The First Ward Report – Nothing ever changes at the KCSAO

The First Ward Report – Nothing ever changes at the KCSAO

One of my favorites friends asked me why I was putting so much time and effort into one scant Kane County employee.

First, it’s important to expose a government abuse of power at any level, particularly when they occur in the form of a state’s attorney witch hunt. Second, and far more importantly, when I recruited State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser at the behest of former Chairman Chris Lauzen, the entire point was to put an end to this kind of epic KCSAO corruption, not for her to openly embrace and participate in it.

But before we continue, let’s refer back to last Tuesday’s column where we discussed how, around March 9, KCSAO Civil Division head Michele Niermann, Chairman Corinne Pierog, and County Board member Cliff Surges escorted Director of Human Resources, Sylvia Wetzel, right  out of her office and directly off of those Building A grounds.

And She must be on some sort of administrative leave because she still hasn’t been fired, and even though the details continue to be difficult to come by, I firmly believe I have a handle on the basic elements and all the players involved.

It’s also important to note that Ms. Wetzel’s capacity to stand up to Ms. Neirmann’s persistent bullying is the proximate cause for this witch hunt. And the eminently fragile egoed Niermann has a well-earned reputation for using the power of her office to settle all sorts of perceived slights and scores.

Of course, once former Chairman Chris Lauzen was out of the picture, Neirmann deliberately manufactured the opportunity to pounce.

And the pouncing process commenced when Wetzel told a couple of overly entitled Kane County employees that they’d have to follow ALL of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act rules. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

But apparently it is, because one of those employees started shouting at Wetzel and stormed out of her office. Then, both disgruntled staffers went directly to Niermann who unilaterally decided that Wetzel had not only engaged in discrimination, but she’d broken the law in the process.

The point was to get Wetzel to crack and quit, because after a full week of scouring her computer drives, Niermann and her lackies haven’t come up with a damn thing. But the truth wouldn’t have stopped her from playing judge, jury and executioner had we not caught on.

Meanwhile, here are some of the more fascinating revelations regarding our Civil Division head that a stellar source was kind enough to provide.

In the time leading up to her removal, Niermann made it clear that if Wetzel was willing to come up with “dirt” on Lauzen, she’d be spared a great deal of pain and agony. Nice, right?

To say there’s no lost love between Niermann and the former Chairman would be the mildest of understatements. Lauzen repeatedly called Niermann’s competency into question, and though it might not have been the best tack for a Chairman to take, as one of my favorite attorney’s (it was not Jeff Meyer) recently told me, Niermann shouldn’t be allowed to walk past a courtroom, much less work in one.

Then there’s the eminently fascinating fact that Niermann’s attorney husband has represented at least six employees seeking workman’s compensation from the County and Wetzel’s willingness to fight those claims has apparently rankled him, too. So, Niermann saw this as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

That makes this just another fine example of the conflicts of interest for which the KCSAO is renowned worldwide.

Lastly, while there’s certainly no Miranda requirement here, any human being with a moral center, a heart, or a soul, would’ve advised Wetzel to seek legal representation. But no! Niermann told her she “couldn’t talk to anyone about this” which is a blatant falsehood and beyond the worst kind of unethical attorney bovine manure behavior.

That ARDC complaint will go out shortly. And not to worry! I reached out to local labor lawyer extraordinaire Tim O’Neil, a perpetual thorn in Kane County government’s side, and he’s already reached out to Ms. Wetzel.

Enter current Chairman Corrine Pierog who’s salivating at the possibility of Wetzel being fired so she can insert the kind of patronage Human Resources hire for which the Kane County Democrats are famous.

And when you consider her basic campaign promise of “treating everyone in the county with the utmost respect,” you’ll quickly understand why she tried to keep this on the down low and she’s refused to respond to multiple inquiries in this regard. Not to mention Ms. Pierog’s clearly artificial promise of being a beacon of transparency.

Though I can’t divulge the specific details quite yet, there’s far more clear and convincing evidence that Niermann and Pierog are waging a war against Lauzen, and they’re scrambling to find “evidence” that doesn’t exist.

So, so far, Ms. Pierog’s not-quite-four-month tenure consists of:

  • The kind of open meetings violation she regularly and incorrectly accused Lauzen of presiding over.
  • The illegal appointment of a former Democratic board member and Burlington Northern employee to a plum 15 grand a year Metra Board position.
  • Participating in the kind of inquisition she accused every countywide Republican of engaging in during her campaign.

Rest assured, if Ms. Pierog didn’t give this fishing expedition the green light it never would’ve happened. And the fact she continues to insist she’s not this kind of politician makes her a rank hypocrite of the worst order.

On Thursday we’ll cover “Prosecutor of the Year” Erin Brady’s persistent willingness to turn a blind eye to all manner of Civil Division malfeasance going back go Joe Lulves, as well as State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser’s outright complicity in this charade which is one of my biggest disappointments.

I’ve got to stop getting people elected.

 

Post Script:

Chairman Pierog sent me the following statement after this column was completed and this is the entire thing verbatim:

Mr. Ward:

 Please be advised that the County is obligated to protect the privacy interests of all of its employees and is limited in the information that can be shared. 

 There are many reasons for an employee to be on a leave of absence.  However, as an employer, the County must respect the privacy interests of its employees and not discuss such reasons with other employees or third-parties [sic]. 

The citizens of Kane County deserve and expect a professional administration of government, and any deviation from those standards will not be tolerated.

Sincerely,

Corinne Pierog
Chair, Kane County Board

 

My response to thats would be yes! There are a variety of reasons for taking a leave of absence, but they rarely include the Chairman escorting you out of your office and having one thrust upon you!

As far as the last sentence goes, I wish I was naïve enough to believe it, but I’m not. That said, perhaps our collective intervention in this sad scenario has fostered the kind of temporary sanity that will make the folks involved do the right thing.

I’m not counting on it, but there’s always hope! Like I said, more on Thursday.

 

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