Quick Hits – April 2, 2018

Quick Hits – April 2, 2018

Judge for yourself!

When I mentioned the possibility of a piece or two on how our 16th Circuit associate judges are appointed, I was convinced it would be met with a rousing chorus of yawns. But not only was there some real interest, but a couple of you asked why we’re electing a judge who’s already a judge.

That is a very good question!


So, without further ado, in what likely might be a two-parter, let’s examine the process of electing and appointing Kane County judges.

1. Full circuit and subcircuit judges

Are all ultimately elected. Full circuit judges run countywide, while the subcircuit variety run in one of the four judicial districts centered around Elgin, St. Charles, Aurora and western Kane County.

Once elected to a six-year term, circuit judges no longer face electoral opponents, but they do have to run for retention which requires a 60 percent “yes” vote. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion as I can’t remember the last time a circuit judge was booted from the bench in any county.

Should a circuit judge retire around an even-year election day, like David Akemann just did, that seat immediately goes on the ballot. If they step down between major elections, the Illinois Supreme Court appoints a replacement pending the next even-year election. Like it is with most incumbents, the appointee generally has the upper hand.

The advantages of a being a circuit judge include:

  • Getting a little more money – $198k vs. $188k
  • Having more say over their courtroom destiny
  • They can’t be “fired” by their peers
  • Voting on appointing associate judges
  • They don’t necessarily have to be on call for off-hour hearings

The problem with this process is, if you get a semi-politically savvy candidate with a small power base in one of the smaller subcircuits, they can get themselves elected despite a lack of reasonable qualifications. That’s how Kane County got a bully and bigot like Judge John Dalton.

Since they only answer to the voters, circuit judges can essentially ignore the chief judge and their peers and pretty much do exactly what they want.

2. Associate judges

Are appointed by the 14 circuit judges and they serve until and unless those same folks vote them out, a very rare phenomenon. Since the late ‘90s, the only Kane County associate judge to be removed was Judge William Weir who got caught forging nominating petition signatures.

He wasn’t exactly booted either. Associate judges who’ve fallen out of favor are typically given an opportunity to “retire” before they’re voted out, which is exactly what Weir did.

Because of the aforementioned advantages, many, but not all, associate judges run for circuit seats as they become available. That’s how you get a sitting judge running for judge. Associate judges don’t have to give up their seat to run for a circuit or subcircuit position, either.

On Wednesday, we’ll discuss the associate judge appointment process and why it tends to lead to substandard choices.


I still love the ESO!

Despite a $140,000 budget deficit that’s provided the usual suspects with an opportunity to turn that organization into a political football, once again, I still love the ESO. That shortfall is basically the result of a small family foundation declining to renew a $150,000 grant.


My current favorite Facebook argument is that the Elgin Symphony Orchestra could bring in non-union musicians to cut costs. But as anyone who understands or has ever been a part of the Screen Actors Guild, Equity, or the Chicago Federation of Musicians knows that’s not the way it works.

Given the vast number of folks who want to enter the preforming arts, these unions essentially ensure that the artists are treated fairly and won’t be subjected to substandard working conditions.

They don’t begin to come close to the more fascinating laborer or public employee unions who can make it difficult to do business or balance a budget in Illinois.

Despite a certain ex-city councilman’s proclamations, the ESO has not asked Elgin for further financial support, stating that they’re mounting a fundraising effort to get back in the black, instead.

And I certainly hope they succeed because the ESO truly is a feather in Elgin’s collective cap. I’d really hate to see them disappear.

Furthermore, since coming on board in 2012, CEO Dave Bearden has done a phenomenal job of bringing that group back from the fiscal abyss at a time some folks thought the fat lady was about to sing the curtain down.

Were I an Elgin taxpayer, if the City did end up chipping in a bit, I’d be OK with it based on that great resuscitation effort. Meanwhile, if, like me, you firmly believe the ESO adds a great deal to the amazing gestalt that is Elgin, Illinois, go ahead a make a donation. That’s exactly what I’m going to do!


It was a great run!

But the Loyola Ramblers finally fell to those scurrilous Michigan Wolverines on Saturday. With the exception of the Kansas State game, the Ramblers singular tournament shortcoming was failing to put a team away when they had them down by 10 points.

Ramblers 2

But I firmly believe coach Porter Moser will be back as will the core of this fantastic Final Four team. Add an interesting incoming recruiting class and I think Loyola will be in the thick of tournament next year.

But regardless of any future possibilities, the Ramblers made this March one I’ll certainly never forget. I’ve never been so proud to be a Loyola graduate. Go maroon and gold!

8 thoughts on “Quick Hits – April 2, 2018

  1. Jeff, I never said the ESO asked for money – yet. Their quoted statement leaves two big doors wide open TO ask for what would be their first actual cash handout in many years. The first two bailouts were paper bailouts. I predict bailout #3 will come. All in the form of cash. Kaptain and his wife are subscribers and donors and he never abstained from voting for the first two bailouts and Gavin and Martinez rejected Powell’s motion to look at the ESO’s financials one year after getting bailout #2. That’s three people/votes out of the five needed to get bailout #3.

    Remember, council election petitions are due in seven months. And the ESO knows it. They would be fools not to play that card for $140,000.

    1. John, So let me get this straight. If I am an NRA member or an ACLU member then I should abstain from any votes on gun legislation or bullying legislation, correct. If I work for a retail establishment or a restaurant then I should abstain from any discussions regarding new businesses of this sort looking to locate in Elgin. Fits right in with you’re accusing me of being a disloyal employee for working at Home Depot but buying from Menard’s because Menard’s has a better price.

      1. Thomas, to answer your first question the “should abstain” all comes down to integrity and loyalty to the company that pays you. You either have it or you don’t. In Kaptain’s case for example, he is a dues-paying member of the local Moose Lodge and has abstained on votes pertaining to them. But he did not abstain on the two symphony bailouts despite paying his dues to THEM every year in the same manner.

        If you, as a Home Depot employee, choose to enrich the bottom line of your employer’s competitor, that’s an integrity issue AND an issue that may not sit well with your employer’s management team. Will you get fired? Probably not. Will you be treated differently from your management? I would hope so. That business is uber-competitive and if I were your supervisor I would let you know how much I value loyalty.

        How would you feel if someone on the council voted to sell city property to their church without offering it for sale to the public first or even at the same time? That happened. I have abstained because friends of mine opened liquor businesses even though I had no financial interest in their business. Steffen voted on the early charter school votes despite his wife being on their board. Moeller was ON their board and voted for it. Rauschenberger and Martinez are U-46 employees and have voted on U-46 issues including the charter school.

        Shall I continue? Integrity. You either have it or you don’t.

      2. John, from your response regarding loyalty, I see you know very little about the retail world. Company loyalty to their employees extends about as far as you can throw a case of tile. If you do the job and do it well then they will gladly keep you employed. Yes they would prefer that you shop them as much as possible BUT your pay rate and continued employment is simply a corporate decision based on what the rest of the labor market is paying and whether or not they feel you are giving TH JOB your all. If you bad mouth them they may consider terminating your employment but they won’t reward you for shopping with them.

  2. Your articles are so much more meaningful, interesting and powerful when you provide rational data and explanations without letting your emotional and personal rants go after half of the population. Stick to the facts, which you can be very good at.

  3. Thank you, sir. The darn thing is, in examples like this one, the only thing one can do is voice an opinion on the future. I am using the facts that have happened. Waiting until after the fact is way too late and not a prediction. Kind of like picking a winner of tonight’s game after the final horn sounds. When it’s too late.

  4. John,

    What I think you consistently ignore – as do most people – is an entity’s current track record.

    Both Tom Roeser and I thought the ESO would never recover from their former mismanagement, but they did, and I firmly believe you have to reward good behavior.

    It’s the same with the Elgin Police. They got the shooting video out to the public in record time and they have a reputation for being one of the most transparent departments in the state.

    Thus, I always take that into account whenever I cover them.

    Put more simply, If the ESO was still enmeshed in a self-inflicted death spiral, my thoughts would not nearly have been the same.


  5. William Weir served as an Associate Judge from 2003 to 2009. Weir’s censure for round-tabling did not occur during his tenure as an Associate Judge. That censure occurred in 1984 for conduct engaged in during 1978. In 1978, William Weir had been practicing law for a little over a year. See: http://www.iardc.org/rd_database/disc_decisions_detail.asp . I’m not sure if you are asserting a causal connection between the round-tabling and Weir’s retirement, or just reminding everyone about it.

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