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Kane County Board members hesitant about ‘Big Brother’ idea

GENEVA – A Kaneville-based company wants to help Kane County stay informed about its employees.

Members of the Human Services Committee weren’t sold on the idea, as they said it raised ethical and legal questions.

“It’s kind of like Big Brother,” Committee Chairman Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, said Wednesday.

For an annual cost of $2 an employee, Jeffrey Metcalf of Record Information Services said his company can alert the county of any changes in the public record of its employees.

Types of public records include divorce, bankruptcies, foreclosures, felonies, misdemeanors and drunken driving arrests.

No Social Security numbers are needed to get the information – just a name and full address, Metcalf said.

By receiving updates about its employees, the county could deal with a situation before it turns into a bigger issue, Metcalf said.

For example, he said, he recently finished a project for a health insurance company in conjunction with a municipality that identified several dozen police officers who got divorced but didn’t tell the city, thus resulting in double-dipping on health benefits.

“It’s all about awareness,” Metcalf said.

Jesse Vazquez, D-Aurora, asked Human Resources Executive Director Sheila McCraven whether the county is allowed to give such reports on employees to department heads. She said there is no prohibition on getting public records.

“The question is how we use the information,” McCraven said.

Castro said the service is an interesting concept, but it also presents serious ethical issues.

She asked McCraven if it would have to be negotiated with the bargaining units. McCraven said that would be a question for an attorney.

T.R. Smith, R-Maple Park, said he often hears complaints about government interference.

“I think this is another example of government intrusion,” he said.

The committee didn’t take any action on Metcalf’s proposal.

“We’ve got a lot to think about,” Mark Davoust, R-St. Charles, said.

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