Jim Dey | Who holds appointment power in Champaign County government?

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It’s time once again to dive in to another round of quick takes on the people, places and events that were being talked about over the past week:

Brainiac vs. brainiac

The intellectual fight of the century begins at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 in the Illinois Supreme Court chambers in Springfield.

In one corner — svelte and overly serious — is Champaign County Circuit Judge Jason Bohm. Dubbed “Captain America” by opponents, Bohm’s legal punches come fast and furious. In the other corner is state appeals court Justice Craig DeArmond, a blond bomber whose mild appearance belies his ferocious legal counter-punches.

OK, OK — hyperbole runs amok. But how else can a simple scribe hype an unexciting Champaign County legal dispute between County Executive Darlene Kloeppel and her Democratic foes on the county board?

Bohm ruled in Kloeppel’s favor in the trial court. DeArmond ruled in favor of the county board in the appellate court. The seven member Illinois Supreme Court will decide which one of these legal pugilists has the better argument.

The case revolves around who — executive Kloeppel or county board chairman Kyle Patterson — possesses appointment power to county boards and commissions.

Insisting she does, Kloeppel sued the county board in 2020 to win a legal affirmation on her authority. She claims appointment power was conferred on her when county voters adopted a county-executive form of government — a position akin to a mayor — and then elected her to the post.

She argued that appointment power goes to the executive in Champaign County just like it does for other executives in an executive/legislative government configuration.

Bohm agreed, stating that denying Kloeppel appointment power “would be to lend her the title but not the functions that the voters have given her.”

The legal problem is that there are conflicting state statutes regarding appointment power, and one gives appointment power to the county board chairman.

In his opinion, DeArmond stated “we presume the Legislature, in enacting different statutes, acted rationally and with full knowledge of other statutes. And if divided appointment powers resulted from legislative oversight, we cannot correct it, since the statutory language is clear and ambiguous.”

In presuming morons in Springfield didn’t do something moronic, DeArmond went out on a legal limb.

A lengthy political battle over appointment power preceded the lawsuit. The final straw for Kloeppel came when she and board Democrats differed over an appointee to a vacant seat on the county board.

Ultimately, Kloeppel lost that battle and the seat was filled by Wayne Williams. Kloeppel objected to Williams’ appointment because he already serves as the elected assessor in Cunningham Township, whose borders are the same as the city of Urbana.

Community giant

When Champaign’s Lee Cabutti died this week, he left at least two legacies.

He coached basketball for decades at Champaign Central. But after he retired, Cabutti became a gentleman farmer who planted and sold, among other things, tomatoes.

Joking about the passage of time since his retirement, Cabutti said he was probably better known in his later years for selling tomatoes than coaching basketball.

A product of the coal mines in southern Illinois, Cabutti grew up surrounded by Italian immigrants. He could still quote the words his Italian-speaking mothers used to call their children home, and he never forgot the lessons he learned there.

One involved tomatoes. He said he used to laugh at the special method his father used to plant tomatoes. But Cabutti said when he planted his own tomatoes, he did it the same way his dad did.

That might not have happened if Cabutti, when riding on the team bus to an away game, hadn’t spotted a plot of ground near Champaign that was for sale. Cabutti ordered the driver to stop the bus while he went out to check the lay of the land. Within a few days, Cabutti bought the big plot of ground, laying the groundwork for his future endeavors.

GOP night out

Champaign County Republicans are holding a candidate meet-and-greet session tonight at the Savoy Elks Club, 903. N. Dunlap Ave.

Event planner Bruce Povalish said the gathering, set for 6 to 8 p.m., is open to anyone in the community, not just party faithful. He characterized it as an opportunity for interested citizens to meet GOP candidates, including four seeking countywide office.

Among the GOP county candidates who will be present are sheriff candidate John Brown, county clerk and recorder candidate Terrence Stuber and county-executive candidate Ted Myre.

Appointed Circuit Judge Sam Limentato, who is running for election in his own right, also will be present.

Expected to make a guest appearance is 13th District GOP congressional candidate Regan Deering.

Povalish said the first hour is intended to be a meet-and-greet opportunity. In the second hour, he said, candidates will make brief statements and/or answer questions.

Music and food will be available, as will conversation.

The abortion judge

Third district appellate Justice Mary Kay O’Brien is running for the Illinois Supreme Court on the issue of legal abortion.

Judicial candidates usually run screaming from the room when they’re asked how they would rule in certain kinds of cases. That’s because they’re not supposed to pre-judge legal disputes that might come before them.

But O’Brien has dropped all pretense and stated that it’s her legal opinion that the Illinois Constitution mandates legal abortion. Her TV commercials are only slightly less forthcoming.

It’s unclear how and when the issue of legal abortion would get to the Supreme Court, but O’Brien wants to hit that voter hot button on a deeply emotional issue.

Here’s the text from her TV abortion ad.

“Justice Mary Kay O’Brien has always believed when Illinois courts are fair — We all rise. Her courtroom is a place where rights and freedoms are protected fairly.

“From growing up on an Illinois farm to being an Appellate Court Justice, she’s devoted her career to fighting for fairness

“Now, with Roe v. Wade being overturned, women’s freedom to choose in Illinois is at risk.

“Justice O’Brien is endorsed by Personal PAC and other pro-choice groups.

“Mary Kay O’Brien. A Justice for all.”

Actually, the statement that “women’s freedom to choose in Illinois is at risk” is not true. The U.S. Supreme Court sent the issue back to state legislatures to resolve. Illinois law allows unrestricted, taxpayer-funded legal abortion, and that’s not going to change.

Change of plans

The notoriously inept gumshoes at the NCAA decided their cure was worse than the disease.

So they’ve decided to adopt new rules to speed up and modernize infractions investigations. In doing so, they repealed a rule aimed at speeding up and modernizing the investigation process in major cases of suspected rules violations.

The so-called Independent Accountability Resolution Process was adopted in 2019 as an alternative to the infractions committee. This followed a federal criminal investigation that revealed massive criminal wrongdoing in college basketball recruiting at a number of high-profile schools like Arizona, Kansas and Auburn.

News accounts indicate that “only one IARP case, involving North Carolina State basketball, has been closed since its formation, while cases continue involving basketball programs at Memphis, LSU, Louisville, Kansas Jayhawks and Arizona.”

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September 10, 2022 at 08:37AM

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