Quick Hits – Et Potest Emit, Elgin?

Back in the day, the late great Chicago opinion columnist, Mike Royko, proposed that The Second City should adjust its motto from “Urbs in Horto,” or “City in a Garden,” to “Ubi Est Mea,” or “Where’s Mine.”

And that would still work today, just ask Ed Burke!

It’s in that very same vein that, after the Elgin City Council “tabled” an eminently reasonable ethics ordinance – one based on Chicago’s current statute – I’m unilaterally changing Elgin’s motto from “The City in the Suburbs” to “Et Potest Emit,” or “I can be bought!”

It certainly has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

By the way, the reason I put “tabled” in quotes is, that’s what city councils do when they don’t want to vote something down outright, but they want to be sure it will never see the light of day again.

So, Et Potest Emit is is!

And this proposed ordinance is beyond mild. It simply would’ve ensured that:

  • Whistle blowers are protected
  • Firms doing 10 grand in annual business with the City don’t contribute to city council members or candidates
  • City council members aren’t lobbyists

It’s hardly draconian, and the fact that Elgin actually has to say it makes me wanna bang my head against the wall. Shouldn’t city council members have some sort of internal moral compass? Apparently not!

The Fab Five

Claiming the ordinance was a “Slippery slope,” the “liberal” faction of the council which includes, Tish Powell, Corey Dixon, John Steffen, Carol Rauschenberger, and of course, Baldemar Lopez, are the ones who voted to table it.

“Slippery Slope?” A slippery slope to what? Actually behaving as any good council member inherently should behave? Doing the right thing without having to be under the influence of an ethics ordinance?

After nonsensically insisting that Chicago aldermanic positions are full-time, while Elgin’s aren’t, Powell said, “I have very serious concerns about overreach in what we can do in our personal endeavors if it does not have a direct conflict with the city.”

Oh! So only full-time city council members are required to be ethical. Good to know! And  it’s not up to you to determine what is and isn’t a direct conflict because you’ve repeatedly and clearly proven your sole city council raison d’etre is you!

What Powell really meant when she said that was, “I’m getting all sorts of ‘consulting’ jobs as a result of being a councilman and this ordinance would correctly end that.” If it weren’t for her council compatriot Terry Gavin, Powell would rank as the most hypocritical elected official I’ve ever met.

Not to be outdone, Steffen said, “I agree with the concept, but I am also not trying to create situations that are just going to trip people up unintentionally.” Translated, that means, “As an Elgin Attorney, particularly because I’m sitting on that council dais, I get all sorts of business from clients who do business with the City and this ordinance would correctly end that.”

I do have a Ph.D. in aldermanese!

Meanwhile, Rauschenberger performed her typical disappearing act by slithering under the disk, while Dixon tried to borrow co-councilman Toby Shaw’s cloaking device. You see, when you look up “ethics violation” in that Miriam-Webster, Corey’s gleaming visage is directly adjacent to it.

Under the guise of constituent care, Dixon hosts free “giveaways” that make Fast Ed Vrdolyak’s antics look like the ministrations of Mother Theresa. He parlayed his inconsequential role in Ron Hain’s 2018 Sheriff campaign into a $72,000 job in that office, and I’ve been getting all sorts of reports that he’s driving his personal vehicle with County issued plates all over Elgin.

Apparently, only we serfs have to pay the new $150 annual license plate fee. Corey Dixon would sell his two daughters if he thought it would advance his political career.

But we’ve saved the best for last! Baldemar Lopez! The very reason Elgin finally decided an ethics ordinance was necessary. He actually had the bleepin’ nerve to say, “It would be little unfair to adopt these changes now because it would have an adverse effect on my practice.”

No! What’s truly unfair is that you have the temerity to purport to serve the people of Elgin, while fervently believing they’re there to serve you! Can you say “narcissistic?” I knew you could! I’ve heard Baldemar had all the mirrors removed from his house because he can’t stand the sight of his own reflection.

Perhaps even more shockingly, Shaw turned off his cloaking device just long enough to make the best point of the evening, “Running for office is a choice, and not an obligation,” adding, “I sometimes laugh about some of the things that Chicago does. When they actually pass a transparency and ethics ordinance, and now we don’t want to take that? Really? It’s too strict for us, but it’s good enough for Chicago?”

Yep!

Tish! If serving on the city council cuts into your potential consulting clients and your amazing capacity to undermine the City and the police department, here’s a thought! Step down! And that goes for Steffen, Dixon, Rauschenberger and particularly Lopez, too. If you don’t want your “practice adversely affected,” then don’t bleepin’ run!

C’mon! If Terry Gavin somehow manages to grasp this concept, it can’t possibly be a very difficult one. Shame on every last one of you!

Ah! But, as most of my readers already know, I’m much more than just a pretty face. Dixon, Lopez, and Rauschenberger are all up for reelection in 2021, and with this ethical lapse being utterly unconscionable, I’m officially looking for three good candidates.

I understand that running is no small task, but I’ll be more than happy to provide the ground game framework, the messaging, and perhaps even some of the campaign financing. And, trust me, that’s no small offer. You know where to find me!

And I thought Donald Trump was bad!

 

Quick Hits – Why do we let tragedy define us?

In a fascinatingly philosophical bent for the greatest theoretical physicist to ever walk the planet, Albert Einstein once proposed that, “The most important decision we can make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Of course, that quote is almost always reduced to “Is the universe a friendly place?”

Though merely contemplating the Theory of General Relativity can make my brain hurt, that’s a question to which I actually can provide an unequivocal answer. No! The Universe is not friendly! In fact, it’s quite a tragic place.

Think about it! The Earth has endured five mass extinctions, the latest of which was particularly dire. Dinosaurs roamed this planet for millions of years only to be wiped out in the blink of an eye by a hurtling space rock.

Warehouse Shooting Aurora

And make no mistake, there will be a sixth! If we don’t kill ourselves first, a gamma ray burst from a distant dying star, a well-aimed solar flare, or another large asteroid will most certainly do the trick. We essentially live in a cosmic shooting gallery, and just like it is with Russian roulette, one day we’ll draw the chamber with the bullet.

So, having answered Einstein’s question, that leaves us with two choices. The first is to cower under the shadow of the Sword of Damocles. The second is to be grateful for the happy accident that is this likely too-brief existence and enjoy it while we can.

Though it’s certainly taken me a while to figure that out, I seem to be one of the few folks who falls into the latter camp. Most of us seem to be more than content to allow tragedy to define us.

With tomorrow marking the one-year anniversary of the Aurora, Illinois, Henry Pratt shootings, as you might imagine, I’ve been considering this enigma a little more lately.

Of course we should remember and lament the untimely deaths of five fellow human beings, but what bothers me is how that horrific moment in time has become one of Aurora’s defining moments. Though I will give most of the newspapers credit for not printing the shooters name, they’re reviewing this horrific event as if it was some sort of previous sports championship.

Aurora strong? While I certainly understand that sentiment, Aurora has always been strong in my eyes.

Then the Aurora Art and History Center creates a Henry Pratt exhibit? Though I firmly believe their hearts are in the right place, not only does it seem somewhat morbid, but despite those good intentions, an exhibit can’t help but glorify a mass murderer and perhaps encourage copycats.

The same goes for all the recent news stories.

The sad truth is, Aurorans die inopportune deaths every day. In 2020 alone:

  • 30 Aurorans will die in car crashes
  • 410 will die of heart disease
  • 362 will die of cancer
  • 41 will die of the flu
  • 50 will die of diabetes
  • And 29 will take their own lives

But we rarely talk about them, they virtually never make the papers, and, aside from a gravestone, there are no memorials erected in their honor.

Please don’t get me wrong, even though I’m sure some of you will. I am devaluing no one’s death. As the great John Donne said in his famous sermon, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind,” but why do we give more import to truly tragic deaths like mass shootings?

It’s not as if this country has shown any capacity to finally deal with mental illness or prevent mass shootings, so that can’t possibly be the point. And would we really forget Henry Pratt if there were no exhibits or further newspaper accounts? I don’t think so.

When I think about Aurora, I’d rather remember going to River Edge Park, seeing the amazing Outlaws at Downtown Alive, enjoying the latest Paramount Broadway series, a Gillerson’s burger, taking my then-young boys to Sci-Tech, watching our Hispanic brothers and sisters celebrate Dia de los Muertos, working on the Mayor’s campaign team, the now absent Beacon-News building, and the many fascinating Aurorans I’ve met during my tenure as an opinion columnist.

That doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget the Henry Pratt victims, it’s just that I don’t ever want a mass shooting or a mass shooter to become my defining Aurora moment.

Yes! As previously postulated, the universe is not a friendly place and this existence is generally defined by tragedy. But even though that sword perpetually hangs above us, secured only by a scant thread, it doesn’t mean we have to let tragedy define us.

Aurora has been strong, it is strong, and it will be strong.

Quick Hits – February 12, 2020

The candidate strikes back

It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but I can’t tell you how much fun it is when a candidate or elected official, clearly aggravated by my capacity to tell the truth, comes back at me in the kind of ill-advised manner that proves I exposed them for exactly who they are!

In light of my almost 14-year tenure, most of ‘em have come to realize there’s isn’t much point in poking the bear, so they simply let it go. And what fun is that? Though my good friend Jim Oberweis’ capacity to publicly ignore me while still sending me a Christmas card every year always makes me laugh.

Ah! But in what will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, our vapid 26-year-old 14th Congressional GOP candidate, Catalina Lauf, wasn’t nearly that smart. After I accurately demonstrated what a farce both she and her Congressional run are, she resorted to citing my heinous not-quite-criminal past because she really doesn’t have anything to say.

Though she did miss the fact that FBI thought I was the Unabomber for 16 years. We won’t talk about the ATF!

There was no defense of her so-far pointless candidacy, there was no description of her campaign platform, and there was no explanation for why she performed so poorly at that Batavia candidate’s forum. It was just another in a long line of the kind of non-statements that have completely defined her candidacy.

What the young lady continues to completely miss is, it was three high-ranking Republican officials who were so stunned and discouraged with her forum performance who came to me about her. I haven’t paid much attention to the 14th because incumbent Lauren Underwood will run away with that one.

I know it’s hard to believe, particularly these days, but some Republicans still care about and believe in what the Party of Lincoln once stood for.

At the end of her counter-tweet Ms. Lauf wrote, “I can’t wait till March 17,” And neither can we Catalina, because that’s when, after receiving less than 10 percent of the primary vote, you will, once again, be relegated to the vast insignificance you so richly deserve!

But it really is sad that you somehow believe you have political merit because the Republicans who recruited you did so solely based on your ethnicity and appearance, and they will discard you just as quickly as those looks will inevitably fade. Of course, if you lose the primary as badly as most people think you will, your GOP “friends” will dispense with you much faster.

Didn’t you question why your “handlers” wouldn’t allow you to appear for that Sun-Times editorial board interview? They know it would be just another unmitigated disaster. And now that people know you can’t string two coherent sentences together, your ambition of landing a Fox News gig ain’t gonna happen, either.

Meanwhile, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that, one day, you will wake up and not only realize just how badly you’ve been used, but that I was the only one who told you the truth.

 

Some folks just can’t stand good fortune!

I know some of y’all have the nerve to think that, on occasion, I can be my own worst enemy, but compared to actor Jussie Smollett, I’m the rankest of rank Amateurs.

Here’s what I mean!

Having clearly staged your own hate crime, if you ever get an exceedingly rare and inexplicable free pass from those often-vindictive Second City politicos, you should immediately fall on your knees and thank whatever god you worship, offer to regularly mow the lawns of the folks who provided once-in-a-lifetime break, and never as much as whisper a word about it again!

Smollett 2

Because, if instead, you further enrage an already irate CPD by publicly referring to them as buffoons, you countersue the City instead of wisely coughing up the cost of the unnecessary investigation, and you do your damndest to turn your amazing good fortune into a race-based and self-aggrandizing press coup, you might just be criminally charged all over again!

And that’s exactly what Special Prosecutor Dan Webb just did by reinstating all six disorderly conduct charges.

So now, with his acting career already in all sorts of shambles, it will only get worse when he’s finally convicted, Smollett will have to pay for the CPD’s investigative time, and considering his vast capacity to be utterly ungrateful, I think whatever man or woman in black he draws will slap him down again.

And all he had to do was thank the Lord for his immense good fortune and walk away and keep his mouth shut.

Quick Hits – The Second District Appellate Court fails miserably!

Here we go again! Another Tuesday Quick Hits. Apparently, I harbor some massive masochistic tendencies I was heretofore unaware of. But since the generally sluggish Second District Court of Appeals ruled on the Wayside Cross Ministries sex offenders’ motion for an emergency temporary restraining order in record time, it’s the perfect time to cover it.

But before we continue, I want to thank the local attorney who sent me a copy of this most recent ruling. I can’t tell you just gratifying to have so many of you support my journalistic efforts.

First, yours truly and every Kane County attorney I spoke with were wrong! They foolishly agreed with my stipulation that the appellate court would grant the temporary restrainiBusch Wayside Ruling2nd Appellate Wayside Rulingng allowing the 18 sex offenders to remain at Wayside until the appeal of their eviction was fully heard.

Wayside 3

But in a rather surprising and strange turn of events, the normally staid and letter-of-the-law Second District not only failed to grant the TRO, but as one of my favorite attorneys remarked, “This isn’t just a denial of a stay pending appeal, it’s an actual ruling on the appeal!”

Yes, it is! And you can read it for yourself right here: 2nd Appellate Wayside Ruling

Another attorney said, “They took quick briefs, allowed no argument, and they issued a decision? These things usually take close to a year!”

So, by applying absolutely none of their ordinary due diligence, those men and women in black took the chickenshit way out just because they could. I suppose there’s still the Illinois Supreme Court but those men and women in black have never impressed me on any level.

One of the most corrupt aldermen in Chicago history is under indictment and his wife still serves? Only in Illinois!

So, let’s review exactly why this ruling completely sucks before I call some people of import out!

1. The sex offender statute doesn’t protect anyone from anything!

Oh! I see! Forcing sex offenders to reside more than 500 feet from a playground is the panacea for pedophilia. Fascinating! That internal conversation must go something like this! “Crap! I feel like snatching a kid, but I just can’t bring myself to walk 501 feet to do it. If only I lived one foot closer to the park!”

2. Children aren’t snatched from parks!

I presented six separate studies to a Facebook bleep this morning unanimously noting that, when it comes to any sexual crimes, including adult rape, the victim knows their attacker 95 percent of the time. “Stranger danger” is a myth. Sexual predators, particularly those who target children, groom their victims over time, they don’t kidnap them.

3. This eviction makes Aurora LESS safe

Two weeks ago, I spent three hours with Executive Director James Lukose and Wayside, and I can personally attest to just how seriously those sex offenders are supervised. Wayside offers an immersive faith-based program that puts these men in best possible position. Nothing will ever be perfect in this regard, but this the best solution I’ve seen in 14 years of covering law enforcement.

4. But now they might be homeless!

So, Aurora! Are your children better off with 18 supervised sex offenders under the eye of a watchful ministry, or with 18 homeless sex offenders wandering the streets? Considering the issues involved, most landlords and no homeless shelters will take these men, so they may well end up on the street.

5. The Christian standard is a tough one!

This is what really frosts my flakes, and please remember, I’m only messenger, but the Christian standard is a lofty one to say the least. And the Bible’s quite clear about the least of our brothers and sisters, forgiveness, and that redemption or grace, is always available to everyone all the time. But I know this column will rile those “good” Aurora “Christians” to the point where they’ll insist that sex offenders should be executed.

Good Christians every one!

All I can say is, I can’t wait till you meet your Christian God face-to-face because I know exactly what He or She is going to ask you. And “I acted out of irrational fear” won’t get you through those gates.

 

Now that we’re clear, let’s move onto the folks who need to understand my point in ascending order!

1. To State’s Attorney Civil Division head Joe Lulves, ASA Erin Brady, & Aurora Attorney Rick Veenstra

We all know there’s the letter and spirit of the law, and when applied correctly, the spirit is always more effective than the letter. The three of you know damn well that putting these men on the streets, while politically expedient, makes no one safer. You also know this absurd sex offender law does absolutely nothing.

Trust me! No one knows better than me just how costly doing the right thing can be. But “I need this job because I have children” will in no way absolve you from that responsibility. So, this is a friendly warning about what’s to come if you persist in throwing these men to the wolves.

I do have a way with words!

2. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman

Do I really need to remind you that a scant 15 years ago, most states enforced laws that made being gay illegal? And ten years ago, you wouldn’t have been appointed police chief of anything. So, now you’re blindly enforcing the “law” and only “following orders?” Isn’t that what every Nazi said at the Nuremburg trials?

3. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin

To my black brother from another mother! To say we’ve fought like siblings while coming just short of blows would be the most massive of understatements. But it never gets that far because we never forget our vast love and appreciation for each other. At least you finally admitted I was instrumental in getting you elected Mayor.

But love and appreciation only go so far. If the City of Aurora unceremoniously kicks those men out of Wayside without another reasonable option, with the exception of one potential candidate, I will work gratis on behalf of any 2021 mayoral candidate who enjoys the capacity to see the same truth.

And, of all of the people on this vast blue rock, you truly understand my skillset and my capacity to keep my promises.

 

Because, here’s the thing Dear Reader! During that meeting with Mr. Lukose, a true man of God, he and I worked out the kind of win-win negotiation that’s quite rare in this existence. Yes! It would require Wayside Board approval and it would take time to implement, but as Otto Von Bismarck one said, “Politics is the art of the possible.”

So, my fondest wish is that we all do the best thing for everyone involved. But I’m more than ready for the alternative!

 

Quick Hits – February 9, 2020

So, now airfare is a state senate campaign expense?

Given my predilection for steadfastly remaining in my home office, I fully understand why someone would want to avoid the 29.8-mile drive from South Elgin to Yorkville. But unless Illinois 25th District Republican State Senate candidate Beth Goncher did just that – three times – she’s certainly got some splainin’ to do!

Goncher

You see, our intrepid candidate listed the following three expenses in her 2019 final quarterly campaign finance report:

10/15/19          $150.58           Spirit Airlines

10/29/19          $130.79           Spirit Airlines

11/06/19          $  77.30           Spirit Airlines

First, I don’t think Spirit covers the South Elgin to Yorkville run, and second, unless you’re running statewide, I cannot comprehend the kind of state senate campaign related proposition that would require repeated air travel.

So, I reached out to Ms. Goncher in an effort to provide an opportunity to explain this conundrum only to be met with stone cold silence. Though I have no evidence they weren’t campaign expenses, that summary silence probably means they’re not!

And those liabilities are even stranger when you consider Goncher’s fundraising efforts have fallen flat to the tune of a meager $4,500 campaign war chest. That paltry amount wouldn’t get you elected mayor of Maple Park, much less put you over the top in the 25th.

If I was a betting man, her donors – predominantly other Republican politicians – probably paid for some vacation or business trip airfare, which wouldn’t surprise me considering Goncher’s political mentor is former 49th District State Rep Tim Schmitz.

Meanwhile, I’d like to thank the source who brought this story to my attention because I can only cover so much myself.

 

Dudes! The heat ain’t gonna die down!

Considering the frequency with which I hear things, it surprises me whenever a significant story somewhat escapes me. The irony is, when a source finally mentions it, they always preface it with “I’m sure you’ve heard this by now.”

So, It would seem that I’m a victim of my capacity to develop sources as was certainly the case here!

Two separate sources on two consecutive days just told me that Madigan bought and sold Elgin City Councilman, Baldemar Lopez, had every intention of running for the 65th State Rep seat currently held by Republican Dan Ugaste.

That news certainly comes as no shock considering we already covered how Lopez wouldn’t be sitting on his political laurels after spending 25 grand on that city council seat. Though the real irony is, Elgin City Council members may occasionally get appointed to a Springfield seat, but though they often try, they rarely get elected to higher office.

Lopez 2

So, why didn’t Baldermar actually run, you ask? His posse, generally headed up by Elgin “activists” Jose Bosque and Anthony Ortiz, told him to wait until “the heat died down.” And the “heat” in question was WBEZ’s and my story uncovering Lopez’ role as a Springfield lobbyist, including how Commonwealth Edison paid him 60 grand to do what can only be described as nothing.

The massive irony there is, the heat actually had died down until Bosque and Ortiz, or Beavis and Butthead as I like to call them, turned the flame to high by filing frivolous ethics complaints against City Councilmen Terry Gavin and Rose Martinez in retaliation for a proposed ethics ordinance banning lobbyists from serving on the City Council.

Even the local papers started beating the drum on that one because Bosque and Ortiz completely ignored similar “violations” on the part of other councilmen they didn’t find to be nearly as objectionable.

Can you say, “Marvelously hoist by your own petard?” I knew you could! Though I’m not sure Shakespeare put it quite that way! With Lopez cowering in the political crawlspace, Democratic Kane County Board member Mo Iqbal ran instead.

The continuing irony is, the heat ain’t gonna die down anytime soon because Lopez still hasn’t filed his 2019 Economic Interest Statement and I’m not about to let that lapse go anytime soon! Right now, he’s staring down a meager $15 late fee, but if he doesn’t file by May 16, the fine skyrockets to $100 a day.

And we know Lopez hasn’t filed that EIS because he knows we’re watching, and having failed to be completely truthful on his 2018 iteration, he doesn’t want to admit – in print – that he’s really a lobbyist, a fact that would greatly impact his political aspirations.

But I’m nothing if not patient! (Stop laughing you bleeps!) I promise I will avail myself of the Kane County Clerk’s EIS portal every week in an effort to determine just when that document finally appears. And we’ll most certainly go over it if, and when, it does.

All I can say is, with friends like Jose and Anthony, who needs enemies?

 

And speaking of Mo Iqbal…

After barely serving a year on the Kane County Board, as previously mentioned, our perennial candidate is already seeking greener political pastures, which is a wee bit disingenuous when you consider his implicit promise to represent the fine folks of the 19th board district.

I just don’t understand how my somewhat savvy Elginians have been completely taken in by both Lopez and Mr. Iqbal, neither of whom had any intention of serving the voters kind enough to put them in office.

Iqbal

Though it’s a really a moot point.

Unless the demographics shift wildly overnight, the 65th was drawn to be a seriously Republican district such that no Democrat can possibly win it for the foreseeable future. We’re talking Pingree grove, the west side of Elgin, and portions of Hampshire, South Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, and Huntley.

That’s about as Republican as it gets in Northern Illinois and, at least for now, there is no imaginable Trump backlash that will change that reality.

Sure! Ugaste only beat 2018 Dem challenger Richard Johnson by a mere 4 percent, but if Iqbal manages to get past primary opponent Martha Paschke – no guarantee there – his somewhat questionable work ethic will provide a proven campaigner like Ugaste with a huge upper hand.

There’s a vast difference between running for county board and state rep, and that shift starts with a massive jump in the number of doors upon which a candidate needs to knock. That means I don’t think Paschke has any shot in the general either.

So, here’s my point! If a candidate asks for your vote when they clearly have no intention of serving one full term, don’t vote for them! And those this-is-just-a-stepping-stone electoral intentions are generally pretty easy to ferret out!

 

Quick Hits – Breaking News!

Last week, Elgin Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez tendered her resignation effective Friday February 14th. She will be moving on to a job in the non-profit sector.

Though I’ve known about this possibility for a bit, I didn’t want to post the news until the City of Elgin had an opportunity to officially announce it. If anyone deserves to leave a job on their own terms, it’s Laura Valdez.

Valdez

I’ll post that press release covering many of her accomplishments below, but here’s what I’d like to add.

I’ve dealt with dozens of City and Assistant City Managers over the course of the last 14 years, but none have had the intelligence, depth, foresight, and incredible energy Ms. Valdez brings to the table. We’ve certainly had our disagreements, but I never questioned her dedication to the City and the people she so clearly loves.

As far as her departure goes, unless you’ve covered or worked for a city, it’s the nature of municipal government beast to chew you up and summarily spit you out. You get blamed for shit you can’t possibly control, everyone takes credit for your successes, and the expressly implied 60- to 80-hour work weeks can become patently absurd.

The truth is, if you died at your City Hall desk tomorrow, the midnight cleaning crew would dutifully dispose of your body and there’d be a new staffer in your chair the very next morning. If you look up the term “municipal job” in the dictionary, the simple two-word definition consists of “See thankless.”

To be clear, Laura and I have only briefly spoken since I heard the news, and not only does she refuse to utter a disparaging word about the City, but she’s eternally grateful to the City Council and her bosses for providing her with the opportunity to tackle the kind of monumental task she generally enjoys.

And that’s been the case since the day I ran into her as a co-presenter at a seminar five years ago.

With that caveat issued, I do believe the leadership vacuum we discussed in part three of our series on the Elgin homeless finally took its toll. In that column I described how certain staffers like the Assistant City Manager succeeded despite the folks in charge, not because of them. That’s another persistent reality of municipal employment, and navigating that minefield on a daily basis can become rather tiring.

Elgin will hire a new assistant manager, and if history repeats itself, they’ll do a good job,  but given her one-of-a-kindness, Laura Valdez can never truly be replaced. Her resignation is a huge loss for the City and the people of Elgin.

If I chose to be bold enough to offer some parting words, those words would be, “Laura! Please don’t waste the time I did fervently believing happiness is just around the corner. The truth is, it’s always right in front of us simply waiting to be accepted!”

All that’s left to do is wish Laura the best as she inevitably rises to meet those new challenges.

 

Here’s the City of Elgin press release in its entirety:

Valdez Steps Down from Role of Assistant City Manager

Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez will step down from her role at the City of Elgin to accept a position in the nonprofit sector. Her last day will be Friday, February 14. The City will conduct a search to fill the position.

“It is bittersweet to close this chapter in Elgin, as it has been such a privilege to work for the City and serve the community,” said Laura Valdez. “I am proud to have worked with tremendously dedicated staff, city council and people in the community who all have the same goal – make Elgin the best place for all to live, do business and grow. Elgin truly is a special place and no doubt continues to have a bright future, particularly with such talented leaders at the helm.”
Valdez has served the City of Elgin since 2013 when she began as an intern in the human resources department. Working through the organization, she spent the last two years as the assistant city manager where she focused on building organizational capacity to meet the future needs of the community. Since her start, Valdez’s work has included serving on the City’s executive budget team, implementing key technology initiatives, development of the diversity and inclusion framework, and oversight of capital planning, strategic communication and organizational development.

Valdez’s work has also reached into the community over the years with special initiatives such as work with human service agencies during the State budget impasse, realigning the community’s approach to addressing homelessness, Alignment Collaborative for Education and Elgin’s Census 2020 campaign.

“Elgin has greatly benefitted from Ms. Valdez’s commitment to enhancing the organization’s operational efficiencies and strengthening the bonds between community stakeholders,” said City Manager Rick Kozal, “I fully expect to learn of similar success in her future endeavors.”

Quick Hits – Catalina Lauf’s candidacy is a farce!

Since I managed to get a bit more of ‘The Diary of a Curmudgeon’ done yesterday evening, surprisingly, I’m feeling somewhat motivated to write on a bleak February Midwest morning. So, since I’ve already done four of ‘em this week, let’s just go with a fifth Quick Hits. But don’t get used to it you bleeps!

Here we go!

 

As a result of Tuesday’s Quick Hits on how 14th District GOP Congressional candidate Catalina Lauf didn’t know what the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) was when questioned at a candidate forum, y’all made my day with the across-the-board hilarious responses.

Republicans did their damndest to defend Lauf claiming I should give her a break because she’s “only 26 years old” and hasn’t had time to catch up on such things. Of course, these are the same m***********s who went into complete conniptions over Barack Obama wearing “mom” jeans, so no breaks will be administered here!

It’s very simple! I don’t care how old you are, if you don’t know what the ERA is, DON’T run for Congress.

Other conservatives tried to tell me her beyond bad response was immaterial because the ERA is dead. Odd, I thought! Didn’t the formerly red state of Virginia just pass that Amendment to great fanfare? Had Ms. Lauf simply availed herself of a flippin’ newspaper, she would’ve been well aware of that possibility.

Of course, I’m assuming she can read.

Lauf 2

This photo really sums it all up!

But the best responses came from Hispanic readers who insisted I was terrified of minority candidates, and it was great to see an upstanding Latina like Ms. Lauf run. But when I explained that she’s a full Monty Trumper, that shut ‘em up faster than a celebrity unexpectedly walking into an elevator with Ricky Gervais.

But the best reply came from my revered Facebook friend and Hispanic activist Roberto Sepulveda. After snarkily posting that column on his timeline with the header, “Roberto! Here’s another Hispanic candidate for you. But this one’s been listening to too many white people!” he responded, “I don’t know you and stop spamming my timeline!”

And I’m still laughing!

But seriously folks, this is exactly what the predominantly old white male Republican Party just loves to do!

Ms. Lauf was plucked from utter obscurity as an entry level Uber employee by a “patron” who clearly was enamored of her for all the obvious “reasons.” And in an effort to secure her “admiration,” he had Donald Trump appoint her as a Special Advisor to the Department of Commerce.

And we all know exactly what Donald Trump sees in women, don’t we? No 26-year-old on this vast planet has nearly enough job or life experience to become a national economic advisor. Why not just appoint Kylie Jenner to the post?

Put more simply, in an effort to make the rest of us believe they really do love brown people, Republicans ferret out female trophy candidates who somehow buy into their misogynist and bigoted world view while lacking the intelligence that would make them difficult to control.

I almost feel sorry for Ms. Lauf! Who wouldn’t enjoy this kind of rapt political attention at such a ripe young age? But not only are pregnancy and gravity quite unkind to women, it can be beyond earth shattering to suddenly wake up in your mid 40s only to discover you’ve mistaken a tailwind for talent all along.

And I say “almost sorry” because when you read Lauf’s website bio, it’s even more fictitious than ‘American Dirt.’ Holy Crap! I thought I could frame a message, but whoever put those two paragraphs together just schooled me in the art of spin.

Lauf claims that, after receiving her “Associate’s Degree,” “she completed her bachelor’s degree in only two years.” Ummm…after you’ve graduated from a community college, unless you’re kinda slow, it only takes two years to finish your bachelor’s degree!

The she “jump-started her career by working in both the non-profit space and the private sector in Chicago and throughout the Midwest.” Translated, she was an unpaid intern for a variety of Illinois companies.

But here’s the best part! “She went on to work for Uber, focusing on community engagement initiatives, strategic partnerships, and her favorite — connecting with the driver community. She engaged with corporate leaders from different industries, sharpened her business acumen, and honed her leadership skills.”

No, she didn’t! This is a vast fiction worthy of a Trump tweet! Again, she was an entry level Uber marketing rep who primarily dealt with her boss and no one else. And Republicans have the nerve to go after 14th District incumbent Lauren Underwood for not being a “real” nurse?

Didn’t Uber lose $1.1 billion last quarter? So much for Lauf’s “engaging corporate leaders from different industries!”

Since conservatives just love to attack Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez on the slimmest of pretenses, and recent Medal of Freedom winner Rush Limbaugh once said “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society,” I’m no longer feeling the need to hold back!

The plain truth is, Catalina Lauf is nothing more than a political bimbo.

I certainly give the young woman a boatload of credit for earning a degree and putting herself politically out there, but more than one GOP observer told me her recent candidate forum responses were “always a bit off. ” Another high-ranking Collar County Republican regular said, “While we welcome all enthusiastic minority candidates into the party, Congress is not an entry level job.”

Republicans! Could it be possibly be any clearer that your general acceptance of Lauf’s baseless candidacy makes you nothing more than rank hypocrites? And if you give me any crap about this eminently true statement, I’ll be more than happy to give it right back to you!

Lastly, I also have to give Lauf  vast credit for being the only candidate who’s ever made Jim Oberweis look good by comparison. I didn’t think that was possible!