Upon hearing a Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals member refer to drug addicts as “animals who should be locked up,” the great Larry Jones turned to me in that radio booth and said, “There’s one rehab center that’ll be coming into Campton Hills!” And two years later, that’s exactly what happened.
But the fact that such a simple statement can have such a deleterious effect on the process of government still seems lost on many public and elected officials. Whether it involves a lawsuit, land acquisition, personnel issue, group home, rehab center, or any other contentious proposition, their best bet is to keep their personal views to themselves.
You see, those opinions are worth far less than that typical two cents and they could invite the kind of lawsuit that always puts the taxpayers on the financial hook. To wit, after our ZBA official errantly opened his mouth, not only did Kane County have to cough up a hefty settlement, but that rehab center will soon become a Campton Hills reality.
So, when Elgin, Illinois, Councilman Corey Dixon said, “I do not want to see Officer (Chris) Jensen back in uniform at this police department,” at Wednesday evening’s city council meeting, I was more than stunned. Not only will those unfortunate words have serious legal consequences, but they have all sorts of ethical and moral implications, too.
To fill in the blanks, much of the same group that showed up at a city council meeting six weeks ago returned to reiterate their demand that Elgin Police Lieutenant Chris Jensen be fired. Jensen, of course, was the officer who fired the shots that killed DeCynthia Clements during that infamous I-90 traffic stop.
Though the group’s appearance wasn’t quite as contentious as their first, Councilman Terry Gavin still hasn’t figured out he’s actually supposed to be one of the adults in the room, not add further fuel to an already smoldering fire.
It was after Gavin and the protesters went at each other for the second time that Dixon made his inopportune statement – to raucous applause I might add.
His first problem is, the City of Elgin is currently facing a lawsuit over the shooting, and by saying Jensen shouldn’t be brought back on the force, Dixon, in his official capacity, essentially “admitted” that Jensen did something wrong.
It’s something the Clements family attorneys will certainly use against the city in their lawsuit.
Dixon’s next problem is, again, in his official capacity, he “tampered” with the process by making that statement before the Cook County State’s Attorney and City of Elgin investigations are complete. How is Jensen supposed to get a fair shake when a sitting city council member has already declared him guilty? If Jensen is eventually fired, he’ll have clear grounds to sue the city and get his job back, too.
His third issue is, city council members forego the privilege of stating private opinions the day they’re elected. They represent their city 24/7 whether they like it or not. The same goes for those 19 pastors who signed a letter seeking Jensen’s head. Saying they’re speaking for themselves and not their congregations is also pure unadulterated horse manure. You’re a pastor 24/7, too!
And last, but certainly not least, the morality of a sitting city council member throwing a police officer under the bus in this despicable a manner – with his mother sitting in the gallery – is utterly beyond the pale. And I thought those clergymen were bad!
There seems to be quite a few self-professed Elgin Christians who have no clue what that kind of thing really means.
If I had any reason to believe Dixon was sincere, I’d chalk up his comments to a passion-driven mistake, but he’s not sincere. In fact, this it may well be the worst case of political pandering I’ve ever seen.
Under the guise of “inviting citizens” to “express their grief and pain” through their Facebook pages, Dixon and fellow Councilman Tish Powell, in cahoots with disgraced former U-46 School Board member Traci Ellis, are using the Clements tragedy to advance their all-too-obvious agenda.
Do you really think it’s an accident these protesters showed up just as the 2019 consolidated election campaign season officially got underway? Nope! Our opportunistic trio’s goal is to get more African-American city councilmen elected and they’re willing to destroy an otherwise exemplary police officer’s life and career to do it.
Dixon has far greater political aspirations than lowly Elgin, after all.
And make no mistake! Powell was almost as bad when she mimicked Dixon’s statement to her posse after that meeting. I suppose there’s some solace that she didn’t do it from the dais.
It’s a testament to the citizens of Elgin that only a vocal minority are falling for Dixon’s and Powell’s manipulation, and it will be very interesting to see what will happen with Powell’s current reelection bid and Dixon should he chooses to run again. I think they’re in for a bit of surprise.