Quick Hits – No one can serve two masters

Though I’m generally not one to start spouting biblical entreaties, the greater quote from which I derived that title is:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Or, in the case of City Councilman Corey Dixon, you cannot concurrently serve the people of Elgin and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, because that blitheringly clear conflict of interest cannot be morally or ethically resolved.

There are times the Bible is dead on. We just won’t talk about the whole wearing polyester will sending you straight to hell thing.

Corey Dixon 3

Is it a legal conflict, meaning could a Kane County city councilman toiling as the Sheriff’s “Senior Assistant Director of Administration” be removed from the elected office by due process? No! There are only two cases where that kind of thing could happen.

The first is, you cannot hold an elected office that determines the salary of another elected or public office. So, a Kane County Board member would be prohibited from working as a Kane County employee because the Board sets those salaries by virtue of approving the budget.

The second issue is, like the whole two masters thing, you cannot serve the same constituency twice. Thus, an Elgin city councilman cannot also serve as a U-46 board member because those bodies have unresolvable interests. As Illinois State Board of Elections lead counsel, Ken Menzel, explained, “You cannot seek the best deal for the city and the best deal for the school board because those goals are frequently in conflict.”

But what makes this so much worse than those possibilities is, as I’m prone to saying, the appearance of impropriety is always far worse than any actual impropriety, and that’s going to dog Corey Dixon for the rest of, what will likely be, his only Elgin City Council term.

The most obvious disconnect is, since the people of Kane County are paying his $72,000 salary, Dixon will have to recuse himself from any vote involving a Kane County office. And that’s a really big deal. Having covered Elgin and the County Board for 13 long years, there are innumerable intergovernmental agreements between them requiring regular votes on both sides.

Not only that, but the Sheriff provides SWAT, drug task force, and many more services to the entire county. They apply for grants and underwrite programs that benefit the citizens of Elgin, and a spirit of cooperation between Sheriff’s deputies and the Elgin Police is critical for both groups’ success.

So, will Dixon, even unintentionally, apply more Sheriff’s resources to Elgin? Or fearing he’ll be considered a “homer,” will he go out of his way to see that Elgin gets less? His new job description indicates he’ll be in a position to do either one. And will he do the converse in his city council role?

Worse yet, just like our serving on a city council and school board analogy, city councilmen should be their police department’s biggest advocates, and Sheriff’s staffers should similarly support their deputies. And as that biblical caveat clearly stipulates, no one can successfully serve those two masters.

But Dixon’s biggest problem is the confidential nature of the Sheriff gig as explicitly outlined in the job description we covered on Monday.

The best way for an elected official to mitigate a conflict of interest is to publicly announce it prior to tackling a vote or issue. But if you’re prohibited from revealing the full scope of your employment, that political “cleansing” becomes impossible.

So, how will the people of Elgin know when Dixon has a conflict that might affect his vote? He could recuse himself without citing a specific reason, but that certainly won’t endear him to his constituents, who are already losing faith in him.

The bottom line is, this dual role will, by default, make Dixon a far more ineffective city councilman, which is patently unfair to the voters who elected him. Conversely, how can he be an effective “Senior Assistant Director of Administration” when he can’t help but see things through an Elgin city councilman’s eyes?

The answer is he can’t. And if he had any self-respect, or an ounce of respect for the voters, he wouldn’t even have considered the Sheriff’s position, but the term “self-respecting politician” has become an oxymoron along the lines of jumbo shrimp, military intelligence, and Trump truth.

That’s why we need local journalism more than ever.

Thankfully, the answer to this conundrum is quite simple. Since you clearly can’t serve two masters, Dixon needs to pick one!

8 thoughts on “Quick Hits – No one can serve two masters

  1. Jeff I’m a little confused. He doesn’t have any voting power nor does he have any say in disseminating funds from the county to the municipalities so what exactly is your beef? Please explain further.

    • Pete,

      As a senior staffer he will have a say in how the Sheriff’s resources are allocated as his job description specifically puts him in charge of community programs and community outreach.

      The job description also makes him the Sheriff’s “confidante” which means he has the Sheriff’s fiscal ear. And knowing Mr. Dixon quite well, he will use that ear to his distinct political advantage.

      Jeff

  2. He is not serving both God and money. He is serving money
    Maybe Lauzen should try and reduce Sheriff budget by day $76,000

  3. This is a lack of integrity issue and a MYODB (Mind Your Own Damn Business) issue. And, as I have said repeatedly, the phrase “What You Permit, You Promote” is sprouting again.

    Why should Dixon abstain on Kane Co. votes? Look at what he has seen and heard from the city council just in the past three years. Carol Rauschenberger votes on her employer’s issues at U-46. John Steffen voted multiple times on the NENA Escape School lease and other such issues while his wife was on the board. That’s until I busted him for doing so. Mayor Weakling has voted multiple times on a $30,000 yearly mayors-only party ticket to the Metro West Council of Governments where elbow bending is the activity of the night 5-6 times a year. Hell, Anna Moeller did the same on the Escape School issue and voted to bailout the ESO while her sister-in-law was actually IN the orchestra.

    Dixon sees and hears all of that and perhaps wonders why this is allowed. That is, until he sees what Rose Martinez has done and continues to do.

    Martinez is the worst at integrity and respect. She is also a U-46 employee who votes on U-46 items. She also voted in Executive Session to grease a city land sale to her church (until I busted her for that, too) and routinely votes to give money to the Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureaus where she sits on their board.

    If they can do it, why can’t Dixon? Well, he can. And no one cares if he does. His supporters just want him to get a police officer fired. The other stuff like integrity and respect? Nahhhh. Mind Your Own Damn Business.

  4. Dixon saw the writing on the wall and had to secure something. He will be a one-hit-wonder but him even being in a public position much less law enforcement, is a concern to everyone. He’s shown his colors. He shouldn’t be in either and if Hain is going to pull this crap, neither should he.

  5. And I assume this will increase his pension somehow

    • Jim,

      I’m not sure Elgin City Council members get a pension. And if they do, it wouldn’t amount to much as the aldermanic salaries are quite small.

      • No pensions for council members. The position is considered part-time and not pension eligible. The council does get medical benefits as if they were full-time positions. If Dixon is allowed to get benefits from Kane Co. he can cancel his medical benefits with the city of Elgin and get a $3000.00 check for every year he does not take city medical benefits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s