Kane judge again tosses suit from MacRunnels

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 6:58 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – A Kane County judge again has tossed out a lawsuit brought against Kane County’s outgoing board chairman over raises she gave several county department heads.

Tuesday, after a hearing at the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva, Kane County Judge Thomas Mueller dismissed the suit brought by Elburn resident James MacRunnels against Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.

In his order, Mueller ruled in favor of McConnaughay “on all counts of the complaint.”

MacRunnels had pursued the case since 2010, alleging McConnaughay violated county ordinances when she awarded pay raises to 14 county officials and department heads without first submitting the raises to the County Board for approval.

The case was dismissed initially by Mueller. But MacRunnels appealed, and the appellate court ordered the Kane County judge to again consider it.

Lawyers hired by the county to defend McConnaughay argued she had not violated the ordinances because the raises were approved by the County Board when it approved the annual county budgets.

MacRunnels is a political rival of McConnaughay’s who had unsuccessfully challenged her in the 2008 Republican primary election for County Board chairman.

McConnaughay is serving out the final weeks of her term as County Board chairman, as she was elected Nov. 6 to the state Senate.

State Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora has been elected to replace her and will take office in December.

In a statement released after the ruling, McConnaughay trumpeted the ruling dismissing what she has maintained from the beginning was a politically motivated lawsuit.

She said the order “has provided validation of the process” the county followed in awarding the pay raises.

“My detractors simply sought a way to try and derail county government and embarrass me in the process,” McConnaughay said in the prepared statement. “Once again, their efforts completely failed, and unfortunately the taxpayers got stuck with the bill.”

MacRunnels said he will discuss with his lawyer whether he again should appeal.

But he said the ruling did not surprise him because he had sought a change of venue so he could find “a fair shake” that he did not believe would be awarded him in Kane County’s courts.

“This whole thing has been a travesty,” MacRunnels said. “But I need to figure out how much more of my money I want to waste on this.”