Color us not exactly shocked to find out that the board of Lyons Township Trustees of Schools has chosen Kenneth Getty Jr. as its new treasurer.
The board reportedly conducted a search and chose Getty from a field of five finalists. However, Getty’s eventual appointment to the post has been rumored since he was hired as a part-timer back in 2015.
The evolution of his position from a special projects part-timer to director of finance and operations during his time with the office was a clear indication of where things were headed.
And, of course, the office’s board isn’t exactly a neutral party when it comes to the Getty family. Board member Theron Tobolski is the brother of Jeffrey Tobolski, the Cook County commissioner and McCook mayor, who has over the years donated thousands of dollars to political committees connected to Kenneth Getty Jr.’s brother, Christopher – who is the village president of Lyons and the supervisor of Lyons Township.
Political committees connected to Christopher Getty have returned the generosity of Tobolski. Board President Michael Thiessen has also been a frequent contributor to Tobolski’s political committee.
So, while Getty Jr. himself may discount the help he received by being part of a wider political family, we’re guessing it sure didn’t hurt.
Christopher Getty, apart from a setback in 2017, when his political organization lost control of the Lyons-Brookfield District 103 Board of Education, has consolidated power in the township. His brother’s hire – at $140,000 a year – as township schools treasurer is just the latest piece of the puzzle.
For a small-town president, Christopher Getty has attracted vast sums of money for his own political committee, Citizens for Christopher Getty, and his political party’s committed, United Citizens Party.
In the quarter that ended March 31, Citizens for Christopher Getty – in a year where there’s no local election – collected almost $157,000 and had about $230,600 to spend at the end of the reporting period.
United Citizens Party had almost $123,600 available at the end of March.
Beyond all that, the township schools treasurer is a vestige of 19th century Cook County and school districts in recent years have been fighting to rid themselves of the relationships, arguing they can do a better job of managing investments and payroll themselves.
Their arguments are bolstered by past scandals involving township schools treasurers. In 2015, a former Lyons Township schools treasurer was sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $100,000 from the office. The Cicero Township schools treasurer’s office was dissolved in 2007 after disputes and lawsuits over financial records the office was providing to school districts it served.
Lyons Township High School has been trying to make the break with its township treasurer’s office for years, and has been embroiled in a drawn-out, expensive lawsuit that has done nothing but cost taxpayers money in legal fees.
The Illinois General Assembly finally stepped into make that break possible, once the lawsuit is resolved.
But what really needs to happen is for these offices to be done away with completely.