A different definition of “less government”

Don’t conservatives and tea partiers just love to run around in concentric circles shouting “less government” until the very second when more government serves their stilted self-interest or promotes their exclusionary purpose?

Though there are a plethora of possible examples, in this particular instance we’re talking about an Elgin City Council nominating petition challenge in which, ironically, one conservative is doing her damndest to knock another conservative off the ballot on the merest of technicalities.

Now, my long-time readers know just how much I abhor petition challenges because most of them are so bleepin’ silly. They’re typically based upon egregious errors like a missing staple, an errant political term, a missing page number, or a small clerical problem and they serve no purpose other than to rig the electoral process and force a challenger to focus on everything but campaigning.

petitionDon’t get me wrong, there’s certainly something to be said for dispensing with candidates who can’t get the paperwork right. When a young man recently ran against St. Charles Republican Precinct Committeeman Nabi Fakroddin, not a single one of his signatures came from within the precinct, so it was truly time for him to go.

But blatantly bad blunders like that one are rare. Meanwhile, I’ve sat through a couple of petition challenges where the difference between the terms “county board member” and “county commissioner” was the main bone of contention.

But let’s get back to this specific challenge which was filed by Elgin OCTAVE member and failed city council candidate Roy Chapman on behalf of former OCTAVE board member and current city council hopeful, Julie Schmidt. Chapman’s objection claims Kyle Scifert’s petition cited April 7 as the possible primary date when it should’ve been February 24.

Be still my beating heart! This can only mean that Kyle cuts those tags off mattresses and provides accounts of Cubs broadcasts without the express written consent of Major League Baseball. The cad!

Not only that, but this mistake is immaterial because Elgin ain’t even gonna have a primary. Of course, the really sad thing is, had Kyle simply run his paperwork by anyone with half a political brain (like me for example) they would’ve caught that error.

Better yet, had he engaged the educated eyes of fine folks at the Ancel Glink law firm, whatever small monetary amount he’d have been out is nothing compared to the time and effort he will now expend defending a petition challenge. But I digress.

“I just feel that if you’re running for city council, you should be able to fill out the paperwork correctly,” Chapman said. Translated, what that really means is, “Scifert may be a fiscal conservative, but he’s not our fiscal conservative so we’re going to knock him off the ballot to give our candidate a leg up.”

By the way, OCTAVE actually stands for Operant Conditioning to Achieve Voter Expectations which apparently includes giving voters as few choices as possible. And whoever came up with that strange Skinner-esque acronym really oughtta hang onto their day job.

Yes! Just like Sheldon Cooper, the OCTAVE folks want you to engage in the political process unless you’re not doing it right.

But the worst part of this petition challenge sham is Schmidt’s complicity. It may be true that she’s a conservative ideologue who doesn’t stand a chance in hell of winning, but the best thing about ideologues (if there is a best thing about them) is that they tend to embrace a rather unyielding and unevaluated consistency.

They don’t disappoint you because you know exactly what to expect from them and it ‘s usually something that’s disappointing.

So for someone who just told reporters that, “Local government needs to be downsized. Its focus should be limited to public safety and health emergencies, public works, business development and parks and recreation,” it’s kinda disappointing to watch her team bring the full weight of that very government down upon an opponent who made a very minor error.

The least she could do is amend her statement to include that government should also throw folks off the ballot. And by the way, had she been on the receiving end of a similar challenge she’d be screaming holy hell and invoking all sorts of sacred conservative stipulations.

But this is exactly how it is with conservatives – even the local ones. They’re completely enamored of their constitutional rights until it means that two guys can get married. They love their freedom of speech until someone says something they don’t like. They chastised liberals for “disrespecting” George W. Bush only to turn around and level the kind of vitriol against the current president that makes moderates cringe. They don’t want to be tread upon, but they can’t help peering through bedroom windows. They want the government to keep their filthy hands off of their Medicare and finally, they don’t want less government, they want a lot more of their government.

In the end, Mr. Scifert will likely survive this challenge, but I’m hoping that Elgin voters won’t forget this particular brand of conservative hypocrisy when they go to the polls on April 7th.

6 thoughts on “A different definition of “less government”

  1. . . . The pettiness of the entire process is astounding . . . But . . . not really . . .

    I did not realise the Orwellian context of ‘OCTAVE’s acronym . . . .

  2. When it comes to handling, investing and spending the tax money you are forced to “contribute ”
    to government through threat of force, do you want careful people who comply with the law, or idiots who don’t pay attention to it?

    If someone “cares” enough to run for a taxpayer-paid office, shouldn’t he or she “care” enough
    to learn the petition process and get it correct? If he/she can’t or won’t even bother to do THAT, why should that person be trusted to hold public office? Is this to become like Chicago?

    Yes, I’m a conservative, and have been hated for it. But i take it as an honor to be hated by
    crackpots. I have a libertarian streak, but not when it concerns how my tax money is spent,
    or who has been entrusted with spending it.

    • Dear Observer, I thought I made it clear that some petition errors should mean the end of the road. The problem is, it’s become a gotcha game with folks issuing challenges for the most innocuous things.

      As you know, most of these challenges fail, but it still means all the LEO’s (local election officials) have to spend all that time an money going through with the hearing. Is there really a difference between county board member and county commissioner?

      What makes this case even more egregious is less government conservatives are using that very government to further their own agenda. And that sucks!

      Jeff

  3. Jeff, any chance of you posting one of the actual petitions in question, rather than the example from Dakota? I expect the candidates to do it right, but am not so concerned with perfection. I believe there is room for minor errors that really make no difference in the substance of the issue. Of course, I guess that’s what the committee hearing the challenge (at taxpayers’ expense) gets to decide. When I see a challenge over something egregious (like obviously illegal signatures), I say “good catch, we don’t want that candidate on the ballot”. When I see a challenge over something minor that has no true effect on the actual election, I know that the challenger is insecure and knows that if the voters have a choice, they don’t have a chance. To me they’re saying “I know I can’t beat them in the ballot box, so I’ll make sure the voters don’t have that choice”.

  4. Jeff,

    The Kane County Clerk has not yet put any petitions online and it does not look like the Elgin City Clerk puts them online at all. Unless I’m missing something, the folks in question probably FOIA’ed the petitions from the Elgin City Clerk’s office.

    Jeff

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