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DuPage Election Commission Leadership Rocked After Review Shows Mismanagement

Elmhurst's Cathy Ficker Terrill among two tapped to replace fired commissioners.

A  review of the operations of the DuPage County Election Commission has resulted in two commissioners losing their jobs.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin replaced Jeanne McNamara and Charlotte Mushow with Republican Cathy Ficker Terrill of Elmhurst and Democrat Art Ludwig of West Chicago, according to a Wednesday article in The Daily Herald.

The third member of the Election Commission is Rick Carney of Wheaton.

Cronin most recently appointed Ficker Terrill interim executive director of the DuPage Housing Authority in the wake of the discovery of that department's financial mismanagement.

She has a master's degree in disability policy and has been a champion for people with disabilities for 36 years. Besides her work for Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities, Ficker Terrill was appointed to the Illinois Special Education Funding Task Force and Gov. Pat Quinn's Task Force on Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities. Her volunteer efforts have extended internationally through work with UNICEF.

She also is CEO of the Institute of Public Policy for people with Disabilities and an adjunct professor at University of Illinois Chicago and Elmhurst College.

Ludwig is a state and labor union official and an executive with Union Labor Life Insurance, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.

The Election Commission review raised questions about how the commission awards contracts, administers ethics policies and uses taxpayer-funded credit cards, according to a statement released by DuPage County this week.
 
This is the first time the public has had an opportunity to assess the day-to-day operations and policies of the Election Commission, said Cronin, of Elmhurst.

“The report shows that the Election Commission is another prime example of why we initiated these ‘stress tests’ in an effort to identify problems that need to be resolved,” he said in the statement.

Cronin ordered the "stress tests" last year following the financial crises at the Water Commission and the DuPage Housing Authority. The County Board hired Crowe Horwath to review the financial and operational structure of 24 DuPage agencies, which account for nearly $300 million in public funds. The last round of stress tests focused on .

The results of the Election Commission stress test show it “needs to make significant improvements to its internal control procedures and practices” regarding credit cards, ethics and procurement.
 
The commission also “failed to follow its own procurement policy in 12 of 13 contracts” reviewed by Crowe Horwath. These 12 contracts lacked competitive bidding, failed to disclose subcontractors and did not include information about the nature of the goods and services provided.

Crowe Horwath is recommending all current contracts be reviewed for compliance with the policy.
 
In order to provide internal controls for personnel, the report recommends the commission make significant improvements to its ethics policy and align it with the county’s procedure. Currently, ethics complaints filed by employees are submitted to commission management. The report suggests these complaints be filed independently of the commission.
 
The report also recommends improvements to the credit card policy by disclosing the authorized cards and identifying staff members who are allowed to use them.
 
Other recommendations include:

  • Increase accountability and transparency regarding information provided to residents in addition to easier public access to commission meetings.
  • Remove the requirement that public comment forms be submitted prior to meetings in order for members of the public to voice concerns to the commission.
  • Include more details and backup information in meeting minutes to support the actions taken by the commission such as contracts, decision memorandums and financial statements.
  • Share administrative roles between the Election Commission and the county administration for procurement, finance, human resources and information technology in order to save taxpayer money.

Cronin plans to release by early May reports on the DuPage Airport Authority, Emergency Telephone System Board and the fire protection districts of Fairview, Glenbard, Lisle-Woodridge, Naperville, North Westmont, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago and Yorkfield.
 
Following the release of all 24 reports, Cronin will submit his proposal to implement needed reforms that could include the consolidation of agencies.

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