Friday, April 30, 2010

Grace Hall in national, state news

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has posted an article about the demolition of Grace Hall on its web site. Follow this link to read the story.

Landmarks Illinois has posted it on its Facebook page (go to and search for "Landsmarks Illinois"), and it plans to add it to the "Going, Going, Gone" portion of its web site. See

The Northwest Herald carried an article today. You can read it at

Shed fire first reported 9 hours earlier

On April 16 I wrote an article about an early morning shed fire in Wonder Lake the previous day. About 2:00AM on April 15 Wonder Lake firefighters were called to the scene of a fire off Thompson Road, just north of Wondermere Road.

Although it wasn't reported by local papers, the firefighters had been there about 4:30PM on Wednesday, April 14, the afternoon before. According to a report written by MCSD Deputy Vogel, he responded to that location after being dispatched for an open-burning complaint. Deputy Vogel observed a "large number of leaves" on fire and located about 6 inches from a steel shed. He also noticed that the fire had spread to the shed and that a large piece of metal had caught fire. (Yes, that's what the report says.)

Deputy Vogel contacted a man on the property who was raking leaves and reported that the man "was raking leaves on the fire in what he said was an attempt to put the fire out." (That's a strange way to put a fire out.)

Wonder Lake Fire Dept. responded and had the fire out after about 20 minutes. Dep. Vogel issued an open-burning citation to the man who was attending the fire. That man has a May 3rd court date.

The problem was, of course, that the fire either wasn't extinguished on Wednesday afternoon or it was re-started. A passerby reported a fire at about 2:00AM. A sergeant and two deputies responded. The second report indicates that Wonder Lake, Spring Grove, Richmond and Alden-Hebron Fire Departments responded. Another deputy, a lieutenant and a detective showed up.

A MCSD detective may be investigating the second fire, as the Fire Chief advise that it "was possibly suspicious in nature."

On that Friday afternoon the fire was smoldering again, so it still wasn't out. Did the Wonder Lake F.D. really get it out the first time? They reported they had used thermal imaging camera to confirm the fire had been completely extinguished on Wednesday afternoon.

What ammo injured Woods?

Cal Skinner has a good article on McHenry County Blog with information about the ammunition supposedly in use at the range on March 15, when Deputy Eric Woods was injured. You can read it and see the images with the article at

I added a comment there as soon as I read the article. Cal had filed a FOIA request for information about the ammunition in use that day. The FOIA response showed purchase 9mm, .40 and .223 ammo.

It was Dep. Hart who fired the unlucky round that caught Woods in four places, reportedly causing a "gusher" wound to his left leg. In Hart's March 16, 2010 "Departmental Correspondence" (supplementary incident report) he indicates that he fired "one round of 5.56 cal." ammo.

So just what ammo was Hart using?

While he didn't provide a distance-to-target measurement, he did write that he was about two feet to Woods' right. Hart was the fifth deputy into the room, and no one before him had shot on the vicious-dog target. That target was just inside the door to the shoot room, and only about four feet inside the room. Since Hart was in the room when he fired, he would have been only about two feet from the vicious-dog target, which was mounted on a steel frame.

What this represents is sloppy, careless range management and a disregard of safe range activity, even for a SWAT exercise.

On April 7, the Sheriff's Department responded to a FOIA Request from me and replied that there were no reports from Deputy Woods, Sgt. Embry (ranking sergeant in the shoot room) or Lt.Miller (ranking command officer at the range at the time of Woods' injury).

Maybe it's time to file a new request and find out whether these three have now had time to write and submit their reports.

Was Dep. Hart using a frangible load? I'm sure by now Dep. Woods knows. The range accident wasn't an accident at all. If any one of those targets could talk, it would have said, "An injury is about to occur, and here is exactly how it is going to happen."

Fresh for the race for sheriff

There have been some good comments posted to the recent article about the Woodstock police presence all day at Grace Hall yesterday. I commend them to your reading.

But so that comments might relate more directly to the article, here's a new article, and I invite your comments about the upcoming sheriff's race here.

OK, six months to go. It's time for the race to begin heating up, but it still has a long time to run.

Here's what I've got to offer. I am a citizen first, cop second. I think like a citizen (first); not like a cop, first. This results in a huge difference in approach to law enforcement.

The door to my office will be open. What I mean is that communications with me from any employee will be welcomed and safeguarded. I appreciate that few deputies will at first be willing to call for an appointment and then be seen walking into my office. I shall be proud of those with the guts to do that. All I'd like for them to do is inform their supervisors that they wish to talk to me and get it set up.

Having said that, I foresee situations when a deputy will not want to go through his supervisor and up the food chain to the big office. He may have something significant to say to me about his supervisor. And I shall want to hear it.

Oh, about the big office? I'll bet there is a lot better use for a big office than a place for me to hang up my coat. You can count on me not to be "hiding out." And I won't be in Florida or Wisconsin. You'll see me in the office every day. My calendar will be public, to the extent it can be.

And, if I am out-of-town, people will know it and will know when I'll be back, and the department will be run competently in my absence.

If you are reluctant to walk into my office, there will be ways for you, the deputies, to call or contact me.

If everyone is doing his or her job, nobody is going to have a thing to worry about. If somebody is not doing his job, pretty quickly s/he is going to have a lot to worry about. And the least of the worries might not be just finding another place to be employed.

The opinions of the employees, whether deputies, corrections officers, courthouse security, other staff or custodians, will be valued. Any yelling you hear from my office will be, "Good job!"

The best ideas for organizational improvement come from those in the organization. Who would know better what's broken and what needs to be fixed than those who work there?

Here's what the very first communication to all employees is going to look like. You, the employees, are going to receive a letter that asks you to complete this sentence:

"If I were Sheriff of McHenry County, I would ______________________."

This idea comes from Buck Rodgers' book, The IBM Way.

The motto of the Sheriff's Department will be "To protect and to serve", not "To deflect and to swerve."

What I shall bring to the Sheriff's Department is a fresh approach that stands on the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Illinois. Honesty and integrity will be lived, not just talked about. The deputies will take leadership roles and be among the first to obey the laws, not trailing along somewhere in the dust. All the laws.

OK. Comments?

America's Dumbest Crook - April 2010

An 18-year-old University of Illinois student in Champaign was robbed of his cell phone on February 28. A few days later he noticed a new photo on his Facebook page.

The cops ID'ed the guy in the new photo and an arrest warrant has been issued. Seems the student had set his cell phone to automatically upload new photos to his Facebook page!

This month's prize for America's Dumbest Crook goes to Korey Woodard, 21, of Chicago.

A warrant has been issued for Woodard, but apparently he has not yet been arrested. If you see him around Woodstock, be sure to call the police without delay.

Too bad the Northwest Herald didn't publish Woodard's photo. If you want to see it, click here for the photo in the Associated Press article:,facebook-identity-theft-university-illinois-042910.article

Undersheriff's compensation package?

I wonder if Andy Zinke knows yet how much he will be paid for taking on the #2 spot at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

When his promotion was announced, it seems to me that the sheriff said Zinke's pay hadn't been determined yet. Yeah, right...

The sheriff has to know what he's got in the budget for the Undersheriff job. He knew what he could offer Zinke. And Zinke certainly wouldn't accept a promotion without knowing what his pay was going to be. Would he?

How many months between now and November 2 will Keith Nygren be in Cape Coral and in Minocqua? Yes, he is entitled to vacation time - based on his years in office as Sheriff, not based on his 38 (or is it 42?) years in law enforcement. He started a new job, when he left Crystal Lake and moved over to 2200 N. Seminary Ave. And the length of his vacation time should have started over.

It is only recently that County residents have become aware that he might have been taking excessive vacation time and running his office "by cell phone."

I do hear, though, that some employees like it better when he's gone. Is that right?

Wisdom - Village of Lakemoor style

Lakemoor (Ill.) P.D. is about to suffer cuts, thanks to $120,-150,000 being lopped off the P.D.'s budget.

Under the leadership of Village President Todd Weihofen, the Board is laying off an 18-year sergeant, demoting another sergeant to patrol, canning a probationary officer, and cutting hours of the police clerk.

AND considering establishing a Deputy Chief position for the re-styled department. Smart; really smart...

Kind of reminds me of the email that was making the rounds a while back about expenses that keep going up and up until the organization started firing all the employees at the bottom of the totem pole.

Lakemoor's police chief, Michael Marchese, just came on board in February, after 30 years with the Schaumburg P.D.

My experience is that when small town departments get a new top gun who has been with a bigger department, then the "big city", expensive ideas start to take over. The Village President has been slicing and dicing in Lakemoor and getting a lot of press over it. I wonder whose idea it was to lop off employees at the bottom and then start talking about adding more administration.

Are they taking lessons from school districts?

Grace Hall bricks to be available

This morning's Northwest Herald article reports that "bricks are being set aside for those who want to keep a piece of Grace Hall."

Michael Cannon, of Arch Consultants, oversaw the demolition. Well, it was a dirty job (literally), Mike, but somebody had to do it; right?

Want a brick? Call Mike at (847) 541-3220.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Police at Grace Hall all day

Why was a Woodstock police officer stationed at Grace Hall all day today?

Were the police expecting trouble? Did they think someone might chain himself or herself to a support column to prevent the demolition of Grace Hall?

Were they afraid someone might try to steal a brick?

Oh, maybe the City was afraid someone might breathe in dust containing asbestos. Was the cop there to warn spectators not to stand downwind from the demolition site?

Or was he there to prevent parking on the south side of Christian Way, along the temporary construction fence, and to keep vehicles out of the roadway?

Or was he there to monitor workplace safety?

And was it necessary for the Community Service Officer to drop by for a long visit, meaning there were TWO employees of the police department there?

And when the marked police car left, was it really necessary for the unmarked blue Ford traffic car to take over?

Who paid for the police presence there today? WCLS? Gavers Excavating? Or did the taxpayers take it on the chin today for about $40.00/hour?

Unsafe conditions on work site?

Hard hats.

A good idea on a work site, especially where a building is being demolished. How many hard hats did I see at 318 Christian Way today?


The operator of the weapon of mass destruction wasn't wearing one, although he did wear a mask to protect his own lungs from the dust of the demolition.

The workers with the tractor-trailer, there to haul away debris, weren't wearing hard hats, not even when working on top of the loaded debris or between the truck and the piece of construction equipment that was killing Grace Hall.

And Quinn Keefe certainly wasn't wearing a hard hat. I wonder how well his baseball cap would have protected his noggin.

Did you know that Quinn works for Gavers Excavating?

When I asked the cop on duty why Quinn was inside the construction fence, he told me that Quinn had told him that he works for Gavers. I thought maybe he was there to buy or sell the lot, since a truck with Realtor Kim Keefe's name on it was parked right on Christian Way. That's probably a truck for which a business tax deduction is taken; hmmm, why was Quinn driving it today?

Does Gavers Excavating know that he works for them? I called them to find out. When I asked for Quinn, the woman who answered the phone hesitated and then said, "I know him, but he doesn't work here."

Is Gavers Excavating concerned at all about OSHA? What the heck? Does OSHA even apply in Woodstock? Some people would probably say it does.

What would happen to Gavers' workers comp and liability insurance premiums, if the insurance company realized that people on the site did not wear hard hats or were on the site with no real need to be?
Oh, well. OSHA probably doesn't even know where Woodstock is.

Can't miss it. You'd better miss it

This morning this portable sign was sitting squarely in the southbound lane of the 300 block of Dean Street, announcing that hydrant flushing will begin in a few days. Southbound traffic was required to drive into the center of the roadway and across the broken yellow line to pass the sign and warning cones safely.
A call to Public Works to inquire why it was in the traffic lane probably resulted in the sign's being moved, but I didn't go back by later.
If parking were permitted on the west side of Dean Street, it might be acceptable to put the trailer there; but parking is permitted only on the east side of Dean Street (and then only in compliance with posted restricted parking signs).
So far, there is no mention on the City's website of the hydrant flushing schedule.

Dust control? Ha!

Was there dust today during the demolition of Grace Hall today? Was there any dust control today at Grace Hall?

Only by Mother Nature, and she spread it all over he north end of Woodstock. I called City Hall today and left a message, asking the City Manager's attention to the dust situation.

Why didn't the City anticipate the need for water and hoses at the site, at Gavers Excavating's expense (and passed through to WCLS, of course)? With a strong south wind blowing, the dust was blown north across the duplexes and apartment of WCLS's own residents and beyond.

Does anyone think there was no asbestos in any of the destruction debris? Although asbestos remediation was supposed handled last fall, think the crew got all of it in the short time they were in the building? How did they get all the asbestos out of the walls, attic and ceiling?

I placed a phone call to the Environmental Division of the County Health Department and was told there had been a call to them earlier in the day. At 3:57PM I was told that a County employee was on the way to the site, but I never saw a County vehicle or employee show up before 4:30PM.

Day of Infamy - April 29, 2010

Take one last good look at the east end of the magnificent Grace Hall. Notice the elegant entrance, where horsedrawn carriages would have pulled up to this building, in the days before every vehicle was gas-engine powered.

This morning the Demolition Permit for Grace Hall was issued at Woodstock City Hall. A few minutes later (literally), the first blow struck. Wrecked from the inside first (by WCLS and the Woodstock City Council), Gavers Excavating struck the first physical death blow to the fine old building at 318 Christian Way, Woodstock, Ill.

There had been talk by some that, if the City Council could have been persuaded to designate Grace Hall as a Landmark, an attorney could have been ready to jump all over that project with an injunction. It was clear that the timing would have to be carefully monitored, in order to prevent the first blow.

Next, take a look at the east end of the former Grace Hall, as it appeared about 4:00PM today.

Had the money and the efforts of many people in Woodstock shown up, it might have been possible to be in front of a judge this morning as the rubber stamp at City Hall hit the permit (figuratively speaking, of course, because it only took ink in a pen to validate the Permit), and place a cell phone call to halt the operator of the implement of destruction. But none of that fell into place.

Through the cooperation of the City Council with WCLS, Grace Hall bit the dust. And bit it all day.

How did the City Council "cooperate" with WCLS? It has been written about before, and it will be written about again.

Schoolbus driver deserves medal

Recently I met a schoolbus driver from rural Illinois, when she shared her story about converting long winter bus rides into profitable learning time for her students.

She has two rules on her bus:

1. anybody can help somebody (everybody is good at something) and
2. you can't give them the answers; you have to show them how to find the answers.

You can read about her at

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prep work for demo begins

Gavers Excavating is working away around Grace Hall to remove shrubs, as a prelude to the demolition of this fine, old, 100-year-old, architecturally-significant and historic building on Route 47 in Woodstock.

Historic all but in designation. The building met almost all of the requirements for designation as a Landmark, and it was recommended for Landmark status to the Woodstock City Council in about November 2008.

The recommendation laid in a dark, musty corner until it made a brief appearance on the April 21, 2009, Agenda of the Woodstock City Council. Just a little fine point in the City Code. The Historic Preservation Commission had to forward its recommendation to the City Council within 30 days of taking action (within the HPC), but the City Code FAILS TO REQUIRE THE CITY COUNCIL TO TAKE ANY ACTION.
Several historic preservationists around Metro Chicagoland told me they were surprised that Woodstock does not have a time-clock on the City Council. They were shocked that the City Council could just ignore an HPC recommendation, which is exactly what has happened.

At that time (4/21/09), upon the motion of Mayor Sager, the Landmark designation recommendation was tabled, so that the Woodstock Christian Life Services proposal to build duplexes in the South Phase could be considered ahead of it. If you hurry, you can still read the Minutes of the 4/21/09 City Council meeting online. Go to; roll your mouse over "City Council" and then click on "City Council Minutes". Then scroll down and click on "April 21, 2009 City Council Minutes". Scroll down to pages 3-4.

In response to a question from Councilman Ahrens, Mayor Sager said that his motion would "simply" put the WCLS item "on the table first." Mayor Sager also said his motion would require only a simple majority. He further said that the Landmark designation motion was not being dissolved and "will remain an item of business."

And so, why has a year passed with no action by the City Council, despite repeated requests for this matter to come back to the "table." If the Mayor wanted to kill the Landmark designation, he must have known that a two-thirds vote was required. How much is 2/3's? It's five, not four. Two-thirds of seven is 5, not 4.

The fact that five voted for the Mayor's motion to table doesn't matter a whole lot, because the Council was told that only a simple majority was needed. Would one of those five have voted differently, if he had known that the question carried more weight?

Some will say, "What does it matter? WCLS is going to tear down the building." Well, it matters. There is a right way to do something, and there is a wrong way.

The Woodstock City Council has done it the wrong way by hiding erroneously behind the tabling of an agenda item for a year.

Big Mac Attack?

If you live in Woodstock, you've got just two days to make it to McDonald's to salve your taste buds with a Big Mac, fries or whatever.

The Woodstock McDonald's will close on Friday, April 30, for 3-4 months, while the old building is torn down and a new one is built. The new restaurant will accommodate more drive-through customers who will, undoubtedly, sit in line with their engines' idling, smelling up the air and polluting Woodstock. Can anyone spell g-l-o-b-a-l w-a-r-m-i-n-g?

Maybe they'll install a sign to request drivers to shut off their engines if idling more than 15 seconds. Fat chance, eh?

By the way, have you seen the new (tiny) sign at Woodstock North High School that directs drivers not to sit there and idle. One little sign for all those cars...

Illegal use of siren?

Yesterday morning I met an oncoming lane-line painting truck on U.S. 14 east of Woodstock and near Centegra Hospital-Woodstock. It was painting the center line and was in the middle of the road.

The surprising part was the loud siren in use on the truck. When I saw the truck in the middle of the road, with a long line of traffic behind it, I immediately thought there was an approaching emergency vehicle - probably an ambulance enroute to the hospital.

Nope! The siren was on the privately-owned contractor's truck, in use presumably to warn traffic that the truck was in the middle of the road.

I have no doubt that the centerline painting operation is a hazardous one. The truck was straddling the centerline, with the paint sprayer between the truck's wheels. Other trucks operate with the sprayer off the left front of the truck, so that the truck stays in its lane.

As I understand the law, sirens can be used on designated emergency vehicles (police, fire, medical) while responding to emergencies. I've never heard of sirens being used on private-owned work trucks.

When I saw the truck in the middle of the road and traffic behind it, I pulled over to yield to what I thought was an oncoming ambulance or police car, so that it could pass the backed-up line of traffic and the painting truck.

I wondered by what State authority a siren would be permitted. Anyone know the statute?

Open Letter to D-200 School Board

After attending last night's Board meeting I would like to offer the following suggestions:

Please provide a microphone for speakers who address the Board. They have their backs to the audience and they cannot be heard throughout the room.

Please speak toward and into your own microphones. Please pull the microphone closer to your mouth when you are speaking. We in the audience are there to hear what you are saying.

Please do not turn away toward a fellow board member and speak away from the microphone. When you do, your voice is not amplified and cannot be heard throughout the room.

Last night there were five students waiting to speak to the Board. It would have been a great courtesy on your part to put their topic on the agenda for the first of your two meetings.

If protocol requires you to place their topic far down on the Agenda, then a board member could make a motion to move it up.

When a parent makes an impassioned plea, such as regarding services to a special education student, it deserves more than "Thank you for coming tonight."

Does any board member send any electronic message to another board member during the meeting? When you have your laptops open and the screens facing away from the audience, we cannot see any emails or IMs sent among you. If you do so, you should be aware that is most likely a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Was it really necessary to spend so much time considering millions of dollars in Life Safety Improvements (parking lots, telephone systems, tennis courts, etc.), after you spent so little time slashing jobs?

I know you to be caring, concerned members of the community, or you wouldn't be on the School Board. But the caring part gets lost in the picture, when the audience feels you care more about parking lots and tennis courts (by amount of time spent) than you do the students.

The Life Safety Improvements were explained as being funded by money that could not be used for staff or operating funds. Did dedicated funds require any District matching? In other words, if you didn't upgrade telephone systems throughout all the schools, didn't spend millions on asphalt, didn't add new tennis courts, would some District money be available for saving teaching positions?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BV Road - last chance

Time is running out.

If you want to ruin your wheel alignment or wreck the suspension on your car, you've got just a few more days to drive on Bull Valley Road, east from Woodstock toward McHenry.

Work ("Construction?" - Re-construction?) may begin on Monday, May 3. I don't know how far east the roadway will be done; only to Fleming Road?

If you don't like one lane of traffic on a road through a Work Zone, plan an alternate route for a while.

3rd Graders sing out

Check out this video from the 3rd graders in Tussing Elementary School, Colonial Heights, Virginia.

The email with it said the music teacher there wrote the words for the song.

Arizona mom speaks out

Read this letter from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. Names have been removed to protect the innocent.

"The following email is from a friend of mine who lives with her husband on the AZ/Mexican border. This is her opinion of the situation in Arizona and I will have to say I totally agree with her. (She) lives everyday with illegals crossing their property. Being so close to the border, cell phone coverage is almost non-existant. The problem in Arizona/California/Texas is really a national problem and is draining the entire country of resources. Asking for an ID is not a new concept, nor is it unjust. Let your voices be heard.

"Subj: Yes to ID check No to Open Amnesty

"Letter to all who care:

"After Sept. 11 the Military required 100% ID for passage across the West Gate Pass. My family in order to attend school had to show ID two or more times per day even when the Guards knew us by our first names. We showed ID and still do. We simply plan a few minutes delay and understand that this is to keep American's safe.

"How is it President Obama thinks that a request for identification, when requested by an American Police Officer and or Border Patrol, on American soil, for the safety of the American people, is somehow unjust.

"Let me add that the media acts like all non-Anglo people are for Open Amnesty but that is not true.

"They know that, each time this type of Amnesty is given, the UDA with or without criminal records will be moving into their neighborhoods. When so many of the UDA's have criminal records for crimes towards American's, we the people understand that it is time to ask questions and give the police a tool to keep American's safe.

"As for how to spot a UDA they tend to not make eye contact, do not engage in conversation and show little interest in caring for the community. Police are skilled observers who need to enforced our laws to keep us safe.

"My understanding is Obama has three months to squash this small win to remove the dangling carrots that encourage crime. My reading shows that 17% of captured UDA.s are wanted for crimes in America. That the percentage of UDA's who are criminals in there own country is much higher.

"Mexico is a crossing point but that does not mean that a UDA is from Mexico. Once in the United States, birds of a feather flock together..... This is why they pick up groups of child molesters living together. Mexico citizens run these types of people out of their country but America President is willing to risk our children.

"Time to write the letters and keep our children safe. Showing ID is reality for many of us it is recorded now for years so speak up ....we can say ....been there ..done that ...did not harm my family."

For those who haven't figured out UDA, it's Undocumented Alien.

Let's go flying

OK, anyone up for a ride in a B-17? Got an extra $355 floating around your den?

On June 29-30, you too could be a proud passenger on the "Aluminum Overcast", a Flying Fortress of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 22. The "Fly the Fortress" tour will be at Rockford (Illinois) International Airport.
The aircraft will be on display, and flights are available. Rides are $355/person in advance or $425/person as a walk-up.
Go to the RFD International Cargo Ramp west of the UPS complex off Kishwaukee Valley Road. First take-off will follow an 10:15AM opening on both days.

Arizona law - not racial profiling!

Arizona has been much in the news since its governor signed the new law last Friday about taking enforcement action against those who are in the United States illegally.

Today I received an email from Teaching Tolerance, a division of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. The email contained an article titled "Arizona legalizes racial profiling."

I immediately called the SPLC to voice my opinion that Arizona's law is not a racial profiling law; it is an attempt to stem the tide of thousands and thousands who enter the U.S.A. illegally across Arizona's border with Mexico and to regain control over its state and its resources.

My opinion was respectfully received by the public affairs director. Over the 10-12 years that I have financially supported the Center, I have not agreed with everything they do. But I agree with most of it, and I shall continue my support. At the same time I will attempt to persuade them that Arizona's law is in the best interest of law-abiding citizens and residents in Arizona and in the best interests of the United States of America.

By the way, President Obama is wrong to so quickly blast this bill. His quick demand for the Justice Department to examine whether Arizona's law is unconstitutional is wrong. If it's unconstitutional, some aggrieved person will get it into the courts fast enough without the POTUS sticking his nose into it.

To read the article, go to Be sure to read some of the early comments.

CALEA - good? or waste of money?

The First Electric Newspaper ( covered a visit by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) to the Huntley Police Department, as CALEA examines Huntley PD for accreditation.

Chiefs from Woodstock and Algonquin P.D. and Sheriff Nygren showed up to say what a "top-notch" outfit Huntley is. Well, duh... what else will they say? And when the CALEA team shows up someday at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, will the chiefs from Woodstock, Algonquin and Huntley show up with their praise? You betcha!

Is CALEA like ISO 9000? The gold standard? Someone described ISO 9000 to me back in 1995 as the international standard for processes, such as manufacturing. If you wrote down exactly how you were going to manufacture a widget and then followed the process, your widget would turn out exactly as you said it would.

You might be making a piece of junk, but everyone is the world would know that you followed the processes to turn out your best piece of junk.

So, tell me. One of the "processes" at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department should be that reports will be written truthfully by deputies.

And another - deputies will write their reports independently and not be collected in a group and told what to write. Nor will Corrections Officers be herded into a room and told what and how to write their reports.

And another ought to be - supervisors will not alter reports so that they are not truthful reflections of the facts.

Do you really need CALEA for that? Or just good leadership?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Raffel Road detour soon

Woodstock drivers should begin thinking about a detour for the section of Raffel Road between McHenry Avenue (Route 120) and Banford Road.

This section of two-lane roadway is due for reconstruction and paving, starting next week.

Informational signs about the road closure are scheduled to be put in place this week, one for northbound drivers and one for southbound drivers. Then detour signs will be set in place on Monday, May 3rd, and the road will be closed to thru traffic.

Actual milling of asphalt is expected to begin on Thursday, May 6th. The project has a completion date of 50 working days, or July 30th. If the weather is favorable for construction, the project could be wrapped up before July 30th.

Thanks to Woodstock Public Works for the above information.

My guess is that westbound drivers from the northeast part of Woodstock should expect increased traffic on Ware Road, Raffel Road (if drivers cut through the Government Center parking lot to avoid the stop sign at Ware Road and Route 47), and on St. Johns Road.

Watch the speed limit on Ware Road and on St. Johns Road. If you are on Route 47, watch for impatient or distracted drivers trying to enter or cross the northbound lane of Route 47.

The plans for a traffic light that was approved for Ware Road and Route 47 got stalled or abandoned somewhere along the way after being approved by the Woodstock City Council.

It will be interesting to see whether any traffic control by police is needed or provided on westbound Ware Road and St. Johns Road at Route 47 during morning rush hour.

Height of Government Stupidity

Today I have been making several telephone calls to confirm the identity of the young man who died last week in a Crystal Lake Park.

When I spoke with the Crystal Lake Park District Police Chief this morning, he would not confirm the identity and referred me to the Coroner's office, providing me with the name and telephone number of the person to contact (which I appreciated).

Curt Bradshaw answered his phone on the first ring at the Coroner's office. I presume he is a deputy coroner, although I didn't ask. He too would not confirm the identity of the young man and took a message for the Coroner, Marlene Lantz.

Within a few minutes Deb called me from Marlene's office and told me I'd have to file a Freedom of Information Act request. When I objected, she said she had already spoken with the State's Attorney's Office and they told her that she could ask for a FOIA Request.

Certainly, she "could" ask for one. Does the Coroner's Office need such a request? Absolutely not.

It creates a roadblock, an interference, a waste of time, a stupid delay, and the unnecessary expenditure of government time and money to provide a one-word answer to my question. I had the name. I was seeking official confirmation. As I told somebody this morning, I may be the only person in the country unwilling to write the name without official confirmation.

Government has gone crazy with the new FOIA law. A inquiry such as mine does not "require" a FOIA request. The FOIA Request is the way to pry information out of a government body that it doesn't want to release.

But if they want to make a stupid game out of it, okay. It's on the way.

Dumb. Just plain dumb.

Parent confirms ID

An adult in Crystal Lake has confirmed that the young man whose death by suicide occurred last week in a Crystal Lake park was Jimmy Olson, 19, of Crystal Lake, Ill. He was a gradate of Crystal Lake South High School and a student at McHenry County College.

Friends held an impromptu memorial service in Veteran Acres Park yesterday and erected a cross in Olson's memory.

Police were called to Sterne's Woods Park on Wednesday morning, April 21, after a missing person's report was filed with the Crystal Lake Police Department about 7:00AM.

A Facebook page appears at "RIP Jimmy Olson", and there are links to other Facebook pages there.

Proposed gun laws - call today

From a press release of the Illinois State Rifle Association:

"According to information obtained by the ISRA, the gun control movement plans a final, all-out push to destroy your rights and take your guns away from you this week in the Illinois General Assembly. Under orders from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Speaker of the House Mike Madigan may require that the House of Representatives remain in session until it passes Daley’s 2010 gun control package. Among the bills that Daley has demanded that Madigan get passed are the following:

"HB180 – a scheme to run gun shops out of business by forcing shops to get licensed and comply with a slew of burdensome regulations.

"HB5480 – would ban private firearm sales and force citizens to process private sales through licensed gun shops. (Yes, those are the same gun shops that will be run out of business by HB180 above)

"HB5495 – would prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month. Of course, criminals are exempt from this gun-rationing scheme.

"HB5751 – would give you 90 days to surrender all your semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns to the state police or face felony prison time.

"HB5849 – would make it a felony to use a case other than one designed for a firearm to transport it and give the police greater power to confiscate your guns for “improper transportation” even if you have committed no other crime.

"HB6123 – would make it a felony to sell a firearm to someone who looks like a gang member (ie: Black, Hispanic, shaved heads (all races), tattoos (all races), motorcyclists (all races), etc.)."

What can you do? Call your State representative today and give him your advice and request to kill this legislation.

Do you realize there are police officers and deputies in McHenry County who would lose the right to purchase a gun under some of those laws? Are you going to start thinking "gang member?", the next time you see a cop with a shaved head?

Daley, Madigan and the Chicago bloc are dangerous to your well-being. They don't want you to be able to protect yourself from the armed criminals.

Call Rep. Jack Franks today at 815.334.0063 Ask how he intends to vote on each of these bills. And then follow up to learn how he did vote.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arizona's new immigration law

Arizona, home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants, now has the toughest illegal immigration law in the U.S. It took a lot of courage for elected representatives and Gov. Jan Brewer to enact their law.

The new law requires police to inquire into legal authority of a person to be in the U.S., if the cop has reason to believe the person is not legally in this country. The anti-s have come out of the woodwork already, claiming racial profiling before it ever happens.

Why shouldn't a visitor in the U.S. carry papers with him or her? If you visit a foreign country, aren't you going to carry your U.S. Passport and visa? And, if you don't and you get stopped, you're going to have some explaining to do; right?

Why should it be any different here?

What's different here is that we have about 12,000,000 illegal immigrants in this country. Maybe illegal "immigrants" isn't the right phrase. How about illegal aliens?

I'm aware of two recent cases right here in McHenry County. A mother with her five-year-old daughter in the car got stopped for weaving in the lane. She was ticketed and then held for immigration. A friend had to go to the jail to pick up her daughter. She was released on a $5,000 bond. A man was ticketed for DUI in Woodstock and then held for immigration.

Where the system seems to breakdown is on the question of whether a person needs to be locked up and held for immigration. What if they were just cited into immigration court on the undocumented matter? It's not like they are hard-core gangbangers or bank robbers.Is a mom with a five-year-old going to flee?

And what if she does? You just enter her into the computer and the next time you don't release her. If a person is going to be deported (now called "removed"), why not let them go home, wind up residency, move out, and head for their home country? Why stick them in jail for 30-60-90 days?

C.L. Park District Police still mum

Personnel at the Crystal Lake Park District Police remain unavailable regarding information regarding a reported death by suicide in a Crystal Lake park last week. Several calls to Park District Police Chief Ron Lyons have not been returned, and email to him and to Sgt. Steve Welch has drawn no reply.

On Thursday the Crystal Lake Police Department referred me to the Crystal Lake Fire District, which referred me to the Park District Police.

A Facebook page has been started at "RIP Jimmy Olson", providing his age as 19. A young man yesterday told me that Jimmy Olson was a graduate of Crystal Lake South High School and was a student at McHenry County College.

No obituary or story has appeared yet in either the Northwest Herald or the Daily Herald.

The Centers for Disease Control offer the advice to investigating agencies that "No Comment" is not the proper response to press inquiries.

From a CDC workshop:

"The mission of a news organization is to report to the public information on events in the community. If a suicide is considered newsworthy, it will probably be reported. Health-care providers should realize that efforts to prevent news coverage may not be effective, and their goal should be to assist news professionals in their efforts toward responsible and accurate reporting.

"'No comment' is not a productive response to media representatives who are covering a suicide story.

"Refusing to speak with the media does not prevent coverage of a suicide; rather, it precludes an opportunity to influence what will be contained in the report. Nevertheless, public officials should not feel obligated to provide an immediate answer to difficult questions. They should, however, be prepared to provide a reasonable timetable for giving such answers or be able to direct the media to someone who can provide the answers.

"All parties should understand that a scientific basis exists for concern that news coverage of suicide may contribute to the causation of suicide.

"Efforts by persons trying to minimize suicide contagion are easily misin- terpreted. Health officials must take the time to explain the carefully established, scientific basis for their concern about suicide contagion and how the potential for contagion can be reduced by responsible reporting.

"Some characteristics of news coverage of suicide may contribute to contagion, and other characteristics may help prevent suicide."


Suicide statistics at conference

At yesterday's mental health conference sponsored by the Illinois Federation of Families (FF) and other agencies, IFF had a booth with various panels and statistics from areas of concern to IFF.

Statistics were posted of the incidence of suicide among the younger populations. Consider these statistics:

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the 15-24-year-old age group.

Suicide is the 6th leading cause of death in the 5-15-year-old age group.

The rate of suicide in the 15-24-year-old group has tripled since 1960.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for college-age students.

More teenagers and young adults died as a result of suicide in 1999 than by cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, birth defects, stoke and chronic lung disease combined.

For every older teen and young adult who takes his or her life, 100-200 of their peers attempt suicide. Between 500,000 and 1 million young people attempt suicide each year.

The above figures came from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Association of Suicidology.

Valuable information for preventing suicide and surviving suicide loss can be found on the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at Take a few minutes now and read the risk factors and warning signs, found on that site under "About Suicide."

IFF Conference yesterday

Yesterday the Illinois Federation of Families (IFF) co-sponsored an all-day conference at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove. The conference title was "Northern Illinois Family AND YOUTH Mental Health Conference." Several State agencies were co-sponsors, as was McHenry County Family CARE.

For a review of the conference and keynote speaker Marc Atkins' presentation, visit the IFF website next week at Dr. Atkins made the statistics interesting, and he kept the audience involved, inviting questions during his talk.

He spoke about the importance of routines in a child's life, such as the morning routine, meals, homework and bedtime. All these are basics to many families, but in today's "electronic age" too many parents have yielded to external influences on their children.

Dr. Atkins also mentioned a school mentor program that originated at an institute of the University of Minnesota. Check & Connect is outlined at

Bullying and ostracism were mentioned, and one of the most insightful comments from a member of the audience was about her role as schoolbus driver in her small, rural area. Her passengers were considered 'river rats' by many (students and staff) at the school and were believed to be students who would never succeed. She, the bus driver, converted the chaos on the bus ride to quiet student time and set up a peer mentor system on her bus. As a result, many of her passengers became Honor Roll, and even High Honor Roll, students!

See a separate, following article regarding one panel at the IFF booth.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Long work zone in Huntley

Today I drove through Huntley's 35MPH Work Zone on Route 47. When you are southbound, the zone starts well north of any road or shoulder construction, and it's easy to decide not to slow down to 35.

But check the advisory sign at the bottom. The fine is a minimum of $250, plus a mandatory $125, bringing the total to $375. On top of that, just imagine the court courts when you try to leave the McHenry County Circuit Court. How much? It's anyone's guess, but my guess is another $200-300.
And, if you are your handheld cell phone, you can probably count on a ticket for that, too.
So, is it fair, proper, appropriate to require drivers to obey Work Zone speed limits when there are no construction workers present? The Work Zone speed limit is enforceable 24/7. The prior law was enforceable only when workers were present and/or warning lights were flashing.
The legislators changed that. Say "Thank you, Legislators." They cry about all the injuries to Work Zone workers, but it seems to me that most of the injuries in Work Zones were to motorists or passengers, not to workers. So, what's with the 24/7 enforcement?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Week-old traffic crash report, Route 47

Last Friday, April 16, there was a three-vehicle crash on Route 47, south of Woodstock and south of Lucas Road. The crash investigation was handled by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, with assistance from the Woodstock Police Department. Northbound and southbound traffic was re-routed, while fire, rescue, police and towing all went to work.

What happened? The report that night was that it was a minor, three-car accident.

Here's what really happened, according to a well-written crash report by MCSD Deputy #1876.

At approximately 5:36PM on April 16, a 2005 Nissan Altima, driven by Andrew D. Cannata, 22, Woodstock, was northbound on Route 47, when it collided with a truck and a car. A tractor-trailer owned by CSX Intermodal, Inc., and driven by Luis G. Falconi, 43, Bartlett, was southbound. Behind the truck was a 2005 Mitsubishu Lancer, driven by Ethan Liss, 20, of Gilberts.

Cannata drifted across the center line and first struck the step under the driver's door and then hit the rear tandem wheels on the trailer. Cannata's vehicle then spun counter-clockwise and was hit by Liss' vehicle. Cannati's vehicle stopped across the southbound lane, facing east. Liss' vehicle spun and stopped on the west shoulder, facing west. The tractor-trailer stopped in the southbound traffic lane.

Woodstock Fire/Rescue moved Cannata a short distance to a landing zone, where Flight for Life picked him up and transported him to St. Anthony's Hospital in Rockford.

Liss was transported by Lakewood Fire Dept. to Centegra Memorial-Woodstock.

Cannata was cited for Improper Lane Usage and will appear in McHenry County Circuit Court on June 26, 2010.

Hello, C.L. Park District Police?

Why would there be no answer at the telephone number for the Crystal Lake Park District Police Department?

The phone (815.356.2415) just rings and rings (unanswered).

This is the phone number provided to me by the Crystal Lake Park District. Even when I called back to report that the phone was unanswered, they confirmed that is the correct number. And I couldn't get them to transfer me to the chief's office.

No doubt that Chief Ron Lyons is extra busy today, but why isn't the phone answered?

Later I found this number on the Park District website for its police department: 815.459.0680, x221 for the chief.

If you need the Park District Police in a hurry but don't want to call 911, possibly you can call the Crystal Lake Police Department and they may be able to assist.

"You talk too much"

There's a funny song by Ray Stevens called "You talk too much." You can find it on; just type in the title.

Why is this important now? Crystal Lake has posted signs at the beginning of school zones to give fair warning to motorists who are talking on their cell phones. A new state law forbids chatting on handheld cell phones in school zones and construction zones.
An article in an area paper today stated that all 27 miles of I-290 in Chicago are now a Work Zone. If the entire length of I-290 is now a work zone and handheld-cell-phone-free zone, it'll be easy pickin's for troopers who see motorists holding a phone.
A Bluetooth or other hands-free device is a wise choice - for many reasons other than to avoid a ticket. How about for this reason - "avoiding a crash"?
My compliments to Crystal Lake for purchasing and installing these signs. Thanks!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Try this new eatery

Have you been in Expressly Leslie yet?

If it hadn't been for a visitor to Woodstock today, I'd never have known about this place. It's located in the Woodstock Square Mall, 110 South Johnson Street. Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.
What's so special? The vegetarian specialties - Middle Eastern Style. A friend from Battle Creek, Michigan, had come to pay her last respects to Grace Hall, and she brought with her the information about this little eatery; she had found it on Facebook!
What will you find there? Hummus, foule, fatoush, soups, salads, pita pizza, eggas. As Leslie says, "Just good food." And check out this line from her business card: "Delightful Foods from the Earth - Prepared Fresh Daily with Love."
Drop in soon. Be sure to meet Leslie and Sam. They'll take good care of you.
For a sneak peek, go to If you know what you want but don't have time to eat there, call 815.338.2833 to place your order for pick-up.

Crystal Lake student dies

A phone call tonight informed me of the death by suicide of a Crystal Lake South High School student or graduate, who may have been attending classes at MCC.

Apparently a note was left, which was found by his parents. They notified the police, who went to a location that may have been specified in the note, where he was found.

His name is being withheld here, as the facts have not yet been confirmed.

Nothing is reported yet by the Northwest Herald or the Daily Herald.

The investigation is being handled by the Crystal Lake Parks District Police Department.

Moms get fast action from D-200

Recently I published a letter from Rosalinda Seipler to District 200, questioning its policy of a lottery for the district's youngest students in a bilingual program.

District 200 read and listened to her and other moms and took fast, positive action.

Thanks to Rosalinda and the other moms and to Supt. Wrzeski and her staff for really listening. Here's the letter:

"District 200 School Board and Administrators,

"I am writing this letter to thank Superintendent Ellyn Wrzeski, Assistant Superintendent Nancy Reczek, District 200 School Board, and Bilingual Coordinator Keely Krueger for the prompt response and resolution to our concerns regarding the Kindergarten programs. I spoke with several parents whose children will now be attending the new “Full Day” classes and they are all very happy and excited with the District’s decision.
"I commend District 200 for their willingness to hear out parents and take their concerns seriously. I am proud my child will begin her formal schooling in a school district that cares about equality in education.

"Rosalinda Seipler"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

6-year-old points hand - suspended

In a case of "stupid is, as stupid does," an Ionia, Michigan, elementary school suspended a 6-year-old boy for making a "gun" with his hand and pointing it at another student. The school alleged that the boy made other students feel "uncomfortable."

Educators are supposed to be the smart ones. You know, all manner of college degrees and training courses. And that's the best they could do to handle a situation? The school claimed that "kind" of the boy's behavior had gone on for several months.

Remember the kids' movie, Matilda? "I'm big; you're little. I'm smart; you're dumb."

Is it going to be against the law now to play cowboys-and-Indians? Cops-and-robbers? Heaven help the kids today who pick up branches and chase each other around yards, pointing them at others and yelling, "Bang, bang." Some worry wart will probably call the police and report "kids with guns" in the yard. Then SWAT and MARV will show up.

Maybe we should all walk around with two fingers stuck in our belts, ready to "draw."

By the way, where are the Eddie Eagle programs in McHenry County? Why isn't gun safety taught in our schools?

At a meeting the other night, several questions were asked:

"How many of you own guns?" All hands went up.
"How many of you have guns at home?" Most hands went up.
"How many of you keep your guns locked up at home?" My hand did not go up. What good is a gun at home if it is locked up?

If someone breaks into my place while I'm home, what am I supposed to say? "Hang on a minute. I've got to work this combination lock here in the dark and unlock my gun case. Then I have to unlock this second lock to get the ammo. Then I have to load the gun. OK, I'm ready now."

Oh, just point my fingers at them and yell, "Bang, bang"? No way.

Blago calls out Fitzgerald

Them's fightin' words, Blago.

Yesterday Blago called out federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, describing the federal prosecutors as "cowards and liars." Blago reportedly said, "I'll be in court tomorrow, and I hope you are man enough to be there, too."

I've heard it said that the best defense is a good offense. If that's the best that Blago can do, it won't be much of a show in June. No doubt that most of what Blago does is carefully scripted and approved by his legal eagles, but there is always that part of what he does that is "pure Rod."

Blago, the feds don't have to prove you are innocent. That's your job. Their job is to prove you are guilty! Didn't you go to law school?

While they are downtown, will Blago show up on the federal Square, ready to take on Fitzgerald at high noon?

Weapons of choice? How about swords at 20 paces?

You know the old story about choosing whether to be the bug or the windshield? Blago is about to be the bug. (No offense to VW Beetles intended.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Should Woodstock enforce eviction junk?

On a regular basis in many parts of Woodstock you can see piles of household furnishings at the curb, after a tenant has been evicted by a landlord. Many, but not all, of these occur shortly after the first of the month. Others, like this one at 316 Lake Avenue, occur later in the month.
Granted, the landlord wants his property back as quickly as possible, so that he can restore it to rentable condition and re-rent it to cut his losses.
The City already prohibits discarding household possessions in the "parkway", which is right-of-way and controlled by the City Code. That's the land between the sidewalk and the curb. It's not your property, but you probably don't want to know what happens if you don't mow that grass.
This house was already a "problem" house for the City, because a tenant parked a vehicle in the front yard and destroyed the grass between the sidewalk and the driveway.
Some renters take great pride in their residences. Others don't.
How should the City address violations of this type? Ideally, the City would inform landlords up-front about the ordinances that affect their property, including the "nuisance" ordinances. These aren't intended to be nuisances themselves; instead, they are to prevent nuisances.
Enforcement should be shift and sure. Junk like the above doesn't belong in the parkway - period. If the landlord is going to dispose of a tenant's property, then he should either store it for 30 days off-site or out-of-sight, giving notice to the former tenant, or just call Marengo Disposal to come and get it. If they won't pick it up from the back or side of the house, then put it out after 7:00PM for next-day pick-up.

Outdoor dining on Main St.

Last month the Woodstock City Council approved an outdoor dining area for the recently renovated D.C. Cobb's restaurant at 226 Main Street, and tonight D.C. Cobbs will be back to ask for a liquor license to serve alcoholic beverages to its customers seated on the City's sidewalk.

Now, first of all, I don't have any problem with alcoholic beverage served to restaurant customers, and I don't have any problems with the kiddies coming out of the movie theater seeing anyone drinking a beer or glass of wine or mixed drink with his dinner in an outdoor seating area.

My comments here are about whether the City Council should even have approved an outdoor seating area outside this restaurant (or any other restaurant on the east side of Main Street). There just isn't enough room there for the rest of the public to use the public sidewalk! (Click on either image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

The problem was obvious up the street at successors to the old Tip Top Cafe. The sidewalk on Cass Street is wider; that wasn't so much of a problem. However, on the Main Street side, the outdoor seating obviously impeded the flow of pedestrian traffic.

A diagram submitted to the City Council clearly omitted the decorative pole right in front of D.C. Cobbs. The base of the pole is a little more than 12" from the curb and will be close to the center of the required four feet of clear pedestrian passage required by the City Council.

Will the front bumper overhang of parked vehicles mark the street side of the required four feet of clearance? Or will the four feet start from the curb?

The restaurant's measurements put the width of the sidewalk at 114". They then allow for an 8" bumper overhang, leaving 106". Knock out 48" for pedestrians, even if they do have fight their way around the decorative street pole. That leaves 58". Then there will be a 4"-wide fence with planters. Will 4' of clearance exist between the planters and the front bumper of a car? Let's assume the plants just grow straight up.

This leaves 54" for outdoor dining. The restaurant plans to place tables against the front wall that are 29"x29". That leaves 25" for the customers and the waitstaff to maneuver between the tables and inside edge of the fence. Get out your tape measure. Twenty-five inches isn't all that much for a waiter with a tray of food or drinks.
Will the tables seat only two, or will a third chair face the open windows of the building front? If a third chair is in place, then that customer, his chair and the waiter have to fit into that 25". What if four people want to sit at an outdoor table?

The sidewalk on the east side of Main Street just isn't wide enough for outdoor seating, especially if passersby stop to chat with diners. And waiters will have to keep an eagle eye out for diners who might offer a bit of refreshment to someone walking by.

A member of the waiter staff is to be present when alcohol has been served outside. Does that condition allow him or her time to run into the kitchen to pick up orders or to go to the bar to fetch drink orders? Is this possibly an unfair condition on the restaurant, in that it might require a full-time waiter outside, unable to leave his post?

Ask why; always ask why

Last night a driver in Woodstock was arrested on a DUI charge, and his family was told that his bail would be $1,328, because of a prior DUI. The family called me about 8:15AM.

The bond was calculated this way:

$ 300 (10% of standard $3,000 bond)
$ 28 sheriff's fee
$1,000 additional bail due to prior DUI

The problem? The driver claimed he had never had a prior DUI.

I called the Jail for the family and learned that a slight identification error had occurred originally, with the result that incorrect information about the required bail was given out. I was told that his bail would be $128.

I notified the family and they headed over to bail him out. Then I realized that the correct bail ought to be $328, and I called the jail back for confirmation. At that time I learned that the family was already there with the bail, but there is an Immigration hold on him.

So it goes from bad to worse. Apparently, his application to I.C.E. for documented status was accepted and he was just waiting to be notified to pick up his approved registration.

Will he now become a "guest" of I.C.E. for $90.00/day in the immigration wing at the Jail? And for how long?

If it turns out that his application status is valid and that he is legally in this country, pending approval of his application, what disruption in his life will occur as the result of initial confusion about an alleged prior DUI or an Immigration hold?

Let's hope that MCSD has an inside track with I.C.E. and that they don't have to call an agent in the Chicago Field Office of I.C.E. and wait days for an agent not to bother to call back. I can just imagine that a pending application for anything is stuck in a pigeon hole on someone's desk.

War forever - Landmines



[April. 20, 2010. Crystal Lake, IL] The McHenry County College Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) will host its last informational seminar of the semester on "When is a War Really Over?" featuring local Crystal Lake inventor Gary Christ. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 28th at 7:00pm in Room A221 at McHenry County College.

Gary Christ is working to make a better world. In February of 2001, he began volunteering his services by installing septic systems at orphanages in Cambodia. However, in 2004 a landmine was discovered at an orphanage he was asked to excavate. This dramatically changed his focus and he has been building demining prototypes ever since.

Every day Cambodians are killed, maimed and threatened by millions of landmines and tons of unexploded ordnance left over from Southeast Asia's many conflicts, wars and invasions occurring from 1965-1998. Meeting dozens of Cambodians maimed by landmines, grieving the loss of a loved one or fearful of farming the land inspired Gary to revolutionize humanitarian demining methods for Cambodia's specific needs and realities. He calls his demining machine "Peacehammer", "wherever it hammers, there will be a peaceful place to walk."

This machine was successfully tested near Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2008. Educating people about the long term effects of warfare, as well as getting support for demining Cambodia, will be addressed in a new video format, known as Pecha-kucha.

The event is part of SPAN’s Current American Issues Information Seminar Series. SPAN is made up of students promoting peace nationally and locally through action and education. The event is co-sponsored by the Future Engineers and Scientists Society, McHenry County Pax Christi, and the McHenry County Peace Coalition.

The college is located at 8900 U.S. Hwy. 14, Crystal Lake. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the MCC Student Activities Office at (815) 455-8772 or
Molly McQueen, Action Coordinator for SPAN
Phone: (815) 354-3161

Monday, April 19, 2010

Overkill at the drug bust?

Remember the recent mobile meth-lab bust in the 300 block of South Madison Street, Woodstock, on April 9?

In the mail today came this comment: "If you wanted to see a total waste of man power and money you should have been present for the big Meth Bust on Madison Street recently. The entire street was filled with emergency vehicles from several communities. Countless emergency responders in full garb walking up and down the street----however, not a single bystander was told to take cover—instead residents were also walking about etc. From the looks of it we thought perhaps an entire Meth Lab had been uncovered! Instead just some idiot with some sealed bottles in a duffel bag. Hopefully they then searched his residence."

When I walked up the yellow tape barrier, a firefight quickly (and politely) asked me to move away from it and farther down the street a couple of doors. I asked why, since residents were on their front lawns a lot closer to the action than I was at that point.

Anyone care to guess how many court dates Josh Slaten will have before the verdict is in? 15? 25? You can follow his case at Use Case Number 10CF000386.

I never did see that name of the woman who was driving the car in the paper or any mention that she got a ticket for whatever violation caused the officer to stop her.

Which reminds me... This might be a good time to file a FOIA request with the Woodstock Police Department and find out just why she did get stopped.

SAO collects $5,000 for child support

April 19, 2010


McHenry County State’s Attorney, Louis A. Bianchi is pleased to announce the collection of $5,000 in a settlement with a local business, on behalf of a child and her custodial parent, for not providing timely child support payments. The Illinois Legislature and the Illinois Supreme Court have clearly determined that the law in Illinois is that employers who have been properly served with an Income Withholding Court Order and still fail to pay over income to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) in a timely manner - can be penalized. Illinois law requires employers to promptly process an order or notice to withhold income and a penalty of $100.00 per day may be collected against employers for noncompliance.

Today, Louis A. Bianchi presented a local mother with the check for $5,000 from the employer (of the non-custodial parent) as its penalty for not having made timely payments to the SDU. Our office strives to enforce timely child support payments and recognizes that custodial parents and their children rely on swift enforcement and that financial hardship may result from delays in the collection of such payments. In this case, there were instances when the employer waited 30 to 45 days to forward the child support monies to the SDU. This matter was pursued by Assistant State’s Attorney Amy Bates.

Note: At this time, child support in McHenry County is enforced by the State’s Attorney’s Office and by the Attorney General’s Office in Rockford (for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Service – IDHFS). If you are experiencing challenges in the collection of child support, please contact either office to determine which office should assist you – or stop by the State’s Attorney’s Office for a brochure explaining same.

All about ADHD

Learn more about ADD/ADHD at the end of this month and through the summer.

Information seminars will be presented by Robert G. Kohn, D.O., whose specialties are psychiatry and neurology, later this month, in May and during the summer. Learn what's new in the diagnosis and treatment on these conditions in 2010.

Public seminars will be held monthly in McHenry and in Crystal Lake. The focus will be on children and adults with ADHD or concerns with attention processing.

April 28th*
5400 W. Elm St., McHenry. Cunat Building, lower level (just east of Ringwood Road)
6:45 pm to 8:00 pm

*Additional seminars will be held in McHenry on May 28, June 23, July 28 and August 5.

May 6th**
406 W. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake - Crystal Lake Park District building
6:45 pm to 8:00 pm

**Additional seminars will be held in Crystal Lake on June 3, July 8 and August 5.

The cost is $5 per person through May; $10 per person beginning in June (Minimum of 5 people to run program)

*Refreshments served*

Reservations are not required.

For more information about Dr. Kohn's practice, visit

Stop, Look and Listen

That's what I grew up with in the St. Louis area, when it came to crossing railroad tracks. Now, with rail crossing gates, bells and flashing lights, I have grown careless along with millions of other drivers, lulled into a false complacency that the lights will flash and the gates will come down before a train reaches a crossing.

And now?

From now on I shall look, before I drive across any set of railroad tracks. Friday evening's train-car tragedy in University Park, Illinois is a wake-up call. The gates don't always come down. Dance teacher Katie Lunn, 26, didn't have a chance, when an Amtrak train struck her vehicle. Drivers in front of her and behind her say the crossing warnings did not work.

What warning in the locomotive is there, if any, to alert an engineer to a failure of the crossing gates and lights to activate? Media are reporting that maintenance crews were at the crossing earlier in the day. Did they work on the activation system?

Day or night, slow down and look both ways. Don't just "look"; see whether a train is approaching. Act as if you expect a train to be approaching. Your brain will say, "No train, no train." You must over-ride that automatic signal. Just because a train has never crossed in front of you without activating the warnings signals, it's time to change your thinking.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bang-bang day in Chicago

Thursday night in Chicago. Thirteen shooting incidents. Seven dead; 18 wounded.

Maybe Chicago residents should tell Mayor Daley to stick it in his ear. Maybe they should just start carrying guns for self-defense.

A frequent expression among otherwise law-abiding citizens is, "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6."

Would there be a marked downturn in shootings in Chicago, if the gang-bangers had to worry about whether a bunch of people on the streets might start shooting back? Instead of hiring more cops, the City of Chicago could start training and arming citizens. Give them good guns with stopping power. Teach them to shoot straight and when to shoot.

When some punks do a drive-by, let the citizens open up on them before the punks get to the end of the block. I predict it would take about 72 hours for the word to get around on the streets that it's no longer safe to do drive-by shootings.

Someone told me last week that Chicago Alderman can carry concealed weapons, because they have been declared to be peace officers. Oh, really? Did they just do the gun course at the academy, if any of them even did that? Or did they take the full Police Training Institute? Or did they just declare themselves to be peace officers and strap on their guns?

Does anyone know?

Senator's son - DUI

How much more is there to this story?

The Chicago Tribune reported about an hour ago that Illinois Senate President John Cullerton's (D-Chicago) son, Garritt Cullerton, 26, was cited by Chicago Police early this morning for DUI, while driving a vehicle registered to the Illinois Senate. The Tribune reports his BAC was 0.188.

So, let's see; why was he driving it? At midnight on a Saturday night? While drunk?

Senate business??? Privilege? Think Daddy is more than a little irritated?

What took the Tribune so long to get the story???

Peace Corps and Africa

The Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) at MCC will co-sponsor an interesting program on Thursday, April 22, 7:00PM.

"Mary Batterman will be talking about her experience living and working in Kilolo, a remote, subsistence farming village in the southern highlands of Tanzania. In June of 2008 Mary set off to be a health education Peace Corps volunteer in the east African country of Tanzania. After intensive Swahili and technical training, she moved to the remote village of Kilolo, where she spent the next 9 months. While there, Mary worked with the village government to conduct an analysis of the community's development needs and then undertook different projects to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, improve access to health care, provide support for village orphans, and teach life skills. Mary will talk about different aspects of life in her village: work, school, health care, socializing, and living without electricity and running water. In addition, MCC students and SPAN members will be present to share their individual experiences volunteering in other parts of Africa."

McHenry County College - Room B-177C
Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

The Event is free and open to the public.

Just how fast is okay

One of these days a Woodstock police car using emergency equipment is going to be in a really bad crash. Again.

It happened a few years ago, and it's going to happen again.

On Friday, shortly after 5:30PM, there was a crash on Route 47 between Lucas Road and Route 176 West. Cal Skinner wrote on McHenry County Blog ( that "... a Woodstock Police car came screaming down Business 14 and turned onto Route 47."

I was just turning into my driveway when a different Woodstock police car passed me heading southeast on Lake Avenue, running hot and really flying. Lake Avenue is a speedway for cops running hot (lights and siren). There are numerous driveways, intersections and the Dick Tracy Park along Lake Avenue, plus congestion at Kimball with the Woodstock Rec Center, a gas station and Coleman's.

The bright emergency lights and siren are no guarantee that someone is not going to pull out in front of the officer or make a sudden, panic stop when surprised by the siren or fast closure of the police car. Many police officers can operate their vehicles safely at higher speeds with emergency equipment, but they often are surprised by drivers doing dumb things, like stopping in the roadway or even pulling to the left, instead of the right.

The Woodstock officers were responding to assist the sheriff's department, whose deputies were apparently a farther distance from the scene of the crash. A Woodstock officer was stationed on Route 47 at Lucas Road to direct traffic either east or west, because the highway was blocked with wrecked vehicles and emergency equipment.

The small amount of time saved by traveling 60MPH (instead of 45MPH) in a congested area isn't worth the increased risk to all, and I urge WPD officers to slow down. And I urge command personnel at Woodstock Police Department and city administrators to be aware of the hazard and the risk and to issue appropriate directions to all officers regarding emergency lights and sirens.

I lived in Lakewood, Colorado, when Pierce Brooks served as its second police chief, then called Director of Public Safety. I still have a letter from him in 1971, after I ran down a kid who was stripping a stolen car. You almost never heard a siren in Lakewood. Brooks had a very strict policy about running hot. When he died in 1998, the Rocky Mountain News headline was that Brooks "'was far ahead of his time' in standards, policies."

Found this about Brooks on a website: "He was forceful, dynamic, and insisted on the highest of actions--from everyone. We had a pretty powerful Internal Affairs unit. Councilmen, mayors, city managers and other dept heads looked up to him. I have a book he wrote and I think Joe Wambaugh was a detective in LA at the same time. Pretty gruff but a no bull guy."

Brooks authored Officer Down! Code Three. If you are interested, you can read a book review on If you'd like to borrow the book, let me know.

Dep. Woods' shooting injury

How is Deputy Eric Woods healing? Rumor has it that he'll be out on IOD (injured on duty) for a while, as his body heals from the wounds suffered at the sheriff's department shooting range on March 15. Best wishes to Woods for a complete recovery and return to full-time duty.

After initial treatment on the day of the injury, Woods apparently suffered infection of the wounds because not all the fragments were removed. It was more than "road rash", Sheriff Nygren!

Did Nygren ever go to visit Woods?

Was the future injury foreseen in the Sheriff's Department's January/February 2010 Newsletter? The Home on the Range update by Lt. Cedergren ended with, "The next shoot is the training shoot. We will begin with our warm up drills and move into one person and team movements. We will end with a surprise scenario. ..."

What really happened on March 15? Have Lt. Miller, Sgt. Embry and Dep. Woods filed their reports yet? How long was Woods in the "shoot room" before the rest of the SWAT team element entered? All the available reports are silent about elapsed time and the number of rounds were fired around Woods. Why wasn't the vicious dog target, which was the first target nearest the entry door, fired on until the 5th team member entered the room?

Congressional Pig Book now available

Check out Cal Thomas' column in today's Northwest Herald. Page 11A (the editorial page) of the print edition, if you still part with $13.27/month to support your local paper delivery person. Online? Good luck.

Cal tells us where our tax dollars are going and uses the Citizens Against Government Waste ( as his information resource.

The 2010 Congressional Pig Book Summary is now available for your late-night reading enjoyment (or irritation). Cal's favorite this year is $7,287,000 to continue the Harkin Grant program of - who else? - Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who received The Narcissist Award.

According to Thomas' column, there were 35 anonymous earmarks for $6,056,565,000 in the defense category. Although they represented only 2% of the 1,752 projects, they scarfed up 59% of the $10,300,000,000 in the pork barrel.

The CAGW website indicates there were 9,129 earmarks for a total of $16.5 Billion.

If you think it doesn't pay off to be a power player in Congress, check out this prime example:

"$5,000,000 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the Presidio Heritage Center. A December 21, 2009 article in the San Francisco Chronicle described this ironic earmark as follows: 'After the Presidio was included in a round of military base closures, Pelosi helped craft a public-private agreement to keep its valuable real estate from being carved up by developers. The congressional requirement promised that the park would be free of federal subsidies by 2013. The $5 million earmark will fund close to 25 percent of the center’s estimated renovation and help leverage other donations from corporations and foundations, said Tia Lombardi, director of public affairs at the Presidio Trust. In other words, the trust needs federal subsidies to lure private investment – so it no longer has to rely on federal subsidies.'” (emphasis added)

Are we heading for a revolution in this country?

Huffing leads to death

I read with regret about the death of 18-year-old Aaron Hunt, whose death late Friday followed huffing of an inhalant on Monday. I met Aaron, his brothers and his mother back in 2005.

Even in this time of intense sadness in the family, his family is attempting to warn others of the dangers. How many parents have even a clue that their own kids might be engaging in such a risky behavior?

Now is the time to talk (again?) with your kids about self-preservation and control over their own habits. I'm not sure how you convince a kid that he is not "bullet-proof". Many think they are indestructible or that "just once" or "not very often" won't cause them great harm.

Police apparently know what substance Aaron inhaled, because they say, according to news reports, that it was not an illegal substance. Maybe it's wise not to publish the name of the substance.

But maybe it is unwise to withhold the name of it. Will other kids unknowingly inhale that substance, not understanding the danger associated with it?

News reports indicate that Aaron was in a car "with friends" (plural) when he stopped breathing. Why didn't the kids in the car with Aaron call 911 immediately? Probably they panicked. Media reports indicate the 18-year-old (male? female?) driver called a 17-year-old girl, who happened to be walking near Chapel Hill Road and Country Lane. The 17-year-old girl called 911, and the driver apparently drove to her location.

Would the outcome have been different, had the driver stopped immediately, phoned 911 and started CPR right there? It's a question without an answer.

How many young adults have learned CPR and remember how to use it? Methods have changed, and anyone whose CPR training was "a while back" might seriously consider taking a refresher course.

Police have not identified the friends (plural) who were in the car with Aaron on Monday when he stopped breathing or the girl who phoned 911 to summon help for Aaron.

Police have not ruled out the filing of criminal charges.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More on Route 47 crash

Further information from MCSD on Saturday night is that there were two passenger vehicles and one truck involved in the crash late Friday afternoon on Route 47 south of Woodstock, still being called a minor, personal injury accident.

From the amount of damage to the cars and their positions after the crash, it wasn't what I'd call a "minor" crash. A citation for Improper Lane Usage is being issued to one driver. The crash is being investigated by Deputy Sabol, who is now off until Tuesday. After his supervisor, Sgt. Groves, approves his report, it may be able through a FOIA request.

It appears from the photos on that left front corners of both cars tangled. There is only one way that happens on a two-lane roadway. Northbound traffic was in a passing zone, and southbound traffic had a passing zone that ended just about at the point of impact. Can't see a No-Passing Zone sign on the left shoulder; will have to check on that.

At the time I took my pictures, the blue tractor-trailer was stopped straight in the southbound lane. When Cal took his pictures, the fire equipment had left and the blue tractor-trailer was being moved.

Was one of the drivers starting a pass? Or trying to complete a pass southbound before the yellow no-passing zone line? Was a driver distracted and crossed the center of the roadway?

Perhaps the sheriff's department classifies any accident that doesn't kill or seriously injury someone as a "minor" accident. With the major body damage of this accident, I'd call it more than minor, even without a fatality or serious injury. Seat belts and airbags reduce injuries in most front-end crashes.

Glad to be far from Topeka

There was a gut-wrenching Associated Press article in the paper last week about the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), of Topeka, Kansas. A four-year-old civil lawsuit, filed by Albert Snyder, will finally reach the U.S. Supreme Court this year. Snyder is the father of the late Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, at whose funeral on March 10, 2006, the WBC protested.

A Facebook fan page in support of Mr. Snyder's legal efforts can be found by Googling "Albert Snyder". That fan page now has almost 299,000 members.

WBC protested with hateful signs at his son's funeral, and Snyder is hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule against Westboro Baptist Church and prohibit angry, disrespectful demonstrations outside military funerals. He believes that the church is disrupting private assemblies and that its harassment of people at funerals is likely to incite violence.

Members of WBC travel across the U.S.A. to spread their beliefs. According to the AP article, Fred Phelps heads up a "congregation" of 70-80 members - "mostly his children and grandchildren. They consider themselves prophets..."

Pretty sick; right?

If you are as outraged as I am by the WBC, you can donate to the expenses of Snyder's lawsuit. Go to

Be careful what you ask for

Former Port Barrington police chief Lawrence Benner is suing the Village of Port Barrington. That was in the paper last week.

How did that come about? Benner had asked the Village to pay for his health insurance. The cost? $7,200/year.

Instead, the Village disbanded the police department and now contracts with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for services.

When that happened, I filed a FOIA request with the sheriff's department for a copy of the contract for services with Port Barrington. That's the only FOIA request I've filed with MCSD that was not responded to. And I let it slide through the cracks. Normally, I pounce and appeal but, in that case, I didn't.

According to the article, Benner claims he worked 86-104 hours of overtime per a 13-16 day pay period, for which he was not paid.

He acknowledges that the Village told him he would be a salaried employee. That seems logical for the position as Police Chief. Salaried employees don't get overtime pay. So, was he salaried or hourly?

If hourly, is there something wrong with my calculator? Overtime wouldn't kick in until he had worked 40 hours in a week. How did he work 40-50 hours in a week over his first 40 hours? Is the crime rate that high in Port Barrington?

Is the lawsuit only for earned, but unused, vacation and sick days? I can understand getting paid for unused vacation days, unless the Village had a written, use-it-or-lose-it policy in place. Did he have an employment contract that provided for payment for unused sick days?

When did employees start expecting to get paid for unused sick days? That's a safety net that, if you don't use it, you don't get it.

How many years will that case in U.S. District Court drag? July 13 is the first hearing in Chicago.