Spoiler alert, he’s about to cost taxpayers a lot of money
By Nancy Zettler
Wednesday night, Algonquin Township held it’s first Board meeting since most of the newly elected Township officials were sworn in on May 15th. The new Township Clerk was there. The new trustees were there, as was the new Township Supervisor. Even the new Township Assessor was there and his term hasn’t even officially started yet. The only Township team member not at the meeting was Andrew Gasser, the new Township Highway Department Commissioner. Gasser was a no show.
Well, actually, that’s not quite correct. Gasser was in the building for the entire meeting – he was in a room adjacent to the Boardroom with his newly hired attorney (to be paid for by the taxpayers of Algonquin Township), apparently hiding until it was time for his report to the board.
To be fair, Andrew isn’t technically a member of the Township Board and wasn’t technically required to attend the meeting, but he has no board of his own to report to and conducts no open meetings for the public he serves. Maybe it’s just me, but wouldn’t you think that attending the board meetings once a month would be the least that a guy who claims to want transparency would do? And given the subject matter of Wednesday night’s meeting, a real leader, with nothing to fear, would certainly not have been afraid to face his critics. Bob Miller, Andrew’s predecessor, attended virtually every Township Board meeting during his 24 years of service as Highway Commissioner. He was available, accountable and transparent. Andrew Gasser was too afraid to attend the very first one.
So why didn’t Gasser simply sit at the table with his fellow township “team” members? Why did he feel the need to hide in another room instead? Maybe it was the more than 100 union men and women who faced the torrential rain and lightning Wednesday night to demonstrate in support of their fired brothers outside the Township offices before the meeting. Or maybe it was their presence, along with the presence of many other supporters and taxpayers, who packed the boardroom during the meeting, that unnerved him. Maybe he was afraid to face people that he has falsely attacked publicly, like Bob and Anna May Miller as well as Karen Lukasik, the newly elected Township Clerk, who he is accusing of unethical conduct bordering on criminal activity.
Whatever the reason or reasons, one thing is certain, Andrew Gasser’s first 30 days in office have left an interesting trail of trumped up accusations, mysterious disappearing and reappearing financial documents, strange behavior and mounting unnecessary legal costs that he’s already convinced the Township board should be borne by the township’s taxpayers.
Gasser’s definition of transparency
Gasser took office on May 14th in a secret ceremony held the day before the official township swearing in. He refuses to say where he was sworn-in, by whom, or why he needed to be sworn-in a day before everyone else, raising several questions including whether or not he was actually properly sworn-in.
While the reason for such secrecy is unclear, Gasser made it a point to arrive at the Highway Department the next morning before the 6:30 am start of the day. With political colleagues and two rented County Sheriffs in tow, he waited for the crew to time-in and then illegally fired three of his new employees, ignoring a valid, enforceable union contract that protects the employees against being let go without cause. He gave the men no reason for why they were being fired. In doing so, he made his first official act as Commissioner the creation of a legal battle that he will not win and that will cost the taxpayers thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars in legal fees to one of Gasser’s contributors; not to mention unnecessarily upending the lives of three innocent men without cause. It now appears that Gasser fired the three men based only on his own fear of facing them at work, born out of his own paranoia, and nothing more.
Two of the men were fired because they are the sons-in-law of Gasser’s predecessor, Bob Miller. And the third man fired, Nick Chirikos, was fired because he was a past political opponent of Gasser’s. Gasser was apparently uncomfortable working with the three men, but why? Miller’s sons-in-law, who were not relatives of Miller’s when they were hired (both later became involved with Miller’s daughters, and married them, long after they were hired), have a combined 3 decades of experience at the highway district; experience that Gasser could only dream of achieving, and is woefully lacking – a fact that he took great pains to hide during his campaign against Miller. Chirikos, while new to the department, has decades of construction experience. All three men valued the work they did for the Township and take pride in their serve to the community. There was no reason for Gasser to think that any of them would give him trouble.
It is now perfectly clear that Gasser’s crusade against “nepotism and patronage” was nothing more than preparation for his run against Bob Miller.
Hypocrisy on the grandest of scales
Sometime in early 2016 Andrew decided to take one of his now famously self-serving “courageous” stances and publicly came out against “nepotism and patronage” in McHenry County.
On January 19, 2016, Gasser gathered his courage as best he could and in typical Andrew Gasser dramatic fashion, stood, looked to the heavens and publicly declared to the World, or at least McHenry County:
“’The Rev. Billy Graham said, “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” It is now time for all of us to stand in McHenry County and denounce the nepotism and patronage that has crept into our local governments. It is time for all of us to recognize it simply isn’t good enough for us to elect people because of their “experience.’”
Indeed! Who wants experienced people serving the public when we can have inexperienced, incompetent, people in office like Gasser who want to destroy government and not make it better! But I digress…
It is now perfectly clear that Gasser’s crusade against “nepotism and patronage” was nothing more than preparation for his run against Bob Miller. Gasser is not the least bit disturbed by nepotism. If he was, he would courageously and publicly denounce Donald Trump’s nepotism, which at this point, we can all agree, is in overdrive. But of course he hasn’t. Nope, Gasser doesn’t care about nepotism. He just needed a platform to run against Miller on. And since he can’t hold a candle to Miller’s decades of public service, experience and popularity, he had to manufacture a crusade against the Millers and, in that time-tested Gasser tradition of campaign “integrity”, dirty Miller up. He needlessly and illegally fired three men with real integrity and experience simply because he was afraid to work with men who he publicly attacked as part of his political smear of Bob Miller and in doing so, he’s now starting down a road that will needlessly cost the taxpayers of Algonquin Township a lot of money.