Trilogy (Part one): Lake County Establishment Republicans assume a ‘Goliath’ role to reclaim Office of the Coroner

November 3, 2011

The definition of a dynasty is the period during which a certain family reigns.  This same definition might be applied to a political party whose control extends over a period of years.  As history documents, when one family — as with the Daley and Stroger families in Chicago politics — or one political party reigns supreme over an extended period of time, corruption eventually destroys by devouring all that is good about an institution established to benefit citizens within its jurisdiction. 
 
The premise of my article is to reveal a dynasty of power and control enjoyed by the Republican Party in the Lake County Office of Coroner, dating back to the 1970’s when Republican Robert Mickey Babcox served as coroner, until 2004 when Democrats gained control with the election of Dr. Richard Keller over Jim Whipper who was the hand-picked candidate of Barbara Richardson to succeed her in office.  Richardson’s elected term in office spanned 27 years from 1977 until her retirement in 2003.   
 
What follows will be an replay of contentious and nasty actions within the ranks of the Republican Establishment in which clout was used stemming from unbridled ambitions to win back the Office of the Lake County Coroner in 2012. My account will further document the tactics used by Republican Establishment members in what was a coordinated collusion and the means through which the status quo that existed prior to the Republican Party’s loss of power and control of the coroner office could be returned to Republicans in 2012.  Actions of highly questionable nature never investigated will be noted in which Republican Establishment members were willing to rally around their own to sweep any hint of corruption under the rug. 
 
The Republican candidate will face Democrat interim coroner Artis Yancey, former Waukegan Police Chief, appointed to fill Dr. Richard Keller’s by David Stolman, head of the County Board, after Keller’s forced resignation on Feb. 22, 2011.
 
I am well aware that my expose will not endear me to many, if any, Republicans in the higher echelon of the Lake County Republican Party.  As I place conservatism above my Republicanism, my sense of integrity demands that I point out abuse and corruption wherever and whenever it may surface, realizing that corruption is an equal opportunist.  Like cancer, corruption first invades, pollutes and can eventually destroys all that it comes in contact with if not curtailed in time.
 
The characters in my true-life story represent a modern day version of “David and Goliath” as presented in 1 “Samuel”, Chapter 17.  David Cooper is the modern-day David; the powerful Goliath are members of the Republican Establishment (sometimes called Republican insiders or the Good Old Boys Club) who seemingly resorted to intimidation and hard-ball tactic against David Cooper even before he officially announced his candidacy for coroner. 
 
The goal of “Goliath” is to take control the day-to-day operations of the Office of the Lake County Corner in November of 2012 through the election of their handpicked proxy candidate, Steve Newton, while excoriating Army veteran David Cooper who served eight years in the Army as an MP, and who also holds a Mortuary Science degree from Carl Sandburg College earned before his honorable discharge as a Sargent in April of 2005.  
 
Plausible to conclude is that it was the proposed campaign slogan of conservative Republican David Cooper to “Sweep the Office Clean” that upset the apple cart of Republicans insiders who had already placed their bets on Steve Newton.
 
As a prelude to understanding how corruption managed to seep into the Office of the Coroner between 1977 and 2003, it is necessary to examine specific Antioch during Barbara Richardson’s reign in office.
 
*Barbara Richardson was an administrative assistant to the Republican coroner of record in the 1970’s, Robert Mickey Babcox, when Richardson was selected to succeed Babcox as coroner in 1977 when Babcox decided to move on to fulfill future ambitions.  
 
*In 1995 Barbara Richardson hired Eric Johnson (25) of Winthrop Harbor who was later indicted on two counts of official misconduct for stealing drugs from a decedents home and for the unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.  Johnson resigned on Dec. 13 and was sentenced to eighteen months.  Richardson refused to comment to the press.
 
*In 1997 Barbara Richardson hired 30-year old Zeke Locke, Jr. (AKA Lionel Locke)  of Zion.  Locke was indicted on one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and one count of perjury and identity theft.  Richardson refused to comment to the press  (Lionel Locke was being investigated in Georgia stemming from a charge during his militay service and was under orders not to leave Georga.  In moving to Lake County to apply for a deputy corner position in Richardson’s office, Lionel broke the law by leaving Georgia and further by using a false SS number.). 
 
Barbara Richardson admits in the  following article that she must do better in her hiring practices (Were background checks made?).     http://dl.dropbox.com/u/42165977/Corruption/Deputy%20Locke.pdf 
 
In addressing the issue of Richardson’s hires, I posed this question to David Cooper:  “If Barbara Richardson was elected coroner in 1977, why the lapse until 1995 for the questionable hires of Eric Johnson and Zeke Locke, Jr. to surface for public scrutiny?”

According to David Cooper, “In the early 90’s and before that time, research had to be accomplished by going back over news clips and microfilm, a laborious task, as the Internet was still in its infancy.  With the Internet came one huge archive of information that could be easily accessed as gradually newspapers went on-line.  With the widespread use of the Internet, infractions of justice could no longer be hidden in nooks and crannies. Lapses of good judgment could have occurred between 1977 and 1995 but were impossible to locate through Internet research.”   

A clue as to how Barbara Richardson’s office most likely avoided closer scrutiny and examination during her 27-year tenure might be rightly linked to yet another dynasty of power in Lake County, the Office of Lake County States Attorney held by Michael Waller.  Waller’s over 30 years of tenure will end in 2012 with his retirement.  Michael Waller’s legacy with his retirement will carry with it his propensity to avoid investigations of issues that involved or might implicate fellow Republican Establishment members. 
 
Another question of interest is why Barbara Richardson chose her deputy coroner hires from the Antioch area which was located in her own stomping ground at the time?  There must have been many qualified candidates living in other sections of Lake County other than in the northern quadrant of Lake County.
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