Saturday, February 28, 2009

BOFPC to meet Monday, March 2

The Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners will meet on Monday, March 2, 2009, at 5:00PM at the Woodstock Police Department.

A special meeting has been called and placed on the City Calendar on the City's homepage at, although the Board is incorrectly named there as the "Board of Police and Fire Commission" (sic).

Several errors appear in the announcement. First, it's not a Regular Meeting, as shown on the Agenda for this meeting. This Board is not scheduled to hold any regular meetings in 2009, or they would appear on the required master schedule of meetings of Boards and Commissions, as required by the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

This March 2 meeting is a Special Meeting. It appears that it is called to address a personnel issue, as an Executive Session is scheduled under New Business. Okay, so who is in the crosshairs now?

It can't be Sgt. Gorski, because Judge McIntyre is not scheduled to rule in the chief's court case against the BOFPC until March 24, 2009. The BOFPC will have to meet shortly after she issues her Decision, which is now three months over-due. The City owes Sgt. Gorski for all his back pay to February 14, 2008 and also for his pay from February 14, 2008 to the current date.

Notice of Special Meetings is to be given to the media. Hopefully, Notice has been given to the Northwest Herald, the Daily Herald, The Woodstock Independent, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, radio stations and other media that requested such Notices.

It's my belief that the meetings of this Board should be held at City Hall, not in the personal conference room of the police chief at police headquarters. This is not an "open" meeting, as required by the Open Meetings Act. A person wanting to attend this meeting cannot just walk into the meeting room, as he can at City Hall. He must be admitted into the secure area of the police department AND escorted to the police chief's office.

I also believe that the City Clerk or Deputy City Clerk should be the recording secretary of the Board, as she is for other Boards and Commissions. Currently, the administrative assistant for the police chief is the recording secretary. She does a good job but, by nature of her reporting position to the police chief, she cannot be independent.

In the 1 1/2 years there were Minutes of many Special Meetings that were not prepared, until I squawked at a City Council meeting.

As of today the most recent set of Minutes for the BOFPC is for July 14, 2008, and there is no written record of an important document dated February 14, 2008 - the Decision and Findings of the BOFPC in the Sgt. Gorski matter. There is an Agenda posted online for a September 8, 2008 Meeting, and I recall that meeting was held. It seems to me that Minutes previously were posted online for that meeting. Where are they now?

If you, as a resident of Woodstock, want to know what the 3-man Board of Fire and Police Commissioners is doing, show up at police headquarters by 5:00PM on Monday. You'll be asked to step out of the meeting during the Executive Session, and then you'll be allowed back in for them to state publicly what decision was made during the closed Executive Session.

I would be there, but I'm in South Carolina. Let me know, so that I can publish the details. Otherwise, I'll get them upon my return.

Pre-Paid Funeral Plans

Do you own a pre-paid funeral plan? You know - one of those plans that will pay all your funeral costs when you die? Or does an elderly person in your family have one?

Be sure to read today's Chicago Tribune online regarding certain plans sold in Illinois. Values have dropped and your plan may not cover your expenses. (Disregard the March 1 dateline of today's online article.),0,6984014.story

The article refers to the "personal piggy bank" and to investments such as "corporate-owned" life insurance on the lives of directors and other insiders. Of course, if the funeral plan directors were on a plane enroute to a "board meeting" (well, a party in Hawaii) and the plane went down, all the paper losses in the funeral plan would instantly disappear.

After you read the Tribune article, check the values in your own pre-paid plan. Call the agent who sold you the plan or the funeral home where you would use it. Request a written statement of the value of your plan.

And don't plan to die anytime soon. Wait until the economy improves and plan values increase.

Email Backfires

School District 204 (Naperville area) board president Mark Metzger got his neck in a ringer last week for sending out a nastygram by email. He thought it was going only to Board members, but a copy also went to the father of a student. You can read about it at

I was reminded of three misdirected emails I received from Woodstock District 200 staff members over the years. It seems there was a glitch in the school district's email system that desperately needed fixing.

The problem occurred when a school district employee responded to an email that had been forwarded. Sometimes the reply went back only to the original sender, and not to the person who had forwarded the original email.

Consider this example. I wrote to a Department head with questions about a student's program. That person forwarded my email to a teacher and sent me a cc:, which I thought was a very professional and business-like step that I didn't expect. Upon receiving the cc:, I knew there would be a delay while the department person gathered background information for her reply to me.

What I didn't expect was the next email I received. It was a very rude venting from the teacher with some coarse language in it. Fortunately, I received it late on a Friday afternoon and did not immediately hit "Reply" to send a message with like language.

So I just sat on it and waited. A couple of days later the teacher contacted the Department head to ask if she had received the teacher's email. Learning that she hadn't, the teacher checked her Sent box and saw that her email had gone only to me.

Actually, I expected the teacher to be a little embarrassed about the tone of her email, but she wasn't. I realized she was frustrated and, in a conversation with the principal, reminded him that I had been complaining for months that the teacher was overworked, understaffed and needed more classroom help.

And there were two other times that I received misdirected replies that followed the same pattern.

Each time I alerted District 200 to the error and urged them to find the glitch and fix it. It was not a "Reply All" error. The error was deep inside the email system and resulted in messages going to unintended recipients.

This, of course, is not good in any business. Have you ever received an email that was about you, but not intended for you? Take this week's survey now.

MCC Taps Sager

For those of you who don't read the Northwest Herald, President Walter Packard has announced his decision to step aside from his role as President of McHenry County College, in order to devote time and attention to the care of his wife, Nancy.

Today's Northwest Herald describes the condition affecting Mrs. Packard as "frontotemporal dementia, a disease that attacks the frontal lobe. Its progression can be slow as it affects a person’s personality, ability to concentrate, social skills, motivation, and reasoning. The disease should not be confused with Alzheimer’s, which tends to strike people older in age."

This will be a time when support for both the cared-for and the caregiver will be important and needed. Best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Packard.

MCC has announced the appointment of Brian Sager to the role of acting president. Sager will serve during the College's search for a successor to Packard. Sager, of course, is Woodstock's Mayor and had been serving as Interim Vice President - Academic and Student Affairs.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Woodstock Court on the way

At Tuesday's Woodstock City Council meeting the Council will consider, and most likely establish, a new Administrative Adjudication Program. Three ordinances are proposed and will be voted on Tuesday night.

You can read Ordinance titles on the Agenda for Tuesday's meeting through the link on the homepage of the City's website at

For more detail, go to City Hall or the Woodstock Public Library and read the information that Council members have received.

What kind of tickets will go to the Adjudication Court (like Crystal Lake recently formed)? City Code violations, red-light tickets (as soon as the City adopts an ordinance and contracts for cameras), and anything else that can be wrestled away from the McHenry County Court.

Here's the question. How does this ball get rolling without notice to the public? Who authorized the City Manager to direct the City Attorney to prepare these ordinances? And at what cost?

What is the cost/benefit ratio to the City? How many tickets does the City expect to write and process through this new court? What are the estimated fines and court costs for each of the next five years? How much will the judge be paid? Has a judge already been selected? (yes)

The City is under a hiring freeze. How is it going to handle hiring a new judge? Oh, just make it a contract position; then we won't have to show him as an employee? What is this? The Federal Government's way (and the State of Illinois way) of expanding government. Coming soon to Woodstock.

Now, maybe the City Council did discuss this in public and I missed the news. Were any public hearings held?

How could Council members discuss and authorize this legal work without discussing it in a public meeting? Or did they?

If you want to put your two-cents' worth in on this, be sure to attend Tuesday night's meeting at City Hall.

Rose Farm Snowmobile Route - going, going...

Last year the Woodstock City Council heard from a small number of residents along Rose Farm Road who complained about inconsiderate snowmobile operators who tore up their yards.

Now, we know that snowmobile operators are courteous, quiet, law-abiding folks who are just out to enjoy a winter day. Right? Ha!

Mayor Sager and the City Council warned the snowmobilers through their association that they had one more chance. Any more complaints, and the snowmobile route would be closed.

Of course, it's not the members of the association who are the likely culprits.

On Tuesday evening, March 2, the Woodstock City Council will likely drop the hammer on snowmobiles on Rose Farm Road. The considerate operators will be there to complain. After all, it's not their fault that other stupid operators are costing them a place to ride.

How often do you see snowmobiles tearing up and down a highway shoulder, blitzing along at unsafe speeds as if they are the NASCAR of the North? Personally, I think open season on snowmobile ought to start in November and last until April. How do you catch the ones who need to be caught? A low rope between trees might be good for starters.

But, alas, that would lead to arrests and lawsuits against the property owners who are just trying to protect their own property.

Will this solve the problem? Not likely.
Will those snowmobilers continue to use Rose Farm Road? Likely.
Will they ever be caught? Not likely.

NWH carries Schlenkert lawsuit news

The Northwest Herald carried an article about fired Deputy Robert Schlenkert's lawsuit against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday, February 23, the day after it was filed.

Reader comments seem to me to be more local.

Check it out here:

Somehow, I kind of wonder about two of the UserIDs in use by those who are commenting. Pretty clever, though. "keithN" and "geneL" - probably not the Keith N. and Gene L. at the top of the heap at the sheriff's department.

The comments to that article are worth reading.

The Merit Commission either originally fired Deputy Schlenkert (although it really didn't, because it never was his employer) or supported his firing by the Sheriff. Go to the County's website, then to the Sheriff's webpages, and look up the Purpose of the Merit Commission. Did it give Schlenker a fair hearing and a fair decision?

I can't help wondering whether, had the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission members been independently selected and appointed by the County Board, rather than hand-picked and appointed by the Sheriff, it might have made a totally different decision in Deputy Schlenkert's case.

I myself believe that it would have decided in Schlenkert's favor. But had it done so, would the Sheriff have filed suit in McHenry County to duke it out with the Commission of his own Department, thus still wasting taxpayer dollars? And would such a lawsuit have still been deemed "arbitrary and unreasonable" by the judge?

Fired deputy sues Sheriff's Dep't.

Yesterday morning’s Daily Herald reported that fired McHenry County Deputy Robert Schlenkert has filed a lawsuit against the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department to get his job back.

It wasn’t all that long ago (weeks?) that a McHenry County judge ruled in Schlenkert’s favor and against the Sheriff’s Department Merit Commission. Why is another suit necessary?

Because he hasn’t been put back to work. According to the article, Sheriff Nygren is appealing the judge’s decision that the Merit Commission erred in supporting the firing of Schlenkert. And now Schlenkert is suing to get his job back.

So there must be two (2) lawsuits going on here, doubling taxpayer legal expenses and exposing the sheriff’s department for more back pay without services rendered. 1) The sheriff’s appeal and 2) Schlenkert’s new lawsuit. Not to mention the legal fees and loss of income that Schlenkert is experiencing.

The citizens of McHenry County need to step up to the plate and start demanding that elected and appointed officials respect decisions that are made and stop wasting taxpayer dollars on witch hunts.

Schlenkert did not refuse Sheriff’s Nygren’s orders, when he was ordered to go back through the basic training program designed for people new to law enforcement in Illinois. He was an experienced deputy. But he bowed to department demands and went through the program. A part that he could not pass was one portion of the physical fitness test.

And so the sheriff decided that Schlenkert had refused his orders, even though Schlenkert attempted that portion four times. How can one conceivably construe serious attempts as refusal.

This would be like ordering a paraplegic to walk up a flight of steps. “Walk up those steps, damn it! I order you to do so! If you don’t, I will fire you for insubordination – refusing to follow my orders!” Pretty stupid reasoning; right?

I’ve got a good idea. How about if command personnel at the sheriff’s department go to the State Police Academy and go through the fitness component for certification as a new law enforcement officer. If they don't pass, they lose their jobs. Who will go first? We’d better have them sign waivers and give up their death benefits and health insurance benefits, because they’ll die when they try to complete the required fitness tests!

Read the article in today’s Daily Herald. And read the judge’s decision in Schlenkert’s favor and against the Sheriff’s Department in the case just recently decided. And search on this site for “Schlenkert”. Use the search box at the upper left.

Here’s the comment I posted to the Daily Herald e-article:

“There is no physical fitness requirement for law enforcement officers in the State of Illinois, once they have been certified. Read the judge's decision. Check out the physical fitness of the command personnel and many deputies/cops around McHenry County (and elsewhere). Schlenkert did not disobey the sheriff's order; he attempted to pass the fitness portion. Failing to pass is not disobedience. Read the judge's decision. As a highly-experienced deputy, Schlenkert should have been required to take only refresher training in new laws and procedures, not the entire basic training for raw recruits. He was deemed fit to return to duty, and he deserves his job back.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ROAD – 3 days to go

Woodstock PD’s February traffic initiative is almost over. ROAD stands for "Reduction of Aggressive Driving." I’ve tried to watch the newspaper for information about enforcement activities, but I haven’t seen anything about it. Maybe because the Northwest Herald doesn’t print it, or maybe because the Woodstock Police Department doesn’t release interim statistics.

This month-long enforcement campaign was to target aggressive drivers – those who follow too closely, fail to adjust speed while merging, pass improperly on the right, and fail to signal when required. Other targets are drivers who are inattentive; examples of inattentive driving include driving while talking on a cell phone, texting, reading a book or newspaper, putting on make-up, shaving or (yuck!) brushing teeth.

According to a Memo from Sgt. Leard to Deputy Chief Bozer, “Officers that are detailed to perform during this special enforcement initiative shall adopt a zero tolerance for violation such as the ones listed above.”

“Zero tolerance” usually means that, if a driver gets stopped, he gets a ticket; no warnings.

Woodstock drivers should expect a report by the police department on this program. Hopefully, there will be a detailed and complete press release that will be printed by the Northwest Herald and The Woodstock Independent. If I can get a copy of it, I’ll print it here.

If there is no press release, I’ll read the police department’s report about ROAD to the City Council, if there is one, in the monthly Departmental report that is buried out-of-sight in the City Council packet (read this at City Hall or at the Woodstock Public Library during the three days before a City Council meeting) and publish the summary here.

How about you? Did you have an encounter of the third kind with a Woodstock officer this month?

Should Sen. Roland Burris resign?

The buzz is loud. Should Roland Burris resign from his seat as the "junior Senator from Illinois"?

Let's play the Devil's Advocate here. He was legally appointed by Illinois' governor. The governor was under a cloud and kicked out of office shortly after he appointed Burris, but he was still, legally, the governor of Illinois. And he had the sole and legal right to appoint a person - any person - to fill the seat vacated by Barack Obama.

Secretary of State Jesse White climbed up on a shaky pedestal and announced he would not sign the form to certify the appointment.

And the U.S. Senate said it would not seat Burris without Jesse White's signature.

And they both lied. Well, let's say, they "changed their minds."

When those in the U.S. Senate first announced that they wouldn't seat Burris, I wondered what right could they have not to seat a duly-appointed replacement to an open seat of a State.

OK, so now Burris is there. Is possession 9/10th's of the law? Does that count for a seat in the U.S. Senate?

Can the powers in Illinois really unseat an elected Senator?

The U.S. Senate apparently has the right to unseat a Senator. How long will that take? And at what cost to other, more important, affairs of this country?

Should Illinois blow $50,000,000 to fill a seat for a year or so? By the time Burris could be removed and a special election held, his term would be almost over. He might have a few friends in high places who would fund an attempt at electing him to a full term. Would he have any chance at being elected?

Should we just let him stay for the few remaining months of that seat? Don't we have more important business and ways to spend $50,000,000 in Illinois?

Local Traffic Watchers Wanted

Have you ever driven down Route 47 through Woodstock and heard the traffic report on Star 105.5 or Y103.9 alerting you about slow traffic through Lake Avenue or U.S. 14? And you had just breezed through the intersections at the speed limit (hopefully) with no delays whatsoever? Or wondered why you were hearing traffic reports for Naperville or Melrose Park while you are driving around McHenry County?

Beginning March 2 local traffic reporting will return to Star 105.5 and Y103.9 and be handled through the stations, rather than through Chicago or the Northwest Suburban Traffic reporting system.

Remember the old Star Watcher organization on Star 105.5? Well, it's being rejuvenated as the "Y Traffic Eye" on and as the Star Watcher program on Go to either website for more information. Also, you can express interest in being a reporter of traffic news.

If you commute regularly in McHenry County and would like to report information about crashes, fires, traffic jams, traffic lights out, etc., you can help other drivers to avoid delays. And you can avoid delays by hearing real-time traffic reports from other drivers.

I drive at different times during morning and afternoon "rush" hours and have questioned accuracy of reports about McHenry traffic conditions. I also was curious about references to the Tollway as "the I-90", a phrase I only heard in California about the speedways there.

In a recent survey on Woodstock Advocate, 36 readers participated and vote on "I-90" versus "the I-90". The results?

In response to the question, "How do you refer to I-90?",
34 (94%) readers voted for "I-90"
2 (6%) readers voted for "the I-90"

Guess that answers that!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Warrant out for Philpott!!!

I was alerted this afternoon that a warrant has been issued for my arrest. All I can say is, it's a good thing I'm not in Woodstock!

You know that phrase, "You can run but you can't hide"? Well, I've already run, and I'm hiding now. (Actually, I like Greg Kachka's t-shirt language better, "Don't run. If you do, you'll only die tired.)

And get this! The bail is $800.00.

But I'm not to be arrested until April 14th at 4:00PM. And then I'll get one hour on the phone to raise $800, so that I can be released at 5:00PM.

What's it all about? This year's Muscular Dystrophy Association fund-raiser! Ha! Gotcha!

It's a good cause; when your phone rings, I hope you'll answer. This year's event is being held at Chili's in McHenry.

Like to participate? You might even get your picture taken with your own special shirt with black and white stripes and your own special number plate.

The food in that "jail" is going to be pretty good that day, too. To reserve your cell, please call Robin at (815) 229-1632.

Ticketed, but never stopped

Have you ever received a traffic ticket, but never been stopped?

"Oh, that can't happen." Really?

Read today's story in the Chicago Tribune about a vehicle owner who is being harassed by one or more members of the Chicago Police Department; then make up your own mind.,0,6344552.column

The problem of the man about whom the article is written is multiple tickets issued by the same officer. Most are parking tickets, but the whole deal smells when you read the story.

Does this ever happen in McHenry County? In Woodstock? With moving violations?

One driver I know claims she received a speeding ticket in Woodstock, but the officer never stopped her to issue it. Can't happen? Oh, really?

Here's the story:

A speeding ticket was issued in Woodstock to a woman who says she was never stopped by the officer. Seeing as how she was never stopped or handed the ticket, she didn't know about the court date, and she didn't show up.

What happens when you don't show up for your court date? The court sends out a letter, telling her "You'd better be here the next time."

She didn't get that letter, because someone submitted a change-of-address to the court before the court date and changed her address to a P.O. Box in Wisconsin. So she didn't show up for the next court date.

The judge found her guilty and sent the information off to the office of the Illinois Secretary of State. And the court sent her a letter about the fine, which she didn't pay. Because she never got that letter!

This case is like a snowball that rolls downhill and keeps getting bigger and bigger. And it's not over yet.

Solid proof that an officer stops a driver is the bond information on the ticket; right? No officer makes a traffic stop, issues a speeding ticket and just lets the driver go. The driver must post bond. Either a driver's license or cash bond (receipted for) or a bond card. And the officer then fills in the bond portion of the citation, before he gives a copy to the driver.

In this case, the bond portion of the citation is blank. Totally blank.

It used to be that a driver had to sign the citation, not admitting guilt but only as to being there at that time and place.

Will this driver be found Not Guilty when she finally gets her day in court?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Early effort to take away guns

Look what Chicago's own Bobby Rush is pushing.

Are you ready for the U.S. House Bill titled "HR 45, Blair Holt Licensing and Record Act of 2009"? It will make it illegal to own a firearm unless it is registered with the database in Washington, D.C. As a gun owner you will have to be finger-printed; you will be required to provide your DL#, SS#; you must maintain a valid address at all times, submit to mental and physical health records being put on file; you will also be required to file any address changes and any ownership changes even if a private sale. Each update will cost $25 and, if you fail to comply, you will lose your right to own firearms.

An email sent to me about this bill mentioned that this bill in Congress almost completely mirrors one that was defeated last year in the Illinois House of Representatives after it was introduced by then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, now President Obama's Chief of Staff . Will we the citizenry be as lucky this time? Only by close monitoring and heavy pressure on our U.S. Representatives to flush this bill down the drain!

Pass this on to everyone who believes in strict Constitutionalism and remember that laws only apply to those who obey them. Criminals by definition and nature do not abide by laws. New laws and restrictions only apply to the law-abiding citizen and are not written with the criminal in mind. With guns, it is not about having laws on the books to prosecute individuals, it is about taking guns away from the people so that no one has them in the first place.

One last item to note, when assuming power and creating a fascist state, Hitler was a proponent of strong gun laws because a disarmed populace was much easier to control than an armed one. The kings of old also outlawed weapons of any kind in any region that they conquered to quell the ability of the citizens to rise up against them.

The Founding Fathers of this nation understood all of the above and because of this they included the second amendment in the constitution. In fact, they knew that at some point in every society's life span that the need for the population to arise came about. To this end they made the right to keep and bear arms against a tyrannical state an absolute right that could not be revoked. They did this because the first thing tyrants and despots do is to remove a population's right to defend themselves When this is done, the tyrants have no problem with the destruction of society as we know it.

Send this on to all true patriots! Protect your Second Amendment!

The following is a summary of the bill as provided by the Congressional Research Service. If you read the whole bill, you'll find it will effectively preclude the ownership of ANY firearms by law-abiding people unless licensed by the Attorney General. How long do you think THAT would take?

Further information about this can be found by using the link below or searching the internet by "HR 45, Blair Holt Licensing and Record Act of 2009"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ballpark - Underway?

Doln Peasley wrote in today's Northwest Herald that he is "being asked whether the goal of locating a baseball stadium and a new site for the McHenry County fairgrounds still is a viable project."

What was his answer?

"The answer is workers do plan to move gravel on a portion of the 240-acre site before building the sports entertainment stadium."

Wait just one minute! Just what does that mean? Hey, okay if they move gravel for a week or two or three. But when is ground-breaking for the stadium?

Remember the rush to push this project past the Woodstock City Council? Isn't this the project with 50 (that's FIFTY) conditions attached to it?

The City was licking its chops over the proposed stadium, not the gravel "not-a-pit" pit. As I recall, the stadium project is to be on the west end of the project, and the gravel scraping will be on the east end near Lily Pond Road. Who cares when Merryman starts mining? Only Merryman (and the folks expecting to be paid for the property).

I don't see how one is connected to the other from a development standpoint, only from a property acquisition association. When the stadium is built and when the gravel is mined are two separate operations. Aren't they?

According to the article, Kate Halma, president and CEO of McHenry County Community Foundation, announced a meeting of the multi-purpose events venue community partners for March 19, 8:30AM, at the Woodstock Public Library.

Let's hope the stadium project proceeds on its rush time-table. If it doesn't, the City had better pull the plug on the gravel pit. Err, the "not-a-pit".

Auto Insurance Discount

Like a discount on your auto insurance?

Contact your insurance agent and ask if your insurance company will give you a discount on any portion of your automobile insurance, if you take a driver safety program such as the AARP Driver Safety Program or a similar program offered by AAA.

The AARP program isn't just for the old folks. AARP solicits for new members once they hit Age 50, and insurance laws in many states require insurors to grant a discount to the vehicle owner who submits a certificate that he attended the course. The minimum age at which the insurance company will grant a discount varies from state to state, and the amount of discount varies.

Companies might offer a 5% discount, and it is might only be on the liability portion of the premium, not on the total premium.

The AARP Driver Safety Program can be taken in a two-day classroom setting, usually scheduled on two consecutive days of four hours each day. The $10.00 cost pays for the booklet.

The Program can be taken online. Go to Click on "Contact AARP" at the bottom. Then on the lower right side of the next page, click on Driver Safety Course. The cost of the online program is $14.95 if you are an AARP member; $19.95, if you're not.

If this course is taken seriously, a driver can correct one or more bad habits and might be able to avoid an accident in the first place. Or a ticket. The few dollars saved in the discount will be far outweighed by not having to fork over a large deductible for repairs after a wreck or for a ticket and court costs.

Generally, it's the senior citizens who take this Program, but it is open to drivers of all ages.

Unexpected Water Works Expense?

A relatively-small item in the Agenda for the February 3, 2009, Woodstock City Council meeting was a $32,895 proposed expenditure to replace two boilers at the Woodstock Water Works.

The Council approved it, of course. After all, you can’t have swimmers in freezing water on Memorial Day week-end when the pool opens.

It strikes me as premature that two boilers would have to be replaced so soon, and not one Councilperson questioned it. At least, they didn’t at the meeting.

When did the Water Works open? Five years ago? What life expectancy was expected for the boilers? Was all maintenance provided during operations? What warranty was delivered with them?

Have operating budgets been adjusted to plan for future early expenses?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day Starts with A.M.

A recent survey asked the question, "Does Monday begin or end at 12:00AM on February 2?"

29 (97%) voted that the day begins at 12:00AM
1 (3%) voted that the day ends at 12:00AM

As explained previously, AM represents ante meridian; i.e., before the meridian (noon). So, if the time has A.M. associated with it, that's before noon, or what we can morning.

PM? Post meridian, or after the noon.

Many thanks to the readers who voted.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Handling Adversity

How do we teach kids to deal with adversity? Or do we?

Yesterday a friend shared a story with me about a basketball player whose mother died just before a big game. Without asking, the coach took the kid off the roster, and the team headed off to the game. The kid drove two hours to catch up with his team and told the coach he wanted to play.

The game referee refused, because the kid was not on the roster that had been submitted. The other team did not object to his playing. The referee finally relented but would not budge from the rule that there would be a two-shot penalty against the kid’s team.

How did the other team handle it? When the other team’s player was ready to shoot, he missed both baskets – intentionally.

Now that’s sportsmanship.

Adversity is something that comes into each person’s life at different times and in different ways. When it does, do we encourage our kids to meet it head-on, to express their feelings, to consider their choices, and let them make the choices that are best for themselves? To take the high road?

Or do we encourage them to “take it easy”, telling them that they need a few days off to “deal with it.” Yes, if they truly need a few days, then fine. But, if they don’t, why jam it down their throats?

Perhaps this boy knew that the best thing for him was to play, for himself and for his team.

Shouldn’t we be encouraging and training our kids to accept the speed bumps in life and keep moving?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crime at the Post Office?

Just after noon today there were three Woodstock police cars at the Post Office on Country Club Road, and another police car was circling nearby behind the Walgreen's building. Something was definitely up.

A patrol officer was standing with an elderly white male and appeared to be taking a report. I had been in the Post Office and stood at some distance, waiting for an opportunity to ask what was going on. Sgt. Latham arrived and I nodded to him as he approached the other officer and the apparent victim. The absence of acknowledgement by Latham was immediately obvious - no nod, no gesture - absolutely nothing when he looked at me. (Latham and I have a little "history", but there is no excuse whatsoever for being rude.)

When the officer had walked away from the apparent victim, I asked him whether he could tell me what was going on. He replied that he could not, which was the answer I expected. So I asked from whom I could get information, and he told me to speak with Sgt. Latham, which was the correct answer, since Latham was the ranking officer there at the moment.

I knew it would be a waste of my time to ask Latham for information, so I didn't. Would he have given information to a reporter from the Northwest Herald or the Daily News, even The Woodstock Independent? Probably.

So I called the Northwest Herald and reported a story developing.

I realize that cops might not talk to everyone passing by but, had I been told something, anything, such as "We're looking for a blue Chevy with a red fender" or an individual of a certain build who ran in a certain direction, I might have spotted it (or him) and notified WPD. They all know of my police background and willingness to help.

Rub you the wrong way?

Massage therapists state-wide are up in arms (no pun intended) about a bill in the Illinois House that would allow unlicensed and untrained persons to give massages in offices of physicians and chiropractors. What do you think?

House Bill 64, introduced on January 14, 2009, by Rep. Angelo Saviano (R-77th District), River Grove, Illinois. HB64 would allow doctors and chiropractors to hire and use unlicensed massage practitioners as long as they were working under their auspices and direction.

The Illinois Chapter of the American Massage Therapists Association (AMTA) believes this change could seriously impact patient safety.

Massage therapists study hundreds of hours to become certified in Illinois, and they learn through study, practice and experience how to help you with what ails you. Illinois-licensed massage therapists could lose their licenses by not complying with educational requirements of continuing education, plus there is a requirement of educational hours that must be fulfilled to apply for state licensing and the hours must come from an accredited school.

Do you want to pay your doctor to tell an untrained person to “rub, twist or stretch that body a certain way and hope it helps”?

Contact your Illinois State Representative and let him know how you feel about this bill.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's this pole for?

Have you seen the new, gigantic pole on Route 47 between U.S. 14 and Lake Avenue? It's right in front of the new Floor Store and just south of Woodstock Farm and Lawn Center. Are we getting ready for our own 1,500-foot tower?

Probably ComEd has something to do with this, but what? There is a similar pole on the east side of Route 47 near Lucas Road. What is this huge, unsightly pole for, and how many of them are planned?

Does anyone know?

Finally - a real lawyer!

All the months of visiting courtrooms in McHenry County finally paid off today. I got to see a real lawyer practicing real law! Imagine that.

I was sitting in Judge Maureen McIntyre's courtroom, waiting for her to get to the bottom of the list. And am I ever glad that I waited.

As I waited, I listened to Judge McIntyre's loud and clear voice as she called each case. And then I had to sit on the edge of the bench, cup my hand to my ear and strained to hear what followed. The judge's voice dropped to a low conversational level and the voices of the attorney were likewise in low tones. I figured they must be talking, because the judge nodded her head from time to time. Sometimes her lips moved.

But then it happened. Judge McIntyre called a case and when the defendant's attorney argued her motion, her voice could be heard clearly throughout the courtroom. And she wasn't shouting, either. She spoke clearly, directly, concisely, confidently. She was well-prepared, knew the cases she intended to cite, and moved logically through her arguments on several points.

This is what the practice of law is all about. She was doing law, not just "practicing" (if you know what I mean). She knew her points. She knew exactly what she wanted to say, and she said it well.

As she was leaving, I asked for her card, and I thanked her for speaking clearly in court. And she "got" it.

I publicly thank Roberta Holzwarth of Holmstrom & Kennedy in Rockford. If you need a lawyer, this is the lawyer to get!

You can read more about her at and at

Court Date Passes Too Quietly

Today was to be the day that Judge Maureen McIntyre issued her Decision in the case of Lowen v. (Woodstock) Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. By now you know what this case is all about. If you don't and if you wonder, search on this site for "Gorski".

This case has muddled along for months - for too many months. Filed back on March 7, 2008, it should have been a slam-dunk. In July a Conference Scheduling court date resulted in a Continuance to August 15. On August 15 the case was set for a Hearing on October 15.

Now, remember, in all this time Sgt. Gorski is not being paid, in spite of the order by the 3-man Board of Fire and Police Commissioners on February 14, 2008, to the Chief and to the City to reimburse Sgt. Gorski for past wages.

On October 15 Judge McIntyre took the case under advisement. A written decision was expected on December 15.

December 15 came and went. Then she broke her arm and the January 14 Decision date was continued to today, February 17.

Yesterday I was told that today's court date was canceled. Now, keep in mind that Sgt. Gorski doesn't talk to me, so I didn't hear it from him. I immediately wondered how a court date could get canceled. Last Friday I had called the courthouse, knowing that Monday was a holiday. The case was still on.

This morning the Case was listed on the hallway monitors. In the courtroom the case was printed on the court call for today. So it wasn't "canceled."

When the case was called at 9:36AM, no attorney approached Judge McIntyre. I was sitting right in the front row and could not hear Judge McIntyre's words. At 9:48AM I asked the bailiff what was going on with the case, and he told me that the judge was going to continue the case, but "they" haven't made out the Order yet.

After 10:00AM the judge was winding up business and asked me why I was there. I informed her that I was there for her Decision in Lowen v. Board. She said the case was being continued to March 24.

Now I've got to wonder - aloud - make that ALOUD - where the attorneys were for the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners and why they weren't screaming bloody murder about one more delay. Of course, they don't have anything at risk. The 3-man Board risks no financial loss. They made a decision on February 14 and it will either be upheld or not.

But the person whose career, health and financial status are in turmoil has great risk. The City canceled his health insurance last fall. Nice, eh?

Here is a 19-year employee whose continued employment was supported in February 2008 and who now, a full year later, has still not received one dime from the City of Woodstock.

And where is the City in all this? It is playing out the lawyer-game in court. Drag it out as long as you can. After all, "we" have more money than you do. "We" have the City treasury at our fingertips.

It is way past time for members of the City Council to take back control of the City and strike down their senseless legal maneuvering and waste of taxpayer dollars! The City is paying for the City Attorney to represent the Police Chief in this case. The City must be paying for the Naperville law firm to represent the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, since it is a city commission. And there is an excellent chance that the city is going to end up paying Sgt. Gorski's attorney's fee.

There is a reason why lawyers' words in court are called "arguments." They are supposed to argue their case on behalf of their clients. In this case where are the arguments?

What possible reason could there be for Sgt. Gorski's attorney not to appear before Judge McIntyre at 9:36AM and (politely and respectfully) demand her decision? This Decision was supposed to be made on December 15. Now, we all know that nobody "demands" anything of a judge. In the courtroom the judge is King, which is how it should be. But a good lawyer can present such strong and compelling reasoning that the judge will agree.

Where were the good lawyers today?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Big fire on Wheeler Street tonight

There was a big fire on Wheeler Street tonight.

Woodstock, Crystal Lake and Harvard responded; perhaps others whose trucks I didn't spot. A duplex burned and was heavily damaged by fire, smoke and water.

One of the things I didn't know about fighting fires is that firefighters attempt to save or limit damage to possessions, when possible, by moving them into a pile and covering them with waterproof tarps to protect them from water damage.

When I arrived, the crew of a ladder truck was working above the roof.

The fire started on the south side of the duplex, apparently shortly after the resident had left for the afternoon. Residents on the north side smelled smoke, heard the smoke alarm, saw fire in the kitchen through the back door and cleared out.

No residents were injured and, hopefully, no firefighter was injured. Many thanks to the fire crews who responded for their efforts and their consideration toward the possessions inside.

That didn't take long - Burris "confesses"

Ah, the truth starts to emerge. And so soon after clearing the hurdles of his appointment to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Why would U.S. Sen. Roland Burris speak up now? What could possibly prompt him to “remember” that there actually were several others with whom he discussed the Barack Obama's Senate seat? Why now, instead of later? Or at all?

Could the rantings of Blago on the talkshow circuit be making him nervous? Could the fact that people often choose to save their own skins be an effective memory-jogger? If you might get pushed out in front of the bus, is it better to leap out in front of it and hope the driver brakes in time?

His attorney provided the excuse of “fluid nature.” Poor Burris. He "was unable to fully respond to several matters." And maybe we still believe in the tooth fairy.

Several news sources reported that Burris “quietly” filed an affidavit on February 5 with State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), head of the impeachment committee that heard sworn testimony from Burris. Be sure to reach today’s article on, which is much more complete than today's article in the Northwest Herald. The Tribune article includes this wonderful statement: “Currie, who is House majority leader, said the affidavit suggests Burris wants to be 'very forthcoming.'"

That’s kind of like saying, “Now I’m going to tell you the truth.” Every time I hear that one, I immediately wonder what is it that I have been told previously!

You’re a little late, Sen. Burris.

Did Burris perjure himself at the impeachment committee? What will be the effect, if he did? Criminal prosecution? Removal from the U.S. Senate? How long will that take? Is Pat Quinn already picking out a replacement for Burris?

Just what, exactly, do you have to do to get kicked out of the Senate?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New joints to get your fix

Have you tried any of the new coffee places to get your caffeine fix?

When Cuppy's Coffee opened on Hwy. 47 in front of Kmart last summer, I was the first motorcyclist through their drive-through. OK, so I cheated. I had to park the bike and walk up to the window. No cupholder on the Shadow, and there won't be, either.

Last week I stopped in the new Java Planet on U.S. 14 late last week. Their treats looked delicious, and I'll have to return to sample them. It was late afternoon - didn't want to spoil my dinner, don't you know? I did notice a customer working with his laptop there. They have free internet access for customers.

I haven't been in the new Trax Depot yet - at the Woodstock train station. Will make that stop on Tuesday, perhaps while on the way to the courthouse for Judge McIntyre's decision in the case of Police Chief Lowen against the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

Someone had told me that Bella's was not going to be open during the winter, but it looked like they were open today when I passed. I believe they have free internet access for customers, too.

Woodstock has two new restaurants about to open. Herbal Fare will be on Calhoun Street, between Jefferson and Dean Streets. And Gadzuk's will open in the street-level space under the Waverly Ballroom.

And don't forget the existing restaurants on the Square. The Public House and Pirro's are on Main Street, and La Petite Creperie is going strong in the old courthouse.

The owners of the courthouse are looking for a restaurateur to take over the space vacated by the Courthouse Grill. Hopefully, a new owner won't get stuck with a big bill for water/sewer service as a condition of getting his liquor license.

Any other new eateries in town?

Watch out for mature women drivers!

I loved this email I just received!

A mature lady gets pulled over for speeding...

Older Woman: Is there a problem, Officer?
Traffic Cop: Yes ma'am, I'm afraid you were speeding.
Older Woman: Oh, I see.
Traffic Cop: Can I see your license, please?
Older Woman: Well, I would give it to you but I don't have one.
Traffic Cop: Don't have one?
Older Woman: No. I lost it 4 years ago for drunk driving.
Traffic Cop: I see...Can I see your vehicle registration papers, please?
Older Woman: I can't do that.
Traffic Cop: Why not?
Older Woman: I stole this car.
Traffic Cop: Stole it?
Older Woman: Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.
Traffic Cop: You what!?
Older Woman: His body parts are in plastic bags in the trunk if you want to see.
The traffic cop looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car while calling for back up. Within minutes 5 police cars circle the car. A senior officer slowly approaches the car, clasping his half-drawn gun.
Officer 2: Ma'am, could you step out of your vehicle, please?
The woman steps out of her vehicle.
Older woman: Is there a problem, sir?
Officer 2: My colleague here tells me that you have stolen this car and murdered the owner.
Older Woman: Murdered the owner? Are you serious?!
Officer 2: Yes, could you open the trunk of your car, please?
The woman opens the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty trunk.
Officer 2: Is this your car, ma'am?
Older Woman: Yes, here are the registration papers.
The traffic cop is quite stunned.
Officer 2: My colleague claims that you do not have a driving license.
The woman digs into her handbag, pulls out a clutch purse and hands the license to the officer.
The officer examines the license quizzically.
Officer 2: Thank you, ma'am, but I am puzzled, as I was told by my officer here that you didn't have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner!
Older Woman: Bet the lying bastard told you I was speeding, too.

Don't Mess With Mature Ladies!
If you want to brighten someone's day, pass this on to someone you know. Just click on the little envelope below and enter your friend's email address.

Meeting Emergency Vehicles

A recent survey question was: “When meeting an oncoming ambulance using its lights and siren, must you stop?

Yes: 18 (46%)
No: 3 (8%)
Only if necessary to allow it to pass safely: 18 (46%)

Thanks to the 39 readers who participated in this survey.

Here’s the applicable section of the Illinois Vehicle Code: 625 ILCS 5/11-907 (1) reads, in part,
“the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right‑of‑way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right‑hand edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection and shall, if necessary to permit the safe passage of the emergency vehicle, stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, unless otherwise directed by a police officer”.

The important two words in this section about stopping are “if necessary”.

So why do so many drivers stop in McHenry County?

If an ambulance is blowing east down Hwy. 14 from Woodstock toward the hospital with lights and siren and no cars are in front of it, it is not necessary to stop. Stopping is actually more dangerous than not stopping, because a driver may decide to pass the stopped car and find himself right in the path of the ambulance.

Interestingly enough, the 2008 Illinois Rules of the Road contains erroneous information. No wonder so many people stop when meeting an oncoming emergency vehicle using lights and siren. It reads on Page 27, “When being approached by an emergency vehicle using audible and visual signals, Illinois law requires motorists to immediately pull to the right side of the road and wait for the emergency vehicle to pass.” "Wait" would probably mean “stop” to most drivers.

So, which is correct? I'll vote for the State law. And I’ll contact Jesse White's office on Tuesday.

Zero Tolerance = Zero Common Sense

"Here we go again. In yet another case of over reactive, one-size-fits-all, "zero-tolerance," zero-common sense enforcement, Marie Morrow, an honors student and drill‑team commander in the Young Marines, was recently expelled from school. Her crime? She left three rifle shaped drill team props in the back of her car at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colo. Colorado law mandates expulsion for any student found with a "dangerous weapon" on school grounds, which includes "a firearm facsimile that could reasonably be mistaken for an actual firearm."

"The non-operative rifle props are used during drill routines, where the facsimiles are spun and tossed. The props are made of wood and plastic, are heavily duct‑taped and, of course, cannot function and were never intended to. Morrow had brought them to school because she was preparing for a competition at the Air Force Academy in April and planned to attend a practice right after school."

Source: NRA Institute for Legislative Action
NRA-ILA Grassroots Alert Vol.16, No. 6 2/14/09

This reminds me of the elementary school student who was kicked out of school for a tiny, plastic pistol less than 1" in size that was on his keychain. And the kid who took an empty cartridge to school that had been given to him by a vet on Veterans Day.

What in the world is wrong with School Boards and school district personnel??? Instead of teaching gun respect and gun safety, they adopt stupid rules that don't even address situations correctly.

If you want to write to the principal of Cherokee Trail High School, send your email to Brooke Gregory, Principal, at Please be polite. I'm sure she feels she was just following School District policy at the risk of her own job. At least, I hope so.

Could something like this happen in Woodstock?

Remember bio-rhythms?

Remember all the buzz about bio-rhythms back in the 1980s? These were charts based on date and time of birth, and three continuous waves indicated what kind of day or mood you might be likely to experience on a given day. The three waves represented psychological, emotional and intellectual well-being, according information posted to Wikipedia.

I had one of the little blue wheels and could check first thing in the morning whether a "critical" day was ahead.

Were bio-rhythms useful?

In Japan the bio-rhythms of train engineers were checked every day. When an engineer was having a "critical day", he got the day off and was sent home. No one wanted a head-on train wreck that day!

Maybe bio-rhythms of police officers and firefighters should be checked each day. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what the bio-rhythms were of the officers involved in the Rodney King incident were? Or the shooting in New York City, where cops pumped about 50 rounds into an unarmed man on a doorstep?

Are deputies good drivers?

Deputies may drive more miles than the average driver, and they drive some of them faster than the average driver (lawfully). But does putting on a uniform and a badge and getting behind the wheel of a squad car make him (or her) a better, safer driver? Many deputies are good, even excellent, drivers.

It would be interesting to see a grid of all the traffic crashes involving deputies for the past ten years. The grid could include the following:

Number of at-fault crashes (and details)
Contributing reason(s) for each crash
Whether or not deputy was ticketed
Not-at-fault crashes
Whether the other driver was ticketed
Single-vehicle crashes
Multiple-vehicle crashes
Age of driver
Gender of driver
Years of employment with the Department
Prior accident history of driver
Whether driver was distracted (using police radio, cellphone, in-car computer, emergency lights, siren; personal cellphone, PDA)
Driving training history of driver
Type of driving training
Number of years since last driver training

An anonymous survey of deputies would also be interesting. How many would self-report traffic violations, tickets received off-duty (or getting stopped, but not getting ticketed after identifying self as a law-enforcement officer) and even frequent traffic violations when not stopped?

Reporting traffic tickets on such a grid will not provide an accurate number, because traffic investigators tend to favor deputy sheriffs, police officers and state troopers who are involved in at-fault accidents. These drivers often are not ticketed, even though clear violations occurred. I suspect that traffic investigators will be quick to deny that they are biased in favor of law enforcement drivers. The absence of tickets in at-fault accidents indicates otherwise to me.

If you think examples are necessary to support a statement like that, I can provide them with dates and names. For the time-being, I'm willing to leave it as happening often - too often.

Spectacular accidents, such as the one this past week when a deputy rolled a squad car on Charles Road, make the news. Many deputy-involved accidents don't make the news, because details are never released by Departments. At other times they make the news and there is no follow-up by a reporter. How often do you read, "The crash involving Deputy (name) was investigated and, although he caused the crash, no ticket was issued"? Now I'm not talking about last week's accident - yet.

What kind of defensive driving course should a deputy be required to take if he totals a squad car? Or two. Maybe there is such a required course. Is there?

How many deputies at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department have been involved in numerous crashes, costing McHenry County tens of thousands of dollars in vehicle losses (damage or total loss) over the years?

I reported on one in Crystal Lake a while back that never made the news (a deputy rear-ended a car and was not ticketed). Word reached me after that one that the deputy involved had wrecked more than five County vehicles. In another example, a State trooper wrecked a State Police motorcycle last year, when he hit the back of a vehicle - no ticket.

Last summer a deputy started a U-turn from a stopped position on the shoulder of a highway and broadsided a car that was passing. Was he ticketed? No. As a matter of fact, initial crash reports attributed the cause of the crash to the driver passing by, until other deputies screamed bloody murder. You'd better believe that, had the driver passing by been at fault, she would have been ticketed - on the spot. And this driver has still not received payment for her $5,500 vehicle damage!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ride 'em, Cowboy!

Deputy John Sosnowski, Jr. probably got the ride of his life yesterday, when he flipped his squad car on Charles Road between Queen Anne and Raffel Roads. According to this morning's Northwest Herald, he hit a large rock with the right side of his car. From the photo in the paper, the car could be a goner. Deputy Sosnowski's injuries were relatively minor, but he might be stiff for a few days. Seatbelts save lives!

Many questions are unanswered in the article. What was his speed before the accident? When did he first see the rock? Did he see it? How big was the rock? Was the rock collected for evidence? Where did a large rock in the highway come from? Why isn't there more damage to the right front fender below the headlights? How far did the car travel before it stopped?

Did Trooper Robert Satkiewicz issue a ticket to Deputy Sosnowski?

Flipping a car at highway speed makes for an exciting ride. I know. When I was a kid, I flipped a 1949 Ford off a two-lane Missouri highway much like Charles Road. In my case, the ride was end-over-end - three times.

The macadam roadway was still damp after the rain ended. I had just passed a car and, as I guided my car back into my lane, there was a little bump in the road and the car got light on the shocks. The tires didn't grip the roadway enough, and my car just continued off onto the shoulder and down the embankment into a cornfield.

The left door came off and the roof crunched down over my head. After the door came off, the car slid on the left side before coming to a stop. Thanks to a friend of my older sister, I had installed a seatbelt in my car, and the lap belt held me snugly in the seat. And I was hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life! Had it not been for that seatbelt, someone else would be writing this article.

Me? All I had was a little dirt on the left sleeve of my t-shirt. Not a scratch. The angels were definitely riding with me that evening.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tollway speeders - even troopers

Today was a rare day that I ventured out of my way to drive on the Illinois Tollway from Huntley to the east. Normally, my thoughts are, "Why should I risk my life and have to pay for the privilege of doing so?"

As soon as I entered I-90 from Highway 47, I was aware of traffic traveling above the posted 65MPH speed limit. It wasn't too bad, though; drivers seemed to be only about 10-over.

But then I got to Randall Road, where the speed limit drops. The Tollway might as well have saved its money and skipped putting up the 55MPH sign. Well, they did save a little money, because they only put a speed limit sign on the right shoulder. On the inside shoulder, too, might have been nice.

And then it started to get really crazy at the Highway 31 toll plaza and the Highway 31 interchange. As I drove under that beautiful $15,000 sign which used to have Blago's name on it (now, how is it that the Tollway was ready to install new signs the day after he was kicked out of office?), traffic was tearing past me in the 55MPH zone.

By the time I got to Highway 25 I was dialing the State Police to report speeders. It doesn't do any good, since they don't seem to have any troopers on the road to write tickets, but I do my small part and call, anyway. Maybe, if enough drivers call often to complain, the State Police will actually put the squeeze on enough speeders to get the outrageous speeding under control.

And, while I was talking to a Master Sergeant who answered for the District Commander, an unmarked State trooper blew by in the inside lane, running about 70 in the 55 zone. Not chasing anyone, mind you. Just driving down the road, heading east.

When I mentioned to the Master Sergeant that the trooper was hogging the left lane, she explained that law enforcement isn't bound by the new law that says you need to stay out of the left lane. I looked up the law, and she was right! But should a trooper, just driving on the highway (speeding, at that), be allowed to violate a law that the rest of us are supposed to observe?

If he is "performing his duties" (pursuing a speeder, catching up to pace a speeder, etc.), yes, sure, fine; hog the left lane and speed. Of course, there was no one on his bumper, trying to pass him. But I've seen that before. (When that happens in Virginia, the trooper determines the speed of the violator behind him and then pulls him over!)

I happen to be a stickler on traffic laws and believe that troopers (and deputies and police officers) should obey all traffic laws when they are not using emergency lights and siren. And even then, they must obey traffic laws (although they are permitted to (safely) exceed speed limits and stop signs and red lights); "safely" is the keyword here.

But when a trooper is heading down the road to a car with a flat tire or going for lunch or coffee, then he must obey the posted speed limit. The State Police Director apparently doesn't require this. I have inquired several times and have never received a reply from him. Troopers routinely shorten their response times by speeding, and that is not okay with me.

If I wish to shorten my response (commuting) time by speeding, that will one day be a costly choice. It should be the same for troopers.

But what cop is going to write another cop a ticket? Is one trooper going to write another trooper a speeding ticket? Is a trooper going to write a speeding ticket to a Cook County deputy? Or to a local cop? I doubt it.

One day, if and when police officers, deputies and troopers begin obeying all speed limits, then the public might just begin slowing down. What if a trooper drove at the posted speed limit on the Tollway? If a driver started to pass him, a short "whooop!" on the siren ought to bring immediate slowing. If it doesn't? Why, just write out an invitation for him to have a visit with a judge!

That'll be the day!

Story tips and leads

Got something you want checked out? Know about some misdeeds happening here in McHenry County that needs to be aired in public? Sick and tired of illegal arrests, entrapment, discrimination, racial profiling? Aware of any laws being broken while the "law" is being enforced?

OK, no slander; no libel. Send me enough that I can check it out and I'll write about it. Provide dates, locations, names, Case Numbers, Ticket Numbers, whatever I need to pull reports and get the details. There's a lot happening that never makes it into the papers.

For example, several years ago I heard about some pizza delivery drivers who were being stopped for minor traffic violations. They were told they could pay their fines in cash on the spot. So they did. No paperwork. No tickets issued. Where did that money go? When I approached to the drivers, they were reluctant to talk about it. Gee, I wonder why. Can you spell "undocumented"?

Email me at
Fax it to me at (815) 338-2666
Call me at (847) 971-7083
Sorry, no toll-free tip line.

How to forward articles of interest

Recently I was denied recognition as "media" for the purpose of receiving crime reports from the Woodstock Police Department for the new, related blog at One of the reasons given was small circulation and infrequent publication.

Well, duh... if I can't get the crime reports, how can I publish them?

The response based part of its reasoning on the statement that my blog had "2,000 hits in one year." Because I didn't have a counter on this blog, I actually did not know how many times it was viewed. Since that other blog was new, I assumed the sender was referring to the Woodstock Advocate, and on February 3 I installed a counter.

As of today, about 40 days after installing the counter, the counter reads over 10,000, or an average of about 250/day. If that pace remains for a year, that'll be 91,000 in a year - well above 2,000, I'd say.

It's easy to tell people about the Woodstock Advocate. You can just tell them to go to, or e-mail the URL as You don't need to include "blogspot" in the URL.

If you would like to forward a particular article to someone, just click on the small envelope at the end of the article. An email address form will pop up. Just fill it in and send the article. No record is kept of how you use that pop-up form. I will never see the address to which the article is forwarded or your own name or email address.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for telling others. Thanks for your comments. Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Scammed in my own driveway

Just call me a soft touch and get it over with.

Late this morning I pulled into my driveway and noticed a woman and two kids I didn't recognize. I thought maybe they might have been visiting a neighbor.

As I stopped my car, the woman and the kids (about 3 and 4 years old) approached my car door. The woman looked like she might have been crying and said her car had run out of gas and asked if I could give her $9 for an hour and a half. I started to make room in my car to drive them to a gas station, but she explained a friend was on the way and would drive her there.

I had just been to a leather shop where the owner had done a small job for me and not charged me, so I gave the woman $5.00. As I walked into my building, an upstairs neighbor asked if I had given that woman money and told me she was scamming people and had been to our building before.

After a few minutes I called the police department to report what had happened and to ask if an officer could contact the woman, perhaps to offer information or assistance on where she could apply for financial help. The dispatcher told of another caller who had given the woman $20.00.

When the officer came to my door, he explained that a law in Woodstock prohibits this type of solicitation. Great! As if this woman doesn't have enough problems, she could face arrest. And what would happen to her kids? Here comes DCFS.

I don't mind parting with the $5; she won't go far on that. I don't know if the cops were able to locate her or, if they did, what action they took.

Ka-ching, ka-ching. Sheriff to appeal...

A quick trip to the McHenry County Courthouse this afternoon uncovered the initial steps by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission and Sheriff Nygren to appeal their loss in Judge McIntyre's courtroom in the 2008 case of Schlenkert v. Merit Commission, the five individually-named members of the Commission and the sheriff.

Notice has been filed of their intent to appeal the decision to the Illinois Appellate Court, Second Judicial District. March 2, 2009, is the next action date on the case; this is the due date for the record on appeal.

Isn't there any such thing in law enforcement as being a good loser?

Judge McIntyre slammed the Merit Commission and the Sheriff and ruled that the Merit Commission's decision to fire Deputy Schlenkert for cause was "arbitrary and unreasonable." Those are very strong words!

How many taxpayer dollars have been spent so far in a case that the judge called "arbitrary and unreasonable"? How many more taxpayer dollars will be spent?

I wish I had the time to dissect the testimony and the judge's decision. I looked through the two files at the courthouse today. Just skimming them was enough to give me an idea of the baseless claims against Schlenkert.

Perhaps every deputy should go up to the third floor and read through the testimony that contributed to Judge McIntyre's decision. Read who said what and who told whom to do what.

Obviously, each deputy is not going up to the third floor to do that. Maybe I'll buy a copy of the transcript and donate it to the Woodstock library, so that deputies can go and read it without fear of retribution or retaliation. If I do so, I'll ask the library to require ID or a deposit, so that it doesn't "grow legs" and take a hike out the door.

The next question is, how and when did the Merit Commission meet and decide to file an Appeal? Did they hold a secret meeting? Did they hold a public meeting, in compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act, and discuss their loss in Judge McIntyre's court? Did they discuss the merits of an appeal and, more importantly, the cost of an appeal and any likelihood of success?

Or, instead, did the public trough just cough up the anticipated expenses of an Appeal and green-light the legal work? When a public body (the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission) is involved, how can it approve costly and lengthy legal work without meeting to discuss it and without taking a vote?

Understanding that the five members of the Merit Commission serve at the pleasure of the sheriff, their approval of any request he might make for an appeal would most likely get their rubber stamp. You know the one. The one with the big red "OK" on it. But should they approve this appeal?

Let's hope the Merit Commission doesn't cancel the March 11th meeting. Maybe answers to some of these questions can be learned.

Chief’s wife runs for C'ville Trustee

The natives are restless in Carpentersville!

In its upcoming Village election set for April 7, there are three contenders for the Village President position and there are eight candidates in the race for Trustee. The pecking order on the ballot has been determined, but here's the fly in the ointment.

The petitions of every - that's every - candidate have been challenged. Last Monday evening the Carpentersville Electoral Board met to consider the challenges, and on Friday at 6:30PM the Board will meet again. Somebody, make some extra coffee!

One of the candidates for Trustee is Debra Lowen, wife of Woodstock's Police Chief Bob Lowen. Mrs. Lowen's baking skills are well-known to Woodstock residents who attend the monthly Coffee with the Chief, because she bakes the goodies and sends them into Woodstock as treats for the Monday evening program each month. And they are delicious! Thanks, Mrs. Lowen.

Challenges filed by two objectors listed many irregularities on the signed petitioners submitted for this election. Somebody went to a lot of work to check each name and figure out why the person should not have signed the petition. (And some people say that I have a lot of time on my hands!)

But get this! Only one irregularity was presented in regard to Mrs. Lowen’s petition. According to Verified Obfector (sic) Frank Stoneham, Nominating Papers for the April 7th election are, by State law, to contain at least 148, but not more than 225, signatures of qualified, registered and legal voters.

Mrs. Lowen committed the unpardonable sin, in Frank Stoneham’s mind, of presenting petitions signed by 241 voters. Shame, shame, shame…

First of all, what could possibly be the reason for such a limit imposed by State law? Why should there be any maximum limit at all?

All the Board has to do is find a minimum of 148 of the signatures to be of “qualified, registered and legal voters” and stop counting. Pretty simple.

Will it throw out her petition because she presented 16 signatures too many? I certainly hope not! Usually, there are numerous collectors of signatures. And heaven help the candidate who discards a petition containing signatures; right? So she did the right thing by submitting all the petitions. Good luck, Mrs. Lowen!

Perhaps the Board will throw out all the objections of Frank Stoneham, who was brash enough to list VERIFIED OBFECTOR (sic) in bold print on his otherwise very official looking objection forms. What is an Obfector? There may be such an animal, but I didn’t find it in my dictionary.

Mrs. Lowen’s candidacy for Trustee in Carpentersville does bring up an interesting local question. The Woodstock City Code requires all sworn officers of the Woodstock Police Department to live in McHenry County. Their address in Carpentersville is in Kane County. And I thought I had read somewhere that the City of Woodstock required its police chief to live in Woodstock.

I would guess that the depressed real estate market might have something to do with the Chief’s not having moved to Woodstock. And 17 miles isn’t all that far, should he have to come back in the middle of the night on business. But the residency requirement is in the City Code. Who can make an exception to that? Only the City Council?

Illinois Open Meetings Act

The Illinois Open Meetings Act is covered in the Compiled Statutes at 5 ILCS 120/. To find it easily, just Google "Illinois Open Meetings Act."

Section 2.01 states that all meetings required by this Act be public and held at specified times and places which are convenient and open to the public.

It further states that a "...quorum of members of a public body must be physically present at the location of an open meeting."

Can a public body, such as the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission, hold an open meeting, such as a Regular Meeting or a Special Meeting, if a quorum is not physically present?

If you read the Open Meetings Act, it appears to me that it cannot. But on October 21, 2008, not only did the Merit Commission meet without a quorum physically present, not even one member (not the Chairman, not any of the other four Commissioners) was present in the room. Not one. They met by telephone.

And at that meeting they made an extremely important decision. That decision was to fire Deputy Zane Seipler.

I addressed this issue of meeting telephonically, rather than in person, with Merit Commission Janelle Crowley, who is also the Director of Human Resources for the City of Woodstock. She directed me to the attorney for the Merit Commission.

The legal fees of the Merit Commission must be huge, if a simple, straight-forward answer cannot be obtained from the Commission without the involvement of its attorney. The attorney said there was no problem.

Well, according to the actual wording of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, there is a problem!

And now the bigger question. If a Commission holds an illegal meeting and makes a decision, is that decision valid? Can any decision made at an illegal meeting be valid?

I say, "No, and No."

So maybe Deputy Seipler is still Deputy Zeipler. And he should be collecting his paycheck on time, every time.

One of these days I might meet Zane. I seem to take up a lot of causes without ever meeting the person who is being harmed.

The Purpose of the Merit Commission is: "To ensure the citizens of McHenry County that there is a fair and equal opportunity system for the employment, promotion, discipline and discharge of full-time Deputy Sheriffs."

Is there?

Schlenkert 1, Merit Commission 0; but ...

When the McHenry County Sheriff's Department's Merit Commission canceled today's Regular Meeting that was scheduled for 10:30AM, it removed the opportunity for me to ask what the plans of the Merit Commission are for ordering Sheriff Nygren to put Deputy Bob Schlenkert back on duty.

On December 17, 2008, Judge Maureen McIntyre issued her Decision in Case No. 08MR21. The case was ROBERT SCHLENKERT, Plaintiff, vs. SHERIFFI'S (sic) MERIT COMMISSION OF MCHENRY COUNTY, the five Commissioners by name, KEITH NYGREN, Sheriff of McHenry County, and COUNTY OF McHENRY. In her Decision Judge McIntyre ruled that the decision by the Merit Commission to terminate Deputy Schlenkert for cause was "arbitary and unreasonable." And further, "IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Decision of the Sheriff's Merit Commission of McHenry County is reversed."

If the public knew about this decision by Judge McIntyre (and they could know, because it is public record), what would the public expect?

The public would expect that the Merit Commission, at its next Regular Meeting, would direct the Sheriff to put Deputy Schlenkert back to work and pay him all his back pay.

Except the Merit Commission canceled its January 14th Regular Meeting. So much for stepping up the mark in January.

But it had another chance to discuss Judge McIntyre's decision today and to carry out its Purpose. Did it do so? No, yesterday it canceled the February Regular Meeting.

Why would the Merit Commission not meet in January or February to discuss this important legal decision? Does the Merit Commission have any independence? Does the public know that the members of the Merit Commission are appointed by the Sheriff, not by the County Board?

Just what is the Purpose of the Merit Commission?

"PURPOSE: To ensure the citizens of McHenry County that there is a fair and equal opportunity system for the employment, promotion, discipline and discharge of full-time Deputy Sheriffs."

The Merit Commission is not fulfilling its Purpose. Judge McIntyre ruled against the Merit Commission. The firing of Deputy Schlenkert for cause was "arbitrary and unreasonable." Why is the Merit Commission failing to meet and to direct Sheriff Nygren to put Deputy Schlenkert back on duty?

Sheriff's Merit Commission - Booo

This morning the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission was to meet at 10:30AM in the Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock. This Commission meets monthly in Regular Meetings, and these meetings appear on the County Government Calendar at

Occasionally, these Regular Meetings are canceled. About three days before a meeting the Agenda for the meeting is linked from the Calendar, so that interested parties can be informed of items and matters for discussion.

When the Agenda was posted last week, I placed this meeting on my own schedule and arranged to be in Woodstock. Should County residents and citizens have a reasonable expectation that a public Commission will meet as scheduled, once the Agenda appears?

Yes. I'll say that again. YES.

So, imagine my surprise when I arrived at the meeting room this morning and found it dark. Not a soul. Not a whisper. Not a telephone set up, in case they were going to meet telephonically. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

I hunted down the secretary for the Merit Commission in the County HR Department and learned that the meeting was canceled yesterday. (The January 2009 meeting was also canceled.) I could have checked the County Calendar this morning, but why should I? The meeting was on it; the Agenda was published.

Why was I there today?

I wanted to ask why they held an illegal meeting on October 21, 2008. I wanted to ask for assurance that the Commission would not attempt to hold a meeting illegally in the future.

More importantly, I wanted to ask if action taken at an illegally-held meeting was valid.

I wanted to ask if the Commissioners were aware of Judge McIntyre's December 17, 2008 Order, in which Judge McIntyre ruled against the Merit Commission.

I wanted to ask whether the Merit Commission would be ordering Sheriff Nygren to put Deputy Robert Schlenkert back on duty.

I'll write in more detail about these two topics in separate postings.

Will they meet in March?

Stamp prices going up

The United States Postal Service just doesn't get it.

Stamp prices are going up in May. First Class postage for one ounce will increase from $.42 to $.44. What will this mean?

Fewer people will send mail. More will use e-mail.

Stupid. Really stupid.

The USPS needs to examine its payroll. I recall, even today, being outraged to learn in 1989 in Santa Fe that a postal counter clerk earned $35,000/year. And that was almost 20 years ago! And that guy was stoned. And they couldn't fire him, because of the strong union!!!

Maybe the Post Office ought to be figuring out how to attract customers, not drive them away.

If the public really knew about the wages of USPS employees, we'd probably stop using USPS completely!

Does anyone know the wage scale of carriers, counter clerks, local management?

I-90 - What do you call it?

When I listen to the morning program on Y103.9 and hear the traffic reports, I wonder whether the traffic reporters are from California or watching too much California TV. When I hear them talk about traffic on "the I-90", I recall my brief residence in L.A. in 1989. Yech......

Out there they call their highways "the" (road number); e.g., "the 405". I didn't think we do that around here. You know, good ol' Midwestern values.... Use the name of the roadway, such as "I-90" or "the Tollway". Except when you mention "the Tollway", you'd better mention which stretch of the Tollway you mean.

So, what do you think? Is my reaction to "the I-90" just dredging up bad memories of the speeders in L.A.? I joked when I was out there that I was probably going to get a ticket for obeying the speed limit!

I remember asking a traffic sergeant one day why his officers drove so fast (like, 70MPH in a 55MPH on a surface street!). His answer? "They can't get there if they don't drive fast."

That only made sense to me because one of the salesmen I had been training had told me the same thing. He had been complaining about buying brakes and tires so often on his car, and I asked him why he drove so fast. "I can't get there if I don't."

It's definitely a strange way to express it. Neither said that he couldn't get there "as quickly" if he didn't drive fast; just that he couldn't get there (at all), if he didn't drive fast.

Take the current survey. Do you call I-90 "the I-90" or "I-90"?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sheriffs' Assn. for Concealed Carry

Well, let's hear it for the Illinois Sheriffs' Association. You know, the "gang" of 102 top cops protecting the counties of Illinois? On February 5, 2009, the ISA finally took a stand on concealed carry in Illinois.

Over the past few years I have contacted both the Illinois Sheriffs' Association and the Illinois Association of Police Chiefs. Neither would take a stand on concealed carry, mostly because the bulk of their membership was from northern Illinois - that hotbed of peace and tranquility that includes Chicago and Cook County.

Now, finally, the sheriffs have decided that they really did swear to uphold the Constitution (all of it), and they have passed a resolution to support concealed carry in Illinois "with specific limitations."

Those "who were present and voting" voted unanimously. My, how carefully worded the resolution was. Kind of makes me wonder who was present and not voting - and who wasn't present. Was Sheriff Keith Nygren there and did he vote? Sheriff Thomas Dart of Cook County? Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County? Sheriff Patrick Perez of Kane County?

Greg Sullivan, Executive Director of the ISA, said that 79 sheriffs (of 102) responded to their survey and 90% of them favored concealed carry. OK, so that's 72 out of 102, or only about 70% of the sheriffs. Read ISA President (2009) Sheriff Gib Cady's (Henry County, Cambridge, Illinois (SE of Davenport, Iowa)) remark: "We are constitutional officers who take an oath to uphold the constitution and we have decided to take a leadership role on this issue. This is the number one issue that our constituents talk to us about."

You can read the full press release at

Now, how about our persuading the top cops in our cities, towns and villages to do likewise???

Monday, February 9, 2009

Coming soon – Gadzuk’s!

Keep your eyes open on Main Street, because a new restaurant is on the way. Located on the first floor of the renovated Waverly Ballroom at 214 Main Street, a new family-type restaurant, pub and bar is planned to open before the end of March.

Tonight the Woodstock Liquor Commission held a Special Meeting and approved the extension of an A-2 liquor license for Bill Baruth’s new venture. The basic dining service area will be about 3,300 square feet, and an additional 680 square feet is available for private parties, events and live entertainment.

The “stage” area of the first floor along the Main Street windows will be for dining, and this seating arrangement drew a favorable response from the Commission.

The Liquor Commissioners paid careful attention to Baruth’s explanation that the 680 sq. ft. room might be used of smaller events booked by Mike Levitan, operator of the Waverly Ballroom upstairs. The Commission clarified that all alcohol service downstairs would be solely under the Gadzuk’s license and, in fact, they attached a condition to that effect to his license.

This license for Gadzuk’s, Inc. does not further approval by the City Council.

Baruth will eat a month’s expense of the liquor license because annual liquor license fees are pro-rated on a quarterly basis, not on a monthly basis. His license will be effective at 12:01AM on March 1, 2009, so the sooner he can open, the sooner he can put the license to good use.

Welcome to Main Street, Bill.

Courthouse Grill Liquor License – all done

At tonight’s Woodstock Liquor Commission Special Meeting a question was asked about the liquor license held by the Courthouse Grill, which closed two weeks ago. The City Council will be asked to close out that liquor license, since the business is no longer operating.

One of these days Linda will contact me with the “rest of the story.”

Senior Call-in Program Needs Help

A recent article in the Northwest Herald hailed the merits of the Woodstock Police Department’s Senior Call-in Program. What it stated, but didn’t emphasize, is that, after several years of operation, participation in the program has dropped to one (1) person! That’s one senior citizen in Woodstock who faithfully calls in every morning to report that he didn’t die in the past 24 hours.

Those who know me, know I can be a little flip about death. I myself may look at it quite differently than many because of my own studies and experience.

Leaving that aside and perhaps for a future article, this Program has value to residents in Woodstock. If it were actively promoted, participation would be growing, not falling. Just a few months ago there were (only) five seniors in the Program.

Just today I talked with key people in two different businesses. They have many customers who are seniors and did not know of this program. Each is willing to place fliers on counters at the businesses.

Here’s how it works. A “qualified” resident (more about “qualified” in a moment) registers with the Police Department. Registration is simple, easy and quick. Fill out one form; sign two forms; provide a key to your front door. That’s it.

What happens next?

Every morning the senior citizen (age 65 or older) then calls the police department’s main number between 6:00-10:00AM to report that he is alive and well. “Hi, this is Gus Philpott, and I’m still kicking. Good bye.” That’s all there is to it. Pretty simple, eh?

What happens if you don’t call by 10:00AM? The police telecommunicator’s blood pressure starts to rise and s/he will call you. If you don’t answer, the telecommunicator (you know, the dispatcher) will send an officer to your door. The officer will knock. If you don’t answer, he’ll let himself in with the key that you provided. If you are ill, he’ll call for help. If you’re dead, he’ll call someone else.

What happens if he can’t get in? (Hint: provide a key that works. Don’t change your locks and forget to send a new key to the PD.) You know that form that you signed that you didn’t have to fill in? The officer will get in, even if he has to use force to open the door, but it probably won’t be like in the movies. He won’t shoot the lock off.

Now for the few kickers that will keep you out of the program. Remember that word “qualified”?

If you have a relative in McHenry County, you don’t “qualify.”
If you don’t live alone, you don’t qualify.
If you don’t have a phone, you don’t qualify; well, you do, but how will you call?

How many seniors are there in Woodstock? At Walden Oaks alone, there are 135.seniors who live there.

I called Senior Services Associates (SSA) to ask how many seniors there are in Woodstock, and they will let me know their estimate. Interestingly enough, when I called Senior Services today, they were just at that very moment discussing the Northwest Herald article about this Program.

About your relatives… How many seniors in Woodstock have relatives in McHenry County who will check on them every day? And, further, how many seniors want their relatives calling them every day?

The information on the PD’s website includes this wording:

“In order to better serve the needs of the community’s elder citizens and to give them not only a sense of independence, but also to alleviate the necessity of a relative or friend checking their well-being daily…”

Just how is this necessity of a “relative…checking their well-being daily” alleviated by excluding those seniors who happen to have a relative somewhere in McHenry County? It doesn’t. The Woodstock resident is a taxpayer and should bed able to sign up for the Program.

What about the restriction on participation that you must live alone. Suppose your spouse or significant other and you are 65 or older. You should be able to sign up! What if there is a gas leak one night? Do we want the police eventually to find two bodies? Or what if one falls, and the other is hurt trying to help.

Come on… if you are 65, you should be able to sign up, if you want to.

How do you sign up?

Go to the City’s website at and then go to City Departments, then to Police, then to Community Programs/Services. Then click on Senior Citizen Call-in Program. You can print the two registration forms there.

Or call Tamara Reed, executive assistant to Police Chief Bob Lowen. Call (815) 338-2131.

Who can recommend participants or help them sign up?

Police officers can identify prospective participants in the Program and assist them in registering.
Agencies, such as Senior Services Associates and Faith in Action, can enroll their clients.
The Housing Authority can steer prospective participants to the police department.
Application forms could be prepared two-sided and left in popular places, such as counters of service businesses.
Churches can be excellent sources for participants in the Program.

To reduce the impact on dispatchers, a discrete telephone number could be established for seniors to call. Only they would call this special number. A voicemail system could accommodate simultaneous callers, and then dispatchers or another civilian employee of the Department could listen to the messages and check off names. Seniors would be instructed to call that number only for the Call-in Program.

Participants could also email a discrete email address at the P.D. to report their having survived another day. This also would reduce the burden on dispatchers to handle incoming telephone calls from seniors, when they might be handling urgent or crime matters.

This program is a worthwhile service to Woodstock seniors, but it needs much higher participation to continue. Help a senior sign up today; it could save their life tomorrow.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Free Annual Credit Reports - order yours

Want your free credit report? You can get a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three (3) major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You get it right online, in seconds.

It’s worth checking your report. Look for accounts that you thought you had closed but which are still open. Wait! Before you close them too quickly, evaluate any impact that closing one or more of them might have on your credit score.

If you happen to go first to, be sure to read the “fine print.” It tells you that, if you want your free annual credit report (only), you must go to

Too bad that the powers that engineered the free annual credit reports didn’t think a step ahead to the sharpies who would grab the domain name “freecreditreport” and take advantage of those who “think” they are in the right place for their free reports.

Read the fine print.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Senior Housing Costs

During the WCLS application process for the project that will likely result in the demolition of Grace Hall, someone mentioned to me the dollar amount of the buy-in for one of the duplexes that Woodstock Christian Life Services wants to construct on the ground that Grace Hall occupies.

When I heard $200,000 for the buy-in (not a "purchase"), I thought, "Whew!" And, after that, there is a monthly maintenance payment. When the resident moves out (or dies), some portion is refunded. I don't know the numbers.

With the new project at Calhoun and Tryon (sometimes, a/k/a "Tyron"), the "numbers" were not discussed at the Plan Commission or the City Council. I was surprised that no one asked.

But, whatever they are, they won't hold a candle to the senior housing at the former Lake Shore Athletic Club's 84-year-old, 19-story building at 850 North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. From an article in the December 2008 Chicago magazine come these figures:

2-bedroom, 2-bath units
1,600 square feet
$1,150,000 buy-in ($700/sq. ft.)
$4,500/month maintenance
90% back when the resident leaves


Maybe I shouldn't publish this. I wouldn't want to give the developers around here any ideas...