Quick Hits – The Kane County State’s Attorney edition!

A new KCSAO motto

I love Latin mottos. Just like an English accent gives any statement a not-necessarily-deserved gravitas, a Latin motto lends an air of dignity to any institution so imbued. It gives it a certain je ne sais quoi! (Look it up!)

Doesn’t Chicago’s motto, Urbs in Horto, conjure up the image of a “City in a Garden?” It’s a lot better than Anas which roughly translates to “Duck!”

Aurora University has a great motto; Sapientes Abscondunt Scientiam, or “Wise persons will carry away knowledge. Even the Kane County Coroner’s office is a member of this exclusive group with their Honor, Veritas, Servitium or, “honor, truth, service” motto.

But would you believe the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office doesn’t have one?

Kane County Judicial Center

Kane County Judicial Center

So, since I’m nothing if not generous in nature, I’ve been poring over those ancient Roman texts in an effort to come up with the perfect Latin slogan for State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s bunch, and I think I’ve finally done it!

Contemptibilem, Parvis, et Superbus

The literal translation is, “contemptible, petty and arrogant,” and I think it has a certain truthful ring to it. You see, those fragile folks at Route 38 and Peck Road consistently engage in the kind of shallow and mean-spirited behavior that’s earned them that sobriquet. To wit:

1. Despite being warned it’s downright libelous, the KCSAO insists on posting a pre-verdict Sun-Times story claiming Daniel Rak murdered his father. And it’s libelous because the jury said that’s not the case in no uncertain terms.

2. Despite being warned that removing comments from a taxpayer funded social media site is blatantly illegal, the delicate flowers at the KCSAO have regularly removed mine, as well as those of expert Rak defense witness Dr. Douglas Miller. If you don’t want public commentary then don’t have a Facebook page!

3. Dr. Miller told me that, throughout the proceedings, Rak prosecutor Alex Bederka:

  • Called his office “under false authority” in an attempt to gain information to which the judge had already denied his motion.
  • Lied to him about a non-existent Rak confession.
  • Lied to the court about Dr. Miller “refusing” to speak to him a second time.

Apparently, working for the State’s Attorney means never having to say you’re sorry – or follow the law you were sworn to uphold. Bederka shouldn’t be handling parking ticket disputes, much less murder cases.

Meanwhile, the KCSAO gets away with all of this because Daniel Rak is in no position to sue the County. He’s still waiting to be sentenced on the aggravated domestic abuse charge, he just spent 1.5 needless years in jail and lawyers cost the kind of money he probably doesn’t have.

So there you go. Contemptibilem, Parvis, et Superbus. It works for me!


But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad

The fact that an agency or institution is generally headed south doesn’t mean all the lemmings are willing to jump off the cliff. There’s usually an “‘in” group that’s behind those self-destructive tendencies, while the “outsiders” do their damndest to right the ship without putting their jobs at risk.

I’d list some of those fine folks, but I don’t want to ruin their careers.

And this is of all government offices. The majority of the important positions are patronage hires, so it’s very difficult to fire those folks and they know it.

Don’t get me wrong, I utterly agree with the great Bill Daley when he said, “Not all patronage is bad.” But if it goes too far, as it has within the KCSAO, it does become a problem.


Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

So,  the “in” State’s Attorney’s cabal – the ones running the show – believe they’re never wrong, they’re above the law and they tend to forget they serve the people. Regularly determining folks’ fate can become a heady proposition.

Meanwhile, there is a core group of KSCAO staffers who signed on because they understand that bringing the full weight of the people to bear against an individual is a proposition that’s always fraught with peril. They believe in justice, and they’ve never forgotten they’re merely an extension of you and me.

And it’s the members of the latter group who’ve lately been reaching out to me.

Because it’s so difficult to fire government employees, most countywide elected officials curry this kind of divide and conquer competition. Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham is as a master at this game.

You see, if those two factions are too busy fighting each other, they don’t have time to come after – and perhaps, even run against – the boss.

Unlike Cunningham, McMahon doesn’t actively encourage this kind of infighting, but he doesn’t discourage it, either. Sadly, as is often the case in this existence, the folks with only their own self-interest at heart win that battle – until they go too far.

And that’s exactly where the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office is headed right now.

So, what’s the solution? Read on!


A few good men or women

Since the buck for this kind of office-wide dysfunction always stops at the top, I’m looking for a 2020 Republican Kane County State’s Attorney candidate to primary Mr. McMahon (if he runs again).

I know it’s not easy to beat an incumbent, but there are all sorts of mitigating circumstances here, not the least of which are Joe McMahon’s:

  • Previous battle with Chairman Chris Lauzen
  • Blatant leveraging of his position to get a better gig
  • Taking on the LaQuan McDonald prosecution after he asked for a slew of new hires
  • Filing ridiculous First-Degree murder charges against Daniel Rak
  • Letting the unqualified inmates run the asylum
  • Essentially being an absentee boss

And they’ve all greatly weakened him.

Better yet, McMahon has never had to mount a real campaign and it’s not that difficult, nor is it too costly, to win a Kane County Republican primary. To sweeten that pot, I’d throw in the friends and family campaign manager discount rate.

“But Jeff! We’re talking about 2020 here. Why so soon?” Because that’s the nature of countywide campaigns these days. I’d explain more, but I don’t want to give away all my secrets!

Qualified candidates should:

  • Be willing to right the KCSAO ship
  • Have the courage to regularly do the right thing
  • Understand that they represent the people
  • Be more interested in justice that a better gig
  • Be more interested in this job than another one

It’s not that difficult to find me, so let’s talk! Democracy truly is a wonderful thing!



2 thoughts on “Quick Hits – The Kane County State’s Attorney edition!

  1. So many great points about the culture of this government office. I would also point out there seems to also be a fair number of children of established area attorneys gaining experience through this office. These young attorneys are learning bad habits from this office that will then translate into their future private practices with the Kane County residents being the victim of their bad/entitled behavior. There have been several examples of the behavior in local news over the past few years. We the residents must make sure the culture of the office changes to protect our and our kid’s legal integrity in the future.

  2. “But Jeff! We’re talking about 2020 here. Why so soon?”

    Well, elections for higher office must begin EARLY, and that includes plans for fun-raising and building electoral support.

    Ask James Marter what happens when you jump in to such an election
    just four or five months before Election Day (GUARANTEED to LOSE!)

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