Richard G. Flood

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

ZRFM Releases 2019 Edition of Handbook for Newly Elected Officials

ZRFM is proud to announce the publication of the 2019 Edition of Handbook for Newly Elected Officials: A Practical Guide to Local Government written by Richard G. Flood and Ruth Alderman Schlossberg of the firm and published by the Illinois Municipal League. This is the fourth edition of the book. This spring and summer, our newsletter will publish occasional excerpts from the book on topics that may be of interest both to newly elected officials and to long-standing readers. If you have any comments or questions about these excerpts or wish to receive a copy of the handbook, please email rschlossberg@zrfmlaw.com.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter Seven of the Book about Communications with Residents, Staff and Elected Officials: Dealing with a Divided Board:

Ideally, you and your colleagues on the board or council will work together in relative harmony toward a generally accepted common goal. There will, of course, be times when reasonable people will disagree, and there will likely be moments of vigorous debate when you formulate policy. However, if you recall your “Carver on Governance” lessons, you will remember that once the board votes on an issue, the winning position becomes the board’s official position. At some point, if you want to move forward and be an effective leader, you must accept the final decision. However, we acknowledge that not every board works in harmony and that divided and divisive boards happen for all sorts of reasons – sometimes because strong differences of opinion exist, sometimes because styles are different and sometimes because personalities or a previous history of conflict gets in
the way. With that in mind, here are some of our thoughts and suggestions for you to consider when board battles have become a way of life.

• Ask yourself if you are angry over a matter of principle or a matter of personality. If it is personality, then consider whether you have a duty to your constituents to make things work. Be careful not to confuse righteous indignation with possible arrogance or stubbornness.

• If you and your colleagues disagree about a few big issues, but not on all issues, try not to let this interfere with the business of governance. Consider moving those issues to a special meeting or a workshop where you can explore them in more detail. This should free up your regular meetings for conducting business and may prevent your disagreements from negatively impacting all aspects of government operations.

• Is there any possibility for compromise? Can you acknowledge your opponent’s position on some issues if they will acknowledge yours on some? Not every conflict needs to have one winner with everyone else as losers. Sometimes everyone can win on something and everyone can compromise on something less important to them.

• If your disagreement involves hiring personnel, keep those disputes in private/executive session. It is good practice, when possible, to bring new employees on with a sense of welcome and potential. If you were opposed to a specific hire, but you are clearly outnumbered, then consider when the time comes for a public vote to extend an offer or ratify a contract in open session, it would be both gracious and likely better for the future of your municipality to arrive at a unanimous vote.

• Remember that your staff does not report to each board member individually. Rather, they are tasked with carrying out the directives of the board – not just one faction. They should not have to guess what would make you happy in your individual capacity. Instead, they should be permitted to move forward with board directives. Remember the Carver model discussed earlier in this book suggesting that the board should “speak with one voice” and that “dissent is expressed during the discussion preceding a vote. Once taken, the board’s decisions may subsequently be changed, but are never to be undermined.”

• It is also useful to remember who your staff reports to. In most towns they take their directives from a manager or administrator or alternatively from the mayor or president. It is not fair or appropriate to ask each individual staff member to report directly to each elected official. Similarly, if you have a complaint or concern about the performance of a staff member, you should speak to the proper supervising authority and not take it upon yourself to give direction to your staff. If you would like to speak directly to a department head or staff about a matter of concern, it is courteous to clear this first with the manager or their supervisor to ensure that they do not feel pressured or uncomfortable being asked to report on their work to individual board members who may have objectives that differ from the board as a whole.

• For the leadership, you may want to establish a written policy regarding governance, so it can always be pointed to in instances where there is disagreement. The written policy might make it less personal.

• A workshop or visioning session may be helpful in addressing the differences you have. Certainly, a day devoted to the issues that separate you is a small sacrifice if it helps address the problem. Take advantage of the Illinois Municipal League’s self-evaluation services through an exception to the Illinois Open Meetings Act that allows the corporate authorities to meet in closed session for specified subjects. 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(16).

• If a dispute between two board members seems to be more related to personalities than to principles, then enlisting a neutral third party to conciliate may be useful to help the two arrive at some common ground. As appropriate, the third party may be a manager, another trustee or even the attorney who can help the parties see each other’s perspective.

• Consider socializing with your fellow elected officials. You may continue to disagree, but it is more difficult to be rude or hostile to someone with whom you have just had lunch.

• If you have tried all the above and your meetings continue to deteriorate, try to take the long view. Municipal elections occur every other year. Attempt to be civil and courteous, and then bring your case to the public. That is what elections are for.


Author: Richard G. FloodRuth A. Schlossberg

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

ZRFM Releases 2019 Edition of Handbook for Newly Elected Officials

ZRFM is proud to announce the publication of the 2019 Edition of “Handbook for Newly Elected Officials: A Practical Guide to Local Government” written by Richard G. Flood and Ruth Alderman Schlossberg of the firm and published by the Illinois Municipal League. This is the fourth edition of the book. This spring and summer, our newsletter will publish occasional excerpts from the book on topics that may be of interest both to newly elected officials and to long-standing readers. If you have any comments or questions about these excerpts or want to receive a copy of the handbook, please email rschlossberg@zrfmlaw.com.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of the book about “Where You Fit in the Big Picture: Law and Theory.” This is excerpted from a longer discussion of why it is a mistake to think that local governments can or should always “operate like a business” and some of the challenges that are unique to government operations:

Government is Intended to Meet Objectives That Cannot be Measured by Profit

The third major difference between local government and business is that most, if not all, businesses have profit as a primary motive. The usual purpose of a business is to make money for the owners, to provide gainful employment for the employees and to pay dividends or increase value for any stockholders. With such clear and primary goals, decisions can more easily be debated and determined, and outcomes measured.

By contrast, the function of a municipality is not to make money. Municipalities offer services, not profits. Services performed by the municipality and supported by tax dollars are intended to assist municipal residents in ways that the private sector cannot do in the absence of a profit motive. While governments strive to provide such services at a reasonable price, very few government programs are meant to make a profit. For instance, the purpose of issuing traffic or parking tickets is not to produce a profit. Rather, it is intended to make the residents safer. Parks are offered to enhance community welfare. Sewer, water and building codes are imposed to enhance public health and safety. In addition, because of the many regulations imposed on local governments often in the interests of the public’s safety or welfare, it can be very difficult for governments to control or cut their costs as readily as the public might expect. Accordingly, when an elected official considers a proposal, the decision making process can be complex and multifaceted, and outcomes cannot be measured in profitability or increased value. The concerns of and the benefits to residents must be weighed along with cost and other factors to arrive at a responsible decision.

Not only must government meet objectives that differ from the relatively clear mandate of making a profit, but government also delivers services that most of its customers must accept whether they want those services or not. Citizens must live with the decisions of the elected officials regarding the choices they make about such things as streets, water and sewer services, ordinances and law enforcement even if they believe the wrong decisions have been made. In the private sector, the citizen has the choice to simply not purchase a product, but the citizen has no such choice regarding most public services. Citizens can vote in the next election, but in the meantime, they cannot easily choose not to use a public road or to simply ignore ordinances with which they disagree. Because it is neither necessarily appropriate nor possible to please everyone all the time, the result is that some of your “customers” will be unhappy regardless of what choices you make, but short of moving, they cannot simply take their government needs elsewhere.

Governmental “Success” is Difficult to Quantify

A fourth major difference between local government and business is the difference between residents and customers. In business, the way to maximize profits is to satisfy customers. You sell the best product at the lowest price. By contrast, municipalities have a much more complex relationship with their residents. Residents are not normally billed for each service they receive. Rather they pay for services through their taxes, which for many municipalities are primarily real estate taxes.

Accordingly, residents often do not necessarily relate their demands for the best service to the cost of these services through their taxes. Because they are not buying one service at a time, it is difficult for a resident to weigh whether they are paying too high a “price” through taxes for the “service” or “product” (e.g., police protection, streets, etc.) they are receiving. The result is that a resident sees no contradiction in asking for better police services while simultaneously demanding lower taxes.

Additionally, local governments do not have owners as traditionally understood in the business world. While taxpayers theoretically own their local government, it is an ownership that cannot be valued or sold, nor does it show a profit. The result is that the taxpayer does not treat his or her ownership in the traditional sense. Often, the taxpayer does not feel like an owner or a part of the local government. The taxpayer views the local government as belonging to and operated by others. He may own it, but he does not control it. And, unlike business, local government does not need to market its services. Although in a more general sense, governments do market themselves to have residents choose to live there and do business, most of the services provided by local government (police protection, sewer and water) are provided to all regardless of whether individual residents want the service. Most services are mandatory, as are the taxes imposed to support them.

When weighing a decision, learn to ask questions that are not traditional in the business world. Instead of asking if a proposal will make a profit, learn other criteria for weighing a proposal. How many residents are affected? How many will it help? How well can we provide the service? What will it cost? Can we provide it for less, and if so, how? Will it adversely impact any residents? How many? How can we design it to benefit the most residents? Can the private sector provide this service better than local government? What if we do not provide the service?


Author: Richard G. Flood, Ruth A. Schlossberg

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Happy Holidays from ZRFM

We at ZRFM wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working with you in the New Year.

This newsletter serves as our most efficient means of communicating changes in Local Government Law. It is our sincere hope that this newsletter helps keep you updated and informed on pressing municipal law matters.

In the spirit of the holiday season, the following are some statutory additions our legislature has seen fit for the coming New Year.

First, and arguably most important, our legislature has designated the official state pie for Illinois. Starting on January 1, 2016, Pumpkin Pie will be the Land of Lincoln’s official state pie. Earlier in the year, Illinois also enrolled Public Act 099-0064, designating sweet corn as the official State vegetable of Illinois.

The Legislature also passed an Act expanding the definition of Exotic Weeds. It will now be unlawful for any person to buy, sell, offer for sale, or plant Salt Cedar, Giant Hogweed, or Bohemian Knotweed, among a variety of other weeds.

Additionally, limitations have also been placed on powered alcohol and caffeine. The New Year in Illinois brings with it the “Right to Try” experimental drugs and a “Silver Alert” program similar to Amber Alerts.

Finally, Illinois has set in place provisions that would allow Bobcat Hunting.


Richard G. Flood

Author: Richard G. Flood and Jacob D. Caudill

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

ZRFM’s Illinois State Bar Association Articles Now Available

More than 20 articles published in Illinois State Bar Association newsletters and authored by Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle lawyers can be viewed now on zrfmlaw.com. ZRFM is the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois.

The articles address topics involving labor and employment, local government, administrative law, and antitrust and unfair competition. Individual newsletter articles can be located by linking from the titles listed in the publications section of each attorney’s Web site biography. They also appear below chronologically:

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Northwest Herald Quotes ZRFM’s ‘Municipal Ten Commandments’

You've-been-elected-2011A cover story appearing in the March 29, 2013, edition of the Northwest Herald includes excerpts from a well-known section of the Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle book You’ve Been Elected! Now What Do You Do? A Practical Guide to Local Government

The print and online article by Emily K. Coleman titled “What to expect when you’re elected” referenced the guide to local government’s “Municipal Ten Commandments,” described on p. 48 of the book as the top practical tips for local government officials.

The commandments are:

  • Commandment 10: Don’t believe anyone who says, “Your predecessor promised . . .”
  • Commandment 9: We are all in relatively small communities so remember, almost everyone is related — be careful what you say and who you say it to. Watch out for foot and mouth disease: “Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on!”
  • Commandment 8: Don’t forget, the walls of the city/township/village hall have eyes and ears. Everything you say or do will be spread far and wide and subsequently posted on Facebook or shared with the media.
  • Commandment 7: Do your homework — For goodness sake at least read the packet! You don’t want your community to look dumb or unprepared — same for yourself. If an issue involves a physical site in your municipality (e.g., a zoning change) visit the site.
  • Commandment 6: Listen to the public, staff, and other elected officials. There are two sides to every story. Don’t create a policy in response to one person’s mistake.
  • Commandment 5: No surprises! Keep everyone informed.
  • Commandment 4: Communicate! Communicate! Communicate — with the public, each other, and staff.
  • Commandment 3: Don’t get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel! Make friends with the media and stay friends with the media! Don’t stonewall or withhold information, otherwise they will make it up, and you can’t retract it once it’s in print.
  • Commandment 2: You can’t do it by yourself! You are a part of a TEAM of elected officials and staff.
  • Commandment 1: Don’t make promises you or your municipality cannot keep! “Your city/township/village manager can do ANYTHING you want; he/she just can’t do EVERYTHING you want.”

To learn more about the second edition of ZRFM’s book, which is published by the Illinois Municipal League, or to order a copy, view the books and publications page of our website. To learn more about the authors, view the professional biographies of Richard G. Flood and Ruth Alderman Schlossberg.

 

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Awards & Recognitions

Local Government Award:

  • The City of Harvard received the 2012 Governor’s Hometown Award for its support and service to the Harvard Community Center and Food Pantry. Congratulations to the City of Harvard for this prestigious recognition.

ZRFM Attorney Updates:

  • Rich Flood was named one of the Top Ten Suburban Real Estate Related Lawyers by the Leading Lawyers Network. Rich was also named a Super Lawyer by his peers for the ninth consecutive year, which is as long as the designation has existed.
  • Carlos S. Arévalo recently joined the board of directors at Mercy Harvard Hospital.
  • Ryan Farrell became a director of the Centegra Health Systems Foundation Board in December 2012.
  • The McHenry County Historical Society welcomed Greg Barry to its board of directors in 2012.
  • Timothy (T.J.) Clifton was named chair of the Community Leadership Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County.
  • The Community Action Agency recently added Bill Westfall to its board of directors.
Friday, December 21st, 2012

Welcome to the Local Government Law Bulletin eNewsletter!

Richard G. FloodMany years ago we began our print publication, Municipal Matters, to keep our local government clients updated on important legal topics. In the spirit of the New Year we are transitioning to a new electronic format. It will provide you the most up-to-date information on laws, court decisions, and other areas of interest to local governments in a concise and efficient manner.

We at ZRFM wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Rich Flood

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Richard G. Flood Named Illinois Super Lawyer for 7th Time

Richard G. FloodRichard G. Flood, a named partner in McHenry County’s largest law firm, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, was named a 2012 “Illinois Super Lawyer” by SuperLawyers®, a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Flood received this distinction, given to only 5 percent of Illinois lawyers, for the first time in 2005. His practice includes divorce and family law, local government law, civil litigation, and land use.

Flood also has been named an Illinois Leading Lawyer for several years, where he serves as an advisory board member. He has been selected by his peers in the areas of family law; governmental, municipal, lobbying and administrative law; land use, zoning and condemnation law; and both commercial and residential real estate law. Flood also consistently receives Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating, AV® Preeminent™.

An honors graduate of the University of Illinois and Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, Flood is admitted to practice in Illinois. He also practices before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a member of the Federal Trial Bar.

Flood represents municipalities with 500 to 35,000 residents. He co-authored, with Ruth Alderman Schlossberg, Congratulations! You’ve Been Elected: Now What Do You Do? A Practical Guide to Local Government. During his family law career, Flood has handled more than 1,000 matters, many of which involved high net worth individuals and significant financial issues.

Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle serves clients especially in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin from offices in Crystal Lake, Chicago and Oak Brook. To learn more about ZRFM’s Super Lawyer, please view Richard Flood’s professional credentials. For more information about Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle or to arrange a meeting with one of our attorneys, please visit our contact page so we may respond to your inquiry promptly.

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

ZRFM Lawyers to Address Illinois Municipal League Conference

Richard G. FloodSeveral lawyers from Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle will speak on Saturday, Oct. 20, at the 99th annual convention of the Illinois Municipal League. The gathering takes place Oct. 18-20 at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, 720 South Michigan Ave.

Between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., Ryan P. Farrell, Kelly A. Cahill and Ruth A. Schlossberg will make presentations at a session titled “Redeveloping Distressed Properties: Clearing Out the Backlog in Order to Move Forward.” The trio will be joined by John Green, director of the special asset group at Home State Bank in Crystal Lake. Illinois State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, who also is a Calumet City alderman, will moderate the session.

Among the topics to be discussed are the nuts and bolts of calling letters of credit or bonds to complete infrastructure improvements, the need to work out underlying development agreements, and distressed property challenges such as demolition and property maintenance.

Between 2:45 and 3:45 p.m., Richard G. Flood and Schlossberg will make presentations at a session titled “Open Meetings Act and FOIA in the Internet Age.” They will be joined by Matt Rogina, an assistant attorney general for the public access counselor’s bureau.

The session will use realistic, hypothetical situations. Rich Flood, a member of the 2012 Illinois Municipal League Resolutions Committee, will act as moderator. Both of the sessions featuring ZRFM attorneys will take place in Northwest Stevens 5 on the hotel’s lower level, north.

Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle is the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois. For more than 50 years, the firm has represented banks and represented local government units. The firm has offices in Crystal Lake, Chicago and Oak Brook. Please view our contact page if you have any questions for our lawyers or other professionals.

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Flood, ZRFM Divorce Practice Profiled in Leading Lawyers

Richard G. Flood’s career at Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle and the law firm’s divorce practice are the focus of a recent story in the 2011 Leading Lawyers Magazine – Consumer Edition. The magazine profiles 34 of the top consumer law attorneys in Illinois.

A reprint of the article appears here.

For several years, ZRFM partners Richard G. Flood, David W. McArdle and David J. Loughnane have been rated among the top 5 percent of Illinois lawyers by Leading Lawyers Network, a division of the Chicago-based Law Bulletin Publishing Company. With 20 lawyers, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle is the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois.