Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses. – Mitt Romney
You may recall my recent stipulation that the current iteration of the Kane County Board is the worst I’d ever covered. But shortly after making that declaration, one of my favorite (smart-assed) readers aptly noted that the Kane County Board was the only one I’d ever covered.
My occasional forays into McHenry or DuPage notwithstanding, he’s generally correct. What I meant to say then was, having carefully observed 30 separate varieties of the Kane County Board since 2006, the 2020 version is the stuff political nightmares are made of.
And just to prove my point, with some notable exceptions, the board, and particularly Chairman Corinne Pierog, just put on the kind of December meeting shitshow that makes you long for those halcyon Jerry Springer days.
The catalyst for this unheralded frivolity was Kane County Health Department Director Kathy Fosser’s unilateral decision to shut down the Batavia COVID vaccination site due to chronic staffing shortages. While that fascinating choice put her squarely on Santa’s naughty list, that decision pales in comparison to her failure to notify the Chairman or Board of that sudden move.
Let’s just say that the Douglas Adams’ “Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Trall head in the sand” style of public management generally doesn’t work out too well.
Unlike her superb predecessor, this simple truth is Ms. Fosser is incapable of running the Health Department. She’s an accountant, not a manager, several board members have described her as “a deer in the headlights,” and her inexplicable decision to close a major vaccine site in the midst of a pandemic without asking for help from the Board or Chairman first simply boggles the mind.
But while she’s certainly not long for that job, the real question is, who hired her in the first place? Oh! That’s right! It was none other than Kane County Chairman Corinne Pierog. And she hired Fosser for two reasons. The first was to maintain her carefully cultivated “everybody’s doting grandmother” image, and the second was because it was the easiest thing to do.
After Barb Jeffers retired, Fosser was appointed interim Director with no intention of giving her the keys to the kingdom because that’s not how the political process works. It’s de rigueur to choose an interim director who won’t be in the final mix so it doesn’t muddy the statutory hiring waters.
But because of her dire need to be liked and her sum total government experience consisting of sitting on a school board, it was ultimately Pierog’s decision to hire an unqualified director, and that’s clearly the catalyst for this closure situation.
But as bad at that feckless misstep was, it pales in comparison to how Pierog described how she learned about the shutdown. She somehow thought it was a good idea to tell the Board that she was “Sitting in bed last Thursday evening, drinking tea and having a cookie” when she was “shocked” to discover an online article describing the site’s final December event.
If that doesn’t conjure up visions of Marie Antoinette, then nothing will!
Madame Chairman! The people of Kane County pay you six figures to do a job and they expect to get their money’s worth. You knew damn well going in that the plague and its fiscal repercussions would make the gig twice as difficult, but you ran regardless.
You also damn well knew that, with hospitals offering nurses $10,000 signing bonuses, our beleaguered Health Department couldn’t possibly keep up. But you couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone or set a weekly “how’s it going” appointment with Ms. Fosser because that would eat into your “cookie and tea time.”
Then, instead of taking responsibility, being proactive, and doing your best to deal with the situation as it stands, you choose to assuage your wounded ego by blaming Public Health Committee Chairman Jarett Sanchez for something he has virtually no control over.
Not only did you blame him for your own vast shortcomings, but you threatened his leadership positions because you couldn’t spell the word “accountability” if I spotted you 13 letters! Even your fellow Democrats were disgusted with your bullshit as exemplified by Board member Myrna Molina’s verbal smackdown:
We all need to take into consideration that it does not just sit on the committee chairperson’s responsibility to take action or create policy or to direct our staff. It’s everyone’s responsibility in this room. You are throwing a person under the bus to make yourself look better. I’m really disappointed in your [Pierog’s]actions right now.”
Whoa! Though I’ve always enjoyed Myrna and her equally sharp wit, those feelings don’t nearly extend to her political career which generally consists of taking up space. But after that pithy rejoinder, I might just have to reconsider that evaluation.
Madame Chairman, if you’re in so far over your head that you can’t begin to grasp the very basic leadership concept offered by the haberdasher from Missouri – you know the one I’m talking about – then perhaps it’s time to step down in favor of someone who can.
I know some high school students who are looking for some political experience.