Quick Hits – Judging the Judicial Candidates

If The First Ward has any overarching theme lately, it’s the importance of paying attention to our judges. Not only are they the highest paid elected and appointed officials in any county, but they regularly affect countless Kane County citizens’ lives.

For example, as a result of covering Judge John Dalton’s constant bullying of plaintiffs and defendants, and all sorts of other judicial shenanigans, at least three people a week are reaching out to me to help them deal with Dalton and Kane County’s application of what they like to call “justice.”

Meanwhile, we’ve got five candidates running for the same soon-to-be-vacant 16th Circuit seat.

Though the local newspapers generally don’t endorse judicial candidates, the Illinois State Bar Association provides some rather thorough ratings and well-researched recommendations for any attorney running for judge. So, let’s review our five contenders:

1. Former Elgin State Senator Michael Noland


I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Please keep in mind that the ISBA ranks candidates on a 1 to 100 scale. Here are candidate Noland’s ratings:

  • 19.78 – Meets the requirement of the office – That’s about right
  • 44.09 – Integrity – That’s way too high for this pathological liar
  • 42.05 – Impartiality
  • 15.96 – Legal ability – Pretty much dead on
  • 56.32 – Temperament – that’s 46 points too high
  • 32.53 – Court management

Those are the lowest ratings I’ve ever seen the ISBA bestow upon any candidate, but when you consider that the former Senator Noland:

  • Got thrown out of a Carpentersville polling place by the police
  • Sued Springfield for back pay after making a big deal out of forgoing that pay
  • Got caught plagiarizing a JFK speech on the Senator floor
  • Was stopped for speeding while driving on a no-insurance citation
  • Got caught stealing his opponent’s yard signs on video
  • Was fired from the Public Defender’s office for incompetence
  • And then there’s all those other wom…, well, you know…

do those abysmal ratings really surprise anyone? The last thing Kane County needs is a judge even worse than John Dalton already is. Please cross him off your list!


2. Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell

To be fair, my former friend Mr. Hartwell and I have had a massive falling out after he personally asked me to be a part of his campaign team, and then turned on me without a second thought when pressured to do so. The false accusation really bothered me, too.


What I will say is, after subsequent conversations with people I trust, it’s clear that Tom should never wear the black dress. And the Illinois Bar Association agrees. Sadly, Hartwell’s ratings would’ve been rock bottom had Mike Noland not been in the race.

Out of respect for a former friend, I won’t post them here, but in the end, neither I nor the ISBA recommend Tom Hartwell.


3. Associate Judge Elizabeth Flood

I was prepared to give her two hearty First Ward thumbs up, but Houston, we have a problem.

She’s an excellent judge – and her ISBE ratings reflect that – but Judge Flood has a well-known propensity for favoring the prosecution. Her reputation isn’t quite as bad as “Hang ‘em High” Hallock (16th Circuit Judge James Hallock), but she’s always made me nervous.


Here’s what turned our thumbs up to thumbs down!

Judge Flood accepted an endorsement from Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon. And endorsements are like any other political favor, they always require a quid pro quo. Do any of us really want to have to appear in front of a judge who’s beholden to the State’s Attorney himself?

For future reference, the fact that a sitting State’s Attorney would endorse a sitting judge is so far beyond the pale, I’m almost speechless. And I’m Jeff Ward! It’s yet more evidence that Joe McMahon has absolutely no clue.

Should Judge Flood renounce that endorsement, those thumbs will flip back up. But until that happens, I cannot, in good faith, recommend her for full circuit judge.


4. Associate Judge David Kliment

How he managed to pull off a rather high integrity rating is beyond me. Apparently, sometimes the ISBA gets it wrong. To wit:

  • He ran the Public Defender’s office as if it was his own personal fiefdom
  • He hired his attorney wife to “work from home” for a salary greater than the full-timers
  • He hired his then-college age daughter part-time for a salary greater than similar full-timers
  • When the new PD forced his wife to work in the office, she threw a tantrum and stormed out
  • He regularly wrote scathing letters to the county board which greatly damaged the office
  • He accepted a negotiated plea allowing a Caucasian dual felony arsonist to serve just 15 days, something that never would’ve happened with a black or Hispanic perp
  • His courtroom staff treats crime victims far worse than the criminals

I could continue, but I’m sure you get the idea. Kliment is one of the most imperious individuals I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting, and he shouldn’t be serving on the bench on his best day.


5. Former Juvenile Prosecutor Lark Cowart

We’ve saved the best for last because Lark is clearly the best candidate for 16th Circuit judge.

Lark 2

Lark served as the lead juvenile prosecutor for most of her 14 years at the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, and that’s one of the most difficult gigs on the planet. I’d melt into a pool of microwaved Jello after two short weeks.

She’s been twice nominated for Prosecutor of the Year and she’s a respected first responder and child protection professional legal trainer.

Though this is far less important than her stellar resume, Lark was one of the few bright spots in my journey through the Kane County justice system as a felony crime victim. She is a brilliant attorney who gets it, and we desperately need judges who get it.

Though Lark wasn’t as highly rated as the sitting judges – the ISBA always favors sitting judges – she beat the pants off Noland and Hartwell. In fact, she’s the only ISBA recommended non-sitting judge in the race.

Had Lark been practicing in felony court, and not that closed juvenile courtroom, her peers would’ve had a far greater opportunity to see a great legal mind at work.

Lark’s biggest problem is a lack of campaign funds.

I’m pulling a Democratic primary ballot this round because we actually have some interesting primary races. But even if it was like it was in the good old days when the Kane County Republican primary was the “real race,” I’d still ask for a Democratic ballot just to vote for Lark.

I hope you do the same, dear readers!


BTW, congratulations to Judges Rene Cruz and Clint Hull for getting some of the bleepin’ best ISBA ratings I’ve ever seen! Though I’m convinced Clint bribed them.

Quick Hits – #MeToo hits the KCSAO

And to quote the late, great Warren Zevon, “It ain’t that pretty at all!”

But that’s going to be the last of my trademark humor here because there’s nothing funny about this. State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, Traffic and Misdemeanor head Joe Cullen, First Assistant Jody Gleason, and Chief Felony Prosecutor Bill Engerman should all be working on their resignation letters as we speak.

C’mon! It’s difficult enough being a female public defender or prosecutor without having to deal with the kind of institutionalized sexual harassment I’m about to describe. When one of my sources, who wasn’t harassed, but regularly witnessed its effects, realized I was taking it seriously, she broke down and cried.

No women should ever be subjected to this kind of treatment, and the lapses that allowed it to occur fall squarely at Joe McMahon’s feet. That’s where the buck stops, right?


Of course, I won’t be naming my sources or the victims for all the obvious reasons. Joe McMahon has a well-known propensity for retaliating against anyone who threatens his political ambitions. I won’t name the offender at this point, either, because the story really isn’t about him, and I want the results of my FOIA request (Freedom of Information) before we go there.

But with five separate sources – each of whom works, or has worked, in the Kane County Judicial Center – there’s more than enough corroboration to move ahead.

On Thursday, February 22, a top-level KCSAO prosecutor was fired after sending a text to a fellow prosecutor, explicitly outlining what he wanted “to do” to a female prosecutor. I don’t know if the recipient took the text to their bosses, or if someone separately saw it and reported it, but that’s immaterial. There may have been other mitigating circumstances in his termination, too.

But just like it is with DUIs, when the hammer finally falls, it’s not nearly the first time the harasser has harassed. So, I started digging, and it wasn’t very difficult to come up with more examples.

The first time our offender’s harassing behavior was formally reported was in or around 2015.  After being regularly stalked and harassed, a female prosecutor finally submitted a written complaint about being groped at an outside office get-together.

But McMahon and Gleason refused to take any action because, “it didn’t happen at the office.” Then in a punitive measure, they moved the offender’s office much closer to the victim, until she filed another complaint and they were forced to move him away.

Five separate sources said that victim finally left the KCSAO in 2017 because Joe McMahon and Jody Gleason refused to stop the harassment.


Jody Gleason

Fast forward to 2016, and this prosecutor stalked and harassed a public defender to the point where she asked to be moved to another courtroom. Our harasser’s response was to request a transfer to the same venue.

Despite being well aware of the previous incident, McMahon and Gleason approved the move until the Public Defender’s office intervened to prevent it.

When I raised this issue with another KCSAO employee, her immediate response was, “So, you finally caught up with him.” She assured me there were more harassment complaints, and that kind of documentation is always subject to FOIA requests.

But here’s the problem. Two separate county board members told me that Civil Division chief, Joe Lulves, regularly brags about the KCSAO being “immune” to FOIAs. He’ll simply come up with a frivolous reason to deny them, as he has with four or five of my own requests.

That means this one might require the Attorney General’s intervention, but I’ve gone that route before and I’ve won those appeals before.

As my regular readers know, I’ve been taking Joe McMahon to task for being a terrible leader, but I never thought he was a terrible person. There is a difference. So I couldn’t believe my former running partner would ever allow this kind of thing to happen, much less perpetuate it.

So, I asked my sources what went wrong, and they all provided a remarkably similar explanation:

1. KCSAO sexual harassment is condoned and covered up at the highest levels. Whenever a new woman is hired, the other female employees take her aside and explain exactly whom she needs to avoid.

2. McMahon, Gleason, Engerman and Cullen consider sexual harassment to be part of the job, and they expect their female staffers to buck up and “deal with it.”

3. It’s difficult enough for a female prosecutor to move up the KCSAO ladder and complaining about sexual harassment isn’t going to help your cause.

4. This particular harasser, a person with whom I’ve had direct experience, is extremely vindictive – I’m sure he’ll be coming after me. And I can’t tell you just how much I’m looking forward to it.

Think about it. At the height of the #MeToo movement, this individual thought he could get away with sending “that kind” of text.

So why was he fired this time? Because you’ve been reading this blog, dear reader, and the Kane County State’s Attorney knows it. He was terrified at the prospect of that text falling into my hands first. Even the worst things change when people like you pay attention.

In fact, this story is so important that, all previous feelings aside, I’ve brought it to the attention of the Daily Herald, Shaw Media and the Beacon- and Courier-News.

Meanwhile, I’m calling on:

  • Joe McMahon
  • Joe Cullen
  • Jody Gleason, and
  • Bill Engerman

to resign before the people of Kane County and the county board force them to resign. I’m including Cullen because, for reasons I’m not ready to disclose quite yet, I’m convinced he knew about it, too. If I discover that Lulves had any knowledge, his name will be added to the list.

I’ve repeatedly called McMahon, Gleason and Cullen to get their side of the story and, so far, they’ve have failed to respond.

The bottom line is, there’s much more to this, but we’ll wait for the FOIA response before we move forward. If you’ve been harassed, or you know someone who has, please email me at jeffnward@comcast.net. I never give up a source!

No woman should have to cry because someone’s finally taking them seriously.

Quick Hits – $33,000 in Back Child Support?

If you live by the sword, you die by it, too!

When talking with a high-level staffer at the peak of the Elgin-eliminates-basement-homeless-slumber-parties brouhaha, they lamented that the City couldn’t tell the truth about homeless host Greg Schiller, because they knew it would only make the situation worse.

My first response was to commend this individual for their wisdom. Considering the international outcry, adding fuel to that fire would’ve made it a much bigger publicity nightmare than it already was.

My second answer was that “Christians” like Mr. Schiller – the ones who insist on following in the Pharisee at the temple’s footsteps – always manage to hang themselves if you you’re willing to hand them enough rope.

And it would seem Schiller’s publicity seeking propensities were all the rope he really needed.


Before we continue, for those of you who don’t know, Schiller has a long history of feuding with the City of Elgin, church-based homeless ministries, and his neighbors in his self-appointed and self-righteous crusade to “save” the homeless.

When previously using his garage as a homeless shelter, he nearly asphyxiated one of his charges with propane heaters, which forced Elgin to shut that down. When he moved them into his basement in 2017, Elgin took a rather heavy-handed approach by threatening to condemn his girlfriend’s house, which led to a slew of negative news about a city I love.

So, while Schiller has been happily accepting global donations as a result of his newly-found fame, his ex-wife, currently residing in Georgia, came forward to say he owes 33 grand in child support. She said it was “sickening” to see him accept all that cash while he completely ignores his own 12 year-old child.

“My child support isn’t the only thing I owe,” Schiller said, “I owe the IRS a few bucks from my last year of employment before the market crashed, I believe from 2010. I am catching up on all of that.”

Catching up? What’s the rush, Greg? $3,000 in arrears is something you catch up on.  $33,000 in back child support means you have absolutely no intention of paying it. It’s essentially flipping your ex-wife the bird and abandoning your child.

Now we know why he lives in his girlfriend’s home, he doesn’t drive, and doesn’t have an on-the-books job. The child support authorities would slap a lien on any property he owned, they’d revoke his driver’s license, and his wages would be quickly garnished.

He knows exactly what he’s doing!

Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that Schiller’s wife and child could’ve become homeless because he refuses to pay child support? Perhaps God told him he didn’t have to pay it. C’mon! This poor excuse for a man is just another run-of-the-mill hypocritical Christian who uses his “faith” to promote himself and make money.

And it worked, too, until his self-aggrandizing soap box turned out to be the platform right below the swinging noose.

Schiller’s previous contention that only he can reach the most chronically addicted and mentally ill homeless is a patent absurdity he uses to perpetuate his own “myth.” He isn’t helping the homeless, he’s enabling them, and he was willing to throw the City of Elgin under the bus to cash in on it.

I can’t find that in The Ten Commandments anywhere.

So, to all you folks who insist on being part of the new liberal outrage machine, here’s a perfect example of why you want all the facts before you go off in a righteous burst of explosive glory. I’ll repeat this mantra one more time, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!

Meanwhile, let’s focus on the Elgin folks who do the real charity work:

  • The Community Crisis Center
  • P.A.D.S.
  • Association for Individual Development
  • Family Services Associates
  • Renz Center
  • Ecker Center
  • The Elgin Police Department’s social service arm
  • All of the Elgin churches

and so many more, instead of getting our collective underwear in a bundle over what turns out to be just another false prophet.

Shut up and pay your child support Mr. Schiller!

Quick Hits – February 19, 2018

Since I’m kinda taking today off, we’re going to take a different tack today. Enjoy!


Ya gotta love that Elgin hospitality!

I want to thank the fine friendly folks of Elgin 54 who made canvassing that precinct a lot of fun yesterday. It was incredibly heartening to interact with so many concerned voters who took the time to answer the door and talk about the process.

Much like baseball managers generally don’t take at bats, campaign managers typically don’t knock on doors, but if you really want to take the pulse of an election, there’s no better way than talking directly to the voters.

And kudos to all the candidates who’ve been knocking on doors for months. I got a little fatigued after just 3.5 hours!


Thank you, Corey Dixon!

What made yesterday even more enjoyable, was walking the 54th with Elgin City Councilman Corey Dixon for an hour.

Jeff and Corey

First, it helps when the voters actually recognize one of the folks standing at their front door. Second, Corey and I should never be left alone together for any reason. Something about  undermining the underpinnings of Western Civilization.

And third, while I can play the extrovert when I want to, Corey is naturally engaging, and I learned quite a bit watching him interact with voters.


Cruising for what?

As if collectively catching the norovirus while you’re trapped in a tin can with 800 of your inebriated new best friends on a rolling sea isn’t bad enough, now they’re turning into the marine version of a WWE cage match.

You can read the full story here, but apparently an extended family of 23 roamed the ship looking for fights and going after any Australian they could find. It got so bad, the Carnival Cruise had to head into various Ozzie ports early to eject the rabble from the boat.

Given that people were barricading themselves in their rooms, Carnival is offering 25 percent off their next cruise, but I’d imagine the class action suit will be coming soon.

All I can say is, the only way you’ll find me on a cruise ship is if I’ve been kidnapped.


Dear Mr. Fantasy

Upon driving my eldest son to Waubonsee last week, one of my all-time favorite songs, ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy,’ came wafting across Sirius XM radio. So, I explained Traffic, that Steve Winwood was in the Spencer Davis Group at the ripe old age of 16, he moved on to Blind Faith and finally became a platinum solo artist.

But then I felt a certain sadness as I realized that Ben might never have those kinds of musical standards.

It’s not that I’m prone to shouting, “Turn it down! That’s not real music,” when my younger son plays his EDM – I actually like The Chainsmokers, Alan Walker and TheFatRat. And though today’s dominant “alternative” music has its moments – Coldplay, Radiohead and Foo Fighters – it’s all starting to sound like the same song.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Democratization the Internet provides, but think about it! I haven’t heard an instant classic like ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy,’ ‘Band on the Run,’ or ‘Tumbling Dice’ in a couple of decades.

This kind of musical parity also means no more fascinating ‘Behind the Music’ episodes.

I love hearing about the Stones fleeing to that French Chateau to record ‘Exile on Mainstreet.’ Then there’s all the ribald tales of The Prince of Darkness, Ozzie Osbourne. Who could forget Joan Jett’s struggle to get a recording contract led her to founding the first female-owned record company.

It’s not that I’d recommend some of those drug-induced ventures, but today’s groups, and their music, seem so vanilla.

Maybe I’m wrong. My mother clearly erred when she said she feared there would be no rock and roll classics back in 1970. I suppose, in the words of those great philosophers Asia, “Only time will tell.”



All I can say is, go see ‘Cabaret’ at the Paramount in Aurora.

Quick Hits – February 16, 2018

It looks like we’re gonna head back to that morass known as the Kane County Judicial Center one more time. I understand the inherent risk of overkill, but since the local newspapers don’t seem to believe in any kind of due diligence, someone’s gotta keep an eye on the folks sworn to uphold the law.

They certainly won’t police themselves.


Of course, felonies are up – part 2

Aside from my fun-loving “fan club,” one of the things I love about this gig is, if you do it right, stories beget stories and sources beget sources. And as far as government entities go, there’s always someone willing to tell the truth because they’re unhappy with the underhanded status quo.

It’s in that very vein that a KCSAO insider reached out to me to further explain why Kane County just experienced a felony bump.

Wednesday’s Quick Hits covered that, while the number of Kane County felony case reviews has remained remarkably consistent over the last four years, there was a 6.6 percent spike in approved felony charges in 2017.

So, I explained that, with State’s Attorney Joe McMahon rarely in the office, relatively recent criminal division head Joe Cullen was applying a “let the judge sort ‘em out” CYA mentality. But it turns out it’s even worse than that.


Joe Cullen and Joe McMahon

What that prosecutor told me is, since Cullen has been running the show, he instructs his underlings to “upgrade” misdemeanor charges to felonies to get more “leverage” on a plea deal. Nice! That’s about as close to official misconduct as you can get without actually crossing the line.

Think about it! If you walk into an attorney’s office on an assault charge, it’s going to run you between $2,500 to $5,000 to plead it out or go to trial. But if it’s aggravated assault, now you’re talking five to ten grand. Since most defendants can’t come up with that kind of cash, the KCSAO gets a quick and easy conviction.

Facing the full weight of the people is daunting enough, not to mention what a felony conviction does to your life. So, Cullen is willfully embracing an outright abuse of the criminal justice system. What does it say when you’d rather hang with the county jail inmates than deal with Cullen and his minions?

As is always the case, I reached out to McMahon for comment and none was forthcoming. Is anyone really surprised?


And the Geneva Police are no better

Also, as a result of Wednesday’s column, a former GPD officer told me that Commander Julie Nash, Commander Brian Maduzia and Chief Eric Passarelli, as a matter of policy, encourage the rank and file to liberally apply the concept of “creative charges.”


Brian Maduzia

That’s their exact words. Just ask any other Kane County law enforcement agency.

They’re well aware of the KCSAO’s propensity to go for the felony throat, and the GPD takes full advantage of it by inflating criminal charges whenever possible. So much for that oath to uphold the law.

And this isn’t nearly the only serious issue with the Geneva Police Department, but it certainly ranks in the top two. We’ll get to the others in time.


Does Jim Fuller ever consider telling the truth?

Probably not!

To wit, today’s Daily Herald contains a story covering Kane County law enforcement’s efforts to bring the defunct GPS monitoring program back to life. In that poor excuse for journalism, Fuller wrote, “The County Board eliminated the funding for the electronic monitoring system to help resolve a budget deficit heading into 2018.”

That’s an outright lie and he knows it.


Jim Fuller

The truth is, Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles played chicken with the County Board’s request for 3.6 percent across-the-board 2018 budget reductions. Instead of working with the Board like former Chief Judge Judith Brawka did, Boles held the program hostage in an attempt to stave off any judicial cuts whatsoever.

As more than one board member explained to Fuller, the County Board did not make that cut, Judge Boles – and only Judge Boles – made that choice. The 16th Circuit is one of the most bloated judiciaries in Illinois, which means they could’ve made a slew of more appropriate budget adjustments.

But as Fuller regularly admitted to me, it’s easier to play off the contentiousness that plagues most governing bodies than it is to get the story straight.

And lo and behold! Because the board called her bluff and didn’t blink in the face of Boles’ blackmail, the Chief Judge came to them hat in hand to resurrect the program. In fact, to Boles’ credit, she suggested creating a county-wide, or perhaps a multi-county task force to determine a more cost-effective method of bringing GPS monitoring back.

So, instead of castigating them, the credit should go to Chairman Chris Lauzen and the Kane County Board for holding the Chief Judge’s feet to the fire. Ain’t it amazing how something can suddenly be done less expensively when there’s no other option!



That’s the number of consecutive days the Daily Herald has provided in-depth coverage of the tragic NIU shooting.

Apparently, they’re convinced that won’t encourage anyone else to do the same thing. I wish I had that kind of confidence.

Quick Hits – February 14, 2018

Of course, felonies are up!

Regarding a 2017 6.6 percent increase in Kane County felony charges, a stark reversal of a recent downward trend, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said, “…that is a significant spike from 2016. This is alarming to me, it’s concerning to me.”

That’s a wee bit more than a disingenuous statement when you consider McMahon’s management style, or the lack thereof, is the major contributing factor.


To be fair, as the State’s Attorney pointed out, the growing opioid epidemic certainly has something to do with this jump, but it’s not nearly the driving force. Because if you look more closely at the numbers of cases up for felony review:

  • 2,646 in 2017
  • 2,626 in 2016
  • 2,533 in 2015
  • 2,623 in 2014

you’ll quickly note there’s no statistically significant year-to-year difference. In fact, the number of Kane County felony review cases is remarkably consistent. What that means is, our 6.6 percent upturn is the result of more felony charges being approved, not necessarily more potential felonies.

To wit, 2,413 felony cases were approved in 2017, while just 2,253 made the 2016 cut. And that is statistically significant.

This all goes back to our contention that, in an effort to land a better job, McMahon has become an absentee boss, leaving criminal division head Joe Cullen to run the show. And a number of KCSAO insiders and defense attorneys tell me that Cullen lacks either the courage or the IQ to make those tough calls.

His theory is, charge ‘em all and let the judge sort ‘em out, which may cover his ass, but it basically becomes justice denied.

Look at some of the recent high-profile Kane County cases. They charged Daniel Rak with first degree murder, but Public Defender Kelli Childress chewed them up and spit them out. They couldn’t get attempted murder charges to stick against Scott Turyna, either. And a misdemeanor case against your favorite journalist was summarily tossed by a rare directed verdict.

As far as me being part of the story goes, we’ll go into much greater detail regarding the Geneva Police Department’s insistent harassment and State’s Attorney retaliation after the civil litigation smoke has cleared. Suffice it to say that the buzz among the KCSAO prosecutors was I committed no crime, but that certainly didn’t stop Cullen from attempting to extract his pound of flesh.

So, Joe (McMahon)! If you’re truly concerned about the increase in felony charges, perhaps you should spend less time in Chicago and more in Kane County. Problem solved!


And speaking of Joe McMahon in Chicago…

Word out of the morass at Route 38 and Peck Road is, since that high-profile case did not get him that federal prosecutor’s position, Joe desperately wants to get out from under the Laquan McDonald prosecution. But since no one else is lining up to take it on, it would appear that he – and the rest of Kane County – are stuck with it.

C’mon! What was he thinking when rushed in where angels fear to tread? It was gonna be all wine and roses?

Chicago Police

Whether you like it or not, State’s Attorney is a very political position, and if you don’t have a basic grasp of how those politics work, it’s going to make the job ten times tougher. Even if McMahon wins this one, a likely outcome, prosecuting a police officer generally doesn’t endear you to anyone in law enforcement.

This move may have raised his profile, but now that McMahon realizes it makes him less promotable, he wants out.

Too late Joe!


Since we’re on the subject!

At the risk of beating a dead horse, McMahon’s capacity to abrogate his crucial leadership role is having other serious long-term side-effects.

We’ve already discussed that, with former chief juvenile prosecutor, Lark Cowart, departing in December, that critical division has descended into a complete tailspin. And if we aren’t able to reach these offenders as minors, they’ll inevitably end up in jail as adults. And that’s a very costly proposition on a number of fronts.

Kane County Judicial Center

Kane County Judicial Center

Though Cowart refuses to castigate her former employer in any way, insiders told me she left, in great part, “because they treated her like shit.”

To make matters worse, the KCSAO just lost the 20-year Illinois grant that funded the now-defunct Victim’s Rights Unit. Though that group consisted of just three staffers, they were a rare bright spot as I worked my way through the system as a felony crime victim.

Having previously toiled for social service agencies and being no stranger to grant writing, scenarios like this occur when the boss isn’t paying attention and simply takes that money for granted.

Of course, the KCSAO is appealing the grant termination, but that’s about as useful as spittin’ into the wind.

Oddly enough, rather than lay off the two remaining victim’s rights advocates, McMahon moved them into other positions. This begs the question, if he has the money to continue to pay them, why not allow them to continue to do their good work?

We really need a new state’s attorney folks.

Quick Hits – February 12, 2018

Another Daily Herald double standard

As if there weren’t enough of ‘em already!

This time, the headline blared Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen supports Democratic County Board candidates in Aurora. And when I say “headline,” I mean the whole front page above the fold thing.

The temerity! The chutzpah! The downright dastardly and divisive… Wait a minute! This isn’t even a real news story, much less the stuff headlines are made of.


First, two of the three candidates in question are actually Republicans expeditiously running as Democrats because they’d have no shot at prevailing in those deeply Dem districts otherwise.

Second, though I’ve been clear I rarely condone this kind of chairmanic meddling, Lauzen ain’t nearly the only one to attempt some personal board bending. Former KC Chairman Karen McConnaughy was widely renowned for her capacity to go after board members – and all manner of local politicians – who failed to amuse her.

Bruce Rauner does it (badly) all the time, too!

The reason I bring Ms. McConnauhay into the mix isn’t to excoriate her (this time). It’s because I repeatedly approached that very same reporter, Jim Fuller, to get the Daily Herald to cover the former Chairman’s spiteful shenanigans.

But they never did.

And the reason they never did their job is because McConnaughay knew how to play the press game. With yours truly as the lone exception, she’d generally gush sugar, spice, and everything nice at the various reporters and editors who covered Kane County. With their fragile egos properly fed, Fuller and the DH almost always let her slide.

Ah! But chairman Lauzen doesn’t play the press game. In fact, he can be downright critical of the Daily Herald, which, ironically, doesn’t sit well with the folks who make a living criticizing everyone else.

And that, my friends, makes the Daily Herald far worse than Chairman Lauzen.


And speaking of the Daily Herald

After emphatically declaring they wouldn’t cover mass murders in any way that might provide the “glory” these shooters so desperately crave, the Daily Herald did just that – again.

Other papers briefly covered the Northern Illinois University memorial ceremony held on the 10th anniversary of their specific tragedy, but the DH has run two consecutive in-depth stories covering the details of that horrifying tragedy in depth.

I suppose some small solace can be taken in their failure to mention the shooter’s name, and we should never forget the victims, but other than a desperate and morbid attempt to sell a couple of extra newspapers, there’s no good reason to give this mass murderer this vast amount of press – ten long years later.

I wonder what it’s like to have absolutely no standards?


The return of DNAinfo?

Chicago media blogger extraordinaire, Rob Feder, recently reported that three DNAinfo alumni are going to bring that business model back as a local news subscription service called “Block Club Chicago.”

This, of course, begs the infamous question, “How do you make a small fortune in the online news biz?” That’s right, you start with a large one.

If you recall, the news-only, no-opinion, hyper-local DNAinfo experiment, underwritten by Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, ended unceremoniously last year when their New York newsroom foolishly voted to unionize.

Our enterprising trio, whose names I won’t mention because they’ll soon be forgotten anyway, said that “the outpouring of love and support from Chicago overwhelmed us…that’s when we knew we had to keep it going.”

So much for journalists having any concept of cause and effect.

That “outpouring” was the result of the big bad billionaire throwing all of those hard-working young journalists out on the street. It’s the whole meaningless “thoughts and prayers” lip service kind of thing.

But despite of all that “love and support,” none of those sympathetic readers had any intention of paying for the DNAinfo news service, and they certainly won’t fork over their hard-earned cash for this watered-down version, either.

In fact, if DNAinfo taught their readers anything, it’s that they can get the local news for free.

The new head honcho added, “People want it [local news], and we proved that with DNAinfo. What we didn’t do was give readers a chance to support us.” I really do love idealists, but c’mon people! There’s idealism and then there’s being downright delusional.

DNAinfo never broke even, much less made a profit. And the reason Ricketts didn’t give readers a chance to support the venture, is he knew they wouldn’t. He knew if he installed a paywall, Patch, or some other news aggregator, would simply steal their content and provide it free of charge the next day.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal proved what readers want, and what they’re actually willing to pay for, is content and analysis specific to their lives. And simply reporting the local restaurant openings and closings with absolutely no emotion ain’t it.

It’s not that I don’t want to see Block Club Chicago survive – we need good, solid local journalism now more than ever. It’s just that it’s getting more difficult to watch the abject futility of journalists doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.