River Forest electoral board to hear objections Monday

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By Deborah Kadin

Contributing reporter

The process of assessing the claims of four River Forest residents against petitions filed to force an advisory referendum on the much discussed village-township merger will begin Monday evening.

River Forest's electoral board will meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at village hall to begin examining the objections by Tom and Amy Dwyer, Pierangela Murphy and Patricia Marino. It well may be the first time that the board has been called to examine a petition or candidate challenge.

Discussion and deliberation will follow. Nothing substantive is likely to take place, and a continuance will probably be requested, Village Administrator Eric Palm said.

The electoral board – whose membership is mandated by state law – is composed of Village President Catherine Adduci, Trustee Susan Conti and Village Clerk Sharon Halperin. Adduci and Conti were supporters of HB 4425, which, if it had passed, would have allowed a binding referendum on the question of merger.

The three will begin examining a contention from Dwyer, a fellow village trustee, that he and his wife's signatures were forged on petition sheets. At one time, Dwyer had been in Adduci's and Conti's camp on HB4425, which Rep. Chris Welch, its chief sponsor, tabled in March. Then in April, Dwyer changed his position, saying he needed "more time to figure this all out," he said at the time. He has been a vocal opponent of a village-township merger ever since.

Murphy and Marino filed a litany of objections to the 455 signatures gathered by the referendum's backers earlier this summer and filed by them Aug. 4. The two contend 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.

Objections filed by Murphy and Marino 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."

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

The advisory referendum – the first ever conducted in River Forest if it makes the ballot – will consider whether the township should be abolished with services merged into the village. For this action to take place, the non-binding measure must be approved by voters. Then Welch's bill – or one like it – must be put back on the table and passed by both houses of the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. If both those steps are successful, a binding initiative would be placed before the voters in April 2015.

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Posted: August 17th, 2014 2:59 PM

Hopefully the Township does not spend any public money on any lawyers including their Township lawyer. Ms. Murphy and Ms. Marino need to spend private money to argue against a citizen petition otherwise they will be investigated into using taxpayer money for non Township issues. Good Luck everyone!

RF Achievement  

Posted: August 16th, 2014 7:50 AM

@Question..you are right. I know Dwyer Jr, and if you asked him in Feb where the Community Center was he wouldn't be able to tell you. Now he needs more time to figure it out... wonder who got to him...daddy?? He now has Murphy and Marino paying top dollar for a lawyer. Wonder where Murphy is getting the money..time for an investigation on Murphy. Full disclosure you get free service from the Township now you are paying big $$$$ for a lawyer to fight against the citizens.Let the rumors begin!

Question from Afar  

Posted: August 15th, 2014 7:06 AM

My question is why did Dwyer flip? Could it be because of his dad? Wasn't Dwyer Sr on the Township Board at one time and fought hard for Executive Director to be hired? Could Dwyer be misleading everyone and could there be fraud there too? Just asking the hard questions no one wants to ask.

John from RF  

Posted: August 15th, 2014 6:31 AM

Ballot challenges are part of the legal process, and actually is a way many national candidates (and some local that are now national) got to where they are. The petition process is not an easy one, but a necessary one. Here, we are not talking about who gets on a ballot -- we are talking about placing a non-binding QUESTION on a ballot. Lets all take a deep breath, and let this town have a change to vote on a Question, and see what they say -- LET THE PEOPLE SPEAK.

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