GENEVA – Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, visibly frustrated at what he called the “petty and obstreperous” behavior of County Board members who voted against a $149.07 reimbursement for him last moth, ripped up the check to show his disdain.
Lauzen lectured board members during the July 10 County Board meeting, with a slide show that included what he sought as expense reimbursement.That included subscription to Barron’s, a book, “Basics of Blockchain and Bitcoin” and a Harvard Business School Club of Chicago meeting, according to the expense voucher he provided to the County Board.
At the June County Board meeting, members voted 10-10 on Lauzen’s requested expense reimbursement. Lauzen, as Board Chairman, broke the deadlock in favor of himself, calling it a minor reimbursement of legitimate expenses.
On July 2, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon issued a letter to Lauzen and board members that cited a state law that prohibits a public official from voting on any measure that would benefit himself directly or indirectly.
McMahon’s letter also cited Board member Jarett Sanchez, D-Carpentersville, for making a similar vote on Nov. 14, 2017.
“Therefore … we advise the correct course of action is return of the reimbursement funds obtained by those votes,” McMahon’s letter stated.
Lauzen did that, but only after a presentation during the July 10 meeting that resembled a stump speech more than a board discussion. Lauzen offered a laundry list of his own accomplishments over the years of his service as board chairman – including a 65 percent reduction in county debt –saying he had expected the board to have given him the latitude to “produce even more good.”
“Wiser people on the board are polite and more quiet ...well my mama used to say, ‘An empty can makes the most noise,’” Lauzen said. “These are not personal expenses. These are business expenses. … I ripped up the check not to waste any more time.”
Lauzen later acknowledged McMahon's assesment of voting procedure was the right one.
“I only vote when there’s a tie,” Lauzen said. “I only voted twice in six years. … This reimbursement to me, I should not have voted. I made a mistake.”
But Lauzen also took the opportunity to call out McMahon for not saying something at the time of the vote, instead of waiting several weeks.
“He was sitting right next to me,” Lauzen said of the June meeting when he voted. “If he sat any closer, he’d have to be sitting in my lap.”
Lauzen said his short presentation was to focus on the 10 who voted against the reimbursement, as opposed to the 14 Board members “working their butts off to move us forward.”
“I tried to make it clear, I so admire and respect the good work that is behind done by the 14 constructive board members,” Lauzen said.