Monday, May 31, 2010

How safe is the range?

Summer shooting has started at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department range on Hartland Road, across the road from the County’s Valley Hi Nursing Home. It’s okay; they ought to be shooting away from the nursing home, not toward it. Well, most of the time…

Rumor has it that shooters at the range are using frangible ammunition (of recent popularity since March 15) for much, but not all, of the practice. That’s the frangible ammo which is supposed to disintegrate when it hits a hard target, such as the 500 Brinell steel used for some target frames.

The shoot is for all sheriff’s department employees who carry weapons – deputies, corrections officers, court personnel. Are there others who carry, about whom we don’t know?

Apparently, the plan at the MCSD range is that range officers, who are carrying live ammo in their weapons, will switch to airsoft weapons and then shoot at deputies or COs in action simulations. Presumably, this means that all at the range will be firing airsoft weapons during that exercise.

A better plan would be for all at the range to unload all duty ammo from their weapons upon arrival at the range and secure it in a manner that will prevent anyone at the range from “accidentally” loading it into his weapon for a shooting drill.

All participants should have the opportunity to examine any weapon to be fired toward them. No one should have to worry that a live round, other than airsoft, might be fired at him. Does everyone at the range have the opportunity to check the weapons of range officers, so that they can know with certainty that all live rounds (regular loads) have been removed?

Woods' written report - required under CALEA?

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department is spending thousands of dollars working up a sweat to get in condition for CALEA certification, or so they say.

An article published today on suggests that, under CALEA, Deputy Woods would be required to submit a written report about the incident in which he suffered a shooting injury at the sheriff's department shooting range. From that blog, "BUT, CALEA standards require that all "Injured On Duty" reports be written and submitted by the injured party if possible, as soon as possible."

If the article is correct (and why wouldn't it be?), then where's the report?

"Oh, but MCSD is not certified yet by CALEA," you say? And that's a reason that MCSD hasn't begun acting as if it is certified?

When CALEA comes in to examine MCSD, will it ask why Woods didn't submit a written report for his "Injured On Duty" status?

I wonder what CALEA would have to say about the reports written by the deputies and the corrections officers, especially the two reports with the 71 consecutive identical words.

Sheriff Nygren said Woods' injury was like "road rash".
Woods says it was like "chicken pox."

If he has 67 little slivers and gauze controlled the bleeding, why was Flight for Life on stand-by? Did range personnel call Flight for Life, or was the call to Flight for Life from Woodstock Fire/Rescue personnel before or after they arrived?

Since Woods got permission to talk to the reporters from the Northwest Herald and the Daily Herald (did he ask, or was he told to talk to them?), I wonder what would happen if I called and requested an interview with Deputy Woods. Without a "minder" present.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beth Bentley reported missing

The Chicago Tribune reports today (May 31) in breaking news that Woodstock resident Beth Bentley, 41, was reported missing on Monday, May 24, after she failed to return from a trip by train to Centralia. According to the Tribune article, she was to return to Woodstock on Sunday, May 23.

Woodstock is named in the article, and the article says that "police in the northwest suburban city" confirmed that she has been reported missing, but so far no information appears on the City's police department website or in the Northwest Herald.

Bentley reportedly was dropped off at the Centralia Amtrak station to catch the 6:08PM train to Chicago. Although the article did not specifically state, presumably that was Sunday. If her husband reported her as missing on Monday, for what reason would the Woodstock Police Department be withholding information about a person reported missing?

According to information in the Tribune article, "Bentley is described as 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds with blond hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black tank top, blue denim miniskirt and carrying a pink and orange overnight Vera Bradley bag.

It would seem to me that the sooner the word goes out in Centralia, in Chicago and between Centralia and Woodstock, the sooner possible witnesses to any sightings might report to police.
Anyone with knowledge of her whereabouts or plans should contact the Woodstock Police Department at 815.338.2131
Many thanks to the reader who alerted me to the Chicago Tribune article.

Arizona law - vote now

Do you support Arizona's tough new law on illegal immigration?

Click here ( to vote in MSN's poll on this issue.

Respecting service dogs

Very good friends from out-of-state visited me this week-end, and they were accompanied by one child's service dog, Teddy Bear. The two-year-old dog is trained for medical alerts for persons with diabetes and can recognize when its "master", a ten-year-old girl, is heading into dangerous zones with high or low blood sugar levels.

The dog is permitted in public places that are off-limits to dogs that are not service dogs, such as restaurants, public buildings (libraries, museums, etc.), public restrooms, etc., as long as it is wearing its vest, which identifies it as a service animal. (To enlarge the picture, click on it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

So, when the family visited the Art Institute, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Museum, and Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in Lakewood yesterday, no question was raised by admittance.

Since service animals are not pets, they should not be approached. Children seeing them should not be permitted to approach them to pet them. The family tells anyone approaching that the dog is a service dog and asks them not to pet him. Service animals are protected under A.D.A. laws, and a person might get in some really hot water, if he ignores the owner's request or directive to back off.

The dog is trained so that its allegiance is to its owner, and no food, snacks or treats should be offered to a service animal. To learn more about rules when around service animals, you can search with any of the popular search engines.

Best dawg in Chicago

I've been wondering about where to find the best dawg in Chicago, and Superdawg gets my vote. I was there yesterday - for the first time.

The original Superdawg is located at 6363 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago. I was there with three friends and we enjoyed the "must-have-on-the-first visit" Superdawg with fries.

When we entered the small parking lot, we were greeted by a smiling man who was directing traffic. He turned out to be Scott Berman, whose parents started Superdawn in 1948. After we backed into a parking space alongside an outdoor ordering menu, Scott told us the history of Superdawg. His parents, a CPA and a school teacher, started it and pretty quickly decided that running it was more fun that doing taxes or teaching kids.

His dad invented the potato slicer still in use today and explained that various ingredients are grown especially for their business, such as their potatoes from Idaho. Scott is an attorney and, when I saw I was from Woodstock, told me about his economic development activity here in Woodstock in the early 1970s.

We ordered the hot peppers "on the side." After sampling them, I called him over to our car window and told him I had eaten the peppers. I said I was having an emergency and asked what the phone number was for 911. He "got" it...

A second Superdawg is open in Wheeling, Ill. at 333 South Milwaukee Avenue (which is 11.3 miles northwest of the original Superdawg). If you haven't been there, I recommend a visit soon!

Letter to mayors re Arizona law

Following is a letter sent to me by an Arizona resident, written by another Arizona resident to mayors of U.S. cities who are advocating a boycott of Arizona. The writer's name is not published with the letter, although it appeared in the email I received.

"Mr. Mayor,

"I'm writing to you and other mayors who have elected to boycott the fine state of Arizona. You and your council members obviously know nothing of the people that live and work here, and the everyday financial, personal hardships we endure because of illegal immigration. Our deserts are being desecrated by trash left by illegal's, police officers are being killed by illegal's, our health system is over burdened by illegal's, our school system is over burdened by illegal's, and we are the kidnap capital in the United States because of illegal's.
"Yet our federal government can't seem to do anything except to allow the president of Mexico, to speak along side our president and then in front our congress and say that Arizona is full of racists. Here is a leader of another country who can't even run his own country right telling us how to run ours! And Mexico's own laws about illegal immigration are even more repressive than the United States and Arizona's laws!
"All I can say to you and others that have chosen not to back your fellow countrymen, shame on you. Your boycott has shown nothing more than your ignorance of SB1070, and the fact, you have chosen to hide your head in the sand when it come to the illegal immigration problem. Look around you Mr Mayor, how well is your city and state doing with illegal aliens? Are they really contributing to your city and state, or do find that maybe, there might be a problem?"

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tobacco sales compliance in Crystal Lake

On May 25, 2010, the Crystal Lake Police Department conducted the final round in a series of tobacco sales compliance checks. Of the 39 establishments licensed to sell tobacco products in the city, only two businesses failed the compliance check by selling tobacco to an underage volunteer.

The under-age volunteer was able to purchase a tobacco product in the Holiday Inn and in the Jewel-Osco.

I'd say that Crystal Lake has achieved the level of compliance it wants with respect to tobacco sales, but at what cost?

Two establishments failed; 37 passed. How long did it take the volunteer and his police escort(s) to make the rounds of 39 "establishments"?

How long will it take the officer(s) to handle the paperwork and then appear in the City of Crystal Lake Administrative Court for a hearing on July 9, 2010.

It's interesting that the State of Illinois has money (grants) for tobacco checks, but it can't pay its bills to healthcare providers and schools.

Federal encroachment?

In today’s Northwest Herald is a letter to the editor from Helen Polich of Cary. The Herald published her letter under “The honest party?” You can read her letter and the comments at

Below her letter was the following comment, posted by “illuminati” at 10:25 a.m. He wrote, "Ok Gus I'll take you at your word. As the highest elected official in this county, what will you do to stop federal encroachment against it's citizens?"

Because his question was open-ended, I answered it only briefly in a further comment on the Northwest Herald website with, “Briefly, I shall observe the Oath of Office.”

I'm laughing right now as I read my answer. I should have written, "I shall observe the Oath of Office." I certainly don't mean that I would obey the oath of office only briefly.

If he appears here, I invite him to provide an example or examples of the encroachment to which he refers. There are obviously many areas of encroachment over which the Office of Sheriff would have no jurisdiction.

Obama doesn't get the Arizona problem

Just heard a sound bite of Obama's press conference today. He said, "I understand your frustration" about the Arizona illegal immigration problem and some garbage about the border with United States and Mexico not being "entirely secure."

He doesn't have a clue. What a load of Arizona desert coyote feces!

Is there any other country in the world that condones such weak border security as we do? And where is he going to get the (how many? 1,200?) National Guardsmen to provide additional border security?

These will be men and women wrenched away from their families and away from their jobs.

How about hiring some of the thousands of unemployed people who would make good border security officers, training and arming them quickly, and putting them to work on our southern border?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anything fishy here? Count the fish...

Today a friend got a speeding ticket in Wisconsin for 48MPH in a 35MPH zone. She didn't think she was going 48 but, unless she was looking at her speedometer, she wouldn't be able to testify to her actual speed.

Fish #1. The cop was sitting on the shoulder a short distance beyond the sign for the change to a lower speed limit. (In Illinois, electronic speed-detecting devices shall not be used within 500 feet beyond any such (speed limit) sign in the direction of travel...(625 ILCS 5/11-602).) Does Wisconsin have a law like this?

Fish #2. The cop told her she could pay the fine "on the spot." We all know what that sounds like.

Fish #3. The cop accepted her personal check for $114. $114 seems an unusual amount for a speeding fine for 13MPH over. To me it sounds more like a bond amount.

Fish #4. The cop told her that, if her check didn't clear, there would be a warrant issued for her arrest with a $500 bond.

Fish #5. The cop told her that, if she didn't pay the fine to him, he'd have to take her into the police station, where she could pay by credit card, and there would be a $15 surcharge added for payment by credit card.

Fish #6. She would have to make her own way back to her car. The cop would only drive her to the station, not back to her car.

Fish #7. She didn't have her driver's license with her, so the cop asked her name and phone number. No ticket was issued for not having her driver's license in her possession.

Fish #8 The cop asked her if she wanted to see the radar gun read-out. She looked at it and it read 48. I asked her if she asked the cop to clear it and re-set it to 00; she didn't. If she goes to court on this, I told her to FOIA the previous three tickets written by that cop with that radar gun. Wouldn't it be "interesting" if they were all for 48MPH?

When's the last time you had a cop ask you if you wanted to see the radar gun display? A year ago I was riding with a friend in Schaumburg who got stopped for speeding. After the cop issued the ticket, I suggested he look at the radar gun read-out. The cop refused to let him get out of the car and said he never let anyone look at his radar gun. All I could think was, "Alert! Alert" Alert!"

I suggested that she read the ticket really carefully and, if she wanted to fight it, to call the police department or the court first thing tomorrow morning.

Unfortunately, the cost of fighting a ticket, when you consider the costs of taking days off work and transportation expense, would far exceed the $114. And you can believe that every cop knows it.

What do you think? Fishy or not?

Pedestrian hit by train in Crystal Lake

The following press release was made by the Crystal Lake (Ill.) Police Department:

"On Thursday, May 27, 2010, at approximately 12:56 PM, the Crystal Lake Police and the Crystal Lake Fire-Rescue Department responded to the area of Pingree Road, approximately 300 feet east of the train crossing, for a report of a pedestrian struck by a train. Upon arrival, emergency personnel discovered the body of a male subject deceased at the scene. Train service was interrupted for approximately two hours while the scene was investigated. At this time there is no foul play suspected. This case remains under investigation by the Crystal Lake Police Department. The subject has been identified however his identity is withheld pending notification of family members. Identity to be released at a later date."

80 y/o vet saves family

Did you read about the 80-year-old veteran with a handgun in Chicago who saved his wife, his 12-year-old great-grandson and himself, when a 29-year-old armed burglar broke into his home at 5:20AM on Wednesday?

Read the article here:

The dead burglar, Anthony Nelson, 29, had a 13-page rap sheet and was wearing stockings over his hands to avoid leaving fingerprints.

The article did not name to veteran but indicated he lived in the 600 block of North Sawyer Avenue, Chicago.

What did Hizzoner have to say? A Chicago tribune article today said that "Mayor Richard Daley refused to say today whether an 80-year-old Army veteran who shot and killed an intruder will be charged under the city's handgun ban."

“Daley acknowledged people's frustration over the issue of gun control but insisted ‘I don't think the answer is guns.’”

It's pretty easy to say that when you have armed bodyguards 24/7. Let him give up the gun that he purportedly carries, give up his armed chauffeur and the bodyguards and the armed guards at his residence, and then see what he says. Let him get car-jacked or attacked in his home. Will he change his tune?

I have the same advice for him that Maricopa County sheriff's deputies have for the Phoenix mayor. SHUT UP. Just SHUT UP.

I stand ready to contribute to the homeowner's legal defense fund, if the Chicago Police charge him with any crime.

Eric Woods - a "victim"

Jill Duchnowski's article titled "Candidates criticize incident" was published on March 26, 2010, in the online edition of the Northwest Herald. That article was about criticism of the so-called investigation of the injury suffered by Deputy Eric Woods at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department shooting range on March 15.

"Murphy" got the last word on Thursday night at 10:30PM, clearing up whether Eric Woods was a "victim" by writing, "This incident was investigated properly and thouroughly (sic). The reason no one from within is criticizing is easy to explain. There is no cover up. There is nothing to hide. Accident happened. Emergency plan implemented. Victim treated AND released. Reports written. Interviews completed. Lesson learned. Victim isn't complaining. Your obviously just grasping at straws..."

"Murphy" and I have vastly different standards for "investigated properly and thouroughly (sic)".

If you believed what he wrote, you'd say it was over. It's not. Just today I did finally reach an official at the Attorney General's office and the next step has been taken.

Most of my reasons for believing that the incident was not investigated properly and thoroughly have been hashed and re-hashed in other recent articles on this blog.

There's no cover up? OK, if not, where are the reports that should have been written by the Sheriff's "leaders" after they reviewed the injury incident (if they did)? Don't they consider Woods' injury (two months on the injury list) important enough to document? Or are they unwilling to document it?

Why is no one inside criticizing it? Why doesn't a chicken stick its neck out? Because he'll get his head chopped off! Remember the commandment, "Thou shalt not criticize anything at the sheriff's department."

"Victim treated and released." Yep, and back for more treatment and two months off work. Gee, "Murphy", did you overlook that?

"Reports written." No, "Murphy"; no "reports." "Departmental Correspondence" was written. And cookie-cutter, at that. Tell me, please - How could two corrections officers write 71 consecutive words in exact, identical order?

"Interviews completed." What interviews? There weren't any "interviews." If there had been, there would have been reports written by the deputy(ies) conducting them.

Why didn't Deputy Woods or Sgt. Embry or Lt. Miller write reports? Huh? Tell me that. Did the sheriff or one of his supervisors just tell Woods, "Oh, that's okay, Eric. We know your leg hurts, so you don't have to write a report."

"Lesson learned." How does the public know that? In fact, how do any of the deputies know that?

"Victim isn't complaining." Aha! Gotcha! Thanks for using the word "victim," "Murphy". The truth finally came out. I knew it would.

Why would Woods' "complain"? He knows what happens to complainers? I hope he is talking to his attorney about compensation for his injury.

Did he file a worker's compensation claim? Did they ask enough questions to figure out what really caused his injury (and I don't mean "just" a ricochet)?

Once again, thanks, "Murphy". You cleared it up for everyone.

Stop S.B. 3010 - call today!

There is still time to stop Senate Bill 3010, the bill that will allow townships to spend your money to build new offices without asking you, or without listening to you if you have already spoken.

The Illinois Senate and House of Representatives have approved a bill to allow townships to do what the trustees want to do, even if voters have said "NO". Sen. Pam Althoff voted in favor of the bill; Rep. Jack Franks voted against it.

As of this morning, the bill is still in the Senate chambers, according to an aide in Governor Quinn's office. He said "they" have about ten more days to send it to the Governor for signing.

Here's what their plan sounds like to me. They will hold the bill until the last minute, then rush it over to the Governor's office with urgings to sign it right away. Are they going to use it to muscle him on other legislation?

You can use your last chance to stop that legislation by calling Gov. Quinn right away at 217.782.0244

Woodstock Farmers Market, May 29

Check out the Woodstock Farmers Market on the Woodstock Square this Saturday, May 29, and visit their event tent. Jenny Kinney (flower lady) will be talking about establishing and maintaining a cutting garden so you can have flowers all summer. See her at 10:00AM and noon.

The Browns (Judson and Judy) will be on the bandstand from 9 to 12. The weather is supposed to be great.

Bruce Everly has started a bust of Orson Welles.

Lots of plants will be available, and Memorial Day week-end is the traditional time for getting them in.

You know all those knives that have been getting duller and duller, while you have been trying to sharpen them at home? "The best knife is a sharp knife." The knife sharpener will be at the Farmers Market this Saturday, and he will be coming on alternate Saturdays this summer. He will be there every Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Day in Woodstock

The City's annual Memorial Day ceremonies will take place in the Park in the Square at 10:00AM on Monday, May 31st.

The ceremony will be immediately followed by the annual Memorial Day Parade, which will proceed around the Square, west on West Jackson Street, and then back east on West Judd Street to disband at the Throop Street parking lot.

If you would like to review etiquette for passing U.S. flags,

Parading and Saluting the Flag
When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute.

The Salute
To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart.

Woodstock Police seatbelt enforcement

Woodstock Police were out on Route 47 this morning to enforce seatbelt usage, and I stopped to observe for a few minutes.

Recent statistics indicate that Illinois drivers are in about 91% compliance with the state law, and today I was surprised by the number of violations that were spotted in a fairly short time. I think I was there about 15-20 minutes and during that time approximately 15 vehicles were spotted with either driver or front-seat passenger violations.

Previously, I've written about my personal opinion about the primary seatbelt law. However, I wear my seatbelt every time I operate my car, and I insist that passengers buckle up.

In my own case, a seatbelt saved my life when I was about 18. I ran off a rural Missouri highway at 60MPH into a cornfield, and I know exactly how it happened. I was driving on an asphalt highway just after a rain. The highway was damp. I had just passed a car and was moving back into my lane, when I went over a bump in the highway. The car got light on the springs and, instead of straightening out, my car continued on a slant off onto the shoulder and down the embankment into the cornfield.

The car, a nice 1949 Ford coupe, rolled end-over-end about three times and then slid on the left side after the left door came off. I had installed a military-style, aircraft, wide-web seatbelt, and it held me in. I had a good grip on the steering wheel, and the seatbelt had a good grip on me. When the roof crunched down over me, my head was inside the car. All I had was a little dirt on my shirt sleeve, but the car was a goner.

My only other accident happened in Sedona, Ariz. in 1990, when a distracted driver pulled out of a roadside farmer's market and drove into the right side of my car. I was the fifth car in a line of cars, and I saw her head turned toward me. When I asked her why she had pulled out, she said she was thinking about the elderly person at home waiting for her to return and hadn't seen me. So she had looked but had not seen me.

My girlfriend's 13-year-old son was riding with me, and he had always argued with me about wearing his seatbelt. I never relented and would not start the engine until he had buckled up. The seatbelt saved him from being tossed around in the car as it spun around from the impact.

So make it a habit. Buckle up. There won't be time if you see an accident shaping up.

Vote for Hizzoner

Here's your chance. You can vote for Mayor Daley. This is a vote you'll want to cast.

OK, so it's maybe not a vote for Hizzoner, but you can vote for the stupidest thing Daley has said. Check out John Kass's column and vote by Monday, May 31.,0,7101951.column

And you can vote right here:

Metra responds to May 2 email

After reading that Metra "investigator" and attorney James Sotos had appeared on a radio show, on May 2nd I emailed Metra with the following message: "RE James G. Sotos. I suggest that you fire Mr. Sotos now and retain a law firm that will investigate first, then report to the Board, then handle any court matters, not try his case on the radio before any investigation has been completed."

Today Metra replied, "Thank you for your recent email. Your comments are appreciated, however given the ongoing nature of this inquiry it would be inappropriate to provide any additional comments regarding Mr. Sotos's engagement with Metra at this time."

My immediate thought was to wonder what role, if any, Mr. Sotos' radio show appearance might have contributed to Phil Pagano's suicide.

Years ago in Denver I knew a man who had worked for a major national, independent, out-placement and HR firm. He was assigned to corporate clients which were about to can their chief executives, and his job was to hold the guy's hand and keep him from jumping out a window (or stepping in front of a train).

In other words, those corporate clients anticipated the stress that such a firing would cause and got ahead of the curve to help their top gun who was about to get the ax. This consultant worked with the fired executive to deal with the emotional issues and re-employment issues.

How did Metra handle its approach to its problems with Pagano? To what extent did it authorize Sotos to appear on a radio program and talk about his work? Or did it? Sotos has got to be a smart enough lawyer to know where the line of confidentiality was, so how is it that he was on that radio program before completing his investigation for Metra?

Traffic sign needed on South Street

As I drove into Woodstock on South Street from the west last week, I again wondered about the drop in speed limit from 55MPH to 40MPH and the lack of a sign to warn motorists of a speed limit reduction of more than 10MPH. (To enlarge the image, click on it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

As you approach Woodstock from the west, the roadway is in McHenry County (Seneca Township), and the speed limit is 55MPH (unposted). When you reach the west city limit of Woodstock, you are greeted by a 40MPH speed limit sign.

What's missing? There should be a sign that informs a driver of the lower speed limit. The correct sign would be a yellow diagonal warning sign with a black arrow at the top and a smaller regulatory speed limit sign with the speed limit (40MPH).

Woodstock resisted my suggestions for this sign, when the City Council approved the change in speed limit from 45MPH to 40MPH to satisfy a resident's request. Before the speed limit was changed, no advance warning was needed, because the speed limit dropped only 10MPH.

An IDOT engineer had previously educated me about the need for this type of sign, and this week the McHenry County Dept. of Transportation confirmed my understanding. They will contact Seneca Township about installing such a sign, since the roadway location for the warning sign is in that township. Too bad that Seneca Township might get stuck with the cost of the sign and installation.

Seneca Township should bill the City of Woodstock, and the City should pay the bill without question or delay.

When to call the Crisis Line

Yesterday afternoon I drove across East Hillside Road in Crystal Lake from Walkup to Pingree, only because that's my usual route to the office to which I was headed. As I neared the Metra tracks where Phil Pagano caught "the last train", I said to my passenger, "That's where the man from Metra died. Say a little prayer as we go by. If his spirit is still here, tell it that it's okay to leave."

And then, later, I read online the article that appears in this morning's Northwest Herald. Sorry, but I'm not buying the note. I don't think you let a train run over you for "this one mistake". And, if you really "love Metra", you don't commit suicide by train, because you understand the emotional trauma you will inflict on the engineer.

And I wonder why Al Jourdan didn't call the McHenry County Crisis Line. Too embarrassed? Too private? Too proud? Too late. Or did he call? Who called the sheriff's department and how many squad cars responded on the afternoon before Pagano died?

The paper says that Jourdan thought Pagano had calmed down by the time he left Pagano's home at 2:15AM. I suspect he has been asking himself regularly why he left.

If you live in McHenry County, put this phone number for the Crisis Line on the speed-dial in your cell phone: (800) 892-8900. Next time you see the Crisis Line booth, pick up a magnet or two and put one on your refrigerator where you can find it, if you need it in a hurry.

Is Jourdan a crisis-trained counselor? Was a crisis-intervention-trained (CIT) deputy called to Pagano's house on the afternoon all the squad cars were in the neighborhood? Maybe the Crisis Line was called, but I haven't seen that mentioned in any paper.

If no one called the Crisis Line, they blew it. Of course, being a Monday morning quarterback is the easy part.

When someone is talking about suicide - even just "talking" about it, not yet threatening it - you get involved, and you get the professionals involved.

I'd much rather be embarrassed if it turns out to be a "false alarm" than to have to deal with the aftermath.

It's also okay to call the Crisis Line, when you don't know whether you ought to call the Crisis Line. They will provide information and referrals. Your call doesn't have to be a crisis.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wdk. BOFPC to meet Mon., June 1

The next quarterly Regular Meeting of the Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners is scheduled for Monday, June 1, 2010, according to an agenda posted on the City's website.

One agenda item is the approval of Commission Minutes for March 2, 2009, March 12, 2009 and May 13, 2009. No, those aren't typos... These Minutes are more than a year old and have not been approved by the Commissioners.

An item of New Business is Discussion of New Rules for Recruitment - Process and Timeline, and Job Requirements. That ought to be short, since the City probably won't be hiring any new police officers for a while. The City is cutting budgets and tightening the purse strings on all operations, and it has eligibility lists already established. The discussion about a recruitment test date ought to be very short.

Surely, the City is not going to spend (waste) money testing applicants for jobs that don't exist. Is it? Or is this a revenue generator for the City? If it advertises non-existent jobs and charges each of 300-400 applicants $30-40, ... well, get the picture?

Another item of discussion is Email Notification to the Board. They already had that discussion a year ago, and one commissioner told them that he doesn't use email. Is he coming into the Space Age? Or will there be a replacement of Commissioner? That's not on the agenda.

And then there is Page 2 - an Executive Session. "The appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee to determine its validity."

No agenda item is included for Action on any item discussed in Executive Session. Will that omission prevent the Board from taking any action?

A year ago the City Attorney sent a letter to the Board, telling them to schedule training time pertaining to the Open Meetings Act. The Board hasn't done it, and the City hasn't pushed it. Why not? Seems to me that if the Board is unwilling to comply with a directive from the City, maybe it's time for the mayor to replace the Board.

The meeting will be held at 5:00PM in Council Chambers at City Hall.

Oh, by the way, the meeting is probably on Tuesday, June 1st. If you show up on Monday, I think you'll find the building locked for Memorial Day.

Poster boy for activists?

Watch this YouTube clip of Maricopa County deputies taking off on the Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who has apparently accused the Maricopa County Police of racial profiling. They label him as the "poster boy for a bunch of activists."

And then ask yourself this question. What would happen in McHenry County, if a group of deputies assembled to express their opinions like that?

You would see heads rolling down Route 47!

Thanks to a friend in Phoenix for sending this to me.

Student's priorities are correct

Ryne Wiley, the Woodstock High School student who refused to ditch classes in February to satisfy the school's demand that he sit through a non-mandatory, all-day test, has got his priorities straight. He is focused on his grades and his responsibilities.

So, when his mother, Denise Tomlinson, was at the District 200 School Board meeting to protest the decision by the Woodstock High School principal to withhold the cum laude honors from Ryne, was Ryne there?

No, he wasn't; he was where he knew he should be. At a rehearsal for an upcoming concert.

Ryne understands the value of the WHS cum laude award. When it is to be given to many, many students and requires only a 2.50 GPA, what is it really worth?

Ryne has done his homework and is earning a 3.92 GPA, taking honors classes, participating extra-curricular activities and has been accepted at Millikin University in the field of vocal performance.

Be sure to read next week's The Woodstock Independent, which may be carrying a story about Ryne and Woodstock High School.

Keep up the good work, Ryne.

WNHS teacher is Star 105.5 Teacher of Month

At this evening's District 200 School Board meeting the Board recognized Brian Brill for being selected as a Star 105.5 Teacher of the Month.
Brian is a German teacher at Woodstock North High School. Superintendent Ellyn Wrzeski read a number of the 31 letters sent to Star 105.5 nominating Brian for this award.
Good luck in your running now for the Star 105.5 Teacher of the Year Award!
Congratulations, Brian.

Deputy was speeding before fatal accident

A follow-up story in the Vilas County (Wisc.) News-Review revealed new information about the April 25th crash in Lac du Flambeau (14 miles northwest of Minocqua) that killed Deputy Kory Dahlvig. Dahlvig ran into the rear of a farm truck that had just pulled into the highway.

The details were made available in a five-page report by Trooper Dennis Bedish of the Wisconsin State Patrol.

According to the trooper's report, Dahlvig was exceeding the speed limit without his squad car lights and siren activated and was not wearing a seat belt. The report states that Dahlvig’s vehicle was exceeding the speed limit in a 55MPH zone before the collision, but it does not state a specific speed.

The truck driver was arrested for homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

Amanda Coots sentenced to 10 years

Press Release from the office of McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi.


Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces that Amanda Coots of Wauconda was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for the offense of Drug Induced Homicide, a Class X Felony. A McHenry County jury previously found her guilty of the offense on April 14, 2010. At trial, prosecutors presented a videotaped police interview of the defendant. In that interview, the defendant admitted to giving heroin to the victim who subsequently lost consciousness. While the victim was visibly struggling to breathe, the defendant called a taxi cab and left the scene without calling 911. The victim died later that night. Coots faced a potential range of 6 to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for this offense. At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors argued for a sentence of 14 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and noted that the defendant had three prior felony convictions. Assistant State’s Attorneys Philip Hiscock and David Johnston prosecuted the case on behalf of the State’s Attorney’s Office.

D-200 website survey

In a recent survey I asked readers to rate the re-design of the Woodstock School District 200 website. Many thanks to the 46 readers who responded.

The results were

Love it – 37 (80%)
Hate it – 9 (20%)

You can check out the website at

County could freeze pay of some

This, just in from Tina Hill, McHenry County Board, Dist. 5:

"I wanted to give you an update on county news and business. Also, this morning in Finance & Audit Committee I voted to freeze both our constitutionally electd (sic) officials and county boad (sic) members salaries for 2011. Many may think this is an election issue. To me it is an economic issue. I don't believe we should be given taxpayer paid raises when many of our taxpayers are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts. Let me know what you think.

Tina R. Hill
McHenry County Board
District 5

Care to tell Tina what you think? Email her at

(Tina didn't mention what the vote of the Committee was...)

OK, here's what I think.

First of all, how can you do that to me? Just when I'm about the catch the brass ring, then you go with freezing my future pay! (Just kidding, Tina.)

Seriously, I'll go the Finance & Audit Committee one better. I think $140,000+ is too much pay for the sheriff's job (although it helps pay for three homes), and I think that so many MCSD employees at and over $100,000/year is too great a burden on McHenry County taxpayers.

So I'll request a lower rate of pay. Is that possible for a constitutional office?

Walmart responds

Just received a nice telephone call from a manager of the Walmart here in Woodstock. He was calling about an email I had submitted on the Walmart website about a pricing error. I had noticed the error on the register tape after arriving home from a small shopping trip.

Had I noticed the error while my purchase was being rung up, I would have called it to the cashier's attention. The error was about $2.50 (in my favor) on a household cleaner. (I'm having company this week-end...)

I appreciated the call, which was to thank me for alerting them to the error. I always appreciate good service.


Woods' shooting injury poorly investigated

The Northwest Herald carries an article today, in the print edition and online, with the headline "Candidates criticize incident" and the sub-headline "Nygren says his political foes presume without the facts."

Remember the famous phrase, "Don't confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up."

Throughout today and tomorrow I shall be posting the following "facts" to the online version of the story. And maybe I'll think of more before the 48-hour period for posting comments on expires.

FACT: “’We investigated it thoroughly,’ Nygren said.” Oh, really? The only supervisor’s report is that of Lt. Cedergren, which was written the same day as Woods was injured (March 15), and it contains erroneous, incomplete information. It states that Woods entered the room, and then Hart entered. It does not mention that three deputies (Embry, Manes, McKenzie) entered the room before Hart entered.

FACT: “multiple discussions and a survey of a re-created scene of the incident”? There is no documentation of ANY review by the sheriff and department leaders. Why aren’t those discussions documented in writing? What is a “survey” of a “re-created” scene? Did the Sheriff and department leaders go to the range and stage a re-enactment with the same principals? If so, why isn’t it documented?

FACT: No negligence at range? A steel-backed target is placed in the shoot room only four feet from the entrance? That’s not negligence?

FACT: Woods did not shoot on the attacking-dog target, which was the very first target he encountered. Then he stopped two feet to the left of it. Why?

FACT: I have read all the available reports. Three reports do not exist. 1) Woods’ own report; 2) Sgt. Embry, who was second into the room (after Woods), and Lt. Miller, the senior command officer at the range. How much time elapsed before Embry, Manes, McKenzie and Hart entered.

FACT: Deputy Hart’s own report said he fired “one round of 5.56 cal”. His report does not state that he was shooting a frangible load. Was he?

FACT: Reports of two corrections officers didn’t contain just “substantially the same language.” Two of them contained 71 consecutive identical words. This is statistically impossible. Either someone else wrote their reports and told the corrections officers to sign them, or the sentences were dictated to them. Other reports contain similar wording or shorter identical phrases.

FACT: No deputy, except Morrow (who was rangemaster), mentioned frangible bullets. No report states what steps were taken at the range to assure that all loaded weapons contained frangible rounds.

FACT: Four reports of corrections officers, addressed to Lt. Cedergren, included mention of frangible rounds: “I heard Woods say that he got hit by some pieces of the frangible rounds” (Carlson, Grisolia) and “I heard Deputy Woods say he had been struck by fragments of the frangible rounds” (Christensen, Knezevic). These sentences are too close to identical to have been written independently.

FACT: No report states that Woods said he could feel his leg bleeding. Sgt. Pyle’s report stated that Dep. Hildreth provided initial first aid to Woods’ left leg and right hand. There is no report from Hildreth.

FACT: I called the Office of the Illinois Attorney General on Tuesday, May 18, 4:02PM, left a detailed message with the Criminal Bureau about the purpose of my call (to request an investigation at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Dept.), and no one called me back. On Friday, May 21, 3:18PM I called again. No one has yet called me back.

FACT: The rangemaster wrote an Incident Report. All the other deputies and all the corrections officers wrote “Departmental Correspondence” reports, which are the lowest form of written communication in the Department, usually reserved for “For Your Information” reports. Why didn’t they write Supplemental Incident Reports?

FACT: Woods’ leg injury was described to me on March 17 as a “gusher”. Did a bullet fragment injure an artery?

FACT: My comment about rumors pertained to the persistent rumor that Woods was sent into the shoot room ahead of the other four members of the SWAT team who entered the room (Embry, Manes, McKenzie, Hart; in that order) as “indoctrination” or “orientation” (or “hazing”, as one source called it), so that Woods would have the experience of guns being fired around him. This rumor is sufficient to cause an external, independent investigation. Only an outside, impartial agency can thoroughly investigate, analyze and critique this injury incident.

FACT: Lt. Cedergren’s report states that Sgt. Groves diagrammed the scene using Total Station; however, there is no written report from Sgt. Groves describing how she obtained the information for diagramming the scene.

FACT: Woods was injured at approximately 1:33PM. Lt. Cedergren’s summary on March 15 states that he was notified of Woods’ injury at 3:20PM by Deputy Morrow and that, when he arrived at the range, Woods was still there. What took so long for Woodstock Fire/Rescue to transport Woods to the hospital? Not one report included the arrival time of WFRD or its departure with Woods.

Opposition to war spending

The following press release was received from the Rising Tide Campaign of Bill Scheurer, 8th District candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. For information or to help with Bill's candidate, contact him via or 847-245-1421 (h) or 847-370-3411 (m).

52 Congressional Candidates Oppose War Spending

Fifty-two congressional candidates and 18 activist organizations are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and inviting more candidates, incumbents, and organizations to join them. The 52 candidates, from 21 different states, include 19 Democrats, 16 Libertarians, 15 Greens, 2 Independents, and 0 Republicans (and more may be added to the website by the time you read this). Forty-six are candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, and six for the Senate.

They do not all agree with each other on many topics, including their reasons for opposing war spending. But they all back this short statement:

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans over $1 trillion in direct costs, and over $3 trillion altogether. At a time when our national debt exceeds $13 trillion, we can no longer afford these wars. It's time for Congress to reject any funding except to bring all our troops safely home."

The Coalition Against War Spending ( has posted online a variety of divergent statements -- in text and video -- from signers elaborating on their reasons for opposing war spending. A wide ideological spectrum finds consensus around opposing more spending to continue or escalate the current wars. The coalition is inviting any congressional candidate, incumbent or challenger, and any national organization to join.

This announcement comes just as Congress is set to vote on whether to spend another $33.5 billion in an off-the-books "emergency" supplemental spending bill to escalate a war in Afghanistan that polls show a majority of Americans opposes.

One candidate who has joined the coalition is Tracy Emblem, a Democrat in California's 50th District (San Diego). Emblem said: "I support our troops. It's time to bring our troops home. The Iraq and Afghanistan 'wars' with thousands of civilian casualties have created more terrorists. Our brave troops have been killed and maimed and they are suffering from post traumatic stress. The military chemicals used are creating havoc on the environment and making our troops sick. Our priorities must change. We can no longer afford to blindly accept that these 'wars' are 'just' or 'necessary' when so many people are suffering the effects of prolonged wars. My neighbor, a Vietnam veteran, who loves and fought for our country has tied a yellow ribbon on his fence to bring our troops home. And I'm joining him. We must start a movement to bring our troops home now."

Another member of the Coalition Against War Spending is John Finger, a Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate from Colorado. "Both of these wars are a waste of valuable life and resources," says Finger. "As a veteran, I'd be the first to stand up for a war which is worth fighting. But these wars are going nowhere: there's no mission, there's no measure of success, and we're sending our overburdened troops to die or be injured in wars which do not affect our own national security. It's time to bring our troops home now."

Some candidates suggest where they would prefer to spend $33.5 billion. Clint Curtis, a Democrat in California's 4th District, from which Green Party candidate Ben Emery has also signed on, is focused on jobs. "I would use the $33 billion to create new jobs," Curtis said. "This could be done by beginning to rebuild the roads and bridges that have fallen into disrepair after almost a decade of neglect. Education is in serious need of funding, as are many municipal services. Specifically to this district I would develop broad band throughout the district. Because the district is so vast (larger than Maryland) and mountainous, over 30% of the citizens can not access broadband."

Other candidates do not want $33.5 billion spent at all. Nick Coons, a Libertarian from Arizona's 5th District (Tempe / Scottsdale), said: "The funds being wasted overseas to 'promote democracy' should be given back to the taxpayers from which it was taken so they can use it as they see fit."

Roy Olson, a Green candidate from Washington's 9th District (Olympia) remarked: "I see our flag lowered to half-staff all too frequently. An economy based on perpetual war is hazardous to our health. I am the anti-war candidate and look forward to seeing our flag flying at the top of the flagpole."

Doug Marks, a Libertarian from Illinois' 14th District (Carpentersville) pushed for Congress to accept its responsibilities: "For far too long we have been bent on the Wilsonian path of 'making the world safe democracy'. This whole mentality is unconstitutional, financially devastating to our country, and destroys thousands of families annually. It is way past time to end these wars and bring our troops home. With this, we need to repeal the War Powers Act and force Congress to do the job they were elected to do: either formally declare war or bring all the troops home. After trillions of tax payer dollars and thousands of lives, who is any safer and how does this protect America?"

John Jay Myers, a Libertarian from Texas' 32nd District (Dallas) said simply: "There is nothing conservative about war."

Initial members of the Coalition Against War Spending (being added to at are:

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives:
Nick Coons, AZ-05, Tempe/Scottsdale, Libertarian
Rebecca Schneider, AZ-06, Phoenix, Democrat
Carol Wolman, CA-01, northwest corner, Green
Clint Curtis, CA-04, northeast corner, Democrat
Ben Emery, CA-04, Nevada City, Green
Mark Williams, CA-12, San Carlos, Libertarian
Mary V. Larkin, CA-17, Monterey, Libertarian
Les Marsden, CA-19, Yosemite/Mariposa, Democrat
Randall Weissbuch, CA-26, Arcadia, Libertarian
Marcy Winograd, CA-36, Los Angeles, Democrat
William Hedrick, CA-44, Riverside/San Clemente, Democrat
Ken Arnold, CA-46, Orange and L.A., Democrat
Mike Paster, CA-49, Fallbrook, Libertarian
Tracy Emblem, CA-50, San Diego, Democrat
Michael Benoit, CA-52, San Diego, Libertarian
Gary Swing, CO-01, Denver, Green
G. Scott Deshefy, CT-02, New London, Green
Doug Tudor, FL-12, Riverview et al, Democrat
Marleine Bastien, FL-17, North Miami, Democrat
Regina Thomas, GA-12, Savannah, Democrat
Matt Reichel, IL-05, Chicago, Green
Bill Scheurer, IL-08, Lindenhurst, Green / Independent
Rodger Jennings, IL-12, Alton, Green
Doug Marks, IL-14, Carpentersville, Libertarian
Sheldon Schafer, IL-18, Peoria, Green
John Wayne Cunningham, IN-08, Terre Haute, Libertarian
James E. "Jim" Holbert, KY-05, London, Democrat
Peter White, MA-10, Cape Cod, Independent
Michael Cavlan, MN-05, Minneapolis, Independent Progressive
Kevin Craig, MO-07, Springfield, Libertarian
Thomas Hill, NC-08, Fayetteville, Libertarian
Lon Cecil, NC-12, High Point, Libertarian
Jonathan Tasini, NY-15, New York City, Democrat
Emin Eddie Egriu, NY-28, Buffalo, Democrat
Ebert G. Beeman, PA-03, Lake Erie, Libertarian
Vernon Etzel, PA-05, Oil City, Libertarian
Ed Bortz, PA-14, Pittsburgh, Green
David Segal, RI-01, Democrat
Eric Schechter, TN-05, Nashville, Democrat
Martin Nitschke, TX-23, El Paso to San Antonio, Libertarian
John Jay Myers, TX-32, Dallas, Libertarian
Claudia Wright, UT-02, Salt Lake City, Democrat
Ron Fisher, VA-08, Arlington, Independent Green/Progressive
Larry Kalb, WA-02, northwest corner, Democrat
Diana McGinness, WA-02, Bellingham, Democrat
Roy Olson, WA-09, Olympia, Green

Candidates for U.S. Senate:
Duane Roberts, CA, Green
John Finger, CO, Libertarian
Bob Kinsey, CO, Green
Cecile Lawrence, NY, Green
Mel Packer, PA, Green
Ben Masel, WI, Democrat (2012)

Backbone Campaign
CODE PINK: Women for Peace
Consumers for Peace
The Democratic Activist
Global Exchange
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Jobs for Afghans
Justice Through Music
Liberty Tree
Peace Majority Report
Progressive Democrats of America
Progressive Push
Velvet Revolution
Veterans For Peace
Voters For Peace
War Criminals Watch

City replaces two damaged signs

Thanks to Woodstock Streets Division for quickly replacing two damaged Pedestrian Crossing signs.

The sign (upper photo) on Throop at Judd St. has been replaced with a new sign, and the sign (lower photo) on Tryon at Lincoln, by St. Mary's Catholic Church, has also been replaced.

Many thanks to the reader who alerted me to the new signs.
If you know of signs in Woodstock that should be replaced (either damaged or missing), you can report them to Public Works by emailing detailed information to

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wednesday flag-lowering for slain officer

The official Illinois flag-lowering scheduled for Wednesday is not for a fallen soldier, as written earlier. I have received information from that State of Illinois, as follows:

"WHEREAS, on Wednesday, May 19, Chicago Police Department Officer Thomas Wortham IV was the victim of an attempted robbery, during which he announced his office, exchanged gunfire with the offenders, and was subsequently mortally wounded. He was 30; and

"WHEREAS, Officer Wortham is the second officer from the Englewood District killed in the last year; and

"WHEREAS, Officer Wortham had been on the force for three years, and had recently returned from a second tour of duty in Iraq; and

"WHEREAS, Officer Wortham followed in the footsteps of his father, who is also a military veteran and a retired Chicago police Sergeant; and

"WHEREAS, Officer Wortham, a graduate of Brother Rice High School, worked to fight crime in the neighborhood he grew up in, both as a Police Officer and as president of the Cole Park advisory council; and

"WHEREAS, Officer Wortham was a conscientious and professional officer who will be remembered for the dedication and commitment to duty that he showed throughout his career; and

"WHEREAS, funeral services for Officer Wortham, who is survived by his parents, will be held on Friday, May 28:

"THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby order all persons or entities governed by the Illinois Flag Display Act to fly their flags at half-staff from sunrise on May 26, 2010 until sunset on May 28, 2010 in honor and remembrance of Officer Wortham, whose selfless service and sacrifice is an inspiration."

Sat. benefit at Stage Left

Swing on by Stage Left Cafe on Saturday afternoon and check out the happenings. You know where it is; right? Just next door to the Woodstock Opera House!

A variety show and art exhibit benefit will be held for the Jailbrakers, a family-oriented support group for those who have a relative or friend who is incarcerated. You know, in jail or prison.

What will you find?

Music, dance and celebration. Performers of all ages and stages. Food, raffle prizes, and art for sale. Games and balloons for the little ones. Indulge in some good creative fun!

So, if you sing like an angel or a rock star, dance with all your might (like no one is watching), read poetry like Shakespeare, crack up your friends with your comedy routine, or mystify crowds with your magic, Saturday afternoon will be your time to shine.

Saturday, May 29. 1:00-4:00PM. Stage Left Cafe.

Questions? Call Cheryl Niemo at 815.669.2552 or 815.347-3171

Flags at half-staff again!

Yet another Illinois soldier has fallen.

The Department of Central Management Services has received notice from Governor Quinn's Office that all persons or entities covered by the Illinois Flag Display Act are to fly the flags at half-staff from Sunrise, Wednesday, May 26, 2010 until Sunset, Friday, May 28, 2010. Flags covered by the Act are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of the funeral of every fallen Illinois soldier and the two days preceding that day.

It's unfortunate that the State release/announcement does not even name the soldier who died. Even if you go to the State website ( and click on Flag Honors on the left sidebar, you can't learn the name of the fallen soldier.

This is a cheap act by the State of Illinois and is not the place to "save money" by using a "form letter", cookie-cutter announcement.

If you believe that a soldier's name should be included in the announcement, contact Mike Claffey at 312-814-3981 or via email at

Milking the system

When the McHenry County Public Defender's office cannot represent an indigent client because of a conflict of interest, then a special public defender (SPD) is appointed. And, after that, what happens?

In three cases I have been monitoring, not much.

Every 2-3 weeks the SPD shows up in front of two judges and requests Continuances. And every time the judges grant it. Two judges? Yes. Two of the cases are in one court; the third is in a second court. Same courthouse, same day, same time.

Does the SPD get paid for showing up? I'm sure he is not working for free. How much does he bill the County for each appearance? $100? $150? If he goes before two judges on three cases for one minute and then bills the County for $300-450, the SPD making pretty good money!

And will some or all of those fees be billed to the client, if he happens to move out of the indigent status before the cases are resolved? Very likely. Is it fair, when the SPD is just dragging these cases out with no work between court dates?

Will somebody please pinch those judges and ask them to make a serious inquiry into any valid reason for the string of continuances? Like, maybe, ask the SPD if he has even had a conversation with his client in the past three months?

When were the first court appearances for these cases? How many court dates have there been?
April 17, 2008 (34 court dates)
May 27, 2008 (33 court dates)
February 3, 2009 (22 court dates)

I suggest to the judges that they demand an appearance in court by the defendant and ask the defendant to what extent he has been kept apprised of court activity. The answer will be short: "None."

And do you know what is going to happen with each of these three cases? Each is going to get thrown out when the plaintiff fails to show up for a jury trial, just as happened in four previous similar cases!

Grads: 11 rules for life

A friend in Colorado recently forwarded this email to me. Some version of this has been circulating since 2000. Some of the wording (such as "car phones") is dated, as you'll see. It is falsely attributed to Bill Gates (, but so what? It's still good advice.

"Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1 : Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6 : If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Protesters arrested at Admin. Bldg.

McHenry County Sheriff's deputies and Woodstock Police were present Sunday afternoon at the McHenry County Administrative Building, where the three-day march from Chicago ended with an estimated 300-400 gathered for a vigil and prayers for those detained in the immigration wing of the County Jail.

A handful of protesters were on hand, and they were kept at a distance from the marchers, who gathered in front of the Administrative Building. The protesters moved closer and, when they apparently did not obey directions to move back quickly enough, two of them were handcuffed and presumably arrested.

The arrests were handled quietly and did not interrupt the ceremony. When some in the crowd began to applaud and cheer, organizers quickly gestured to stop and re-directed attention back to the program. It was very well handled.
Two Sheriff's Department spotters were on the roof of the Jail with cameras with long lenses. Their purpose? One can only guess. Or one could file a FOIA request for Departmental instructions assigning them to rooftop duty and for prints of all the photographs they took and any video they shot.
Check the Northwest Herald website ( for a slideshow of images. Then Northwest Herald covered all three days of the march.

300-400 reach jail

The three-day, 53-mile march from Chicago to the McHenry County Jail arrived late this afternoon. The group enlarged at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Woodstock, and an estimated 300-400 walked from St. Mary's to the McHenry County Jail, where there is a large immigration wing that was built to hold detainees for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement service.

I arrived at St. Mary's about an hour after the group of marchers arrived. Shortly after that, they formed a line and started for the courthouse and jail complex at 2200 N. Seminary, Woodstock. As luck would have it, the 4:48PM Metra was at the depot and the gates, lights and warning bells were operating in fine fashion.

The group then walked north on Clay, east on Donovan and north on Route 47. Woodstock Police provided intersection assistance and stopped traffic so that the walkers could cross Route 47 safely and stay together and also cross intersections on 47.

It was along Route 47 that I spotted a woman who was walking with a cane. When I asked about her, I learned that she had walked the entire 53 miles. I also noticed that her right ankle was wrapped with tape. What amazing endurance and perseverance!

Today's march gave me a new awareness of the importance for this country to address the immigration issue and attack the hard questions of what to do about the large number of people in this country illegally. One of the organizers and I had a good conversation for about eight blocks, and she used the phrase, Pathway to Citizenship. The march today was not about amnesty, and it was not solely about the new Arizona enforcement law.

This morning Cal Skinner wrote about the march through Crystal Lake and mentioned passion. I wonder how many readers would walk 53 miles for a cause in which you believe. Do you even believe in any cause strongly enough to put yourself on the line?

Upon arrival at the courthouse the group proceeded to the parking lot in front of the Administrative Building at 667 Ware Road.
After the vigil and prayers, the group disbanded, with a number going to the Woodstock Depot to catch trains for home.

Arizona - concealed carry w/o permit

You haven't seen this one in the national news, I'll betcha.

On April 16, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation to allow a person 21 years of age and older to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. The new law goes into effect after 90 days. Alaska also went in the same direction. Vermont has always allowed concealed carry without permit.

Arizona still issues a concealed weapon permit, which allows the permitholder to carry concealed in more places. If you are going to Arizona and plan to carry concealed without a permit, be sure to check with the Attorney General's office for places you can carry without a permit.

Source: America's Freedom (NRA publication), June 2010, page 20

Now, compare that law with the Illinois and Chicago Stone-Age gun laws.

First congratulations roll in

The first congratulations have arrived! Ahh, it's so nice to have friends...

Dark Horse Wins Sheriff of McHenry County

Gus Philpott

DMV survey

In a recent reader survey the question was asked, "How would you rate the service at the Woodstock DMV?"

Seventy-four readers responded, and the majority (70%) were satisfied with service at the Woodstock DMV. The results were:

Excellent - 46 (62%)
Good - 6 (8%)
Fair - 14 (19%)
Poor - 8 (11%)

Many thanks to all for your participation!

What are "Secure Communities"?

Local illegal aliens are worried about the "secure communities" initiative of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service and the attention of sheriffs locally to jumping on board.

How much do they have to be worried about?

A glance at the webpage ( for Secure Communities on the ICE website shows they might not have too much to worry about, as long as they are "good" illegal aliens and not "bad" (criminal) illegal aliens.

ICE will prioritize its attention and focus on the criminal illegal aliens; for example, from the ICE website, "By assessing the risk each criminal alien poses to the public, ICE focuses immigration enforcement on the most dangerous criminal aliens first.

"The most dangerous criminal aliens are individuals who have been previously convicted of or who are currently charged with a Level 1 offense—national security, homicide, kidnapping, assault, robbery, sex offenses and narcotics crimes that carry a sentence of greater than one year."

So the mom with the child in the car who wanders over the centerline or runs out of gas probably doesn't have to worry about getting lumped in with the Level 1 offenders. Still, it's going to be inconvenient and expensive for her to get back on the friendly side of the bars.

If those in this country who are here illegally are worried about getting rounded up, then maybe they ought to be making plans to get into a compliant status or leave the U.S. and apply to come back legally.

Would you be n-n-n-nervous?

Would you be a little nervous if you were an Illinois resident and owned this home in Florida?

Assessed Property Value (Tax Roll 2005) $377,720
Assessed Property Value (Tax Roll 2006) $555,670*
Assessed Property Value (Tax Roll 2007) $501,910
Assessed Property Value (Tax Roll 2008) $446,460
Assessed Property Value (Tax Roll 2009) $302,800

*Now, suppose you bought the property in September 2006 for $620,000... and arranged a mortgage on the property for $698,000... (note that the mortgage exceeds the purchase price of the home by more than 10% ($78,000) and exceeds the highest assessed value by more than $140,000; not in and of itself necessarily impossible if you have plenty of other collateral).

And let's say that you told your banker that it would be your "second home" and that you even signed a Second Home Rider at closing. And then must have had a memory lapse just three months later when your wife, a co-signer on the deed and on the mortgage, declared herself to be a Florida resident and then claimed a $25,000 homestead exemption.

Is a home where you take the homestead exemption really a "second home"?

You could be almost $400,000 "under water" on that home. Would you have enough collateral to keep a smile on your banker's face, if he called you in for a little "chat"? Especially about the Second Home Rider claim? (Those are your signatures, aren't they?)

N-n-n-no, I'm n-n-n-not n-n-n-nervous...

Zinke talks to Republicans

Did newly-appointed Undersheriff Zinke make his first blunder already? Was it approved by the sheriff himself? To whom else would he go for permission to give a public talk?

Cal Skinner reports on the McHenry County Blog ( today that "Nunda Township had the pleasure to have the new Undersheriff Andy Zinke for his first Public Presentation as Undersheriff.

"He spoke about how the Sheriff Department needs the Precinct Committeeman/ Captains to be their eyes and ears in the community."

Of course, it is political season in Illinois. And in the first contested race for County Sheriff in a long time, even a newly-appointed senior command officer at the sheriff's department is hitting the political trail, subtly of course, on behalf of his boss, the sheriff.

You would have thought he might have picked a non-political meeting for his first public talk. Or you might have thought that the undersheriff shouldn't be out making any public presentations at all. He ought to be in the office, taking care of business.

If you want someone to go out and make "good neighbor" talks, why don't you send the beat officer (as Woodstock PD tried for a very short time) or the deputy assigned to the district?

Of course, the Republican precinct captains and committeemen don't want to hear from a foot soldier. They want to meet the man who might be appointed by the County Board to the office of sheriff, if Keith Nygren is lucky enough to win the November election and then retires to Florida, where his real estate property takes the Homestead Exemption on its $620,000 home.

Heaven help us if we have the foxes watching the chicken coops.

Oh, don't miss the glass of what looks like wine on the table in the photo. Liquor is served at precinct meetings in Nunda Township? Who has the liquor license? Where was the meeting? When? What's the policy on liquor in a public meeting facility? Presumably, it wasn't Zinke's glass of wine. He would have been armed; right?

Marchers heading to courthouse

Marchers on a three-day walk from Chicago will arrive in Woodstock this afternoon and, after an early dinner, will wind up their 50-mile walk in protest of increased enforcement against illegal aliens.

The walk, sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (, is billed as "...a 53-mile pilgrimage to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center at the McHenry County Jail over three days in a Pilgrimage of Hope for Family Unity and to protest the use of a county policy called "Secure Communities".

One marcher described to me a week or so ago the arrest and detention of a mother whose child was in her (the mother's) car, when she (the mother) was stopped after driving across the centerline. The child was released to a woman who was apparently called at the request of the mother.

I was told that that "the child was released to someone the county didn't know or check out." It sounds to me like the county did the mother a big favor by calling her friend to pick up the child, instead of turning the child over to DCFS.

The illegal immigration problem in the United States is a HUGE problem with no easy, quick or inexpensive solution. But just because someone sneaked into the U.S. 5-10-20 years ago and stayed under the radar for that time does not remove the fact that they are in this country illegally. Following the laws after they get here does not alter the fact that they are here illegally.

Once a person is detained, he or she must be treated humanely. Fortunately for that mother, she was in the detention facility for only a week before the community raised a $5,000 bond for her release.

If a person is otherwise law-abiding, should a bond be that high? If an attachment to the community can be quickly verified (and since a person can be released on a DUI injury-accident ticket for only $300 bond, why not a smaller bond, let them out to return to their family and job (are they paying taxes or working "for cash"?), and set a prompt court date to continue the legal process?

Of course, this would seriously and negatively impact the $90/day cash flow into the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for each detainee housed. But think about who pays that $90/day!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

NCNTF - yes???

Tonight's article in the Northwest Herald online about a Crystal Lake drug arrest (maybe on Thursday) indicated it was based on a news release from North Central Narcotics Task Force.

The law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest weren't named but, since the arrest was in Crystal Lake (if it was at the house address listed in the article), the Task Force members probably included Crystal Lake P.D., McHenry County Sheriff's deputies, and possibly Task Force members from other agencies.

According to information at, "The North Central Narcotics Task Force (NCNTF) is a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement task force dedicated to serving our communities & member agencies through the investigation of illicit drug trafficking and distribution, gang activity, and weapon offenses within Kane County, McHenry County, and DeKalb County, Illinois."

On its website I hoped to find the press release for this arrest, and I looked under the tab for Press. What's there? Only news articles that appeared in the media, not press releases from the NCNTF. How current were the articles? For 2010, Mar. 1, Feb. 21, Feb. 11, Feb. 14 (2), Jan. 26, Jan. 22, Jan. 13.

Next I looked under the Fugitives tab for McHenry's Top 5 Wanted Fugitives. This section was last updated in October 2009. Names are there, but no photos. So maybe someone knows Antonio (Tonio) Arellano, Galdino M. (Nino) Hernandez, Luis F. (Gato) Espinosa, or Joseph Palazzolo, but the public won't be able to help, since there were no photos.

I know, I know. That's only four. Apparently, McHenry County doesn't have five Most Wanted (drug, gang or weapons) Fugitives. (Wanna bet?)

And wouldn't you think the Sheriff's Department could furnish photos to the NCNTF within six months?

Play ball!

No, it's not baseball. It's not volleyball. It's ...

Try it. Do it. Have some fun today.

Cum laude - what's it mean?

Recently there was (and still may be) a flap at Woodstock High School (WHS) over a cum laude award that may be stripped from a senior who has a 3.92 GPA. The grading scale at WHS is 4.0, but a complicated averaging system could put a GPA over 4.0 or possibly keep a student who excels from reaching the highest GPA reflective of his or her academic achievements.

The senior at WHS refused to leave class for an optional test (optional, in that it is not a required State test for graduation). That test was the “High Schools that Work” assessment test. Supposedly, he was randomly selected. Did that mean "you, you, and you over there with the 3.92 GPA"?

But what does cum laude mean in general academic circles? It means "with praise". Cum laude is one of the Latin honors for academic achievement, so it doesn't actually or necessarily mean "with honor" or "with honors".

There are several of the Latin honors that are commonly known: cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

I have disliked the cum laude award at WHS since it was first announced. Why?

Because a student with only a 2.50 GPA can receive it.

Yes, there are other requirements, but the basic academic achievement threshold at WHS is 2.50 GPA. In my opinion, this cheapens the "value" of cum laude award. Out in the "real world", when a professor, college entrance staff or knowledgeable prospective employer hears cum laude, he will think first of academic excellence. Then, when he sees a GPA at or near 2.50, he is likely to think, "What kind of school grants cum laude for a 2.50 GPA?!"

If you hurry, you can still read the May 18th story at After a week the Northwest Herald will archive it, and then it will cost you to view it.

Have D-200 and WHS stepped back from their threats to withhold the cum laude award from Ryne Wiley? If not, will students and parents show up at the School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 25, meeting at 7:00PM? Note that this meeting will be at Woodstock North High School.

Coroner's Inquest on Pagano

Today's Northwest Herald says Sheriff Keith Nygren said reports pertaining to Phil Pagano's death by suicide would be released upon completion of a coroner's inquest, pending further investigations by other agencies. They say that they haven't learned the motivation for Pagano's thirst for money over the past ten years.

Hopefully, Sheriff's Department reports will dispel rumors of shredding in the Pagano home.

It may or may not even be the responsibility of the Sheriff's Department to determine why a person committed suicide. And they may not want to know, so they might not look very hard. And maybe they shouldn't unless or until some crime, if any, shows up.

But here's what to watch for. Under Illinois law, a Coroner is not required to hold an inquest. The Coroner can decide that she will conduct a closed administrative hearing, not open to the public, and issue the cause of death.

If a public inquest is held - i.e., if a Coroner's jury is empaneled - then the public can attend. Certain rules are in place, but these are not always followed.

To provide an example, following the David Maxson death a Coroner's jury was convened. The Coroner's own rules state that witnesses with first-hand knowledge should be called. What happened in that case? A supervisor from the sheriff's department testified as to what he knew about the case from reports he had read. No deputies who were actually at the scene attended or testified.

In Pagano's case, there should be no need to call the engineer who watched the train bear down on Pagano, but any in-cab video might show Pagano's position on the tracks, expression, any gesture and whether he was on the trackbed when the train rounded the curve approaching Hillside. So far, I have seen nothing in the media about a videotape.

A public suicide warrants a public Coroner's inquest. Will McHenry County Coroner Marlene Lantz empanel a jury to examine the death of Phil Pagano?

"Pagano's motives unknown"

So says the headline on Page 1A of the Northwest Herald this morning. There was room for one more word: "yet".

Follow the money. How often have we heard that?

A million dollars don't just disappear. And I guess I'll question the use of the words "skimmed from the agency" (Metra). So far it appears that he improperly withdrew money by taking advances on vacation pay and from his retirement account, but is that "skimming"?

News reports from all sources are thin on whether Pagano actually worked through vacation periods for which he had taken advances. Come on, reporters. How about some details?

Good business practice at Metra, of course, would have been to require an employee to work through his vacation period and then pay him for his unused vacation time at the end of the year, if the Employee Manual permitted that. Apparently, no one had the backbone to stand up to him, until recently when he was questioned about it.

Re-sorting the information in the Northwest Herald to a logical order reveals a pattern in home refinancing not immediately clear in the article.

1989 original mortgage $177,000
August 1999 $250,000 re-fi
August 2002 $306,590 re-fi
July 2005 $319,500 15-year mortgage
October 2006 $364,387 re-fi, 20-year mortgage
February 2007 $389,687 30-year mortgage

Where did all the money go? And, if he withdrew from his retirement account but paid it back (except for $127,000), where did the money come from to pay it back?

Dig, boys, dig...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Will A.G. look into Woods' shooting injury?

On Tuesday of this past week I telephoned the Office of the Illinois Attorney General about the Eric Woods' shooting injury on March 15. They must be running on Empty down there, because the attorney (I'll avoid embarrassing the attorney here by leaving out the name) didn't call me back yet.

I'm glad to see that Mike Mahon, the Democratic candidate for sheriff, is as interested in getting at the truth of the Woods' injury as I am (and as are some (maybe lots of) deputies at MCSD).

How should that incident and injury have been handled press-wise? There would not be all the interest and furor now, if the Sheriff's Department had announced immediately that Deputy Woods had been injured at the range, was being treated and would return to duty as soon as possible. End of story.

Instead, taking 13 days to make any announcement at all and then referring to Woods' injuries as like "road rash", when many knew that was not the case, is spelling disaster for Sheriff Keith Nygren.

The most recent FOIA response from the Sheriff Department was that there is no written documentation of any review by the Sheriff or "leaders" in the department into the circumstances that resulted in Woods' injury. That review should have taken place in the week of March 29-April 2.

Any reasonable person would expect that a written report would follow, so that "lessons learned" would be recorded and range operations adjusted to ensure deputies' safety at the range.

City Library hit by budget cuts

Summer hours for the Woodstock (Ill.) Public Library will be shorter than usual. Earlier this week I noticed this new sign, and I went today for this photo.
The City is slicing $125,000 out of the Library's budget. But here is how it is doing it. Rather than just yank it out of the top line, the
City of Woodstock is going to charge the Library $125,000 for "services" it provides to the library. Whatever those are...
So, if you are planning to use the library on Sundays, plan again. How did the library pick Sunday to close? There are weekday reading programs for the kiddies that will continue. And high
school students won't be hurrying to the library to finish their papers due on Monday (during the summer).
From the computer screens of many of the students in the library, they aren't using the library computers for their term papers, anyway (unless their research can be done on Facebook).

Chicago officer gunned down

Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV was gunned down Wednesday night, when four punks attempted to steal his new motorcycle, while he sat on it in front of his father's home about 11:30PM.

According to a Chicago Sun-Tiimes article, when the crime started, Wortham announced he was a police officer and one of the punks shot Wortham in the head. Wortham's father, a retired police officer, shot and killed one of the robbers and injured a second.

Wortham's death has already been declared a line-of-duty death, because he announced he was a police officer and then was shot.

Open letter to Dep. Eric Woods


I'm glad to hear that you are back at work. I hope you have fully recovered from the injury at the sheriff's department shooting range on March 15.

I hope that you will file a complete, written report about what happened that day. Do not be swayed by any efforts to keep you from filing a thorough report. And there should certainly be no retaliation or retribution for your doing so.

Your report is essential to understanding clearly exactly what happened that day. Please include any information given to you or directions before the SWAT exercise for your element began. And please provide as careful time estimates as you can for intervals in entry by the five members who entered the room.

I understand it might be "awkward" for you to ask to read the other reports or to submit a FOIA request to read what the other deputies and corrections officers wrote in their reports. Two of the corrections officers include one string of wording that has 71 consecutive words that are identical, including non-standard punctuation. If you want to read them without requesting them internally or by FOIA, I shall be pleased to make my copies available to you. Feel free to have someone contact me for copies.

If anything smacked of hazing, indoctrination or initiation to SWAT, please include anything you know about it. You can either confirm or dispel rumors about this.

The carelessness involved that day must be addressed by senior management and the Sheriff. Lt. Cedergren's summary, written on the day of your injury, says you entered the room and then Hart entered the room. Three other deputies, including one sergeant, entered the room.

The positioning of the vicious-dog target on a steel frame was dangerous to all in the room, especially since it was placed so close to the door. Did you know it was there before you entered? Were you told not to shoot on it but, instead, to go left away from it?

The only way to prevent a future serious-injury incident like yours is to dissect what happened on March 15. The Sheriff and "leaders" were supposed to meet during the week after March 28 to review what happened, but there is no written documentation of any such review. Sgt. Embry, who was in the shoot room at the time of your injury, and Lt. Miller did not submit reports.

I am sure that many within the department are glad you are back. Some may be a little nervous now, if your report tells a different story.

Whitney, Summers head for Rockford

After their visit at OWC in Woodstock, Green Party candidates Rich Whitney and Scott Summers headed for Rockford via the bicycle path through Caledonia.

Left to right: Scott Summers (candidate for Illinois Treasurer, Frank Wedig (candidate for McHenry County Board, Dist. 5), Jeanne Wedig, Gus Philpott (candidate for McHenry County Sheriff) and Rich Whitney (candidate for Illinois Governor).
For information about the Green Party in Illinois, go to Use links to candidates' websites for more information about each.
Many thanks to Jeanne and Frank for the delicious (and healthy!) picnic lunch.