This past Friday [Aug. 10] Winnebago County citizens had a new States Attorney sworn into office. I am proud of the process by which Phil Nicolosi was chosen to succeed long-time States Attorney Paul Logli. That process was thorough, including background checks; it was open; and ultimately the 23-3 vote of the county board made it decisive. I now, with confidence in his ability, wish Phil well in the challenges that lay ahead.
Recent news coverage of my decision to appoint Phil Nicolosi to the office of Winnebago County States Attorney warrants a response. As Winnebago County Board chairman, I am required to fill such vacancies as occurred when our current States Attorney Paul Logli decided to take another appointment to Circuit Judge. At that time, Paul offered his support for his first deputy assistant States Attorney Chuck Prorok.
I respect Pauls decision to publicly endorse his No. 2 man to succeed him as States Attorney. Pauls loyalty to his friends and associates is well known, and it is, in part, one of the reasons why Paul has never really had any serious competition for his elective office. Another reason for his success at limiting the challenges is the fact that Paul has done an outstanding job as Winnebago County States Attorney.
It has been implied that I have somehow criticized Pauls record as States Attorney because I did not take his advice on a successor, nor did I unequivocally endorse a continuation of the business as usual at the States Attorneys office. Conversely, I never impugned Pauls integrity, as has been implied by some, nor did I suggest malfeasance in Pauls handling of his offices budget. I simply suggested that there should be an audit, meaning both financial and administrative, to seek out areas by which the office could be run more efficiently or cases processed in a swifter fashion. Audits of these sort are standard operating procedure when leadership changes are made.
With approximately 80 percent of Winnebago County taxpayer dollars being spent on public safety-related issues, it is critical that all areas in the public safety realm are made to be the most efficient as possible. This was a critical component in my State of the County address many months ago, long before the vacancy in the States Attorneys office occurred, and it continues to be a critical issue now.
In light of my belief that all agencies within county government need to be run efficiently and that all have room for improvement, I made my decision to place an individual in the office of States Attorney who had a fresh set of eyes and ideas. This should not be interpreted as an attack on a previous administratio, but, rather, a desire to build upon the good work that Paul Logli has done. I have nothing but respect for Paul, and plan on supporting him in his present and future endeavors.
Finally, as Winnebago County Board chairman, I need to make many decisions that invariably somebody wont like. That is why the people of Winnebago County elected me to be chairman. I filled a vacancy in a public office with the best person that I felt I had for the job. I stand by that decision, and I will provide all the support that I can to ensure that our new States Attorney is successful.
Scott Christiansen (R) is Winnebago County Board Chairman.
from the Aug. 22-28, 2007, issue