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Lyons: For this political race, I’ll wear boots

Now the only people who still might believe McHenry County Undersheriff Andrew Zinke tanked a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency operation by tipping his close friend and campaign contributor to an investigation into marijuana shipping are a handful of fools.

There are fools among us and we suffer them gladly, but usually not enough of them to seriously affect an election. P.T Barnum said there’s a sucker born every minute, but when he said it, they didn’t all have Internet access, blogs and email addresses.

If there’s still a cloud hanging over Zinke with regard to this matter, what else can we tell you?

Strike 1: A judge wouldn’t appoint a special prosecutor because he couldn’t even find a crime alleged. Taxpayers breathed a sigh of relief and put away their checkbooks.

Strike 2: McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi, no friend of Zinke or Sheriff Keith Nygren, couldn’t find a crime based on his investigation, yet tried as he could to keep a cloud over Zinke by offering a vague statement that allowed some to linger in conspiracies or believe in vampires and werewolves if they so chose.

Strike 3: Nygren conducted his own internal investigation. Las Vegas bookmakers were laying odds of 40-1 against Nygren finding some impropriety conducted by Zinke. The house always wins.

In the meantime, the entire episode was embarrassing for Zinke, for Rita Corp. business owner Brian Goode, who wasn’t running for anything and deserved none of it, and ultimately for McHenry County Sgt. John Koziol and sheriff’s candidate James Harrison, who still hasn’t publicly admitted his role in the allegations, which should be fairly clear now.

The DEA itself has been fairly mute on the subject other than to say through intermediaries conducting their own investigation that they didn’t take issue with Zinke telling Goode about its investigation into trucks carrying tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana. Manifests on those trucks found in Texas allegedly included Rita Corp. as one of their shipping destinations.

It’s not unusual for DEA officials not to sit down and chat with local agencies or reporters for that matter about the inner workings of their probes, and it’s safe to assume that they want no part of the snake den that is McHenry County politics. They’re after real bad guys, not imaginary ones.

Some will still try to use these allegations against Zinke, but the only literate people who will cling to them will be those who never planned to vote for Zinke or those who are actively working for another candidate.

This election, which so far includes Zinke, Harrison, a employment lawyer and former deputy, and retired Des Plaines Police Cmdr. Bill Prim, is still more than a year away. And that’s just the primary.

There are real issues to consider, policy matters to debate, legitimate law enforcement maters and leadership questions that should be discussed. It would be great if we could focus on those kinds of things when we get closer to the primary.

In the meantime, I’m putting my boots on because there’s no telling what we’ll have to wade through next.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH.

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