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DeVore loses bizarro election case in Normal

Thursday, Jan 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* WGLT in December

A candidate running for an office that does not currently exist within the Town of Normal government said he was recruited for the job.

Robert Shoraga was one of three Normal residents who filed petitions Nov. 21 for candidacy for offices that either are nonexistent or have historically been an appointed position: Shoraga filed for Town Supervisor (nonexistent); Charles Sila filed for Town Collector (nonexistent) and Amy Conklin filed for Town Clerk (an appointed position). […]

(C)andidate for Town Collector and accounting firm owner Charles Sila said he, too, believes Normal should have the position he is seeking, according to state law. Sila continued to refer to Normal as a “village,” despite Kording’s September ruling that Normal is a town, as its charter states. […]

WGLT reached out to Illinois State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich to see how often people file petitions of candidacy for offices that do not exist at the time of filing.

“I’ve never heard of that happening,” Dietrich wrote in an email reply.

* WGLT on January 13

The matter of whether three people can run for offices in Normal that are currently non-elective is now in the hands of the McLean County Circuit Court.

Former Republican state attorney general candidate Tom DeVore filed a lawsuit against the Town of Normal and Clerk Angie Huonker earlier this month on behalf of three residents — two of whom filed nominating petitions for nonexistent offices, and one of whom filed to run for a non-elected office.

* WGLT yesterday afternoon

Three people attempting to run for nonelective offices in Normal do not have an “unequivocal right” to have their candidacy petitions certified by the town clerk — and their names placed on the April election ballot — according to a McLean County judge’s ruling.

11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Mark Fellheimer on Wednesday dismissed legal action filed against Normal Clerk Angie Huonker, saying his interpretation of state and municipal law does not indicate she was legally obligated to approve candidate petitions for offices that were either appointed or nonexistent at the time of filing. […]

“The court finds here that … the petitioners did not have an unequivocal right to have their nominating petitions certified … and then secondly, the clerk did not have an unequivocal duty to certify those petitions for offices that are not in existence in the Town of Normal,” Fellheimer said from the bench. […]

Chicago-based Michael Kasper of Kasper and Nottage in Chicago, as well as Allen Wall and Jason Guisinger of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, represented Normal.

…Adding… With a hat tip to a commenter, here’s a post from a local blog that supported the effort

Unfortunately people who filed petitions now owe Tom Devore $8,544.40 more than the $5000.00 they already paid. To appeal Fellheimer’s decision would cost another $10,000.

Devore’s bills:

Nobody expected Devore’s bills to get this high, no discount was given for losing either although the billing did not include yesterday’s hearing.

Statute

Incorporated town officers. For the general municipal election to be held in the year 1985 in every incorporated town with a population of 25,000 or more by the last official census, and every 4 years thereafter, the municipal clerk shall certify the names of the candidates to the proper election authority as provided by the general election law. A president, a clerk, an assessor, a collector, and a supervisor shall be elected for a term of 4 years and until their successors are elected and have qualified.

       

43 Comments
  1. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:23 am:

    These people don’t want to participate in government, they (think) they want chaos.


  2. - Excitable Boy - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:23 am:

    Was it really necessary to bring in Kasper for this?


  3. - May soon be required - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:29 am:

    No one wanted to be dogcatcher?


  4. - Big Dipper - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:29 am:

    Has he ever won a case or just temporary relief that is reversed or becomes moot lol?


  5. - Jibba - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:37 am:

    ===no discount was given for losing===

    A surprise only to those unclear on the object…


  6. - fs - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:38 am:

    ==Nobody expected Devore’s bills to get this high==

    I’m almost positive at least one person expected Tom Devore’s fees to get that high. That person is, of course, Tom Devore.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:41 am:

    === Nobody expected Devore’s bills to get this high, no discount was given for losing either although the billing did not include yesterday’s hearing.===

    Even for the cut rate grifters, the checks cash, the money is gone, it won’t matter the success an attorney has, only the fees an attorney can generate.

    DeVore’s grift is *better* than ambulance chasing. He doesn’t need to win or settle to collect.


  8. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:41 am:

    –said he was recruited for the job–

    If I remember correctly, this came after the attempt to reclassify the town into a village - which failed.

    Had the reclassification succeeded, those office would have been available.

    The petitions would then have been filed as part of the larger organized plan to reclassify the town into a village(and a diff form of local gov).

    Seems someone didn’t communicate down the chain that those offices wouldn’t be available after the referendum failed, or maybe they thought nobody would notice and they could just walk into office(which also seems likely).


  9. - Norseman - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:42 am:

    Is DeVore listed in a MAGA Maniacs Legal Directory?


  10. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:44 am:

    Man, that’s good scratch for basically stinking at your job.


  11. - Cheswick - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:45 am:

    A lawyer’s time is his stock in trade.
    ~ A. Lincoln


  12. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:47 am:

    === A lawyer’s time is his stock in trade.
    ~ A. Lincoln===

    Grifting is a time honored pursuit


  13. - Stuck in Celliniland - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:51 am:

    I think it’s time for the General Assembly to get involved in creating a new definition of incorporated Villages, Towns, and Cities entirely based on population.

    Any incorporated community 999 or less is automatically a Village. 1,000-4,999 is a Town. 5,000 and up is a City.

    This would force many “villages in name only” with large populations like Normal, Chatham, and many of the suburbs to automatically be reclassified as Cities.


  14. - NIU Grad - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:52 am:

    He clearly confused a “town” with a “Township” which has those positions…If your lawyer can’t figure that out…


  15. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:54 am:

    === This would force many===

    Run this idea past the Illinois Municipal League.

    I’d like their take, agree or disagree.

    Local control in governance is not forced.


  16. - Truth - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 11:59 am:

    This is missing some context, and what TheInvisibleMan said was not correct. So petitions were filed to make the Normal Town Council elected by ward and not at-large. This effort was struck down in court because the law allowing that change to be made by citizen ballot initiative only applies to villages, not towns. So if Normal is a town by legal definition, and not a village, then it should legally have to elect all the offices listed in the statute that Rich cited. But I guess the word “shall” means something different to this judge.


  17. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:02 pm:

    ====He clearly confused a “town” with a “Township” which has those positions…If your lawyer can’t figure that out…

    The thing is, it’s not just Devore. The folks who hired him are even bigger cranks than he is. I’m a long time observer and enjoyer of cranks in Normal and this is truly some weird stuff.


  18. - Northsider - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:07 pm:

    == Nobody expected Devore’s bills to get this high, no discount was given for losing either although the billing did not include yesterday’s hearing. ==

    The sheep are shocked to find they’ve been fleeced?


  19. - JoanP - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:07 pm:

    = no discount was given for losing =

    That is not a thing.


  20. - Socially DIstant watcher - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:07 pm:

    Whaddya mean he lost? The invoices went out, didn’t they?


  21. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:08 pm:

    –creating a new definition of incorporated Villages, Towns, and Cities entirely based on population.–

    That’s not quite the issue.

    Specifically, Normal has a managerial form of local government. The other types of local government are ‘Aldermanic-City, ‘Trustee-Village’, ‘commission’ and ’strong mayor’. While population does come into play as to what forms are available, it is not an automatic thing - it has to be decided by referendum. Some forms allow for the town to decide which offices are elected and which are appointed.

    Basically, what happened is this group just saw ‘form of government’ and started picking and choosing the rights they *wanted to have* out of the available types of local government, independent of the actual type of local government that exists in Normal, and independent of what the town charter states regarding which offices are elected and which are appointed.

    They could have saved themselves thousands of dollars by simply reading the convenient pamphlet the IML has been putting out for years now called;

    “A Candidates Guide to Municipal Government”
    https://www.iml.org/file.cfm?key=14434


  22. - Dan - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:10 pm:

    I live in BLONO and have loosely followed WGLT coverage of this issue. I suspect it’s less about the village vs. town question as it is a district vs. at-large council election issue; an old, ongoing debate as to which system provides more effective representation. There is a certain member of the Normal council whose main goal seems to be stirring the pot. My hunch is he caught wind of Rantoul’s efforts, tried to force the issue via a failed referendum, then ‘recruited’ candidates to file for non-existent offices in a non-existent village as another method of annoyance. Then Devore was either recruited or offered his services to be the champion of the newly disaffected … for a fee, of course. All to what end? You can fill in that blank. Just my take from the peanut gallery.


  23. - New Day - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:16 pm:

    So let me get this grifter’s bills correct. The retainers prior to a $2,990 invoice were $5,000 and they are now 0. So in Devore land, $5,000-2,990=0. Say what? #GOPMath #DevoreIsAGrifter And yea, I know hashtags are useless here but I thought they were both appropriate.


  24. - G'Kar - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:16 pm:

    That might be a fun Question of the Day: “What non-existing office do you want to file for?”


  25. - Appears - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:20 pm:

    Tom Devore. A man for the people (if they are gullible enough and have money).


  26. - NIU Grad - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:24 pm:

    “What non-existing office do you want to file for?”

    Lakeview Township Supervisor.


  27. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:31 pm:

    —So if Normal is a town by legal definition, and not a village, then it should legally have to elect all the offices listed in the statute that Rich cited.—

    Sigh.

    You paid thousands of dollars. You might as well read what you paid for.

    SS 3-8-2 was added to the municipal code by the General Assembly in 1949. In 1952 Normal adopted a resolution authorized by the prior, declaring the town clerk an appointive office.

    I get it. You don’t understand this. You lost in court. You should have paid for a consult first.


  28. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:38 pm:

    ===I get it. You don’t understand this. You lost in court. You should have paid for a consult first.

    Why are you trying to destroy Tom Devore’s business model?


  29. - The Magnificent Purple Walnut - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:47 pm:

    I first thought of a P.T. Barnum quote, not Mr. Lincoln…


  30. - 100 miles west - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:47 pm:

    all but about a dozen municipalities in illinois are legally a “town” the rest are cities and villages. Can’t remember the details on why, but it was a rabbit hole.


  31. - 100 miles west - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:48 pm:

    sorry Only about a dozen are towns


  32. - Pundent - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 12:59 pm:

    Why would Devore offer a discount for losing? He got these plaintiff’s to pay $13K for an escapade. On that basis it sounds to me like he won


  33. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 1:03 pm:

    As I said earlier this morning, I wish these people were doing a crowdfund for all the legal fees Normal taxpayers have had to spend in fending off their meritless lawsuits the last few years.

    They tried to run an anti-Koos slate for the council in 2021 and when the voters didn’t choose them this group decided to give up on trying to persuade people and instead focus on changing Normal’s election processes.

    There are reasonable things to campaign against Mayor Koos and his allies on - the focus on bike trails vs. roads; the town-purchased Rivian truck in Koos’s driveway; the focus on incentives for new “Uptown” business development at expense of existing or non-centrally located business, etc.

    But instead of just campaigning normally, the Koos opposition, which claims to be made of fiscal conservatives on the side of the taxpayer, keeps showing themselves to be cranks with silly stunts and lawsuits that waste taxpayer money and show they are unfit to govern.


  34. - Rudy’s teeth - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 1:07 pm:

    Is Tom DeVore taking lessons from the Eddie Vrdolyak playbook titled “Winning and Billing even though your Clients lose”?


  35. - Give Us Barabbas - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 1:13 pm:

    Rookie mistake: the petitions didn’t have the gold fringe on them. He can re-file it for them for another ten grand. Is his name DeVore or Mr. Haney?


  36. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 1:14 pm:

    I hearby declare myself a candidate for Grand Poobah of the Great State of Illinois. (Does anyone have Mr DeVore’s #?)


  37. - Anon E Moose - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 2:03 pm:

    “no discount was given for losing”

    I don’t know any attorney who does such a thing.


  38. - Back to the Future - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 2:37 pm:

    Thank you Cap Fax for my Devore chuckle of the day.
    This filing suit for an elected position that doesn’t exist is going to be hard to top (even for Mr. Devore).


  39. - Hot Taeks - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 2:56 pm:

    BLNnews Blogger: complains about Normal needing to pay off debts to lawyers to defend frivolous lawsuits she helped create. Says town’s bond rating should be downgraded as a result.

    Also BLNnews Blogger: Hey can you help us pay the bills for our lawyer from the frivolous lawsuit we lost? We couldn’t get a discount for losing.

    Love the conundrum here. Even when they lose, they win.


  40. - Stuck in Celliniland - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 6:19 pm:

    ==Local control in governance is not forced.==

    Considering how many of the local governments statewide have demonstrated that they are incapable of governing for the common good (e.g., defying the state on COVID mandates, masking, the SAFE-T Act, etc.) it might actually be a good idea to have some of that “local control in governance” rolled back.

    Not just with population-based definitions of town, village and city that I proposed earlier, but also maybe we need to revisit mandatory school consolidation. Perhaps some community mergers too (e.g, City of Springfield with not only CApital Township and the donut holes around the city, but also Southern View, Leland Grove, Soutehrn View, Jerome, Grandview, and both Springfield and Woodside townships).


  41. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 26, 23 @ 6:27 pm:

    ===Not just with population-based definitions of town, village and city that I proposed earlier, but also maybe we need to revisit===

    Yeah. Those are likely not happening anytime soon either.

    There are ideas that there’s no taste or want, these are along those lines


  42. - Stuck in Celliniland - Friday, Jan 27, 23 @ 7:14 am:

    ==What non-existing office do you want to file for?”==

    I don’t want to run for any office.

    However, I would like to see Springfield’s Lincoln Library (the public library of the city, a separate entity from the ALPLM) moved out of City governance and to a new, separate library district. The “Springfield Area Lincoln Public Library District” or something of that nature. Encompassing all of Springfield city limits, Woodside and Springfield Townships (and Capitol) including all the donut hole lands and communties, with a similar district as the SMEAA district.


  43. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 27, 23 @ 7:22 am:

    ===However, I would like to see Springfield’s Lincoln Library (the public library of the city, a separate entity from the ALPLM) moved out of City governance and to a new, separate library district.===

    Weren’t you just arguing about too many governing entities, now you want to add another?


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