Show me the money?
I understand the rabble readily embraces conspiracy theories in an effort to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility for their own plight, but it’s kinda disheartening when our elected officials and county department heads do the same damn thing.
Aren’t our esteemed local public servants supposed to be a cut above? Apparently not, because the BS surrounding the release of the Kane County efficiency report (we discussed it on Friday) has me reaching for the Xanax – again.
According to some, the surest signs of Chairman Chris Lauzen’s latest nefarious scheme are:
- The report was only released to certain people
- It wasn’t marked “draft” even though it was a draft
- It’s “riddled” with inaccuracies
The conspiracy theorists eminently logical conclusion was that those inaccuracies doomed the entire report and the Chairman must be squirreling county money away in offshore bank accounts so he can punish any county official who displeases him.
First, the report was released to all the applicable folks, including the entire county board, by email. It’s just that some of ‘em didn’t bother to read it, and whose fault is that?
Was it mistake to omit the word “draft?” Yep! But that error is making the consultants’, the finance department’s, and the Chairman’s lives much more difficult. So if this was some sort of conspiratorial plot to quash dissent, it’s a really bad one!
Third, did the consultant make a mistake by getting their information solely through independent sources? Yep! The ensuing inaccuracies led to a mini rebellion in which a number of electeds and department heads now trust neither the document, the finance department, nor the Chairman.
And that makes their lives more difficult, too!
C’mon! Do you really think it’s the dream of every county board and chairman to have to ask surly and recalcitrant public officials to voluntarily reduce office expenditures to cover a deficit?
I’d rather run barefoot over a mile of broken glass.
I’ll say it again! That efficiency report had no impact on the requested 3.6 percent across-the-board 2018 county budget cuts. It was solely intended to be used as a yardstick against which the board could measure further potential 2019 cuts should revenues continue to decline.
Since it is a draft, and the 2019 budgeting process is a year away, rather than running around in circles screaming the sky is falling, perhaps those officials could work with the finance department, board and chairman to correct those errors instead of endlessly bitching about it.
Because the vast irony is, that report clearly indicated that three of the four offices shrieking the loudest should actually get more money! Call me crazy, but if I was one of those folks, I’d go with the report even if my name was spelled wrong and it questioned my lineage.
But instead of pulling together as a team for the common taxpayer good, they’d rather be right. Can the chairman be difficult? You bet! But some of y’all are startin’ to make him look like Mother Theresa, and that’s no easy feat!
To our four most outspoken dissidents, I would offer this advice:
1. Sheriff Don Kramer
Dude! In a Trump-esque effort to erase all memory of former Sheriff Pat Perez, you blew out your budget just two short weeks in office by sending those U. S. Marshall’s inmates packing. If you had retained that $2.4 million annual contract, you’d be sittin’ pretty.
So, if you have any issues with your bottom line, I’ d be glad to direct you to the nearest bathroom mirror.
Furthermore, that report said the Sheriff’s office needs more money, but since you’ve completely dismissed it, what do you think will come of that now?
2. Coroner Rob Russell
Though you didn’t blow your budget, my advice to the Sheriff also applies to you. Did you note the efficiency report stipulated you could use more cash, too? I think you need a new office as well.
The sad thing is, I’ve seen you and the Chairman work cooperatively firsthand, and prior to this kerfuffle, you seemed to have reached some sort of détente. But because you listen to the wrong people, you’re right back to square one.
3. Chief Judge Clancy Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust
Considering the report says your office is as bloated as I’ve proven it to be, wouldn’t a better long-term strategy be to pay heed to former Chief Judge Judith Brawka’s example? She worked cooperatively with the Chairman and board to give taxpayers the best bang for their buck.
And she tended to get what she wanted as a result.
You could start that process by making your judges – the highest paid elected and appointed officials in Kane County – actually work a full day like the rest of us.
4. Public Defender Kelli Childress
You may be one of the best litigators I’ve ever watched work, but that report explicitly declared that your office desperately needs more money, too. So what was the point of excoriating the board over its inaccuracies and firing up the rest of the malcontents? Sometimes it pays to leave the lawyer shit behind.
Meanwhile, this Thursday, I’m going to be thankful for having the kind of basic wisdom and intelligence to scratch running for public office off my bucket list. I clearly lack the capacity to be that self-centered and utterly illogical.
Who am I to judge?
You may have noticed I’ve been doing my damndest to right the Kane County Justice system ship, especially in regards to those 16th Circuit men and women in black. The fact that so many of the folks sworn to uphold the law seem to think they’re above it really frosts my cookies.
But as I consistently like to point out, that overarching theme doesn’t mean we aren’t blessed with some exemplary judges. It’s the whole baby and bathwater thing.
The reason I don’t point that out nearly as much as I should is, as county board member and soon-to-be-former friend, Kurt Kojzarek likes to say, “Jeff, your endorsement just cost me 10 points in the next election.”
While it’s certainly fun to make Kurt squirm (he loves strippers), I generally don’t want the good guys to have to suffer on the double-edged sword of a Jeff Ward compliment. But in light of the impending holiday, I’m going to make an exception!
Thus, I am grateful for the efforts of the following Kane County Judges in no particular order:
- Clint Hull
- Rene Cruz
- Betsy Flood
- Keith Johnson
- William Parkhurst
- John Barsanti
- Mark Pheanis
- Robert Villa
- Christine Downs
Joe Grady was a great judge, but a number of sources have said the death of his wife and age are catching up with him. Though I sometimes question D. J. Tegeler’s judgment, he probably puts in more hours than any of the others. And David Akemann does have a great legal mind, but that legendary ego overshadows it.
To be fair, I haven’t heard much about some of our judges, so any omission does not necessarily mean they’re on the naughty list.
Meanwhile, to all the men and women on the nice list, if I just ended your legal career, I apologize!