Marengo Wastewater Treatment Plant Referendum Denied

A petition for referendum of the City of Marengo’s plans for a wastewater treatment plant expansion, and a petition of objection, were discussed at the public hearing on June 10, 2011 at Marengo City Hall.

Dennis Hammortree, a Marengo resident and former Mayor of Marengo, organized a petition for referendum. Hammortree and several other community members collected 596 signatures for the petition.

"We thought that if [the city is] going to borrow $12 million [for the project], it should be discussed and voted on by the people that are going to pay for it--mainly the taxpayers," Hammortree said. Vernon Seelhoff, a Marengo resident, objected to the petition for the referendum. Representing Seelhoff were attorneys Mark Gummerson and Rebecca Lee, from Gummerson, Rausch, Wand, Gray & Wombacher in Woodstock.

Seelhoff filed an objector’s petition stating that the petition for referendum did not meet the number of required 468 signatures, was not properly bound, and that all petitions were not turned in on time.

Hammortree said the city held an "active door-to-door campaign against the people who signed the referendum, urging them to have their names removed from the petition for referendum."

He asked that the members of the Marengo Electoral Board "voluntarily excuse themselves from the board and that the issue be referred to the Chief Justice of McHenry County" to avoid bias. Hammortree also said that the City of Marengo presented documents that said the consolidated primary election would be held on February 7, 2012. However, he said the actual election is in March of 2012.

After witnesses who collected signatures for the petition were called to testify, Lee said there was, "dispute on how the signatures were collected." She said that, "all 596 signatures were void," due to: not being properly bound and in consecutive order; the petitioners not being in the presence of the notary public when the forms were signed; and not turning all forms in on time. She also said that 110 residents signed affidavits and revoked their signatures from the original petition.

"It’s a joke," Hammortree said. "I was told this was going to happen, and it happened. If you go back and look at the documents, this is all scare tactics."

On June 15, 2011, the Marengo Electoral Board passed a written statement that, "Verified Objector’s Petition of Vernon Seelhoff is sustained and that the Petition for Referendum is therefore invalidated and no referendum on Ordinance 11-4-3 of the City of Marengo shall take place."

Hammortree did not file an appeal against the board’s rulin

By Michelle Gibbons Editor