A favorite teacher liked to tell her students that she didn't care if they made mistakes, she just didn't want them to keep making the same ones. But St. Clair County is doomed to repeat its mistakes if County Board Chairman Mark Kern actually believes his own words.
The county is trying to recover $250,000 from developer John Hewitt, who promised to use the money to build a warehouse at MidAmerica Airport but never did. Lots of luck getting back that money. When County Board member Ed Cockrell suggested this week that the county failed to do due diligence with Hewitt, Kern insisted that the county did everything possible to protect taxpayers.
Everything? Really? So the county knew that Hewitt had more than a dozen legal claims against him for unpaid taxes and still handed over $250,000? That's worse than the county failing to look up his record -- a 10-minute process through a Nexis computer search.
As Cockrell points out, Kern and his cohorts wouldn't hand over their own money like this, so why do it with taxpayer money?
Kern said it's important that airplanes fly in and out of MidAmerica Airport. Not to the point that the county hands over money to people with questionable track records. That's not development, that's desperation.
For the taxpayers' sake, let's hope that Kern's comments are political bluster, and that he and the county really have learned from this embarrassing loss. The taxpayers will be in for a rough ride if the desire to keep MidAmerica open clouds county leaders' judgment.