Investigative reporting ain’t cheap!
As a result of posting Shaw Media’s coverage of my FOIA war with the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office on Facebook, one commenter complained that she couldn’t get past the Chronicle’s paywall. When I explained the existence of local newspapers’ is critical and their survival depends on being able to make money, she replied, “I think all news should be free.”
Thank you, Huffington Post!
To be fair, print media should shoulder a great deal of that blame for failing to install Internet paywalls from the get-go. Once you provide your product for free it’s awfully hard to convince people they have to pay for it.
But the truth is, investigative reporting ain’t cheap.
Back when I toiled for the then suburban Sun-Times papers, reporter Dan Campana and I embarked upon a quest to prove just how corrupt former Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay really was. And it was a very time-consuming process, particularly on the part of Campana, to compile the pay-to-play data that would prove our point.
Then it took two years of hammering that point home and Chris Lauzen finally running against her to bring fiscal sanity back to the Kane County chairmanship. But as costly as that kind of thing can be, a lack of local investigative journalism will be even more expensive. Because once local government realizes that no one’s watching, the taxpayers will be coughing up far more than the cost of an annual digital newspaper subscription.
And those too-common municipal foibles aren’t necessarily based on nefariousness, either. The kind of egos required to run for local office tend to get those folks into trouble. Here’s a perfect example!
I’m sure, like me, when my Tri-Cities compatriots opened their most recent electric bill, they experienced quite a shock. And the reason for those ridiculous rates, especially in Geneva and Batavia, is their respective mayors, Kevin Burns and Jeff Schielke, thought they were smarter than everyone else.
These two politicians, neither of whom have ever held a real job, thought they could beat the market, and they convinced their city councils to go along with what amounts to a “clean coal” con. The end result? Geneva, Batavia and a host of other Illinois towns will be paying above market electric rates for decades.
The good news is, the local press extensively covered this debacle which otherwise would’ve been swept under the rug. And because of that coverage, Tri-Cities city councils are far less likely make this kind of massive mistake again. Additionally, The First Ward would not have been able to add an opinion angle without that newspaper coverage.
So, suddenly that $76 a year for a Kane County Chronicle subscription sounds like a bargain, doesn’t it?
Greg Elsbree for county chairman? I love fairy tales!
So, Teamster Union treasurer and Aurora Township Democratic chairman, Greg Elsbree, is running for Kane County chairman? That’s exactly what we need! Haven’t the Teamsters and their union brethren already done enough to destroy the State of Illinois?
Apparently, they don’t think so!
Not to mention that every time I find myself in the same room with Elsbree I suddenly feel the need to take a three-day shower. I’ve covered all manner of politicians in the last 13 years and I can tell you that very few share his capacity to lie with such incredible ease.
And wait till you hear the reason he’s running!
Elsbree says current Chairman Chris Lauzen didn’t do enough to settle last summer’s probation officer’s strike. He claims the Chairman should’ve intervened and provided everything the strikers asked for.
So, let me set the record straight.
First, as I previously explained at great length, given the Illinois Internal Control Statute, a county chairman cannot play mediator in a strike in which the workers don’t report directly to him.
Court Services is an entirely separate county department over which the Chief Judge presides, so the only power a Chairman really has is to set their budget with the advice and consent of the County Board. Had Chairman Lauzen intervened and either side believed he was playing favorites, he would’ve been sued.
So, he was wise to stay out of it.
As far as automatically conceding to the striker’s demands, Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust knew the probation contract was up when they submitted their budget. But because they firmly believe they’re the two smartest people in any room, they erroneously believed they could squash that proletariat mob with a mere flick of their wrist.
But it didn’t turn out that way did it? The strikes proved their resolve!
And when Aust and Boles came hat in hand to the Chairman, who’s repeatedly promised to keep the tax levy flat, he correctly turned them down, because if he saved them from themselves, what kind of message would that send to every other county office?
We all have to live within our means, right?
Meanwhile, while I was the one providing the rank and file with a reasonable strategy and good advice, the local Teamsters, who had no clue how to handle a public sector strike, were having the already weary workers go door-to-door telling folks the sky was falling.
Yes! That’s how you generate sympathy!
And if Elsbree doesn’t begin to understand those eminently basic government fundamentals, he shouldn’t be running for president of a homeowner’s association. Though if you want to see your taxes skyrocket, he’s your man!
If Chairman Lauzen does run again, and I stridently believe he will, Elsbree won’t even get 40 percent of the vote.
How to file a legal motion
Here’s a little bonus content! (Lucky you!)
In preparation of the next step in my FOIA battle with the Kane County State’s Attorne’s Office, I have taken it upon myself to learn how to file a legal motion. C’mon! I’ve already skewered Civil Division head Joe Lulves once, how hard could it be to beat him a second time?
Armed with a template and some fine instruction from one of my favorite female attorneys, I’m in the process of giving it a shot. But what I quickly realized is, even having been a professional programmer, this kind of legal construct is absurdly beyond the pale.
So, I decided to have some fun with it. And after attorney Jeff Meyer laughed his ass off at my humorous attempt, I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s how an attorney would file a motion to open a door:
1. The petitioner, JEFFREY N. WARD (“Jeff Ward”), is an individual residing in Geneva, Illinois.
2. THE DOOR, hereafter known as “The Door,” is located at the front of that residence.
3. Please note that all the universal laws of physics apply here.
4. The Door is a portal that allows people access and egress to the residence.
5. It is presumed that The Door works as a door should and is not impeded by foreign objects, extraterrestrial intervention, or severe weather conditions.
6. By its very nature, a door is meant to open and close and pretty much not do anything that isn’t doorlike.
7. On June 25, 2019 Jeff Ward decided he wanted to open the door.
8. So Jeff Ward approached said door in a westerly direction stopping 6 inches short of The Door.
9. Once stationary, Jeff Ward reached out his right hand and firmly grasped the doorknob, the part of The Door that moves the latch allowing it to open unimpeded.
10. With his right hand firmly grasping the doorknob, Jeff Ward turned it 60 degrees to the right (clockwise) moving the latch such that it no longer obstructed The Door.
11. With the obstructional latch temporarily removed, Jeff Ward gently pulled The Door towards his body, stepping slightly to his left to let The Door move unimpeded in a sweeping arc to his right.
I could keep on going, but you probably get the idea by now. This is exactly how the “gears” of justice “grind” folks. No wonder most attorneys are completely nuts.