After every election, a good political friend of mine likes to encourage folks to “give back their enemies.” In other words, “It’s over, so you may as well move on.” When you consider the tit-for-tat game that generally permeates all of Kane County politics, it really is sage advice, especially for someone of my ilk.
Now, I really don’t want to disappoint my friend, but I also believe there’s a big difference between going Game of Thrones on someone, and setting the record straight. so taking the inherent voter ADHD into account, there are far too many local politicians who reverse course because they figure no one will remember the direction in which they were originally headed.
It all started with an unqualified crony director who made $92,000 year. Contracts were awarded only to folks with the appropriate pull and it was virtually impossible to adopt a pet. When one rescue group attempted to do just that, the adoption was botched so badly, it led to the director’s resignation.
Then we moved to an interim director who also had no prior experience and promptly oversaw citations being sent to people who’s pets had long since been inoculated. It took a slew of $27,000 temporaries to relieve that 60,000 file data entry backlog.
And their numbers always were a bit suspect too.
The icing on the cake was, because they hadn’t collected those fees, the supposedly self-sufficient department couldn’t make their 2012 $153,000 annual mortgage payment and had to beg the board for those funds.
Finally backed into a corner, McConnaughay and then Health Department Director, Paul Kuehnert, were forced to hire a director who actually had some AC credentials. But after sabotaging her at every turn, she quit after four short months.
Fast forward to current Chairman Chris Lauzen’s still short two-year tenure and, to the chagrin of some suddenly diligent board members with very short memories, he hired political ally Rob Sauceda to run Animal Control. And the about face has been nothing short of stunning.
The phones are being answered, the bills are being collected, and the mortgage woes are a thing of the past. Costs are way down. Staff morale is much higher. Pet’s are regularly being adopted and the place is so clean you could eat off the bleepin’ floors.
The chocolate frosting on that cake is, armed with a tip from a concerned citizen, Kane County Animal Control just saved more than 100 mistreated animals from a rescue/petting zoo owner who clearly got in over her head.
And Sauceda’s doing it for about two-thirds of what that original director got.
So what I’m basically saying is, it took Lauzen and Sauceda less than two years to right an eight-year nightmare and completely repair a severely damaged departmental reputation.
But here’s the thing. Sauceda is up for re-appointment in November and I guarantee you the same county board members who aided, abetted and willingly signed on to that previous fiasco, will be the first ones shriek and howl about political hires.
During the original Sauceda hiring kerfuffle, I asked one of those very board members exactly what had incited their sudden spasm of due diligence? His response was, “Do we really have to back there again?”
I shrugged it off then, but my current response is this; “Yes we do. Especially at election time.”