Monday, December 31, 2007

Sailors - Friendlier than Landlubbers

When is the last time you saw people in a coffee shop strike up a conversation with strangers? Can you hear the chair legs scraping across the floor now?

I spent last week-end on a sailboat in Beaufort, S.C. A long-time friend and his golden retriever are sailing from Connecticut to Florida, and I caught up with Howard there. We had met in Colorado in about 1984-85 and have stayed in contact through many moves. Three years ago I rode my motorcycle to Connecticut and we sailed for four days to Cape Code, where he attended a family reunion with his then-lady friend, and I drove her car back to their home while they sailed the return trip.

It didn't seem to matter where sailors gather - in a coffee shop, on the dock, in the local marina office... They are all friendly and helpful, and they share information about docking and hazards when they know which way you are traveling.

I was one of the most popular people at the marina this week-end, because I had wheels. One of the challenges for sailors in port is finding transportation to grocery stores, hardware stores, marine supply stores and other places, like the post office or a repair facility. You could just see their eyes light up, after they said, "You have a car?" and I answered that I did.

One couple, Peter and Lucy, were from London. They had flown to the U.S. and purchased a sailboat in Annapolis. Another couple, Bob and Kathy, were from Maine. Howard rescued their dinghy one day after the rope broke and they had sailed on ahead without knowing it had separated from their sailboat. Another man, Archie, from Port St. Lucia, had flown to Maryland, purchased his sailboat, and was sailing solo, as was Howard, to Florida.

Friendships were easily formed and sailors stay in touch by phone and email. Howard's laptop is powered off his boat's battery and his aircard gives him internet access right from the deck of his boat. What a life!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Another Pedestrian Hit

Yesterday another pedestrian was hit in Woodstock. From news reports, it seems this time that the vehicle, described as a green Ford Taurus with possible right front-end damage, swerved to its right to hit the pedestrian from behind and then left the scene. The accident happened in the 700 block of Washington, and the driver of the vehicle reportedly fled west, turning south on Mary Anne Street.

Obviously, someone witnessed the accident, in order to describe the vehicle to the police and to provide the information that the vehicle swerved toward the pedestrian before hitting him. The witnesses are not identified in the news article; the location of the witnesses was not given.

Were they on foot in front of one of the nearby residences? Were the witnesses in a car following the vehicle that hit the pedestrian?

Give some thought to what you would do, if you witnessed such an accident. Would you stop to help? Give first aid? Call 9-1-1? Or would you give chase and try to get close enough to get a license plate number or even follow the vehicle to its residence?

Would there be time to stop and let a passenger out to give aid, and then take off after the vehicle that fled the scene? Can you dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone safely while operating your car?

Considering programming the telephone number for the Woodstock Police Department into your cell phone. Choose a SpeedDial position on your cell phone, so that you can dial the number by pressing only one button. Dialing the Woodstock PD directly will speed up contact with a local police dispatcher. Dialing 9-1-1 will connect you with an Emergency Services operator, who may or may not be at the Woodstock PD; if not, then a delay results while the call is transferred.

The damaged Ford (if it was a Ford) is probably in a garage over the holiday. Keep an eye out. If you see a green Ford Taurus with right front-end damage, get the license plate number and call the Woodstock P.D. Tell them exactly where you saw the car. Call as soon as you see it; don’t wait.

Is it time for Woodstock Police to be more aggressive in contacting persons walking in the streets, where sidewalks are available? Should they make contact with persons walking “with” traffic, instead of against traffic (where they can see oncoming vehicles)?

Is it time for the City of Woodstock to require property owners to clear sidewalks of snow? Many cities and towns require property owners to clear snow of a certain depth within fairly short periods of time after the snowfall stops. The only reason people don’t clear their sidewalks is that they are not required to do so.

How many more serious injuries and fatalities do we need in Woodstock before corrective actions are taken?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dan Ryan 45MPH Speed Limit - Dumb!

On Thursday I drove into Chicago on the Kennedy Expressway and continued south on the newly-reconstructed Dan Ryan. There were occasional 45MPH speed limit signs, so I poked along in the right lane, keeping a sharp eye on my rearview mirror.

The 45MPH speed limit signs were sparsely located, and I finally decided that the speed limit must be 55MPH, because there were four wide-open lanes and traffic was flying at about 65MPH. So I sped up to 55. And almost immediately came to a 45MPH speed limit sign. So I slowed down. At great personal risk, I must add.

I called IDOT and spoke with an engineer for that section. He told me a Speed Study would have to be done before they could raise the speed limit to 55. There is some goofy requirement in the Manual of Standards that highway engineers use that requirements them to do a speed study before changing a speed limit.

I asked if they could send a crew out to study the speeds from 1:00-1:05PM and then change the signs at 2:00PM, but he didn't think they could do it that way.

At the south end of the express lanes, where they merge with the local lanes, the speed limit does change to 55MPH. So I sped up there, while I was on the phone with the engineer. I watched an idiot in an old car come up behind me fast and told the engineer I had to speed up to avoid being rear-ended. The idiot passed me closely on the right, and I saw that he had a new-car registration tag. Not a "new" car, but a newly-purchased car.

Illinois drastically needs photo-radar. The cops will never control speeding by writing one ticket at a time.

So, just exactly why should I obey posted speed limits, when no one else does?

Aggressive Drivers

What do you do, when you are followed by an aggressive driver?

Let's say you are driving on an interstate highway. You are traveling the speed limit in the right lane. A truck driver behind you wants to go faster, but you are on a stretch of roadway where truckers are prohibited from using the second (or passing) lane. The truck driver comes up behind your car with 4-5 feet. Remember now; you are traveling 55MPH.

If you take your foot off the gas, will he slow before hitting you? If your car malfunctions or has a flat tire, will he hit you at 55MPH? Add it that the Truck Speed Limit is 50MPH on this stretch of roadway. Then the truck driver begins blowing his horn, as if that will make you speed up.

This actually happened to me on Friday, when I was driving east on I-40 approaching Asheville, N.C. As soon as the truck lane restriction ended, the truck driver tried to pass me on an upgrade, while I maintained 55MPH on Cruise Control. As he pulled alongside, I was able to read the name of the company on the side of the truck, its location, and the truck unit number.

He had to drop back because of the grade, but then he passed me going down the next hill. By that time I had gotten the company's telephone number from 800/FREE-411 and was dialing them. I left a message for the Traffic Safety Manager with all the details, and I suspect the driver had a surprise waiting for him when he pulled into the company lot just south of Asheville.

The truck belonged to an electrical contracting company and was one of three vehicles that had gone to Oklahoma to help with downed power lines.

Calling an employer of a reckless commercial driver is likely to solve the problem, because employers fear huge insurance premium rate increases, if a driver gets into a serious accident.

If this happens to you, get the name of the company, city & state, phone number if it's there, truck unit number and license plate. Having a tape recorder in the car helps; then you don't have to write all this down while you are driving. Call and speak with the Safety Manager or the president of the company, or his assistant.

Or, if you see the placard for calling 800-2-ADVISE, get as much detail as you can, including the ID number on the placard, license plate, company name. You'll need the location, such as on what roadway you were traveling and in or near what city or town.

Be sure to call.

CNN: Illegal Aliens Leaving Arizona

Read the article on CNN.com today (Dec. 22) about the illegal aliens who are leaving Arizona. The article says they are going back home or to other states. New laws go in effect on January 1 that penalize employers who hire and employ illegal aliens.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/22/immigrants.leave.ap/index.html

It's the "other states" destination that should concern Illinois residents. If there are 12,000 illegal aliens in McHenry County already, how many will there be as a result of the Arizona get-tough stand?

What happens in communities that are over-loaded with illegal aliens? Serious drains on hospital services, school services, driving infractions and fatalities. The list goes on and on.

Legal immigrants are welcome in most places. Even if they aren't, they are entitled to be here (in the USA). Today illegal aliens are tolerated. There are even "sanctuary cities" where, by order of the local government, police take no action against likely illegal aliens unless it's a serious crime.

It's time for residents of all communities to know exactly where their local government stands.

Give a little more...

During the last few days before Christmas, when you pass those Salvation Army bellringers, drop a little something extra in the red kettle. I've been hearing reports that donations are down, and let's help them because of how they help others.

More than 50 years ago I heard about a day in St. Louis after a tornado had struck, when one big, well-known relief organization was soliciting donations on the radio. Where was the Salvation Army? They were out with coffee and donuts for the victims of the tornado, doing their work, not immediately on the fund-raising trail.

Each time you pass a kettle, drop something in. A $10 bill, a $5, even a $1 bill. It all helps. And, if you've got a gold coin at home, think about dropping it in.

Thanks for your donations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

City Buys Truck Out-of-Town

Last night’s Woodstock City Council Agenda carried an item involving an expected approval to purchase a $27,000 Chevrolet truck from Gary Lang, a McHenry dealership. When I spotted that item on the Agenda, I knew it was a meeting not to miss.

Because I believe strongly that major purchases should be made from hometown businesses, I went to the Council meeting, hoping to be able to address the Council. The purchase was part of the Consent Agenda, which the Council approves in one sweeping vote. Council members can “pull” an item for discussion, and the public is given an opportunity to request that an item be pulled for discussion. If the public does so, then a Council member must agree and make the formal request.

At the appropriate time I requested that the item be pulled, and Councilwoman Julie Dillon supported my request.

I addressed the City Council about the importance of making such a vehicle purchase at a Woodstock dealership, if at all possible. If the local dealership could not obtain a vehicle to the specifications needed or if the price were far out of line, then the local dealership would lose out. But, if the bid were close, the local dealership ought to get the nod.

City Attorney Rich Flood explained the State law. The lowest responsible bidder gets the business. Home-rule cities can opt for a difference process, allowing a reasonable purchase that is not the lowest bid.

I don’t have any connection to Reichert Chevrolet but, as a former Chamber of Commerce executive of an 1,100-member chamber outside of Illinois, I felt strongly that Reichert should have been awarded the purchase. Reichert is a long-time Woodstock business, and its sales generate thousands of dollars of sales tax revenue every year for the City of Woodstock. Also, it is convenient for any warranty work or repairs. Its Woodstock location removes the expense of lengthy travel time for one or more City employees to take a new vehicle to McHenry for service.

The City of Woodstock has mechanics who can perform most maintenance to vehicles, and the City buys vehicles with common parts, when possible, reducing large inventory requirements. Of course, with a dealership at the edge of town and several auto parts stores, no significant parts inventory should be necessary.

Was the Chamber of Commerce executive director there last night to voice support of a local purchase? No! Should he have been there? Yes!

The City of Woodstock should figure out a way to keep a $27,778 Chevrolet purchase at home. If Reichert moved to Hebron or Harvard or into the County, Woodstock would have another commercial property vacant and would lose considerable yearly sales tax revenues. Gary Lang would expect to get business from the City of McHenry. Reichert should get Woodstock’s business.

I appreciated the Council’s attention last night, and I urge the public to read the Agenda for the Woodstock City Council meetings online at www.woodstockil.gov Show up and hear what is happening. If you want to know what the Council is doing, speak up at the meetings and ask questions. It’s not enough to just watch them vote or read about it in the next day’s paper. Know on what they are voting, before they vote on it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

De-Stressing the Holidays

December holidays are often stressful times for many people.

Too much to do.
Too little time.
Too many demands.
Too little money.
Year-end pushes at work that intrude on personal time.
Family obligations.
Travel plans.
Inclement weather. Snow, ice, cold.
Time off from work (or not).
Schools closed and kids home.
Change of routines.

Here are some tips for making it through this holiday season.

When things get frantic (or more frantic or too frantic), stop! Take a short break! Sit down and close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths and exhale slowly. Think, “Relax.” Think, “R-e-l-a-x.”

Will it really matter five years from now what you do or don’t do in the next ten minutes?

Make a list.
Make a schedule.
Make some decisions.
Give the gift of your time with or for someone else.
Say “No” more often.

Decide to enjoy the holidays. Then enjoy them.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sanctuary City - Woodstock?

Just what is a sanctuary city? For what seems to be a good explanation, go to www.ojjpac.org/sanctuary.asp

Remember the Mexican woman who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year? And the Chicago cops would not go in a get her? For a whole year?

Only three cities in Illinois are listed: Chicago, Cicero and Evanston. Woodstock is not listed among the Illinois cities on this website, but could it, or does it, follow an unwritten policy of “don’t ask; don’t tell”?

De facto sanctuary cities are those that do not announce themselves as such, but which can be identified as sanctuaries because of actions (or inactions) taken by the municipal government.

From that website: “News reports can also shed light on a local government unwritten policies. For example, did the police department contact ICE after determining that a driver involved in a misdemeanor traffic stop was an illegal alien or was the driver let go with no call to ICE?”

Remembering the foul mouth of yesterday’s driver who hit and damaged a City signpost and drove away without reporting the damage and who one mile down the road rear-ended a stopped car while yakking on his cell phone, I wondered if the Woodstock police officer was able to determine that the driver was legally in the U.S.

When Sheriff Dan Beck was in town from Ohio recently to give a talk at MCC, he explained that his deputies are thoroughly trained to recognize fraudulent identification. And they examine identification carefully to determine whether it might be fraudulent. I would have expected a strong presence of area law enforcement that night to hear what Sheriff Beck had to say, but I don’t think there was one cop there (except for MCC security and Crystal Lake PD officers on duty).

Sheriff Beck stated that he didn’t care whether a person was Hispanic, Chinese, British or American; his deputies would examine ID carefully. And this is as it should be. It is estimated that there are, conservatively, 12,000,000 or more illegal aliens in the United States. Some estimates are as high as 30,000,000.

And this makes me wonder to what extent local law enforcement personnel throughout McHenry County are similarly trained and what the policies are within the various departments as to how carefully identification is examined.

Could Woodstock, Ill. be a de facto sanctuary city?

Smoking prohibited on the Square Sidewalks?

Does the new Smoke-Free Illinois law effectively prohibit smoking on the sidewalks of the Woodstock Square? And on sidewalks in commercial districts of every other Illinois community and city?

The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2008, prohibits smoking in public places. Included in the definition of “Public Place” is “...that portion of any building...including a minimum distance...of 15 feet from entrances, exits...”

So, if you are on the sidewalk of the Square and within 15 feet of an entrance to any building or store, can you be smoking? The answer is clear. You cannot.

Will this mean that a semi-circle of smokers, standing 15’ 1” from the entrance to a store, office or building, will create a smoky barrier through which people must pass to enter or leave? Or just to use the sidewalk itself?

Overnight Cars vs. Snowplows

It's easy to see where cars are parking overnight in Woodstock during snow storms. The plows pull up behind them and then sweep around them, boxing them in with piles of snow.

Most drivers will be able to pull out through the snow bank in front of their cars, but they leave behind the pile of snow in the street for other drivers to pass around.

Is ticketing these cars enough? Should they be towed, so that the snow plows can clear the entire width of the street? Should the vehicle owner be liable for the expense to send the snow plow back to remove the snow where the car was parked?

Perhaps some temporary signs are needed to better inform drivers of overnight parking prohibitions during winter months and after 3" of snow fall. The signs could be placed over existing overnight parking signs without the expense of new signposts. During winter months no overnight parking is permitted, snow or not.

Does this mean not even the 30 minutes now permitted to drivers between 2:00-6:00AM? Probably.

It would be interesting to know why drivers park on the streets overnight when the streets must be plowed and how many vehicles were plowed around last night. Do snow plow drivers report the cars so parked? Did the police go by and ticket them? Are vehicles ever towed during major snow storms?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Woodstock Code Enforcement – Part 1

Recently I’ve been pondering the work of Code Enforcement in Woodstock. Here in our town we have an employee of the City of Woodstock whose job it is to enforce the City Codes. Not the traffic codes, but the non-traffic codes that keep our town looking nice.

Thanks to a lot of help from Derik Morefield, Deputy City Manager for Community and Economic Development, I have a much better understanding of the function of the Code Enforcement section of the Community Development Department and the job of our town’s Code Enforcement Officer, Donovan Day.

The City ordinances of most interest to me are the ones that keep the town looking nice. These are commonly known as Nuisance Ordinances, not because the ordinances are a nuisance, but because the actions of residents may create a nuisance.

Take, for example, an accumulation of debris or storage of a vehicle on a residential property. There is an ordinance on the books at Section 4.1.3.4 that reads,

“The unenclosed or unsheltered storage or standing of one or more items of personal property that is ‘abandoned, discarded, unused, stripped, junked, dismantled, scrapped, salvaged, not in running condition, or not in good and safe operating condition for a period of ten (10) days or more’ is considered a nuisance.

“Such personal property includes, but is not limited to, automobiles, trucks, trailers, buses, tractors, farm implements, farm machinery, motorcycles, wagons, construction equipment, and any other type of vehicle or parts thereof. It shall also include lumber, wood, junk, trash, debris, paper, tires, furniture, stoves, refrigerators, freezers, plumbing fixtures, cans, and containers; industrial and other waste; copper, brass, iron, steel tin and similar metals; rags, batteries, machinery and any other ferrous or nonferrous material, goods, or articles.”

Let’s say that a person parks a truck in his backyard and “forgets” about it. Tires go flat; tree limbs fall on it; maybe a window breaks; eventually the battery dies and the engine won’t start; the bed of the truck becomes a storage place for trash, old tires, junk, cans, maybe garbage. Or an accumulation of discarded items begins to grow and remains for days, weeks or months.

A neighbor to the residence in violation might notify Donovan Day by calling him at City Hall or emailing him at CodeEnforcement@woodstockil.gov Donovan will then visit the property and educate the tenant or property owner about the City Code. He will request that the property be brought into compliance with the City Code, and he will issue a Notice of Violation (NOV) to document the violation.

Donovan works well with Woodstock’s wide variety of residents and will allow a little time for compliance to occur. If the property is a rental, Donovan will first contact the tenant. If the problem cannot be resolved through tenant contact, the property owner is ultimately responsible for his property being in compliance.

In many cases, this is all that is necessary, and the problem is resolved. Watch for Part 2 on Code Enforcement, where further steps to gain compliance will be presented.

Hit-and-Run / City Signpost Damaged

Was it slick this afternoon? You bet.

This afternoon I watched a grey Dodge SUV (Durango?) back away from a city street signpost it had hit while trying to turn from westbound Calhoun Street to southbound Madison Street. I followed it south on Madison to South Street and then east on Lake Avenue.

As luck would have it, there was a Woodstock police officer right at the corner and I called to him that the grey vehicle in front of me had just damaged a city signpost and had driven away from it. He didn’t turn around.

As we headed toward the police station the driver of the grey SUV “goosed” it a few times to break the tires loose on the slick roadway and to swerve in the roadway. At about the police station he drove out of the travel lane into deeper snow on the edge of the roadway. Near the Woodstock Recreation Center he “goosed” it more times to break the tires loose. As he approached the red light at Route 47, there were cars stopping in front of him, and he stepped on the brakes hard enough to slide, and then he stopped.

After stopping, he started forward and slammed on the brakes, sliding to the left. Then he cut the wheels to the right and straightened out his vehicle. By that time I was on the phone with the Woodstock P.D., after I saw he had bumped into the car in front of him. The license plate on the Dodge was Illinois G11 8738.

The driver of the first car asked why he had started forward, and the driver of the SUV said he was on the phone. That’s really good, eh? Slick roads, traffic congestion, and he’s on the phone… I told the driver of the first car that I was on the phone with the PD, because the driver had hit a city sign and had driven away from it. An unmarked Woodstock police car arrived quickly. That was good, because the driver in the SUV really didn’t want the police there.

I told the officer that I would witness a damage-to-City-property complaint, but he told me I did not need to stay around. He directed the drivers into the 3 Brothers Restaurant parking lot. As he went to his own car, I asked him to check the driver of the SUV for legal documentation. The foul mouth of that driver should have earned him a disorderly conduct charge, but I didn’t push it.

I hope the officer ticketed the SUV driver for Careless Driving, but I guess I won’t find out. The police had their hands full this afternoon. Just a block back to the west, a driver in a pick-up rear-ended a car at Fremont, and who knows how many more needless accidents there were.

Although the streets were slick, they weren’t that bad, if you were careful.

County Response - or Lack Thereof

On October 30 I telephoned the McHenry County Sheriff's Dept. and left a message for Officer Cruz, who was identified to me as the spokesman for the I.C.E. unit; that's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I began writing an article on detention and deportation efforts in McHenry County and wanted some detail about the operation being run at the McHenry County Jail.

Recently, the Northwest Herald reported that the County receives $8,000,000 in Federal funds. I am curious as to whether the entire amount is for the ICE unit, which I had heard earlier this fall had 206 prisoners detained.

When Officer Cruz had not returned my call by December 13, I called and left another message. Even though I referred to my October 30 message and that I hadn't heard from him, he still has not called. Law enforcement agencies hate FOIA requests, which consume manpower and time to complete; however, when they ignore requests for information, a FOIA Request is the next logical step.

I believe the County residents/taxpayers are entitled to basic information, such as when the ICE unit opened; what its capacity is; where detainees (prisoners) would be held if not in the McHenry County Jail; what percentage are from McHenry County; how many visitors are accommodated and when; whether visitors are screened for legal residence, presence in the U.S. or outstanding warrants; how long detainees are held; and how many detainees have been deported.

If the County doesn't have this information, what accountability is there for the operation of the ICE unit? How many employees are assigned to the ICE detention unit? What is its cost of operation? What is the per-diem for detainees? What amenities do they have?

There is no doubt that we do not run a bare-bones operations like that in Maricopa County, Arizona, where prisoners live in tents and don't get the royal treatment. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says, "If you don't like it here (in his jail), don't come back." Do detainees in McHenry County Jail get nourishing meals three times/day? Have exercise equipment? Color TV?

Are they treated better than the County's homeless population - legal residents of the U.S.? This answer is definitely YES, because they are inside and warm.

Illegal Immigrants - How Many?

How many illegal immigrants are there in Woodstock? in McHenry County?

And what should be done about them?

When the national figures are thrown around - 12,000,000 - the number looks overwhelming. When the local numbers are examined, they are manageable. Two-three months ago a reliable source told me that he thought there might be 12,000 illegal immigrants in McHenry County.

While this is a huge number, the problem can be solved. It will take guts to solve it, so this may be a problem.

Is illegal "immigrant" the correct phrase? It is one that is bandied about and often mischaracterized. Is a person in the U.S.A. illegally really an "immigrant"?

Just try going to Mexico or any other country without the right papers, get caught and see what happens. The language barrier is difficult enough, because communication about whether you have the right papers can't even begin until there can be an exchange of information. I was in central Mexico in 1993, and a young man with a rifle was not going to let me re-board my through bus, even though I had the correct papers and ticket. When he saw the previous day's date on my ticket, he stopped me at the door to the bus and prevented my boarding. Fortunately, a passenger recognized what was happening and explained, and then he allowed me to board.

If a person is in the U.S. legally (correct papers, valid papers, within the time-frame permitted), he is entitled to all the privileges accorded to visitors.

If he overstays his permit or enters the U.S. illegally, then he is not entitled to remain in the U.S. If he doesn't leave voluntarily, then he should be deported.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Smoke-Free Illinois, Jan. 1, 2008

On January 1, 2008, new rules become effective for smoking in public places.

You can't.

Smoking will be prohibited in public places - restaurants, bars, theater lobbies, the Opera House (which might be smoke-free already), retail stores, places of employment and within 15 feet of entrances to buildings.

A comment was made in a local meeting recently that one exception to the new smoking prohibitions was fraternal organizations, but the statute doesn't mention this. A call to the Woodstock VFW today confirmed that they will go smoke-free on January 1.

Imagine the shock on January 1 at 12:01AM, when smokers must extinguish their cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Probably the Smoke Police won't be haunting bars, restaurants and hotels just after midnight, but they could be.

The fine for the first offense for the smoker starts at $100.00. The range is $100-250. Pretty stiff, eh?

And the fine is $250 for the FIRST offense for the proprietor of a public place, so I wouldn't expect too many tavern operators will be thumbing their noses at the new law. The fine for the second offense? $500.

It was a gutsy move on the part of our legislators. We non-smokers thank them!

Why Comments Are Deleted

Some of the comments being posted on The Woodstock Advocate are being deleted, because they are vulgar, crude, obscene or untrue. One of the wonderful things about having my own blog is that I get to choose.

I do not delete comments that present conflicting opinions. If you want to share your opinion, you are free to do so. If you are vulgar and I find your comments, they are deleted.

Just because you post as Anonymous doesn't mean that you cannot be identified. Your computer's I.P. address can be traced and, if you commit a crime by posting on this blog, then you may be subject to prosecution.

If you read a comment here and want to call it to my attention, email me at Gus@WoodstockAdvocate.com I try to read all the comments, even to older postings. However, I do not search all the postings for new comments.

It's working pretty well to allow commenters to post without registering first. The Northwest Herald tried it, and it didn't work for them. I've got a thick skin, and I also know right where the Delete key is.

So, express yourself as well as you can. Some who have been posting here can do better. Those who read here regularly will eventually figure out who is posting the trashy comments, and then those comments might make their way to the employers, families, neighbors or social groups of those with trashy mouths, or their identity might just be posted right here for all readers to see.

Play nice now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Haligus Road Accident – Still No Tickets

In a follow-up with the Sheriff’s Department today I learned that there still have been no tickets issued to the young female driver of the car in a wreck that killed two Marian Central students and injured the driver and one other passenger on October 26.

Sgt. Hubbard, the spokesperson for this accident, informed me that the Illinois State Police laboratory is running three months behind on toxicology reports. She said the case is still open and there would no information about tickets until the case is closed at the sheriff’s department. “Closed” means they have completed their investigation. At that time they will release further information, to include whether or not tickets are being issued.

In response to my question about why a ticket or tickets had not been already issued for the accident, Sgt. Hubbard used the phrase “double jeopardy.” I understood her to say that if they issued a ticket for the accident and later issued another ticket, that would constitute placing the driver in double jeopardy; in other words, charging her twice for the same offense.

I didn’t follow this line of reasoning. The driver allegedly lost control of her car, for whatever reason that hasn’t been reported (yet), and ran off onto the shoulder, which slants downward at a sharp angle, and then, apparently over-correcting, drove back up onto the roadway and into the path of a truck. In my mind a ticket for failing to maintain control of her vehicle could have been issued right away, or at least by Nov. 1 after she was released from the hospital.

If the sheriff’s department subsequently receives a report from the State Police laboratory that indicates to them that they should issue a ticket based on laboratory toxicology findings, then they can issue an additional ticket for that.

Where is the double jeopardy in this process?

Are all drivers in fatal or serious injury accidents treated in this manner?

Flags at Half-Staff – Again!

Why are the U.S. Flags at half-staff this week? When I called the security office at MCC to ask why the flags were lowered, I was told that they have been lowered because of the death of a sergeant on military duty.

One would think that you could go to www.illinois.gov and find the reason why Gov. Blagojevich ordered the lowering to half-staff of the U.S. and Illinois flags, but no information can easily be found on the State’s website.

This information should easily be available on a State level and should be covered by newspapers, radio and TV news.

Last summer the President of the United States changed the U.S. Flag Code to permit a State to lower its flag in memory of a fallen soldier. My guess is we are going to see the Flag at half-staff many times. Every time I see the Flag lowered, I shall not only think of the member of the U.S. military whose death occurred in combat, but I shall be constantly reminded of the needless loss of life and limb (literally) in this stupid war.

The war that resulted from our invasion of a foreign country based on erroneous thinking and decisions is having a huge cost. If you wonder about the cost at any given moment, go to www.costofwar.com which at the moment of this writing is $477,000,000,000. That’s 477 BILLION dollars. Watch the meter for a few minutes.

And that’s only the beginning. Factor in the cost for treating injuries in the future and the treatment for mental illness (PTSD) that will affect our military for YEARS to come, we are (and perhaps already have) bankrupted our nation. All thanks to George Bush and Company.

George Bush should be held personally liable for blindsiding the American people by failing to carefully evaluating conflicting information. We already ready know he is not a reader. How does he get his information? From a close, small circle. If they don’t want information through, it doesn’t get through.

Just this morning I repeated the phrase, "The man who doesn't read is no better than the man who can't read."

And so here we are today. Another day of flags at half-staff. How many more of these days will we tolerate?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dissing da Judge

Daniel Baldwin skipped a court appearance last Friday, and a Superior Court judge in L.A. issued a no-bail bench warrant. What should happen next?

When his plane from Canada lands in L.A., the cops should be at the airport to pick him up. None of this, his attorney “will take him to court” nonsense. He claims he was in Canada making a movie and let his probation officer know on Thursday that he “couldn’t make it.” I’ll have to remember that one, next time I have a date in court.

Baldwin’s responsibility was to be in court, not call his probation officer the day before.

If the judge throws him in the slammer for 30 days, perhaps Baldwin (and others) will get the message that, when a judge tells you to be in court on a certain day at a certain time, then you’d better be there or be in the hospital or in the morgue.

I wonder if this will work when he gets to court. “Gosh, your honor, I was just trying to make a living so I could continue my rehab, and I forgot I was to be in court until the day before.” Yeah, sure.

Baldwin got busted last year for possessing cocaine and drug paraphernalia, according to an article in today’s Northwest Herald. He was supposed to be in court to report on his drug rehabilitation. Just a minor detail, don’t you know?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

D200 Tax Surprise

The Public Notice by District 200 that estimated total property taxes to be levied for 2007 would be 22.86% higher than last year was enough to scare me. So I publicized the meeting and attended tonight.

Six non-Board and non-employee residents of District 200 boundaries were present. Six... only six....

The Chief Financial Officer for the school district, Risa Hanson, explained the "numbers." She projected slides of the financial information in print so small that no one could see it, but fortunately there were sufficient copies of the Agenda and Board Packet on hand for the few in the audience.

The bottom line is that, while there is a projected tax increase of 22.86%, the property owner in District 200 will actually realize a small reduction in that portion of his property tax bill attributable to District 200. So long as the assessed value of his home doesn't go up, his taxes will go down a little. Not much, but at least they won't go up.

According to the Board Packet for the December 11, 2007, meeting, the mean price for the last 400 homes sold within District boundaries was $214,000. This number comes from Recod Information Services as of 10/3/05. How come this information is two years old??? Isn't it funny how certain information doesn't jump out at the time?

The D200 tax bite for 2006 was $3,102. If the Assessed Value does not increase, the tax bill will be $3,040, which is $62 less. However, the Supervisor of Assessment may increase the Market Value of a home by 5.25%. If that house was assessed at 5.25% higher, then its value would be $225,235 and the tax bill (for D200) would be $3,211, or $109 higher.

We all know that our houses in Woodstock went up in value last year; right? That's why some houses have been for sale for 6-12-18 months. What about the homeowner who dropped his price $20,-30,-40,-100,000 to sell it? Do you think the Assessor is going to consider that? Only if you fight the assessed valuation, and only if you fight it hard and smart.

But the assessed valuation fight is in another court, not D200.

Superintendent Ellyn Wrzeski announced that staff is willing to discuss the tax levy and actual D200 tax situation with any property owner who wants to call. I made a suggestion to the School Board that it publicize this information in the media and on its website. It's easy to react negatively, as I did, when I read the Notice of Public Hearing. Attending tonight to hear the explanation, see the numbers, and be able to ask questions made the difference to me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

D200 Property Tax Increase - 12/11/07 Hearing

Public Hearing - Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007. 7:00PM. Dean St. School.

Although the Public Notice appeared in the Woodstock Independent on November 28, I missed it. Guess my eyes had misted over at the announced property tax increase proposed (and subsequently passed) by the City of Woodstock. The proposed property tax levy increase is 25.62%.

TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT.

Folks, if you don't turn out for this public hearing and demand to know why such an increase is sought, apathy will be spelled on Wednesday morning as APATHY.

The daily and weekly newspaper must derive significant revenues from these box ads. Why aren't they writing any stories about the huge increases being sought?

Last week three (3) property owners showed up at the Woodstock City Council meeting.

Be at Dean Street School Tuesday night. Bring five neighbors. Tell them to call and invite five more. And tell them to call five more. Get on the phone now and make those calls. Sure, it's short notice. So what? If gasoline were on sale at the Clark station, you'd call everybody you know - right after you filled up.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Regifting - 50+ Years

Years ago my sister gave me a dollar for Christmas. It was in one of those little money envelopes; you know the ones ... where George's smiling face shows through an oval window. That was back when a dollar would buy something, although today I can't tell you just what.

Well, I saved that dollar and that envelope, and I gave it back to her the next year. And thus was born a tradition between us. Every year since 1951 one of us has given the dollar to the other. It started out as a silver certificate. One year that one got spent and replaced with one that that was not. Another year a $2 bill showed up, and then that one got spent. And now, again, a silver certificate is back in the envelope.

Every year we have written our names and the year on the back of the envelope, which is now full and spilling over to the inside flap. Clel to Gus 1951. Gus to Clel 1952. Clel to Gus 1953... The envelope, somewhat well-worn now and showing marks of old Scotch tape repairs, has been back and forth in the mail, across the U.S., through many moves by her and me.

And the tradition lives on. Just yesterday I received it from my 9-years-older sister, who lives in central Florida. A few more years and it might qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records. Who knows?

Tattered Flag

As I drove near the Square this morning, I noticed that the U.S. Flag atop the Dick Tracy Museum in the old courthouse building on the Square is tattered - again. And not just tattered; this time it is shredded.

There is no doubt that winds take a heavy toll on U.S. Flags. Not just on the Square but elsewhere in Woodstock, such as at the American Community Bank across from Wal-Mart and previously at the Post Office.

I'll call the Museum, as I did about two years ago after the U.S. Flag disintegrated on the same flag pole. Flying the flag, and bearing the cost of doing so, is patriotic, but the flag must be maintained in good condition. When a flag begins to come apart, it's time for the owner of the flag to replace it. The owner should monitor the condition of the flag.

At the Post Office there is an item on the maintenance checklist to inspect the flag and verify it is iin good condition. This is a great idea that each business flying a flag might follow.

Most who display the U.S. Flag intend to fly it with respect. If YOU see a flag that is coming apart, let the owner know.

Hey, Ducks. Still at home?

Has anyone been wondering about the residence of Jenny and Bean, Woodstock's infamous ducks that left a heavy footprint in the City Council chambers recently? Are the ducks (farm animals, according to the City Code) being kept in the house in 10-15ยบ weather?

Remember when the City Council passed the ordinance to allow the ducks at the house in the Savanna Grove community, IF AND ONLY IF the homeowners association approved an amendment to its Covenants? And how, immediately after passing the ordinance, the mayor stated that the City would take no further legal action against the ducks?

Well, which way is it? The ducks, if they are still there and if the homeowners association hasn't yet approved the amendment to the Covenants, have caused the homeowner to be in violation of the City ordinance every day since it was passed.

I'm still confused how the City can pass a new law and then immediately tell its employees not to enforce it. Just how does that work?

Did the mayor speak for the entire City Council, with their consent? Did not one of them find anything wrong with the mayor's amnesty granted to the ducks? Was it an arbitrary decision, spontaneous on the mayor's part? Or did they hash it over - out of public hearing - and decide behind the scenes that they'd do that? Would that have constituted a violation of the Open Meetings Act?

I don't know the answers. Are these are questions that deserve answers?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Loose Horses - $315 later...

Let's hear it for McHenry County Department of Health. They are really on the job, diligent, watching out for us, doing their jobs. Yeah, sure...

Last week three horses got loose somewhere along Route 47 north of Woodstock. There they must have been; trotting down the road. Maybe not even in the road.

Somebody rats them out. Somebody shows up and lassoes them. Somebody hauls them to the Hooved Animal Humane Society. Fortunately, before they could be sold or adopted out (or worse), a neighbor of the owner learned of their whereabouts and informed the owner.

Does all this deserve $50 tickets for "allowing an animal to run at large"? Plus $55 per horse for the County to retrieve them? Did, in fact, the County round them up and transport them to HAHS? If it did, the cost to the taxpayers was certainly higher than $55/horse.

One thing is certain. I don't even have to know the owner. The owner did NOT "allow" his animals to run at large.The horses got out of a fenced pasture. Animals do that. It's rare for horses to escape. I recall one day in Colorado when I came upon two cars stopped on a highway like Route 47, and the drivers were chasing a horse out of the road. I had a lead rope in the car, as I do today, and I walked up to the horse and snapped it on his halter. Pretty soon someone showed up and knew where the horse belonged. There was no need to call the cops or the County or anyone else. You just took care of it.

The ticket and "handling charge" (no pun intended) were unnecessary. This is what happens when the bureaucrats take over and common sense is left behind. I hope the owner will fight the tickets, plead Not Guilty, ask for a jury trial and totally embarrass the County in court.

Unfortunately, the way it is around here, it's very expensive to fight a ticket and lose. A person is almost coerced into paying even an unfair ticket. The court costs will double or triple the fine. Add the cost for your attorney, if you feel you cannot defend yourself, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Should whistleblowers be arrested?

Recently the arrest of a Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent in Colorado came to my attention. I invite you to read about this and decide whether you might kick in a few dollars (or many) to help with his legal defense.

Cory Voorhis was a U.S. Border Patrol agent for four years. I’m sympathetic to his story, because I considered the Border Patrol when I was a college senior in Iowa. I took the written test and, when I showed up for the oral interview, the two agents told me they had just one question for me: “Where did I miss that one question on the test?”

I had scored 99% on the written test. Actually, it was a snap for me because I was a Russian language major in college and was working as a part-time police officer in the small Iowa town where the college was located.

Cory’s story can be read at www.corylegaldefense.com/

I know the Denver law firm which is representing Cory. When I lived in Denver, a number of my life insurance clients were also clients of that law firm. It is one of the top law firms in Denver.

Please consider making a contribution (non tax-deductible) to his legal defense via the PayPal link on that website.

2007 Chamber Ornament

Want to give a little bit of Woodstock to a friend across town or across the country? Each year the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce produces a limited number of pewter ornaments as the annual Victorian Christmas ornament.

The 2007 ornament features the Waverly House Hotel, built in (or about) 1900. Ornaments are available at the Chamber office for $20.00 or can be viewed and ordered through the Chamber’s online store at www.woodstockilchamber.com

Previous year’s ornaments have featured the train depot, City Hall (formerly Central School), the South Street Train Overpass, and the Civil War monument. For a more complete listing of previous ornaments, check out the Chamber’s online store.

Suggestions for the next year’s ornament are made by area collectors and purchasers of ornaments. I’m uncertain how the final selection is made and believe it may be made by the Executive Director or the Chamber staff. If you have a suggestion for next year, contact the Chamber office.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Apathy! Shocking!

The Woodstock City Council conducted a public hearing tonight, duly announced, about a property tax increase. Owners of two properties were present. Two. As in “2”. Well, not counting the members of the City Council.

Where were all the residents who complain so bitterly about the high property taxes in the City of Woodstock?

The City also held a public hearing on extending $5,000,000 in credit support to The Resurrection Center. The Mayor read the address of the Center and included Woodstock, Illinois and also that the property is in unincorporated McHenry County. I inquired whether the property was in the City of Woodstock, and I was informed that it was not (which I already knew). But I felt the clarification was needed and that it was appropriate for the City Council to acknowledge that it is engaging in a substantial credit-related transaction with a non-City business entity.

The City assures us that the City has no financial liability whatsoever. The City’s name is on the line, but there is no liability? The City is permitted under State law to lend its bonding authority to a 501(c)(3) [non-profit, tax-exempt] organization in order to help it get a better borrowing rate. Several times it was stated that the City cannot in any way become financially liable and that the City is only a conduit for the borrowing.

Not being an investment banker or municipal borrower or lender, I’m still confused how City can be involved in a $5,000,000 loan or bond issue and not have any liability whatsoever. But that was the explanation

The 2008 Gavers Barn Dance will be at Emricson Park on July 19, 2008. Two tents are planned (26,000 sq. ft. and 6,000 sq. ft.) to accommodate 1,500 people. Let’s hope that all the costs to the City will be fully covered, including clean-up and restoration of the Park to the exact condition it was in before the event.

Quinn Keefe presented Number 1 of the 12th annual Christmas ornament issued by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce to Mayor Sager. This year’s ornament features the Waverly House Hotel, built in 1900. Quinn stated that the choice of the Hotel was made by the community.

Under Future Business Mayor Sager indicated that he has been contacted by business interests unhappy with enforcement of the Sign Code. New homes’ developers want to “plant” their advertising signs on week-ends. Businesses want to promote (advertise) with signs not on their premises. The City will undertake a review of the Sign Code and other ordinances. Mayor Sager referred to upholding values and aesthetics, and he commented on the desire by the City staff to uphold the ordinances.

This reminded me of the recent “Duck Ordinance.” Immediately after the Council passed it, the Mayor said, in effect, that the City would not enforce it. I've been wondering how the folks at Code Enforcement feel about having an ordinance on the books (no ducks until the homeowners association approves the ducks) and not being able to enforce it. Seems to me that there is a little too much double-speak going on.

Yet, here we are on December 4, and now the City is saying that, if it has ordinances, they should be enforced.

Is something out of kilter here? Will Code Enforcement be after Jenny and Bean tomorrow morning?

If you want to be involved in the review of the Sign Code and other ordinances, I’d suggest you contact Derik Morefield at dmorefield@woodstockil.gov and ask him how you can participate. You’d better believe that the businesses which want to display signs will be lobbying for relaxed rules. Show up and speak out, or don’t. If you don’t, don’t gripe later.

Pedestrian Struck, Killed North of Square

The after-closing time, Sunday morning, fatal accident on Clay Street, north of the Woodstock Square, is certainly a tragedy. A bunch of friends head to a bar for drinking and leave their cars at home. That's smart.

But then they walk home - in the street. Apparently, walking "with" traffic, rather than against it. Even though there was a sidewalk. "The sidewalk was slick." So what?

This is not meant to excuse alleged drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident by the driver who hit and killed one man and injured another. But streets are for vehicles. Sidewalks are for pedestrians.

How were the pedestrians dressed? Dark clothing? Hard to see under good conditions. Probably nearly impossible to see by a driver who is believed to have been drinking.

The blood-alcohol content of the driver will be released by the Woodstock Police Department, and the BAC of the pedestrian who died should also be released.

About two months ago, at a monthly Coffee with the Chief, a question was asked about joggers who run in the street. One of the police officers informed the audience that there is a state law against pedestrians in the street if there is a sidewalk available.

The partiers belonged on the sidewalk, slick or not. Or, if they did walk in the street, they should have been walking facing street, not "with" traffic where they would not see vehicles coming up behind them. I wonder if the P.D. charged them with walking in a street. Had they not been in the street, any driver of a vehicle would have passed them by without contact.

At what bar(s) had the partiers been drinking? What was their own state of inebriation? Were they merely walking home, or were they horsing around in the street? And at what bar(s) had the driver been drinking, if he had?

99% of Most?

Just after 6:00AM today Y103.9 News reported that yesterday the gov and State Senate President (and others?), who were working on a proposal to pay for transit woes with gambling bucks, were in agreement “with 99% of most of the issues.”

Hmmmm, of course, this is quite different than being in agreement with 99% of the issues. It causes me to wonder with how many issues were they really in agreement. “Most” could be anything more than a simple majority; let’s say, 51%. Figuring 99% of 51%, that’s 50.49%; or let’s just call it 51%. It’s a long way from 51% to 99%.

Using gambling dollars to pay for transportation is a pretty stupid idea. What if gamblers wake up someday and figure out that all those bright lights at the casinos are not paid for with their winnings? Probably not much of a worry there, really. Gamblers in Las Vegas have never figured that out – at least until they are standing in line with empty pockets at the airport, waiting for the plane home.

And so I still wonder - of how many issues were they in agreement? "99%". "Most?", or "99% of most".

Monday, December 3, 2007

Recall Elected Officials in Illinois?

There is a bi-partisan effort growing in Illinois to establish a law that would allow residents to recall certain elected officials. This is a law that is needed – now. Some states already have such a law, but I think only about eight of the 50.

For starters, the first target would probably Gov. Blagojevich. And worthy target he is.

What we have is a Governor who thumbs his nose at Springfield and refuses to live in the State Capital. Instead, he commutes from his home in Chicago to Springfield. And back.

Does he drive, as most of us do, to work? No way. His State Police driver chauffeurs him to the airport, where a State plane transports him to Springfield. Then the pilots kill a day waiting for the governor to do whatever he does there, and then they fly him home. At what cost? I believe a newspaper reported the daily cost at $5,800, but I draw this from memory. Is this the right number? Does anyone know?

Of course, then you must add in the cost of ground transportation, security on both ends, and other expenses.

Frankly, the legislature ought to just cut off his funding for commuting, but he seems to have his slush fund that he can spend any way that he wants. Must be nice, eh?

Should Blago pay this expense himself? Absolutely. He ought to reimburse the State of Illinois out of his net income. Commuting expense is not deductible.

Another way to get Blago to pay for the cost of commuting is to add it to his income and let him pay the income taxes on it. But, no, that doesn’t work, either.

Some legislators thought that they would just ask the Treasurer to issue a Form 1099 to the gov for the “incidental income” (commuting expense), but that didn’t work, either.

Maybe the legislature should just sell the State airplanes. What are they really needed for? Are they fully utilized? Are they necessary? Are they efficiently scheduled? Are they used only for official State business?

I hate to think of all the questions that go unanswered about this waste.

Registered to vote?

Are you registered to vote in the early-2008 elections?

You must register by January 8, 2008, if you wish to vote. We have a privilege – a right – in the country that many in the world do not have. You get to go to the polls and vote for the candidate of your choice. And you have a choice – well, most of the time.

In McHenry County you may not have a choice, but that’s because too many major offices are uncontested. NO major political office should ever go uncontested. N-O major office.

And you get to go to the polls and not worry about who will be waiting for you when you exit the polling place. All freedom. No fears.

But to vote you have to be registered.

If you don’t register, you give up your right to vote. And then someone else makes the decisions for you.

If you have moved since the last election for which you were registered, you must re-register. It’s simple. It’s easy. Go to 667 Ware Road or go to the DMV, next door to Office Depot and Aldi’, right here in Woodstock.

This year be sure to study the information about the candidates for office. When you show up at the voting booth, have your notes with you. Know who is running and know for whom you will vote.

My dad used to say that he always voted for the best man, as long as he was a Republican. Maybe there really was a day when that could be said and mean something. Certainly not today.

I personally am so sick of the state of the Republican Party that I can hardly see straight on some days. And I’m no Democrat, either. Libertarian? Maybe, just not registered as one. Independent?

It’s a crying shame that this country cannot field politicians who put the country first. The cost of political elections makes me think that candidates are merely investors. They bankroll huge war chests and then treat them like their personal piggy banks. Do they still get to keep the change when they leave office?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow Shoveling

It's that time of year. The first big snowfall (not all that big) has hit Woodstock, and the sidewalks are covered with snow - with unshoveled snow in front of most houses. This morning's rain took care of most of it - this time.

Why is it that residents, whether property owners or tenants, do not shovel the snow from their sidewalks?

In the past property owners may have feared lawsuits from someone who falls on their sidewalk, if they made any attempt at all to clear it. What if an owner shovels his sidewalk and then it freezes and gets slick? If a person falls, is the owner liable? Is he better off to leave the snow on the sidewalk, as a warning to anyone walking by?

The Woodstock City Attorney has opined that a person who clears his sidewalk is not liable, should someone fall. You can read the City's statement about this on www.woodstockil.gov Click on "City Departments"; then click on "Public Works"; then on "Snow Removal".

From the City's website: "However, our City Attorney tells us that an Illinois State Statute now exempts residents from liability from being sued for attempting to remove snow and ice from their sidewalk even if performed negligently. Now there is no reason not to shovel your sidewalk."

There are plenty of reasons. 1. I don't care. 2. I'm too lazy. 3. Let my neighbor do it for me. 4. My kid's at college. 5. My husband is a couch potato. 6. My snow shovel is buried in the garage. 7. My wife won't shovel the snow while I'm watching the Bears game.

Of course, they don't mention the State Statute on the City website. How convenient it would be if the statute were quoted. I wonder how long it would take to find it.

By the way, you may want to remember that parking is prohibited on City streets after 3" of snowfall, even during the day. Give the snowplows a chance to clear the streets! Do the cops ticket the car left on the street? And no over-night street parking in the winter. According to the City's website, permission will not be granted during the winter. OK, what's "winter"?

Let's hope that the City this year will get after commercial property owners, including apartment houses, who have their driveways plowed and who pile up huge mounds of snow across sidewalks. This forces pedestrians, including children on the way to school, into the street.

Woodstock Property Taxes - Public Hearing

Open Mike Night – Sound Off on Taxes

Tuesday, Dec. 4
7:00PM
Woodstock City Council Chambers

Your property taxes are about to go up. Be in the Council chambers at 7:00PM this Tuesday. Listen to the explanation of the proposed tax increase (and abatement). Speak up. Let the City Council members know what you think about this increase.

Is there a good reason for it?

Do you know what an abatement is? Do you agree? Does an abatement of taxes mean that YOU, not having an abatement, pay more than your current fair share?

If you do nothing, you can plan to pay. And grumbling after the fact will be wasted breath.

Remember, THIS Tuesday, 7:00PM.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Where's the Beef? Errrr, .... Ticket?

The article on November 22 about the Haligus Road double-fatal accident has generated 20 comments. Not quite a record - there was an older one that generated more. You can read the article and the comments by clicking on "November" to the right and then scrolling down to "Driver Out of Hospital for 3 Weeks".

But some of us are beginning to wonder just exactly why tickets have not been issued to young Miss Gryz. What could possibly be the reason that the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has delayed in issuing at least initial tickets? Or has it issued them but just not released the information to the press. Is this accident still "pending investigation"?

The longer they wait, the bigger deal it becomes. While it might have seemed cruel and unusual punishment for a deputy to issue a ticket to a hospitalized driver for Careless Driving or Failing to Drive on the Paved Portion of the Roadway or whatever the obvious charge would be, the ticket(s) should have been issued.

And, if tickets weren't issued immediately, then they should have been issued as soon as it was obvious that the driver would survive. She went home after a week in the hospital, and that didn't even make the daily newspaper. Now another week has passed.

Perhaps a deputy will post here what the thinking at the Sheriff's Department is about this delay. And when tickets will be issued.

Let's Help Angelo

On Ladies Night Out last Thursday, there was a considerable quantity of trash on the Dean St. sidewalk alongside Angelo's Restaurant at 5:45PM. This did not escape the attention of the City. However, the City has attempted for years to come to an agreement with Angelo's about the trash. And it will try again.

The only result in the past year or so is that the pile is a little neater and a few small wheeled containers are in use.

There is obviously a quantity of trash that any restaurant will produce on a daily basis. Perhaps YOU can offer solutions that can finally resolve this problem. If you create a solution, The Woodstock Advocate will propose to the City Council that it reward you with a Commendation.

OK, how should Angelo's Restaurant solve this problem?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dick Tracy Statue - $250,000 - WOW!

Wasn't there an article just 2-3 months about the dire financial condition of the Dick Tracy Museum? And about how, if the town didn't ante up with some bucks, the Museum might have to close?

And now they are going to raise $250,000 for an 8' statue to stand guard over the front walk to the Museum?

I wonder just how popular Dick Tracy is these days. Can you just hear the kids exclaiming over a new Dick Tracy two-way wrist watch? Well, when I was a kid, it was thought to be pretty neat.

Now? Kids' comments are likely to be about their new cell phone-camera-text-messaging-GPS locating-clock-alarm-calender-calculator, music downloads, TV reception, movies, books and everything else they get into the grubby little handheld device.

Remembering a cartoon that lasted a long time is great. But what will $250,000 in a hunk of metal really do for the Museum or the town?

But what the heck? If people want to donate their money for it, why not? It's their money, and they can do with it whatever they wish.

Let's keep a sharp eye on the City Council, though, if and when the Museum shows up with its hands out for $50,-100,000 to start or finish the project. The project needs to be totally privately funded. No money from the public trough, please.

Empty Stores on the Square - Why?

I wonder just what the true state of business is on the Woodstock Square.

In a comment posted to a recent article about Angelo's trash on the sidewalk, one reader proposed a reason for the number of vacant stores on the Square - super-high property taxes; in some cases, the taxes being higher than the rent.

Does anyone have an example of this? Do landlords offer rentals at rent plus property taxes? Can any commercial real estate agent explain Triple Net leases?

How about some examples of rents on the Square? And total landlord costs (rent, property taxes, utilities, maintenance, etc.)? When rents (alone) are sky-high, is it any wonder that we don't have very many exciting stores on the Square? Or why prices must be very high (so that a merchant can afford to stay in business)?

What kind of stores do we want on the Square? Are we willing to patronize them and skip Wal-Mart and Kmart? Do you buy your paint at Lloyd's or at Ace Harware or at Menard's?

Is parking really that big of a deal? Are you willing to walk a block for your cup of Starbuck's? Or, if you can't park right in front (legally, please), do you pass it up?

Angelo’s – How Trashy!

Tonight is Ladies Night Out. You’ve heard about it; right? Roses for the ladies; free limo rides; wine-tastings; specials in the stores.

Great idea. Promote visiting the historic Woodstock Square. Enjoy the Opera House. Enjoy the stores. Walk the streets and sidewalks of the Square.

Except for the sidewalk on Dean Street by Angelo’s. You’d have to see the garbage and trash to believe it. Three small wheeled totes (two of them stuffed to overfull). Behind them were four open-top barrels. Rolls of old, ugly, smelly, dirty carpet, standing upright in the small wheeled containers. An old vacuum cleaner. An old coat-tree.

And all this at 5:45PM. Why in the world would Angelo’s put all this trash out at 5:45PM and on the night when, hopefully, the Square will be full of women shoppers?

I’ve been told by long-time residents of Woodstock that this eye-sore has gone on for 20 years. Starting about 3-4 years ago I asked the City to address the issue. About two years ago it appeared it had been solved. The City told me that Angelo had agreed to get large, wheeled containers with covers. Well, that deal fell through and the City has backed away from enforcement.

It’s far past time for the City to make a deal with Angelo and to make it stick. I’m sure they can reach a deal. If they can’t, then the City can force one down his throat.

The Woodstock Downtown Business Association is trying hard to bring life back to the Square. The Chamber may have some interest, too. And the People of Woodstock ought to be interested; otherwise, downtown Woodstock will just go the way of most small downtown areas – more empty stores, more broken windows, more saloons, more drunks.

Is that what Woodstock wants?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Know this plate? ZUM ZQQM

Saturday afternoon I was on Throop approaching the new pedestrian warning sign at the intersection of Cass. Four pedestrians were waiting to cross toward the Square, and I slowed to stop for them. As I did, I watched a small white car (Mitsubishi? or Toyota? coupe) come up pretty fast behind me and stop right on my bumper.

The driver appeared to be so close to my car that I don’t think there was walking distance between his car and mine. That’s close. As I waited for the four to cross, I looked in the mirror and the driver was making one of those hand gestures popular with WWE wrestler John Cena. He had his open hand in front of his face and was moving it side-to-side. You know the gesture? “You can’t see me.” And what follows on TV is one of those violent wrestling moves on a wrestler who is down on the mat.

After the pedestrians crossed, I drove on to the stop sign at Jackson. Again the white car stopped right on my bumper, and again the driver made the same hand gesture.

The vehicle had no front license plate, so I was unable to get the number – until I could pull over approaching Calhoun and let him pass. And there it was. An Illinois vanity plate – ZUM ZQQM

Don’t you just love it when drivers with vanity plates do stupid things? An easy plate to remember. An easy car to describe. An easy face to remember. In spite of the hand gesture, I really could see him.

Well, I guess I really should thank him for not bumping my car when I stopped for the pedestrians. And so I shall. Thanks. And thanks too for no body slam.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Woodstock Property Taxes - Public Meeting

Property Taxes – Too High and Going Higher?

I hear a lot of complaints about the amount of property taxes. Do you know how much you pay? And what it goes for?

Maybe it’s time for each taxpayer to examine his tax bill carefully and understand where the monies collected from him in taxes really go. What part goes to the City of Woodstock and, once there, how is it spent? And what part to the County and how spent? And the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District. Dig out that tax bill, take two aspirin, and get ready…

A Public Notice of a Proposed Property Tax Increase appearing in the November 21st Woodstock Independent informs the public – you! – of a public hearing on Tuesday, December 4, 2007, at 7:00PM in the Council Chambers at Woodstock City Hall, 121 W. Calhoun Street.

If you wish to present testimony at the public hearing, you may contact Roscoe Stelford, the City’s Finance Director, at 815.338.4300

According to the public notice,
II. “The corporate and special purpose property taxes extended or abated for 2006 were $6,844,768.
“The proposed corporate and special purpose property taxes to be levied for 2007 are $7,837.600. This represents a 14.5% increase over the previous year.” (Are the words “or abated” missing here?)
III. (Not copied for this article)
IV. “The total property taxes extended or abated for 2007 were $9,533,120.
“The estimated total property taxes to be levied or abated for 2007 are $10,633,715. This represents a 11.5% increase over the previous year.”

Just what does “… levied or abated…” mean to John Q. Taxpayer?

Come to this meeting and hope to find out… More importantly, be prepared to speak your piece about Woodstock property taxes.

Will Rogers said, “It's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for.”

Well, around here maybe we do.

Main Street USA

Do you know what a Main Street Community is?

Go to http://thewoodstockindependent.com/ and take this week’s survey (scroll down to the bottom of the homepage), which asks readers whether they intend to support the Main Street Community group. This is not about “Main St.” in Woodstock. This is about designating downtown Woodstock as part of the national Main Street Community program.

And each week go back to The Woodstock Independent and express your opinion in its weekly survey.

While you are surfing, check out www.awaketowoodstock.com, the website of the Woodstock Downtown Business Association.

Remember: Tree-Lighting – Friday, November 23, 6:30PM at the Square.

Day of Thanks

This is one day (not the only day) to pause and really give thanks for what you have. Find a quiet spot today and think about it.

Years ago a friend suggested making Lists of 100.

100 people you'd like to meet.
100 places you'd like to visit.
100 pictures you would like to take.
100 things you would like to learn.
100 foods you'd like to eat.

Today? Write a list of 100 things for which you are thankful.

Driver out of Hospital for 3 Weeks

What are taxpayers supporting, when police agencies cannot investigate accidents and complete reports, so that they can move on to the next accident?

The Haligus Road accident involving four Marian Central High School students happened on Friday, October 26, four weeks ago tomorrow. Seems like ages ago, doesn’t it? Or maybe just yesterday?

On October 27 (the day after the accident) the Northwest Herald reported that Sheriff’s Sgt. Karen Groves said that “toxicology reports revealed that drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the crash.” I immediately questioned how such test results could be available so quickly.

Earlier this week I contacted Northwest Herald Editor Chris Krug to ask if they would be following up on this accident. Imagine my surprise to read in today’s paper that the driver of the vehicle, Eva Grys, was released from the hospital on November 4, THREE weeks ago. And yet there was no follow-up that was reported.

In today’s Northwest Herald article Sheriff’s Sgt. Carolyn Hubbard says that the crash is still under investigation and that no charges have been filed. Why not?

Sgt. Hubbard also indicated that they are waiting for “some” information to come back, including toxicology reports. When will the toxicology reports be available?

Exactly what “toxicology” results were available the next day? The Sheriff's Department needs to be more specific. On what grounds did the Sheriff’s Department, through Sgt. Groves, so quickly inform the public that drugs or alcohol were not a factor?

While I have no reason to suspect drugs or alcohol, or their after-effects, to be a factor in a Friday morning accident of a high school student, they can only be ruled out by thorough tests. My hope is that toxicology test results will be negative.

Still, is there really a good reason that the Sheriff’s Department cannot complete its investigation, issue the requisite ticket(s) and close its file? It probably could have completed it on the day of the accident or the next day. “Driver left roadway onto steep sloping shoulder. Driver apparently over-corrected and returned to road, crossing in front of oncoming truck.” Write a ticket for failure to maintain control of vehicle. End of report.

Let the insurance companies and lawyers fight about it from there.

Is it any wonder that the budget of the Sheriff’s Department is out-of-sight? How many training seminars do accident investigators have to attend (and where?) to drag out reports and keep cases open for weeks and months?

If more information becomes available later on, then supplementary reports and additional tickets can follow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's Up at Woodstock PD?

Watch for news soon about what’s happening at the Woodstock Police Department.

An amended agenda for the November 20, 2007, Woodstock City Council meeting included an Executive Session. After conducting the City’s business, the council chambers were cleared of all but Council members, Police Chief Bob Lowen and other official participants.

On the Agenda the purpose of the Executive Session was shown as “Personnel 5ILCS 120/2(c)(1) The appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee to determine its validity.”

That this item was added after the Agenda was prepared may provide an indication of some urgency or last-minute action. One would think that “…appointment, employment, compensation…” would be planned and addressed as a routine matter, even if in Executive Session; i.e., not added at the last minute.

More news to follow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Traffic Laws to be Enforced on D200 Grounds

Take This Test…

Assuming you are driving a car at one of Woodstock’s D200 schools; i.e., on the school grounds. Can you be ticketed for:

Running a stop sign?
Parking and blocking a sidewalk?
Speeding?
Blocking traffic?
Passing a schoolbus with its flashing red lights on and its Stop arm out?

Right now, tonight and for the next few days, you can break just about any Illinois traffic law on school grounds and not get arrested.

A few of the exceptions are #5 and DUI. I think Reckless Driving (including tire-squealing) may also be an exception.

But this is about to change. At tonight’s Woodstock City Council meeting an Ordinance was passed creating a Vehicular Control Contract between District 200 and the Woodstock Police Department. This means that Woodstock police officers can enforce state traffic laws and local traffic laws on school property.

At the City Council meeting tonight I asked if the Contract contained a requirement that D200 must post its property to inform drivers that the Woodstock Police Department will enforce traffic laws. It doesn’t. So this might be the only warning you’ll get. Pass the word to drivers in your families, neighbors, co-workers, friends, and others. Better yet, just forward the URL for this article to them. To get the URL, click on the title of the article. To get back to all the articles, click on the name The Woodstock Advocate.

I inquired of Mayor Sager, who spoke for the Council, whether a similar Contract exists for Marian Central Catholic High School or any of the schools operated by churches in Woodstock. There is none. Any of them can initiate a request for a Vehicle Control Contract, but the City will not solicit a Contract from them.

Surprised that there wasn’t already such an contract with D200? I was.

It’ll take a few days for the Contract to be filed with the McHenry County Recorder of Deeds, and then it becomes effective three days later, if the Contract follows the form of a similar contract proposed, but never completed, a couple of years ago with the property owners of the Jewel-Osco property.

You’re still safe at Jewel-Osco if you run stop signs, fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, park or stand (your car) in the Fire Lane, or park or stand in the Loading Zone. However, don’t park in the handicap parking zones. That one will cost you $250.00. If you get your jollies by running those legal-appearing stop signs, just keep doing it. But one day you may be surprised.

My thanks and appreciation to Councilwoman Maureen Larson, who supported my request for this item on the Consent Agenda to be pulled for discussion.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Time to Order Music Boosters Card

The Community Music Boosters discount card for 2008 is available now. It's time to order, folks. Proceeds benefit District 200 Schools.

If you have never had one of these cards, it's a discount card that is valid at 24 local businesses. The cost? One green $10 bill. It's good from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. If you can't save $10 the first month, you aren't trying. Some discounts are 10-15% off, others are $1.00 off, others are Buy One Get One (or something) free.

Even if you never use it, your $10 goes to a good cause.

Send your check ($10 for each card; order several?) to Community Music Boosters, Inc., P.OL. Box 1623, Woodstock, IL 60098. They make great stocking stuffers, little "extra" gifts, and surprises. The sooner you order, the sooner you'll receive it.

Know this plate: BSTSTPR?

There was a great example of bullying on the road by the driver of this white Ford F-250 pick-up truck. Wouldn’t you think that drivers of easily recognized trucks, such as ones with large tires and the body raised high on the frame plus a vanity plate, would know better?

After tailgating me eastbound on Lake Avenue, where the speed limit is 40MPH, and demonstrating his impatience with my poking along at the speed limit, all his hurry and tailgating didn’t help him get far ahead, because the light was red at U.S. 14.

When the light changed for drivers to turn left, he was to my left. He accelerated pretty hard to pass me and then changed lanes to the right without signaling and stepped on it. As he passed through the intersection at Culver’s, there were two cars in the left (through). The driver in the pick-up passed these two cars on the right just at the place where the right lane ends.

Unfortunately, this is really a tough place for the police to set up shop and catch this type of driver. There is no place to hide. So, how about setting up in a truck on the shoulder or even parking on the frontage road on the south side of U.S. 14? The angle might be too great to measure speed accurately, but they could certainly spot the reckless drivers who speed past other cars on the right at the lane-drop. Then a marked patrol car waiting at Turning Point could stop the violators and write the tickets.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Transition Planning, Spec Ed Students

Are you the parent of a student who is a Special Education student and 13-14 years old (or older)?

A critical part of your child’s IEP is the Transition Plan, preparation for which is to start when your child is 14. The purpose of the Transition Plan is to help the student make the transition from high school to whatever is next – college, junior college, trade school, employment or whatever is to follow high school.

Between your child’s ages 14-16, the Transition Plan is to be developed. When your child is 16, the Transition Plan is to be implemented.

Do all parents of Special Education students who are 14-15-16, even 17, years of age know about the transition plan? This plan is required under both Federal and Illinois laws.

The Transitional Youth Work Group of the McHenry County Mental Health Board meets every month. This group is for students, parents, service providers, and educators who want to improve the quality and amount of services available to youths in transition. The group meets at the Mental Health Board, 620 Dakota St., Crystal Lake, on the first Thursday of each month from 5:30PM until 7:00PM.

The December 6th meeting will feature a speaker from the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services who is an expert in transition planning. Kathy Kaniewski will give an overview of transition programs offered by DRS and be able to answer parents’ and teachers’ questions about services, individual rights, etc. Her presentation will follow the Illinois Statewide Transition Conference, Dec. 2-4, in Effingham, Illinois.

2 Worst Left Turns in Woodstock

Where is the one place in Woodstock that has the two worst left turns? McDonald’s!

There is no doubt that traffic has increased horrendously since the McDonald’s opened in Woodstock. How long ago was that? Anyone?

Why does it have the two worst left turns? What are they?

The first is the left turn that northbound drivers on Route 47 make to turn into McDonald’s just north of the traffic light at Country Club Road. Regardless of how heavy traffic flow is in both directions, some drivers just “have to” turn left into McDonald’s for the Big Mac fix.

Some drivers will stop (legally, even if dangerously) in the inside northbound lane and wait until they can make their way across three southbound lanes, including the southbound left turn lane. And some of those drivers don’t even make their turn safely. They seem to figure that, if they can get across one of the lanes, then they can just make a run for the driveway and hope they won’t get hit by cars in the two southbound through lanes.

Other drivers, not wanting to block the inside northbound lane, will pull across the yellow lines and stop in the southbound left-turn lane, facing oncoming traffic. Then they only have to get across two lanes when they make their run for it. This is dangerous and illegal, but I don’t think the Woodstock Police have ever issued any tickets for it.

The other left-turn problem is when drivers exiting McDonald’s from the drive-through lane try to turn left to go north on Route 47. The exit is right at the intersection, and drivers sometimes will try to weave through three lanes of stopped southbound cars. Often they cannot see northbound traffic because of the size of stopped vehicles, and they will just stick the front of the car out into the northbound through lane (and hope for the best).

Other drivers, when traffic is lighter, will begin their turns from the exit and head north on quite an angle. In doing this, they are driving on the wrong side of Route 47, against traffic, while making their way across the three southbound lanes.

I contacted Woodstock Public Works, McDonald’s and IDOT to recommend that left turns be prohibited from northbound Route 47 into McDonald’s and also out of McDonald’s to northbound Route 47. No luck. No one has been killed there, so there is no interest - yet.

Another big problem is with drivers exiting the drive-through lane and striking out across two lanes for the left-turn lane, so that they can go east on Country Club Road toward the Post Office. Common sense would dictate that a driver not do that, but common sense goes out the window when you “must” make that turn and get home with your bag of Big Macs and fries.

Two-four years ago there was a plan to close the current exit from McDonald’s onto Route 47. McDonald’s would have had to create a new turn-around, so that drivers pulling away from the drive-through window would make left turns around the front of the restaurant and exit onto Fair Street. That stalled when the project for the new road behind Jewel down to McConnell Road faltered.

Currently, the City of Woodstock is trying to condemn land for roadway improvements, and McDonald’s is fighting those efforts. For sure, McDonald’s has outgrown that location. But where could it move that it would have room for a larger restaurant, adequate parking, and easy in-out for drivers? Maybe south of the Exxon station?

For now, when you are leaving McDonald’s, it’s necessary to pay very close attention to traffic flow. Remember, if you get in an accident leaving McDonald’s, your food will be very cold when you finally do get home.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Following Left Turns

Have you noticed the increasing problem with drivers who complete their left turns at traffic lights after the light turns yellow and red?

This is a major problem not only in Woodstock, but all over northern Illinois and, I suspect, the country. Drivers are impatient and fill up the intersection on the green light. Then they complete their left turns after oncoming traffic clears. Often this is after the light is red.

If the light is changing from green to red, they must make sure that oncoming traffic is stopping and actually has stopped, before they can complete their turns. Too many times the oncoming driver guns it and goes through the yellow and red light, even though there was plenty of time to stop.

Sometimes they try to sneak between oncoming cars, as one man did this afternoon on Route 47 at Lake Avenue (by 3 Brothers Restaurant). He was turning left from southbound Route 47 and thought he could get through. When he gunned his minivan, the rear tires spun on the wet pavement, instead of gaining traction. Fortunately, he made it. The northbound car didn’t slow down and its driver just blasted his horn.

When vehicles are still in the intersection when their light turns red, they delay cross-traffic that is ready to proceed on its own left-turn arrow.

Some states program their traffic lights to show the left-turn signal after the green. Left-turning traffic faces a red, while through traffic has a green. After the green changes through yellow to red, then the left-turning traffic gets its left-turn arrow. At the end of the left-turn cycle, cross-traffic moves.

If this makes sense to you, contact your State legislator and suggest that IDOT begin testing the feasibility of the change in traffic light sequence. I’ve learned that one call from a citizen to IDOT isn’t enough. Perhaps if I had Rep. or Sen. in front of my name, they might hear me.

Leaves in Gutters Again

Was it really only three months ago that Woodstock experienced the worst flooding in many years, perhaps ever?

And remember all the haranguing then to keep the curbs and gutters clear?

According to the City of Woodstock, leaves are not to be raked into the street. So why, all over town, are leaves raked into gutters and streets?

Should the Leaf Police be out issuing tickets? Should the City issue warnings? Should the City publicize the risks and expense, when gutters and drains fill with leaves and then cannot handle strong water flows?

The City could very easily mail a notice to all residents in September on the reverse side of the water bills: “Don’t rake leaves into the street.” No extra postage. No extra printing cost. No extra addressing. Why not?

And in other months the reverse side of the water bill could provide other advice. Shovel your walks clear of snow (even though there is no law about this). Don’t park your cars across sidewalks. Don’t park overnight on streets. Don’t park cars on your front lawn. Do this. Don’t do that.

Jobs for Students

Are there jobs for students in Woodstock? Where are the jobs? How do students get them?

How many students know about the Career Center at Woodstock High School? And, if they know about it, how many use it?

I contacted WHS and Amanda Harmer, Career Facilitator, provided information about programs to help students with employment. In addition to information from her, I offer some of my own comments (which should not be attributed to her).

At Woodstock High School there is one Career Specialist to serve approximately 450 students each year.

WHS sponsors a work program called Inter-Related Occupations.

A Career Fair is offered once a year for sophomores, and they are required to attend.

A special program for seniors (only) is called Senior Job S.T.E.P.S. In this program a senior can learn interviewing tips and resume-writing, participate in mock interviews and also learn correct meal-time etiquette.

To take advantage of the WHS program, all a student has to do to ask for it. Students should go to the Guidance Office and make an appointment with the career specialist or find out when career classes are scheduled.

Students can “job-shadow”. What this means is that students can go to a job site with a registered local employer and follow an employee around for a day (or part of a day). For example, if a student is considering a career in law enforcement, he could “shadow” at the Woodstock Police Department. For street patrol, the student might have to be at least 18 years of age to ride along in a patrol car on a shift and would have to sign a General Release, absolving the police department and the City of Woodstock from any liability risk related to being with the officer.

Job boards are posted at WHS with employment openings for students. Students interested in jobs should watch these bulletin boards closely for new postings.

Watch for a subsequent article on direct job-finding and job-getting tips.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Forty Tips for Life

Forty tips for an exceptional, superb, and powerful life These are really very powerful. Implement whatever you can.

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.
3. Buy a PVR/TIVO, tape your late night shows and get more sleep.
4. When you wake up in the morning, complete the following statement, "My purpose is to ___________ today."
5. Live with the 3 E's: Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.
6. Watch more movies, play more games and read more books than you did in 2006.
7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
8. Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less foods that are manufactured in plants.
11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13. Clear your clutter from your house, your car, your desk, and let new and flowing energy into your life.
14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.
15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed-out charge card.
17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.
18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22. Make peace with your past, so it won't screw up the present.
23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
24. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
32. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
33. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
34. The best is yet to come.
35. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
36. Do the right thing!
37. Call your family often.
38. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: "I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________."
39. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
40. Enjoy the ride. Remember that this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

- Author unknown
Thanks to a friend in Texas who sent this to me.
[#28 is very close to a book title, "What You Think of Me Is None of My Business", by Terry Cole-Whittaker. Published in 1979.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blago & FoMoCo Attack Teen Driving Deaths

Look on www.illinois.gov for the announcement that Illinois government is moving into the attack mode on teen driving deaths.

"Governor Blagojevich and Ford Motor Co. launch statewide campaign to reduce teen crashes and save lives

"Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich was joined by representatives of the Ford Motor Company Fund, Secretary of State Jesse White, and other state officials today in launching a statewide effort designed to reduce teen crashes and fatalities in Illinois. The Operation Teen Safe Driving campaign is the first of its kind in the nation and gets high school students directly involved by engaging them in competition to design community-based driving safety programs targeted at their peers. "

This cannot happen soon enough. Teens and other young drivers - and their passengers - must learn that they are not "bulletproof."

Rule #1. Don't ride with a driver who is not driving with your safety in mind. If you need to get out and walk, do it!
Rule #2. Wear your seatbelt. If the car has separate shoulder and lap restraints, fasten the lap belt, too. (That design never should have made it past the design boards!)
Rule #3. Read Rules 1 & 2 again.