Given that Rob Russell clearly believes he’s gonna be the next Paris Hilton, I want to keep this coverage short. So here are the things I never thought we’d see coming out of the Kane County Coroner’s office:
1. Silly Putty
That’s right! The Coroner spent $1,200 on Silly Putty. As he put it, the giveaways were “meant to improve impressions of an office darkened by past problems.”
That’s true! Whenever I think about rehabilitating your public image the first that comes to mind is Silly Putty. I’m not quite sure if he plans on passing it out to grieving children who accompany their parents to identify a dead relative, or to all the kids who desperately want to become a coroner when they grow up.
2. A light switch that turns off the evidence refrigerator too!
I still can’t figure out what our homebuilder was thinking when they attached two light switches to some rather out-of-the-way outlets. So the first time we inadvertently turned off one of our TIVO units, we taped the offending switches into the “on” position and it never happened again!
But apparently the Coroner couldn’t apply the same simple logic to his biological evidence refrigerator. So when the mold abatement folks recently finished cleaning up, they dutifully turned off the lights along with that critical refrigerator. And no one knows just how long it wasn’t running.
Then Russell blamed the County Board and the Chairman.
3. Backing out of a signed budget agreement
I personally handed the Coroner the pen he used to sign the compromise agreement in which he promised to keep his budget at $843,000 a year for the next three years. Now, after giving his Chief Deputy a 40 percent raise, maintaining eight vehicles for eight staffers, and spending $1,200 on Silly Putty, he’s asking for a 14 percent operating increase.
We all know politicians have an innate tendency to embrace a rather fluid reality, but it takes someone with a real set of cohones to discard a signed contract just like a used gum wrapper.
4. Undermining Kane County court cases
Though we’ve had some fun with our previous points, this one isn’t funny. Because the most difficult cases a prosecutor will ever have to face are those involving biological evidence. Because that includes crimes against women – like rape; and crimes against children – like sexual abuse.
The critical thing about this particular variety of proof is that it prevents the victim from having to testify against their attacker which is always a daunting prospect. So when that evidence is destroyed through utter incompetence, it does nothing more than re-victimize the victim.
Then, after the States Attorney did his best to mitigate the damage and warned the Coroner not to publicly comment on anything that could affect Kane County court proceedings, Russell proceeded to go on the ABC Evening News and admit that cases could be compromised.
A 19-year DuPage County Sheriff’s Deputy really oughtta know better than to provide this kind of Christmas in August to defense attorneys who will now question that evidence every single step of the way.
And lastly, I never thought the Coroner could possibly embark upon any course of action that would make the rest of us long for the days of Chuck West.