Lauzen rips up reimbursement check, then rips Kane board members

Updated 7/10/2018 11:37 PM
  • Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, standing, reviews some of the various personal business expenses he's submitted lately for reimbursement by the Kane County Board.

      Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, standing, reviews some of the various personal business expenses he's submitted lately for reimbursement by the Kane County Board. James Fuller | Staff Photographer

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen stripped his fellow officials of any chance of embarrassing him with a second vote to deny reimbursement of personal business expenses by ripping up what appeared to be a check for $149.07 in front of the board Tuesday.

Lauzen then accused the board members who rejected his payment of collecting a $25,000 annual paycheck without performing any meaningful public service to justify it.

The drama marked the latest sign of an increasingly fractured relationship Lauzen has with many board members.

Less than a week ago, he spoke with confidence about a second vote approving his reimbursement request. That vote became necessary after an opinion from State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Lauzen cast an improper vote to break a 10-10 tie on the reimbursement last month.

Lauzen began his speech Tuesday with a highlight reel of accomplishments during his tenure. Those include extending a property tax levy freeze in place since the year before he took office through the 2016 budget year. Also mentioned were a 65 percent reduction in county debt and the coming completion of projects, such as the Longmeadow Parkway and the cross-country course at the former Settlers Hill Landfill.

Given those results, Lauzen said, he expected to be "given even more latitude to produce even more good."

Instead, the reimbursement denial comes as more "destructive nitpicking" to stand in the way of progress, Lauzen said. Turning over his plans to create new, nontax income for the county with a waste-to-fuel facility, expansion of the county's fiber optic network leasing, and promoting the use of county infrastructure for cellphone amplification has gone nowhere, he said.

"I would ask you to examine your public service you produced for your $25,000 salary," Lauzen said. "What positive contribution are you making? What progress has been made? I'll void the check and not accept it, and then we're going to be finished with the stuff."

Lauzen then shredded what appeared to be the reimbursement check.

"If you can spend $35 and shake hands at an event, it's an important symbol of respect and building a relationship," Lauzen said of his expenses. "I can tell the 10 who voted against reimbursing me that about the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is get on the express train in Aurora and go to another meeting. What happens next time? Am I more or less motivated to go on your behalf to any of those meetings?"

Lauzen did not give the board a chance to respond.

Board members did not want to be quoted in interviews after the meeting so as to defuse some of the tension. Several pointed to their votes as necessary parts that allowed all of the accomplishments Lauzen listed to happen.

It's unclear if Lauzen plans to submit future reimbursement requests. McMahon's opinion also identified board member Jarett Sanchez as casting an improper vote in November in favor of his reimbursement for a car rental during a leadership training event. Sanchez said he plans to seek a revote.

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