Added objections surface in RF township referendum

Complaint alleges improprieties in petition signatures

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By Deborah Kadin

The fate of an advisory referendum on merging River Forest village and township governments will soon be in the hands of a three-person village electoral board after objections were filed questioning the validity of some signatures on petitions backing a November referendum.

The electoral board, whose make up is determined by state law, will meet later this month to determine whether the question can be certified for the Nov. 4 ballot. The local board will consist of Village President Catherine Adduci, Trustee Susan Conti and Clerk Sharon Halperin. The date for the public hearing has not yet been set.

Both Adduci and Conti have in the past publicly supported the concept of a merger of the two government bodies.

River Forest Village Trustee Tom Dwyer, an opponent of both the merger and the referendum, filed an objection last week with the local election board stating that his and his wife's signatures were forged on the petitions seeking to place the merger on the ballot. 

Dwyer said he learned that his signature as well as his wife's were on the petitions when he got a call from fellow Trustee Carmela Corsini, who asked him why he signed a petition. 

"She knew I was pretty outspoken about the township, and that I did not want to pursue HB 4425," he said. HB 4425 is the legislation that if it had succeeded last spring would have allowed a binding referendum on consolidation. "I looked at them saw my and my wife's name," Dwyer said. "They were not our signatures." 

Dwyer also filed a criminal complaint with the River Forest Police Department.

On Monday afternoon, residents Pierangela Murphy and Patricia Marino came forward with objections claiming that there aren't enough valid signatures to place the question on the ballot because a number of the signers were not registered voters or their signatures were not genuine.

The two also contend that some nomination papers contained numerous sheets circulated by individuals whose sheets "demonstrate a pattern of fraud and disregard of the election code to such a degree that every sheet circulated by that individual is invalid," according to their objections. Two of those sheets contained the names of Dwyer and his wife Amy.

Murphy and Marino also state that the signature sheets are not consecutively numbered and that the form of the referendum does not pose a question in the proper form and is vague. 

James Nally, an election attorney representing Marino and Murphy, said Tuesday that he was retained by them in the last several days. He said volunteers were at the County Clerk's Office checking voter rolls; he did not say how many. Citing attorney-client privilege, he did not disclose who was paying his bill. 

Rick Gillis, one of the contacts for the pro-referendum effort, commented that "this is the democratic process at work.  People submit petitions for their cause, and people object to petitions for their cause. At this point, all we can do is wait for the election board's ruling." 

River Forest Trustee Tom Cargie, a supporter of the merger and one of about 12 petition circulators, said  "Why would they put up such a fight over something that asks a simple question?"

The advisory question would be the first of a three-step process that would, if all elements are successful, lead to consolidation between the village and township governments.

Reader Comments

15 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Kevin D. Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 10:23 PM

Here is a stab at an unbiased question: "Shall River Forest Township have its governmental powers and duties, and assets and liabilities, merged into the Village of River Forest, with the Village's elected officials as the sole governing body, to be effective [NAME DATE] That is only an advisory referendum, but it might convince the State Legislature to authorize a similar binding one. Get your homework done over there. Find a competent person who knows how to submit petitions.

RF Achievement  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 8:12 PM

@Rexxy. You are right nothing to see because Township is less than transparent. If Kevin is right and the ballot is off due to a technicality, then what message is that sending to the RF people. If you do not succeed the first time, try again. It is the people stupid who want this, otherwise the Township would allow Mickey Mouse on he petition sheet if the Township believed they could win.

Rexxy  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 7:32 PM

Keystone Kops all around. Questionable wording on the question, bogus signatures, last-minute hijinks and a rush to beat some deadline that they should have known about for months, and a bunch of township bashers here who don't even have the guts to use their real names. Move along, people, move along. Nothing to see here.

Kevin D. Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 6:26 PM

I'm previously from River Forest (3rd generation). These petitions are in trouble for more than a few bad signatures. If there were unnumbered pages, that could be fatal. Three District 90 incumbents were thrown off the ballot in 1995 for that, using a precedent set previously by River Forest attorney Michael Burny. The wording is also iffy, since it expresses non-neutral opinions. See the legal article at http://www.lib.niu.edu/1994/im940725.html They need to be reworded the next time.

RF Achievement 2  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 2:31 PM

@RF achievement...you need to know someone like Murphy did. Most RF residents don't know about the Township services unless you know someone. Murphy did. It's like their own little club and we are all paying for it. My proposal is eliminate the township so we can safe money for those on a fixed income and raise money for the social services we need. That way we can get a % off our federal tax returns instead of taxing our property taxes. If Murphy was honest she would let the residents vote

RF Achievement  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 12:52 PM

Forging signatures is ILLEGAL, everyone knows that -- so why would anyone forge a signature of one who is a Trustee. EASY -- they WANT the whole petition drive to be challenged. Don;t you see -- this was a planned event, and the Township or their legal advice partner is involved. This signature should be stricken of course -- but as long as there are adequate signatures (assuming there are but have no clue) this should pass the challenge. Also of interest -- WHY would Ms. Murphy volunteer?

Joe from Oak Park  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 9:27 AM

Voter fraud is the only way you can get signatures off the ballot by the objectors. Murphy and Marino now have to prove that it is voter fraud not just by checking a box on a form. Let's see how fraudulent Murphy is over this. If she does't get this right, she is now part of her rumor mills that she likes to start in town.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 9:24 AM

As a kid l long ago, when seeing people collecting signatures for a petition drive, I wondered about how they would know the signatures are genuine and legitimate without checking IDs. I didn't see any IDs shown. Now, forty years later, it seems that IDs aren't even required of suspected illegal immigrants in southern states as a means of maintaining national safety and security (and protecting our financial resources). So, I guess I can keep wondering.

RF Embarrassed  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 8:38 AM

Voter fraud is not a "Red Herring." This is an ugly incident and should not be taken too lightly. Check into who allegedly witnessed the voter's signatures and who notarized that witness' signature and you will be closer to finding the culprits. Whoever did this does not and should not represent the residents of RF in this referendum or anything else.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 7:50 AM

Merge or not, just go through the process legitimately, which is begun with collecting legitimate signatures, which is NOT a minor technicality. Any worthwhile "will of the people" should be easily represented by the small percentage of required legitimate signatures for this intended referendum. Filing just before deadline leaves no room for mistakes. If the merger would be worthwhile, the facts and legal commitments should prove it. This is a big step; both legit. sides should play fair.

RF Achievement  

Posted: August 13th, 2014 6:38 AM

Red Herring!!! Look at this shinny object and NOT here. The Township is as crooked as it gets -- and has had slush fund and used taxpayer funds illegally for Years. As to Dwyer -- wasn't his Dad was on the Township years ago, as was involved in the start of all of this mess -- that is likely the reason he is Against it? Normally when this happens -- challenges it is to try and use a technicality to STOP a reality -- The End of the Township and the Slush.

LZ Spinster  

Posted: August 12th, 2014 10:24 PM

Well, no matter what, this is putting the electoral board in a tricky, tough spot. it's been pretty obvious all along that conti and adduci want the referendum to happen, so even if the facts are on the side of it being an OK petition, they'll be hard pressed to not appear to be ramrodding tihs through if/when they OK the petitions in spite of the questionable tactics (law breaking?) that went into it. oh well, poltiics in small town america

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: August 12th, 2014 6:08 PM

@Give me a break--The logo is based on how you enter the site, not on the subject matter of the story. If you want to see the RF logo, then enter the site by using the URL www.RiverForest.com And here is a direct link to this story, with the RF logo. http://www.riverforest.com/News/Articles/8-12-2014/Added-objections-surface-in-RF-township-referendum/

Give me a break  

Posted: August 12th, 2014 5:19 PM

Really, the Oak Park logo for a RF story??? Can't even get a RF logo? Bad stuff! What is Carla hiding behind that she has to get has been lawyers (MURPHY/MARINO) to object to an ADVISORY referendum. Why can't the papers find out what she is hiding that she won't let the voters vote on this question OR ANY QUESTION?

Sammy RF from River Forest  

Posted: August 12th, 2014 2:36 PM

Enquiring minds want to know---if this advisory referndum passes, and residents say they want the two to merge, does the village board actually want it to merge? Tom Dwyer is against it, anyone else on board with cold feet about this plan? Haphazard aproach, from Welch and Adducci all the way to these bogus John Hancocks. Doesn't inspire confdience.

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