Update: Special Meeting Adjourned for Lack of Quorum, Republicans Don’t Show


By Nick Reiher

County Board Chair Judy Ogalla is calling for a special meeting of the Will County Board at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, to push for enforcing a resolution restricting widening of the county’s portion of 143rd Street in Homer Township to three lanes instead of five.

Although the County Board had voted nine times over 30 years to support a 143rd Street a five-lane widening project through Homer Township, board members for the past several months have debated the project based on newfound opposition from residents in the final piece.

After lengthy discussion following several hours of in-person and emailed testimony, the County Board on February 15 voted 12-9 to support a resolution for a developed three-lane roadway instead of continuing a five-lane plan.

Two days later, Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant vetoed the resolution, while also noting she had signed it in error before mistakenly sending it to the Will County Clerk’s Office for her seal of attestation.

Ogalla, R-Monee, then asked the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office for an opinion as to whether a resolution that had been signed by the County Executive could be withdrawn and vetoed.

In his opinion, Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Pyles said the resolution still could be vetoed if the clerk had not yet attested to receiving it and applied her seal.

But that led to another snag. Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry on February 29 issued the following:

“Dear County Executive Bertino-Tarrant and County Board Chairwoman Ogalla.

“I have read the recent legal opinion from the State’s Attorney’s Office regarding Resolution 24-27 and have consulted with its author. Based upon my reading of the opinion and my consultation with legal counsel, it is clear a signed attestation by the County Clerk and the application of the County Seal must be the final step before a resolution or ordinance may take effect.

“In this case, as has been the practice in Will County going back possibly decades, the County Clerk’s signature and seal were affixed before the County Executive signed Resolution 24-27. The State’s Attorney’s Office’s legal opinion is that the County Clerk would have to attest to the County Executive’s signature for the resolution to take effect.

“I do not plan to sign the resolution in attestation as the County Executive has stated the document was signed in error, and she has subsequently presented a veto to the Will County Board.”

Farmers Weekly Review has not been able to confirm there was a practice “going back possibly decades,” that the County Clerk’s signature and seal were affixed before resolutions were signed by the County Executive.

In a March 1 letter to Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, Ogalla called Pyles’ opinion “a non-opinion. In fact, it instructed the elected officials to act as attorneys and apply the law to the facts as they believed them to be true.

“The statement, ‘It is up to the elected officials to apply the legal principles set forth herein to the factual circumstances, as they know them to be. … is unclear and does not help me to protect the integrity of our county government.”

Ogalla also told Glasgow she believes there is a conflict of interest in the State’s Attorney’s Office representing both the County Executive and the County Board in the matter. She asked for him to outline a procedure for a special attorney from his office, to be selected by the County Board, to represent them in this issue.

To date, Ogalla has not received a response from Glasgow. Tuesday’s meeting will be held at 10:45 a.m. in the Will County Board Committee Room on the second floor of the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Nick Reiher is editor of Farmers Weekly Review


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