We haven’t engaged in a good point-counterpoint discussion here in quite a while, so let’s give it a shot!
Terry Flanagan, the husband of former Geneva Alderman Dorothy Flanagan, posted this compelling blog comment questioning my frequent support of Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen:
Normally, I agree with you on you on a lot of things and I appreciate your tenacity when it comes to pursuing the truth. However, I am at a complete loss to explain your impulses to defend Chris Lauzen. While regularly skewering Kevin Burns, seldom is heard a discouraging word when it comes to Lauzen. This is despite the fact that the two are so similar, starting with ego problems down to the oft-spoke fears of retribution many of those who disagree with them express. Their similarities may in part explain the many skirmishes they’ve had had over the years when they should have been working together to benefit their constituents.
This $34 book expense is only part of the story. The Chairman routinely submits expenses that fall outside the reimbursement guidelines. And although a lot of those expenses are minor and have been allowed, the practice demonstrates a tendency to play outside the rules. If the rules are a problem, change them rather than bending them for one individual.
Lauzen’s judgment issues don’t begin and end with questionable expenses though. I lost what little faith I had in his ability to govern when he appointed his political crony Robert Sauceda to animal control as billing manager. This was after he failed to get him in as coordinator. Not only was Sauceda lacking experience, but apparently a few other qualities we expect in our officials as well. His tenure was a disaster. And his continuing behavior following his hasty exit from the county begs the question of how could anyone consider giving this man any position in government. Starting with his ridiculous attempt to legally change his name to include CPA to these latest issues, I continue to question Lauzen’s judgment and yours as well when you continue to overlook his failings and try to shift blame to his detractors.
Since Terry isn’t the only person to proffer this kind of challenge, I will endeavor to effectively respond:
1. The main reason I support the Chairman is, being an inveterate fiscal hawk, he’s kept his promise to preside over a flat County tax levy. Since no politician is perfect, I can live with his flaws and foibles which I do regularly point out.
2. To wit, I would encourage you to re-read my columns on the Chairman’s attempted intervention in the most recent Aurora mayoral race. I hammered him, and it became a huge story. Not only that, but because of a vast difference of opinion on one particular issue, the Chairman and I didn’t talk for two years. Like you said, I am relentless in pursuing the truth and I spare no one.
3. As I wrote in the column to which you referred, when those eminently part-time county board members give up the 25 grand salary, the pension, and those Cadillac health care benefits, I might be a little more willing to listen to what they have to say.
4. I’m sure you remember that Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and I were once friends, but it turns out, he actually is a pathological wife abusing liar. Those police reports are common knowledge, but I think it’s time to make them public again. I need to be circumspect here, but I can’t wait to see the Mayor in a specific Third Street Geneva venue.
5. Yes! I have experienced the Chairman’s wrath and I’ve been more than happy to return the favor. But unlike most politicians, Chris Lauzen respects the truth if you provide the evidence and if you employ a bit of persistence. That doesn’t mean he’ll always take advice, but he does listen.
6. And yes again! The Chairman often has difficulties with the somewhat restrictive rules of county government. He has difficulty being “the coach,” something that job sorely requires. But as you know, this life often comes down to moral relativism. Since, former Chairman Karen McConnaughay raped the Kane County taxpayer and redefined pay-to-play, I can’t get too excited about a $34 book.
7. You’re right again! The Chairman doesn’t understand that, if you don’t like the rules, you need to change them. But he certainly ain’t the first elected official to have a problem with that. The fact that the KCSAO repeatedly failed to understand which civil attorneys would work best with the Board (Erin Brady), greatly exacerbated this problem. You have to understand the Chairman and truly grasp the collar county political process to effectively work with him.
8. As to his expenses, I routinely wrote that former Chairman McConnaughy should’ve gotten at least $150,000 a year, not the paltry $95,000 she was making at the time. You may have noted that she and I weren’t on each other’s Christmas card list,either. So, $12,000 in chairmanic reimbursements since 2012? I’d be OK with three times that much.
9. But you’re wrong about Rob Sauceda! Did he lack the kind of personal judgement one would expect from someone in that position? Yes! But did he trounce two separate McConnaughay appointees in bringing Animal Control back to a self-funding status? Yes, he did! His professional term was exemplary, but his personal decisions were a disaster and they correctly sealed his fate.
10. Again, I have consistently had fun with the Chairman’s foibles. That’s how we met. In my first column covering him, I wrote something to the effect of “He can be kind of surly, he doesn’t play well with others, and he has a knack for political suicide. His response was to invite me down to Springfield!
And it isn’t a matter of blaming his detractors, it’s the whole, let he who is without (major) sin cast the first stone. Considering the havoc the Democratic supermajority has wreaked on Illinois, I’d rather State Rep Kifowit worry about her own house than chime in on anyone else’s.
As it is with former Elgin City Councilman John Prigge, whom I consider to be a very good friend, if you can take the Jeff Ward’s truth on a regular basis, if you choose to evolve, and you don’t mince words about who you are – then I’m gonna be OK with you.
How Genevans pay their police officers to have sex on duty!