Robert Tiballi: Candidate Profile
Kane County Coroner
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Family: Married: Tamaki (Higashiguchi) Tiballi. Children: Francesca, age 18
Education: 1978: A.A.S. M.E.T. State Univ of New York Agricultural Technical College at Alfred; Air Conditioning Technology
1984: B.A. Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. Major: Chemistry Minors: Theology, Biology B.A. Degree conferred Summa Cum Laude
1988: D.O. New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYCOM) of New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, LI, NY
2015: M.B.A. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Civic involvement: 1991-93: Delmarva Children's Ministries, Dover, DE. Provider of health care serving migrant farm worker families of Delaware.
1994-95: Washtenaw County Public Health Department, Ypsilanti, Michigan. Voluntary as Sexually Transmitted Diseases clinic physician.
1994-95: Hope Clinic, Ypsilanti. Provider of free medical care to persons without medical insurance or means to pay. Voluntary as Internist/Pediatrician.
Elected offices held:
What will your criteria be for determining if a death requires an autopsy?
During my administration, every Coroner's case would have an expert physician case review prior to an autopsy. The medical expert review would not add any additional cost to the office since I will bring the expertise when elected. Based on this review, cases would either be referred for traditional autopsy, virtual autopsy, or a mixture of directed radiography, directed surgical autopsy or blood and toxicology analysis. While being technically more complex decision making, there would be the best quality control possible by having a skilled physician review on the front end of the coroner's case. Currently the office could not support such complex and expert review.
What role, if any, does the coroner's office have in preventing deaths and engaging in local advocacy, such as encouraging the use of Narcan and collecting unwanted prescription drugs?
I don't see any reason to duplicate what other Kane County authorities do. There is no role for competition between the Sheriff's office and the Coroner's office on these matters.
Historically the Sheriff's office developed a program to collect unwanted prescription medicationss. If the two offices were on opposite ends of the county that might make sense, but better to work together than to compete as a prescription drug disposal facility.
The Narcan issue is a complex and expensive one. The coroner accepted numerous doses of Narcan which were only a matter of a few weeks away from expiring. This did not stop him from grabbing headlines about a "grant". The doses expired about two months after Kane County received them. Additionally, the coroner claimed they were much more valuable than they really were. He claimed a doubled unit price value compared to another similar donation within the county. I will work all day long to help prevent drugs in our community, but I do not believe acquiring and distributing this medication is a foundational function of the coroner's office.
My focus would be on education about reducing risks of death among all age groups.
Is there an ongoing need to promote public awareness of the coroner's office and improve the office's image? If so, how should such promotions be funded?
The coroner's image is negatively impacted by exceedingly poor management and serial bad decision making by the current coroner. No amount of give away trinkets that have nothing to do at all with the operation of the office can change that impression. What would most effectively improve the image of the coroner's office would be to fire the current coroner and replace him with a professional person, someone highly qualified to run the office, someone with management experience and medical expertise.
What is the best strategy for ensuring the coroner's office is never over budget?
The best strategy to ensure competent budgeting and administration in the Coroner's office is to replace the current Coroner with an experienced manager who understands budgeting and fiscal responsibility.
For the past three years the incumbent has retained the services of Mr. Ken Shepro as a financial and budget advisor. It is my understanding that Mr. Shepro has developed the budget for Mr. Russell and supplemental requests that have followed. In the November Judicial and Public Safety committee meeting, when asked to justify a request for $56,000 in supplemental funding due to financial projections of being over budget in fiscal year 2015, the incumbent coroner stated "I don't understand accounting. You will have to ask the person who put the numbers together". Clearly an elected official must be prepared to discuss their requests for funding, why and how will the money be used. This led to Mr. Russell being admonished by Chairman Castro at the January Judicial and Public Safety Committee Meeting. But Mr. Russell was not in attendance to hear this admonition.
Unfortunately there is no guaranteed means to "force" the elected official to present an accurate budget and no means by which to force them to stay within the budget. Only possession of the character traits of trustworthiness and honor mixed with dedication to fiscal responsibility can insure the office will come in on or under budget.
I have managed a company with a budget far larger than the coroner's office. A budget I am responsible to generate revenue to fund. While I am not an accountant, I understand accounting fundamentals and have no problem managing the relatively small budget in the Coroner's office. I have an MBA and have the ability to compile a good faith budget and the fiscal responsibility to stay within it. I would present budgets to the statutory supervising county board that would accurately represent anticipated expenses and I would be prepared to discuss and analyze these figures in detail. I will be transparent and not seek to hide payments or expenses from the statutory supervisors, the county board, or the Citizens of Kane County.
Please list any elected office you have ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?
In 2004 & 2012 I ran for the Republican Nomination for Kane County Coroner and was unsuccessful in the Republican Primary during these campaigns. As you can see I am dedicated and interested in being the coroner. I have no plans to seek higher office.
I ran for Elgin City Council in 2004 and was unsuccessful.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
I think it is very important for the office holder to remember whom they work for. The office holder serves the deceased within the county, but directly works for the taxpayer. Incumbent upon the office holder has repeatedly displayed decisions of financial irresponsibility. The current coroner has not exhibited financial restraint nor has he exhibited managerial responsibility. He blames everyone else for his bad decisions. The mishandling of the crime freezer epitomizes the ineptitude with which the current coroner manages his responsibilities and his sacred trust to maintain evidence. It has been commented, "five cents of duct tape and a Sharpie was all that was needed to protect the evidence". Taping over the light switch and marking "do not turn off" before he went on vacation would have been the minimum appropriate action prior to Mr. Russell's leaving for vacation. More effort would have been needed to actually communicate with the vendor who was to start work in the office, but this also should have been done.
I will work cooperatively with the county board. I think because Mr. Russell is defensive due to his lack of training and experience, he acts in an offensive manner continuously as a defensive mechanism. He delegates most decision-making within the office, is not hands on manager and is not an effective communicator at any level or to anyone.
I will communicate clearly with parties involved with the coroner's office. I will be a hands-on manager. The repeating management issues that plague the office will cease under my administration.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
I really admire South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy. He is a hardworking, plainspoken man who doggedly pursues the truth.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Work hard, walk humbly, speak the truth in all situations, never make the same mistake twice, learn from other's mistakes, and to put my faith in God, not other men.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
My life has been so rich and so experienced; I would not ask to change anything. The totality of my experiences has made me who I am today. I tell my colleagues to spend as much time as you can with your children. You never get another chance to do that over. I spent every minute I could with my daughter and although her mother and I divorced, my daughter and I have a great relationship and I am very proud of her.
The only do-over would be to not lobby my former fiancé to take her family's compact car to her medical internship instead of the large, safe luxury car her parents wanted her to take. Six months into the internship she was killed in a tragic car accident. She likely would have survived if she had been in the car her parents wanted her to drive.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
I have so many divergent interests and have quite a few majors of study for multiple degrees. My major in Theology in college provided me with a framework to learn more about my faith throughout my life and the challenges that life brings. I did my Thesis project on "Suffering" and this helped me through my own personal challenges in life in which I was faced with my own suffering.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would advice my children to be a stranger to self-hatred. I told my daughter every chance I could; "I want you to remember these three things: I love you, I'm proud of you, and it's not your fault, it's Cupcake's fault." Cupcake is our dog and frequently she is the cause of what has gone wrong. No sense blaming yourself when you have a perfectly good dog at home you can blame things on. In times of turmoil in one's life, it is important that you have worth as a human and people love you for who you are.