It's all about the legacy

The Madison County Record Jan. 22, 2005, 6:23pm

Famous footwear


Old school

Name game

It's only fair.

Do-gooder reformers hope to soon make Madison County’s heady class action days a memory. So why not etch them in stone forever by appropriately naming Madison County’s new Criminal Justice Center, set to open next month?

County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan says that interest payments granted the county from Philip Morris’ posting of a $6 billion bond with the circuit court—the handiwork of Judge Nicholas Byron— have allowed it to pay off its lease on the building way early.

So let’s give credit where credit is due.

Which sounds better-- the “Nicholas Byron Criminal Justice Center” or the “Stephen F. Tillery Criminal Justice Center”?

A different approach cuts to the source. The “Philip Morris Memorial Criminal Justice Center” has a nice ring to it as well as broader meaning. The company goes by the name “Altria” now, in part because of all the lawsuit publicity.

Of course, if naming rights are up for grabs, we hear one of Madison County’s household names will fast join the hunt.

A source tells Dicta that famed and now “retired” Madison County asbestos attorney Randy Bono is keen on the idea of the county naming the building after him as part of his “legacy.”

If that doesn’t fly, we think the 3rd Circuit should at least station a bronzed likeness of Bono’s hiking boots near the center’s entrance as a monument in his honor.

Mr. Target?

It’s early, but politicos on the GOP side of the Illinois House tell Dicta they already have a candidate to take on Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-112th) in 2006.

Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier’s victory last November is supplying most of the GOP’s Metro East optimism. Republicans are emboldened to take on Democrat dominated Madison and St. Clair Counties during the next several election cycles.

First in the crosshairs is Hoffman, whose district includes parts of Collinsville, Edwardsville, Granite City, Glen Carbon, Troy, and Fairview Heights. He won big in 2002 and 2004, when the GOP didn’t even manage to field a candidate.

But “Jay is Mr. Trial Lawyer,” says a House source, and he is also a close ally of Chicago-focused Governor Rod Blagojevich, fast losing his luster downstate. If medical malpractice reform gets short shrift in Springfield between now and campaign season, Rep. Hoffman will get much of the Metro East blame.

Expect a formal announcement by Hoffman’s challenger sometime in the next two months.

Legal luddites
Back in September, Dicta noted how St. Clair County Court was far behind the technology times.

One week into The Record’s expanded coverage, now we really know.

While Madison County is entering its second year of providing Internet access to its court records, its sister county in Metro East is positively prehistoric.

The St. Clair County Courts don’t even have a Web site.

Getting St. Clair dockets or court records means traveling to Belleville and enlisting an overworked clerk, forced to tackle the task using what one Record reporter thought was a Commodore 64.

Lawyers can pay court fees online in Madison County. In St. Clair, clerks have to handwrite their receipt.

The problem, as explained by local experts to Dicta, is that St. Clair County handles its technology in-house, while Madison County uses Springfield-based Jano Justice Systems.

Outside vendors have an incentive to stay cutting-edge or they’ll lose the business. Government-employed technology bureaucrats have an incentive to protect their jobs.

Seems to us that this all means more costs and less service for St. Clair County taxpayers. Do any elected officials have an opinion?

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