Investigations by special prosecutors can take on a life of their own. – Peter Bergen
Don’t get me wrong! Despite their election denying and other fascinating propensities, I still love my Campton Hillians if for no other reason than they treat road bikers so well. They may not rise to the level of insanity embraced by the strange and wonderous creatures that inhabit the Huntley area, but I still haven’t figured out why my neighbors to the northwest are prone to frequent bouts of hysteria.
I’ve done my best to avoid weighing in on the current police chief kerfuffle for that reason, Campton Hills ain’t exactly a scintillating story, and I really don’t want to add to the already rampant speculation. But the speculation has become so pervasive that it’s time for someone with some semblance of common sense to finally say something.
I’m not quite sure if I qualify, but that doesn’t mean I won’t give it my best shot.
For reference purposes, the Campton Hills village board put police chief Steve Millar on administrative leave July 7 after the Illinois State Police initiated an investigation “Financial in nature, according to an official CH spokesperson, “financial nature.” The Chief issued a statement of his own through his attorney denying any malfeasance:
Chief Millar is surprised and deeply disappointed with these unsubstantiated and politically motivated attempts to assassinate his character and impugn his integrity. He is surprised and deeply disappointed with these unsubstantiated and politically motivated attempts to assassinate his character and impugn his integrity.
Considering my close ties to the village on a number of levels, I gotta go with the Chief on this one.
You don’t generally think of a village of 11,000 as a truly small town, but I’ve ridden my road bike through all of them, and no Kane County municipality exudes the small town feel that John Mellencamp made so famous like Campton Hills does. That includes far smaller villages like Maple Park (1,500), Burlington (528), and Virgil (284).
Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t easier to get away with misconduct in a small town, it’s actually exponentially more difficult because everyone knows everyone else and local “news” spreads faster than COVID at an indoor smokers convention. To wit, I’ve never had the slightest problem finding a source for a CH story.
Since everyone knows everyone else’s business, what six-figure-salaried village administrator like a police chief for example, with even a third of a brain, would risk that gig on some minor money malfeasance? The CH stakes just aren’t that big.
In addition to all of that, I’ve never worked more closely with a police chief than I did with Millar’s predecessor, Dan Hoffman, to resolve cycling issues on behalf of the residents and the road bikers – and we resolved them. That kind of journalist/police chief cooperation is incredibly rare for any department, particularly the small-town variety, and you can’t ascribe that level of collaboration to one police chief. That unusual dynamic starts with village residents.
The fact that the Illinois State Police is conducting the inquest doesn’t breed much confidence, either. Their investigative skills barely border on the ATF’s general incompetence as evidenced by their bursting through those CH city hall doors demanding to search those offices without a search warrant. And they had no warrant because they didn’t have enough evidence to convince a judge – even after they “shopped” for the right one – to go along with it.
I understand why Village President Barb Wojnicki gave them the green light, but she should have forced the ISP to get a warrant to protect the village from future lawsuits.
I haven’t told anyone about this, but when the ISP was investigating former Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell, convinced there was some sort of overarching Kane County Republican conspiracy, they went after anyone and everyone, including former chairman Chris Lauzen. The former chairman may be well past his political prime, but to coin a phrase, “he’s not a crook.”
That isn’t the only ISP investigation I’ve been privy to and those FBI wannabees are clearly fixated on making points and the news, and certainly not on the truth. So, as Chief Milllar aptly said, why do I believe this witch hunt is politically motivated? That’s the easy part!
CH inaugural president, Patsy Smith, did a phenomenal job of incorporating the village despite some seriously stiff anti-government resistance. But while that strong personality served her very well in that singular pursuit, her imperious my-way-or-the-highway demeanor as mayor didn’t go over very well. The second any trustee or village official disagreed with her she’d accuse them of sedition and do her best to get rid of them – just like she did with former Chief Hoffman whom she hired!
Put more simply, Smith assumed that she was elected dictator for life and the fact that CH voters had other ideas hasn’t put a dent in her drive to continue to impose her will on the village regardless of the obvious collateral damage. Sadly, in great part because of Smith’s unrelenting efforts, Campton Hills has become the laughingstock of Kane County, and taking that title from Carpentersville wasn’t easy. This investigation smacks of her handiwork.
Then there’s this.
There’s no way the Illinois State Police would EVER deign to investigate a municipality as insignificant as Campton Hills without State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser’s express written consent. And it just so happens that Mosser, a CH resident, is very good friends with former village president Smith. That would go a long way towards explaining why she issued an ill-advised 2023 robocall on behalf of a slate of CH trustee candidates, and then she went after a newly elected trustee for a 20-year-old Michigan DUI conviction.
I’ve been aware of the Millar since the beginning, but because of FOIA limitations with an ongoing investigation, its previously noted speculative nature, and my hesitancy to compromise any source in a public sector personnel matter, my approach has been to move in concentric circles around the facts. Though I have no hard evidence of my theory yet, after a few months of employing that strategy I’ve learned enough, including some VERY suspect timing, that I firmly believe the Chief and I are onto something.
I’ve certainly been around the political block enough that my predictions in these “politically motivated investigation” matters are generally dead on. C’mon! If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
That means Millar will be exonerated, Smith will forfeit any remaining influence she still has in the village she created, and as a result of some well-placed post investigative FOIA requests, State’s Attorney Mosser will, once again, wind up with quite a bit of egg on her face.
And I won’t be letting go of this one anytime soon. I promise to keep you posted!