The Daily Journal/Robert Themer
Rod Copas, outgoing Iroquois County Board chairman, was recently received a “Courage Award” from “For the Good of Illinois,” a citizens’ watchdog group.
Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 12:16 am | Updated: 12:16 am, Sat Aug 30, 2014.
Read original editorial here: http://www.daily-journal.com/opinion/editorials/when-casting-a-vote-courage-should-count/article_ea7660a8-953a-5aba-bfbb-51dda07459df.html
It’s easy to detect the irony involving Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas.
Earlier this summer, Copas received a “Courage Award” from “For the Good of Illinois” for his efforts in shedding light on the mismanagement of the former Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department.
His campaign against numerous irregularities began shortly after he took over as board chairman in November 2012 and eventually led to the dissolution of the department and ultimately savings of taxpayer dollars.
As the situation unfolded, controversy built, and Copas collected detractors as well as proponents, something that surely factored into his defeat at the polls in the March primary election. By the end of the year, Copas will be out of office and return to private life.
While Copas has said he looks forward to the future and it will likely be a personal gain for him, it’s a loss for Iroquois County and anyone who strives for more transparency and accountability within government.
Adam Andrzejewski is one of those people. He is the founder and chairman of “For the Good of Illinois.” He’s also a Herscher High School graduate, a former Republican candidate for governor and for the last several years a tireless advocate for government reform.
Andrzejewski had this to say about Copas: “Pound for pound, Copas can claim more victories on behalf of taxpayers demanding open, honest and transparent government than possibly any other elected official in Illinois.”
However, enough Iroquois County voters (and taxpayers) found fault with Copas to remove him from office. Without conducting any exit polls, it would be reasonable to assume part of the issue with Copas’ performance comes from his insistence that there was something wrong with the health department.
It happens too often with whistle blowers and those who bring something that is amiss to the forefront. Their actions and motives are questioned and they are frequently labeled as the problem rather than the solution.
It’s evident that taking on such a role will, at the least, make you unpopular in influential circles, and worse yet, often lead to you being discredited and the target of a blackball campaign.
This isn’t exactly what happened to Copas, but it’s apparent that he has fallen victim to the old adage “no good deed goes unpunished.”
It’s unfortunate, but there is a lesson to be learned here. Many times doing the right thing and doing the popular thing are not one in the same. Our electoral process shouldn’t resemble a popularity contest. We all should remember this the next time we head to the ballot box.
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