Quick Hits – On Winning a Public Relations Battle

There are days I’d pay you good money to take this gig. As Dave Chappelle told the audience in his beyond brilliant new ‘Sticks and Stones’ Netflix special, “Cause y’all [N-words] are the worst [expletive deleteds] I’ve ever tried to entertain in my [expletive deleted] life!”

I can’t tell you how much I love it when, despite my vast due diligence, you [expletive deleteds] decide something’s not true with no other evidence than your flappin’ gums to back it up. And then there were all the bleeps who took Friday’s column seriously. Really? So, you actually think SCARED or The Society to Combat Accursed Roundabouts Everywhere, Dammit! is a real organization?

I’m gonna go bleepin’ broke buying some of y’all a [expletive deleted] sense of humor.

But then there are days when I wouldn’t trade this gig for even a case of my beloved Bass Ale. And today is certainly one of ‘em, because Shaw Media, once again, picked up on my ongoing battle to get 255 pages of sexual harassment documents from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

My regular readers already know that, after State’s Attorney Joe McMahon refused to abide by the Illinois Attorney General’s ruling to turn those complaints over, I sued his office to force him to comply. That lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in Kendall County courtroom 110 at 1 p.m. on November 6.

mcmahon

Though I do object to Shaw calling it a “gripe session,” at least they had the cojones to cover Chairman Chris Lauzen’s attempt to call McMahon and Civil Division head Joe Lulves on the carpet for their inexplicable lapses that continue to cost Kane County Taxpayers millions of dollars.

As usual, the delicate flowers at the Daily Herald were nowhere to be seen.

I know the Chairman can be difficult and demanding, but how many of you have bosses who are difficult and demanding? And when you consider our countywide elected officials’ and County Board members’ propensity to go off on tangents that cost you all kinds of money, I want a county chairman that’s difficult and demanding.

And while the Chairman has admitted he’s been wrong on more than one occasion, you will NEVER find or hear a similar admission from Joe McMahon or anyone in his office.

Tired of his attempts to communicate with the KCSAO falling on deaf ears, Lauzen sent the them a 103-page memo outlining exactly how they’ve repeatedly failed the people of Kane County. And when you consider their greatest hits, I’m surprised it wasn’t three times as long.

Let’s see! They:

  • Blew the Campton Hills rehab center process so badly that, not only did the taxpayers have to shell out $5.6 million to the developer, but the rehab center is coming in, anyway.
  • Botched that and so many other lawsuits, the county’s insurance carrier dropped us, and our premiums doubled as a result.
  • Refused to exercise any discretion on felony cases which is a blatant abrogation of justice and costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars in unnecessary trials.
  • Signed off on the wrong county labor contracts costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll costs going forward.

While all this and a rampant sexual harassment scandal was engulfing his office, Joe McMahon was far too busy prosecuting Jason Van Dyke in Cook County with most of his senior staff. To say I agree with the Chairman’s efforts in this regard is the mildest of understatements.

But back to the “gripe” session. As always seems to be the case, McMahon and Lulves didn’t even bother to show up. Nope! They sent ASAs Michelle Niermann and Erin Brady, instead. The irony of the top two KCSAO male officials sending two female underlings to face the heat and address the Board’s sexual harassment inquiries certainly isn’t lost on me.

And when I say “addressed it” that’s a massive overstatement. Here are their three main contentions:

1. The harassment reports are confidential

As far as the names of the victims go, I’ve never asked for them, but the complaints themselves are not confidential because the law of the State of Illinois clearly says they’re not!

Again, the fact that McMahon did nothing about this and other predatory prosecutors for eight long years, is far more deleterious to the harassment reporting process than releasing any complaints. And the Attorney General’s office agreed with me at every turn.

2. The AG’s ruling is an opinion

NO, IT’S NOT! In a rare moment of lucidity, the State of Illinois set up the Public Access Counselor as the adjudicator of all FOIA disputes. And they did this so court costs – $377 in this case – wouldn’t become a deterrent to appealing an illegal FOIA denial.

Imagine what public bodies would do if they knew every FOIA appeal would cost a journalist or newspaper $400 a pop, before any potential attorney’s fees. They’d never answer another FOIA request again!

Where the State erred is assuming that public bodies would automatically abide by any AG decision, and thus, they gave the FOIA statute no teeth. Outside of the court of public opinion, there are no consequences for flipping the PAC the bird. But trust me, it’s a ruling and not an opinion.

3. The disciplinary action has already been released

What utterly floors me is Niermann actually had the nerve to tell the board that the discipline involved has already been released and that should be good enough. Yes! A whole 1.5 pages of the 255 pages sought. And exactly what was the “discipline” Joe McMahon handed down to this six-plus year serial sexual harasser? They moved him to the other side of the office. Then more of his victims quit.

All I can say is, per the Chronicle piece, at least the County Board is finally taking this sad scenario seriously by finally asking some tough question. Rest assured, I’ll be back in front of that body in October to be sure those questions get even tougher.

4 thoughts on “Quick Hits – On Winning a Public Relations Battle

  1. Hate to be a cynic but except for Lauzen the rest are only asking questions now because McMahon is a lame duck

  2. And I was anticipating you covering the poll Jim Oberweis released last Wednesday for today’s Quick Hits, given you have been active commenting on Oberweis’ congressional campaign Facebook page since then. Still, this is a good read, too.

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