Lauzen drops call to pursue reimbursement for Van Dyke prosecution
Citing a lack of "fortitude" by the Kane County Board, Chairman Chris Lauzen on Tuesday dropped his pursuit of an invoice of the costs to prosecute Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.
Lauzen spent the past couple of months hounding Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon for an accounting of the staff hours spent on the case. Kane County's involvement dates back to McMahon's acceptance of the special prosecutor appointment in August 2016. Lauzen's own estimate totals at least $1.6 million in personnel salary costs during that time.
Knowing the true cost is a matter of public accountability for all elected officials, Lauzen said.
"But we now know there's an exception," he said. "It's a shameful hypocrisy to condemn and convict in Cook County on the principle that no man is above the law, yet come home and absolve himself from the minimal standard of financial accountability."
Lauzen wants to ask Cook County for reimbursement of the prosecution costs. He crafted a resolution calling on McMahon to pursue the reimbursement. But Lauzen pulled it from the county board's agenda when he couldn't muster enough support.
The effort might have been moot even with a resolution. A true accounting is unavailable, according to McMahon, because the state's attorney's office never tracks the time the staff spends on any case. Even if there were a time log, McMahon said, he has no interest in sending Cook County a bill.
"The law is very specific. It's to be done without reimbursement," McMahon said.
The important thing for Kane County taxpayers to know, he added, is there was no drop in the services or service quality provided by his office during the Van Dyke trial. McMahon said he still came to his Kane County office every day leading up to the Van Dyke trial. Even during the trial, he came to the office every Friday, Saturday and Sunday to stay on top of the county's needs.
"The residents of Kane County are served exceptionally well by the assistant state's attorneys," he said. "Whenever I came in, there were assistant state's attorneys in the office working on their cases, lawyers who picked up additional responsibilities because I and the other members of the (prosecution) team were not there. There were no gaps in services. We all put in the time that was necessary."
McMahon asked for no additional resources from Kane County as a result of the Van Dyke prosecution. He expects his office will come in under budget at the close of the 2018 fiscal year.