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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Rock County Coroner Resigns

I remember like it was just yesterday when Jenifer Keach was appointed to the county coroner's office by Gov. Jim Doyle. She was appointed to replace former coroner Karen Gilbertson, a Republican, who was removed from office after a scandal broke that she was taking drugs from the scenes of death investigations.

Because Rock County offices are partisan offices, it was like Doyle committed an unforgivable political sin by appointing a democratic replacement. As Keach's first campaign for coroner entered it's election year, local GOP operatives including the Janesville Gazette and a handful of partisan Rock County Board members went on a vicious personal revenge and hate campaign against her.

In what first began with politically motivated complaints to discredit the coroner, the campaign of false accusations grew into a misinformation media circus conspiracy designed to defraud county voters out of their right to elect their own coroner. Despite running for election during the tea party wave of 2010 that saw Republicans win several local legislative offices, Keach rode to victory winning the coroner's office on her own merit. After election results were tallied in the primary, the sour grapes Gazette and hyper-partisan county board members almost went berserk.

In hindsight, their baseless accusations about Keach using the county office on the taxpayer's dime for political campaign work gets even more disturbingly petty when compared to the high-driving secret router political campaign work Scott Walker directed while MKE county executive. Walker eventually stated that co-mingling political campaign schedules and discussions with county staff was not doing anything improper. In fact, he said "it's routine." Suddenly, the Gazette and their tools don't have much to say about that. But they wanted Keach out for far, far less, even if they had to destroy the coroner's office to do it.

Or, how about the time when they primaried Keach with a "fake" candidate in their efforts to push her off the general ballot? Who knew that their cheap shot dirty tactics would portend for an army of fake candidates running primaries against democrats during the recalls? I know the world isn't that small, but it almost seems like everything that's happening in Wisconsin since Scott Walker was elected governor had roots or a practice run right here in little old Rock County. The GOP's fingerprints are all over it.

So now we enter Monday where Jenifer Keach tendered her resignation about one year before her time in office comes officially to an end. Remember, the county board stripped voters of their right to choose their coroner and will be going with a medical examiner appointed by a panel of special people. So it seems, if they can't destroy the person - destroy the office, is their motto.

This I also know. Coroner Keach fought the good fight and won. She did not turn bitter during the struggle that I've blogged extensively about a few years ago and I'm glad she chose to move forward while at the top and on her own terms. Keach said she accepted a job to continue her career in nursing. Her last day on the job will be November 16th.


RNR (Sept. 8, 2010) - Media Circus Monopolizes Politics Around Coroner's Office

RNR (Sept. 22, 2010) - Newspaper Wants To Kill Wisconsin's Primaries!

RNR (Oct. 20, 2010) - Vote "NO" To Keep Your Right To Vote For County Office

RNR (Jan. 28, 2011) - Board OKs Accountability, Control And Efficiency But For Only One County Office


Richard L. Costerisan said...

Thanks Lou for all the support for my daughter. She has conducted herself in the most professional manner and served the people of Rock County with the highest integrity. Jenifer will go on to do even greater things and will always raise the bar wherever she focuses her talents. I am so proud of her. I'm sure there are a few folks on the county board that will regret their attacks on her for their own political reasons -- soon!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Rock County voters OK'd an advisory referendum in support of making the switch to a medical examiner. The RC board doesn't have to follow that vote and could decide to stay with the elected coroner position or the board could go the M.E. route.
Regardless, Keach did a fine job as coroner and will be missed.

Lou Kaye said...

Hello Richard,
Supporting your daughter on this was an easy call because it was absolutely the right thing to do, politics aside. I wish her great health and prosperity in whatever she might do.

Anon, you're right that Rock County voters approved, to my great disappointment, the advisory referendum, a referendum written by the board targeting only one elective county office for its supposed lack of efficiency, accountability and control while the board president stated it was nothing personal against Keach. That they would steadfastly hold that referendum over her head for the term but might reverse that position now that she resigned will be an interesting event I am anxiously waiting for.

Anonymous said...

Funny how you mention the board president's statement about it not being personal....he's the one that got the 'fake candidate' on the ballot. Word from inside the courthouse had it that he held her hand through the whole thing.

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