Thursday, April 2, 2009


Franklin O'Laughlin is running for a position on the Village Board of Cary. He seems like a likeable enough guy. He is roughly my age and has two kids who are roughly the age of my kids. He wants to work to keep businesses in Cary and help certain strip malls and businesses get much needed "face-lifts." He wants to "fix roads" and "get the economy moving for Cary" again.

However, he is also employed by Meyer Material Company and has worked there all his life.

At the candidate forum on Thursday evening hosted by the Cary-Grove Chamber of Commerce, I had the opportunity to ask Mr. O'Laughlin a question:

"I am a little concerned about your employer," I said. "Now that Meyer has a deep relationship with the Village of Cary, as a trustee, how would you deal with issues that may come up between Meyer Material and the Village and do you see a possible conflict of interest here?"

"Absolutely not," he exclaimed. Then he went one to point out a few details:
  • He mentioned that he is a "third generation miner."
  • He pointed out that "gravel pits built McHenry County."
  • And he expressed a love for gravel pits in general: "I grew up in gravel pits," he exclaimed proudly. "I would live near one."
He then went on to explain that he has been on the Zoning and Planning board for the last several years and when the Meyer petition came up, he simply recused himself. And he would do it again as a trustee, he claimed. But he assured the crowd that the Meyer deal was a done deal and that all of the "Ts" have been crossed, implying that we need not worry about Meyer Material anymore.

But, I am a little worried.

What if Meyer wants to get the agreement amended in the near future? What if Meyer wants other lands within the Village? What if it is discovered that Meyer has broken some of conditions and issues are raised at Village Board meetings?

Even if O'Laughlin recuses himself, what will he say in executive sessions? Will he advocate on behalf of Meyer to the other trustees "off the record?"  Will he be expected by Meyer to be the eyes and ears for the company when it comes to business with the board? As an elected official, will his first inclination be with the Village and the people who elected him, or with the company that pays his salary?

These are important questions.

And, although Mr. O'Laughlin seems like a nice guy and I have nothing against him personally, his association with Meyer material is a liability for the Village of Cary.  Perhaps this is an overreaction, but, in the end, is it worth the risk?

Please remember this when you vote on April 7.