Tag Archives: James MacRunnels

Letter: Open letter to Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay

Dear Chairman,
I can see first-hand that any citizen in the county who would dare, at this critical economic juncture, to question 13 raises given that could cost us collectively (adding pension considerations) up to $20,000,000 in salary hikes, you brand as “political” in nature.

It simply is “about the money.”

In fact, it was this kind of reckless spending and the awarding of contracts to campaign donors that caused me to challenge your candidacy in 2008. This may also be the reason why so many yes men saying “yes” to spending our money and “no” to any question about it have been continually unsuccessful as they run for re-election for office.

This is not a vindictive action on my part; it is a financial one. After the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been spent on lawsuits against various county officeholders, one would think that you would simply agree to have the board members that the voters elected to represent them be part of the process in the future.

I am not charging the taxpayers one dime to ask for this consideration. And with your generous salary collected from the taxpayers, I am wondering why you are not joining me in settling this easily with little financial burden on those you claim to have a “taxpayer interest” concern for.

If your intention is to pressure the people that we elect directly to somehow join you in the granting of raises, you are asking members on the County Board, who were not even there when the raises were given, to hand us a multimillion dollar expense.

Please consider taking responsibility for your own actions. Stop the “politically motivated” charges each time any taxpayer demands to know how our own government spends money. And for once, do the right thing for all of us.

James MacRunnels

Letter: Enough already

My name is Jim MacRunnels, and the Kane County portion of my tax bill has increased by over 6 percent.

This fact probably makes me no different than just about anyone else reading this letter. What is different are two defining factual differences.

1. I am in the midst of a lawsuit with Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.

2. I ran against Karen McConnaughay for County Board Chairman almost four years ago.

Either one of these facts has somehow managed to make me suspect in the eyes of Ms. McConnaughay.

When I researched and discovered that she had given raises to numerous department heads in the midst of a significant recession, I was branded as some sort of public pariah for daring to question how a politician talks about “tightening the governments belt” while secretly giving raises that by actuarial analysis will cost county taxpayers over $20 million dollars in pensions and salaries.

It is certainly true that when I ran for office I proposed a contract with Kane County. I promised to utilize our own workers for contracts as much as possible. I pledged to discontinue the practice of hiring firms that gave large campaign donations, going so far as to refuse to take them. I pledged to bring common sense back to government service.

Ms. McConnaughay spent over $350,000 (most of the money collected from contractors) to defeat a guy (me) that had virtually no political experience and that honestly ran for the position just on principle alone.

Well, that was then and this is now.

I must have an affinity to Don Quixote, because when I discovered that not one board member that I spoke with knew of the raises or approved of them, I wanted to know why. I discovered that the revised county code included language that called for a vote of the Executive Committee of the Board prior to giving raises or promotions. Suffice to say, I was not the most popular guy over at the county building when I filed Freedom of Information requests. Yes, I was considered public taxpayer enemy No. 1.

So I took matters into my own hands. I filed a lawsuit on behalf of myself and other taxpayers. Not one board member has admitted knowing of these raises.

I am funding this lawsuit myself, and I invite Ms. McConnaughay to do the same. Heck, with all the talk of belt tightening and a $95,000 part-time salary, I expected this was not too much to ask. Well, folks, I guess that we are all obligated to pay $20 million plus the cost of her attorneys.

Recently, Ms. McConnaughay stated that she was “vindicated” when Judge Mueller decided that the case be dismissed. How does $20 million dollars of vindication sit with the taxpayers? I supposedly had some revengeful motive for my decision to say that as a taxpayer, “I am sick and tired and won’t take it anymore.”

Yes, I do feel that I was right in asking some tough questions about pay to play, responsible spending, the over-reliance on expensive consultants, and appointing task forces that reach the same conclusion of the chairman.

I feel compelled to do the same today. And if that makes me a bad guy, I hope there are a few other bad guys out there willing to say enough already.

James MacRunnels

Lawsuit against Chairman dismissed

by Lynn Meredith
KANE COUNTY—A Kane County judge dismissed a lawsuit against Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay brought by Elburn resident James MacRunnels. The lawsuit claimed that McConnaughay violated county ordinances when she gave out 14 raises to employees.

MacRunnels ran against McConnaughay in the 2008 Republican primary.

“From the beginning we knew this (lawsuit) was a frivolous, unwarranted exercise on Mr. MacRunnels’ part to engage in political gamesmanship,” McConnaughay said. “As you know, he was a former opponent.”

The suit was filed in December 2010 by MacRunnels and claimed that McConnaughay violated Section 2-48 of the Kane County Code. He claims that she gave raises without county board approval as set forth in the code.

“We have the utmost respect for Judge Mueller, but we were of the opinion that she was violating the ordinance in handing out the raises,” said William T. King Jr., attorney for MacRunnels. “Well, she was. It’s there in black and white.”

He said that his client is attempting to stop her from handing out raises without approval.

“But, apparently, she doesn’t want to stop,” he said.

MacRunnels has 30 days in which to appeal the decision.

“We’re exploring our options, but we really don’t know yet,” King said.

Elburn businessman sues County Board chairman

by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—An Elburn resident filed an injunction against Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay regarding pay raises given out to county officials.

James MacRunnels, an Elburn businessman and Kane County Board chairman candidate in 2008, filed the injunction on Dec. 14. The lawsuit alleges that McConnaughay, throughout her tenure as County Board chairman, has provided pay raises to 14 county officials and employees without seeking approval from either the Executive Committee or County Board.

The lawsuit identifies IT Executive Director Roger Fahnestock, former Development Department Director Phil Bus, HR Management Executive Director Shelia McCraven, Finance Executive Director Cheryl Patelli, Health Department Executive Director Paul Keuhnert, Deputy Director of Transportation Tom Rickert, Supervisor of Assessments Mark Armstrong, former Economic Development Director Chris Aiston, Facilities, Subdivision and Environmental Resources Director Tim Harbaugh, Family Health Division Director Theresa Heaton, Water Resources Director Paul Schuch, Network Services Director Robert Shive, IT Chief Financial Officer Bill Lake and Community Health Assistant Director Michael Isaacson as the officials who have been given pay raises or had their salary established by McConnaughay without Executive Committee or County Board compliance.

“I would like (Karen McConnaughay) to admit that she violated county statutes by giving out these pay raises,” MacRunnels said. “I asked my County Board member if he was aware of these raises, and he was not aware (of it). At that point in time, I said the only action I have as a citizen is to get involved and file the suit against her.”

MacRunnels said he believes McConnaughay should have to admit to newspapers and all 90,000 households in Kane County that she gave out unauthorized pay raises.

“That’s punishment enough, but she needs to step up and do that,” he said.

The lawsuit cites a Kane County code that establishes the Executive Committee’s jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to the compensation of all members of the County Board, the rules of order of the County Board, fees, salaries, clerk-hiring for and in all departments of the county, and the amount of the salary and per diem compensation of all county officers not otherwise set by law.

“MacRunnels is talking about a county code where the Executive Committee sets the salaries for the executive directors,” McConnaughay said. “Back in the early ’90s, the Executive Committee delegated that responsibility to the employee’s review, and the setting of salaries to the County Board chairman and to the respective committee chair.”

McConnaughay also said she doesn’t think the lawsuit has any merit.

“The state’s attorney will represent the chairman’s interest in this (matter),” she said.