The Democrats attempted a budgetary coup at yesterday’s county board meeting that fell just two votes short of reinstating Kane County’s criminal defendant home monitoring system. The plan was to raid the entire $700,000 “rainy day” fund to do it.
That’s never a good idea, by the way.
And when I use the word “Democrats” here, rest assured, it’s never a clear demarcation on that always fascinating governing body.
To wit, dissident GOP board members Mike Kenyon, Maggie Auger, Phil Lewis and Mark Davoust – or the Gang of Four as I like to call them – tend to vote against any of Chairman Chris Lauzen’s initiatives because he regularly offends their delicate sensibilities.
Meanwhile, “Democrats” Deb Allen and Penny Wegman support him more often than not, because they’re really not Democrats. To be fair, the Gang of Four really aren’t Republicans, either, as their consistent tax and spend voting record would indicate.
To the uneducated observer, it would seem the catalyst for this kerfuffle is a home monitoring system higher ideal, but nothing could be further from the truth. Much like the global conflicts the U.S. consistently mires itself in, this is just another political proxy war played out on the backs of an almost always unsuspecting public.
And it all starts with those Kane County Republicans who spend so much time taking swipes at each other they fail to realize that 10 of those 24 county board seats are occupied by Democrats. And if the Gang of Four votes with them…
Am I the only one who’s noticed that Kane County gets one to two percent more Democratic with every even-year election?
Nature may abhor a vacuum, but politics absolutely despises them. Thus, the main reason the Dems are flexing their new muscles is a lack of real leadership on the part of Chairman Lauzen. They want to see just how far they can get, and yesterday, they almost got there.
Word is, the Dems thought they had this one in the bag. If Kenyon hadn’t voted with the Republicans on two issues, including the home monitoring program, those outcomes could’ve been very different.
So, while there’s never any innocent bystanders on the Kane County Board, if I had to lay the bulk of the dysfunctional blame at someone’s oxford shoed feet, it would be Lauzen’s.
I will continue to extol his virtue for that six-year tax levy freeze, but it would seem that his role as a 20-year Springfield Senate outsider has rendered him incapable of the more subtle kind of coaching that a 24 member body requires.
Remember! The Chairman only gets to vote when there’s a tie.
Meanwhile, he’s falling prey to the same traps his beleaguered predecessor did by battling the Internal Control Statute, alienating countywide elected officials, and running candidates against board members who fail to amuse him.
It’s the whole doomed to repeat history thing, right? Former Chairman Karen McConnaughay actually had the board pretty much cowed until she started primarying the protestors. That tends to make them lose their fear and become kinda cranky. She didn’t last very long after that.
And that’s exactly what Lauzen is doing to a number of Democratic (and Republican) board members right now. C’mon! That’s not how you govern Chris!
Lauzen’s heavy handed approach with county offices that don’t report directly to him hasn’t helped matters either. While it was certainly reasonable to ask for 3.6 percent across-the-board budget cuts, sugar would’ve been far more efficacious application than vinegar in that regard.
When you consider our preponderantly pretentious judges’ paper thin skin and Director of Court Services Lisa Aust’s capacity to comport herself like Lauzen’s twin sister, the Chairman’s generally combative approach doomed any cooperative fiscal effort from the start.
But with all those stipulations issued, make no mistake, the demise of the home monitoring system boils down to Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles’ vast arrogance and nothing more. She thought she could play politics when it’s clearly not her strong suit.
Despite whatever shortcomings befall the Chairman, former Chief Judge Judith Brawka would’ve worked with him to hit that 3.6 percent point without sacrificing any worthwhile program. As we’ve already discussed here, the Kane County court system is beyond bloated because it’s the least efficient circuit in the collar counties.
But instead of improving those lagging efficiencies, which would’ve saved the program, Boles thought she could hold it hostage by imperiously declaring that if home monitoring was cut, the county board would be the ones to blame – not her. She believed that declaration would incite board rebellion and court services could have their cake and eat it too.
But yesterday, those board members correctly called her bluff.
When board member Kurt Kojzarek pointed out the error of her illogical way, she still tried to blame the board after the Chairman called upon her to speak, but it didn’t work.
The truth is, armed with Ms. Aust’s bad advice, Judge Boles chose not to work cooperatively with the board. She chose to avoid trimming the real fat and she chose to put the home monitoring program up as a sacrificial lamb, figuring no one would be willing to draw the first blade.
So, no one else is responsible but her! That’s why the word “Chief” comes before “Judge.”
As board member Davoust noted at that very same meeting, “It only takes one of those 102 people in the program to do something bad, and then you’re on the 10 o’clock news answering questions about why you cut this program.”
There’s a simple solution to that Mark! Just hand Chief Judge Clancy Boles the microphone.