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A close look at the county

If it feels like the feds are swarming in St. Clair County, it’s because they are.

The drug scandal at the courthouse — one judge dead of a drug overdose, another judge and a probation officer charged with drug crimes — has the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency poking around. U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton, the chief prosecutor for Southern Illinois, said their investigation is “wide open and not limited to St. Clair County.” Will other judges, attorneys or court personnel be charged in connection with this corruption? Stay tuned.

Then there’s the Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center, which is scrutinizing the county’s Intergovernmental Grants Department for possible discrimination. This follows the state’s ruling that the county discriminated against disabled job training program applicants and retaliated against three whistleblowers. The whistleblowers tell their stories in a front-page story today.

The county already has a mark against it regarding the disabled. Three years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the county for failure to fully comply with the accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The scrutiny seems particularly uncomfortable for the Democrats in charge of this one-party county. They are used to doing whatever they please with no one to stop them. There hasn’t been this much scrutiny of the courthouse since the Thomas Venezia/Amiel Cueto illegal gambling days.

The feds aren’t the only ones who want answers. County residents deserve to know how these problems went undetected internally, and what will be done to ensure that it isn’t still happening.