own shortcomings and its own merits, both of which can't be heard clearly now. Accurate information could have been communicated, discussions could have taken place, and resident imput could have been saught. But to legislate at the state level, a legally binding referendum? Very poor leadership skills. Disruptive, expensive, and ineffective.

Taxman from River Forest  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 1:54 PM

@Semisweet...you must be Deady or Baron in disguise, because no one in their right mind or pays property TAXES and are interesting in Youth, Seniors, and Mental Health residents would say that. Will the real Semisweet stand up? BTW, BD don't go to this persons level...when you are feeding off the trough they can only throw stones...

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 1:27 PM

OK, RF Semi, I'm genuinely stunned. I'm used to criticism and could care less, but thou exhibit a a new level of cluelessness. I've "always been a Welch butt kisser"? In what alternate universe? Google my name and Welch's and pull up a few old opinion columns and news articles and then tell me that again.

RF Semisweet  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 1:23 PM

The Township is getting a GREAT deal on Deady and Baron. Another example of the Township looking out for the Taxpayer - unlike HACK Aducci and HACK Welch

Taxman from River Forest  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 12:29 PM

@Simisweet...if saving taxpayer money means someone is a one termer...then perhaps Adduci should run for Supervisor and at least make some money. Village President makes no salary, Township Supervisor makes 32,000 plus benefit...good idea Semisweet...are related to two cents? Who are you related to Semisweet....Supervisor Sloan?????

RF Semisweet  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 12:09 PM

Bill Dwyer, you have no credibility on this. ALWAYS been a Chris Welch BUTTKISSER. Take your clown act to the River Forest Leaves

River Forest Semisweet  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 12:05 PM

This issue guarantees Adduci is a one-termer

RF Waste  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 6:29 AM

Lets get this, Deady is out to retain his sweet heart deal as Legal representative for the township - and others out to keep their sweet heart positions (super and trustees). It is all about the money -- and They could care less about RF Taxpayers. AND they pay more of our money for a PR Company? Who does that in Government? Waste at its best

Joan from River Forest  

Posted: March 26th, 2014 1:31 AM

@two cents...must not pay property taxes in RF and you must not get Township services, and you must not like democracy....too bad because stupid is what stupid does.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 2:57 PM

First of all, two cents, its not a merger. The township would be dissolved. Second, it would be interesting if you were capable of elaborating a wee bit on why you think its so stupid, beyond just saying you think it is.

Two cents  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 2:24 PM

This is an awful lot of BS to go through for something as stupid as a merger. Whoever came up with this idea is a moron--first for the idea itself and also for not being able to see the damage being done attempting their stupidity. .

Joan from River Forest  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 1:05 PM

GIVE River Forest a chance to debate this issue. Why is Supervisor Sloan against this Bill when it gives the residents a chance to talk about improving the services....and enhancing the services. I am in strong support of this Bill. Thank you Rep. Welsh for watching out for River Forest

Taxman from River Forest  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 12:58 PM

This Bill is to let a discussion happen. The Township does not want to have that discussion because the TRUTH will come out regarding the Civic Center The township gets $44,000 in rent and spends 40,000 for capital improvements and pays $70,000 for a building manager. Has any of their emails talk about spending our tax dollars to support a building that does not support the Township services. NOW you know why they don't want the conversation. The Township is ripping the TAXPAYERS OFF!

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 11:08 AM

People can make comparisons between the RF and OP township programs all they want, but the very observable fact is that such a comparison is akin to the differences between a Yugo and a Land Rover.

OP resident  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 10:36 AM

This issue is in RF today but if it goes forward I'm sure it will come to OP. I have friends who have benefited from the township services in OP and I do not have confidence that our concrete-loving village hall has the capacity to even think about much less provide needed services to low income seniors and those with disabilities.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 10:00 AM

Explain to us just how -- The non-for-profit building would now become a tax liability-- supposed Supporter of the Truth. Because the Community Center building was purchased with tax dollars from the state and isn't on the tax rolls, and would not go on the tax rolls if taken over by the village. As for the wonderful Opportunity Knocks program, they can negotiate with the village for space. No one is questioning their value to the community. You're being anything but truthful here.

Taxman from River Forest  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 9:11 AM

@Supporter, if you pay your taxes then you are part owner of the RF community center. Tax Liability...you are kidding me..RF has a significant tax liability.If you look at their budget, which the township just put on this year, $40,000 goes into repair of the building, the Township in their wisdom only charges $44,000 RFCC to lease 95% of the building, then RFCC turns around and subleases to O.K. and others..that is why the Township is scared. The RFCC makes money on the taxpayers of RF..hmmm

Jimmy  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 6:19 AM

Let the crap begin to flow. This is what happens when this thing has been ignored for as long as it has. Lets jump to the Community Center -- which by the way is not owned by the Township anyway, so lets stop that. The real reason that the village is looking at this - there is no reason for a separate Township and a separate Village. Look how small we are. The Clerk, the Assessor -- they no longer perform the functions they did before the County took them over. Lets just all get along.

Supporter of the Truth  

Posted: March 24th, 2014 8:44 PM

Why has the RF Village Board decided it should take over the Township and their responsibilites? They don't have enough to do? To save the residents a few dollars (which seems unlikely)? NO. The real truth is in the article - they would then own the Community Center and have the coveted Park District space they have been trying to seize for years. The non-for-profit building would now become a tax liability and wonderful groups like Opportunity Knocks would be without a home.

RF Achievement  

Posted: March 24th, 2014 8:38 PM

Rf Residents - now you can see what the RF Township is. They exist for themselves. They could care LESS about residents wishes. Let the VOTE happen. If the residents find value - the the Townships stays. If not - it dissolves. They do NOT want the RF taxpayers to have a vote. This tells the residents. It is all about the money they are being paid. And that includes their attorney.

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2014 6:33 PM

There are residents living in unincorporated River Forest? Who, the deer that live along the river? Maybe now they can become residents too, if the township and village are merged. Hope Oak Park is next!!

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