New McHenry trustee sees township 'fiefdom' coming down, one nail at a time
The old guard is fighting tooth and nail — literally, in the latter case — to hold onto the old ways of high property taxes and redundant and bloated township government, a newly elected McHenry Township trustee said on a recent radio talk show.
"Certainly, when you are in a situation of something established since 1850, of local government, there are many people who have this fiefdom that they're fight tooth and nail to keep that," Bob Anderson said on "Illinois Rising." "Certainly signs have come up that have not endorsed me."
Since the April 4 election, Anderson, the owner of a Wonder Lake barbershop, has reportedly received threats from an unknown source and endured harassment that has included nails being scattered across his shop's parking lot and "Abolish Bob Anderson" signs popping up around town.
Anderson said those attacks just mean his goal of streamlining government has some people running scared.
"I don't think the townships are any different from all the school districts, all the library districts, all the fire districts we have," he said. "As you are well aware, Illinois has 7,000 governments — 2,000 more than in any other state. Every one of these governments are a fiefdom."
"Illinois Rising" is co-hosted by Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder Dan Proft, Liberty Principles PAC chairperson and treasurer, as well as a senior fellow at the Chicago-based conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute. "Illinois Rising" is a presentation of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Proft is also a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Anderson was among GOP members and independents who split the McHenry Township election in April, winning trustee seats on platforms of eliminating or consolidating the township.
"The platform was twofold," Anderson said. "It was looking to reduce the cost of property taxes, and second — my position that I've been involved in for 25 years — and most importantly, either consolidating or eliminating township government."
Republican candidates defeated incumbents for all four trustee seats and McHenry Township's clerk position.
A longtime leader in local property tax protests, most notably paying his property tax bills in single dollar bills, and a strong advocate of government consolidation, Anderson said most of the response he's heard has been positive.
"The reaction has been overwhelming," he said. "Every day I'm getting phone calls from people I don't even know, sometimes strangers who turn up in the barbershop, congratulating me. It's been above and beyond anything I've expected and very, very positive."
The big battle over township government is more about larger structural issues of governments in Illinois, Anderson said.
"Many members of the General Assembly came up from the township ranks," Anderson said, adding that he is also concerned about the talk of tax hikes floating around Springfield.
"It's really a shame that you can be a state senator or a state representative and you can still be a township official," he said. "Everyone tells me you can't do that, that it's against the law, but they don't know that it's happening."
All those layers of government add up, Anderson said.
"You've got to start somewhere," he said.
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