Letter: Current Kane County Government fails western townships

By on July 29, 2009

The July 23 Elburn Herald carried two letters detailing problems within this county’s government.

It is to the great credit of the Herald, as a local, independent paper, that these letters were printed. Too often the regional newspapers will not print such statements for fear of losing “access” to government officials.

Though both letters dealt with different topics, they identify some long-standing problems which affect all Kane County residents, but are of special concern to residents of the 10 townships of western Kane County. I believe these problems come directly from the lopsided structure of the County Board itself.

The Kane County Board has 26 members, plus its Chairman Karen McConnaughy. Of this total of 27, 25 represent the six Fox River townships, but only two members are allotted to represent 10 western townships, the largest portion of Kane County’s land area. Because of this imbalance, our interests and problems are not understood by Board members representing the “river towns” of eastern Kane County.

KCSO President Dennis Carroll well states that cutting Kane Sheriff’s Deputy staffing will have an impact on police operations, but the greatest impact will be felt in the 10 western townships. The urban communities located along the Fox River have their own municipal police agencies, but much of western Kane County—mostly rural—must depend on Sheriff’s deputies for accident and crime investigation, traffic control and patrol security. The Sheriff’s Department also has numerous court and civil duties, and its manpower is already stretched thin. I believe this is not understood (or is ignored) by those 25 urban County Board members who will not experience the delays in police response in rural areas that will be caused by planned cuts in Sheriff’s deputy staffing.

Another letter, from Circuit Court Clerk Deborah Seyller, details additional problems confronting Kane County’s justice system if further budget cuts are imposed. Her office is the nerve center of our court system—processing court orders, warrants, summons and trial records—all of which are duties mandated by law, and required to be performed in an accurate and timely manner. In short, budget cuts in the Court clerk’s office also affect the ability of the Sheriff’s Department to perform its duties, and of the courts to operate efficiently.

Ms. McConnaughy, County Board Chairman, states that “arrogance” prevents elected county department heads from making additional budget cuts, but has displayed her own arrogance by summoning them to a public meeting to explain why they haven’t made the cuts, as directed by her Board. As elected officials, they have accepted the responsibilities of their offices as defined by Illinois law. They have become knowledgeable experts in the duties and responsibilities of those offices. Yet, they are labeled “arrogant” for holding on to the funds and staffs necessary to perform their state-mandated duties. So, with these facts, I leave it to you to decide where true “arrogance” exists in Kane County government.

Kane County’s 10 western townships have a huge interest in the policies of our County Board. Unfortunately for us, the imbalance of the Board’s membership favors the Fox River communities, leaving us over-taxed, over-regulated, under-served and under-represented. One of the few strong voices we have comes from the Western Kane County Republican Organization which represents GOP voters in nine of the 10 western Kane townships. The organization has delivered the majority of Republican votes in recent County elections, and can choose to support, or not support, candidates for elective office.

If any improvement is made in this county’s government, it is the duty to both political parties to select “good government” candidates to get the job done. The election season is upon us. Candidate ballot petitions will soon be available. This is your county government. You pay for it. Work to correct it.
Dennis C. Ryan