Monday, September 1, 2014

Fed up with Ferguson, Mo.!!!

I added the Bill Whittle video on Tuesday morning, Sept. 2. If you agree, please comment. The following comments are my own.

I am fed up with Ferguson, Mo. and the media.

I grew up in University City, Mo., about six miles south of Ferguson. Ferguson was a different community then. Heck, University City was a different community then. I think there was one black student at University City High School in 1957.

The protestors in Ferguson are directly responsible for converting the shooting of Michael Brown into a national racist problem. They want justice. What they really want is Ofc. Darren Wilson swinging at the end of a rope over a tree limb in front of the Ferguson Police Department. And it's not going to happen.

Protestors were planning to shut down interstate highways  in the St. Louis area today. They will be directly responsible for getting some stupid protestor killed. The police had better be taking names and numbers, and they ought to be kicking some butts about now.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson needs to start acting like a law enforcement official and telling protestors that, if they enter the highways, they will be arrested. End of story. No more B.S. No more "Mr. Nice Guy". He should start acting like the cop he is are paid to be. And if he can't, he should be replaced.

Some (white or black or brown or yellow or red) motorist in Missouri is going to become fearful at a swarm of black protestors in the highway and start shooting. Is that what that jerk, Zaki Baruti (one of the protest organizers), wants? If that happens, he should be charged with contributing to a homicide or inciting a riot.

If citizens want to protest peacefully and not act in a threatening manner toward the cops or other citizens, fine. Get a permit and march through the park or something. Stay out of the highways.

By now the police must be so fearful of stepping on a crack that they won't be able to begin to do their jobs. And that has to end. The sooner, the better.

How to answer calls from unknown numbers

This one arrived in an email today. I think I'll use it...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Student missed 18/20; gets a Smiley face

Be sure to watch this TED production. It's only seven minutes, and your life will be better for it. Just imagine if our schools were full of teachers like this woman!

Then show up at School Board meetings and insist that your school district hire (and keep) only teachers with this philosophy. Dump the rest. OK, give 'em a chance to change. Maybe one year to improve their attitudes. If they don't (tenure or not), kick them out.

Rita F. Pierson died June 28, 2013, at age 61 in Texas. "Years too soon," I say. Look her up on YouTube. There is good material there.

Sheriff's race - really?

Is there really an important election for McHenry County Sheriff coming up? Where is all the news from and about the two candidates, Jim Harrison and Bill Prim?

Is anybody talking about the race? Will there be debates (not just wimpy "forums")? What are the issues?

Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. That's two months from now.

One issue that I'd like to hear debated is the failed (in my opinion) investigation of the triple homicide that occurred in McHenry County, outside Marengo, on June 7, 2011. Three people died that night - Jack Feldkamp, Audrey Feldkamp and Doran Bloom.

The case was "solved" in less than 24 hours, according to now-retiring Sheriff Keith Nygren. He held a news conference (excluding electronic news hounds Cal Skinner, Pete Gonigam and yours truly) less than 24 hours later. Nygren had the gall to post a notice in the hallway at the courthouse that only "credentialed media" would be admitted to the press conference.

Nygren, prior to any meaningful, thorough investigation and without even the benefit of a written statement from Scott Feldkamp, son of the deceased Jack and Audrey Feldkamp, drew a conclusion and announced, in effect, "Case closed." After that, deputies wrote up reports and that was that. You can understand that no deputy would ask a career-ending question, like "What if Doran Bloom didn't do it?"

MIAT (a County-wide Major Investigations Assistance Team) was never activated. Undersheriff Zinke was the lead cop over MIAT. Only deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department "investigated". Independent, trained eyes from other local police agencies were never called in. Reports do not indicate that any blood samples or clothing were ever sent to a laboratory for testing.

I've been told by more than one experienced crime-scene investigator that this case was mishandled worse than any case they had ever seen. The crime scene log shows that Nygren and Zinke were there for only 15 minutes that night, and there is lingering doubt in my mind that Nygren was even in town that night, because I was told the next day that Nygren had returned to McHenry County on the morning of June 8 to hold the press conference. 

The squatter is out of the Feldkamp family home now. He had nothing to do with the homicide, but a reasonable question would be why he was allowed to live in the house for a long time, possibly rent-free. The house was an asset of the estate.

The Estates of Jack and Audry Feldkamp are now scheduled for closing on November 13th. No doubt that Woodstock Attorney Carl Gilmore will be delighted if Judge Chmiel approves closing of the estates.

So the question is, will Prim or Harrison re-open this case and investigate it the way it should have been investigated in June 2011?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Struggle to get records from MCSD

On July 13, 2014, I filed a FOIA request with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for the reports in the domestic violence call involving Deputy Jennifer Asplund.

When no response was forthcoming, I filed a Request for Review with the Attorney General's Public Access Bureau (PAB). When the PAB contacted MCSD, it was told that MCSD had never received my request.

But the County I.T. Department did receive it, and they could have cleansed the email of any "threat" it contained and forwarded it to MCSD. Instead, they quarantined it and then purged it.

How strange, to me, that this one email from me would contain what they referred to as a "serious threat" (to the email system).

So I re-submitted my request by email, with copies to Undersheriff Zinke, Cmdr. Cedergren and the I.T. guy, asking them to confirm receipt by the FOIA Officer and to let me know that MCSD had received it. Do you think that one of them could have had the courtesy to send me a short email? Not one of them did.

I had to telephone the MCSD Records Division, where an employee told me that my re-submitted email had been received.  I'm not really sure that MCSD knows who its FOIA Officer is. Is it Duane Cedergren? Sgt. Decman? Somebody else? The employee didn't seem to know.

When Mrs. Weech was the FOIA Officer, everybody knew it. No employees pretended to be "the" FOIA officer or "one of them". There is only one. That "one" may have assistants, but there is only one FOIA Officer.

When MCSD responded, it sent me an embarrassing example of a FOIA response, which prompted a request to the PAB for further review. Lines and lines of the reports were redacted. Not just a few words or a few lines. So many lines were redacted that you can't tell what happened.

So the PAB will take another shot at MCSD, and I suspect an Assistant Attorney General will tell MCSD to provide the narrative reports almost in full. Certain limited data can be redacted, but not wholesale blocks of the report.

So, stand by. In the meantime, I may figure out how to publish .pdf pages and show you how MCSD handled this request. Or maybe I'll wait for the PAB to do its magic, and then I'll show you the before and after versions of the response.

Here's what one reader had to say after a recent article on this MCSD call: "Yes, an arrest should have been/will be made. Where I work this deputy would have been arrested, stripped of police powers and placed in a unit called Call Back until resolved."

Did Obama, Holder, media get snookered?

An explosive lawsuit filed by an investigative journalist may result in revelations about Michael Brown and a juvenile record that may include second-degree murder charges. Okay, so now where does that take the opinion of the "gentle giant"?

Read the article and find other articles by Googling "lawsuit Brown juvenile record" or a similar word grouping to find more news.

Charles C. Johnson founded because, as The Examiner article reads, "... he was frustrated with the lack of serious investigative journalism that exists in print and broadcast news."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Domestic violence - when to arrest?

Two months ago, on Saturday, June 21, just before 4:30am, an incident of domestic violence occurred in McHenry County. The McHenry County Sheriff's Department (MCSD) was contacted and responded.

A suspect was quickly identified. The suspect was well-known to deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. While the first deputy was enroute to a residence on Barnard Mill Road on an "unwanted person" call, he was advised (presumably by police radio, although the report doesn't say; maybe he was called on his cell phone, so that the communication would not be recorded) that the (unwanted) person had left and was intoxicated. Upon arrival, a male victim informed the first deputy that he was a victim of a domestic battery.

The suspect was a female deputy of the Sheriff's Department.

After speaking with the victim and observing his injuries, the deputy summoned his supervisor. The supervisor and the deputy interviewed the victim.

The supervisor's report of the victim's explanation is completely redacted in the FOIA response from MCSD. Not just a few words here and there. Not just the limited information that can be lawfully redacted under exemptions in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. About 20 entire lines of the report are redacted on the first page of the report (and more redactions later in the report).

The supervisor's report then continues that the deputy photographed the victim's injuries and got first names of two bartenders at the Rusty Nail (4520 Ringwood Rd., Ringwood, Ill.).

I would like to thank "Sloth Chunk", who recently commented on a previous article about this incident. In his comment, "Sloth Chunk" wrote, "And a domestic dispute is just that, a dispute. A domestic assault is different and has mandatory arrest laws. That is if there is Probable Cause that a battery occurred."

So, if a victim says he was battered and has visible injuries that can be photographed, is there P.C.?

The report of the supervisor was carefully titled "Domestic Dispute", even though it lists "personal weapons (hands, fist, feet)" and refers to injuries to the victim, photographs of those injuries and the victim's statement that he "...was also a victim of a domestic battery." (This will be important later, when the State's Attorney's Office refuses to file felony charges (and the Department chooses not to file misdemeanor charges.))

What happened next will be covered in a future article.