Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. – John 8:7
The Apostle’s recounting of Jesus’ sage advice should be particularly considered by those perpetually prone to stone throwing politicians. Because whenever one of ‘em publicly goes after another, I can guarantee you that someone in the aggrieved party’s camp will shortly supply me with something even worse on the attacker.
And it just happened again, too!
To set the stage, let’s head back to the whole Kane County IT department paying 60 grand in DeVry tuition for one staffer non-story. It’s the one the Kane County Chronicle is even more obsessed with than Agent Orange’s fixation over being a blatant loser. I realize we’ve kind of beaten it to death, but if you give me a little leeway, I promise I’ll make it worth your while.
Oh! And BTW, now the Chronicle and fake reporter Brenda Schory are going after this employee’s grades, which is outright harassment. Not only is that kind of personal information exempt from FOIA requests, but how would that data move the story along in any way?
We already know this staffer passed her classes with flying colors and that taxpayer investment turned out to be a good one. With the myriad of employment options available to today’s job seekers, she’s still working for Kane County and doing a great job, too!
But back to the issue at hand.
Instead of addressing the tuition issue internally as any auditor with half-a-brain would’ve done, stone throwing Kane County Auditor Penny Wegman went directly to the press in an effort to advance her non-existent political status,.
Of course, the Chronicle ran with the story while completely ignoring the fact that Wegman and her then-County Board compatriots approved every last one of those 17 DeVry payments. So now, in a desperate attempt to cling to any shred of journalistic integrity, the Chronicle’s doubling down on the story by portraying Wegman as a scion of truth, justice and the American way.
But as is always the case when a newspaper “falls in love” with an elected official who deigns to speak with them, they have to apply the kind of due diligence that ensures that support doesn’t come around to bite them in the butt – just like this one’s about to take a chunk out of Schory’s and the Chronicle’s ample asses.
Because, as an eminently predictable reaction to their overhyped and overwrought coverage, a source came forward with an equally fascinating and deeply ironic story on Auditor Wegman.
Please allow me to explain!
The first thing most newly elected officials do is add some personal touches to the physical office itself. They might have it repainted, bring in a new desk, and apply artwork that reflects their personality. It’s certainly nothing new and the five-ish grand involved is nothing to get excited about.
Ah! But it would seem that Auditor Wegman’s tastes tend towards the more extravagant because, as a timely First Ward FOIA request uncovered, her office renovation cost Kane County taxpayers…wait for it…$59,754.45. I’ll wait for you pick yourself back up off the floor…
Now, if that remodeling effort involved the larger Chairman’s office which hosts a host of important guests, I might understand. But the Auditor’s enclave, which sits squarely in the bowels of Building A, rarely receives any visitors. Put more simply, a county auditors’ existence tends to run along the lines of a Maytag repairmen.
Having visited former Auditor Terry Hunt’s office on rare occasion, I can also attest that his former confines were dated but functional because Building A, a former 1920’s seminary, is dated but functional.
But it gets even better!
The County’s FOIA response also clearly indicated that the money for this makeover splurge came directly from the first batch of federal COVID relief funds. That might make some sense if that office had to be adapted to the plague era, but with just the Auditor, an administrative assistant, and no guests, there’s absolutely no danger of it becoming a ground-zero superspreader site anytime soon.
So, it would seem that, despite some board members taking great umbrage at the mere thought, our local social service agencies were dead on when they accused the Chairman and County Board of willfully hoarding those COVID relief funds for themselves.
Oh! And that wonderfully ironic $60,000 isn’t nearly the end of it, either! That amount doesn’t reflect any repainting, rekeying, and new office furniture. And let me tell ya, having toiled for Kane County in a previous lifetime, their furniture vendor ain’t cheap. A desk will typically run the taxpayer between three to four grand!
As to the office rekeying, if you recall, when Ms. Wegman discovered maintenance had a key to her office, she flipped out declaring, “No one is going to have a key to MY office but me!” and she changed the locks.
What that means is, when all is said and done, Wegman’s adventure as an interior decorator cost taxpayers somewhere between $70,000 to $80,000. Suddenly that tuition reimbursement doesn’t seem so bad, does it!
Oh! There’s one more thing, the vendor that did half of that remodeling work was R. C. Wegman Construction company. Since, among other things, I wasn’t aware if there were families ties involved there, last week I emailed the Auditor and Chairman Corinne Pierog the follow questions (edited for brevity):
- In the face of a $16 million budget deficit, please explain how spending more than 60 grand on the Auditor’s office makes any fiscal senser?
- Regardless of the cost, how can spending COVID relief funds on that “project” possibly be justified?
- Is the R.C. Wegman Construction Company related to Recorder Sandy or Auditor Penny Wegman in any way?
- With the office rekeyed, does building and grounds have access to it in case of a burst pipe or other emergency?
- What did the people of Kane County actually get for their 60 grand?
- But despite the abundant simplicity of those eminently reasonable inquiries, neither elected official deigned to respond.
So, there you go! This is why political stone throwing is such a hazardous proposition. Penny Wegman has been exposed for her vast hypocrisy, I wouldn’t trust Chairman Pierog’s tongue if it came notarized, and if it’s still possible for them to sink any lower, the Kane County Chronicle looks worse than ever.
And I’ll be sure to remind you about all of that at election time!