Quick Hits – Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should – part 2

When we last left off, we were debunking Kane County State’s Attorney’s Joe McMahon’s errant assertions for actively pursuing the special prosecutor position in Cook County’s Jason Van Dyke murder trial.

Since you’re well aware of the tragic Laquan McDonald story, let’s avoid all the background bullshit and get right back to it!

5. The “community” and taxpayers are not happy with McMahon’s choice

McMahon told the Trib that the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office involvement in the Van Dyke case:

“it gives the entire community confidence in our justice system and shows the willingness of public prosecutors, even in the face of public criticism and second guessing, to pursue, at all times, justice that is integral to our liberty.”

Apparently, he’s been watching too many Quentin Tarantino movies. And most of us harbor far more entertaining flights of fancy than to think the public actually “gets” that kind of abstract logic.

Kane County Judicial Center

Kane County Judicial Center

Ah! But the truth is the “community” within range of the impending Maxxam Partners’ Campton Hill rehab center are not at all amused that, because McMahon was so busy in Chicago, the KCSAO mounted no defense to that lawsuit settlement.

And those Illinois Youth Center – St. Charles current and former employees, and their family members, aren’t at all happy that their pleas to prosecute the most violent inmates continue to go unheeded.

But the most consistent complaint I hear from his constituents is, McMahon won’t address anything that doesn’t advance his career. So, no Joe! The “community” is not nearly as happy about your pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way as you think they are. But you’ve always been oblivious to most political realities.

As I alluded to in part one, the real problem with McMahon’s poor decision-making is that he’s using his garden hose to put out a neighbor’s fire while his house is burning to the ground. Everything I hear from current and former KCSAO staffers depicts an office in complete disarray:

  1. Though the sexual harassment issue has somewhat subsided as a result of coverage here, that scandal has not nearly been addressed. Female prosecutors are still subjected to it, and if it isn’t that, it’s head felony prosecutor Bill Engerman regularly belittling them just because he can.’
  2. The turnover rate at the KCSAO is so absurd that defense attorneys can’t keep up with who the new prosecutors are, and some staffers don’t know who their supervisors are. One former prosecutor told me, “That office sucks the heart and soul right out of you and the people in charge don’t care. They’ll just hire a new young prosecutor.”
  3. As The First Ward previously reported, in McMahon’s constant absence, the KCSAO is making no effort to determine what is and isn’t a felony. While the number of KC felony case reviews has remained remarkably consistent over the last five years, the number of felony charges has drastically increased. That means they’re basically ignoring their responsibility and simply letting the judge sort it out. It would seem that Joe McMahon is only interested in Cook County justice.
  4. The most frivolous of lawsuits against Kane County go undefended necessitating consistent five and six-figure settlements. It’s gotten so bad that the county’s insurance carrier just dropped them, which means their rate will double going forward. Call me crazy, but that seems like a net cost to taxpayers to me!
  5. McMahon recently asked the county board for more prosecutors. He claimed they were necessary to get the job done. But if that’s the case, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, then why are five of Kane County’s top litigators, and an unspecified number of support staff, spending months working on a Cook County case?

And thanks to some astute readers, I discovered that these kinds of special prosecutions are typically handled by the Attorney General’s or the Illinois State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s office. It is exceedingly rare for a sitting state’s attorney to take a major case in another county. There were plenty of options aside from the KCSAO.

But we all know why Joe actively applied for the position.

During one of his more recent verbal altercations with the Chairman, McMahon declared, “The people of Kane County can express their support or displeasure for him any time his name is on an election ballot.”

I hope you remember that in 2020 my friends!

Quick Hits Supplemental – The Daily Herald still sucks!

With a book coming out in October, my plate is pretty full, but there’s no way I’m gonna let today’s Fox Valley Daily Herald’s editorial go. What a bunch of unmitigated bullshit.

To summarize, for the 2,476th time, that mile wide and millimeter thick newspaper took Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen to task for yet another perceived crime against humanity. And you all thought Hitler was bad! This time they’re questioning the Chairman’s motive and timing in questioning State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s commitment to his Kane County constituents.

Apparently, it took the DH a mere two years to finally catch onto the Cook County Jason Van Dyke murder trial and our absentee state’s attorney’s role in it. And while an argument can certainly be made for the KC taxpayers underwriting that prosecution to the tune of $60,000 a month, the circular logic the DH applied makes a Trump Tweet sound like a Zen koan.

Daily Herald Building

The editorial opens  with the DH calling out the Chairman but letting the State’s Attorney slide on his very questionable decisions. I’ll say it again! Chris Lauzen’s frequent public battles are almost always counterproductive, but if the DH actually did their job, he wouldn’t have to be the one to call out errant public officials.

To wit, despite Coroner Rob Russell’s frequently fascinating choices, those eminently delicate Daily Herald editors will take his side simply because Chairman Lauzen is on the other. So, the Chairman’s motives are suspect, but McMahon’s insistent ego-driven glory seeking choices aren’t?

The editorial goes on to claim McMahon’s appointment is, “an obvious compliment to Kane County that its operations are capable of handling a case as complex and delicate as the Van Dyke prosecution.”

First, it’s not a compliment because no one else was politically naive enough to take it. And second, McMahon clearly isn’t capable of “handling” the Van Dyke prosecution and running his own office. Trust me! We’ll delve into those specifics tomorrow.

The editorial also contends it was Lauzen who started the feud with McMahon. Not true! While the Chairman certainly doesn’t shy away from public confrontation, it was Civil Division head Joe Lulves’ incompetence, arrogance, and downright disrespect for the office of chairman that set them on a collision course.

Of course, mimicking McMahon, the DH cited the Illinois law Lauzen supported that allows for special prosecutors, but that’s like blaming one Trump voter for all the havoc he’s wreaked. If I recall correctly, 59 other state senators vote “yes” on that statute, too.

But this is the statement that really frosts my flakes:

“Moreover, Kane County prosecutors no doubt will have occasion someday to seek reciprocal assistance from Cook or some other county to protect the integrity of the justice system. It would be a shame to think they would be rejected because of political infighting and the possibility that someone might miss a few meetings.”

What?

When was the last time a Kane County murder trial drew national attention? I reached out to a number of local attorneys and judges this morning, and none of ‘em can come up with a single KC case that required a special prosecutor. So, now the DH is just making it up as they go along. This is why some fun folks insist on using the term “fake news” these days.

Those sources also informed me that a state’s attorney prosecuting a major case in another county is an exceedingly rare event. It’s the attorney general’s office or the AG’s appellate commission prosecutors who typically handle these kinds of things. And Joe McMahon damn well knows that! Aside from his lofty aspirations, there was no good reason for him to seek that appointment.

And to even compare Kane to Cook County shows a complete lack of journalistic integrity at best, and downright incompetence at worst. But while the Daily Herald continues to attack the Chairman and make the hopeless anti-bridge Longmeadow Loons front page news, here’s what they chose to ignore.

I provided the DH with evidence of the late local attorney Michael Clancy’s connection to Anjum Coffland, and his sister, Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles,’ efforts to illegally cover it up. The story went nowhere

Shaw media ran with the story on the horrific issues plaguing the Illinois State Youth Center – St. Charles, but despite submitting hundreds of documents to the Daily Herald, they ignored that one, too.

I gave the DH everything I had on the ongoing KCSAO sexual harassment scandal – including a victim’s written complaint – but even after a prosecutor was recently fired for sexual harassment, they refused to report on it.

That says everything you need to know about John Lampinen, Jim Slusher, Jim Baumann and the rest of the DH editors who only use that paper as a medium to press their personal political vendettas. The truth is, they’re far worse than anyone they’ve ever covered.

And they abuse the public trust because their fragile sensibilities can’t handle the fact that the Chairman called them a name. McMahon may be politically oblivious, but he knows how to play the press and those DH editors’ lips are permanently attached to his bony white ass.

The editorial’s final contention was, even if Lauzen’s misappropriation of taxpayer dollars argument had merit, it should wait until the Van Dyke trial was over. To do otherwise would unduly distract McMahon from his appointed task.

If this debate really is “distracting” McMahon, all I can say is “good!” It’s the only way we’ll ever get him to pay attention to Kane County.

Have I said, “The Daily Herald still sucks?”

Quick Hits – Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should – part 1

I realize I’m risking the same fate I regularly accuse former Elgin City Councilman John Prigge of courting by doing yet another negative piece on our Kane County state’s attorney. But while I’m grateful to see the Daily Herald and Tribune finally pick up on the immense Kane County taxpayer cost for underwriting the Jason Van Dyke prosecution, I feel compelled to answer Joe McMahon’s “arguments” for taking that appointment in the first place.

McMahon 4

But before we continue, please note that I’ve been covering McMahon’s involvement in the Laquan McDonald murder for over a year. So, while it’s also gratifying to see Chairman Chris Lauzen take a public taxpayer stand, I’ve been on this one for quite some time.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to McMahon’s faulty reasoning:

1. There’s no net cost to Kane County taxpayers

If this was Politifact I’d rate that statement as “pants on fire!” While it’s true that KC taxpayers aren’t coughing up any more cash than they already are, unless they’ve solved the quantum problem, McMahon and his top lieutenants can’t work for Cook and Kane County at the same time.

To make matters worse, McMahon has publicly bragged about his team putting “13- to 14-hour days” into the Van Dyke trial. So, not only are the taxpayers getting no benefit from their top prosecutors, but lower-level staffers have to pick up the slack, which means those already overworked folks will be much more likely to make mistakes.

To be more specific, when you add up McMahon’s, Jody Gleaon’s, Joe Cullen’s, Dan Weiler’s and Greg Sams’ annual compensation, it comes to $708,000 a year. That means Kane County taxpayers are underwriting a Cook County prosecution to the tune of $60,000 a month.

 

2. Lauzen supported a law that allows for special prosecutions

This is McMahon’s most specious contention. He argues that, when Lauzen was a state senator, he voted for a law that allowed for these kinds of special prosecutions. To quote the great philosopher Dick Cheney, “So what?” The fact that you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you have to or should do it.

I’m well within my legal rights to ride my road bike down the middle of Randall Road at rush hour, but you won’t see me doing it anytime soon because it’s a really bad idea.

Trying to shift the blame to a former state senator whose vote was immaterial to a law’s passage is the worst kind of pretzel logic and far more than disingenuous.

 

3. He had to take the case

McMahon hasn’t come right out and said it, but on more than one press occasion he’s intimated that Cook County came directly to him and, thus, he had no choice but to take the case. The truth is, while every other collar county state’s attorney hid under their desk when that call came, McMahon sought the appointment out.

Even his good friends tell me that Joe never lasts long at any job because he’s always looking for that next step up the ladder. And he thought the press from the Van Dyke prosecution would launch him into a federal prosecutor position or an attorney general run, so he volunteered to do it.

But just like one shouldn’t use their hose to put out the neighbor’s fire when their own house is burning, McMahon should’ve let special prosecutions go until his own house was in order. And it’s far from it.

 

4. The only one criticizing him is the Chairman

McMahon continues to repeat that line, but it’s only partially correct. The Chairman may be the only one who’s publicly calling him out, but as a result of McMahon’s reputation for retaliating against anyone who dares to criticize him, I’m privy to a slew of private complaints from board members and other elected officials who feel they’ve been consistently shortchanged by the KCSAO.

And those grievances have tripled since the county board was forced to sign off on the Maxxam Partners’ Campton Hills rehab center lawsuit settlement due to the lack of any real KCSAO legal defense.

It’s not that I think Joe’s lying, he’s always been oblivious to the political realities of his job. And those realities include the majority of local politicians will slap you on the back and smile as they talk all kinds shit behind it.

So, what they say to your face is immaterial.

 

Since neither you nor I have time for another 1,500-word column, we will continue this conversation on Wednesday.

Quick Hits – September 14, 2018

It’s time to adopt a Republican mien!

Whenever a hurricane hits anywhere, I’d like to think I’m the first one to crack open the checkbook. But while I wish no catastrophe on anyone (with the possible exception of Kim Kardashian) when it comes to the Carolinas, they’re not gonna get a cent.

Florence

Yep! It’s time to go all Ayn Rand on some of my favorite southerners’ asses because:

1. Both states continue to allow developers to build in flood plains and low-lying coastal areas. North Carolina politicians went as far as ignoring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by voting to allow development along the coast and on the Barrier Islands. All of those homes and businesses are being wiped out as we speak.

2. The Republican dominated legislators in both states continue to insist that climate change is a myth. Spurred on by real estate and developer lobbying groups, in 2012, North Carolina went as far as passing a bill that barred policymakers and developers from using the latest climate science data when planning for rising sea levels.

3. Despite hurricanes and/or flooding hitting the same areas every two to four years, both states continue to allow homeowners to rebuild where they never should’ve built in the first place. And what do Republicans generally say about “enabling” minorities with handouts

4. Both states went big for Donald Trump who thinks he can contend with these “very big” and “very wet” hurricanes with a roll of quicker picker uppers.

5. Virtually every North and South Carolina GOP Congressman voted against the federal relief package for Hurricane Sandy. And if those New Yorkers and New Jerseyians don’t deserve that kind of “handout,” then neither do they.

So, the checkbook stays closed. And I’m sure no self-respecting southern coastal conservative would ever want to debase him or herself by shrieking and howling for government aid after the storm passes. They wouldn’t want to be labelled as hypocrites, would they?

 

Political naivete personified part 3

As a result of Wednesday’s Quick Hits, a friend came forward with yet another Political Science 101 budgetary postulate. We’ve already covered how unduly irritating the Chairman is almost always counterproductive, but that basic dynamic doesn’t end there, because horking off the county board will likely have the same effect.

Fraught with fiscal requests from every angle, these boards, who generally want the county to succeed, tend to get a little cranky whenever they encounter any kind of entitlement mentality on the part of folks who come to them for more cash.

In yet another interesting irony, it’s politicians who harbor some of the most fascinating entitlement mindsets of them all. So, I’m sure you can see why boards and their minions always seem to be involved in some sort of financial fight.

Take the ongoing Kane County Coroner Rob Russell kerfuffle. It may be true that he needs new digs, but his me-first approach to the board hasn’t helped his cause. And remember! The Chairman doesn’t vote, so Chris Lauzen’s and Russell’s antipathy is utterly immaterial. It all comes down to Russell convincing 13 board members to see it his way.

Harkening back to Court Services Director Lisa Aust and Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles, they correctly and quietly approached the board for additional funding to end the May 2018 probation worker’s strike. And again, had they convinced 13 board members to back them up, the Chairman’s thoughts on that prospect wouldn’t matter.

But that possibility crashed and burned faster than a Ford Pinto when Court Administrator Doug Naughton made this declaration at a board committee meeting; “If you guys weren’t so busy building bridges, you’d have the funds to help us out.”

Please let me stipulate that I’ve always gotten along with Doug if for no other reason than we both can rub people the wrong way. Not only that, but Doug wrote the finest FOIA refusal I’ve ever received, and he loves my flaming red walking shoes.

But as sure as Trump will Tweet tomorrow morning, despite a plethora of Democratic board sympathy for those strikers, that singular statement ended any possibility of that governmental body stepping in, because the quickest way to lose their support is to take no responsibility for your own role in an unnecessary strike and firmly believe you’re that you’re the only department entitled to all that general fund cash.

And Doug’s silly statement will echo in the county board’s ears for years to come.

I’ll say it again! It’s PolySci 101 folks. Demanding cash from the purse string holders won’t get you very far. But you never know what might happen if you deign to ask them for their help.

Quick Hits – September 12, 2018

I’m the chairman and you’re not!

To quote that great newscaster Chevy Chase.

But as simple as that statement is, some normally erudite Kane County elected and public officials don’t seem to get it. And not only do they get that wrong, but they fail to comprehend that, when budget time rolls around, being on good terms with the Chairman never hurt anyone.

Conversely, if an elected or public official fails to apply a basic battle picking wisdom, asking for a budgetary increase probably won’t go over very well. Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon may have been correct when he told Chairman Chris Lauzen, “How I run my office is none of your business!,” but setting the State’s Attorney’s budget is exactly the Chairman’s business.

C’mon! It’s bleepin’ politics 101! Even middle schoolers understand this basic concept.

County Chairmen may not have much power – they only vote to break ties – but they can make your fiscal life miserable if you choose to go out of your way to aggravate them. Just like it is with baseball managers, the chairman doesn’t have to get along with you, but you do need to find a way to get along with the chairman if you want to succeed.

So, when you consider the futile KC feuds we’ve observed over the past few years, I simply sat back in stunned silence as the State’s Attorney’s office and Court Services came hat-in-hand to the County Board – knowing the County is facing a $5.1 million 2019 deficit.

The term “overly optimistic” never applied more.

But before I get yet another comment calling me a Lauzen shill, I fully understand that he doesn’t always play well with others and he can be quite difficult to deal with. Not only that, but I’ve advised the Chairman and regularly written that his public battles with elected officials and department heads are almost always counterproductive.

But the truth is, there’s no significant difference between Chris Lauzen and his collar county counterparts Dan Cronin, Scott Gryder, Jim Moustis, Aaron Lawlor, and especially Jack Franks. Effectively dealing with board members and elected and public officials, the very definition of cat-herding, frequently requires the use of an unrelenting political force.

And if you’re incapable of regularly applying that kind of leverage, it’s gonna be a very flippin long four years.

So! With this PolySci 101 concept in mind, let’s move on to two perfect examples of what we’re talking about.

 

Political naivete personified – part 1

Considering how contentious their relationship has become, most of y’all probably don’t remember what sent Chairman Lauzen and Joe McMahon down the primrose path. It all started when civil division head, Joe Lulves, arrogantly dismissed the Chairman’s waste to energy and cell phone amplifier revenue generating initiatives.

We’ve previously discussed that Lulves is basically incompetent and lazy, so he simply says no to anything that might require his or his staff’s due diligence.

 

Unhappy with being so unceremoniously brushed off, the Chairman did an end run to get his own legal advice on those projects, but when a board member complained about those expenses, the State’s Attorney reprimanded him for exceeding his powers.

Sensing they were on the precipice, any savvy State’s Attorney would’ve met privately with the Chairman, apologized for his underling’s undue brusqueness and failure to understand his job, and offered a solution that would make everyone happy.

We all know that state’s attorney’s seat is ultimately a political position. Well…almost all of us understand it.

But instead of being the adult in the room and solving the problem, to issue a public rebuke of Lauzen was the height of political naivete. It’s hard to fathom how Joe McMahon could be that inept.

Due to that very basic failure, their relationship went directly into the Krapper with letters-to-the-editor, stupid tit-for-tat bullshit, the Maxxam rehab center settlement debacle, public confrontations, and the current kerfuffle over McMahon and his staff spending 14-hour days on Cook County’s Jason Van Dyke prosecution.

So, when the State’s Attorney’s office basically asked for a 5.3* percent 2019 budget increase, to say it rendered me speechless would be the most massive of understatements.

And it ain’t easy to render Jeff Ward speechless!

It doesn’t matter who the chairman is or what county we’re talking about. No chairman is going to take that kind of utterly unnecessary public attack laying down. If, beyond getting elected, you can’t figure out how to play politics as a countywide elected official, then it’s time to step down and give someone else a shot.

The bottom line is, not only will the KCSAO be getting no new funds, but they’ll be asked to make the requisite cuts to put that $5.1 million deficit to bed.

 

Political naivete personified – part 2

Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get worse than the KCSAO, it does! Because when it comes to the race to the political bottom, Kane County Court Services always seems to eke out a victory.

 

You see, Director Lisa Aust and Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles had the nerve to ask for a massive 12.5* percent budgetary boost. They may as well have gone for broke and asked for Bentleys for senior staff because the end result is going to be the same.

While the McMahon/Lauzen thing has basically been mutual combat, Aust and Boles went well out of their way to bring the Chairman into their abjectly dysfunctional dynamic. So, here’s how you can insure no budgetary increase in three easy steps:

Step one! Instead of going along with the Chairman’s 2018 cuts, as almost every other department/elected official did, threaten to drop the GPS home monitoring system because you think you can play chicken with a 25-year political veteran.

Step two! Out of sheer arrogance and imperiousness, preside over the first probation workers strike in Illinois history such that the union drags the Chairman into a fight that isn’t his.

Step three! Because you’re so busy screwing so many things up, ignore previous grant and other outside funding to the tune of a $600,000 decrease in department revenue over 2018 to 2019.

So, court services won’t be seeing any budgetary bump, either – they’ll be making cuts right along with their KCSAO campus neighbors. And the only place they’ll be able to make up that kind of cash will be by reining in all of those unnecessary judicial amenities. It’s gonna be a lot of fun to watch those 16th circuit judges endlessly shriek and howl when they actually have to work a full day and share courtrooms.

Poor babies!

 

Conclusion

My long-time readers already know my theory on incompetence versus nefariousness. You can fix one, but not the other. As a friend and I were discussing at a local business this morning, the level of incompetence and naivete between the KCSAO and court services makes us long for the company Trump supporters.

 

* The budgetary increase numbers are calculated by adding the departmental decline in revenue to the requested 2019 spending increase.

Quick Hits – Trump supporters have always been with us!

‘Grapes of Wrath’ author John Steinbeck, then a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, wrote this to his best friend in 1943, “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins – it never will – but that it doesn’t die.”

Exactly!

So, whenever I see reasonable friends’ over-the-top, terrified and/or horrified reactions to something those unyielding Trump supporters said, I get far more horked off at them then I do with Agent Orange’s glee club.

For our purposes, when I say “Trump supporter” I’m talking about the diehard base variety who fervently believe the President operates under a veil of papal infallibility and nothing can convince them otherwise.

Trump supporters

The reason I get ticked off at these fine friends is they’re the smart ones. They should know better. They should understand that, like a plague bacillus, these fear-driven, angry-at-the-world sad people have always been with us. They may bide their time in the dark political corners during the good times, but when some charismatic leader, economic disaster, or major cultural shift comes along, they emerge en masse to spew their venom and try to take control.

And as that great philosopher Meatloaf once said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” You see, we’re currently presiding over death of the white majority and Donald Trump knows how to play those fears like a concertmaster with a Stradivarius.

Like that ubiquitous Big Bang background radiation, no matter where you look, 33 percent of our fellow Homo Sapiens are always ready, willing, and eager to hop on the next dictator’s bandwagon. And that ride lasts until good people finally wake up and beat them back into submission, only to have their doomed-to-repeat-history children fight the very same fight.

It’s just like Steinbeck said.

This dynamic starts with people who, instead of developing an inner strength they can depend upon in dark times, look outside themselves for self-definition. And as it is with all such self-worth substitutes, external validation becomes a voracious addiction that no political circumstances can possibly satisfy.

Since most of our lives are beyond our control, every negative possibility becomes a direct attack on these individuals, who can’t take responsibility for their lives because any misfortune is always someone else’s fault. Eventually, those perceived attacks put them in a state of perpetual panic where anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what they believe is perceived as a threat.

It’s a very elaborate mental self-defense construct which would be quite remarkable if it wasn’t so destructive.

The best example is the Koch brothers who, despite vast wealth, won’t be happy until every last one of us are poor. And if that was the case, with no one left to go after, they’d turn on each other.

That’s how addictions work.

Though she correctly identified them as “deplorables,” not only did Hilary Clinton fail to connect with that 33 percent (and far more), but her unfortunate statement drove them ever deeper into the Trump camp. The President may harbor an amoral fifth grade mentality, but like that occasionally accurate broken clock, he’s the master of exploiting this external validation game because narcissists implicitly understand how to do it.

Journalist Fareed Zakaria compared Trump supporters to a cult, but though I greatly respect the man, he’s dead wrong. Cults revolve around an etched-in-stone central theology, require a strict hierarchy, and thrive on law and order. While that certainly describes Scientology, it certainly ain’t Donald Trump who’s all over the bleepin’ place – on the same day!

But in the end, it doesn’t matter, because as long as Trump feeds his rabid base’s validation addiction with proclamations like:

  • Build a wall
  • Mexicans are rapists and murderers
  • Fake news
  • Muslim travel ban
  • Haitian immigrants all have aids
  • African shithole countries
  • NFL players should stand for the anthem
  • White supremacists are very fine people

there is no amount of logic that will dissuade them from canonizing him in their minds. Since surgically removing their lips from his ample ass won’t work either, it’s time to stop putting any energy into his followers, because it’s a waste of time and it only makes them dig in further.

Ah! But there is a newer meme floating around the Net that finally gets it right. It states that, while we’ll never change Trump supporters’ minds, we generally rational people greatly outnumber them. And come November, that’s all that really matters.

If we bring our numbers to bear, we can strip Trump of his Congressional support in 2018 and defeat him in 2020.

The truth is, the nefarious people on this planet are always in the minority, it’s their insistent anger and fear that motivates them act more often than the rest of us. It’s only when the good folks flag in their intentions that the 33 percent rear their ugly heads – again.

Since Trump supporters will always be with us, the key, according to existentialist philosopher and author Albert Camus, is to maintain a “constant vigilance” such that they remain in their dark corners. I couldn’t possibly put it better than he did in the last paragraph from, ‘The Plague:’

And, indeed, as he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux remembered that such joy is always imperiled. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.

Vigilance my friends! It’s the only thing that ever works.

Quick Hits – September 7, 2018

It never hurts to broaden your municipal horizons

The day will come when former Elgin City Councilman and good friend, John Prigge, will write something positive about the city he once served, but it will not be this day!

One of his latest bones of contention is the $10,466 the City spent to send three police officers and one staffer to Scotland to study non-lethal strategies for subduing folks armed with knives and similarly edged weapons.

elginlogo-3color

I’m sure I don’t have to explain why they’re taking this eminently reasonable step.

And sure enough, a number of folks jumped on the Prigge bandwagon by questioning whether Elgin had to go half way around the world to get that kind of training. One commenter suggested our traveling quartet simply avail themselves of Skype or Google for the same kind of enlightenment.

Call me crazy, but I’m not so sure I’d want to avail myself of a 3.5-minute Youtube video and immediately attempt to disarm a knife wielding drunk without some sort of supervised practice first.

No to mention the officers’ expenses were covered by drug asset forfeiture funds, so all the City Manager’s office had to cough up was a scant $2,520 to send Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez along with them. So, the taxpayer impact was negligible.

In addition, as Mayor Dave Kaptain noted, when international law enforcement agencies want to better understand community policing, they come to Elgin. Since most UK officers don’t carry firearms, who better to turn to for non-lethal methodologies?

But the best reason to go is these kinds of trips build the kind of relationships in which the potential dividends can’t be quantified. To wit, Elgin sent a pretty impressive group to the UK and I’m sure their discussions ranged over many more topics than suspect subdual strategies. It’s not at all difficult to imagine future business opportunities and international partnerships arising from this venture.

Successful municipal management always requires a careful combination of bottom line spending and investment, and the failure to invest wisely always ends up costing the taxpayers far more in the long run. Look no further that the State of Illinois’ disastrous mental health policies which mean the untreated least of our brothers often end up in jail.

And incarceration costs ten to twenty times more than treatment does.

So, not only am I’m good with this UK adventure, but I firmly believe that Elgin frequently finds that bottom line/investment balance more often than not.

 

PETA sucks

Or as I like to call that fascinating group, “Liberals Gone Wild.”

Their latest beyond bizarre initiative was to get Nabisco to remove the cages from the front of their classic Barnum animal crackers boxes. Of course, my response to that symbolic gesture is a fervent wish that PETA was equally as imaginary as the “animals” they think just “saved.”

animal crackers

The only people who eat animal crackers are very young children who generally don’t catch the nuance of cookie boxes. But that didn’t stop a PETA spokesperson from declaring, “The new box for the animal crackers reflects that society no longer tolerates the chaining and caging of wild animals,”

No sir! The only thing it reflects is you and your ilk’s consistently misaligned priorities that do more damage to your organization than good. What’s next? Getting Tony the Tiger out of his overly onerous contract with Kellogg?

Some white folks really do have too much time on their hands.

 

Anti-panhandling ordinances are an exercise in futility

So, both Elgin and Aurora have recently come under ACLU fire for the overly onerous anti-panhandling ordinances. Elgin bans begging in roadways, at bus stops, and in city-owned parking lots, and the ordinance also precludes “aggressive” panhandling anywhere. Aurora outlaws the practice completely.

And my two favorite Kane County towns may as well wave the white flag because our fine friends at the American Civil Liberties Union have never failed to get the judge to side with them on this issue.

When the Supreme Court ruled that begging was basically free speech in 2015, Elgin tried to tweak their ordinance, but defining “aggressive panhandling” as touching, the use of profanity, or intentionally blocking a right-of-way ain’t gonna cut it. Put more simply, you can’t regulate one form of “speech” without similarly regulating the rest.

Though I generally applaud the ACLU’s unyielding constitutionally driven efforts, especially in the era of Trump, this is one area in which I think their efforts are misguided. And I say this because there are basically two types of panhandlers.

Panhandling

The first involves the chronically mentally ill and/or addicted and giving them money does nothing more than assure their downward self-destructive spiral. I’d much rather support the Community Crisis Center, Hessed House, Lazarus House, or Mutual Ground who do their damndest to get these folks back on their feet.

Then there are the more plentiful professional panhandlers. You’ll see them holding up cardboard signs with tales of woe at busy intersections or in parking lots. Then, a short half hour later, you’ll find them exiting Meijer with cell phone minutes cards, Starbucks, Cheetos, and cigarettes, as they get into a late model car with their waiting significant other.

For all the obvious reasons, I don’t give anything to either variety.

Since panhandlers go where the people are and legislating them into the next town is a constitutional impossibility, why can’t Elgin and Aurora embark upon the kind of educational campaign that would prevent kind-hearted folks from abetting this nuisance and making the homeless’ plight worse.

They could use social media and target the prime panhandling areas with signs and flyers describing the options available to the homeless. They could further explain that forking over cash only keeps these folks in the same sad situation, and that many of these beggars are simply preying on people’s kindness. The icing on the case would be strategically placed donation kiosks with the proceeds going to the aforementioned social service agencies.

When their cash supply dries up, so will the panhandling, and the homeless who really do need our help will be much more likely to get it. Problem solved!