Folks, We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Landfill

commentary editorial opinion

By Nick Reiher

There are times I get criticized for being too “left” and favoring the Democrats. I usually tell them what I used to tell the kids when they were teens if they complained Mom and I liked one of them better than the other:

“I told you, honey. We don’t like either of you.”

Their scowl would turn into a little smile, and I might get a little playful punch. Luckily, I get more sneers from Republicans than punches. Not too many smiles.

I have covered Will County Board on and off since 1987, and, as the late Shorewood Mayor Dave Barry used to say, “I’ve been to two county fairs and a taffy pull, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

That’s what County Board meetings and committee meetings often are like. And why do I focus on those poor Republicans? Honestly, how can I not?

I’ve given the Democrats scrutiny when they deserved it. Like the whole remap fiasco, when the County Executive and the rest of the Democrats passed a last-minute version of their own, instead of one agreed to a few days earlier by a bi-partisan committee.

Or the whole veto/non-veto storm and stress of the 143rd Street widening issue in Homer Township. I still don’t understand that one, but even that issue turned partisan, with the Republicans saying the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office is slanted toward the Democrats.

They saw decisions by assistant state’s attorneys requested on the spot at their committee meetings that the ASAs later reversed when having time to investigate the issue as betrayals directed by the County Executive.

Not all, but many county meetings will turn into partisan clambakes, with someone, not always, but usually a Republican saying something that will bounce off walls and derail discussion for 30-40 minutes.

Like when hearing the staff of the County Treasurer’s Office was going to unionize with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

One asked if it were legal for the employees to do that. Another, also a Republican, made some comment about federal spies and space since it involved the IAMAW. One wasn’t kidding. I’m not sure of the other.

And then there was the special County Board meeting held June 4 that I wrote about in this issue. Oh, it was special, all right.

Although Board Chair Judy Ogalla called the meeting to discuss setting salaries for the countywide officials and board members up for election in November. As you can see by my story, Ogalla walked out during a vote after Board Democratic Leader Jackie Trayner got in her face a bit. The eight other Republicans who attended followed.

But before that fun, the first issue added later was hiring a consultant to help the board’s landfill committee get through the knotty issues of finding more space for a county landfill.

They wanted someone from the outside, with nothing to gain, who would give them honest answers. No offense intended, Will County Land Use officials. The same officials who will be giving info to the consultant.

And who is that consultant? Robert Schillerstrom. Ogalla and Board Member Katie Deane-Schlottman, chair of the landfill committee, said they chose Schillerstrom for consideration because he served on the County Board in DuPage County, which has two landfills.

Using that logic, I assume either of them could be tabbed, in their dotage, to be a consultant on prisons for another county.

Democrats were more confused with the choice than anything, noting there was no resume attached. And they could find online only that he was an attorney now.

Had they looked deeper, they would have found that Schillerstrom not only was a DuPage County Board Member, but County Board Chairman, a countywide elected position there.

He also ran for governor, but pulled out to support Jim Ryan. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed him to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, where he became chairman.

Schillerstrom resigned in January 2019, after an investigation by the Daily Herald discovered he had been awarding high-paying jobs within the tollway authority to firms with political connections and relatives.

Before that, however, he appeared before Will County officials to tell them the Toll Highway Authority could take care of all the work needed on I-80, including the bridges, immediately, by setting up tolls.

Problem was, to make it work, the Toll Highway Authority needed to take over the road from Minooka to 294, and IDOT wasn’t gonna give up that much roadway. Miles of roads determines how much federal funding IDOT gets.

Now, Schillerstrom is on staff at Ice Miller LLP law firm. And is a landfill consultant for Will County for three months, with an option for more, at $15,000 a month.

While other board members wanted more information, and may have found all this if they got it, Ogalla and Deane-Schlottman said they needed to move on this and get the landfill plan going. The current county landfill is running out of space.

With all the crap coming out of the County Board room, I can see why.

Nick Reiher is editor of Farmers Weekly Review.

 

 

 

 

 

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