Monday, March 31, 2008

Algonquin's Infamous Intersection

You've read about the need for a bridge over the Fox River somewhere north of Route 62; right? Have you ever been stuck on Route 31, heading south down the hill into Algonquin and the intersection and light at Route 62 (Algonquin Road)?

Maybe you are one of the two or three law-abiding drivers who stay in the traffic lane until you reach the beginning of the left-turn lane. By that time, it's too late to get over into the left-turn lane, because there are already many cars and trucks, including BIG trucks, to your left - drivers who cut over one or two blocks back and drove down the middle of Route 31 and right through the oncoming left-turn lane for northbound traffic. If you were lucky, you were able to squeeze over without changing the color of paint on the left side of your car.

Things are about to change. Last week I called an IDOT engineer with whom I've been corresponding for about three years and also called the head of public works in Algonquin. I asked both if there was something they could do to slow the number of violations by southbound drivers. Suggestions - More and new signing. Warn drivers to keep right. To avoid lane violations. Whatever. New signs, of course, must come out of the Manual of Standards...

Today the IDOT engineer called to tell me that IDOT will be changing the traffic pattern as soon as the spring lane-painting season begins. IDOT will take out the island painted between the north- and southbound lanes on Route 31 north of Route 62. IDOT will also take out the short left-turn lane for northbound traffic, because it serves only about three houses on the west side of Route 31.

This will substantially lengthen the left-turn lane on southbound Route 31.

The police department will continue to watch for violations after the new line-painting has been completed. Watch for the new pattern later this spring. Thanks to IDOT and the Village of Algonquin for your response!

Accident Investigation - Stalled?

On October 26, 2007, an accident occurred on Haligus Road that involved two fatalities and two serious injuries.

In five months the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has not been able to decide on any traffic charges. Not any. Not even one. What's going on?

In response to my March 3rd FOIA request, the sheriff's department sent only a copy of the preliminary accident report. Although I had requested toxicology test results and information about any ticket(s) issued, the sheriff's department failed to comply with that portion of the FOIA Request.

In December the sheriff's department had advised that toxicology results were delayed because the Illinois State Police Crime Lab was 90 days behind. Ninety days would put delivery of the test results out to about the end of January. That came and went. The end of February came and went.

On March 25 I called Sgt. Hubbard again for an update. She did not even have the courtesy to return the call; she also did not return calls on February 14 and February 29.

In a conversation with the Press Information Officer of the Illinois State Police, I learned that the Crime Lab is still running about 90 days behind. I could not learn the date when they received the specimens to be tested or the date when they delivered the results to the sheriff's department, but it surely seemed to me that the sheriff's department has got the results. And my guess is that they have had them for about two months.

What are they waiting for? Were the tests positive? Are they going to the Grand Jury for charges?

What's really going on here? Basic charges for the accident should have been filed within a week of the accident. All reports indicate the driver ran off the road, causing the accident. Charges can always be upgraded, when new information (testing results) so indicates.

Why is the McHenry County Sheriff's Department sitting on this one?

Flooded Sidewalk - II

On March 14 I wrote about the flooded sidewalk on Lake Avenue between Woodstock Lumber and Silgan, where water stands probably a foot deep for quite a stretch, forcing pedestrians into the street. I wondered whether that sidewalk was public property or if the responsibility belonged to a private property owner there, and I mentioned that I'd report on any reply from Community Development or Public Works.

After hearing nothing from either department of the City, I visited Community Development this afternoon and learned that this sidewalk is in the public right-of-way. You got it! It's the responsibility of the City of Woodstock.

The sidewalk was put in as part of the Lake Avenue improvement project. Of course, my immediate thought was, Why didn't someone at the architect's office or Public Works take into consideration where the stormwater would gather, when the sidewalk was designed? Hello? This is not rocket science.

No private developer would have gotten away with overlooking stormwater flow. But who was looking over the City's shoulder? Anyone? No one?

And those manhole covers and the pavement around them in the eastbound lane on Lake Avenue? I've also asked the City what they are planning to do about the depressions forming around the manholes? Did I get a reply? Did the sun come up in the West this morning???

Will they wait until the pavement collapses? Will they wait until the guaranty of workmanship by the contractor expires? Will the taxpayers of Woodstock get stuck with the repair cost?

Be sure to visit the pond in front of the Woodstock Recreation Center, too, where the water collects and completely blocks the sidewalk there.

Best of Expo

This past week-end the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce held its annual Expo at Crystal Lake South High School. It was a high-energy trade show - lots of excitement, friendliness and give-aways.

Parked out front was a blue VW Beetle with a dolphin mounted on the roof. Well, not a real dolphin. Not even one that had been real. A model, don't you know? This vehicle deserved the Best Vehicle of Expo. I wonder if there was a contest category for cars.

Maybe I'll just have to call the Dolphin Swim Cloub and find out where I can get my bug dressed up... Our roads need more cars like this. Let's liven things up a little around here.

Cruising in Crystal Lake

Remember all the flap in Crystal Lake about 5-6 years ago, when people were upset with the cruisers on Northwest Highway; you know, Highway 14? Crystal Lake decided to put a stop to it, and the City Council enacted an anti-cruising ordinance.
Cruising is defined by Crystal Lake as "Driving a motor vehicle past a traffic control point in the designated area more than twice in any two-hour period between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Passing a designated control point a third time under the aforesaid conditions shall constitute unnecessary repetitive driving and cruising."
Would this include taxis? How about police cars on patrol?
How successful was it? They wrote two tickets the first year, and I don't think they have written any tickets since.

Is this law needed? Is it even constitutional? That was my first thought. It's a public road. It's a State highway. Road taxes on fuel support public roads. Would a driver really mount a constitutional defense to a ticket that might only have a $50 fine? Who is to say that such driving is "unnecessary"? That's probably a constitutionally vague term. Unnecessary in the opinion of whom?

Did the threat of a ticket or intimidation eliminate the problem? Is that how laws are supposed to work?

Do you think anyone sees these few signs any longer or, if they do, do they really know what the law is?

A 30MPH sign is clear. A No-Passing sign is clear. But an undefined sign about cruising?

The law should be repealed and the signs should come down.

Paws in the Air, Mutt

Look at the dog in that car! No, wait! Two dogs... Where is the driver in this car? From the looks of things, two dogs were out for a joy ride this afternoon. I thought about calling the Crystal Lake Police, after I spotted this vehicle eastbound on U.S. 14 at the red light at IL 176. But what do you report?

"Two dogs are driving a minivan into Crystal Lake." Be sure to click on the picture so you can get a good look at the dogs behind the wheel.

I can just hear the dispatcher now. "Sir, have you been drinking?"

Don't you just love it when a driver allows his dog to sit in his lap (OK, so I'm assuming it was a man driving) while he is driving his car? But two dogs?

Crystal Lake doesn't have a lock on stupidity of this type. I've seen it many times in Woodstock. Local pictures to follow soon.

Sofa Be Gone...

On March 21 I wrote about a snow-covered sofa that had been on the curb in front of 820 Clay Street for at least two weeks. It was covered with snow and obviously of no use to anyone.

Woodstock Code Enforcement went into action and issued a Notice of Violation on March 25. You would have thought the property owner or renter might have complied rather quickly, but it took until today for him to move the sofa.

And look where he put it! Great, really great.

During one of the first Coffees with the Chief that Woodstock's then-new police chief Bob Lowen held, he talked about the "broken window" theory. If a community allows a broken window to go unrepaired, pretty soon the door is falling off the hinges. Then trash begins to accumulate and, after that, .... After that, here comes the old furniture. Right out to the curb.

I'm sure the owner hoped that a scavenger would take it and he could avoid having to pay Marengo Disposal to pick it up. Well, his hopes have been dashed. Who wants an old sofa that has been trashed and left out in the weather?

It's not to be abandoned on the front porch. And it's not permitted to be abandoned in the back yard, either. Maybe temporarily in the back yard, while waiting for Marengo Disposal to come for a special pick-up. But not for weeks or months.

There is only one way that a town stays nice-looking and that property values stay up. It's by prohibiting and preventing conditions like this to exist. Perhaps Code Enforcement will pay a return visit on Tuesday morning and cite the property owner until he cleans up his property and keeps it clean.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Church in a Box

This morning I heard a phrase that I'd never heard before: "church in a box".

About ten years ago The McHenry County Church of Religious Science was established and held its first service right here in Woodstock. I had been introduced to the Mile Hi Church of Religious Science in Denver in 1981 and had since always tried to find a church of this denomination, wherever I lived. When I lived in L.A. in 1989, I drove 35 miles to the Agape Church in Religious Science in Santa Monica. It was the only peaceful hour in an entire week in L.A. and was worth the drive!

The Woodstock services were held in rented space at the Farm Bureau, under the watchful eyes of dairy queens of years past. Then it moved to Lakeside Center in Crystal Lake and continued there for three years. About five years ago it moved to the Country Inn & Suites in Crystal Lake; how quickly five years pass.

What's a "church in a box"? It's a church that operates in temporary quarters and which must pack up its "stuff" every week and store it on the premises or take it home and bring it back for the next week's services. Rev. Anne Muelleman never gave up on her dream, and next week, April 6, the Church will hold its first service in its new, permanent home at 204 Spring Street in Cary.

How do you get there? Go east on U.S. 14 through Crystal Lake. Keep going past Hwy. 31 and Three Oaks Road. When you get to downtown Cary where U.S. 14 takes a bend to the left, turn right, cross the tracks, turn left on Spring Street and go to the building that looks like a church (204 Spring Street). It presently houses a number of offices, which will share the building with the Church.

Like more information? Visit or call 815.444.0942

Better yet, just show up about 9:35AM and look around. Be seated at 9:45AM for a guided meditation, followed by the celebration service at 10:00AM. Be prepared to meet friendly people, and plan to hang around afterwards for coffees and treats.

What is "Religious Science"? Let me tell you what it's not. It is not Christian Science or Scientology (which shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence). I think it was established about the same time as Christian Science and the Unity Church.

You are invited to visit and will be welcome, regardless of current or past religious affilation. Or if you have no affiliation. Hope to see you there...

"Are You Singing the Song...

... that you came to sing?" This is the favorite question of a long-time friend in Denver, Joe Sabah. It's a question that Joe has been asking others for more than 25 years. And now he is about to publish a book with the answers.

Are you doing what you really want to do? Have you figured out your passion in life and are you pursuing it? It's not just a goal or a target. It's who you really are. Your authentic self. Your being. Your soul. So, are you?

And if not, why not? Are you living a life of excuses or of blame? Is someone holding you back? Is something holding you back?

What would it take for you to break free and live your life fully? A "if money were no object, I would (what?)" -type of life.

And the next question is, "If not now, when?"

You know how birds learn to fly, don't you? Momma Bird says, "I'm going to count to ten, and then I'm going to kick you out of the nest." And she starts counting... 1 - 2 - (kick!). She doesn't wait until "10". And the little bird flies! She doesn't kick him out, unless she knows that he is going to fly!

Joe and Judy Sabah wrote a book entitled, "How to Get the Job You Really Want - and Get Employers to Call You". They sold thousands of copies by being guests on radio talkshows. Then Joe wrote a manual to teach others how to get on radio talkshows! He now has a list of about 700-800 radio talkshows looking for guests. For more information about the book, the manual and the availability of the list on CD-ROM, visit

If you're not singing your song, get busy and figure out what it is. You don't even have to know the whole song, before you start singing. Just sing the first note; then see what comes out of your mouth next...

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Did you ever just want to take a pin to some bubblewrap and see how many bubbles you could pop? OK, here's your chance... Go on; you know you want to. Be sure to try the "manic" mode, too.
And be sure to turn on your speakers...

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Laughed So Hard...

... when I saw Leigh Rubin's cartoon, Rubes, last Tuesday. Did you catch it in the Northwest Herald? Click on the cartoon to enlarge it so you can read the caption and see the drawing clearly.

Why was this so funny?

First, it brought back memories of my motorcycle patrolling days in Colorado. I used to joke that, when I got fed up selling life insurance, I'd knock off for the day, go home, wash my motorcycle, wash me, put on my cop suit, grab my gun and bullet, and go out to terrorize the citizens for 6-8 hours.

And, of course, secondly, I was reminded of the ticket I got in Woodstock for a headlight that had been out for 20 minutes and how I wished I'd had some fairy dust or a wand or some charms to handle matters differently that day.

Be sure to read Rubes daily in the Northwest Herald. You will get a laugh every day! And pick up a few copies of Leigh's book, The Wild Life of Dogs: A RUBES Cartoon Book. You can probably get it at Read Between the Lynes Bookstore right here in downtown Woodstock, or Arlene can order copies for you.

Rubes By Leigh Rubin
Rubes (R) cartoon used with permission

Bicycle Path - Two Miles/$700,000?

The McHenry County Conservation District is finally going to spend some of its treasure chest on something that would actually be useful and available to many adults and children on a regular basis. Imagine that!

A bicycle path is proposed from Crystal Lake to Woodstock. This is definitely better than the current scheme of transportation. As it is now, to get from one community to the other, you have the choices of Metra and Pace Bus Route 808 (very limited schedule). Many would bike the ten miles and enjoy it. Many might even commute to work, whereas now bicyclists must risk their lives on U.S. 14 or Country Club Road, neither of which is safe for bicycling, in spite of the Illinois Rules of the Road.

I shuddered when I read the price tag on the first two-mile stretch, which may be from Crystal Lake to MCC. Would you believe $700,000. What are they going to do? Build a 4-lane highway with rest areas and cloverleaf interchanges?

Can you imagine a $350,000/mile bike path? What in the world could possibly cost $350,000 per mile???

What is a bike path? A strip of ground about eight feet wide with a thin layer of asphalt. Hopefully, no gravel haulers will be taking short-cuts, so a heavy paving job is not needed. But $350,000 per mile?

Citizens had better get ready to look at the fine print and see just where the pork barrel fell over the pick-up truck!

How long will this take? Until Fall 2009? Come on, folks. You could get really busy and have it done by August 2008.

Handicap Parking

Just how important is it that parking spaces clearly marked for handicapped person's parking should be kept free for them?

The legislature thinks it's pretty important. Important enough to allow a $250 statutory fine for violations. And that's just for the first violation. And it's higher if you 'abuse' the parking space by using a special placard when you are not entitled to do so.

In this driver's case (Illinois license XED 167) he did not display a handicap parking placard or handicap license plates. Perhaps I was feeling benevolent this morning, when this driver was parking in front of Woodstock's Jewel-Osco. Nice, clean, shiny Lincoln sedan....

The space is clearly marked, and the sign warns of a $250 fine. (By the way, in Algonquin the fine is $500.)

He got to skate by today. Perhaps the driver is entitled to park there, but he must remember to display his placard.

Would the police write a ticket, knowing that the fine is $250.00? If they observed a car in a handicap parking space, would they check for a placard? Or only if there is a complaint?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Horses, Horses, Horses

I saw a photo recently of a horse in a snowstorm or a blizzard and was reminded of my history with horses. Years and years of horses. I don't ride much now, but I'd love to find a shared-board horse deal or, better yet, someone who would just like his or her horse worked out - the edge taken off, don't you know? - so that the horse was settled down and ready for the owner to ride. If you have a horse like that, you know what I mean.

Several years ago a friend in Denver invited me to travel down to his "ranch" about 100 miles away for a ride. His 85-year-old father lived on about 100 acres, and Gordon kept his horses there. We made arrangements to do that about three weeks later.

I think Gordon called me three times/week during each week in-between. "You know how to ride, don't you?" "You have ridden before, haven't you?" "Do you really know how to ride?" Seems like I said that riding a horse is sort of like riding a bicycle. Once you know how, you don't forget.

On a Friday night we drove from Denver to Salida and spent the night in the cabin with his father. Early the next morning we loaded the horses into the trailer and headed into town for breakfast. And after that, we drove out to the trailhead.

Gordon unloaded the first horse and handed me the rope, telling me to hold my horse while he saddled his. While his back was turned, I brushed, saddled and bridled my horse and, when he turned around, I was sitting on the horse, ready to go.

When he saw I was already mounted, he asked, "Did you get the saddle on right?"

I said, "Yes, I think so. The horn goes in the front; right?"

Gordon swung up on his horse and, when he glanced over my way, I lifted the reins just slightly, and my horse took off up the trail. When I looked back, Gordon was grinning from ear to ear.

He told me later that he had invited many friends to go riding with him. When they got ready to ride, the others turned out to be beginners or even afraid to start out. We had a terrific ride that day - about 15 miles, as I recall.

Beetle Cop Car

I wish I could show you my "basic undercover car" all decorated with cop goodies, but the best I can do today is to show you a 1973 VW Beetle fixed up by the Blount County (Tenn.) Sheriff's Department. It won't be used in any high-speed chases yet; the top speed is only 70 MPH.

Seated in the bug is Assistant Chief Archie Garner, who came up with the idea of the "bug". Standing is Blount County Sheriff James L. Berrong. Next time I'm doing in Maryville, Tenn., I'll stop by and get my picture taken with their "bug."

The Blount County S/O will have $125,000 this summer to patrol the Dragon, an 11-mile stretch of U.S. 129 with 318 curves. I've been through there on my motorcycle, and it is a popular road for the maniacs on crotch-rockets and drivers in their sports cars. There is total disregard for safety, as riders "straighten out" many of those curves. There is also a huge danger when a tractor-trailer unit starts into the Dragon, not knowing what's ahead.

Check out for some great photos.

I doubt that Blount County S/O will be using this '73 "bug" on the Dragon, but I like their use of helicopters. Or maybe they will use it ... the speed limit is, as I recall, 30MPH, and probably not too many will pass a marked police car in a no-passing zone. Or maybe they will ... Then the deputies at either end can just flag down the violators and issue greetings for a court date.

Bravo, Blount County. Take good care of that "bug." And thanks for the lightning-quick response to my request for a photo!
Photo: Courtesy of Blount County (Tenn.) Sheriff's Department

Tattered Flags

When you see a U.S. Flag that is badly tattered and in need of replacement, what do you do? Do you even notice?

This the flag of our country. The flag of freedom. Do you feel proud when you look at it?

This flag is in the Crystal Point Plaza on the west end of Crystal Lake. I'll be contacting the property management company to ask them to replace it. Let's see how quickly they do so.

No Passing on U.S. 14

If you've been reading The Woodstock Advocate for a while, you already know that I dislike speeders. I really dislike tailgaters, and I hate those who tailgate, speed AND pass over the yellow lines of a no-passing zone on a two-lane state highway!

OK, well, it happened again this afternoon, as I drove from Crystal Lake to Woodstock. The driver of the red GMC Jimmy (Illinois license 416 4417) followed me in the 50MPH zone from MCC. At Lily Pond Road there was gap in oncoming traffic, so he dodged out of the lane behind me and passed me in the no-passing zone.

And he really saved a lot of time, because he caught red lights at Doty Road, Lake Avenue and U.S. 14. Guess who stopped right behind him, without ever driving over the speed limit (which increases to 55MPH near Turning Point).

I mean, some people are just stupid.

Naturally, the thought occurred to me to call the Woodstock Police Department and ask if an officer could intercept him and stop him. But I learned about 15 months ago that, even after incredible difficulty in getting WPD to locate and cite the driver, the case was lost in traffic court due to loss of my prepared statement and the unwillingness of the prosecuting attorney for the City of Woodstock to talk to me before the case was called.

I remember cases a few years ago, when a different prosecuting attorney handled Woodstock's traffic cases. He would talk with the defendant before court and make a deal for a Guilty plea. Even when I testified, we had a 100% conviction rate. And that was a long winning streak over ten years, until the case last year.

And we would have won last year, if the case had been well-prepared and if the attorney had been at all interested in gedtting a conviction. The other driver and his passenger perjured themselves in court, and they even prepared their perjury before court with photographs of a different stretch of roadway where the driver said he had passed me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

MCC Stadium? You're Out!

You'll have to read the Daily Herald this morning to learn that MCC is trashing its plan to build a stadium and health & wellness complex.

Wish I had been there last night.

According to the Daily Herald, MCC President Walt "Packard made his comments after a $10,000 assessment of a feasibility study noted the study had overstated the complex's money-making abilities and that entities typically get into these type of ventures with the expectation that they will not be profitable."

All I can say is, "Well, duh...." Thank goodness they spent $10,000 on an assessment of the (how expensive?) feasibility study!

In the Daily Herald Trustee Donna Kurtz is quoted as saying it's now water under the bridge. Well, better make darned sure that there isn't a dam downstream that is going to cause this water to back up!

MCC is a college, and colleges are for education. It's not an entertainment complex!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Darkened Windows are Illegal

Most drivers in Illinois (and in many other states) know that it is illegal to have heavily-tinted, darkened glass in the windows of the driver's door and of the front-seat passenger's door. The reasons are obvious - for the safety of a police officer who approaches the vehicle during a traffic stop. (Frankly, I've always wondered why the rear window and the glass in rear doors can be tinted. A carload of hoodlums could easily have shooters in the back seat, and a cop would never see them.)

What is amazing is the number of vehicles on the road with darkened front, side windows! Have you noticed how many?

Check out this Infiniti 4-door sedan observed in Woodstock tonight. Not only were the front windows tinted, but there was no front license plate. The rear plate was there, though; it was Illinois 545 0006.

To illustrate the power of the auto dealers' lobby in Illinois, it is not illegal to sell a car with illegally-darkened front windows. It's just illegal to drive one. This exemption should be removed from the Illinois Vehicle Code, allowing enforcement to start right where it belongs - before the car ever hits the streets.

The Illinois State Police will ticket drivers with darkened windows and no front license plate. Visibility of the driver and front-plate identification are important for PhotoRadar enforcement in highway work zones and for tollbooth enforcement on the Tollway.

Why don't local police support the State Police with rigid enforcement efforts? My personal experience is that speeders and tailgaters often fail (refuse) to display front license plates, have darkened front windows and use tinted license plate covers to obscure license plate numbers.

Write the tickets and publicize the efforts. Use the "safety" enforcement units to tickets these drivers, too; not just those who don't wear seatbelts.

The last time most drivers looked at the Illinois Rules of the Road was when they were 16 and on the way to get their driver's license for the first time. Maybe drivers should have to take a written test every five years as a review of the rules of the road.

How to Irritate Customers

From the looks on the faces of drivers in the Jewel-Osco parking lot tonight, quite a number of them were confounded, confused and even mad at the number of overturned shopping carts blocking empty parking places in front of the store. In one aisle about ten parking places were blocked; carts were turned on end to prevent drivers from parking at close-in parking spaces.

In another aisle 4-5 spaces were blocked by pallets of what looked like fertilizer.

I inquired at the Customer Service counter and was told that “corporate” had ordered the garden center moved from the end aisle to a center aisle between the two store entrances. That sounded right to me – something that someone sitting in a glass palace somewhere would decide. Disregard customers’ parking desires and move the merchandise in their way so they’ll have to walk by it to enter and leave the store.

There are at least two outcomes to this policy. One is that customers will love it and buy more. Another outcome is that customers will recognize the ploy and walk past it without buying it!

If you have an opinion, voice it on Click on the “Contact us” button and fill out the email form. By the way, tell them that, if it is a corporate decision, don’t bother to have the Store Director call. Fix it at the corporate level.

4,000 Dead. How Many Injured?

How much longer will the USA tolerate the growing death count in Iraq?

As we pass the 4,000 mark, it’s important to notice how little mention is made of the 30,000 injured military personnel. Last week a friend commented that the death toll is “only 4,000” because of advances in medical care. We are able to keep alive many who have been horribly injured and mutilated; i.e., medical care kept them from dying.

But the quality of life they will enjoy? Will they ever recover?

It disgusts me to listen to the tripe spewed by President George Bush. His words are empty. Already he is hedging in his statements, referring to “as long as I am President.” Well, George, there are 302 days to Inauguration Day 2009 until you are no longer President!

Remember the Year 2000 Countdown Clocks. We need one of those counting down the time to January 20, 2009!

The man just does not “get” it. The bombings and artillery attacks will continue, no matter how many troops we have on the ground there. Remember that “Mission Accomplished” fiasco? That was May 1, 2003. In about five weeks, that date will be five years ago!

On NPR I heard today an estimate that 90,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the five years of the war in Iraq. Thanks, George. Is it any wonder we are hated in Iraq?

Will County, California

California negotiating practices have arrived in Illinois! If you don't like the smell of this, call everyone you know in Will County and ask them to contact their elected representatives on the Will County Board and lay into them.

Will County and five of its detectives owe $15,500,000 to a couple whose 3-year-old daughter was murdered. The father was accused and arrested, but DNA on the child's body was determined not to be his. The father and mother accused the detectives of framing him and sued Will County and the detectives for $15,500,000. They won.

Aside from this judgement being way out of whack in amount, what's the big deal? "Authorities" are dealing to avoid forcing the detectives into bankruptcy and just leaving the insurance company on the hook by excusing the detectives from personal liability.

Well, guess what, folks! The insurance company did not frame the father. The deputies allegedly did. So, why should they be let off the hook? Of course, they are personally responsible. They could not have acted within the scope of their law enforcement duties to frame the father.

The detectives (if they lost a $15,500,000 judgement to the parents) should be held accountable, both financially and professionally. Presumably, they are no longer employed by the sheriff's department. Are they?

When you accuse someone of murder and manufacture evidence to make your case, you have violated your oath of office and performed in a manner that cannot be excused. "I'm sorry" won't cut it. "The insurance company will pay" won't cut it. They are personally responsible. Who else could be?

The deal should be thrown off the table immediately!

Living Life Fully

A friend in Florida sent me this link to a lecture by Randy Pausch, until recently a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

He appeared on Oprah to present the last lecture he gave to his students. Oprah introduced him, saying this message has been downloaded over a million times.

I encourage you to watch it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hastert's New Job

Congratulations to Kate Thayer for scooping the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times on Dennis Hastert's new part-time job as a consultant and "strategic adviser" for Naperville's Goeken Group Corporation. Too bad it ended up on Page 3B of today's Northwest Herald.

Should it have been on Page 1?

I've wondered why he resigned and left Congress in mid-term. Was it health? Personal problems? More time with family? He couldn't wait until the end of his term? Was he mad that Pelosi got his place in the spotlight?

Is a retired Congressman permitted to lobby within the first two years after leaving Congress? Or does that apply only to staffers and other government employees?

Good job, Kate.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Treffly Coyne Sues Crestwood

The Chicago Tribune reports a lawsuit by the mother who was arrested in Crestwood for leaving her sleeping daughter in her locked car, while she walked 30 feet to watch her other daughter and a friend donate money to a Salvation Army kettle. Remember that story?

And remember that the case was kicked out of court recently, when the prosecutors said they didn’t have enough evidence to, in effect, win?

Search on Google for their attorney, Blake Horwitz, and see some of the other cases he has handled. He has a class action lawsuit against the City of Chicago on its handheld cellphone law. Seems the City “forgot” to put up the signs required by its law.

It is preposterous for the City of Crestwood and its police department to dig in its heels and refuse to admit its mistake. Their stupidity and bullheadedness will not only further embarrass them, but it is going to cost them a bundle to defend themselves and, ultimately, to pay off.

The basis for her lawsuit? False arrest and malicious prosecution.

Several years ago a driver in Woodstock was hit at the light by Wendy’s, when a Woodstock police car was running “hot” and blew through a red light. When I talked to him and asked if the officer had gotten a ticket, he asked, “Can police officers get tickets?

His lawsuit took three years. After it was over and he had won, he told me that, if the Woodstock Police Department (this was before Chief Lowen) had just apologized and fixed his car, he would not have sued. But the City dug in its heels. And they lost.

I predict the same outcome in Crestwood. Dumb, just dumb.

Abandoned Curbside Furnishings

Just how long should the City - and the neighbors - tolerate household furnishings that have been abandoned and left on the parkway in front of a house? What's a "parkway"? It's the grass between the street and the sidewalk.
Where is this sofa? 820 Clay Street.

The City ordinances are all in place. The City can do something about it. Of course, they have a "process." And that process takes too long.

When a tenant (or property owner) puts a piece of furniture on the curb or parkway, the City should give him 24 hours to remove it. Period! If he doesn't move it, cite him. And then go back the next day and cite him again. And the next day. And none of this nonsense of giving him Notice and allowing him ten days to move it.

Or the City could have it removed and charge the property owner. Send him a bill; ten days net. If he doesn't pay, file a lien. The City can collect all expenses, so it costs them nothing to collect the money. They can collect the fine, interest, collection costs, legal fees.

This old sofa has been there since about March 7. On March 14 I emailed Community Development. Perhaps they knew about it by then? Had someone else called? Had a City worker noticed it and forwarded information to Community Development? Had a police officer noticed it and informed Community Development?

When it was still there on March 18, I emailed them a photo. Today, March 21, it's still there and now buried in snow.

How long do we have to look at sofas and other junk on the curb?

Who, me? Carry a Gun?

Last week I emailed the sheriffs of McHenry, Lake, Boone and Winnebago Counties to ask where they stood on the Family and Personal Protection Act. The sheriff’s office of Winnebago County was kind enough to reply to me.

HB 1304 is a slightly different, and preferred, version of the Family and Personal Protection Act, because it puts the authority to issue in the hands of the State Police, not at the level of the County Sheriff. This would make a more uniform evaluation of applications and issuance of permits.

I was asked recently why some people want the right to carry a concealed weapon. “Why would anyone want to carry a gun?” It’s simple. To protect myself. And I’ll also be willing to step forward and protect you.

I was in Jack Franks’ office this week and spoke with his legislative assistant, Jay. My question to Jay was, “Suppose someone came in here right now with a gun and intended to harm your staff or you. How long would it take the Woodstock Police to arrive, assuming someone could get to a phone?”

When criminals don’t know which civilians have guns, they are less likely to attempt crimes against persons. Yes, they might “stick up” a vending machine or try to steal an ATM. But they won’t stick a gun in your face, because they don’t know if 2-3-4 people nearby are armed.

Read the conditions of HB 1034 on or just click here:

Then call Rep. Jack Franks at 815.334.0063 and tell him that you want him to vote FOR it. It could save your life!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Denver Boot - It Works

Having lived in Denver three times for a total of 18 years, I'm acquainted with the Denver Boot. Not personally, I hasten to add. But I knew they were used, and used effectively, with street parking violations, usually in no-parking zones on streets during rush-hour periods and for parking meter violations after a driver had accumulated 3-5 unpaid tickets.

What is the "boot"? It's a metal clamp that is placed around a front wheel and locked, immobilizing the vehicle. When the boot is in place, the car cannot be driven.

This morning's Northwest Herald carried a leading article on Page 1C about use of the Denver boot in a privately-owned Crystal Lake parking lot next to Buena Vista Taqueria in the 400 block of (West) Virginia Street, right on the main drag of U.S. 14 between McHenry and Dole Avenues. Because I am curious and nosy (and from Denver), I drove by while running an errand today in Crystal Lake.

I initially had assumed that the large photo in the Northwest Herald was of Mr. Figueroa standing behind two of his own two signs (one in English; the other in Spanish). You can easily estimate the size of these signs by Mr. Figueroa's height and size. They definitely are not small; nor are they inadequate.

What is not shown in the photograph or mentioned in the story is another sign of the same size, mounted on a post in the center of the driveway about three feet from the sidewalk. So there are three signs there. And one of the three is printed in Spanish, giving fair warning to any non-English-speaking customers of the Taqueria. So, where's the beef?

Mr. Allen Meyer, a Taqueria customer from Fox River Grove, drove right past the center sign to park in the hotel's parking lot and walked right past the other two signs to enter the Taqueria. He trespassed on the hotel's parking lot, and he got nailed. Granted, a $115 cost added to a $1.79 taco sort of spoils lunch, but he could have parked on the street and walked a few feet to the entrance of the Tacqueria.

According to the article, the hotel offered to rent parking to the Taqueria for $200/month. That's less than $7.00/day. Okay, you've got to sell a few extra tacos to recover the parking lot cost. Would it be worth it? Will Mr. Meyer and his buddy return to the Taqueria? You'll have to ask them. Maybe they will read this and let us know. Will they forget the extra $230 cost to last week's lunch? I doubt that!

The signs give fair warning to anyone entering the lot. If you pull into a parking lot and see signs with WARNING and YOUR VEHICLE WILL BE BOOTED IMMEDIATELY, wouldn't you read the rest of the sign?

If I were Mr. Figueroa, I'd be renting that lot. He might be able to negotiate it down to $150, or $5.00/day. Even at $7.00, in view of the bad publicity he has gotten over this, it would be worth it.

It's the hotel's property. It is signed adequately. It's called Respect for the property of another!

City Council Meetings - on Cable TV?

How many Woodstock residents would "attend" City Council meetings and participate in Woodstock government, if they could do so by watching the semi-monthly City Council meetings on a public service cable channel right from the comfort of their living rooms or offices?

Generally, audience members only show up at City Council meetings when a topic of immediate concern is on the Agenda or when they wish to address the Council during the Public Comment portion of the meeting. A few die-hards show up with no reason other than civic involvement.

But what if residents could watch the meetings without showing up at the Council chambers in City Hall? What if they could tape the meetings off their cable TV channel? What if they could save the tapes and play them later to review exactly what any particular Council member or the Mayor had said on a given date or about a given topic?

The City of Woodstock maintains no EXACT record of what took place at a City Council meeting or who said what? Yes, votes are recorded and noted. City Council meetings are taped, but the tape is only for the use of the City Clerk, who prepares a written summary of the meeting and then destroys the tapes. Efforts to get the tapes preserved have failed.

What possible reason could there be for destroying the tapes so quickly?

It was explained to me that the tapes belong to the City Clerk, but I don't buy that. The tapes belong to the City and, with the permission of the City, the tapes are quickly destroyed after the City Clerk writes up her understanding of the meeting. The City could just as easily order the Clerk to preserve the tape-recordings and place them on file with the City Manager, where any person or member of the press could have access to them.

Should a question arise later, even at the next City Council meeting, as to who said what, there is no longer any proof.

Many communities and cities broadcast City Council meetings via public service channels on cable TV. Others videotape the meetings and preserve the tapes.

Could this happen in Woodstock? Yes, indeed, IF the residents clearly and loudly tell the City Council that they want this.

Legislative Town Hall Meeting

Last night at MCC a town hall meeting was conducted by Sen. Pam Althoff and State Representatives Jack Franks and Mike Tryon. This was the third town hall meeting in nine months. The focus last night was the Illinois Budget and the cuts facing organizations and businesses.
Aside from starting late and getting out-of-control time-wise right from the start, the meeting was worthwhile. Many speakers had good information for the three elected representatives. Some merely rehashed what services they provide. Some were specific in their requests, such as a cap on diesel fuel taxes. Blago took many hits for refusing to release State funds for projects approved by the legislature and in the budget. Is he retaliating against our McHenry County legislators for representing the People and not kowtowing to his personal wishes?peakers were reminded often that they should keep their remarks brief. Ten- and 15-minute blocks of time were allotted to numerous groupings. Time restraints were generally ignored by speakers. A few, thankfully, stayed right on target and spoke clearly, succinctly and briefly.
When five speakers were to present their remarks in a 10-minute period, each was to have two minutes. In too many cases, each thought her or his remarks to be so important that 4-5-6 minutes were used. One speaker took eight (that's EIGHT) minutes, in spite of two warnings from the platform.
In future town hall meetings, the legislators should be on the stage on-time, not glad-handing around the auditorium, speaking to one person or another, while several hundred waited for the program to start. The town hall meeting should start on time. The late-comers can enter quietly and take their seats. Or perhaps door guards could just close the doors at the announced starting time and then, 10 minutes later, allow late-comers to enter during a brief pause in the program.
Further, a time-keeper should be used right from the beginning of the meeting. The elected representatives know by now that speakers will get long-winded, as they speak passionately about their organizations and needs. Set a timer for two minutes. When the bell dings, stop the person speaking. I mean, Stop them. Don't let them get by with "I'm almost done" and then allow them to go on for two more minutes. Interrupt them; thank them; stop them. They can email further remarks and/or make an appointment to speak at greater length with their senator or representative.
Within about 90 minutes, the meeting was running 45 minutes late. Finally a time-keeper was appointed, but all he could do was display a handmade timecard with faint printing on it. Apparently, no one had brought a heavy black marker.
The meeting was video-taped. Because the meeting was four hours long, I don't know the plans for availability or distribution. Wouldn't it be nice if a DVD would be available for $5.00?

Woodstock's Radar Trailer


What do you think or feel when you see or hear that word? With reference to driving your automobile, I mean? Fear? Panic? Do you immediately check your speedometer? Do you know what the posted speed limit is where you are?

Have you ever been stopped by a traffic officer who informed you that your speed had just been checked (clocked?) by radar? Have you received a ticket by mail for speeding in an Illinois highway work zone? Was your assumption that the radar was accurate?

And when you see a radar speed trailer sitting on the side of the road, what are your thoughts?

I used to think that the radar trailer was there to remind me of the speed limit AND to help me determine whether or not my vehicle's speedometer was accurate; i.e., if my speedometer indicates 30MPH, am I really traveling at 30MPH?

Then one day I asked several area law enforcement agencies whether their radar speed trailers were accurate. Not one agency told me that its radar display on the trailer was accurate! By "accurate", I mean exact, correct, a true reading.

All replied that the speed displayed was close to the speed of the moving vehicle passing through. "Could be 2-3 MPH off" was the usual answer. There seemed to be several reasons for the inaccuracy: not calibrated for true speed in the first place; age of equipment; maintenance of the equipment; weather.

So, if you use a radar speed trailer to "measure" your speed and determine how accurate your speedometer is, DON'T. Don't rely on it. Yes, it will be "close" and, if you think that is good enough to keep you out of hot water with an Illinois Work Zone photoradar unit and a police officer's radar unit in his vehicle, then at least you know your car's speedometer might be off.

Years ago radar officers were supposed to calibrate their radar units on a daily basis; maybe even after each ticket, depending on the department and its requirements. And the unit was to be used in accordance with the instruction manual.

I knew one deputy in Colorado who liked to hold the unit inside the car and aim it into the outside rearview mirror on the driver's door. This kept the unit out of the view of an approaching driver who might be looking for the unit's being mounted on the outside of the left rear door window. The instruction manual specifically said not to operate it that way, but that did not phase her in the least. She knew that most drivers would just pay the ticket and, if a case did go to court, the driver or his attorney might fail to ask if the radar gun was operated in accordance with the instruction manual.

Are there streets in Woodstock where you would like the radar speed trailer used? Send an email to and let them know where you would like it.

Locations I have suggested are:

Southbound Route 47, south of US 14

Northbound Route 47, in front of Kmart

Eastbound US 14 by Culver's

East- and westbound Lake Avenue in front of Wal-Mart

Where would you like to see it used? Post your suggestions here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lying to a Child – OK?

When is it okay to lie to a child? Sometimes? Always? Never?

Children, even young children (say, age 5), are resilient. They can accept straight talk. So what would lead a guardian to lie to a child and to persist in the lie?

What prompted these thoughts was the recent Northwest Herald article about Woodstock’s infamous ducks, Jenny and Bean, who were the subject of a special-use ordinance by the City Council last fall. As you may recall, the City Council voted to allow the ducks to be in the City Limits if (and only if) the Savanna Grove Homeowners Association voted to allow them.

And then the Mayor immediately said that the City would no longer take an interest in the presence of the ducks! In other words, in spite of the City Council’s having just said that the ducks could, in effect, come back (they were already back) after the Homeowners Association said they could, if it ever did, the Mayor ordered the City to desist from enforcement efforts.

The ducks were already back when the Council voted and they remained. However, they apparently were moved from the Woodstock property, because sometime around Christmas a coyote reportedly dined on one of them and the other went on a hunger strike and died.

And then, by vote of the property owners in Savanna Grove, the Homeowners’ Association did not approve the proposed change in the Covenants that would have allowed Jenny and Bean to return to residency in Woodstock.

Being dinner for a coyote would be no fun for the duck. But consider now the dilemma facing the child whose ducks they were. The guardian has apparently told the child that the ducks “flew south.” Okay, so that’s a nice easy “out” and only a temporary one.

The child will learn the truth one of these days. Either the guardian will tell her, a neighbor will accidentally let it slip, or a mean child in the neighborhood or school will lay the truth on the child. Imagine now the greater dilemma. The trust factor between the child and the guardian will be broken. To the guardian it will seem a small matter. To the child it may leave a lifetime mark. The child may never forget the lie and may wonder at future statements by the guardian.

Will the lie wash over into other areas of the child’s life?

How much better it would have been for the guardian to sit down with the child and explain what happened. Children are resilient. Yes, there would have been tears. Yes, there would have been grief. And, yes, the child would have lived through it.

Death is as much a part of life as birth. The ducks were apparently allowed to be humanized in that household, which is questionable to me. Pets are nice, but they are pets. They are not household members. Pets should be treated as pets.

130 Animals - $3,700,000 Later

Remember when the McHenry County Board debated whether to abandon the existing Animal Control building off Raffel Road and move to the former State Farm Claims Center in Crystal Lake? The projected cost? $1,700,000 for the building and $2,000,000 to renovate it. Not all Board members agreed on the move and cost, but enough did that it passed.

And now we see, thanks to the Northwest Herald, that this new facility will house only 58 dogs and 72 cats.

Perhaps I missed that in August 2006, when all the excitement (and objections) about the move dominated the news. Our County Board spent $3,700,000 to house 130 animals???

How much has the Board spent to house and rehabilitate the more than 130 homeless men, women and children in McHenry County?

Perhaps the Northwest Herald, which still has wider readership than this online journal, will next report the operating budget of Animal Control: salaries (for how many employees?), business expenses, vehicle expenses (how many vehicles?) and the estimated annual cost of food for these 58 dogs and for 72 cats? Certainly, this is all a public record, because the taxpayers of McHenry County are paying for all of it.

Does Animal Control buy premium, organic food? Or does it buy dry food at the lowest cost? Does it provide tap water for the animals? Or filtered or bottled water? How about for the employees? Tap water?

Perhaps a photo story will follow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Register Now to Comment

A recent change was made for posting comments to articles because of inappropriate comments being continually posted by certain people here in Woodstock, mostly anonymously, but a few who posted under an alias.

Due to the crude, profane, malicious, libelous, and just plain nasty postings a change was made to require registration before you can post. For most of you, this will not present a problem. Registration is free and quick.

For the cowards out there who chose to post anonymously and take cheap shots. you're out. Good riddance to you. Many readers will be happy not to have to view your crude postings. For me? I laughed at them and recognize you for who you are.

To all others? Your comments are welcome, whether or not you agree with what I have written. I shall respond to appropriately-worded comments. If you are respectful, I shall be.

If you view any inappropriate or profane postings here, please let me know where they are. I'll continue to delete them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Free Lunch? No. Free Postage!

Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch? He was probably right, but until March 31 there is free postage. At least, for one letter. Go to and create your own card. It will be mailed to you (postpaid) for you to sign and send on (postpaid).

Today, so many people use e-mail. Even "I love you" is sent by e-mail. Whatever happened to all those love letters that got saved with the ribbons around them? What are we leaving to our kids? And do our kids even know about letter-writing?

Letter-writing is a dying art form. Help resuscitate it. Do it soon. You might wait a day or two, because the website is very busy today.

Best Burger in Woodstock

Saturday I stopped in Culver's and had the best burger I've had in Woodstock. If you haven't been there lately, stop in.

About two bites into my meal, I asked one of the serving staff to ask the manager to stop by my table. A few minutes later she did, and I asked her to look at my burger?

"See how the patties are flattened? See how they are sort of crisp on the edge?"

She nodded.

"This is the best burger I've had here, and I've been eating here since you opened. It's fresh; it's tasty; it's hot. And the fries are super hot, too."

I think managers don't often get a lot of compliments on their food, but that day's meal was exceptional. She said that she had a really good fry cook, and she does.

Stop in soon.

Sprint Online Grade? F

Over the past few days Sprint has upgraded its online Customer Account Management system. “Upgraded” is a word that should strike fear in the heart of any customer. And Sprint succeeded!

The system was back online this morning. And broken! After going to and entering my existing UserID and passcode, a security update page was presented. Okay, fine. I entered all the required information for their improved security and submitted it.

And what happened? I was taking right back to the first page for updated security information. After entering it again, I submitted it. Result? Same return to the first page. A vicious loop, from which no escape was possible. Then I left the site and returned, trying to access with my newly-entered security information – and can’t get into my account.

I’ve worked in customer service (the management end of customer service) and on a website usability team at the Sears headquarters. I understand what happens when some executive in the nose-bleed section gives an order to upgrade a website. There is too much to be done, too little time, too few people to do it, too short a deadline, not enough money to get the job done, and an upgrade done over a week-end and expected to be right when it goes “live.”

There should be sufficient time to test the new website and get the bugs out. And it shouldn’t go “live” unless it works right – the first time.

Hello, Sprint? Is anyone at work?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Flooded Sidewalk

This sidewalk floods regularly in heavy rains and snowmelt. The depth of water forces pedestrians into busy Lake Avenue. Where is it?

This sidewalk is on the north side of Lake Avenue between Woodstock Lumber and Wal-Mart. Just beyond the trees it appears the ground is being graded for development. Hey, it's just a minor problem, compared to the worries of Crystal Lake over the watershed affecting Crystal Lake, if MCC gets a green light on the sports complex and ball stadium.

But this sidewalk is important to pedestrians and bicyclists. And both use this sidewalk.

Will the City take action to either raise the sidewalk or re-direct the flooding? Is it even the City's responsibility? Responses to today's emails to Public Works and Community Development will be posted (if there are any responses).

Kill That TV

I thought I was the only one who wanted to kill a TV. Several years ago I thought about calling the Woodstock PD and asking if there was any law against pumping six rounds into my own TV. Actually, I knew there was, and I didn't want my residence surrounded by every cop in town and the County.

Check out two websites: where you can read, "American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV."-- The Kaiser Family Foundation

And check out for a gameplan to sharply reduce the TV time in your household. Is there life after TV? There is only one way to find out. Turn it off. Try it. Turn it off for a week. For two weeks. And that includes videogames and movie rentals, unless they are good quality, healthy, family-time movies.

Get a book and actually read it.

What a novel idea!

Knife Found in McHenry School Locker

What's wrong with this picture?

A three-inch pocket knife is found in a student's locker in the McHenry Middle School, and the cops schedule a meeting.

Wasn't it just two years ago that a student was expelled for several months for doodling in his notebook in class? The school called his drawings "gang signs" and threw him out. I saw the drawings and met the student and his parents.

He hadn't drawn "gang signs". Even if he had, the drawings were in his own notebook. Does the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution apply in McHenry? I definitely was not sure that it did.

When I was a kid, we all carried pocket knives. And we didn't have lockers to put them in. We put them in our pockets. We didn't flourish them. We didn't threaten anyone. A knife was, and is, a tool. We used them to cut things, like sticks and string. Sometimes we sharpened our pencils with them.

Now? If you even just say the word "knife" on a school campus, there will probably be a lockdown. The SWAT Team will show up. The K-9 teams will show up. Buses will be delayed.

We need to start recognizing Crime and stop criminalizing people who don't break the law!

Sheriff Asks for ISA Bucks

Did anyone else receive the letter from Sheriff Nygren, asking financial support of the Illinois Sheriffs' Association? While I am pretty sure that no County taxpayer funds were used to generate this mailing, I absolutely detest the use of his title "Sheriff, McHenry County" in this letter and the appearance of his name "Sheriff Keith Nygren" in the return address window of the envelope.

The letter prompted me to telephone the headquarters of the Illinois Sheriffs Association to inquire where the Association stands on concealed-carry by law-abiding citizens in Illinois. The executive director, Greg Sullivan, was out, and I hope he'll return my call next week.

I had spoken with him 3-4 years ago and learned of the serious split in opinion among the 102 sheriff's in Illinois. The northern bunch (that includes Sheriff Nygren) oppose concealed carry, and many in the rest of the state favor it.

I remember one of the first phone calls I made after moving to Illinois in 1996. I called the Woodstock Police Department to ask how to get an application for a concealed weapons permit. At least, the officer didn't laugh at me when he suggested I call the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

But the deputy there did laugh, as he told me that I would NEVER get a concealed weapons permit in Illinois. Well, times are changing. Now 48 states allow some form of carry. Two states - Illinois and Wisconsin - do not. And Wisconsin almost did, except for two legislators who wimped out when it was time to over-ride Gov. Doyle's veto.

Will I support the Illinois Sheriffs' Association? For $20.00? Yes, if they will adopt a Board-approved position in favor of concealed carry. Otherwise, I don't need their decal in my car's back window.

I may even survey the 102 sheriffs. My guess is that more than 50% of them would be in favor of concealed carry, as are many sheriffs, police chiefs and other law enforcement personnel across the United States.

After all, crime goes down when concealed carry is permitted.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Case Dismissed!

Did you read this morning’s paper about the Tinley Park mom who drove to a Crestwood shopping center on December 8, so that two of her kids and a friend could donate money to a Salvation Army kettle? She left her 2-year-old in her locked car only 30 feet away while the kids put the coins in the kettle. How far is 30 feet? Pace it off. That’s ten big steps for most people. Ten steps!

When she tried to return to her car, a Community Service Officer (CSOs are not police officers) blocked her way, and shortly after that she found herself in the back seat of a police car, handcuffed.

The case was dismissed today, when the Assistant State’s Attorney had to tell the judge that they couldn’t meet the burden of proof in the case. Poor ASA. She must have drawn the short straw or been late for a meeting. Or maybe she is a stand-up person and asked for the case. The ASA did the right thing. The case never should have ended up in court in the first place. Read about it at If you don’t make it today, search for “Treffly”.

Should the mom go after Crestwood, its PD and the CSO. Like, maybe, for false arrest? Should she go after the CSO for impersonating a police officer by restricting her freedom? For interfering with her passage to her car? What do you call it when one person interferes with the free movement of another person?

We’ll never know the whole story. The woman’s husband told her not to talk to anyone until he got there. That was excellent advice!

It is critical to remember that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. An excellent presentation of the Miranda Rights can be viewed at

Wheeling & Dealing

Did you pay any attention to the big ad section of Bull Valley Ford in this morning's Northwest Herald? I was reminded of a seminar I put together in Denver in 1986, called "How to Deal with Car Dealers." Many people still bought cars then - I mean, "bought" them, not rented them from the dealer for three years.

Was it clear from the ad this morning that the deal is a lease? It's a Lease. Hear that? LEASE. And what is a lease? A temporary use of a car for a limited period of time, sort of like renting a house. You get to enjoy it and, at the end of the rental period, you move out.

Look at the come-on in the big print. "50% off MSRP" and "Program". Car buyers have learned what MSRP is. That's the top line on the sticker. The Asking Price. The price no one pays.

And "Program." We heard continually about "program" cars. Those are the cars driven by car company employees for a year or so and then sold as "premium" used cars.

Now, this ad did not say they were "program" cars. It just calls the deal a "program."

The third time I read the ad, I finally saw the word "Lease", where a line informs all that it is a "Ford Credit Red Carpet Lease."

How does it work? Pick out a 2008 Ford. Divide the list price by 2 (remember now - no one pays MSRP. So why would you start with MSRP on a "deal"?). Then divide that number by 39 (the number of payments in this Lease). What? No interest? Of course, there is interest; it's buried in the number that you divided by 2.

If you get out your microscope, you can read the tiny print that tells you that pricing excludes tax, title and "$150 doc fee." What's a "doc fee"? That's the documentation - the paperwork. Getting you to pay it just increased dealership profit. What do you do when you see that line? You get out your black Marker and put a big thick line right through it. Would you just open your wallet and peel off three $50 bills and lay them on the desk? Of course not. That's dealer profit. Why would you cough up money to cover his overhead for the title clerk?

Remember when you expected (on a lease) to pay for annual mileage over 15,000 miles? And maybe at $0.15/mile?

Keep reading. On this deal you hit your mileage limit at 10,500 miles/year and then you get to fork over $0.20/mile. So, if you drive 20,500 miles in the first year, you just racked up $2,000 in added cost at the end of the lease! Still looking like a good deal?

And if you want to buy the car at the end of the 39-month lease? Well, you know in advance that you'll be able to buy it for the other 50% of the MSRP. What a deal! Get out your Kelley Blue Book and figure out what cars are worth 50% after 39 months. Just go to

Leases must be approached very carefully. In some cases, they are good deals, usually when the vehicle will be used in business. Why do "ordinary" people go for leases? They can keep up with the Joneses and get more car than they can afford.

Do you keep a car for a long time? Do you buy a new car and drive it until the wheels fall off? Do you drive a lot of miles in a year? Then BUY the car; don't lease it. Be sure to read (and print) all the good car-buying tips on

Years ago I came across a saying that still holds true today. "In the beginning there is price. In the end there is cost."

Be sure to figure both before you lease a car. And before you buy one.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Iraq War - Complacency?

Did you see the article buried on Page 9A of Monday's Northwest Herald about the monthly cost of the Iraq war? $12 Billion a month.

That's $12,000,000,000 A MONTH!

And the forecast by our own government? The Congressional Budget Office forecasts a cumulative cost by 2017 of $1.2-1.7 TRILLION.

All because of a few lies and careless analysis and failure to consider seriously the opinions of those who said there were no WMDs.

How much is $1.7 Trillion? $1,700,000,000,000

We cannot become complacent about this war. We started it, and we'd better do something about finishing it - one war or another. Maybe a good start would be to kick out of office anyone who voted for it. That would be about everybody in Congress. Get some people in with clear heads and a clean slate.

Our kids and grandkids will never dig this country out of the financial hole that is getting deeper and deeper. Tax cuts and bigger deficits won't do it. It's far past time to stop this madness and insist on responsible government.

Commercial Drivers & Cell Phones

Have you ever been sitting at Route 47 and Lake Avenue or at Route 47 and Irving and watched the driver of a tractor-trailer or other large truck make a left turn in front of you while talking on a handheld cell phone? And then take his hand off the steering wheel to shift gears? Kind of scary, eh?

New Jersey recently passed a state-wide law prohibited the use of handheld cell phones by drivers. It would forever and a day before Illlinois would follow suit, but maybe we could interest our legislators in addressing the use of cell phones by drivers of commercial trucks while their vehicles are in motion.

The driver of a northbound gravel truck on Route 31 crossed the centerline and ran into a southbound pick-up truck, injuring both drivers and creating a traffic jam.

What is it that caused a driver to cross the centerline? Inattention? Coffee? Cell phone usage? Probably not map-reading by a local driver.

Almost every day I see a driver holding a cell phone and committing traffic violations from driving across the centerline, onto the shoulder, tailgating, entering an intersection without stopping at the stop sign or at the stop bar while the light is red, turning right or left in front of oncoming traffic.

Tangling with another car is bad enough. Doing battle with a gravel truck or tractor-trailer? They win; you lose.

Jewel-Osco Parking Lot

What's wrong with the way this vehicle is parked? The white Chevrolet Equinox (license 876 8782) was parked for more than 20 minutes this morning in front of the Jewel-Osco store.
For starters, it's on the wrong side of the driveway, with the driver's door next to the curb.Then, of, course, it is parked in a crosswalk. And there is always that pesky Fire Lane no-parking sign mounted on the wall of the building.

Illegal? Not all, thanks to the City's inaction on completing a Vehicular Control Contract with the three property owners on that corner. The City tells me that it does not agree with me that there is a problem with traffic violations. Two of the three property owners want such a Contract, but apparently the City will not attempt to complete an agreement with the third property owner.
In a conversation with a store manager this morning, I was told that a woman was hit about a month ago by a driver who ran a stop sign in front of Jewel. The woman's screams could be heard several hundred feet away and inside stores.

When I checked with a manager of another store, I was told that the woman had slipped and fallen on ice and had cracked her head hard on the ice.

Traffic violations are prevalent on the "Jewel-Osco" property (which is actually three parcels of real estates with three different owners/managers), but they are not actually violations because there is no Vehicular Control Contract. Such a Contract would allow police officers to cite drivers upon their own observation and without a complaint from a store manager.

If you think the police should be authorized to write tickets on the "Jewel" property, please inform the City officials.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today was Illinois Gun Owners’ Lobby Day and about 2,250-2,500 Illinois gun owners visited the State Capitol to lobby State Senators and Representatives for their support of pending legislation to preserve Second Amendment rights and to oppose legislation that infringes on the rights of Illinois residents to own and use firearms. More than 20 commercial tour buses transported members of the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and other supporters to Springfield from many cities in Illinois.

I boarded a bus at GAT Guns in East Dundee, which left at 6:00AM. We stopped in Aurora to pick up about 25 passengers and then continued to Springfield. After an early lunch we proceeded to the Hilton Hotel for an organizational meeting.

Several legislators helped kick off the meeting. The organizers held a parade permit for a 1:15PM march from the Hilton to the State Capitol. Many marchers carried flags, banners and homemade signs. The sign (above left) shows the large number of states (blue) that permit qualified residents to carry concealed weapons. Throughout the organizational meeting and in pre-event literature, it was stressed to approach legislators in a friendly, polite, respectful manner, regardless of the views believed to be held by the legislator.

We marched from the Hilton with escort services of the Springfield Police Department. The march was ordered and fairly tight. Buses were provided for participants who felt they were unable to march the six blocks to the Capitol. After a rally on the Capitol steps we entered the buildings, passed through security and proceeded to pay individual calls on legislators.

I met with approximately one dozen legislators and found them welcoming and friendly. Most were already in support of legislation desired by members of the ISRA. Some who were not still were open and respectful of our visits.

Before today’s visit I believed I understood the legislation about “assault” weapons and 50 caliber weapons. I found that I did not, so today’s trip was extremely worthwhile for me.

I had believed that assault weapons were already banned by Federal laws and that assault weapons were the fully-automatic weapons available only to police and military personnel. Now I understand this is not the case. In Cook County an “assault” weapon can be any rifle that “looks” like an assault weapon. It need not be fully-automatic. So, if you dress up an ordinary rifle cosmetically so that it looks “mean”, it becomes an illegal weapon. This is absolutely ludicrous – stupid – insane.

Typically, an assault weapon is one that will fire all rounds in the magazine with one pull of the trigger. Except in Cook County. And except as proposed legislation in Illinois.

A semi-automatic weapon is one that requires one pull of the trigger for each round to be fired.

There is an excellent video on the website of GAT Guns at, in which a California police officer and trainer clearly explains and demonstrates the difference between these weapons.

And the 50 caliber issue? This can sweep up many hunting weapons, including many shotguns, because the legislation seems to be only about the size of the barrel, not the type of gun. This “open door” is unacceptable in legislation, which should be clear and precise.

Cook County and the City of Chicago swing enormous clout in Illinois government. They may be able to control whether the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is endangered in Illinois. Forty-eight states (out of 50) allow some form of carrying weapons outside the home. Two states do not; Illinois and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin almost joined the ranks of the 48 states. The legislature passed the bill; Gov. Doyle vetoed it, and the legislature only barely missed overriding his veto.

It is clear that major crimes go down when the citizenry is armed. Criminals are less willing to act, when they just don’t know if the prospective victim is armed.

A local legislator wrote to me recently, saying, “Just keep educating people that a truly free society is one in which it can protect itself and get them to share that message with their representatives and senator.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

Is This a Sign?

The City of Woodstock has a sign code that controls when and where signs can be posted. The City allows signs. Businesses want and need them. The City will also allow temporary signs, and the business must apply for a permit in order to post them. Generally, I believe the length of time for a temporary sign permit is 60 days.

Does this banner on a semi-trailer constitute a "sign"? This trailer was parked behind the condos when they were under construction, where it was visible from Route 47 as clear advertising for the condos. The City considered the trailer as "in use" because building materials were stored in it.

Now the trailer is parked across Seminary from the front of the condos. There is no question that the sign is a quality sign and one of the nicest temporary signs in town. But it is a sign. Is there a permit for it? When does the permit expire? And is this lot zoned for storage of two semi-trailers?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Trash Bags on Roof

At least one Woodstock resident has figured out how to save money on the disposal of trash - by not disposing of it.

At this rental property on the corner of Lake Avenue and Madison St./South St., one of the residents merely opens the door on the second floor and throws his trash bags onto the roof.

The City Code prohibits the accumulation of trash like this on property. Could it possibly be a "technicality" that the trash is on the roof and not piled alongside the back or side of the house, as has happened on other properties in Woodstock?

I rather suspect that our efficient and polite Code Enforcement Officer will be in contact with the resident and will "encourage" him to come into compliance with the City Code.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not drive around Woodstock looking for Code violations. However, I do notice them. When you see property falling into disrepair or see trash, debris, old appliances, etc., accumulating on a property, send an email to

If you would like a response about action being taken on your report, be sure to ask. City policy is to inform a resident of such action. Your name will not be released by the Code Enforcement officer.

It wasn't always this way. In the not-too-distant past, the City was allowed by the City Attorney to release the name of a person who requested the City to enforce its "nuisance" ordinances. This changed when a second opinion was obtained from the office of the contracted City Attorney, and your name now will be held in confidence.

Potholes and Car Damage

I was in a tire shop this week and talked to the owner about the extent of damage to tires and wheels, when a car goes through a deep pothole.

We are all driving on roads now that are full of potholes from our not-quite-over winter season. Why should you be paying even closer attention to the roads?

If you hit a wide, deep pothole, not only could you damage a tire, but you could also damage a wheel. And, if you think tires are expensive to replace, ask your tire store or the dealer about the cost of replacing a wheel!

A new tire might cost you $75-125, but replacing a wheel on your car might be $100-500. Add in the cost of a wheel alignment ($80.00+) and you’re starting to talk about some real money.

If you hit a really big pothole, stop and make a note as to where it is and what day and time you hit it. Then contact the agency responsible for the road and ask about its claim procedures. IDOT has a process in place for accepting claims.

If you think you have damage, get it checked out right away. Don’t wait 1-2-3 months or drive 1,000-2,000-5,000 miles and then file a claim. You’ll want to file your claim promptly.

This week I had taken a friend’s car to his tire shop for a set of four new tires. The shop found that two of the wheels on the car were damaged; the car is a 2006 vehicle with 37,000 miles on the odometer. Cost to replace each wheel? $500 from the dealer; $225 to use refurbished wheels that look exactly like the originals and present no safety issues. Still, that’s an extra $450 just for two wheels. Granted, these were wheels that were upgrades – not your stock wheels.

Better yet? Increase your following distance and slow down. Some potholes will catch you by surprise. Others, if you see them in time, can be avoided. Watch the traffic in front of you. When cars swerve to miss a pothole, right there is your warning.

And report potholes. It really does do some good. If it’s a State highway, call IDOT. A city street? Call the City’s streets department. County road? Could be the County or a Township. More than one call might be necessary. Get the name of the person you report the pothole to, and ask for an appropriate repair date.

Should roads departments mark the worst potholes with warning signs on the shoulder? Wouldn’t that be nice? Do they do it? Not around here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

(Un)professional Courtesy - TRF KOP 1

Just before 1:00PM today I was driving east on Algonquin Road in a 35MPH zone, when I noticed a car coming up behind me at a good clip. There was a police car about three car lengths behind me in the inside lane, and I figured he’d grab the speeder after he passed the police car on the right and then changed lanes to the left and passed me. Did the speeder get stopped? No way. Why not?

Could his license plate have had something to do with it? TRF KOP 1, on a black GMC (an Envoy, I think).

The police car was from Fox River Grove, but the officer still had the authority to make the traffic stop. But did he? Of course not.

Why waste the time and embarrass yourself? Few cops will write tickets to other cops. The guy in the GMC knew he wouldn’t get stopped, so he could speed, pass a police car on the right, come up close behind me, change lanes without safe distance between vehicles, and continue speeding right in front of the police car.

Police should be the first to obey traffic (and other) laws, rather than being the last. Departmental policies should be, if you stop a cop for a traffic violation, you write him a ticket. Or else you don’t write anyone tickets for speeding.

Do you know the guy driving the GMC with the plate TRF KOP 1? You might want to let him that he is expected to obey traffic laws, since apparently his job is writing tickets to others.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Test Your Smarts

Okay, you red-blooded Americans... let's see how you do on this test. How well would you do if you took the citizenship test?

Try this out - it's educational and fun. A score of 24 (out of 30) is considered a passing grade.

Supposedly 96% of all high school seniors FAILED this test... and, if that's not bad enough, more than 50% of all individuals over Age 50 did, too!!

Go to the link below. Take the test and be surprised at what you don't know!

No Charges Yet

In response to a FOIA request to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for an update on the Eva Grys accident on Haligus Road on October 26, 2007, the Department refused to release information about the toxicology report and tickets, based on an exemption in the FOIA for pending investigations. The Department did respond very quickly to the request, but it provided only a portion of the initial report identifying the occupants of the vehicles and no diagram or information about vehicle speeds or paths of travel.

There are several possible reasons for this limited response. In December Sheriff's Sgt. Hubbard stated that the Illinois State Police lab was running about 90 days behind on toxicology reports. So the ISP lab is either running more than 120 days behind and hasn't yet provided a toxicology report to the Sheriff's Department, or it has provided a report and the Department is deciding now what charges to file.

The Sheriff's Department should by now have clearly in mind what charges will be filed, depending on the report from the State Police. If the report comes back negative, then file Set A of charges; if the report comes back positive, then file Set B of charges. One would expect that the latest internal report would indicate the course of action upon receipt of the tox report. Then, when the report is received, out comes the file for review and issuance of tickets.

This accident happened more than four months ago. How can the Sheriff's Department operate efficiently and productively, if it cannot, in a timely manner, complete an investigation of an accident caused by driver error? In fact, Set A of charges (no negative toxicology) could have been filed well before now. Then, if there is positive toxicology, which I certainly hope is not the case, charges can be upgraded to Set B.

Efforts will continue to obtain information that should be available to the public, such as citations for traffic violations.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Three U.S. Senators - A.W.O.L.?

Lately I've been wondering why three U.S. Senators, being paid $165,200/year, plus magnificient perks, are A.W.O.L. from their elected offices. These three, of course, are Senators McCain, Clinton and Obama.

One can only guess that their pay and perks go on, while they are traipsing around the country trying to get to the top of the food chain. In what way are they continuing to represent - fairly - their constituents back home in Arizona, New York and Illinois, respectively.

Should they be required to resign their Senate seats?

Loading Zone Needed

Is a loading zone needed on Dean Street alongside Angelo's Restaurant, so that delivery trucks can park in the mornings without interfering with traffic?
Obviously, delivery trucks need to stop to unload. So why not create a loading zone, say from 6:30-9:30AM?

I have made this suggestion to City Hall over the past couple of years. The second time, I was told it would be considered. There is a traffic problem on Dean Street, when trucks park and block the northbound lane. Traffic on Dean Street is forced to drive around parked trucks, and drivers turning right off Van Buren Street at the Opera House are surprised to find oncoming vehicles in their lane.

Will it take a head-on crash by an inattentive driver to result in action? How big of a deal would it be to take out 2-3 parking spaces and give these truck drivers a legal place to park?

Now We Own a Hotel...

Yesterday the State of Illinois bid $1.00 for the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. Then the bid went to $2.00...

Does this give you some idea what the hotel is really worth?

In 1982 the State of Illinois - our State - loaned $15,500,000 so that the Renaissance Hotel (it's original name) could be built. Owners of the hotel over the years have paid little (or nothing?) toward the loan balance, which is now $29,500,000.

Just how does it happen that no one in State government was keeping a closer eye on this financial arrangement?

Didn't anyone monitor loan payments? Didn't anyone recommend foreclosing many years ago? When renegotiated "deals" were made, why weren't they enforced? Why did State management personnel allow this loan, which probably should have been paid off by now, to reach its present level of almost double the original loan?

Or did someone blow the whistle along the way? Or try to blow the whistle?

How many more "lucrative" deals like this is the State of Illinois involved in?

Oh, that $2.00 bid? According to this morning's Northwest Herald, "After a few more small increases, state officials ended the bidding with a $100,000 bid."

What? Was it time to go to lunch?