My fine Kane County compatriots! You’ve done well. Political perfection may be a pipe dream, but I have to say that things are looking a little better out here because of your recent voting proclivities.
The sheriff who thought he was king is long gone and Pat Perez has done a phenomenal job in his place. In fact, he’s done so well that I’ve been encouraging him to consider a third term. You might want to do the same thing.
Once stripped of her County Board cronies, Chairman Karen McConnaughay fled for Springfield faster than a Rush Limbaugh advertiser jumped ship. She’ll do far less damage down there and fit in perfectly with that group of ineffectual state senators.
You saw right through Cathy Hurlbutt’s court clerk makeover attempt, you sent Bill Sarto packing, and then you put state Sen. Chris Lauzen in the county chair driver’s seat. I’d kiss you all, but then we’d have to talk about gay marriage.
You even managed to do a decent job of selecting judges.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’ll soon come up with something that completely frosts my cookies, but until then, I’m pleased to announce that Kane County gets to sit this one out. Put your feet up and have a beer!
Ah! But my esteemed DuPage Countians aren’t nearly as fortunate. You law-and-order, dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who love to call out everyone else are just a wee bit hypocritical when it comes to your own housecleaning.
Well … not all of you. Some of you actually do have the good sense God gave a billygoat.
And that short list includes the readers who, in response to my column chastising Sheriff John Zaruba for letting his son play policeman whenever he throws a temper tantrum, suggested that I’d only chipped the tip off the iceberg.
And they were right! All it took was a couple of short Google searches to come up with all sorts of interesting peccadilloes.
For example, the Tribune took exception to the fact that the sheriff regularly shakes down his deputies for campaign contributions. And by shake down I mean the officers who give till it hurts get promoted and don’t face nearly the same disciplinary consequences as their more miserly counterparts.
A quarter of the sheriff’s campaign contributions came directly from his deputies, and that doesn’t include what he wrings out of their families.
As if that wasn’t enough, in February 2008, the Naperville Sun reported that the County Board, in cahoots with Zaruba, awarded the DuPage County jail food service contract to a firm that didn’t submit the lowest bid, but did manage to contribute 15 grand to folks like the sheriff, former Chairman Bob Schillerstrom and key County Board members.
Former State’s Attorney Joe Birkett got around the low-bid conundrum by claiming Aramark, the firm that provided jail food for 21 years, suddenly wasn’t providing an appropriate menu. And now he’s a judge!
Speaking of judges, let’s move on to DuPage County Judge Kenneth Popejoy, whose antics actually make Sheriff Zaruba look good by comparison.
His problems started when he struck a parked car and decided not to take responsibility for his actions. According the Judicial Board complaint, Popejoy fled “at a high rate of speed,” showing a “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons and property” as he ran multiple stop signs and forced a 13-year-old jogger to jump out of the way of his seriously damaged vehicle.
When police arrived at his Wheaton home, he kept them waiting at his front door for 10 minutes while he called then-Chief Judge Stephen Culliton to bail him out.
Of course, the judge was immediately thrown off the bench—right? Nope! Two long years after he broke 30 laws in 10 minutes, the Illinois Courts Commission assumed their best serious faces, pointed their sternest index fingers, and suspended Popejoy for all of 60 days.
Apparently, a DuPage County judge has to murder at least two people before they’ll consider taking away the black robes.
And last, but certainly not least in my long litany of “we’re a step above in DuPage County” hypocrisies, let’s get back to Chairman Dan Cronin. You remember Dan; he’s the one who’s in the running for my “” award because he immediately turns into a pile of melted Jello at the mere mention of Sheriff Zaruba’s name.
You see, Gov. Pat Quinn just appointed Cronin’s sister, Cynthia Cahill, to the plumpest of all patronage plums, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission Board. Not only does this part-time gig carry a $32,800 salary, but medical benefits and a pension, all for attending 18 meetings a year.
Spokesperson Sue Hofer told me they do have to review dozens of cases prior to each meeting, but I’m sure any one of you would be happy to serve.
Please tell me someone else out there believes this conversation should’ve take place: “Hey, sis! I’m happy to hear about your new appointment, and I know I can’t tell you what you what to do, but would you please consider turning it down? Because the appearance of impropriety is always so much worse than the actual impropriety.”
Or better yet: “Hey, Pat! I really appreciate the appointment, but with my bro serving as DuPage chairman and all, it just doesn’t look good. So I’ll have to pass.”
Am I the only person on the planet with that kind of self-respect?
Of course, I’ve been patiently waiting for my DuPage County brethren to rise up and storm the castle, but there’s been nary a peep. Where’s the DuPage Tea Party when you really need them? Oh, that’s right! Their motto is: As long as it’s a Republican, we’ll just let it go.
Meanwhile, Zaruba’s served 14 years, Popejoy will be back on the bench and Cronin’s joking about the sheriff’s ride-alongs at a Chicago event.
Oh! DuPage County politicians are a step above, all right, but not in the way they’d like to think!