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Our View: Persistent push for Animal Control administrator is not smooth

Published: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 5:20 a.m. CDT

It seems likely that Robert Sauceda will become the next administrator of Kane County Animal Control.

After all, he has some heavy hitters backing him.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen supports Sauceda and has since the beginning of the year, when he initially tried to appoint Sauceda to the post.

Instead, because of differing viewpoints among County Board members at that time, Lauzen appointed Sauceda to billing manager of Animal Control, a role in which Sauceda has seen success – not bad at all for a person whose prior experience included work as an insurance agent and sales manager.

Then there’s Barb Jeffers, executive director of the Kane County Health Department, which has oversight of Animal Control.

Jeffers supports Sauceda in his administrator quest. And she believes the County Board should give him a chance to head the department.

And maybe the County Board should.

But it’s hard to blame any members of the board who might have reservations about the appointment.

That’s because, as has been reported, Sauceda supported Lauzen in his run for the chairman position. And Lauzen ran for that position on an anti-cronyism platform.

Not to mention the fact that Sauceda did not have much – if any – experience directly related to Animal Control to begin with.

And then there’s the most recent matter of Lauzen bringing the administrator issue in front of the County Board during the waning minutes of its meeting Tuesday.

Lauzen said he wanted to steer clear of a few members of the board “playing politics” with the appointment. But doesn’t that – in and of itself – sound like playing politics?

The matter had not even gone through the Public Health Committee. Granted, state law does not require such an appointment to go through committee, but – given the history of the issue – that might have gone a long way toward mollifying uneasy board members.

The County Board postponed voting on the potential appointment of Sauceda until November.

Lauzen chastised the board for not taking the recommendation of Jeffers, questioning how it could be that they would not take the counsel of a department leader.

And that is a good point. Department heads often know what they oversee better than anyone else.

But, we ask, how should that philosophy apply to the situation in the Kane County Coroner’s Office, where Coroner Rob Russell has requested an increase in funding for his department?

In that case – and at the same Tuesday meeting – Lauzen and the county’s chief financial officer opted in the tentative 2014 budget to give Russell less than he asked for, calling it a “reasonable compromise.”

Russell said he never agreed to such a deal and that the tentative budget figure would leave his department underfunded. He had said the extra money would go toward hiring two new deputies to reduce the need for overtime and on-call pay for after hours work.

It’s important for Lauzen to keep a close eye on county spending. Open communication on that issue might lead to a more satisfying middle ground for all parties.

At the end of the day, it seems certain that Kane County will soon get a new Animal Control director. And Sauceda could very well be the right man for the job.

But the road to get there hasn’t been pretty.

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