Imagine if you saw a classified ad that looked something like this:
Wanted! Elected and appointed public officials. Minimal experience required. Perks include six-figure salary, Cadillac benefits package, and no need to show up on a regular basis.
You’d probably leap at the opportunity. I know I would!
Of course, we’ve all heard about those infamous Second City ghost payrollers, but this is a rare case where Kane County beats the pants off our scurrilous metropolitan counterparts because it’s the bosses who never manage to show up out here!
Take that Cook County!
So, without further ado, let’s examine the top three Kane County failing-to-show-up-for-work offenders in ascending order:
3. State’s Attorney Joe McMahon
As we’ve already covered, when Joe does manage to show up at the Judicial Center, he takes the freight elevator up to his office, spends all of two hours behind a closed door, and then he disappears via the same route. When he actually does put in the expected time, it’s for the citizens of Cook County and not the people who actually elected him.
And the fallout from his absentee leadership is becoming more and more apparent.
The morale in the criminal division is so bad that most of the KCSAO’s best people have already left. New prosecutors are thrown to wolves with virtually no training and somehow expected to succeed. “Discretion” has become a dirty word, and their definition of “justice” is letting the judges sort everything out.
But as bad as those folks are, the civil division is far worse. While McMahon was off prosecuting Laquan McDonald shooter Jason Van Dyke, Joe Lulves completely blew the opportunity to wring any kind of meaningful concessions from the incoming Maxxam Partners Campton Hills rehab center.
Then they turned around and successfully sued the County to the tune of doubling our lawsuit insurance.
Lulves also failed to accurately review the most recent union contracts which left the Chairman, the County Board, and the taxpayers twisting in the wind. Can you guess who’ll be paying for those two major lapses.
I could continue but I’m sure you get the idea by now. Meanwhile, the citizens of Kane County get to enjoy the rare privilege of paying McMahon $166,508 a year to train for triathlons.
2. Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell
Borne of an entitlement mentality the size of Montana, Tom decided his $90,000 salary plus to-die-for benefits weren’t nearly enough, and after his attempts to get a raise and get elected judge failed, he went back to practicing law while Kristy Sharpness runs the Circuit Clerk’s office.
And she does a great job, too! But that begs the question, then why do we need Tom Hartwell?
Considering what a disaster the new court database implantation turned into – I’ve never heard so many complaints from attorneys, paralegals and judges – I’m thinking the boss’s regular presence might’ve made a difference.
But you can count on death, taxes, and Tom Hartwell running for the next judicial opening on the Kane County taxpayer’s dime.
1. Public Defender Kelli Childress
This one particularly pains me. Not only do I harbor a soft spot for public defenders everywhere, but I’ve previously extolled Ms. Childress’ vast litigatory virtue. The problem is, when it comes to not showing up at the office, she’s the Kane County queen by a longshot.
I suppose everybody has to be good at something!
With the PD’s office being FOIA-proof, I turned to some folks who regularly toil in the Judicial Center and they said they haven’t seen her for at least six months. Never the shy one, Childress loves to post her tropical adventures on social media. Apparently her current jaunt involves Puerto Vallarta.
It must be nice to be paid 150 grand a year to be on a perpetual vacation.
Just like it is with the Circuit Clerk, Brenda Willett is the one who runs the PD’s office and she does an exceptional job of keeping a very difficult prospect together. So, why not make her Public Defender? She’s already doing it!
I reached out to Ms. Childress and the PD’s office for some sort of explanation, but none was forthcoming. How do you excuse the inexcusable?
Though I have to say, the irony and hypocrisy of our Kane County judges, few of whom ever work a full day, voting out a PD for failing to show up certainly isn’t lost on me. It will be fascinating to see what happens there.
I would’ve included Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham on the list, but that office does far better when he’s not there, so, we’ll just let that one go.
But there you have it! The top three Kane County absentee bosses. Like I said, it must be nice!