If President Donald Trump needs advice on swamp-draining, he can turn to County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, who's been draining the morass of Madison County politics, little by little, for more than 10 years.
And if Trump wants to know how many alligators he's likely to encounter and how long it's going to be before they stop snapping at him, Prenzler can enlighten him, too.
How many swamp alligators are there doing everything they can to protect their pelf and privilege and prevent the restoration of good government? Plenty. How long will they keep attacking? Indefinitely if allowed.
Prenzler's been trying to drain the political swamp and dodging alligators for more than a decade. He ran, unsuccessfully, against then-County Treasurer Fred Bathon in 2006, in the process exposing the details of Bathon's corruption. Though county officials did nothing, the Feds investigated and Bathon pled guilty to rigging the sales of delinquent taxes, serving two and a half years in federal prison.
To this day, some of the local alligators are still incensed that one of their cronies got what was coming to him.
Two weekends ago, during a fundraiser at St. Mary and St. Mark Catholic Church in Madison, Prenzler was physically attacked by two men and assaulted by another. One of the three he recognized as a former county employee who worked for Bathon.
Glen Carbon Police Chief Todd Link is looking into reports that a member of his force was involved in the incident. Madison Police Chief Christopher Burns just recently turned over his investigation to Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons. And now, Gibbons must decide whether to seek charges of assault and battery and whether the alleged assailants should face stiffer penalties under a “threatening public officials” statute.
Law enforcement officials have a choice: They can help drain the swamp or they can protect the alligators. We'll soon know whose side they're on.