The position of Wheatland Township deputy clerk is to be abolished by the township board Thursday in a move the current officeholder says is politically motivated.
Deputy Clerk Bill Alstrom learned his unpaid position was to be cut when he saw the resolution on the meeting agenda. He said he's not been told the reason why he's accused in the resolution of “performing actions beyond the scope of what deputy clerks are permitted to perform under the Illinois Township Code.”
However, Alstrom said he believes Supervisor Todd Morse is acting in retaliation for his work in setting up and moderating an Aug. 9 special meeting at Plainfield East High School and his perceived ties to the group that fought Morse-backed plans for a new $1.3 million township hall.
At the , residents officially rejected proposals to build a new town hall and to buy or lease an existing building. They directed Morse to sell the property on which the new town hall was to be built, and to use the proceeds to remodel the existing township hall, which serves residents in Plainfield and Naperville.
“I personally believe that the supervisor is doing this as retribution for me supporting the ‘will of the people,’” Alstrom said.
Morse, who is attending a Township Officials of Illinois (TOI) conference in Springfield through Wednesday, could not be reached for comment. He did not return messages left on his cell and office phones and through a TOI representative.
The resolution, in its list of deputy clerk responsibilities, does not include making meeting arrangements on behalf of the clerk as one of the deputy clerk's duties.
However, Alstrom consulted TOI President Bryan Smith about the way he set up and handled the Aug. 9 meeting and was told in an e-mailed note that he acted appropriately in the absence of Clerk Chuck Kern.
Kern concurred, and said he is steadfastly opposed to the board eliminating the deputy clerk job. He questioned the motivation in doing so, which he called “really unprecedented in Wheatland Township.”
Beyond that is the larger question of how Kern will be able to carry out his office’s responsibilities without the assistance of a deputy. The clerk position is part time, and Kern has a full-time job. He relies on Alstrom to fill in for him at meetings and to assist in voting equipment training and in conducting early voting, he said.
“I think this is being done because of the way Bill is perceived (as being tied to the group that opposed the new township hall building),” Kern said.
Alstrom said he had heard rumors his job might be eliminated, but didn’t learn they were true until he saw the meeting agenda.
“I have made numerous attempts via e-mail and in person to have Supervisor Morse explain the allegations of abuse of power. He has not responded to any of these,” Alstrom wrote in an e-mail to Plainfield Patch.
He arranged to relocate the Aug. 9 meeting to the high school because, he said, the “non-climate-controlled garage, with holes in the floor and insufficient restroom facilities, (was) not appropriate for this last meeting," he said.
"Under authority of the clerk and the chairman of the space committee, Joe Hudetz, I made the appropriate arrangements. These arrangements for the meeting were also communicated to the township board. At no time prior to the meeting did the supervisor or the board express any concerns regarding my involvement in the special meeting."
Debate over the township hall issue has been contentious since April, when residents at the annual town meeting questioned the need to spend $1.3 million on a new building that houses just the supervisor’s and assessor’s staffs. Township board members defended the building, saying it would accommodate future growth and allow them to offer programs they can’t currently.