Just getting around to writing up what was said at the McHenry County League of Women Voters Forum for McHenry County State’s Attorney candidates a week ago.
Facing off were Republican candidate Patrick Kenneally and Democratic Party entry Ray Flavin.
Skills cited by Flavin were being a trail attorney for twenty-two years, service in the U.S. Navy and a master’s degree in management.
Kenneally said that the post “demands not just an administrator, but a leader,’ adding he wouldn’t ask people to do something he hasn’t done.
He pointed out he had prosecuted dozens of the most dangerous criminals in McHenry County.
Heroin was an early forum subject.
Kenneally said the production was up so the price was down. He advocating getting medical treatment for the addicted, pointing out that 25% get addicted.
He said that an addict should be able to walk into a police department and get “fast tracked to that treatment.”
Flavin pointed out that overdoses were up four times since 2000.
He expressed concern that Drug Court was closed off to some individuals.
There was a question about management experience.
Flavin was straight to the point: “I currently manage no employees.”
Kenneally talked of his managing the employees of the State’s Attorney’s Office.
“This is not something [where] you start at the top.”
Asked about consumer fraud Kenneally said he would place it in “high priority.”
He said 11% have had their identity stolen. \
Restitution is his goal.
Flavin said, “I wouldn’t make it any priority whatsoever. A crime is a crime in my book.”
Application of the Ethics Ordinance was the next topic.
“I don’t have any idea,” Flavin, answering first, said.
Kenneally said that he thought the rules should cover all county employees, but that the ordinance currently doesn’t apply to employees of the State’s Attorney’s Office.
He pointed out that political activities were forbidden on county property.
A special court for Veterans was the next topic.
Kenneally pointed out that Veterans “don’t always self-identify.”
He estimated that there were about 300 in the court system.
“Veterans Court is super secret,” Flavin commented.
Reducing the State’s Attorney’s budget was a question which resulted in more extensive answers.
Kenneally told of having pledged to cut the office’s budget by 10% in four years.
He said he would bring in the $200,000 in work done by outside lawyers, eliminate some positions and bring training in-house.
Flavin said the office cost the taxpayers $9 million.
If elected, he said he would cut it in half. He said the number of crimes has gone down, while the number of lawyers has gone up.
The next question asked about plans to restructure the office.
Flavin said staff should be decreased 22% “to march the decrease in workload.”
Kenneally explained that Assistant State’s Attorneys have 150-300 cases. He said in the past charges were reduced, for example, DUIs were reduced to speeding.
Flavin later denied that had happened.
A question about the prosecution of minors brought these replies:
- Kenneally – “The purpose of juvenile court is rehabilitation.”
- Flavin – “We have a pretty good diversion program for minor charges.”
Asked about how to eliminate negative publicity about the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, Flavin said, “Elect me.”
“I would disagree with the premise in the first place…I want to run the most transparent office in McHenry County.”
He said he planned to put all expenditures for the office online.
In his concluding statement, Kenneally again related what State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi had told him on his first day, that he should “always do the right thing.”
“I want to build [on what’s already been accomplished].”
He told of the sixty trials of which only three had been lost.
Kenneally also praised the Drug and Mental Health Courts.
Flavin said, “Pat looks up to Lou Bianchi. The problem is that Pat has trouble being critical of Lou Bianchi.
“There have been many things that have happened during Lou Bianchi’s term that have not reflected well on the office.
“The problem is that [the office] holds records for reversals.”
Flavin urged voters to take a new direction, maybe a quieter direction.”
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Ray Flavin offers the following commentary on my story:
Alabama, I said the office costs 2.99 million dollars per year, that is quoted directly from the 2016 Annual Budget.
While I am sure that it was difficult to keep up with the Forum.
This is what I said at the forum: the office costs each taxpayer $9 (not 9 million), I did not say I would cut it in half, I said, if you were to cut the office in half that would only result in a $4.50 savings per taxpayer (about a Big Mac).
Therefore suggesting you will save property taxes by making cuts to the office is pandering.
I said there were other reasons to cut the office.
Those other reasons were that the workload had decreased, and the staff had increased.
My proposal is to cut about 10 staff and 10 attorneys.
This would result in about a 600k savings, however I would hire a new personnel/union lawyer (thus bringing the 200K outside charge that Pat wants to bring in also) but costing about 200K in additional costs.
As far as Veterans court, I was surprised that one existed.
It has not been published to local attorneys, and the VAC (Veterans Assistance Commission) did not know it existed, and I am in court every day.
As for Semper Fi.
Hiding behind an anonymous moniker is unworthy of the Corps. Either change your name or use your real name.
Or, let Cal cover your “bravery online.”
It was not a debate.
Several things that were said at the Forum were incorrect, but the format did not allow me to address those.
As far as trial skills, I will only say that I generally prevail against two lawyers who are usually getting help from a third (supervisory) lawyer.
I want you to think about that.
The perspective that I bring to the office is of one that knows all of the lawyers in the office and their capabilities.
I think we have a great staff and I am looking forward to working with them in December.