All previous political maneuvering aside, with one exception, the Chairman was at her best today and I mean that sincerely. In fact, I left that highly anticipated KC county board budget meeting lamenting the fact we haven’t seen more of this version of Karen McConnaughay.
Before you say anything, I’ve written about just how capable the Chairman is a couple of times before. Though she certainly has to take responsibility for choosing her friends, one can only imagine what might have been had Ken Shepro failed to sink his slimy fangs into her.
If it wasn’t for one slip, she would’ve thrown a perfect game today. And that slip was brushing by State Sen. Chris Lauzen as he held out his hand to shake hers. I wish she had the class to get past that well advertised animosity, but it was not to be.
The funniest part of the whole meeting was when the Kane County Farm Bureau presented the Chairman with a plaque for her support of farmland preservation. Board member Mike Kenyon read the resolution and subsequently said something to the effect of, “Karen McConnaughay has been a great adversary for Kane County.”
Of course, he immediately corrected himself, but I couldn’t help but think it was the most accurate statement that man made in his entire political career.
Perhaps demoralized by the surprisingly small turnout despite her attempt to rile up the KC citizenry with all sorts of robocalls, the Chairman got right down to business. Until outgoing board member Bonnie Kunkel insisted upon performing an encore, that is.
Having gone through the budget with a fine tooth comb, she questioned every meaningless expense she could possibly come up with. I will miss those vintage Bonnie moments. But I do have to give the chairman credit for basically keeping her cool as Kunkel managed to exasperate even the board members who generally support her.
And then it was on to the Melisa Taylor show. As the various tax levies came up one by one for individual votes, Melisa reminded the board that:
1. The retirement fund levy had to be significantly hoisted because the Chairman’s massive raise to former Development Director Phil Bus bumped his pension by so much.
2. The legal fee levy was down because the Chairman finally managed to avoid being sued by elected county officials, and
3. Even though it had nothing to do with any levy whatsoever, she took the Chairman to task for abandoning county staff who were stuck in Building A responding to all those insane robocall recipients.
At one point the Chairman left the room, but she did come back, and I have to give her credit for keeping her cool throughout that entire verbal assault. One does have to wonder what she might do in private, however.
Was there some karma involved here? Oh yes there was! I still remember the days of Bill Wyatt, Gerry Jones, Cathy Hurlbut and Mike Kenyon, with one swift glance from the Chairman, pouncing on a hapless errant board member like a starving hyena on a wounded wildebeest.
And those folks still make Taylor look like a rank amateur.
Now, you know I love Melisa, but, considering it was the Chairman’s last meeting, I think she went a bit too far. Class works both ways.
Oh! And that’s right, the Chairman dropped the no November meeting bombshell in the middle of today’s meeting. She claimed it has to be that way because all her support staff has left. Let’s just say I’m not convinced.
Then suddenly, the meeting was over and that’s pretty much it for Chairman McConnaughay. Again, I wish I saw a lot more of the leader I saw today and I sincerely hope she takes that mien down to Springfield.
As I was leaving, I ended up talking with board member Ron Ford who had a great insight. He said, “Jeff, I worked for multiple Aurora administrations and I’ve served four years here. And whenever there’s a change of power, despite whatever the incoming group might say, they always turn out to be just as bad as the people who preceded them.”
Or as I’ve been frequently heard saying, “You do not want to become what you loathe.” I know I’m being pollyanna-ish here and I’ve covered politics too long to believe it will ever happen, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
To all my esteemed county board members! It’s time to put an end to all the middle school games and get down to governing. It’s time to let go of the old animosities and get back to making Kane County a better place for the folks who pay your fricken’ salaries. I don’t give a flying bleep about how much you can’t stand the other guy, that boardroom isn’t your private playground on which to settle scores.
For those who can’t manage to put the rancor behind them, remember, I’ll be watching. And I get especially cranky when my friends disappoint me.
Good luck in Springfield Chairman. I’ll be watching you too!