Letter: Blame for Valley Hi Nursing Home rebate checks

To the Editor:

The Northwest Herald’s Oct. 9 front-page story about thousands of Valley Hi Nursing Home tax refund checks payable to banks or title companies holding homes in land trusts shows up McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks’ tax refund scheme for what it really is – a con using government money to send a few hundred dollars to McHenry County homeowners in hopes the money will encourage them to vote for Franks’ reelection.

The website for Franks’ law firm, Franks Gerkin McKenna, touts the lawyer’s real estate expertise: “We are the team to trust when it comes to real estate law in McHenry County, Illinois.”

Surely the “team to trust” was aware thousands of homeowners in the county have their houses in land trusts with title companies or banks as owners of record.

County Deputy Administrator Scott Hartman is quoted in your front-page story admitting that “staff knew it was likely that issues would arise cashing checks that were made out to a trust.”

It would have been easy enough for the announcement of the refund application to include a statement that if the home in question was in a land trust, the applicant would need to bring documentation identifying the land trust beneficiary, who should be the payee on the refund check.

Instead, Franks and his staff took the easy way out and let county computers issue thousands of checks payable to land trustees – banks and title companies never entitled to claim refunds on even a single home.

The fact that the process was handled in such a cavalier fashion by Franks and his staff highlights the ineptitude of Franks as an attorney and his corruption as a politician.

Whether or not a particular taxpayer got a check from McHenry County for a few hundred dollars payable directly to himself or herself, or has to navigate the labyrinth of cashing a check payable to a land trustee holding the title to the home, no one should be duped by this obvious corrupt scheme to use government money in an effort to buy reelection votes.

James G. McConnell