How I Voted: Longmeadow Feasibility Study

As I do with almost anything related to Longmeadow, I voted against it. I recently voted FOR an establishment of 35MPH because that was the lowest number we were going to get, and without that designation the speed limit was unenforceable, which leaves open the possibility of people drag racing down Longmeadow and suffering no repercussions.

But after today’s meeting I was approached by both Becky Gillam and Maggie Auger, both asking me the same thing: You people wanted a financial feasibility study, so why did you vote against it?!?

Regarding the Larry Braasch Case

 Larry Braasch, a man with a reputation. Photo by Patrick Kunzer, Daily Herald.

Larry Braasch, a man with a reputation. Photo by Patrick Kunzer, Daily Herald.

For those following Dundee Township politics, the Braasch case recently came up in the news when it was released that the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office decided not to prosecute Braasch for reportedly keeping money given to him for culvert replacements. The people following this case are scratching their heads and wanting answers, and luckily I was able to get them from the source.

Being that the Kane County State’s Attorney, Joseph McMahon, is from Dundee and that his father also worked with Braasch in the past, it was immediately assumed that Braasch had been let off the hook in the face of strong evidence. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation after being given evidence by the Township, and they determined that money had been accepted by Braasch but there was no record of where the money went. Anywhere. Not in his account or the Township's.

If he was accused by residents of taking personal checks made out to him for culvert repairs, and he wasn’t really pocketing the money, then there would be a record of these transactions in Township balance sheets, but there isn’t. So we're supposed to believe that Braasch has just been a horrible record keeper this whole time? Naturally, people are highly suspicious of the decision by the State’s Attorney’s Office to not take this case further.

Being familiar with this case and the people involved, I asked Joseph McMahon for more information on this, and he put me in touch with the prosecutor that reviewed the Braasch case.

I am in no way making an official statement on behalf of the KCSAO or the County Board, I am simply relaying my understanding of this situation because we are otherwise left to speculate.

From what I understand, McMahon never saw this case and didn’t have any input on the decision whatsoever. Like any other case coming across their desk, Assistant Attorneys have to review the facts they have before them and determine if there is enough reasonable doubt to bring it before a jury and have a chance of winning. If McMahon had grown up in Aurora and never known Braasch at all, the prosecutors would have done everything the same and come to the same determination, so his history had no bearing on the decision.

The Assistant Attorney reviewed the case like any other and determined that despite how it might look on paper, there just wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the case with enough reasonable doubt to get far.

In this case they recognized that money had been taken in by Braasch, but that there was no record of it going to him directly, or into the Township coffers and that was the hangup. These attorneys have professional experience with judges and juries and the kinds of evidence they need to win each kind of case. The kind of logic that exists within a legal proceeding sometimes leads to results that go against what people think “should” have happened. As the prosecutor said, real cases are nothing like what you see on Law and Order.

Although this may be unsatisfying to many following the case, we have to trust that our public officials and employees have a high level of integrity, and from what I gathered in my conversation, the prosecutor involved in the determination takes the job very seriously and did not even know who Braasch was before this.

 Braasch: you owe it to the people to show us where the money went!!!

Braasch: you owe it to the people to show us where the money went!!!

If it's true that Braasch is in fact guilty of taking money from residents, then he is either very smart and knew how to keep the money from the eyes of investigators, or he just got some dumb luck on this one. We may never know what happened to the money, leaving many to speculate. You would think that if he was innocent, he would just come right out and show us the money, but to this date he has not done so and that is suspicious. Hopefully he reads this article and decides to do the right thing.

Braasch is the same character accused of indecently exposing and fondling himself in front of young girls at Myrtle Beach where he vacations. He's gotten continuance after continuance for something he claims he's innocent of. Some would say a pattern is emerging here of a man claiming innocence despite eyewitness or record-keeping testimony telling us otherwise. A man given the public trust for decades.

So, that is what I’ve learned about the case. Again, this is no official statement by anyone, this is just my understanding of the situation. I trust that our elected officials and staff have a high level of integrity in their work and that what was told to me was the truth.

Suggested Reading: The War of Art

A few years ago I had a job where I could listen to music and podcasts every day, so I absorbed a lot of information during that time. I got into a bunch of these entrepreneurial podcasts from people like Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, and Hal Elrod. Also many hours of the Joe Rogan Experience.

Many of the hosts and guests would recommend certain books to the listeners, and one that kept coming up was this book by Pressfield.

Committees: the Key to County Government

Committees: the Key to County Government

There's a little secret to government that I want to tell you.  It is not very well known, yet it exists in plain sight (some say it isn't a secret at all!).  

The secret is the key to how our government operates, it emphasizes an aspect of its basic structure and shows where power flows.  It gives us a peak behind the curtain of county government.

People ask me all the time, "how do I get involved?"  And the real answer is not the Hollywood version of activism (which some say distracts us from the REAL politics) with people gathering in the streets and "fighting the man."

I tell people to start paying attention to the committees.

Week 1: DONE! Here we go.

Week 1: DONE!  Here we go.

Tuesday, the 13th, was my first day on the job.  We were sworn in at 8:30am, just before the first meeting of the day (Forest Preserve District).  It was just enough pomp and circumstance to feel official but it didn't go too long.  In fact, the whole morning went by extremely quickly.

Health & Fitness

Health & Fitness

As part of the County Board, I'd like to see an increase in information made available to the public about personal fitness and preventative health behaviors.  I also think that alongside such information, we can provide more fitness amenities in our parks and forest preserves, even simple exercise stations which can be made in a way that is aesthetically consistent with the surroundings.  Let's make the built environment more interactive physically.

Radio Interview - Left, Right, and You 3-31

Radio Interview - Left, Right, and You 3-31

I was recently on the local political radio talk show, Left, Right, and You.  Thank you to Jeff and Larry for having me on the show.  Their show is a good way to hear about local and state political issues and candidates.  It's a service to the community to have broadcasts like this, and going forward I would love to see more shows pop up that cover the levels of local government: County, Township, and Municipal.  

Transparency

Transparency

Transparency usually refers to public finance; opening the books to the people.  Not many know how to read the books, but it's still good to have the information available.  But what about transparency on a politician's voting record?  And how do we know that the politician is even aware of the will of the constituency?