As a result of The First Ward further embarrassing the Kane County Chronicle, Shaw Media, and artificial journalist Brenda Schory, just doubled down on their specious attack on Kane County IT Director Roger Fahnestock in a futile attempt to save face. If you need to catch up on the particulars, I would encourage you to resort to the original column.
Suffice it to say that in an absurd attempt to make a political name for herself, Kane County Auditor Penny Wegman went after Fahnestock for almost $60,000 in employee tuition expenses she herself approved! But instead of responsibly trying to resolve this non-issue through the traditional County channels, the immature and publicity hungry Wegman ran to Schory who ran the non-story without bothering to apply any of the fact checking basics.
So, the Chronicle struck back this week, but instead of saving their sorry, sordid, and sensationalist asses, that follow up piece only served to further highlight their immense incompetence. Though ironically, if Shaw Media managed to apply that level of diligence on a regular basis, they might just rise to the level of mediocrity!
Much like throwing the entire pot of pasta against the wall to see what sticks, Schory called every flippin’ government watchdog group to finally come up with two “experts” who questioned the possibility of paying an employee’s full tuition. Beyond that, all those overly self-important talking heads could add was that using a P-Card to pay tuition is “unusual!”
“Unusual” in government? Be still my beating heart!
For reference purposes, P-cards, or “purchase cards,” are low-limit credit cards issued to elected officials and department heads so they can make timely purchases without enduring the often-onerous purchase order process. P-cards can be used for larger expenses – like tuition – but then they require county board approval and ultimately get passed along to the auditor.
So, yes! P-cards aren’t typically used in this manner, but that doesn’t nearly make it illegal. As State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser ruled, “We have determined there has been no violation of County policy or criminal law.”
Ah! But here’s what Schory and the Chronicle consistently and intentionally leave out of the story!
We’re not talking one 60 grand expense here. We’re talking 17 separate tuition payments (not all on the P-card) between 2017 and 2020, and each one of those 17 separate payments had to be approved by the County Board four separate times!
That means they had to be make it through:
- The Administration Committee
- The Finance Committee
- The Executive Committee
- And the full Board
Do the math, and those 17 expenses had to survive 68 separate votes.
So, when board member Monica Silva told Schory she was worried about tuition reimbursement fairness, isn’t it ironic that she wasn’t the least bit concerned when she happily voted “yes” 17 separate times.
Board member Tom Koppie, a man who will never have to worry about flying to Stockholm to collect a Nobel Prize, took the opportunity to publicly bitch about the efficacy of those payments, but oddly enough, he never mentioned his County Board compatriots who approved each and every one.
Oh! And you know who also approved all 17 of them? That’s right! Auditor Wegman in her former capacity as a Kane County Board member. But that didn’t stop her from accusing Fahnestock of outright criminal behavior, which, of course, begs the question, who does she pay to dress her every morning?
But this story would not nearly be as interesting without Board’s own Don King, Ken Shepro, weighing in on it. He told Schory he’d reviewed the tuition reimbursement program and it would never “allow for somebody to get a whole education at the expense of the county!”
First, in an effort to avoid a similar kerfuffle, I’ll happily foot the bill for Ken’s badly needed grammar lessons.
And second, perhaps if Ken actually paid attention instead of fuckin’ falling asleep at every bleepin’ board meeting, he would’ve have noticed that the IT department didn’t use the tuition reimbursement program. They took that money out of their own budget, which makes all this Board “fairness” bullshit utterly immaterial.
Like that old adage admonishes, you’d think some of these long-serving board members would’ve finally figured out to avoid opening their mouths and removing all doubt. Have I mentioned the County Board approved every last one of those expenses?
And isn’t that the entire point? None of this happened in the kind of governmental vacuum Schory insisted on describing because the even chairman can’t do a damn thing without the County Board’s express written consent. But ain’t it funny how, in two separate 1,600-word pieces, counterfeit reporter Brendy Schory never managed to make that point? As Mr. Spock would say, “fascinating!”
To his credit, Roger Fahenstock built an IT department that would be the envy of any Fortune 500 company. And he’s done it by hiring and hanging on to stellar employees who could make twice their salary in those greener private pastures, but they stay here because he treats them right. Take note Chairman Pierog!
And remember! You’re talking to a 20-year database/business consultant who worked directly with Roger and his staff for two years at the County Clerk’s office. My theory? If Roger stole 60 grand from the County, they should count their lucky stars and simply look the other way.
In the end, this sad scenario consists of nothing more than an incompetent County Chairman (we’ll get to that next week) who refuses to defend her staff when necessary, and a bitter rogue fake reporter with no ethics, standards, or common decency supported by a morally bankrupt publisher and editor who’d stab their own mother in the left thigh to get Internet hits.
No wonder people hate the press.
After completing this column, the Chronicle ran yet another piece lauding their “vast virtue” for getting the County Board to amend the tuition reimbursement policy. But the new caveat is patently illegal because no board anywhere can tell any county elected officials how they can or can’t spend their money.
So, the second they approve that already illegal measure, I will issue an official challenge to it with the State’s Attorney.
And as everyone in Building A smiles and pats themselves on the back over all this, we’re making the only point that really matters! If the Board had actually done their fuckin’ job in the first place, none of this would have happened.
Worse yet, all of this could’ve been resolved in-house were it not for an auditor with the temperament and intellect of an immature middle school girl.
We’ll cover this new development next week.