Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Old ink cartridges?

What do you do with your old inkjet cartridges? You know ... those. "Those ones"... The ones that you fill and refill and refill and by which you continue to dump all that money down the drain, instead of forking out some big bucks for a new printer?

Do you just throw them away?
Do you "donate" them, mailing them back to some organization that gives you a free postage-paid mailer?
Do you recycle them at the curb?

Or do you turn them in at Office Depot for a $3.00 credit? For each one!

Stop throwing away your money and turn them in at Office Depot. You won't get cash for them, but you will get $3.00CR (after about eight weeks) on your Office Depot WorkLife Rewards card, and you can use that to buy more toner or paper or whatever your little heart desires right off the shelves there.

What is the Beth Story?

Beth Bentley, 41, disappeared on Sunday, May 23. That's more than five weeks ago.

She was reported missing on Monday, May 24. It is claimed that she called home about 4:15PM on Sunday. After that? Nothing. No contact. No phone calls. No text messages. No use of her credit cards. No ATM withdrawals. No use of her cell phone. (Who did she talk to at 4:15PM?)

At least, that is what has been said.

The position of the Woodstock Police Department seems to be "No foul play." No evidence of foul play. No evidence of foul play. Is the absence of evidence possibly evidence of suspected foul play?

What are the possibilities?

She ran away, voluntarily. OK, what's she doing for money and transportation? Is any money missing? From any source to which she had access? The police and the family aren't saying.

Did she go to Centralia late Sunday afternoon and get out of a car near the Amtrak station? One person says so. And that person says it wasn't to take a train (read, not to take the 6:08PM train to Chicago, where a late connection could be made for the Metra to Woodstock, scheduled to arrive at 2:01AM Monday).

If she was in Centralia, how was she going to get back to the Woodstock area and meet up with her traveling friend and the rental car?

What, exactly, were Beth's movements after arriving in the Mt. Vernon area early on Friday morning? Are all the restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores, bars, nail salons being checked?

Beth, Jenn, Ryan and a second man were seen having dinner and drinks in the Frosty Mug in Mt. Vernon on Friday night? Have all the employees at the Frosty Mug been interviewed?

Reportedly a boat was rented on Rend Lake on Saturday, but no one seems to know much about that. Who knows about that?

Why have there been no searches organized by law enforcement? The Woodstock Police Department is the lead agency investigating Beth's disappearance, but it is 330 miles from Mt. Vernon.

There are more than 6,700 "Friends" on the Facebook page set up to follow Beth's disappearance. For some reason, right now the Friends or Fans section is not visible on Facebook. Hopefully, it will be restored.

There is almost a lack of urgency locally about finding Beth; at least, that's how it seems to a number of people. There are no frequent press conferences. There is little or nothing in the local papers. Do the police or the family know something about her whereabouts or missing status that precludes a high sense of urgency about searching for and finding her?

The public can help and will help.

"Our borders are quite secure"

Didn't you know this? You didn't?

Well, just listen to California Congressman Pete Stark, when he was speaking on June 26, 2010, at his Town Hall meeting in Fremont, California.

Don't give up too soon. At 1:50 on the video clip he says, "Our borders are quite secure."

That guy is out of touch with reality! He does not deserve to be a Congressman! He said, "We still have for agriculture the Bracero Program". That program started in 1942 and ended in 1964! He believes the program still exists and asks why it cannot be extended. Well, duh... it ended 45 years ago! I guess that's one good reason.

Well wishes to Ofc. McFarlin

McHenry County Sheriff's Department Corrections Officer Sharon McFarlin was injured in a motorcycle crash recently and is recuperating. Details are sketchy at this time, but it is believed that she was (or is) in Rockford Memorial Hospital.

Best wishes to Ofc. McFarlin for a speedy recovery and a quick return to work.

No information has appeared in the Rockford Register Star, Daily Herald or Northwest Herald about her accident.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Open Letter to State's Attorney Bianchi

Dear Mr. Bianchi,

I am writing to call your attention to an unfair and expensive procedure, over which I understand your office might be able to exert some influence.

When the McHenry County Conservation District issues a ticket to a person found in an MCCD park after-hours, the ticket requires that person to appear before a judge, if he does not pay the $75.00 to MCCD within about 7-10 days.

A Guilty plea at the first court appearance results in an exorbitant amount of court costs and fees. On Monday the sum of $111.00 was assessed on top of the $75.00 fine.

The recipient of the ticket inquired before the court date about paying the $75.00 at the Payment Window of the courthouse and was told payment would not be accepted and that a court appearance was required.

Without disrespect to the court or to the judicial process, it seems reasonable to allow a first offender to pay the $75.00 before the court date. Perhaps a small "service fee" ($10.00?) could be added to pay for a clerk's time to accept payment, and probably few people would argue with that, understanding that they would be saving $100.00.

May I invite you to consider my request that the procedure for such petty offenses be changed to allow payment at the courthouse, in person or by mail, before a court date by those persons who intend not to contest the citation?

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Gus Philpott

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rip-off: McHenry County Courts

Will McHenry County find itself in the midst of a revolution? It's probably a good thing that more people don't get to partake of "justice" in the McHenry Court Circuit Court.

When the court costs and fees are 148% of the fine in a petty (and I do mean, petty) case, there is something seriously wrong with the legal system.

Take, for example, a case this morning involving a young man who was in a McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) park after closing. Now I don't know the details as to the reason or the hour - only that he was a passenger in a car that was in the park.

Normally, according to a staff member of the MCCD, a parks police officer normally writes up a contact card the first time he encounters a person in a park after-hours. Or he might write up a Warning. But not a ticket. And, according to that same staff member, a person might not even get a ticket the second or third time. The third or fourth time? Since the person in the park wasn't getting the message, okay, fine; write up a $75 ticket.

Again, I don't know the circumstances. Did he "mouth off" to the ranger? Was he impolite? Did he diss the ranger? Did the ranger ticket him because of an attitude problem, more so than for being in a park after closing? Or did the driver diss the ranger; therefore, they both got tickets?

In any event, the person got a $75 ticket. He could have paid it within about seven days and ended up with a $75 expense and no court record.

Instead? He didn't pay it to MCCD in time, so MCCD transferred the ticket to the McHenry Circuit Court. Court appearance was mandatory, and today he got socked not only with a $75 fine, but with $111 of court costs and fees. How long was he in front of the judge?

I wasn't there, but I'd guess about one minute. At that rate, what's a judge worth to the court system? Let's see, 60 x $111 + $6,660/hour. OK, let's put one minute between cases and cut a judge's value to McHenry County down to $3,330/hour.

Judges are quick to tell defendants that "they" aren't responsible for the high court costs and fees that the victim (err, guilty defendant) is going to learn about after he leaves the courtroom and arrives at the Payment Window.

If you have ever been to the Payment Window, that glass ain't there to protect you from the cashiers!

So, here are the people you direct your anger to, if you live in Woodstock.
1. Your County Board members from your District (look it up here: (look under County Board Appointments, then under County Board Members (don't know in what District you live? call 815.334.4000)))
2. Rep. Jack Franks (
3. Sen. Pamela Althoff (

And tell them that a defendant ought to be able to pay a $75.00 for a petty (and I do mean, petty) violation at the Payment Window without having to stand in front of the judge. There is no reason that a court appearance was mandatory, just because the kid didn't pay the $75 to MCCD in time.

There should be a procedure for handling that type of violation administratively.

Crystal Lake PD announces crime, arrest

The Crystal Lake Police Department knows how to inform the public quickly of crimes and arrests in its city. In a press release dated today, the P.D. announced the arrest early yesterday morning of a 41-year-old man who reportedly gagged and attempted to choke his wife with a rope.

Robert J. Oswald, Jr. bonded out this morning. (I guess I won't ask where a good judge was yesterday who could have gone in for a special bond hearing.)

It's nice that the police department must have a policy of not naming a victim of a domestic battery. Guess it's not too hard to figure out that the victim must have been Mrs. Robert J. Oswald, Jr.

Good job, Crystal Lake P.D. Your prompt press release is appreciated.

Oswald is due in Judge Condon's court on July 9th.

Note: Anyone charged with a crime is presumed to be innocent. You know the rest.

Take that, Daley!

Three cheers for today's ruling by the SCOTUS, striking down Chicago's 28-year ban on handguns.

Not that anything will change anytime soon. Daley will figure out some way to keep up his fight against ownership of handguns. But he's a loser. That's L-O-S-E-R.

And what's in the news today? The arrest of some guy who left a threatening message for Daley. The Chicago Tribune must be saving that for another day.

It's okay for Daley to threaten to stick a rifle up a reporter's butt, but don't dare let anyone suggest reversing the tables.

In today's Chicago Tribune, Daley reveals his game plan for new laws - " protect police officers, paramedics and emergency workers from being shot when responding to an incident at a home. He said he also wants to save taxpayers from the financial cost of lawsuits if police shoot someone in the house because the officer felt threatened."

And he added, "If the ban is overturned, we will see a lot of common-sense approaches in the city aimed at protecting first responders," Daley said. "We have to have some type of registry. If a first responder goes to an apartment, they need to know if that individual has a gun."

Wrong. DOUBLE wrong! A cop needs to know that this is the U.S.A., where law-abiding citizens have the right to own handguns. Cops have nothing to fear from law-abiding citizens, who are the ones Daley is preventing from owning handguns. The criminals already have the handguns, and the cops already know that.

The only stupid one in this whole picture is Daley. Oh, yes, and his cronies in Chicago.

Nov. 3 - a new sheriff in town

When the sun comes up on November 3, 2010, the morning will be extra bright, because there is going to be a new sheriff in town.

What will happen that day? Will Keith open the office and welcome me to my new digs - the office of the sheriff that will officially change hands on December 1?

Or will Keith already have purchased his ticket to Cape Coral and be on the way to O'Hare Airport, leaving behind instructions that no one is to enter "his" office?

Will Undersheriff Zinke be in charge for the month of November and be the only one to have Keith's cell phone number, in case there is an emergency requiring the sheriff's decision?

Based on Keith's behavior in the parking lot of the Jewel-Osco last fall, I won't be surprised at anything. Except nothing will be a surprise.

Let's just hope that any requisition for a new shredder gets lost or that anyone with backbone at 2200 N. Seminary Ave. grabs the scissors and cuts the cord to it.

Remember for whom to cast your vote on November 2. Choose the single candidate who is a citizen first, cop second.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

See the report on the sheriff's dept.

Want to see the annual report on the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? See all the good stuff, like what the 400+ employees have really been doing with the $23,000,000/year and the 240 vehicles?

Good luck.

But, if you want to see what Sheriff Mark C. Curran, Jr. is doing at the Lake County (Ill.) Sheriff's Office and read his report to the citizens, go to

Check out the 2009 Annual Report, all 41 pages of it. First class job!

Rules of the Road - incorrect information?

Crystal Lake Police continue to investigate a two-car accident that occurred after 9:00PM on Friday night on Route 176 at Briarwood Road. That's a tough intersection at any hour, but it was a bad one for a 67-year-old driver, who had been southbound on Briarwood, and a 16-year-old driver who was eastbound on Route 176.

Four people in the teen's car were injured: the teen driver, a 45-year-old Rockford man, an 8-year-old, and a 38-year-old Wauconda woman.

The number of passengers in the teen's car caused me to wonder about the Age 16-17 driver's license restrictions. Upon re-reading the information in the Illinois Rules of the Road, I found what appears to be an error in the Rules of the Road.

A new driver is presumed to be inexperienced and is restricted for the number of passengers he can carry in his car. But read the restriction:

"For the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the passenger( s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat."

So, does this mean that a 16-year-old driver can carry only one passenger and that passenger must be age 19 or under? That's what it says.

Can't he drive with a parent in the car? Of course, he can. The language in the Rules of the Road needed to be corrected.

The actual wording in the Illinois Vehicle Code reads differently, and is correct, at 625 ILCS 5/6-107 (g): "If a graduated driver's license holder is under the age of 18 when he or she receives the license, for the first 12 months he or she holds the license or until he or she reaches the age of 18, whichever occurs sooner, the graduated license holder may not operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger in the vehicle who is under the age of 20, unless any additional passenger or passengers are siblings, step‑siblings, children, or stepchildren of the driver."

Catch the distinction in the wording?

WPD officers praised for response

In an emailed compliment to the Woodstock Police Department, a Youth Services Bureau counselor thanked two officers for their response on April 21 at 5:30PM to a call at YSB regarding a homeless man who was outside the offices at South Jefferson and Jackson Streets.

Although the man was loud and had attracted attention, the two officers were praised for dealing with him with consideration and patience. The man was on his way to the PADS overnight lodging at the Unitarian Universalist Church, and he wanted warm clothes. He was given a sweatshirt and a coat, and he went on his way.

The counselor mentioned that the interaction between the officers and the homeless man was observed by members of a youth group, and one member of the group who witnessed the professional handling of the call had not previously observed such a positive response by police.

The officers who responded to the call were not named in the compliment.

Politicking in church

Cal Skinner wrote this week on about State Sen. Dan Duffy's "praying" in the Chicago church of Rev. (and Illinois State Senator) James Meeks.

Praying, I suspect, for lots of votes from the congregation.

Watch the video on Cal's blog. It must have been hot that day. Check out Rev. Meeks' vest with the epaulets and the pink handkerchief and tie. He ought to get himself a new tailor.

When Meeks introduced Duffy, he gave a political speech about vouchers. Notice how Duffy had to read his speech. He couldn't even stand up and speak from his heart. And then Meeks praised Duffy's and his own efforts to get rid of red-light cameras. Praise the Lord!

Maybe Meeks' church ought to lose its tax-exempt status over that load of nonsense.

I promise McHenry County church-goers this: I shall not stump in the churches of McHenry County. They are places of worship - for worship. Not for politicking!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beth Bentley - Day 34

Beth Bentley, 41, went missing on May 23, 2010.

Why hasn't there been a press conference in Woodstock? Wouldn't you think that the Woodstock Police Department and Scott Bentley would have conducted several press conferences by now?

Beth was reported missing to the Woodstock Police Department on Monday, May 24, as of 10:48PM, according to the second missing-person press release of WPD. Not the first.

When was the first press release delivered to the press? On its preparation date of May 27?

On May 30 Chicago Tribune "Breaking News" carried a story that "friends and relatives" were asking the public's help, not that the Woodstock P.D. had announced that she was missing.

On or about June 9 the Woodstock PD finally put the May 27 press release on its website but buried the second press release behind a tab that most internet users would believe held only older news. That June 9 press release has since been moved to the WPD first page of press releases.

But still there has been no organized, ongoing public appeal for information that might lead to finding Beth. CrimeStoppers announced a $2,000 reward, which has since increased to $5,000.

The 6:08PM train story has pretty much been blown off the tracks. Speculation is rampant. Beth's Facebook "missing" page has 6,626 followers. A few followers from out-of-town are hard chargers and anxious to see less talk, more walk.

Even the fundraiser that has been announced will not be until July 16. Where is the sense of urgency about finding her?

Those who were with her in Mt. Vernon need to be under the microscope until every grain of truth about the week-end comes out.

What law enforcement agency is really in charge? Woodstock PD? Mt. Vernon PD? Jefferson County SO? Illinois State Police? If WPD is the lead investigatory LE agency, how do you manage a missing-person case from 330 miles away?

The fundraiser ought to happen right now, so money can be raised for a private investigator and an organized public effort of search parties in Mt. Vernon. A PayPal link could be placed on the website (which has gone stale), with assurance that any money donated would be publicly accounted for and used for searching for Beth. If 6,000 people donated $2, it would be a good start.

Friday, June 25, 2010

McDonald decision expected Monday

Law-abiding gun owners in Illinois have been waiting all month for the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in McDonald v. Chicago, and it is looking like Monday will be the day. Monday is the last day of the SCOTUS's current session.

Otis McDonald sued the City of Chicago in the Supreme Court over Mayor Daley's insane position on the ownership of handguns in the City of Chicago. McDonald and thousands of other law-abiding residents in Chicago want the right to defend themselves in their homes without becoming criminals themselves (in Daley's eyes).

Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association (, will hold a press conference on Monday, June 28, at 10:00AM at the Hotel Allegro, 171 West Randolph Street, Chicago.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are we having fun yet?

Today I read about the jailer in Washington County, Arkansas, who got in hot water at work after posing nude for Playboy's website. Seems that Sheriff Tim Helder doesn't have much of a sense of humor about Jessie Lunderby, 21, and her photogenerosity.

The "news" also was published on and I thought I'd have a little fun with Dave, so I sent him a "press release", as follows:


"In a sudden announcement today, released only to DirtyKeithvsDirtyHarry, Gus Philpott announced he is quitting the race for Sheriff and moving to Washington County, Arkansas, where he will run for Sheriff in the next election.

"When he called a local moving company, they asked if he was the same guy who called earlier from Hebron. Philpott didn't understand the question.

"Philpott said that, one way of the other, he is going to get into the Washington County Jail! If Lunderby hasn't been cleared by the time he takes office, Philpott promises fast action. He also promises personal attention to the jailer's problems."

I should have known what Dave would do with the press release, and he did it.

I had a great day today, but this was the icing on the cake. Thanks for the good laugh, Dave!

No worries, Sheriff Helder. Your job is safe. I've got a race right here to win on Nov. 2!

MCSD Jail scores well

Congratulations to the personnel at the McHenry County Jail for the outcome of the recent audit by the American Corrections Association (ACA). The ACA audited the jail as part of the accreditation process.

How'd the jail do? The jail received a grade of 94.2%. Along with the score was the information that the score was the highest ever given to an institution for an initial audit.

As I understand it, the primary focus of the audit was on paperwork.

So, to the Corrections Officers who dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, good job!

"Bad" drugs in Mt. Vernon

Through a message received directly from a Mt. Vernon, Ill. resident I've learned that it is believed there is a "bad" batch of heroin being distributed in the Mt. Vernon area. Now, I'm one who would say that there is no "good" batch. A "bad" batch is, to me, one that results in fast and/or abnormal reaction to the drug. To a new or infrequent user it could be almost instantly fatal.

This information was sent to me in connection with the Beth Bentley disappearance.

If anyone - anyone - has knowledge of drug use by anyone being associated with any of the parties connected to Beth or this case, contact the Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department at 815.338.2131 with information. It couldn't hurt also to contact the Mt. Vernon Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, just to be sure that everyone gets the same information fast.

Or you can call the Crime Stoppers Coalition of McHenry County at 800.762.STOP. Crime Stoppers' phone lines are supposed to be confidential; this one is answered at a local police department. Rules in certified Crime Stopper organizations may be in place to tightly control who has access to the list of numbers from which calls are received, but the McHenry County Coalition is not a certified group. If you want to be sure that your number is not revealed, use a Calling Card. But call, and call today.

Every tip could be useful in finding Beth. You never know how it might be connected with another tip, which could then lead to locating Beth. Every day that passes reduces the odds of finding her.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crystalgenie ...

... this one's for you.

For you who don't know who "Crystalgenie" is, she is one of the commenters on the thread about Beth Bentley's disappearance. The second thread, now 16 pages in length, can be viewed at If you wish to read the first long thread, go to the beginning of the second and click on the link there to go to Part 1.

Over the past 14 years I have disagreed with a number of decisions and actions of the Woodstock P.D. This has resulted in my having a "reputation" with them.

I won't rehash them here or now; perhaps one day in the future I'll just run out a list of them, and you can decide whether or not I "like" Woodstock P.D.

I am a proponent of fairness. I dislike retaliation. I understand the "cop" mentality. Fortunately, I don't have it. In my race for Sheriff of McHenry County in the November 2 General Election, I am a "citizen first, cop second."

Some of the Woodstock officers understand where I'm coming from. And I understand why they don't speak out. A good example in today's news is Gen. McChrystal.

Figure this one out...

President Obama kicked Gen. McChrystal out today.

In an article on AOL News, Obama is quoted as saying, "Now is the time for all of us to come together. I welcome debate among my team, but I won't tolerate division."

Okay, so debate is fine, but you'd better not disagree with him.

Think there might be a message for McChrystal's successor as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Petraeus, there?

Judge Chmiel - the back story

Judge Chmiel's "little helpful deed" back in 2007 is back in the news, now that another Father's Day has come and gone. He's the judge (juvenile judge at the time) who got a call to come into the "office" (jail) and help out a friend's brother who didn't want to sit in the jug (with all those criminals) until Monday, like everyone else was going to.

Did he hold a bond court for all who were wanting to bond out? No, siree. Just for one. One David W. Miller, then 50, brother of Algonquin Township Commissioner Bob Miller.

Miller had been, as I recall, suspected of operating an over-weight truck and, when the officer tried to stop him, he drove away and onto his property, where he dumped the load. Pretty hard to measure the weight of a load on the ground, isn't it? Maybe the officer should have called for a spade and told Miller to put the load back in the truck!

What were the tickets and what happened to them?

07TR036963 Fleeing/Attempt to elude officer
07TR036964 Reckless driving
07TR036965 Failure to obey officer
07TR036966 Fail to stop for weighing
07TR036967 Open vehicle w/o cover, tarp
07TR036968 No splash guards
07TR036969 Fail to stop for weighing

Some of those look like pretty decent tickets. Maybe all of them do. But what happens in McHenry County Court when a handful of cases start down the slippery slide of justice?

Right away the Fleeing/Attempt to Elude case fell apart, because it apparently didn't make it past a Grand Jury.

All the rest of the cases plodded through the sytem, through 22 (that's TWENTY-TWO) court dates to December 17, 2008 (that's A YEAR AND A HALF after the tickets were issued) to a disposition of Nolle Prossed.

Initially, the cases bounced between Judges Prather and Condon, and then from April 25, 2008, on, no judge's name appears in the online court records.

Did the Village of Cary dump these cases?

What a (deleted) waste!

Oh, yes, Judge Chmiel? His day in "court" comes on August 18-19, when the Illinois Court Commission members will wipe the sweat off their brows and hear about friends and law and judicial responsibility and ... I wonder who Judge Chmiel will choose to represent him.

I guess the Northwest Herald editors don't think too much of Judge Chmiel, because in today's editorial they refer to him as "Chmiel".

New Beth Bentley missing poster

A new poster is being circulated in southern Illinois, as efforts continue to locate Beth Bentley, 41, who has been missing since May 23.
Nothing has changed since initial reports that indicated no use of credit cards or her cell phone. Beth has just vanished.
Many commenters on Facebook and Websleuths websites are concerned about foul play, rather than voluntary disappearance.
Persons with any information are asked to contact the Woodstock Police Department at 815.338.2131, which may be the lead investigating agency since Beth was reported missing to them late on May 24th. Email can be sent to WPD Chief Robert Lowen at or to Det. Sgt. Kurt Rosenquist at
If you submit a lead or tip by email, you may want to telephone to confirm its receipt. In my case, I have sent several emails to the Woodstock Police Department that have resulted in no acknowledgement whatsoever. They were not returned as undeliverable, so I have to assume that they were received. It would be appropriate for even a busy detective division secretary to acknowledge receipt of every communication.
Reports can be made to other agencies, including the Mt. Vernon Police Department (618.242.0380) and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (618.244.8004). Tips can also be directed to the McHenry County CrimeStoppers hotline at (800.762.STOP). This toll-free number may work only in Illinois and possibly only in northern Illinois, not state-wide.
If you have a tip that involves a location in southern Illinois, I recommend providing it to all three agencies.

Butt out, Calderon

Check out this address to Congress by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), after Mexico's President Calderon. He makes a clear, intelligent statement. Where was he when the Republicans were looking for a candidate for President?

County-wide bullying hotline?

Be sure to read Mary Fox's Letter to the Editor in today's Northwest Herald. She writes about bullying, mean-spiritedness and violence.

What McHenry County needs is a county-wide hotline for reports of bullying.

It wouldn't have to be a manned hotline, although messages should be collected at least daily. Bullying is usually an ongoing problem that doesn't require emergency action. It's certainly important, but often not urgent. Any urgent or emergency need should be reported to police and the school district office, then reported to the hotline.

Non-emergency reports could be made to the hotline, where volunteers could work with the bullied student and parents to guide them through the reporting process and to help them get corrective action.

A hotline would reduce the possibility that school personnel would attempt to diminish the importance of reported bullying. A hotline would also help identify schools with problems that are not being addressed. School personnel are not likely to tell a student or parent that others are also reporting bullying.

Students and parents: what do you think? Is it time for a bullying hotline in McHenry County?

Would Daley just drive off the cliff?

Is Mayor Daley stupid? Blind? Is he going to run Chicago further in the ground with his irrational stand on a handgun ban?

What part of "people are getting killed around here" does Daley not understand?

Obviously, his handgun ban isn't working. So it's time to try something else. Daley has pretty much succeeded in stripping the right of handgun ownership from the law-abiding community. And the Kill Rate in Chicago? Well, Dick, it's not the law-abiding citizens who are killing your residents.

Try the gang-bangers, the druggies, the robbers. You know, the people who are prohibited from having guns in the first place.

Daley is trying to turn up the heat on guns, as the U.S. Supreme Court approaches the release of its decision on the Chicago handgun ban. What will the USSC decide?

Media, even the Illinois State Rifle Assn., has been quiet about much speculation.

An ISRA press release in May asked whether Daley ought to take a vacation. Here's an idea... how about a one-way ticket to Mexico or one of the African countries or maybe Afghanistan or Iraq? With no armed bodyguards. Think he might work his way back and sing a different tune?

Chattanooga police charges dropped

In an action requiring a quick decision, Chattanooga police and the district attorney stepped forward and dropped seven felony charges and all other charges against a man who was rushing his wife to a hospital.

The story attracted national attention after the man's wife suffered stroke-like symptoms. From the stories, most of the confrontation between the driver and the officer occurred in the hospital's emergency-room driveway, as the man attempted to carry his wife in for treatment.

Among the officer's claims was one that the man carried his wife directly into a treatment room without permission of the hospital staff. The husband, described in a CNN news story as a "trained emergency medic", obviously wasn't going to sit down in the emergency room and wait for a triage nurse's coffee break to end. He was smart, and he did what he needed to do.

The cop should have sized up the situation and stood by with his ticket book, while the emergency was being handled.

Local police officers and deputies need broad and good training, and they need the discretion to address each individual situation appropriately. What training do they get, so that they can respond appropriately to a similar situation in McHenry County?

Can Gen. McChrystal?

Should Pres. Obama can Gen. Stanley McChrystal?

I say, "No!"

Obama needs to keep some honest people around him - somebody who will challenge him on his position and keep him in touch with "real life".

If Obama gives McChrystal the boot and replaces him with a Yes-man, we will get in even more trouble. McChrystal can carry out orders, even if he doesn't agree with them. He's the one with the impossible task of sending soldiers into battle that will kill some of them.

We are either going to win over there (we aren't), or we need to get the heck out. Years ago Colin Powell said that we needed more troops there, and it has never happened.

Read the Rolling Stone article. It's an eye-opener.

City not publicizing MusicFest

Why isn't the City of Woodstock publicizing this week-end's MusicFest 2010 on its Community Calendar, which is located on the homepage of the City's website (

The Farmers' Market gets a promo on the calendar, as does this Saturday's "Remember Our Heroes" car show.

The City decided to close Main Street and restrict important parking for MusicFest 2010, which starts Friday night and continues through Saturday night. And then it fails to publicize and promote the event on the City website.

The homepage (and entire website) could use a good make-over. It's like the stepchild of the City and gets very little attention. Check it out:

The 2010 Census Count is still promoted, but the enumerators have finished their work and have stopped pounding on doors.

The City's new refuse contract (the $100 word for trash pick-up) is still there. Lose it; it's the only deal in town.

The expansion of Pace Bus service is still announced "in the future" for February 13. Waaaaay past time to update that announcement!

The three-year old National Trust for Historic Preservation notice? Either update it or trash it.

And Illinois Main Street Program? That died. The Woodstock Downtown Business Assn. (WDBA) is shuttering. Merchants and the City never got behind it. Squabbles and condescension at the Chamber of Commerce revealed back-biting and jealousy. But times at the Chamber have changed.

For a city that says it is heading for Disney-like qualities (if it is), the direction toward the alligator swamp needs to change.

Downtown Woodstock has so much to offer! Well, not necessarily in his current condition. The bright spot is the make-over of Cobblestone's and folding it into Seasons by Peg. There are other bright spots. The D.C. Cobbs' remodeling deserves attention, and other restaurants deserve patronage - Pirro's and the Public House. Don't forget about them, just because they are land-locked.

And there are the dim spots - business closings, drab appearance, businesses more appropriate to edges of town, not "downtown", such as the proliferation of tattoo parlors and the pawn shop.

McHenry County Radio rocks on

Almost every morning McHenry County Radio ( greets its world-wide listening audience with Ray Stevens' "Hang up and drive" and mentions the Woodstock Advocate and the Green Party candidate for Sheriff of McHenry County - you know who!

Many thanks to Jim Mathews (and to Dave Gardner and Henry Stevens, too). I was going to be there this morning, but I chickened out when I heard the thunder and the sound of rain. Much as I enjoy riding my motorcycle to Harvard and being on the radio with them, it'll have to wait for a sunny morning.

Tune in and catch the Morning Buzz on Monday through Friday, 7:00-10:00AM. And be sure to patronize station's local sponsors and mention the broadcast when you do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How's the skitcher doing?

Has anyone heard how the teen is doing who was injured while "skitching" a ride in Lakewood on Monday, June 17? Is he still hospitalized? Did he suffer traumatic brain injury from knocking his noggin on the pavement? Let's hope not.

The unidentified 16-year-old was injured when he fell off his bike after hanging onto the passenger door mirror of a moving car, driven by Brandon Klemm, 17.

The Village of Lakewood refuses to identify the injured boy, claiming an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. Actually, they may find that they are on thin ice with the Attorney General's office over use of the exemption. The Village is claiming that identifying him would constitute a "clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." In accordance with the new FOIA laws, the Village has inquired of the AG's office whether they can properly deny withholding his identity under that exemption; for the time being, their refusing to do so is a preliminary decision.

But they also deny identifying him, claiming they can withhold his identity under the Juvenile Court Act, which prohibits law enforcement personnel from disclosing a minor's identity to the general public "as to the arrest, investigation or disposition of any case involving a minor." That sounds to me like an exemption that could be used when a minor is accused in a crime, which is not the case here.

And then the Village proceeded to advise me that no citations have been issued "nor do we anticipate any being issued."

I wonder, do they think I can't read? that I can't connect the dots? They tell me that they cannot identify the minor because of "arrest, investigation or disposition of any case involving a minor" and then tell me that they don't anticipate issuing any citations.

Number 1. No citation against the bicyclist? What's the real reason?
Number 2. No citation to the driver? Why not?

Every ticket issued by Lakewood P.D. will become suspect, if they persist in not citing those boys. Each should have been cited the same day, and be done with it.

The Village informed me that the issuance of citations is a decision made at the discretion of the officer who is handling this case. Every driver getting a ticket in Lakewood should take it to court and claim that the officer could have exercised his discretion, as was done in this injury accident.

Is there any other officer in any municipality of McHenry County or on the Sheriff's Dept. who wouldn't issue a ticket to both of the boys?

Stimulus - wasted $$$s?

$15,000,000 for a SportsPlex. $570,000 for a minor roads project.

Did anyone think that the stimulus program was supposed to create jobs, so that the unemployed could get back to work in a meaningful way? Am I the only one?

The editorial board of the Northwest Herald wrote today, "But proper explanations for inefficiency and a frivolous use of taxpayer dollars no longer are acceptable."

Nice words ... now that the money has been blown.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Conversation wanted with deputy

I would like help from readers (many of whom are in law enforcement) to contact the McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy who told an employee at the Woodstock DQ to take down the missing person poster about Beth Bentley and that she had been found.

The conversation can be on the record or off the record.

I would like to know, and those who are actively following the reports on Facebook and would like to know, the source of the information that the deputy used to so direct the worker at the DQ.

If you know the deputy. please ask him to contact me. Contact information is to the right. Deputies here know I am discreet.

Did the deputy get the information at roll call or from his supervisor? Or from another deputy or law enforcement officer with another department? Did he attempt to verify it before passing it on?

It would be very unusual for a deputy to pass along unverified information in a missing person case, so this should not be read as a catch-the-deputy effort.

I also am aware of the warnings at the MCSD about any deputy who gets caught talking to me. There is no need to restate the threats of "c-and-c" that were made a while back. I have however, been told of other "warnings" that have replaced them more recently.

If you work at the MCSD and have been thinking about contacting me for any reason, rest assured that, in more than four years, I have never revealed a confidential source of information.

MusicFest - shades of Galt Airport?

This morning's Northwest Herald article about MusicFest 2010 reveals that the promoters must ante up for security in the form of overtime pay for a police sergeant and two police officers for the 1 1/2-day MusicFest 2010 festival that starts Friday night.


Remember when Sheriff Nygren tried to (what's a polite word to use here for a different one that would probably generate a lawsuit or charges?) "rent" security services by deputies to Galt Airport a couple of years ago and reportedly threatened to shut down Greenwood Road? How many deputies at $40/hour did he try to convince the concert promoters to rent?

How much is overtime pay for a police sergeant? $75.00/hour? And for an officer? $60.00/hour? And you know who gets the gravy assignment, don't you? The most senior sergeant and officers.

For what? Walking around and watching people listen to music.

Presumably, they aren't doing "police work" when they are performing private security services for the festival promoters. Or are they? What if they spot #11 on McHenry County's Ten Most Wanted? Will they grab him and then spend 3-4 hours processing him?

Does Woodstock really need three officers dedicated to the festival? Or couldn't a call just be placed to the police department, if an incident requires police attention? We're not having a Grant Park rock concert this week-end.

Congressional Bullying?

No one is happy about the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, but what gives Congress the right to bully a CEO of any U.S. company?

Maybe the taxpayers should give Congress a taste of its own medicine.

How about their junkets while our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq?

How about the numbers of American citizens unnecessarily dying right in the U.S.? From lack of medical attention? From drive-by shootings? How about our country being invaded by thousands of illegals every day?

And yet they continue to pull down their fat-cat compensation packages and perks. Who is analyzing their travel packages and use of government planes to fly to their California homes?

What are they doing to solve the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico???

I remember back in the 1980s when Congressional panel tried beating up on the president of Herbalife over the merits of its weight-loss program. I got a good laugh, when he asked why so many of the Congressmen on the panel were so fat.

County website - user UNfriendly

Shouldn't it be easy to find information on the McHenry County website? Like, for example, if you are a voter and want to find out in what District you live, so that you can call your County Board member?

This morning I was trying to help a reader to learn on what District he lives. Sure, I could have called the County Election Board, but why not just look it up online myself? Yeah, sure... I ended up having to call for the answer...

Try going to the County's website at

First, you must put on your thinking cap to even find the names of County Board members. Why? Because there is no simple link for them. " Go on; I dare you. Look down the Quick Links on the left-side menu.

After you go by "County Board Appointments" several times and start pulling your hair out, go back and click on "County Board Appointments."

Why wouldn't you look there in the first place? Because County Board members are elected, not appointed! But that's where you will find their names.

Next you must figure out in which District you live... How do you do that? Try "District Maps" on the Appointments' page. Clicking on the District "number" on that map will bring up a list of township precincts. OK, so then how do you learn (quickly, easily and online) in what township precinct you live?

Earlier in the year I found a search function on the State Board of Elections website. Today I couldn't easily find it.

So, back to the County's website homepage. Try "Departments" for the Elections Commission. No luck.

Try the "A-Z Services" tab. (Why don't they consolidate Departments and A-Z Services?

Election Information... Put in your name to find out whether you are registered to vote. Then scroll down and enter your address. Bingo. All sorts of good information, including the number of the County Board District!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Misinformation from deputy

The Woodstock (Ill.) Dairy Queen had posted a notice about missing person Beth Bentley where customers could see it.

One evening a deputy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department (MCSD) was a customer at DQ and saw the poster about Beth. He told a DQ employee to take the notice down because Beth had been found. However, when the employee checked with a friend of the family, the employee learned that Beth was still missing.

The deputy, who has not yet been identified, must have believed that Beth had been found.
Where did he get his information? Were there others at MCSD who believed she had been found?

NRA waiting period

A few years ago I saw a cartoon about the NRA Waiting Period (for the purchase of a handgun). The photo showed a cocked revolver, with calipers measuring the distance between the firing pin and the bullet.

How about this one?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crime Stoppers - not certified program

Who and what is the Crime Stoppers program in McHenry County?

Many know the basics. It's a tollfree hotline for reporting crime tips.

When I couldn't find a website for the McHenry County Crime Stoppers earlier in the week, I started rooting around for information and came across the Illinois State Crime Stoppers Association. You can view its website at

On that site you'll see that some of the programs are Certified; many are not. You see links to websites of some programs; some links are broken.

For McHenry County? "Stats for Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Woodstock, Cary, Fox River Grove, Marengo, and Harvard Police are reported by McHenry County Coalition." But the McHenry County Coalition of Crime Stopper programs, representing nine law enforcement agencies, but not naming the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, is not a Certified program.

Why don't we have an online crime-tip reporting system, like the Des Plaines Program? Not even all of the sites behind the links are the same. Some contain reporting of recent crimes; some have photos of Most Wanted.

When I am elected Sheriff of McHenry County on November 2, 2010, I'll see that McHenry County develops a modern program and becomes a Certified member of the Crime Stoppers Association. And missing persons in the County will be promptly listed.

Bentley - still not on ISP Missing Person website

The Illinois State Police hosts a webpage on its State website for Missing Endangered Adults. You can view that page at

If the link doesn't work or stops working, go to the homepage for the Illinois State Police at Then scroll down to the bottom and click on Site Map. From there, see the list under Crime and click on Missing Persons.

You will quickly see that, as of today, Beth Bentley is NOT there. Beth was reported missing to the Woodstock Police Department on May 24. The Department issued a press release dated May 27. The Department issued an update on June 9 and referred to Beth as an "Missing Adult - Endangered."

So why isn't Beth on the ISP website? Where's the breakdown? Did WPD transmit the report and a request for listing promptly to the Illinois State Police? If so, did the ISP fall asleep at the switch, or has funding been cut so drastically that it can't update its Missing Persons webpage?

The most recent posting on the ISP webpage is April 3, 2002, and there are only nine missing persons listed; the oldest post is April 1, 1994. If the State is not going to maintain this page, then it should remove it!

A search on Google found, which appears to be a privately-run website but connected with Crime Stoppers. There is no listing there for Beth.

Bentley WPD press release now inaccurate?

On June 9 the Woodstock Police Department issued an update to its original May 27 press release about the disappearance of Beth Bentley, 41, of Woodstock, from southern Illinois. Beth was last seen at the Frosty Mug in Mt. Vernon on Friday, May 21. There doesn't seem to be any corroboration of sightings after that, although phone calls to her husband are reported until Sunday afternoon, May 23.

That press release may now be inaccurate and should be further updated, so that the public is not misled about a possible location of Beth.

The information that is inaccurate is that she was dropped off at the Centralia Illinois train station "to board a 1800 hours train bound for Chicago". For non-law enforcement types (the rest of the world), that's 6:00PM (actually, 6:08PM).

If Beth never intended to take the train to Chicago, why was she dropped off near the Centralia train station? Or was she?

In whose name was the car rented for the trip? If Beth rented the car, why didn't she take the car wherever she wanted to go? What was the plan for the week-end and the return trip?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weather Alert at 3:17PM


I hope not!

Inmates to use laptops

Prisoners are an educated lot, some say. And, with what it is costing them, maybe they ought to be.

What are the legal services available to inmates and detainees of the McHenry County Jail? Services inside the jail, I mean.

The U.S. Marshals’ Service Contract Inmates (I suppose these must be the “detainees” in the special wing at the Jail) are required to get five hours of Law Library time apiece. A letter recently provided with a FOIA response did not identify the time period for those five hours, so I’ll assume it’s five hours per month.

Law Libraries need books and resources. One would think that, if a government contract requires a facility to provide a service or a resource, then it would pay for it. And anyone making a deal with the government would certainly require funds to meet the contract.

But how do these resources get paid for at the McHenry County Jail? Apparently, not out of the $90/day raked in from the Feds for each detainee. Instead, the legal services are paid for by the Inmate Profit Account, which collects hefty profits every time an inmate or detainee buys a Phone Card or a candy bar (or other snack food to supplement the meals from the kitchen). That Inmate Profit Account has a $75,000 balance, even though it just forked out over $14,000 in March for three (3) laptops and hard drives.

Three, you say? Nearly $5,000 for a laptop and a hard drive? Well, why not buy the best, when you are flush with cash; right?

I thought maybe the Jail had bought 10-20 laptops for $14,000. I mean, what the heck? I read the Sunday ads. How much power in a computer does an inmate need? When I heard that no laptops were in use in the jail, it was time to ask questions. In the next week or so, they will be put to use.

And what kind of laptops are they? The Panasonic Toughbook 30. I didn’t see any evidence of comparison shopping, just the advisory to buy a computer on the State’s Bid Contract so that no bidding would be involved.

How is the Toughbook 30 described? An online search reveals such words and phrases as “rugged”; “6-foot drop certified”; “the ultimate in durability”; “fully-rugged”; (operational) “in the harshest environments”; “certified sealed all-weather design.”

Look at this description from Google Products: “Out in the field or down in the dirt, the durable Panasonic Toughbook 30 is built to take a beating. This brawny workhorse is encased in magnesium alloy, with durability designed into every seal, hinge and connector. Plus, as the industry's fastest fully rugged mobile PC, it's built for lightening-quick processing and wireless connectivity. Communicate in real time from remote areas, access databases online and run sophisticated software applications even in the harshest environments. The Toughbook 30 is vibration and drop-shock resistant.”

Sounds like an ideal laptop for the mountains of Afghanistan, doesn’t it? You know, bouncing over bone-jarring rocks in a Hummer? It might even survive in the McHenry County Jail!

Be sure to check out the pricing on the Google shopping site, too. From $2,708 to $4,170, with many sellers in the $3,000-3,500 range. So, why pay $13,521 for three ($4,507 ea.)? Plus three hard drives for $717?

When you are spending someone else’s money, why shop???

Oh, yes, then electronic law books will be needed, and they aren’t free. They will run about $9,720/year ($810/month).

Keep eating those candy bars, guys. And don’t forget to buy those $20 Phone Cards.. Half of your $20 goes into the Inmate Profit Account.

Beth Bentley reward, now $5,000

Last week-end a $5,000 reward notice was published in a Centralia, Ill. newspaper.
Today an article appears on the front page of our own local daily newspaper, the Northwest Herald, to inform readers of the $5,000 reward, up from the original Crime Stoppers $2,000 reward.
Does money really "help" people come forward with information? Many are scratching their heads, trying to come up with timelines and sense out of the gaps in the information that has reached the public. On Facebook there is a "Beth Bentley ... Missing Woodstock, IL Woman" page that now has 6,167 followers.
Could organized searchers in Mt. Vernon, Centralia and Jefferson County develop more information and new leads? A lot of individuals are interested and taking action, but there is appears to be no coordination. Viewers of the Facebook pages and of the website,, are printing copies from the online posters and putting them up throughout southern Illinois and beyond State boundaries.
This is no time to back off in the search. A "wait and see" position is not acceptable, but the law enforcement agencies have only so much in the way of manpower and resources.
What about setting up a "civilian command post" in Mt. Vernon or at Rend Lake? Various camping facilities are available, from "primitive" camping at $6.00/night to $20.00/night if you want an electrical hook-up. One central location for a "clearinghouse" of information would be essential. There should probably be a check-in and check-out, so that a searcher doesn't get lost or go missing.
Liaison with law enforcement should be established, so that any search or recovery "mission" has a single point-of-contact for law enforcement. Because the search would be concentrated in Jefferson County, liaison with the Mt. Vernon P.D. or the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office might be preferable.

2nd Grader violates weapon policy

You must read the AP article about a Providence, Rhode Island, second grader, David Morales, 8, who is accused of violating the no-weapons policy of the Tiogue School in Coventry. David wore a cap to school that he had made in connection with a class assignment.

The cap? It was decorated with toy soldiers carrying tiny toy guns. The school district does not allow images of weapons on clothing.

This is yet another of the absolutely stupid decisions made by people in power who have lost touch with reality.

I played with toy guns when I was a kid. I handled real guns, also, as a kid, young adult and adult. Toys were toys! Toys were not weapons.

What has happened in this country???

Check out You'll see "Tiogue School, where everybody is somebody."

In the meantime you can comment to Denise Richtarik, Principal, by emailing her at

Common sense.... have they lost that at Tiogue School?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gravel haulers - dangerous

Yesterday, as I drove to Crystal Lake, I saw a dangerous condition on U.S. 14 at Lily Pond Road, just southeast of Woodstock - actually, right at the City Limit.

A westbound gravel hauler semi had stopped in the westbound lane in front of the old La Tejanita Restaurant. A long line of cars and trucks was lined up behind it. On Lily Pond Road a gravel hauler was waiting to turn left onto U.S. 14. Unfortunately, a continual stream of eastbound traffic on U.S. 14 prevented the truck on Lily Pond from making its left turn.

The driver of the westbound truck was waiting, so that his buddy from the Merryman mining operation could make his turn. Apparently, he cared not a wit whether he was impeding traffic. After all, who is going to argue with a gravel hauler?

Hopefully, the Woodstock Police will start monitoring this violation. It's not likely that it only happened in front of me.

If you see a violation like this, report it to the Woodstock Police Department. This would be an ideal violation for the motorcycle units to enforce. It's at the City Limit, though, and not a location probably patrolled very often. Also, I appreciate that they cannot sit there and wait for it to happen again.

If it's recurring, though, they could pay a little visit on the gravel pit operator and ask him to inform drivers not to block the highway to "help out" their buddies. All the operator can do is ask, because the drivers are probably independent haulers and not employees of Merryman.

Township bill still up for grabs

It's not too late to call Gov. Quinn and ask him not to sign SB 3010. As of yesterday the bill was still gathering dust on his desk, and that's exactly what it should continue to do.

You - that's YOU - can help keep the governor from spilling ink on the Sign Here line.

What's this bill about? It lets the Townships blow your dough on buildings without your approval. In fact, not only just without your approval but, even if you have told your Township "No" before, they could skirt around you now, if this bill is enacted.

Sen. Pam Althoff voted for the bill. Rep. Jack Franks voted against it.

How come the public - that's YOU - didn't hear about it before it hit Gov. Quinn's desk? Why didn't Township officials inform their electors at their April meetings that they were making an end-run about voters?

Today, right now, call Gov. Quinn's office at 217-782-0244. Leave a message for him that you do not want him to sign SB 3010.

And next time you are at a township meeting, ask the Supervisor and Trustees to explain why they haven't informed their electors of this legislation. Perhaps at every township meeting electors should be asking this important question,

"What else are you not telling us?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where will Ariz. Hispanics go?

USAToday: "Arizona's tough new immigration enforcement law is fueling an exodus of Hispanics from the state seven weeks before it goes into effect, according to officials and residents in the state."

Balsz Elementary School District is 75% Hispanic, and within a month of the law's passage, the parents of 70 students pulled them out of school, said District Superintendent Jeffrey Smith. He also said, "They're leaving to another state where they feel more welcome."

Will Illinois Hispanic population surge as a result of Arizona's new law?

Chicago is a sanctuary city. Are there others in Illinois? Calumet City? Evanston? Cicero?

Will Woodstock become a sanctuary city?

When will the U.S. border with Mexico become secure? Does any other country in the world maintain such loose control over a long border as the U.S.?

Infant car seats in restaurants

Last week I was in a Woodstock eatery and noticed an infant car seat on a table in the restaurant, complete with infant installed.

That got me wondering why restaurant servers or managers don't ask moms to place the infant carrier on the bench seat or in a side chair, instead of putting the carrier on the table.

The baby was quiet; that was definitely a "plus." But aren't the tables where the dishes are to be placed?

I think a manager or server could quietly ask the mom to place the infant carrier on a seat and that most moms would agree. They probably just don't think about it. I can also envision a mom become irate and making a really big stink.

Would other customers come to the rescue of management? Or would they line up behind the mom? Would the restaurant turn into the OK Corral at high noon?

The seat in the car is probably not the cleanest place in town, and the floor where the carrier is stored at home isn't, either.

What do you think? Should restaurant personnel ask that kid carriers be removed from tables?

Wdk. Admin. Adj. Ct. - Witnesses?

In last week's session of the Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court, Judge David Eterno explained that witnesses for the prosecution were not required to appear. He also explained that ordinances and statutes allow that and that he could rely on the officer's written report for the City's testimony.

This came up in one of the cases involving the sale of tobacco to a minor. As I recall, the prosecuting attorney explained the absence of the confidential witness in the case.

This raises, for me, a legal issue. If the cop isn't in court and the confidential under-age purchaser of the tobacco isn't in court, either, then how can the defendant cross-examine his accuser? All he can attempt to do is discredit statements in the officer's report, and then the officer is not present to rebut those efforts.

Is that what the judge takes into consideration, when he has only the officer's written report? How many persons who are cited into court know how to defend themselves in court?

Do ordinances and statutes then attempt to minimize the importance of your right to confront your accusers in court? Or is it only in criminal trials that an accused has the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him?

No doubt the City saves money by not having officers standing around in the hallway, waiting to testify, as happens over at the courthouse.

Can an accused in the local court insist that the officer and witnesses appear?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MusicFest 2010 - coming up

Ready, set, NOISE! MusicFest 2010 got the final green light from the Woodstock City Council tonight. The event, put together by Dan Hart of D.C. Cobbs, will tie up Main Street and the Main St. parking lot on Friday and Saturday, June 25-26, and until 6AM on Sunday.

How do you get there?

Take public transportation. Oh, wait; Woodstock doesn't have any.
Ride your bike. Oh, wait; no bike racks downtown.
Walk? That's a good option.

Or you could drive to Crystal Lake, park and ride the Metra back to Woodstock on Saturday for $5, including the ride back to Crystal Lake.

If you do go early, like to patronize one of the merchants on Main Street or on the Square, be absolutely sure to get your car off Main Street or out of the Main St. parking lot by noon. If you don't? It won't be there when you come back for it. One of the tow companies on the City's approved list will have hauled it away. Councilman Ahrens asked the City Manager to be sure that a car wasn't towed to Barrington and that it wouldn't cost the owner $1,000 to get it back. Yes, cars will be towed at their owners' expense.

Councilwoman Larson asked about the volume of music sound from the band on the stage, which will be at the south end of Main Street. And I asked the City to direct the event producer to control the volume to reasonable levels. Did the City Council hear me? No. It'll be left up to ...; well, it never really got determined. Dan Hart, I guess, if you can find him that week-end.

If the music is too loud? Well, the City will try to do better next year. Sorry, not good enough. Nobody really would take responsibility for having the music volume not to exceed certain levels. Measuring sound levels isn't all that hard?

When is your hearing likely to be at risk? The "safe" daily exposure at 91 dB(A) is only 2 hours. For some people, sound may be damaging at even lower levels than 85 dB(A). You might just want to take some earplugs along.

There is a lot going on downtown that week-end: MusicFest 2010, a car show, Farmer's Market.

Hopefully, the businesses that pay those exorbitant rents on the Square will still be in business the next week.

"Skitching"? No ticket? No way!

The Northwest Herald is reporting that an unnamed 16-year-old boy in Lakewood was airlifted to Lutheran General Hospital on Monday evening, after he fell off his bike while "skitching." Sure glad that word was explained in the article; I'd never heard it.

According to the story, the kid was on his bicycle and was hanging onto the right outside mirror on a car driven by 17-year-old Brandon Klemm. After the 16-year-old fell off his bike, Klemm took him home. When the boy complained of head injuries, paramedics were called. And then Flight for Life was called.

Lakewood Police Chief Larry Howell is quoted as saying that he does not anticipate the filing of any charges.

Oh, really? Maybe not in Lakewood but, if this had happened anywhere else in the County, you can bet charges would be filed. Perhaps the accident didn't happen on a public roadway. If it happened in a driveway or on private property, it would be pretty hard to cite the driver for a violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code.

If it happened on a public roadway, thought, then how about charges against both the boy on the bicycle and the driver of the car?

625 ILCS 5/11-1504 Clinging to Automobiles might be a good place to start, except for the sloppiness of the legislators, who used the word "clinging" in the title but who used the word "attach" in the language of the statute. The statute reads, "No person riding upon any bicycle ... shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle upon a roadway."

Has a bicyclist "attached" himself to a car when he latches onto a mirror? A sharp lawyer would fight that one, but an equally strong prosecutor ought to prevail.

Careless Driving would be a reasonable ticket for driver Klemm. Surely, Chief Howell is not going to give both of them a pass for a dumb stunt like that, is he?

"Blind" telemarketing call

Woodstock residents, be careful.

I just received an automated telemarketing call from "Heather", offering to reduce my interest rates on credit card balances and telling me it was their final notice.

Yeah, sure...

No bank was named, no card numbers mentioned, no telephone number given. Then I was asked to Press 1 for more information or Press 2 to discontinue further calls.

The only safe button to push was "End Call".

Don't fall for such a con job. Even pressing 1 or 2 might connect you to the Virgin Islands or Afghanistan for an expensive international call.

Thanks, Heather, but no deal!

Mt. Vernon, Ill. - internet service out

Catastrophe has struck Mt. Vernon, Ill. and pushed them back to the Dark Ages. The internet system for the town is, well, out...

Earlier today I sent emails to the Mt. Vernon P.D. at two different email addresses, and they have been returned. Earlier in the day I was told that a "cable had been cut", and I thought the operator at the P.D. just meant for the P.D. Now it appears to be that the town is out of internet.

Just imagine being without email or the web or ???... Well, there is always the phone. And fax, too.

WPD posts missing person alert

The Woodstock Police Department has posted notices on its webpages about the disappearance of Beth Bentley, 41, of Woodstock. Beth was reported missing to the Woodstock P.D. on Monday, May 24, at 10:48PM.

In a notice dated May 27, 2010, the P.D. requests assistance of the community.

For whatever reason this alert was slow to reach the Woodstock community. Information about Beth's disappearance was first reported on about May 30 in the Chicago news media and then in the Northwest Herald on about June 1st.

Many wonder why this news did not reach the general public sooner.

The online posting date for the first press release on the City PD's website is not shown, whereas it is for other notices. It was not shown on the front webpage for "Crime Stopper Cases / Press Releases / Crime Alerts" as of June 9th. The usual format of dates is to provide the posting date and the "good-until" date. The missing person report carries only a "to:" date of July 1st.

A second notice appears on the PD website with a June 9th date. Unfortunately, this later notice is posted behind a "See all items" link.

It seems to me that the casual reader would assume that it would only be older notices posted behind a "See all items" link and not important, more-recent notices.

Information carried in the original report about Beth's having been seen boarding a northbound train in Centralia is now believed by many not to be correct. The second notice reads that Beth was dropped off at the Centralia station to board a 1800 hours train. This information may also be incorrect.

The Crime Stoppers Reward of $2,000 is still not shown on the Woodstock P.D. website.

The P.D. could do better...

Seipler v. Nygren case - moving along

Zane Seipler's request for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate illegal politicking continues to move through the court system in McHenry County. Seipler has complained about Regna campaign photographs being taken with incumbent Sheriff Keith Nygren in Nygren's office and the use of the official emblem (badge) of office, or its likeness, on Nygren campaign stationery and envelopes.

Four years ago (long before I entertained the possibility of running for office myself) I complained about the use of the sheriff's badge of office on campaign stationery. I have forgotten whether I complained to the SAO or to the McHenry County Elections Board, but I do recall that my complaint went nowhere.

I had received campaign literature in what looked to me like an official envelope. From time to time I received summons to appear in traffic court cases as a witness, and that's what I thought the envelope contained. Surprise, surprise...

In Case No. 10MR11 Zane Seipler is now represented by Chicago attorney Blake Horwitz. Sheriff Keith Nygren is represented by his county legal defense team through the Office of the McHenry County State's Attorney.

This ought to be "interesting", since Nygren's right-hand man, Undersheriff Andy Zinke, started taking pot shots at State's Attorney Lou Bianchi recently.

Earlier this year Judge Caldwell recused himself, and another judge was to get this case. That judge's name doesn't appear yet in the online records available at

Legal footwork in court yesterday resulted in the setting of the next court date for August 18, 2010, at 10:00AM in Courtroom 201.

Smoking at businesses - you can

Well, you learn something new every day.

I had been under the impression that all smoking in businesses was prohibited by the Smoke-Free Illinois Act. But read this...

If you are at a business, on business property under the control of a private business, and you are outside and more than 15 feet from an entrance, you can smoke. Shhhh, don't tell the smokers who aren't lighting up...

For example, if you are on an outside restaurant or bar patio or in the horseshoe pit or the outdoor party area of a bar and more than 15' from the door, it's okay to light up. And, if the non-smokers don't like it? They are out of luck.

Presumably, the bar owner or manager knows the law really well, because the penalties are stiff for violating the Illinois Smoke-Free Act, especially a second or third time.

What about the outdoor dining areas on public sidewalks outside restaurants and coffee shacks? Say, for example, on the Woodstock Square. If you are seated (or standing) more than 15' from the restaurant's entrance (or open window or vent), then you can smoke. Maybe your dinner partner can't (if s/he is within the 15' arc from the door or window), but you can.

And to heck with pedestrians strolling by on a nice summer afternoon or evening.

This 15' restriction will make it hard on outdoor diners at D.C. Cobbs, because its new windows open and allow fresh air (and smoke) to enter the restaurant.

Woodstock police officers do not handle smoking violations under the Illinois Smoke-Free Illinois Act. Such violations are, instead, reported to the McHenry County Department of Health, Environmental Division. It seems to me that it would be easy for the cops just to pull over, when they spot 4-5 smokers outside a bar, but the Department policy is for them not to do so. Naturally, by the time an investigator from the County gets there a few days later, those smokers are long gone.

But they will "visit" with the bar, restaurant or business owner or manager and discuss the importance of compliance. (Then how come the smokers keep coming back?)

My opinion? Smokers in Illinois know the law. And they know they can get away with violating it. Sort of like speeding...

Madison St. Shell robbed early Monday

This morning's Northwest Herald reported that the Shell gas station and convenience store at 315 North Madison Street, Woodstock, was robbed early yesterday (Monday). Police did not release information about the amount of money taken by the lone robber.

The clerk did the right thing - just handed over the dough. And the clerk did a good job of providing a description of the robber and the getaway vehicle. Probably some extra security on the night shift at this store will be a good idea for a while; like, maybe, somebody sitting there with a shotgun...

The robber? Male, 20-30 years of age, dark complexion, about 6'2", 200-230 lbs. Wearing dark-colored jacket and jeans. Wearing a mask. No guess at the race of the suspect.

What kind of handgun was displayed? Semi-automatic? Revolver? Dark metal or light?

Vehicle? "older, dark-colored vehicle with round taillights that possibly was missing a driver's side window." Vehicle was occupied and waiting.

So at least one other person was involved. That's good. When that person gets nabbed for a different crime, he might just roll over on the robber.

And maybe the driver's window was just lowered, not missing. Sedan? Two-door? Four-door? How far up Hutchins Street from the gas station was it parked?

Why I'm being picky about the media, I'll pick on the word "offender" in the article. How about using "robber" or "criminal"?

And the police request for information about the "incident"? Oh, you mean the "crime" or "armed robbery".

Let's stop soft-peddling what's really going on in Woodstock. Maybe people will start getting mad and doing something about it!

Headline distorts suicide story

Yesterday another Metra train was accused of murder. Well, not in so many words, but ... when you read, "Train strikes, kills woman", images of the train's leaping from its rails and chasing the woman down come to mind.

According to the deputy coroner who got stuck with ugly duty, the death was likely a suicide. The in-cab video from the train will show the coroner exactly what the woman did as the train approached.

What else is going to happen if you stand inside the "gates" while a train passes? Or if you then step into the path of the train?

A resident at a nearby house had seen the woman, 61, standing between the crossing gate and the tracks as the train approached. Lucky for him that he turned away and did not see the woman when she was hit by the train. That's an image you don't need in your mind.

But the article stepped further away from the truth when it stated, "The woman was discovered near Short and Railroad streets." Discovered? What the reporter meant to say was that the woman's body was on the ground at that spot when police and rescue arrived. Wouldn't you say "discovered" when it is found after a search or found by surprise?

Anybody thinking about suicide? Before you do, call me and ask me what my hypnotherapy mentor/teacher told a patient in California in the 1950s. And watch Life After Life with me, a video made by research psychiatrist Raymond Moody, M.D., about the near-death experience. You might think you are solving your problems by checking out. You aren't.

Or call 800.892.8900, the McHenry County (Ill.) Crisis Line, or just go straight to the hospital and tell them you are thinking about spoiling some train engineer's day or creating a mess for some unlucky personnel to clean up. Or call 9-1-1. Or flag down a cop or a fireman.

This might sound harsh to some readers. I say, "Get real." If you are thinking about it, ask for help right now. And, if you even think someone is about to commit suicide, call for help for him or her.

Monday, June 14, 2010

3,000 a day - every day

Watch and listen to Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona. He says nearly 3,000 illegals cross the Mexico/Arizona border into the U.S.A. every day. He says catch-and-release does not work.

I agree with him. This is outrageous. He says "boots on the ground" are needed. Soldiers. Military. Now. And he says that parts now of the U.S.A. are under control of the Mexican drug cartels.

OK, President Obama. What are YOU going to do about this???

If Paul Babeu was here in McHenry County and running for Sheriff, I'd get out of the race. Fortunately for me, he has his hands full in Arizona.

Don't blow off a court date

"Oh, it's just Woodstock's own court. Showing up doesn't matter."

Is that what one defendant thought last week, when he didn't bother to show up for his date with Judge Eterno in Woodstock's Administrative Adjudication Court?

It won't be long before he realizes that he made a really serious mistake.

The young man (who can avoid additional shame and embarrassment here by remaining unidentified) was to be in court on last Thursday on a truancy matter. Not just "a" truancy matter; he had seven dates of truancy for which he was to answer.

Where was he? Well, not in court.

He had had a previous truancy case in this court. When he didn't show last Thursday, the City's prosecutor asked Judge Eterno to find him Guilty (Liable) and to fine him the maximum amount for each instance of truancy. Ouch!

Earlier in the session the judge had mentioned that truancy fines range from $50 to $100.

At the maximum fine of $100 for each of the seven truancies, this young man is going to owe $700, plus one $50 bill in court costs.

What might have happened if he had shown up in court? Well, he might have struck a deal to plead Guilty on one violation at the maximum fine of $100, plus $50 costs. Maybe the City might have dismissed the others; maybe not. Or he might have arm-wrestled with Attorney Kevin Chrzanowski and ended up somewhere in the middle between $100 and $700. But his price for the no-show? $750.00!!!

When you gotta "go", ...

... you gotta go.

Cal Skinner wrote on about how Jack Franks was a co-sponsor of HB1057 (for a forensic audit of state spending). When time came for a vote, Jack was the only State representative not voting. The vote on May 25 was: 68 Yeas, 48 Nays, 0 Present.

At first glance, you'd think that 68 Yeas would be an approval, but you must first read the Question on which they voted: "Shall the ruling of the Chair be sustained?" Then you have to know what the ruling of the Chair was. What was it?

At this point, I really don't know.

According to the Illinois Review ( on May 28, 2010, "Michael Madigan and Illinois Democrats voted down a measure that would have meant accountability in Illinois' spending and would have gone a long way to preventing Governor Quinn’s proposed 33% tax hike."

So, was a Yea vote really a Nay vote? Or were there just not enough Yeas to carry the day? Was the Illinois Review correct that the resolution did not pass?

248 warrants unsealed by SAO

June 14, 2010



Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces that hundreds of previously sealed search warrant petitions and orders were opened to the public pursuant to an Illinois Attorney General Opinion. The Attorney General advised that such files, after the warrants have been served, should be “open to public inspection or dissemination unless the court enters an order specifically providing otherwise.” Petitions and corresponding court orders are routinely filed with the court whenever law enforcement officers request search warrants for criminal investigations. In certain situations, courts may order that the files remain sealed to preserve the secrecy of ongoing investigations, to protect the identity of witnesses and undercover police officers, and for other limited reasons. The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has been coordinating with the Office of McHenry County Court Clerk Kathy Keefe and local law enforcement agencies to identify sealed petitions that should be opened to the public. Today, at the request of the State’s Attorney’s Office, 248 files were opened.

Crime Stoppers of McHenry County

Where's the website?

Is there any public-service organization today that doesn't have a website? Well, how about Crime Stoppers of McHenry County? Bingo!

Today I was trying to find the Reward poster that was created by the Bentley family. It offers a $5,000 Reward for information that leads to finding Beth Bentley. The poster appeared in the Centralia Sentinel yesterday and may run in this week's The Woodstock Independent.

Wouldn't it be nice if Crime Stoppers had a website for McHenry County and the numerous communities in this county? How long has Beth been missing now? Three weeks!

The Crime Stoppers hotline directed me to the website of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. If you search around there, you'll find a link to the Sheriff's Department Facebook page, where an entry mentions the reward (mentions the original Crime Stoppers' $2,000 reward, but not the increased amount).

I'll bet that, here in McHenry County and all the cities, towns and villages, there is probably a handful of skilled law enforcement officers who could toss together a website for Crime Stoppers in a hour or so. And who would work with a handful of dedicated, concerned citizens to create and maintain it.

Well, folks. What do you think?

Wdk. Admin. Adj. Ct. - Disord. Conduct case

In last Thursday's Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court a case was called that had involved a fight at a city park.

What normally happens is that a person charged with an offense appears without an attorney. Before court the City's prosecuting attorney asks to speak with the person charged and will attempt to make a deal.

If a deal (a "plea") is agreed to, then the prosecutor informs the judge of it when the case is called. Judge Eterno is careful to ask the defendant if he understands the deal and is agreeing to it of his own free will.

Sometimes a deal can't be struck, for a variety of reasons.

In this case, the defendant believed he was not guilty and he wasn't going for a "deal". So this case proceeded to a hearing, right then. One of the first problems was that the other party was not in court. And a witness had not appeared, although a letter to the witness had been sent on June 2.

The prosecutor asked the judge for a continuance to "try" again to get the witness in, but the judge wasn't having any part of it. What the judge did have a problem with was the charge, which he read as "unlawfully engaged in or attempted to fight". He said, "'Attempting to fight' is not a violation.

Juge Eterno began explaining to the defendant how he was about to make his decision. The defendant interrupted him - more than once. The judge, politely but firmly, told the defendant to stop talking until the judge was done speaking.

I've visited several of the court sessions, and it seems to me that, when Judge Eterno begins explaining matters to the defendant, he is about to rule in the defendant's favor. Defendants, of course, don't expect that and they seem not to listen very well to the judge, or they would figure out pretty quickly that the judge is about to side with them.

My suggestion? Decide whether you are going to plead "Guilty" (called "Liable" in this court) or if you want "your day in court." Judge Eterno does not impose a "trial tax"; i.e., if he decides against you, you are still only going to get stuck with the fine and the court costs that you would have paid anyway, had you pled Guilty (Liable).

If you get cited into Woodstock's court, listen very, very carefully to Judge Eterno. Don't assume that he is about to drop the hammer on you. He is fair, both to the defendants and to the City. He understands that you are not a lawyer and don't know the law or all your rights. He will expect the City to prove its case. Be ready with your defense. And don't forget to ask him to find you "Not liable."

$5,000 Reward now - Beth Bentley

This Reward poster has been published in a newspaper in Illinois. (Click to enlarge image; click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)
The newspaper was not identified to me, but it may be in southern Illinois, where Beth Bentley, 41, of Woodstock, Ill., was last seen.
The last public sighting was on Friday, May 21, at the Frosty Mug in Mt. Vernon, Ill. Beth, a second woman, and two men reportedly had dinner and drinks there.
Beth's husband, Scott Bentley, reported Beth missing to the Woodstock Police Dept. on May 24. Her traveling companion, Jenn Wyatt, also of Woodstock, reportedly informed police that she had dropped Beth off near the Centralia Amtrak station on Sunday, May 23. Many assumptions were made early that, because of that, Beth intended to take the 6:08PM Amtrak train to Chicago and continue on to Woodstock. Conflicting information indicates now that that travel route may be incorrect.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Woodstock Police Department at (815) 338-2131 or any police agency in southern Illinois, such as the Mt. Vernon Police Department at (618) 242-2727.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Priorities - rustling or disappearance

What's more important in Woodstock? A missing woman or a missing horse?

In the Beth Bentley case, she has been missing from southern Illinois since the afternoon of Sunday, May 23rd, when she reportedly was dropped off at or near the Centralia Amtrak station.

In the case of the missing horse, it was last seen in the area of 218 Main Street last week-end, in beautiful downtown Woodstock (just a block or so from the Metra train station).

No one saw Beth board the train.

No one saw the horse leave Main Street.

No one knows how Beth left the area of the train station.

No one knows how the horse left down Woodstock. (No evidence of foul play)

But cops (or deputies or the posse) caught up with the rustlers pretty fast. Did they follow the hoof prints on the bricks out of town?

But, so far, the police won't associate "foul play" with Beth's disappearance. There is no "evidence" of foul play.

What would constitute "evidence" of foul play? Well, I mean, besides ...

Did she take a stash of money with her when she left Woodstock?

Did she have an extra cell phone or buy one on the trip south or once there?

Did she ave a money account about which the family knew nothing?

Did she take some favorite jewelry with her?
Let's say that you wanted to disappear? How would you do it? You'd need money. Or access to money. Or someone with money.

You'd need clothing. Shelter. Food. Transportation. You'd need something to alter your appearance. You'd need a plan.

Of course, there are people who just set out on a trip. They don't decide which way to turn until they arrive at a corner.

I don't know Beth Bentley. Was she meticulous in planning? A place for everything, and everything in its place? Or carefree? Scattered? Disorganized?

Beth, if you are reading this, just call the Woodstock P.D. (815.338.2131) or the Mt. Vernon P.D. (618.242.2727). Confirm your identity to them and just tell them you are alive and okay. Or contact a reporter (Nick Pistor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch would be a good one ( at (314) 340-8265 or or call me (847.971.7083), so that you are sure the word gets out to the public.