Rockton Township controversies get hot

How the Winnebago County Board really works

By Dean G. Mohring

Rockton Township Trustee

When you elect a County Board member for your particular district, you naturally assume they and their vote represent your district. This is not the case!

Each party, Republican or Democrat, has a caucus chairman, and he directs their party on each vote. The individual board member dare not deviate from the caucus chairman’s directive on that particular item under consideration.

The Republican chairman is Jim Webster, and the Democrat Caucus chairman is Phillip Johnson. I examined the Winnebago County roster and found there are 19 Republicans and nine Democrats on the Winnebago County Board. Notices of the caucus meetings are difficult to find. If it is a closed meeting, under the Open Meetings Act, all such meetings must be tape recorded.

Here is the interesting part regarding the recent Cannell/Puri subdivision that was just approved west of Rockton. Remember that the Rockton Township Board and the Winnebago County ZBA both unanimously rejected the Special Use and Planned Community Development, while the Winnebago County Board approved it with a 19-4 vote.

Since Jim Webster is the Republican Caucus chairman (he obviously had the majority of the total votes available), his impassioned speech to the County Board for rejection was a joke. It appears that he wants our votes at the next election, and his speech at the Board meeting was designed to do just that. I’ll bet that the Winnebago County Board members had a good laugh at our expense, after the meeting. Remember this at your next election opportunity.

To be further enlightened, go to the Internet site and search “contributions—candidates.” Some suggestions for search are Scott Christiansen For Chairman, Nicolosi, First Rockford Group, Sunil Puri and Buckley. As they said in the Nixon trial, “follow the money.”

Dave Winters: Hometown hero?

By Mark Baker

President of the Shirland School Board

The people of Shirland have an interesting dilemma. Do they ignore the facts and listen to the hype about their State Rep. Dave Winters, or will the facts enable them to think for themselves? The local media portray him as the hometown farmer, lifelong Shirland resident, working hard for the people of his district. All of this sounds great until you outline his actions regarding Shirland School.

More than five years ago, the School applied for a $60,000 grant to replace the furnaces through Mr. Winters, House Resolution 30336. This was through the Illinois First program (George Ryan). While Mr. Ryan was governor, we were promised that this grant would be funded. As soon as Mr. Blagojevich became governor, Mr. Winters claimed that this money was tied up by the Governor’s Office for political reasons. A simple check of the Illinois First report shows that the Survey on the grant was never even sent to the Governor’s Office. The facts indicate who is really politicizing the grant.

Another case of Mr. Winters apparently playing politics with the school involves the South Beloit School District. An article in the Rockford Register Star, dated 2/19/04, allowed him to deny rumors that he had spoken with South Beloit, in closed quarters, to attempt a change of feeder status for Shirland School. Currently, Shirland feeds Hononegah High School. Several weeks later, a letter received by the Shirland School Board from the South Beloit Board specifically said that Mr. Winters had, in fact, been in discussion with them about having the school change to feed South Beloit, and he offered to author legislation to do so. Neither the Shirland Board nor administration had asked him to act on this or represent them in any way. Why would he act on his own in this manner? The residents of his hometown have supported Hononegah High School for a very long time. Were they being represented in this case or being manipulated?

The most recent case of Dave Winters’ political game playing showed up during the Shirland School opposition to the Cannell/Puri subdivision in the district. The School made it clear that the possible growth created by the approval of this subdivision on a local farm could push the school’s enrollment past capacity. There was hope that Mr. Winters would speak out against this permanent removal of farmland from production to build another sprawling subdivision. He had recently authored legislation, HB5727, which encouraged protecting agricultural land near municipalities and HB5728, designed to assist municipalities in protecting agricultural and natural land. Why would he not speak out in support of his own legislation specifically designed to curtail this type of growth? Could it be the campaign contributions of the subdivision’s developer, Sunil Puri, to Mr. Winters?

Mr. Winters will be in Shirland July 4, marching in the parade, as usual. Maybe the residents will ask him to explain his actions? Don’t bother. The self-proclaimed Hometown Hero will have all the appropriate political answers.

From the June 28-July 4, 2006, issue

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