This is why you don’t say incredibly stupid things like that

I know I’ve used humor to emphasize the abject stupidity and insensitivity of what Kendall County Coroner Ken Toftoy said to the Ledger-Setinel this week, but there’s a really good reason no responsible coroner should ever let his fricken’ gums flap other than when they absolutely need to.

Before we continue, this is what Toftoy said: 

For less than a buck and a half I come to your house and take care of whatever might have happened – if it’s a natural death or your dad hung himself in the garage.

And that really good reason is, a mere day before that BS was printed, a father and his four year-old son were found dead in their Yorkville garage of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.You can read crack Beacon-News reporter Matt Hanley’s story here.

Now, I don’t know exactly when the Ledger-Sentinel interview took place, but Hanley quoted Toftoy as saying, “I’ve done this 20 years and I can’t get this out my mind.  Seeing that little guy sitting in the chair in his pajamas. . . . I had tears in my eyes when I was picking him up.”

Yeah! Right!

If that tragedy came after the quote, he’s simply an unlucky and insensitive clod. If he said after the fact, it’s time to vote for his opponent.

On second thought, if he can’t handle something this simple, then perhaps Kenndall County would be much better off with Mike Dabney.

The Lone Ranger rides again!

From this point on, let’s use weekends to catch up on news stories that didn’t make the weekday cut and perhaps write one or two editorials. I hope that sounds like a reasonable plan to you.

One bypassed item worth noting is Aurora 4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence will run again, but this time for the lone alderman-at-large spot. 

This is a brilliant strategy because when constituents call him to inspect an ostensibly abandoned house, instead of making headlines, he will now be able to refer the caller to the appropriate ward office.

If you recall, despite my rabid Beacon-News defense of his actions, Mr. Lawrence formally apologized for entering a not-as-vacant-as-they thought Downers Place home at the behest of some frustrated neighbors.  When the owners came back to retrieve the rest of their stuff, they found and already cleaned out house.

I still beleive, considering all the foreclosures and the state of that completely trashed property, Lawrence did the right thing. But enough about that.

This columnist heartily supports Lawrence’s choice to run again if for no other reason than every village board needs that lone voice of dissent – as long as it’s employed semi-sparingly and within the bounds of reason. And Rick has, indeed, learned to moderate that voice, the best example of which is a continuing public detente with Mayor Tom Weisner.

If you recall, that wasn’t always the case.

Ah! But there’s a catch! (Ain’t that always the case?). My backing of the alderman’s independent run comes at a cost! And the price is he better damn well be done with that insipid Akif Malik and the even more insipid Open Line Blog. Mr. Malik, a guttersnipe who doesn’t even live in Aurora and calls himself an “activist,” fantasizes that no one really knows he’s the one behind that “anonymous” operation.

So Mr. Lawrence! We will be having a conversation soon in which I will seek assurances, and then I’ll verify it with some of your associates. Let’s hope the alderman has chosen wisely.

Kenny’s coasters!

Now I know what you’re thinking! That title must be referring to a new alternative music group from the west coast. Nothing could be further from the truth. But trust me, by the time we’re done here, you’ll wish it did!

Though nothing could top his “buck fifty to pick up your dead father” quote printed in yesterday’s Ledger-Sentinel, Kendall County Coroner Ken Toftoy has more than one slogan up his sleeve.  And here’s the latest:

Apparently these coasters are popping up in bars all over Oswego which is a good thing, because you probably oughtta be drunk to truly appreciate them. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a death threat or if Ken simply can’t draw a human being very well.

Now, we know Ken has a way with words, but who knew he was a poet too? Perhaps he could branch out into napkins that read, “There once was a coroner from Nantucket…” But we should probably stop there because, after all, this is a family blog.

So here’s my thought. Having taken the time to fully appreciate the effect of this campaign coaster as well as yesterday’s quote, I think it’s time to put Mr. Toftoy’s name in the running for a National Organization of Women “Sensitive Man of the Year Award.”

Personally, I think he’s a lock.

Please understand, I have no dog in the Kendall County Coroners race, I still think Ken is going to win, and I actually like the guy. But no columnist worth his salt could pass up this kind of material. Please keep it coming!

Baby it’s cold outside!

If you’re wondering about our precipitous drop in temperatures, there is a simple explanation. Hell is freezing over.

In a move as baffling as string theory, after going 0 for 5, the Chicago Tribune finally endorsed Jim Oberweis for State Sen. Chris Lauzen’s soon to be vacant 25th District seat. Is it just me or is it kind of disingenuous for a newspaper to back a guy whom they previously savaged so badly it would make Mike Tyson jealous? 

“The Oberweis we see now is more respectful and reasonable – and dead-on in his assessment of what must be done to improve Illinois’ business climate,” the paper blared.

I suppose if creating minimum wage jobs for teenagers is the solution, then Jim the “job creator” is just what we need. Had the Trib said something like, “He’s still bleeping crazy after all these years, but he’s barely better than his Democratic opponent so what the hell,” I might have bought it.

In the meantime, because the thought of Jim representing me makes me want to weep, write in “Jeff Ward” instead.

In another bizarre development that should have you hiding in your crawlspace, the Tribune also endorsed Chris Lauzen for Kane County chair.  It’s not that they’re wrong on this one, but, considering past history, the mere possibility seem so outlandish as to make one seriously consider that we’ve slipped into a parallel quantum universe.

“We’ve had our differences with Republican state Sen. Chris Lauzen, of Aurora,” the paper aid, “We have no doubt, though, that Lauzen would run the county government with financial discipline.” 

Maybe there’s hope for the Trib yet! Although, while they mentioned Klinkhamer’s name, they failed to note that she isn’t even bothering to campaign.

All that said, and for all the reasons we’ve previously discussed, newspaper endorsements don’t matter, but mine do! You can review them in three separate posts here.

The Chairman bids farewell!

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!

Ken Toftoy certainly has a way with words

Please don’t get me wrong, We’re not trying to pick on Kendall County Coroner Ken Toftoy too much here – I actually like the guy. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of shaking his hand, then you know it’s hard not to like him. 

But after Matt Schury’s piece on the Kendall coroner’s race in today’s Ledger-Sentinel (it’s not on the Net yet), Kenny might want enroll in the Jeff Ward school of how to speak to the press. Although, when you consider all the money he’s spent sending coroner deputies to firearms classes, it might not be in his budget.

In yet another case of the truth vastly outweighing the peculiarities of fiction, this is what Ken told Schury:

For less than a buck and a half I come to your house and take care of whatever might have happened – if it’s a natural death or your dad hung himself in the garage.

Of course, Ken’s referring to the $1.36 EVERY Kendall County household remits to the coroner in property taxes. But now I’ll pause for a few minutes while you take that whole sentence in…

First, if you remember the old Newhart show, it sounds an awful lot like Larry, Darryl, and Darryl’s “Anything for a Dollar” business. Heck! At those prices, I’d call the coroner to come out and remove my dead leaves, a skunk that got trapped under the porch, or a dead relative

And second, wouldn’t that melodic and poetic prose translate into the best campaign mailer ever?

I can see it now! Four weeping children surrounding their father’s lifeless body as it slowly swings from the garage rafters – right next to the blue Honda Accord. Enter a smiling Ken Toftoy pulling a gurney behind him as he hands the oldest child a bill for a buck fifty.

Don’t it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? I know it makes me all teary eyed.

God bless you Ken Toftoy, not only for giving me something to write about, but for making the late Mayor Daley senior’s horrific malapropisms suddenly seem reasonable.

It’s been a bad month for Cathy Hurlbut

Not only is the Chairman’s infamous county board hatchet woman, Cathy Hurlbut, going into forced public service retirement soon, but things aren’t going very well for her in Wisconsin either.

If you’ve been following the story here, she’s the president of the board for the Cove (for now), a swanky 222 unit vacation resort in Lake Geneva. Despite taking in approximately $900,000 in up front unit owner cash and monthly payments from the rest, the Cove still somehow owes $1.6 million on a $2.2 million loan, ostensibly appropriated to build two banquet facilities.

When she and the board simply stopped paying that loan, and refused to respond to PNC Bank’s overtures, let’s just say they were not amused.

So on 9/27, PNC’s attorney, who took none of Ms. Hurlbut’s typical crap,  finally managed to put the Cove into receivership. Though truth be told, when Cathy saw 25 Cove unit owners waiting for her in that Wisconsin courtroom, she hid in the hallway like a cockroach running from a kitchen light.

When she finally did walk into the hearing – as it was ending – the judge looked at her attorney and said something along the lines  of, “It’s about time your client showed up.”

So in addition to putting the cove into receivership, the judge noted that Hurlbut could be cited for contempt of court for continuing to write checks on a frozen account, and he called her actions an egregious offense against her co-owners.

Now Cove owners are demanding to know exactly where their money went and they’re not getting any answers.

The management company that Cathy appears to be in cahoots with is being sued for more that $1 million in sales and other taxes they’ve collected, but failed to remit to the the government. And some unit owners are alleging the “missing banquet hall money” has been misappropriated along with some of their rental fees.

And this time, Ms. Hurlbut isn’t dealing with a bunch of mere Kane County peasants. Cove unit owners actually have money and they’re going after her like a a group of Tea Partiers descending upon a wounded gay Democrat.

Please remember, every U.S. citizen is always afforded their day in court and Ms. Hurlbut hasn’t been officially accused of anything. But one does have to begin to wonder if she might look good in orange.

There will be much more on this as the court hearings continue.

The chairman fiddles while Kane County burns!

I’m thinkin’ of starting a new book series called “Where’s Karen,” but the kicker’s gonna be, the Chairman won’t actually be in any of the pictures. I’ll make millions! 

Fueled by her continuing robocalls, those Building A office phones have been lighting up non-stop for two days now, but the chairman is nowhere to be found and no one’s returning those calls.

In what’s become par for the course for her, the Chairman sets off an incendiary device and leaves it to the staff to run for the fire extinguisher. Ms. McConnaughay has always been a class act, hasn’t she? And we’re paying the salaries of the folks who suddenly have nothing better to do that to answer the phones.

We know Ms. McConnaughy hasn’t left town so the big question is, what’s with the Nero act?

Thursday’s board meeting will likely be very packed and very interesting!

Oh what a tangled web we weave – part II

Why on God’s green earth would Paul Ryan lie about his best marathon time? Every runner who’s ever participated in any kind of race remembers their best time – forever! Though I haven’t run a 10K in 20 years, my personal best was 48:28. My best 5K time was 24:01 in 2010.

Those results stick around on the Net as well!

Along the same lines, why would KC GOP coroner nominee Rob Russell claim to have worked on 60+ homicide investigations, and on his latest handout, state he was a lead homicide investigator when that can be so easily disproved?

Ironically, his resume, as it would be more accurately reflected, is nothing to sneeze at. But c’mon! We all know it’s detectives who do the homicide work and not sergeants in the corrections department.

So with a little help from a friend, the Martinez for Coroner campaign finally got the DuPage Sheriff’s office to cough up the FOIA’d goods, and as I previously reported, Russell apparently hasn’t participated in one homicide investigation and the DuPage County Sheriff offers no such “lead homicide investigator” position.

This certainly calls into question Russell’s claim of owning a certification in “lead homicide and death investigations.” At this point, I would call on Mr. Russell to provide the evidence that supports this claim.

Not only that, but the records show Russell has been subjected to five disciplinary actions – three verbal and two written – the particulars of which were not released. Being called on the carpet once or twice in a career isn’t that unusual, but five times?

As you all know, Deputy Russell has been running on a platform of bringing integrity back to the coroners office. Perhaps he’s taking the road less traveled.

What’s Chairman McConnaughay up to now – part II

To recap, we already know that Chairman Karen McConnaughay moved the Kane County property tax levy vote from the spring to this Thursday (10/24). And we also know that’s a rather strange thing to do right before an election.

Then today, Kane County residents were getting one of two robocalls from Americans for Prosperity. Of course, the Illinois chapter of that group is headed up by none other than David From, the former Hastert staffer who has any number of direct ties to Chairman McConnaughay including working for Burnham Strategies which did quite a bit of consulting work for the county. 

The first call warned the peasants that the board was going to give themselves raises this Thursday which is patently untrue. The second stipulated the county board was going to vote on raising the tax levies.

And wouldn’t you know it, the clown prince of Kane County and loyal McConnaughay minion Ken Shepro was seen doing his best cloak and dagger act at County Building A today. There’s no doubt he’s behind this. And apparently the phones were lighting up with irate KC taxpayers calling to voice their displeasure with this sudden turn of events.

So waddaya wanna bet the chairman is doing her best to stack that Thursday budget meeting gallery with disgruntled constituents so she can make a a grand sweeping gesture out of calling out the board for their intolerable fiscal insolence.

My fondest wish is that the board tables all this tax levy talk and thus, steals the Chairman’s thunder.

I wish I could say I never get tired of her act, but I do. And so should you.