A sad sight to see
As I’ve previously explained, despite whatever my “fan club” might say (And they do say it!), my regular critiques of local papers aren’t a matter of spite, they’re an effort to get those folks to wake up and dispense with the Einsteinian definition of insanity.
Considering the current climate, we need solid local journalism now more than ever.
But, as is almost always the inexorable local newspaper death march case, those prospects just dimmed a bit more as the Elgin Courier-News quietly cut back to three print editions a week – Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
And we all know going Net only isn’t an option, because those ads don’t bring in one-tenth of their print counterparts. But what I don’t get is, why would the Tribune (Tronc) purchase these former Sun-Times properties only to watch them bleed out?
Considering the lack of any real Elgin competition, had Tronc put any effort or even a meager amount of cash into their new holding, it would’ve stabilized the situation, and perhaps even reversed it.
But letting them twist in the wind like this has made their intentions abundantly clear.
So, to all the folks who worked so hard to make the Courier-News what it once was – Mike Bailey, Paul Harth, Dave Gathman among so many others – I feel your pain. It’s sad to see a once vibrant newspaper simply fade away.
The worst kept secret in Kane County
As The First Ward predicted (though I got the judge wrong a couple of times), former Kane County State’s Attorney and 16th Circuit Judge David Akemann filed his retirement paperwork with the Illinois Supreme Court on Monday, the last day that would trigger a circuit-wide judicial primary.
Had His Honor filed those documents a scant day later, the Supreme Court would’ve had to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the next even-year election. But since judges can’t keep any secret whatsoever, everyone was aware that one of ‘em was gonna bow out at the last minute.
Given the plethora of entries in this newly necessary election, I can’t say for sure who was intended to be the beneficiary of Akemann’s suspect timing largesse, but if I was a betting man, I’d say it was Associate Judge Betsy Flood, who seemed to know the specific details about this impending vacancy before anyone else did.
The advantage of that early warning is, the in-the-know candidate could assemble a campaign team and have them ready to hit the ground running to get the required 500 signatures by 12/28 – not an easy thing to do over the holidays.
Of course, my sources at the Illinois State Board of Elections and Supreme Court immediately informed me of this development, and I in turn, made Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell and almost former head KCSAO juvenile prosecutor, Lark Cowart, aware as well.
So, they’re well on their way to submitting their nominating paperwork as we speak.
The Republican contestants beyond Hartwell include, Judge David Kliment, and the aforementioned Judge Flood.
Considering Kliment sentenced an 18 year-old who firebombed two separate properties to just 15 days, the only real GOP choice is Tom Hartwell. Having been invited to be a part of his campaign team, I will be working diligently on his behalf.
Though I tried to convince her to run as a Republican, Cowart will face former Elgin State Senator Mike Noland in the Democratic primary. You remember Mike! He’s the guy who:
- Got thrown out of a Carpentersville polling place by the police
- Got stopped for speeding while he had a ticket for no insurance
- Got caught stealing his opponent’s yard signs red-handed, and best of all
- Got caught plagiarizing a JFK speech on the Springfield Senate floor
Trust me, the last thing we need is John Dalton and Mike Noland as sitting 16th Circuit judges. That prospect frightens me even more than Donald Trump carrying the nuclear football.
BTW, one of the reasons Lark Cowart is one of my favorite people on the planet is she sticks to her guns no matter what the personal cost. She too, would make an ideal judge.
Given my predilection toward prognostication, Hartwell will win the Republican nomination and Cowart will easily dispense with Noland. Then, as that great philosopher and staunch Cubs fan Tom Hartwell said, “Let the chips fall where they may.”
Methinks he doth protest too much
When news of his sudden retirement hit the press, Judge Akemann was quoted as saying:
“I felt quite strongly I wanted to give everyone interested an opportunity to run and let the people decide on their next judge. It’s time to move on to something else. It’s a privilege and an honor and will remain so to serve as a judge.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked David and I’ve always enjoyed our journalistic conversations – he has a great legal mind. But as my favorite TV Judge likes to say, “Not even you believe yourself.” Well, either that or, “I wouldn’t believe you if your tongue came notarized.”
So, what the Judge is saying is he “accidentally” retired on the last day to launch a primary? Oh no he didn’t! Had Akemann truly wanted a level playing field, he would’ve stepped down BEFORE November 13, which would’ve given everyone an ample opportunity to truly compete.
And he knew he was going to retire as early as September.
To quote that great philosopher, Paul Simon, “Who do you think you’re foolin?”
An ethical canon conundrum
I bet most of you weren’t aware of this, but running a judicial race requires a specific kind of candidate comportment. To wit:
- Beyond their legal or judicial track records, they cannot speak ill of an opponent – even through third parties.
- They cannot raise campaign funds directly, they must appoint a fundraising committee.
- They cannot take a contribution that would create any kind of conflict of interest.
- They cannot engage in any behavior that would reflect poorly on the judiciary.
- They cannot put the word “judge” before their name or wear a black robe on any campaign material unless they actually are a judge
And the stakes are pretty high, too! Any violation of those precepts can result in disbarment, which makes it impossible to serve as a judge.
Though I won’t name names, (Mike Noland), I’m convinced some of our candidates won’t abide by those stipulations.
So, to quote an infamous president, let me make this perfectly clear. I’ve asked my spies, and they are everywhere, to report back any instance of direct fundraising by any candidate, which will immediately be reported to the Judicial Inquiry Board or Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
That will mean the swift end of that candidate’s campaign. So let’s all behave, shall we!