Let’s get back to the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, because in the words of those great philosophers, Fall Out Boy and Warren Zevon, “Baby they’re going down swinging” and “It ain’t that pretty at all!”
A three-strike Facebook post?
If you can snub a statute, destroy your office’s legal standing, and unnecessarily aggravate a large swath of voters in just one short paragraph, you have mad skills, my friend! In fact, I’m more than a little jealous of our new State’s Attorney in this regard.
So, let’s start at the beginning because that’s always the best place to start!
Last Thursday, a fury of legal friends made a point of pointing out that Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser had issued an official Facebook proclamation extolling the virtue of Geneva’s Emma’s Landing affordable housing project. To say that post was “problematic” would be the mildest of understatements. Here’s why:
1. It’s illegal!
By law, no Illinois elected or public official can appropriate a taxpayer funded proposition to make a political statement, particularly when it’s as self-serving as that one was. And the KCSAO Facebook page, run by morally bankrupt and intellectually challenged communications officer Chris Nelson, is the very definition of a “taxpayer funded proposition.”
The last time I looked he wasn’t working for free, though he really should be.
That means that openly supporting a local progressive initiative that has the citizens of Geneva at each other’s throats is a wholly illegal misuse of an official KCSAO communications channel.
Someone really oughtta file a complaint!
2. Now they’ll have to hire a special prosecutor!
Having covered the project at length, I’m privy to a number of impending Emma’s Landing lawsuits likely involving national entities like the Army Corps of Engineers. With the Geneva City Council’s March 8 approval, those lawsuits will soon be launched, and given their scope, there’s a high probability that the KCSAO will have to get involved.
But they can’t get involved because Mosser violated her inherent and implied neutrality by fricken’ endorsing a very political project. So, the first thing the plaintiffs’ attorneys will do is file a motion to force the KCSAO to recuse themselves on the basis of the State’s Attorney’s self-proclaimed bias, and there isn’t a judge on the planet who wouldn’t grant that motion.
That means the KCSAO will have to hire a special prosecutor to assume their role in that lengthy litigation at a great cost to the Kane County taxpayer. And while that certainly sucks, the fact that a sitting state’s attorney has absolutely no grasp of the ten-foot hole she just dug herself into sucks even more.
3. It’s beyond stupid
So now, just four months into her term, Ms. Mosser has alienated the entire Elgin Police Department with absurd local election endorsements as well as about 70 percent of the City of Geneva. And as the architect of her campaign strategy, I’m in the unique position of understanding just how critical those Geneva voters were to her electoral success.
Put more simply, through incredibly poor judgment on three blitheringly obvious levels, Mosser is well on her way to becoming a one-term state’s attorney.
Oh! And to those social media commentors who claim Ms. Mosser neither wrote, nor approved that FB piece, what I’d like to know is how the bleep do you possibly think you know this? What evidence do you have for that beyond mendacious assertion?
First and foremost, NO self-respecting state’s attorney would ever let that kind of public political declaration fly without their express written consent. And second, having edited dozens of Mosser’s campaign documents and materials, I have more than a passing familiarity with her writing style and those were her words.
Is there any hope remain for our strangely errant State’s Attorney? Yes! There is! But she better make the shift from believing she’s still a candidate and everyone’s her friend to understanding that she’s the state’s attorney who can’t afford to have friends. And that transition needs to happen far sooner than later.
To wit, she did take the entire KCSAO Facebook page down after that ridiculous post which shows some semblance of sanity.
The Civil Division continues to run amok!
To be clear, I’m not laying this one at Ms. Mosser’s feet because she hasn’t been in office long enough to affect the vindictive office culture so carefully cultivated by predecessor Joe McMahon. We’ll simply consider this story to be a head’s up. That said, her baffling decision to retain the contemptible and incompetent Michelle Niermann as head of the Civil Division is, and will continue to be, a massive headache for her.
Most of us understand that you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. But back to the issue at hand.
On or around Tuesday March 9, Niermann, Chairman Corinne Pierog, and County Board member and Human Resources Committee chair Cliff Surges, showed up at Director of Human Resources Sylvia Wetzel’s office to directly escort her off of those Building A premises.
Oh! But she hasn’t exactly been fired yet, either! Fascinating, right?
I will say this story was an unusually tough nut to crack, but after five days of making the appropriate calls, I think I have a handle on exactly what’s going on!
I’ve always appreciated Ms. Wetzel’s capacity to push back against the KCSAO on those not-so-rare occasions where they’ve made a request that blatantly oversteps their legal bounds. And that happens a lot more often than you might think, particularly in regard to personnel records.
But as long as the previous Chairman was in office, she was safe.
Ah! But the second he moved on to better things, Niermann took the opportunity to press her vendetta by conspiring to have Wetzel removed. And this kind of retaliatory dynamic is endemic to the state’s attorney’s office because those ASA’s fragile self-definition won’t allow them to separate their ego from the power that office bestows.
And Niermann is one of the worst in this regard. Defy her for any reason and she won’t forget about it anytime soon.
As you might imagine, it wasn’t too difficult to get Chairman Pierog on board with this scheme because it would allow her to hire her own HR director without being accused of violating her basic campaign precept of “treating everyone in the County with the utmost respect.”
As far as Board member Surges goes, I’m convinced he wants nothing to do with this, and he certainly doesn’t want to see his name in print. But if he continues to play along with this…
In addition to Surges’ swift “no comment,” my attempt to reach out to the Chairman was similarly rebuffed. And as any reasonable journalist will tell you, the folks who won’t talk tend speak so much louder than those who will.
Since Wetzel hasn’t actually been fired, that means she’s on some sort of “administrative leave” and there’s some sort of “investigation” and Ms. Niermann has already determined the outcome. Or, as a couple of insiders told me, “This is nothing more than a witch hunt.”
So, the FOIA’s have been issued, and hopefully this time I won’t have to sue the State’s Attorney’s Office to force them to abide by the law they’ve sworn to uphold.
Since this is clearly just the tip of the iceberg, I promise my investigation will persist. And when you consider the Civil Division’s propensity for blatantly bad behavior combined with their utter inability to defend the County from any kind of lawsuit, perhaps it’s time to pay a little more attention to that unit.
And I’m thinkin’ about two of the principal players in particular. As always, I’ll keep you posted.