Y’all know that failing to figure something out drives me absolutely crazy. As Lieutenant Frank Columbo unraveled all those mysteries to which we already knew the answer, he consistently proved that once you understand the inevitable thread of logic that drives all human behavior, every move someone makes becomes eminently deductible.
But as we move into the tenth day of the Kane County probation officers and youth counselors strike, I can’t for the life of me figure out what Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust are trying to accomplish – other than making themselves look truly terrible, that is!
It’s really not this simple because a teacher-like “step” system is involved, but the union is asking for a 3.7 percent pay hike for each of the next three years as their previous contract stipulated. Boles and Aust are offering 2, 2.25, and 2.5 percent for the same period.
They’re really not that far apart. So, what’s the problem, you ask?
It starts with Boles firing crack labor lawyer Carl Tominberg, who’s handled most of the County’s previous union negotiations, in favor a negotiator with virtually no labor law experience. Boles told insiders she did this to “put some space between Court Services and the County Board.”
Tominberg understood the unique and delicate nature of governmental union negotiations, while the new guy clearly does not. The fact there’s never been a probation strike in the entire United States before this one is all the evidence you really need.
The next issue is, when it comes to playing politics with the big boys and girls, Boles and Aust are utterly overmatched. Nothing better demonstrates this than the GPS home monitoring system debacle in which the County Board handed them their political heads.
And speaking of the GPS debacle, to kinda quote The Bard, “Ain’t that the real rub?”
Having played chicken with the monitoring system and lost, Boles and Aust are hell bent on winning this one no matter what the cost. They simply can’t afford another “yuge” political defeat. And the reason they don’t want the County Board involved is some of those fine folks are still fuming over Boles’ ham-handed attempt to make them look bad.
So, when I say there are a number of GOP board members who want nothing more than to see Boles and Aust fall flat on their faces, I wouldn’t bet against me. And I don’t blame ‘em one bit, either. What’s one of my favorite adages? That’s right! Politics ain’t a game for sissies.
Luckily for the board (but not so luckily for probation), when it comes to insuring their own self-destruction, these two always seem happy to oblige.
First, Boles and Aust told board members that, though there were no future negotiations planned, the lines of communication were wide open. Why, things were so cozy between management and the strikers they were even bringing snacks and drinks to the weary picketers.
Clearly, they’re taking propaganda pointers from Donald Trump because the truth is, they changed the locks on the Aurora and Elgin probation offices, they changed all the computer passwords, and then they told the applicable strikers to turn in their county issued cell phones.
Call me crazy, but I don’t remember reading any of that in Mr. Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’
Then Aust and Boles have been repeating that, despite the strike, the regular routine prevails for the youths at the Juvenile Justice Center. If by “regular” they mean putting them on 23 hour-a-day lock down, then I would be inclined to agree.
Third, Boles and Aust consistently claim those halcyon JJC school days go on unimpeded, which couldn’t be further from the truth. How can you go to class when you’re locked in your cell 23 hours a day?
And lastly, when County Board members Theresa Barreiro and Myrna Molina showed up at the JJC to assess the strike situation, the Chief Judge and Court Services Director barred them from entry. They wouldn’t be trying to hide something, would they?
This is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you’re dealing with two people who always think they’re the smartest person in any room, but they never really are. So, when you consider that probation voted 66 – 10 to go on strike, this one is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
By eliminating the GPS monitoring system and inciting a one-of-a-kind probation officers strike in seven short months, Boles and Aust have done a far better job of putting Kane County citizens at risk than the criminals ever could. They certainly seem to have a strange notion of what the term “public safety” really means.
I’m truly terrified to think about what they might do for an encore.