Jessica Mathews /

The recently censured Genoa Township clerk made a presentation in her defense at Monday night’s meeting – although it had to be halted at different points because it contained information that could not legally be released.

At the last board meeting, a resolution was approved to censure and reprimand Clerk Polly Skolarus for "official misconduct and willful neglect of duty”. In early June, the board approved a proposal for an independent investigation and report regarding various issues.

Based on that investigation, the resolution states the conduct of Skolarus was found to be beneath the dignity of the office with “needlessly confrontational and demeaning behavior, lack of decorum, and several occasions of complete disregard of State Law and of Township’s procedures, norms and rules”. At a special meeting October 26th, the board approved a motion prohibiting her from using future township funds or resources on a personnel payroll issue in 2016/2017.

Skolarus had sought to make a presentation at that meeting but it was not on the agenda as proper submittal protocols were not followed.

Last night, Skolarus stated she was entitled to respond to what was done to her at the last meeting and asserted the investigation was paid to prove her guilty and not innocent. Her roughly hour-long presentation had to be halted at different points as she read from privileged/confidential documents and attorney/client communications were disclosed.

The presentation documents that Skolarus submitted for the meeting were thought to be the same documents handed out to the board at the last meeting but they were not and included copies of attorney invoices containing privileged information.

Skolarus spent the majority of the presentation going through reports and copies of general ledgers dating back to the 1980’s and 1990’s along with the payroll issues in 2016/2017 regarding the clerk and supervisor being paid in advance – which Skolarus disputes.

Skolarus stated she deserves to have her voice heard and has a right to clear her name and defend herself against false accusations made by the board that include fraud, embezzlement, irresponsible behavior, abuse of office, malfeasance, writing checks in advance, failing to post Election Commission meeting notices and minutes, treating staff in a rude manner, and lying to the board. She asserted that was never paid in advance or threatened employees.

Skolarus stated she has had almost every duty removed from her office, including some she alleges are statutory.

Skolarus stated she has been removed from resolutions, payroll, accounts payable, newsletters, the general ledger, special assessment districts, pension records, account records, closed session meetings, regular board meeting minutes, and supervision of all records. She added her name has also been expunged from committee appointments, two employees were removed from her office, she is no longer involved in any decision-making, and is not invited to meetings.

Skolarus added that her work has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars into the general fund with no additional payments to her for that work or all of the budgets she presented for 36 years. She stated she is not permitted to speak to anyone in the office without another person present, she’s shunned in the office, and must email any questions she has.

Skolarus further stated that there are so many inaccuracies in the censure resolution “it’s a joke” and requested it be reversed. That did not happen.
Treasurer Robin Hunt stated that she was “truly saddened it’s come to this” and wasn’t looking for debate – noting she made the motion at the October 26th meeting stating the township was done spending any time or resources on the payroll issue. Hunt went on to say unfortunately, the censure resolution got put in place because Skolarus keeps disregarding “anything the board asks or laws or any rules” and it was “several unfortunate circumstances that brought us here”. She added that the censure resolution in her mind was most importantly done to protect their employees.

Supervisor Bill Rogers stated that “enough is enough” as Skolarus went all the way back to 1983 in her presentation – adding the payroll issue has been vetted by numerous professionals and “it’s time to move on”. Rogers noted that he was approached by two employees he had to remove from her department for mistreatment – who “requested to be relocated because of her actions – period”. He stressed it had nothing to do with the report and if anything, it forced them into spending a lot of money on legal fees only because of her actions - otherwise it would not have been an expense.

Only one resident spoke on the topic during call to the public, Dan Wholihan, who thanked the board for “holding the clerk accountable”. He commented the job is not getting done and hasn’t been done at least since 2012, if not earlier, and hopefully they’ll get a replacement in 2024.