Natalie Manley's bills eliminating township clerks, allowing local officials to earn additional salaries, trouble GOP officials, fiscal watchdogs
Two bills in Springfield sponsored by State Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) are giving some local GOP leaders and fiscal watchdogs fits.
One bill, HB 3301, targets clerk positions in six townships in Will County for elimination. Manley is selling the legislation as pro-taxpayer since, on its face, it reduces the size of government. However, George Pearson, Will County GOP chairman, told the Will County Gazette that the bill is a masquerade; it targets four Republican clerks, and two Democrats who supported opponents of her political allies.
“If Manley truly was after good government, why didn’t she start with the several layers of highly paid regional school board trustees and superintendents?” Pearson said in a statement. “Talk about a waste of taxpayer dollars and the largest drain on property taxes! Manley’s HB3301 is nothing more than a smoke screen for revenge against her opponents and to think otherwise is foolishness.”
Eliminating the clerks, moreover, would end up costing taxpayers more, not less, Kirk Allen of the Edgar County Watchdogs said.
“Under the bill, the clerks’ duties would have to be performed on the county level by deputy clerks,” he said. “That would take more people at higher, union salaries.”
Another troubling bill, HB 3501 is at odds with itself, the Watchdogs say. On the one hand, the legislation bans elected or appointed officials from hiring themselves to additional, salaried or hourly positions within government; on the other, it gives local governing bodies the authority to hire appointed or elected officials to additional salaried or hourly positions.
“There you have it,” wrote John Kraft of ECW on their Illinois Leaks website. “If this gets a green light in the Senate [the House approved it unanimously on April 4] and signed by the governor, every unit of local government in the State of Illinois can simply vote to hire themselves for paid positions within the unit of government they are elected to serve. Nepotism and self-dealing will be authorized by statute.”
The Watchdogs say that the legislation would also give cover to elected officials who are already benefiting from the practice. They cite Bolingbrook Village Clerk Carol Penning, whom they say was behind her own hiring as her own full-time assistant.
“In so doing, she increased her elected Village Clerk pay of an average of $21,000 per year, by an average increase of about $55,000 per year, raking in an average of about $76,000 per year in this scheme,” Kraft wrote in an April 11 story.
But Penning says the Manley legislation has nothing to do with her.
“As the duly elected municipal clerk of the Village of Bolingbrook, I have not hired myself as an assistant, contrary to what you said,” she said in a statement written in response to the story by the Watchdogs and forwarded to the Will County Gazette. “I would not, and could not do any such thing. I have no authority to hire or fire.”
On April 12, the Watchdogs updated their story on Penning: “Mayor Roger C. Claar [Bolingbrook] stated that the Village Administrator hired her, she did not hire herself. Our opinion is that it doesn’t matter who actually did the hiring, but we are researching this new information for a future article.”
Manley, who defeated DuPage Township Trustee Republican Alyssia Benford in the November general elections, did not return a call seeking comment on her legislation.