Petition irregularities not new

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Petition irregularities such as those that concern the new “No-Wake” zone on the Rock River, revive news from the recent and distant past about similar petition problems.

According to two articles in the Rockford Register Star from March 16 and April 3, 1979, Michael P. Dunn, current Greater Rockford Airport Board chairman, was former patronage director for Ill. Gov. James Thompson (R). Dunn pled guilty in 1979 to charges of violating the Illinois Election Code by adding “false signatures” to Thompson’s 1978 tax-lid referendum petitions.

The March 16, 1979, article reads: “About 200 of more than 400 disputed names in Winnebago County were found on petitions that went through the office” of a trucking company called Miller Transportation Co., which was owned by Dunn and his relatives.

As described in the April 3, 1979, article, Dunn and his attorney Paul Cicero, persuaded 17th Judicial Circuit Judge John S. Ghent to drop felony forgery accounts in connection with the petitions. However, Dunn was fined $800 for “violating the Illinois Election Code by certifying that forged petition signatures were genuine.”

Dunn’s petition drive included people who had been dead for years. The petition also listed individuals who said they never signed the document.

In May 2005, Dunn was re-appointed to another five-year term on the Greater Rockford Airport Board of Commissioners, where he is Board chairman. He was re-appointed by fellow Republican and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen.

Dunn resigned from the Governor’s staff within six months of Thompson’s first term as governor after the media discovered Dunn “made unauthorized use of state planes and had altered a record to conceal one unauthorized stop,” according to the April 3, 1979, article. Thompson was governor of Illinois from 1977 to 1991.

In another case of petition irregularities earlier this year, Winnebago County Clerk and former Rockford Ald. Dave Johnson (R-4) withdrew his effort to consolidate City of Rockford and Winnebago County election offices.

Johnson withdrew petitions in January after it was revealed in a lawsuit that dead people were listed on the petitions to place the question of consolidation on the ballot for voters. The Rock River Times’ research also indicated that some of the petition circulators listed bogus home addresses on the petition.

From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2005, issue

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