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County commissioner, constituent trade barbs on Facebook over attendance record

Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski's empty seat during a Cook County Board of Commissioners committee meeting

Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski's empty seat during a Cook County Board of Commissioners committee meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, D-McCook, and a constituent got into a Facebook argument this week over Tobolski’s low attendance at county board meetings over the last five years.

Following a Sun-Times and ABC-7 I-Team analysis that revealed Tobolski was among the four commissioners who missed over 25 percent of meetings in the last five years, Earl Johnson of Lyons posted criticism on the closed Facebook group “Lyons Uncensored.”

Johnson wrote, “Congratulations to our Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski for having the fourth worst attendance record of all Cook County commissioners! Good work Commissioner Tobolski on this great achievement!”

Tobolski, who is mayor of McCook, responded first by thanking Johnson and saying that health scares in September 2017 caused him to miss meetings.

But then the commissioner added, “there is a special kind of hell for people like you. I hope Earl that this year you get everything you have coming to you and your family.”

Tobolski missed 28 percent of meetings in the analysis that was printed in Monday’s Sun-Times. He told reporters a serious illness caused him to miss meetings from September 2013 through this past December.

Carlos Aparicio, Tobolski’s lawyer, said the Facebook comments were taken out of context.

“It’s horrible for someone to be so unsympathetic to him regarding his health scare,” Aparicio said. “It’s a personal issue for him, and you wouldn’t demean someone who has had a health scare if he wasn’t a public official.”

Aparicio said Tobolski has since apologized to Johnson and he “doesn’t wish him or his family any harm.”

Johnson said Tobolski never said sorry.

Johnson said a contentious school board election last year pit his wife against a candidate backed by Tobolski and the animosity between the two has been brewing since then.

Still, that doesn’t give Tobolski a pass for “such unprofessional conduct for a public official,” Johnson said.

“I didn’t attack him and I’m sorry he had an illness…but he had bad attendance before then,” Johnson said. “I think he should apologize for what he said. There’s people who aren’t happy with him, and he needs to be held accountable like everyone else.”