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updated: 4/3/2013 1:28 PM

Could RTA appointment pose ethics problem for Kane County?

Some recent county board members have applied for the post

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The naming of a new Kane County representative to the RTA board might also prove to be the first test of the county's revised ethics ordinance.

A bipartisan, three-member panel will review the 24 applications for the position and make a recommendation for Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen. He can either choose to go along with the recommendation or name another candidate of his choosing. The full county board must ratify Lauzen's choice.

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Several of the applicants are either current or former Kane County Board members or county elected officials. That might create a discussion of the correct interpretation of the county's ethics policy provision governing a county board member or county official's future employment with the county.

Current county board member Mike Donahue and recent board members Bonnie Kunkel, Jim Mitchell and Tom Van Cleave are all applicants. So is former Kane County Auditor William Keck. Just by applying, the code indicates, they might already be violating the ethics ordinance.

The code reads:

"No officer shall solicit or accept employment with the county within one year of such officer's resignation or termination of an elected term."

All of those people were employed as county officials until Dec. 1. The county board can override that provision with a two-thirds majority vote. But that's only if the board deems itself the employer of the RTA board representative. While the chairman and county board hire or appoint the representative, the $25,000 salary, pension and insurance benefits are paid by the RTA.

There are also several possible political considerations involved with the appointment.

Lauzen has already been under fire by several board members for hiring his political ally Robert Sauceda to be the billing manager for the county's animal control agency. Mitchell was one of the chairmen of Lauzen's campaign.

Donahue has been one of the outspoken critics of the Sauceda hire. If he gets the RTA appointment, Donahue must resign from the board. Lauzen would then get to help name Donahue's replacement.

Throughout the application process, Lauzen said he is looking for a record of administrative, management and budgetary skills. He also wants someone with a "detailed knowledge of Kane County government" and someone who shares his views of keeping taxes low.

Lauzen is inviting residents to submit their own questions that they would like answered by the candidates. County residents can email Lauzen their questions at clauzen@kanecoboard.org.

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