In this rather semi-strange era of words speaking so much louder than actions, our own Geneva Mayor, Kevin Burns, is suddenly being promoted as the new standard bearer of all the stipulations progressives hold so sacred.
He’s hosting forums on diversity, he’s doing his damndest to bring a doomed-to-fail affordable housing into Geneva, and when it comes to your garden variety pandemics, he swiftly abandoned those Third Street merchants by marching in lockstep with burgeoning dictator J.B. Pritzker.
Why, even the Kane County Democratic Central Party financially supported his last reelection campaign against the disaster known as former Alderman Tom Simonian, which is kinda strange when you consider the Mayor perpetually purports to be a Republican.
Though, truth be told, his political affiliation fluctuates with party leanings of whomever he’s speaking to at the time. Flexibility is a good thing, isn’t it?
And the progressive bloc of the Geneva City Council laps this bovine manure up just as fast as the Mayor can spread it. Even certain Kane County Board members believe Burns should have a seat on the commission that will eventually dole out $93 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Thankfully, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
The problem I have with all that starry-eyed adulation is those errant city councilmen and blinders-on board members willfully choose to ignore the Mayor’s almost six-term track record, despite that history telling quite a different story.
To wit, when the Geneva Police Department, with its one black and one Hispanic officer, is the best example of municipal diversity, it would certainly seem to indicate that the Mayor pays only lip service to the notion of inclusiveness.
There’s never been a GPD commander, lieutenant, or sergeant with as much as a deep suntan, either, and their entire support staff is Caucasian, too.
To put the coconut frosting on that German chocolate cake, as we’ve previously covered here, attend any Geneva traffic/misdemeanor court call at the branch court on Randall Road and you’ll be beyond bewildered as to how, in a city that’s 95 percent white, those defendants are always 50 to 60 percent black, Hispanic, and Indian.
Put more simply, the GPD’s capacity to target people of color is the stuff of local legend, and trust me, they take their marching orders directly from the Mayor.
Then there’s the all-while male Geneva Fire Department which can’t claim an employee of color for the entire 25 years I’ve called this town home.
Perhaps there are one or two I’m not aware of, but I’ve never seen a minority public works employee, and my most recent research would indicate they’re even rarer than a Lea Michelle co-star who has something nice things to say about her.
There’s no diversity respite at city hall either which is even whiter than a herd of Canadians out skiing on a sunny February day. I spoke with a number of in-the-know folks and, beyond an intern or two, not a single one could remember any employee of color.
Though I know the rabble will twist this column into something utterly unintended, I may have issues with the competency and priorities of some Geneva administrators, but I have no issue with any of ‘em based on the color of their skin.
It’s just that, when you have a mayor who persistently proposes to be a proponent of all things progressive, but his track record clearly indicates otherwise, that sordid history is eminently fair game!
So, why is there such a disparity between Mayor Burns’ words and actions? Oh! That’s easy!
Much like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s overarching them in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ there are two types of Genevans. The first group is made up of folks like me, who despite a 25-year tenure, will never be admitted to the exclusive group of “real” Genevans. Those folks, like the Mayor, consist solely of people who were born here, went to school together, and never left.
Even the proposed Sterling Manor-adjacent affordable housing project is primarily based on someone Mayor Burns went to Geneva High with.
And that impenetrable clan isn’t predominantly white – it’s all white.
Since they’re the folks who consistently get the Mayor reelected, they’re the ones who get all the city jobs, with the clear implication that they’re expected to campaign for Mayor Burns every four years. In turn, he “graciously” provides those unions with absolutely everything the ask for.
Take another look at the Fire Department. There are more Lieutenants than there are rank and file firefighters. If you still doubt my assertion, then please retrieve your most recent property tax bill.
So, Mayor Burns! In the words of the great philosopher, Paul Simon, “Who do you think you’re foolin?” The new crop of absurd social justice warriors may fall for your blatant but patently futile attempts to move up the political ladder, but this journalist most certainly won’t.
The only thing progressive about this mayor is he discovered partisan pandering long before it became fashionable.
You all know just how much I love it when, immediately after a column is posted, the subject of that piece goes out of their way to prove me right. And Mayor Burns just did just that!
My fellow Genevans may have taken note of the recently posted yard signs opposing the aforementioned affordable housing project – most of which are unfortunately illegally posted on right-of-ways.
But instead of having code enforcement officers remove those errant placcards, at a time when they clearly have nothing better to do, an incensed Mayor Burns is making Geneva Police officers remove them.
I rest my case!