Letter: Enough already

By on May 12, 2011

My name is Jim MacRunnels, and the Kane County portion of my tax bill has increased by over 6 percent.

This fact probably makes me no different than just about anyone else reading this letter. What is different are two defining factual differences.

1. I am in the midst of a lawsuit with Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.

2. I ran against Karen McConnaughay for County Board Chairman almost four years ago.

Either one of these facts has somehow managed to make me suspect in the eyes of Ms. McConnaughay.

When I researched and discovered that she had given raises to numerous department heads in the midst of a significant recession, I was branded as some sort of public pariah for daring to question how a politician talks about “tightening the governments belt” while secretly giving raises that by actuarial analysis will cost county taxpayers over $20 million dollars in pensions and salaries.

It is certainly true that when I ran for office I proposed a contract with Kane County. I promised to utilize our own workers for contracts as much as possible. I pledged to discontinue the practice of hiring firms that gave large campaign donations, going so far as to refuse to take them. I pledged to bring common sense back to government service.

Ms. McConnaughay spent over $350,000 (most of the money collected from contractors) to defeat a guy (me) that had virtually no political experience and that honestly ran for the position just on principle alone.

Well, that was then and this is now.

I must have an affinity to Don Quixote, because when I discovered that not one board member that I spoke with knew of the raises or approved of them, I wanted to know why. I discovered that the revised county code included language that called for a vote of the Executive Committee of the Board prior to giving raises or promotions. Suffice to say, I was not the most popular guy over at the county building when I filed Freedom of Information requests. Yes, I was considered public taxpayer enemy No. 1.

So I took matters into my own hands. I filed a lawsuit on behalf of myself and other taxpayers. Not one board member has admitted knowing of these raises.

I am funding this lawsuit myself, and I invite Ms. McConnaughay to do the same. Heck, with all the talk of belt tightening and a $95,000 part-time salary, I expected this was not too much to ask. Well, folks, I guess that we are all obligated to pay $20 million plus the cost of her attorneys.

Recently, Ms. McConnaughay stated that she was “vindicated” when Judge Mueller decided that the case be dismissed. How does $20 million dollars of vindication sit with the taxpayers? I supposedly had some revengeful motive for my decision to say that as a taxpayer, “I am sick and tired and won’t take it anymore.”

Yes, I do feel that I was right in asking some tough questions about pay to play, responsible spending, the over-reliance on expensive consultants, and appointing task forces that reach the same conclusion of the chairman.

I feel compelled to do the same today. And if that makes me a bad guy, I hope there are a few other bad guys out there willing to say enough already.

James MacRunnels