Jeff Ward: Candidate's tea party lineage laughable
By Jeff Ward For The Courier-News October 24, 2011 2:50PM
Updated: December 7, 2012 9:57PM
She’s at it again. Our bad romance continues to progress as the chairman employs her best poker face to dance around the real issues. But this paparazzo sees right through her smoke screen.
Of course, we’re talking about Kane County’s favorite Lady Gaga impersonator, board chairman Karen McConnaughay, who will stop at nothing to reinvent herself in the eyes of those all-important Elgin-area 33rd District state Senate seat voters.
And now she’s trying to tell us that she’s been a tea partier all along. Why, she even joined deadbeat dad Congressman Joe Walsh on a Huntley-area tea party panel and then tried to convince the gullible folks at the ultraconservative Illinois Review that she’s the second coming of Sarah Palin.
I don’t know about you, but just the thought of a Sarah Palin Lite scares the you-know-what out of me. Is it possible to be a lighter lightweight than the ultimate lightweight? Leave it to the chairman to prove me wrong again.
Though she omitted all the “you betchas,” “gollys” and winks while describing her Alaskan frontier — I mean Route 31 Fox River home — McConnaughay said they owned a boat and that “my kids were waterskiing when they were 3 years old.”
When I posed this particular scenario to several waterskiing experts, including a top competitor, the universal response was an incredulous “Say what?” Apparently, waterskiing toddlers are about as common as fiscally conservative county chairmen.
To be fair, it’s possible our esteemed candidate is exceptionally adept at putting a 30-pound child in water skis and then teaching them the finer points of hanging onto a rope behind a boat moving at 15 knots. But I doubt it.
But wait, there’s more. As McConnaughay continued describing her riverfront wilderness property, she also said, “My kids learned how to shoot when they were 2-3 years old.”
Never mind that the thought of the chairman holding a handgun terrifies me more than a Sarah Palin Lite, but my theory has always been you should never give a gun to anyone who isn’t toilet-trained. Of course, if we ever really enforced that rule, it would eliminate FOID cards for most of the tea party, half of Republicans, and every single Springfield Democrat.
What self-respecting parent would put a gun in the hands of a 2-year-old? And unless we’re talking a tripod-mounted machine gun, which the neighbors would likely frown upon, what 2-year-old can handle a handgun or a rifle?
The main reason the chairman went into all this past history is, like our biblical Eve, she’s trying to portray herself as the primordial tea partier by taking all the credit for having started STOP.
STOP, or Stop Taking Our Property, was an actual grass-roots group formed some 20 years ago by 27 Fox River families incensed that the county was trying to take their backyards for a bike path.
I spoke with Linda Stuart, one of STOP’s original founders, the organization’s first elected secretary, and a former 12-year neighbor of the McConnaughays. She told me the group was formed immediately after those 27 families received letters threatening condemnation. While the chairman may have become the group’s spokesperson, she was not one of its founders, Stuart said.
Karen McConnaughay is no tea partier. In fact, she’s exactly the kind of politician the tea party should be rallying against.
If you take the time to go through her D2s (lists of campaign contributions), you’ll find a litany of labor unions and firms that do business with the county.
Not only that but, between 2004 and 2007, she passed out 50 percent raises to department heads, directors and managers reporting directly to her. As a result of bumping former director of development Phil Bus’s salary from $95,000 to $153,181, we now have the privilege of paying him a $110,000 yearly pension. And this from a candidate who’s trumpeting state pension reform.
She wasted millions on animal control, blew the $40 million surplus former county chairman Mike McCoy left her, and she’s overseen a 50 percent increase in the county tax levy.
That doesn’t sound like a tea partier to me.
But instead of calling her on it, those nitwits at the Illinois Review couldn’t lap it up fast enough. You can hear the entire interview at www.Illinoisreview.com. Apparently, if you want to get a tea partier to curl up in your lap and purr, all you have to do is pet them gently while whispering sweet nothings in their ear.
Call me crazy, but just like the real Lady Gaga, I kinda think the chairman’s making it up as she goes along. Ah, well. Maybe she was just born this way.
Jeff Ward can be reached at email@example.com