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Harris says RICO needs to quit being “laughingstock” of area

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A prominent Quad City businessman says the sitting Rock Island County Board Chairman should go and to quit making the county the "laughingstock" of the area.

Hunt Harris says Phil Banaszek is in over his head and unqualified to the lead the county.

"I think Phil should go. There's too many conflicts, he has too many black eyes. He's come out of the correctional system and professes to have the skills necessary to run the county. I have run several companies and have an MBA from Stanford and couldn't do it. County government is a different animal. It needs qualified people trained to do it, with experience", the millionaire philanthropist said in an interview with WQAD-TV on Tuesday morning.

Harris wrote a blunt letter to the editor which appeared in Tuesday's Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, calling the board dysfunctional and in dire need of a professional administrator.

The letter was written at the request of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, which has come out publicy  in favor of reform.

Tonight, the board has called a special meeting to discuss hiring an administrator, cutting the size of the board, and re-calling Banaszek as chairman.

Harris says his eyes were opened about the ineffectiveness of the board when he sat on a task force looking into a new courthouse.

He says the board promised to vote on the final recommendation, but in the end, did nothing.

"It certainly was frustrating that our recommendations were not even allowed to go to the voters", he said.

Harris says the secret $18.000  comp time paid out to Banaszek's secretary Shelly Chapman is unacceptable.

And advocates selling the county owned nursing home Hope Creek.

"When you look at the despicable management of Hope Creek and asking the taxpayers for another 2.5 million dollars to fix a problem that should be better handled by the private sector", he said.

Harris says if the board decides to do nothing over the latest controversies, he and others plan to actively recruit future candidates  and fund them to enact reform.

"It just seems overall like there's conflict after conflict that has more to do with preserving my job and my pension than it has to do with serving the electorate.  Somebody that was truly a leader would step down, realize professional management is needd and open the door for that rather than block it and in my opinion, preserve a pension".