The Myth of the closed session (and a lesson in political influence!)

Though all government boards have closed sessions, with the exception of personnel, certain litigation, and land acquisition, they’re generally pointless prospects. Because if divulging their contents furthers just one board member’s political goals, they’ll spill their guts every time.

Elgin City Councilman John Prigge generally fills the press in the second he steps outside.

This is why the ancillary players’ (and one in particular) consistent conspiracy theories are complete and unadulterated bullshit. Elected officials simply can’t keep their mouths shut long enough to pull any delusionary nefarious scheme off.

On more than one occasion I considered leaving my recording pen in that Kane County boardroom only to dismiss the notion because I’d inevitably get the closed session goods anyway. I even got the scoop on the executive session in which former Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay warned board members not to talk to me about executive sessions!

Whenever you combine a politician’s fervent need to for importance with the lack of any statutory penalty for a breach of confidentially, this kinda thing is bound to happen. So you may as well put it up on Facebook and be done with it.

But despite that stark reality, mayors and chairmen everywhere remain steadfast in their efforts to rein in rogue board members.

Case in point! If you read today’s piece by DH reporter Susan Sarkauskus, you already know about the closed session kerfuffle between Chairman Chris Lauzen and Algonquin County Board Member Maggie Auger.


Suffice it to say that Auger has been keeping the Coroner informed about any “confidential” discussions involving him. And trust me! That revelation should come as no surprise to anyone within the sound of my voice. It’s simple! Auger’s need to feel important and deep desire to become a central player is far more dire than most and there’s no better way of getting that fix than by whispering sweet somethings in your friends’ ears.

But the Chairman, like the plethora of politicians who’ve come before him, made two serious mistakes in taking Auger on.

The first, as previously noted, is if it wasn’t Auger running to the Coroner, it would be somebody else. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. The second, as those Zen folks are so fond of saying, is whatever we tend to focus on expands. So by virtue of his attention, the Chairman is providing Auger with yet another importance fix and, thus, his efforts will produce the polar opposite result.

As my not-so-sainted mother loved to say, before any politician calls out a peer, they really oughtta consider the source. They have to decide whether they’re adding to, or subtracting from their foe’s political capital and act accordingly. Because when you reduce it to its least common denominator, local government is nothing more than a perpetual process of horse trading in which influence is the currency. And influence translates into the votes you need to get elected and pass resolutions.

If you have influence, you can deliver on both counts and, make no mistake, it is a measureable quantity.

So the problem with the Chairman’s public shaming tactic is, if I had to pick the most ineffectual Kane County elected official it would be a virtual dead heat between Board Members Mark Davoust and Maggie Auger.

If anyone can cite at least one of their accomplishments, I’ll give them fifty bucks.

The only reason Davoust comes out behind Auger is he managed to mount a decent run for County Clerk. Despite the fact that he can’t make it to the bathroom without his wife’s specific instructions (and then she has to return a certain body part before he can finish the job), you have to give him credit for trying.

And speaking of that effort, that’s exactly how we can measure Auger’s influence – or lack thereof. You see, Maggie and her husband made a big deal of promising to deliver her district for Davoust, but that’s not exactly what happened. For our purposes, we’ll be talking about the precincts directly in the Augers’ sphere of influence which includes Dundee 25, 29, 30, 32 and 34.

The 2014 Kane County primary turnout was a dismal 17 percent, but in those precincts, it was a combined 12 percent which is 42 percent worse than the average. So much for getting out the vote.

Despite his best efforts, Cunningham won that race by 14 percent, but he came out 22 points ahead in those five precincts. That’s 56 percent better than the rest of the county. Maggie Auger even managed to lose her home precinct – Dundee 29 – one of the smallest in the county – by 16 percent.

Beyond her lone county board vote, Auger has absolutely no influence. Melanie…I mean Mark Davoust would’ve been far better off asking the Augers to campaign for Cunningham.

So Chairman Lauzen! I would ask you to consider that, by turning your often unrelenting gaze upon board member Auger, not only are you providing her the kind of political capital for which she so desperately yearns, but you’re ensuring that no closed Coroner session will ever remain confidential.

Welcome to leadership!

4 thoughts on “The Myth of the closed session (and a lesson in political influence!)

  1. Who is Ellen Nottke? Is she one of the ancillary players?

    • Jeff, She is the queen of ancillary players. She’s a McConnaughy-ite who fancies herself a mover and a shaker when nothing could be further from the truth. When she lost her precinct committeman seat, she erased the Kane County Central Republican computers. She’s a real piece of work.

  2. “Work” being a euphemism?

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