If pressed, it would probably be safe to surmise that the Coroner’s favorite song would have to be “My Way” because despite a proliferation of perceptive pointers, Rob Russell is bound and determined to get his new building no matter what the consequences might be.
Yikes! Even Ol’ Blue Eyes knew when to call it quits.
I’ve never met a man who so single-mindedly ignores those folks who only have his best interest in mind while committing political suicide in the process. It’s actually quite a fascinating phenomenon to observe.
Since most County Boards really do have the greater good in mind and they prefer to work with as opposed to fight with the elected officials, some of those keen Kane County Commissioners came up with a couple of short term solutions.
The first would be for the Coroner to take the 75 grand they already gave him and buy a new freezer. The second involves installing a small Building E addition and completely reworking the current morgue. That quarter of a million dollar solution would also provide the Coroner with badly needed additional office space.
If worse came to worse, the County could always consider converting the print and copy center right across that small access street into a makeshift morgue.
Either one of those eminently reasonable top two scenarios would provide an inexpensive and effective interim solution to the Coroner’s current facility quandary by extending the life of his building for five to ten years. This means there would be plenty of time for the County to execute the portion of their master plan which includes moving the entire main campus out to where the Judicial Center currently sits.
Then everyone gets a new building and they’ll all live happily ever after.
The problem is, as you may have already noticed, the Coroner is not a patient man. (I’d hate to see how he handles being in line at the DMV.) Russell wants his new digs now and, in his mind, the best way to force the Board’s hand is to simply stop performing routine maintenance – or to perform maintenance that creates even more problems.
His first step was to change all the locks so only his staff could gain access to the premises. Then, after the vaunted “black mold” infesting the unreplaced freezer turned out to be of the regular household variety, no one really knows whether he’s applied the requisite dose of Lysol because bodies are still being shipped to DuPage County.
Even worse, the asbestos “problem” that Russell vociferously denounced wouldn’t be a problem as long as you leave the fearful substance undisturbed. But if you decide to tear up your brand new carpet to get at it…
So now some Board folks, tired of the Coroner’s current antics, are starting to think that building maintenance should not be left in the hands of the elected officials. And even though the Internal Control Statute might make that proposition more difficult, I’m sure an argument can be made that it’s the County that actually owns those buildings.
But wait, there’s more!
Now Russell wants to apply that 77 grand in freezer funds to the rent he’s paying DuPage. But the fact that he’d even ask that question shows a complete lack of budgetary acumen because everyone knows you can’t apply capital funds to operating expenses.
And despite the fact that I was actually sitting in the room when the Chairman and the Coroner came to their $843,000 three-year budget freeze agreement (not including union raises) Russell also wants a 10 percent 2015 budget increase.
So, referring back to that penchant for political suicide, with DuPage doing the dirty work and despite the inherent State Constitutional difficulties, the County Board will now seriously consider whether we really need a County Coroner or not.
If you ever needed proof that the truth is, indeed, far stranger than fiction, look no further.