Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another marijuana bust - no arrests

A small article buried on Page 2B of today's Northwest Herald announced another marijuana bust with no arrests. A field of about 100 plants was found in Chemung Township.

Plants were 6-8 feet tall and well-cultivated. Street value of $100,000? Is a marijuana plant worth $1,000? Really?

This is not the first unattended field to be found. What I wonder is, why did they identify it instead of laying low and catching the growers? If the field was "well-cultivated", then it had not been abandoned. Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect the growers to return in fairly short order?

Sure, somebody is going to be irritated that his field was found. The growers are likely just that - low-paid tenders and not the bosses.

I'm ready to read that, when a field is identified, somebody has been caught! Now that would be news!

Editor's note: The estimated street value of a plant was initially calculated incorrectly by me at $100. A $100,000 value of 100 plants is obviously $1,000 each, not $100. The corrected was noted after the comment of DownByTheRiver was published.

Right-to-Carry meeting - Tonight!

Tonight (Thursday, Sept. 30). 7:00PM. Lakemoor Banquet Hall, 28874 Route 120. This is the place to be, if you have any interest in the right to carry a concealed weapon in Illinois and want to know where the candidates for election to the Office of McHenry County Sheriff stand.

Bring your tough questions. Don't wimp out. Ask the candidates exactly what you want to know.

Why should you be interested? You might not want to carry, but you might find yourself in a predicament where you wished somebody nearby was carrying. And I don't mean a fingernail file (touted by the Illinois State Police as the weapon of choice for self-defense) or an Order of Protection to wave in the face of someone about to harm or kill you.

If someone broke into your home right now, what would you do? Keep in mind. "When seconds count, the police are minutes away." In the case of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, they might be 10-15-30 minutes away.

I needed them one night and called as I left home in Woodstock for Wonder Lake. I drove 11 miles at the speed limit and arrived five minutes before the deputies did.

For information, contact

By the way, I responded immediately to the Association that I would be present and would speak as a candidate for Sheriff. For some reason, my name was omitted from the list on the Association's website. I'll be there.

McHenry County Crime Stoppers - where are you?

I have been trying to contact Crime Stoppers of McHenry County. You'd think it wouldn't be all that hard.

A call to the tip line got me the name and telephone number of Deputy Aimee' Knop, who is apparently the liaison between the McHenry County Sheriff's Department (since she is employed there) and this particular organization. Aimee' would not provide information about the board members or any contact information other than a mailing address of P.O. Box 295 in Woodstock.

More than two weeks ago I wrote to the P.O. Box, asking who the board members are. I guess they don't know, because no one has answered. I emailed Undersheriff Andy Zinke on September 16 to ask who is in charge of the McHenry County Coalition of Crime Stoppers. He must not know, because he hasn't acknowledged my email or replied with the information. Maybe he wrote to the P.O. Box, too.

I am also trying to get information about the Woodstock Crime Stoppers organization. The Woodstock P.D. told me that (former chief) Joe Marvin is the President of it. A member of its board gave me Joe's phone number, but it has been disconnected. Joe is now the head of the Marine Unit of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, so I called and left a message there for him.

I'm sure he must be busy with boat license checks, lake water levels and fuel leaks, and counting life jackets, because he hasn't called back.

I have the 2010 Report of the Crime Stoppers of McHenry County. It's a puff piece with lots of holes where information ought to be.

How many tips did the hot line (800/762-STOP) handle in 2009?
- "118 (actually have 128 tip numbers but 10 completely skipped accidently (sic))"
- 12 tips paid out
- $3,400 paid out in tips

$3,400 paid out on 12 tips? That's less than $300/tip average.

And this is exactly what prompted my attention. The Beth Bentley Reward poster says that there is a $2,000 reward from Crime Stoppers for information that leads to locating her.

Crime Stoppers usually pays for information leading to indictment or arrest, so I wondered whether Crime Stoppers would pay for "information" to find a person who would not be indicted or arrested. The Woodstock Police Department told me that the reward is "up to" $1,000 from its Crime Stoppers group.

So it's not $1,000; it's "up to $1,000". I want to ask who decides and on what criteria.

In the absence of a reply from Undersheriff Zinke about who supervises the operators on the tollfree tip line, I continue to wonder if they are Sheriff's Dept. dispatchers or if those calls really go elsewhere.

You know? It shouldn't be so hard to gather information of this type! The stone-walling only leads to deeper digger, more questions, more uncovered problems.

McCullom Lake PD officer to leave

This morning's paper announces that McCullom Lake PD officer Kelly Given is likely to depart on Friday. So what? Here's so what...

She wrote 60 tickets to then-fellow officer Jim O'Doherty earlier this year, alleging that he had driven a patrol car on duty on a revoked driver's license. All 60 tickets were dropped by the Village attorney. Now, why would the Village drop all 60 tickets?

I'll guess and say that they were not valid tickets. What would make a ticket (or 60 of them) invalid? Incorrect information on a ticket, perhaps?

The disturbing part of the news article is that the Village President Terry Counley apparently told the reporter that "there were no performance issues or behavior issues with Given." Whoa, Terry! What about the 60 tickets that your Village had to drop?

When Counley demoted Given from the interim chief's position in June, he said, "I have no qualms with the job she did." Sixty bad tickets and no qualms? Does Counley live in McCullom Lake? Has he been drinking well water there?

I suspect that the "issue" regarding Given's writing of the 60 tickets is not over, even if the Village of McCullom Lake ducks. I don't think they'll find enough cover behind which to duck, should it be alleged that Given did, in fact, fail on one or more "performance issues."

"We don't want any hard feelings," Village Attorney Jeremy Shaw told the reporter. Translate that to "We hope she won't sue us." By failing to discharge her "for cause" and thereby attempting to shift responsibility to her, the Village is probably setting itself up to be right in the thick of a lawsuit.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DAN MAL 4 - Know this car?

Here's a Woodstock driver who could use a ticket...

About 2:45PM a white four-door sedan was westbound on Lake Avenue in front of Woodstock Lumber. A l-o-n-g line of westbound cars was stopped at the red light at Ill. Route 47. As it reached Woodstock Lumber, the driver eased out into the two-way, left-turn lane and slowly rolled past the stopped cars for a distance of about 250 yards.

As I watched from where I was stopped eastbound at 47, I wondered just where the driver was going to turn left. He didn't. He continued forward, slowly, and then rolled into the left-turn lane at 47. At that point cars were turning right to northbound 47, and the driver of the white car ducked back over into the through lane and stopped as the third car from the red light.

The light changed and I could see the front plate as the car passed me. It looked like DAN MAL 4, although it was hard to see on its front bracket, which was mounted low on the bumper.

This type of intentional maneuver deserves a ticket in Woodstock. There are many violations that warrant only a warning, if the police department is courteous enough to take into consideration the high combined cost of a fine and court costs, which are often 150% of the amount of the fine. In this case, the driver obviously intended to use the center lane to illegally pass a long line of stopped cars.

Perhaps the police will catch this driver another day. There are many other places for similar violations of the use of the two-way, left-turn to access a left-turn lane early. Northbound 47 at Country Club Rd., at Judd St. and at McHenry Avenue would be great places to grab violators.

Sheriff calls it what it is

It's a story about a 2006 fatal shooting of a deputy and of a police dog, injury to another deputy, and comment by Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff Grady Judd.
"An illegal alien in Polk County, Florida, who got pulled over in a routine traffic stop, ended up 'executing' the deputy who stopped him. The deputy was shot eight times, including once behind his right ear at close range. Another deputy was wounded and a police dog killed. A state-wide manhunt ensued.

"The murderer was found hiding in a wooded area with his gun. After he shot at them, SWAT team officers opened fire and hit the guy 68 times.
"Now here's the kicker.

"Naturally, the liberal media went nuts and asked why they shot the poor undocumented immigrant (illegal alien) 68 times.

"Sheriff Grady Judd told the Orlando Sentinel: "Because that's all the ammunition we had.'"
Read for the whole story. This incident started on September 28, 2006. Read especially about the 1999 warrant that was declared stale in 2005, which the fleeing driver probably didn't know about and about which the deputy was not informed.

Diversity and cultural exchange

Check out the Daily Herald and who got his photo at the top of the article! Thanks!!!

There will be additional articles coming from the Daily Herald about Monday night's interviews with the candidates for Sheriff of McHenry County in the November 2 general election.

We touched on diversity and the cultural exchange program, and I suspect that the DH will be reporting on that. They may omit a story I told, so here it is.

In 1992 I was on my way from Denver to Belize and stayed at a hotel in Mexico City with my brother, who was a plant engineer for PPG Industries. When his local manager and he picked me up the next morning, I had been watching a heated exchange between a driver and a police officer over a parking ticket.

It had gone on and on for about 45 minutes, with the driver waving his arms, pacing around the old car, walking onto the sidewalk and back into the street. I think the guy finally got off without a ticket. What was different, and what's important for American cops (and McHenry County deputies and local cops) to understand, is how the culture in Mexico apparently allows for that without rattling or insulting the cop.

What would have happened in McHenry County? The driver probably would have been face down on the hood of his car for 40 minutes, with his hands cuffed behind him.

How can McHenry County deputies learn about the culture of the growing population of Mexican and Latino residents here? From stories like mine. They don't need a two-week vacation in Mexican on the taxpayers' dime to learn this. It's called "in-service training." Right here in McHenry County. Coming to a classroom near you soon.

Township administration: 1.24 X $$ of aid

Did you see the articles on townships in Tuesday's Northwest Herald?

If you live in Woodstock, you might be interested in your own, hometown township, Dorr Township.

According to the article, "Dorr Township has about $620,000 available for general and emergency assistance and estimates that it will give out $201,350 worth of assistance this year, even though it gave out $57,000 in assistance last fiscal year."

Of the $57,000, wasn't $28,367 for administrative costs and only $22,952 for actual assistance: rent, mortgage, utility relief?

If so, that's $1.24 in administration for every $1.00 "doled out", as the paper said. Some might feel that the costs of administration are running on the high side. Count me in as one of the "some".

While the personal facts about assistance might be confidential (and perhaps they should be), general information about the numbers of residents receiving assistance and the amounts paid out for the types of assistance need not be confidential. Also, age (or age brackets) of assistance recipients and whether homeowners or renters might be of interest.

Transparency is needed and desired.

Ethics training at MCSD?

Let's review the need for ethics training at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Today's Northwest Herald article on the Zane Seipler reinstatement victory in Judge Meyer's court yesterday included this statement, "Nygren said he would consult with his top supervisors about what ethics training and job responsibilities might be appropriate if Seipler were to rejoin the force."

A while back I contacted the Illinois State Police to request a DUI checkpoint near a tavern just outside Woodstock where deputies were planning to spend a Friday night. Because of previous reports of heavy drinking, drunk driving and even altercations between deputies, I called the ISP on a Friday afternoon.

The commanding officer of the ISP District 2 headquarters in Elgin contacted Nygren and told him that I, by name, had called him. The next week my name was bantered around rollcall as having called the ISP for a DUI checkpoint.

Now, I stand behind everything I say. I don't provide anonymous tips. I give my name - every time.

From an ethical point of view, first, the ISP commander never should have called Keith Nygren. But, when he did call, what should the sheriff have done?

Only one of two things!

1. He should have thanked the commander for calling and asked him to let him know how the checkpoint turned out; or
2. He should have asked the commander what assistance, if any, the commander would like to have.

Now, Nygren wants to talk about ethics training? Put an extra chair in that classroom, please.

Drug problem at MCSD jail?

Is there a drug problem at the McHenry County Jail? I don't mean with prescription drugs; I mean with illegal drugs.

Being a rather naive, simple man, I wonder how drugs would ever get into the jail. Who has contact with prisoners? Who could possibly carry in illegal drugs?

Number one, I guess prisoners could carry drugs in when they are arrested. "Could", I say, because they are supposed to be searched; first, when they are arrested and before being transported to the jail and, secondly, upon arrival at the jail. So that "should" rule out drugs' getting in that way.

How else? Food. Could drugs be smuggled in by food workers? Always possible, I guess. But how would they get the drugs to the prisoners while preparing or serving food. Having never been a "guest" in Keith's Diner, I don't know the process for food prep or service. Is it mess-hall service, where prisoners go through a serving line like a school cafeteria or military mess hall? I doubt they get table service with waiters asking, "May I take your order now, please?"

Commissary? Prisoners order food, snack and personal items (the infamous 15 oz. bottle of shampoo for over $3.00) from Stellar Corp. Could an employee there pack up some drugs into certain orders? Who maintains the security of the order after it leaves Stellar Corp.? For example, during transportation to the jail? And how about upon arrival at the jail? Who inventories the incoming order and arranges it for distribution to prisoners? Could drugs be inserted at that step of the order delivery?

Who else has contact with prisoners? Corrections Officers. But wait! Surely, you wouldn't think that a salaried employee of the jail, screened carefully, hired, trained, supervised, would ever think of smuggling drugs into the jail! Would you?

Sometimes, the drug dogs are brought into the jail to search the prisoners' cells. On the surface, this is really pretty stupid, isn't it?

Do the dogs ever go through the locker room and staff offices of the jail personnel? You know, check out the wallets, purses, gym bags, clothing, lockers, drawers (the metal or wooden (!) drawers, I mean) of the employees? Maybe even go down the line and let them sniff each employee?

How about some surprise visits by the drug dogs? No 48-hour warnings, providing time for laundry or dry-cleaning of clothing or uniforms. Sort of like a fire drill. The dogs just show up, allowing no time to move illegal property around where it can't be found.

Maybe the rumors of drugs in the jail are just that; rumors. I hope so. Comments, anyone?

Bad accident on Lake Ave. - coming soon

I guess I'm glad that my apartment doesn't front on Lake Avenue. When I hear the sirens, I can't easily look from my window to the street and directly observe the police cars speeding toward the Square.

But I can hear the sirens. From the time of first hearing the sirens approach and then the sound of the vehicle passing, I can guess that the speeds of the squad cars (that's probably Woodstock PD at 10:21AM) are well above the 35MPH posted speed limit.

And, yes, I understand that officers are allowed to exceed posted speed limits while using emergency lights and sirens. Dick Tracy Park is at the intersection with Fremont, and there are numerous driveways on the south (west?) side of Lake Avenue. They must pass two more intersections (Davis Ct. and Greenley Ave.) and Jim Olson Collision before officers reach the five-way corner at Madison and South Streets.

All I ask is that officers operate their squad cars safely while speeding. If they are enroute to an emergency, I want them to arrive quickly. Mainly, I want them to arrive with the squad cars and themselves in one piece, and I don't mean "one piece here and one piece there."

NWH comments on the Seipler reinstatement

Due to the way that the Northwest Herald posts articles online, it is possible to miss numerous comments by readers.

For example, yesterday the Northwest Herald published an online article about Judge Meyer's decision in the matter of Zane Seipler's reinstatement as a deputy sheriff in McHenry County. As of this moment, there are 35 comments to that article.

The same basic article was republished online today. If you read the article via the link on today's homepage of the paper, you see only three comments. A reader of the Northwest Herald would not necessarily know of yesterday's article and the 35 comments to it.

Here's how you find the previous article. Go to and then enter "Seipler" in the search box. Scan the results. You'll see two articles with the same headline but different dates. Click on either to see the associated comments.

Order in the courtroom

What is the order in a courtroom?

Yesterday morning I was in Judge Meyer's courtroom to hear his decision in the matter of Zane Seipler's reinstatement as a deputy sheriff in the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Seipler had two cases in Judge Meyer's courtroom that morning. One case was called - the case involving a request for a special prosecutor. Zane's attorney had filed a motion for more time, and the State did not object. Judge Meyer granted more time and then moved on to other cases without calling the second Seipler case.

At that point Zane, who was also there, and I left the courtroom. Zane told me that Judge Meyer would be mailing out his decision.

This morning I heard that Judge Meyer read his decision in open court later in the session.

Was the second case on the court call, but at the end?

Recently, when I approached the bailiff in a different courtroom, she told me that I could not examine the printed call, since I am not an attorney. I believed the bailiff was wrong, but I suspect it is not a good idea to try to argue ("discuss") a point with a bailiff. I like being able to walk out of a courtroom under my own power.

I believe that I, or anyone, should be able to look at the printed copy of the court's business, as long as doing so doesn't disrupt the court. If I want to look at the call before the court session begins or during a recess, then I ought to be able to approach the court clerk or the bailiff to ask permission to go to one of the tables and pick up a copy to read it.

Edited at 1:14PM to add the following:

The docket in civil cases is arranged in alphabetical order by the first letter of the plaintiff's lawyer's name! Now there is a rational way of doing business. Not the plaintiff's name; not the defendant's name. The lawyer's name!

That's why Zane and I missed the result of his reinstatement decision. I have also learned that Judge Meyer did not read his decision in court. It was released, but not read.

Further, in the civil courtrooms the court call is available for anyone to read. Printed copies are placed on the attorneys' table. If you are in court and want to read it, just go to one of the attorneys' tables and pick it up and read it. Hint: don't do this while the court is in session. At least in Judge Meyer's courtroom, you don't need to ask the bailiff or court clerk. If you are in a different courtroom, you might want to ask.

See Keith. Think GUS

I would like to thank Keith Nygren for putting out so many of his own signs to help me with my campaign. The larger the sign, the more money he is spending. Go, Keith; go.

Why? Every time you see a Keith sign, think Gus. Think Gus 4 Sheriff.

There are many easy ways to remember Gus Philpott for Sheriff.

Shortest first name on the ballot in the sheriff's race.
Longest last name on the ballot in the sheriff's race.
The candidate who is a citizen first, cop second!
The candidate who has never been afraid to stand up to Keith Nygren or to any P.D. in McHenry County.

SOS anti-texting ads

The Daily Herald reports today that the Illinois Secretary of State has produced three new anti-texting ads, including one with what some will consider rather dark humor. Unfortunately, the DH did not include links to any of the ads.

Going to the SOS website at (or a viewer cannot find the ads there, either.

Let's see if any email to the SOS brings any results.

(sent from my iPhone while rolling forward in a long line of traffic at a stop sign). Just kidding, guys. Just kidding...

Avoid foreclosure

The following press release was received from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Woodstock about a program that is open to the public. You do not have to be a member of this church, or of any church, to attend this program.

For Immediate Release
September 27, 2010
Press Contact: Lisa Jacobsen, 630 788-2819

Program to With Help to Avoid Foreclosure Comes to Woodstock

"Woodstock--As part of the National Save the Dream Campaign, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Woodstock (UUCW) will host representatives from the National Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) to provide help to its parishioners, neighbors and communities in restructuring their mortgages to affordable rates. The HomeSave program will be held at the Church, 221 Dean Street on Saturday, October 9 at 2 p.m.

"The vast majority of homeowners who go through the NACA program get their mortgages reduced below 5%. For thousands of at-risk homeowners, NACA has permanently reduced their payments to achieve affordable mortgage payments based on their current budget without additional closing costs, fees, or adding time onto the length of their existing mortgage.

"NACA is a national non-profit HUD-certified counseling organization providing the most effective solution for at-risk homeowners. NACA has negotiated mortgage restructure with lenders and debt servicers around the country to reduce the interest rate and/or mortgage balance to achieve an affordable payment.

"For the first five months of 2010, there were close to 300 families in Woodstock facing imminent foreclosure and Crystal Lake and Lake in the Hills are in worse shape. Being unable to make your monthly mortgage payment is not something folks talk about; there’s so much shame and fear involved that it’s difficult to share. Mortgage modification through the bank involves large up-fronts costs and often future “adjustable” rates; refinancing in upside-down situations is virtually impossible for most and includes more closing costs, fees, and commissions put on top of an already untenable mortgage. Short sales end up taking care of real estate agents and lawyers, but the real winner is the IRS a few years down the road.

"The HomeSave workshop program is free and open to the public, but space is limited and pre-registration is required. Home owners-occupants with no other properties who are dealing with illness and increased medical costs, going through a divorce, or loss of additional income are eligible.

"To register for the Woodstock Workshop, call: 1-888-302-NACA or visit"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daily Herald take on Seipler reinstatement

Just finished reading the Daily Herald's take on Judge Meyer's decision today in the matter of Nygren-Seipler drama.

If the Daily Herald is giving any thought to endorsing me after last night's interview, they probably won't after they read my comments.

First, if you haven't read the Daily Herald article, go to

About all I can say is, what a load of horse manure! I've used other words already, but I won't write them here.

Nygren is "willing to try" reinstating Seipler? Hello??? Judge Meyer upheld the arbitrator. The arbitrator was right; Nygren was wrong. Nygren isn't going to get to "try"; he's going to reinstate Seipler and pay him for the past two years (minus three days). Or Nygren is going to appeal, if he can find a lawyer willing to risk his license and take on an appeal. Or Nygren is going to get sued. He doesn't get to "try". Now he gets to "do".

The Daily Herald couldn't wait past the second paragraph to sling mud at Seipler. Zane has paid the price. He is ready to go back to work. The arbitrator said three days without pay was appropriate discipline.

OK, Keith, you don't seem to have any trouble finding a place for deputies who drive drunk. Or how about a deputy who knocks another deputy around and gets 30 days off, but no criminal charges. Or a deputy who prevents an injured deputy from calling the police? Or the deputy in your office who told the Woodstock P.D. that no deputy got battered. Or a deputy who causes a crash and screams at a sergeant until the sergeant changes the report and records the not-at-fault citizen as "Unit 1", which means the County's claims jockey won't pay the $5,300 damages that the deputy caused. Or the sergeant who completed the fraudulent crash report.

You don't have any problems finding a place for them, do you? Or how many squad cars does a deputy need to wreck to keep getting promoted? No problem there; right?

But I digress...

Being the man with all the years of experience and the "leader" of 400+ employees, didn't Nygren foresee the possibility of this decision and have a plan ready? "Experience counts". That's what his political signs say. Counts for what? Delay? Procrastination? Denial?

Nygren told the Daily Herald reporter, ""Where I come from, when you perjure yourself and arrest innocent people, you are done being a policeman." Oh, really? Tell that to the Pavlins. And to the many others who have been falsely arrested by your deputies.

How about your own double-dipping on homestead exemptions? Enough for you to be done "being a policeman"? How about "85MPH in a 65MPH zone in Wisconsin, just to keep up with traffic"? I remember the day in your office when you made that statement to me.

How about those reports from the Deputy Woods' injury where two corrections officers used 71 words in exactly the same order? And the supervisor who approved their reports? That's okay with you?

You'll have Zane under a microscope. If he blows his nose in the squad car and uses the wrong brand of tissue, he'll get written up.

Excitement in Woodstock - almost

Shortly before 9:00PM an area south of the Square was alive with five sheriff's deputies and one Woodstock officer. They arrived quietly on Griffing Street and parked six in a row. After gathering in the street, they moved toward a house on the east side of South Jefferson, just south of Griffing.

Flashlights and officers could be seen moving around the property, and within ten minutes they returned to their vehicles without anyone in custody. The deputies were accompanied by Woodstock's canine unit, and I think one of the deputies had a dog.

Not one of them greeted me as I stood in a driveway on Griffing across from their squad cars. I don't think I could be seen clearly, and I was wearing and my motorcycle jacket, so it wasn't like I stood out. But they did see me.

Had I been one of the deputies or the Woodstock officer, I would have crossed the street, introduced myself and inquired about identity. A good PR move with a citizen, I would think.

Law enforcement PR in Woodstock... that's a foreign concept.

MCSD in the cross-hairs of ISP sights?

The Better Government Association (BGA) is talking about the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, and they aren't throwing roses.

See the article titled "McHenry County: a Political Podunk No More" at

From that article comes this: "The State Police launch an investigation into alleged corruption within the McHenry County sheriff’s office —— "

The the BGA contact called Sheriff Keith Nygren for a comment, Nygren hung up on him.

Seipler tops Nygren in court

Zane Seipler is one step closer to getting his job back.

I was in Judge Meyer's courtroom with Zane this morning to hear the decision, but Judge Meyer didn't release it then.

So I got to read about it, like many, in the Northwest Herald. Judge Meyer decided in Zane's favor, saying the arbitrator made the right decision and made it the right way. Thanks to the reader in western Illinois who tipped me off to the article in the paper.

What's next?

With virtually unlimited taxpayer dollars at his beck and call, Nygren will probably appeal to the Second District Appellate Court, where the judges are probably already licking their chops and waiting for the paperwork. They didn't waste much time on the last decision involving Nygren and a weak position.

The reporter said Nygren was not available for comment. Well, Jill, call him on his cell phone.

Zane has got two years' pay coming now. Thanks, Keith. Seipler could have been working and earning his pay that you will now have to give him. Plus it cost the taxpayers a bundle for your out-of-house lawyer.

Maybe the taxpayers will show their gratitude for that waste on November 2.

What's that famous phrase? It's not the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog.

Jail commissary prices drop

I learned last night that the prices have dropped for items that inmates at the McHenry County Jail can purchase through the commissary.

I haven't gotten the new price list yet, but the "old" one was only three weeks old. How is it that the jail personnel and the sheriff would approve the initial price list with its unlawful pricing? And I'll bet that the "new" list still violates state law, which states the commissary pricing "... shall not exceed those (prices) for the same articles sold in local community stores..."

Nygren said during an interview at the Daily Herald offices that the commissary vendor, Stellar Corp., is allowed to make a profit. A fair profit is certainly okay. What they are not allowed to do is gouge the prisioners! And the Sheriff is supposed to watch out for that!

Nygren mentioned something about vendors being allowed up to a 25% profit. I had mentioned the exorbitant pricing on VO5 shampoo and conditioner, for which prisoners pay $3.63 for a 15 oz. bottle.

That same 15 oz. bottle of VO5 is priced at $0.99 at Jewel-Osco. (If you hurry, you can buy it early this week for $0.79). And that includes Jewel-Osco's profit!

What do you suppose Stellar Corp. pays for the bottle of shampoo? $0.80? So, if they mark it up 25% ($0.20), then the price to the prisoner ought to be $1.00 (and not $3.63!!!).

Can't wait to see the new price list.

Keith was a little agitated when he demanded to know who gave me the price list. It was all I could do to keep from laughing...

Sheriff fires janitor

The Jo Daviess County Sheriff, Leo Hefel, recently fired a janitor because the janitor had a personal opinion about the new, fully-loaded, Dodge Charger the sheriff drives. Oh, and the janitor's opinion, expressed after the sheriff asked about it, was that Hefel was a bad sheriff.

Where in the world is Jo Daviess County? Well, for starters, it's in Illinois. It will be a household word soon. Located in the northwest corner of Illinois, the courthouse and sheriff's department are in Galena.

Check out this interview with the fired janitor and his wife, who (for the time-being) is (still) the sheriff's secretary.

Could something like this happen in McHenry County? I doubt it. Think Keith Nygren even knows the names of the janitors in the courthouse?

I suspect not one of them would comment to him about that shiny, white, Chevrolet Tahoe that I hear has heated leather seats. Who really owns that Tahoe? A Woodstock cop told me last September that it was not registered in Nygren's name.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I love interviews

At 6:30PM the three candidates for Sheriff of McHenry County gathered in the conference room of the Elgin office of the Daily Herald. More details tomorrow; it's late.

It was more lively than last week, and hopefully further interviews and maybe even debates will take place before November 2. Keith Nygren and Mike Mahon duked it out over issues, and I just sat back, for the most part, and watched them go at each other.

Keith said he was the only man in the room who had ever been a cop, so I had to jump in there. He knew that was untrue; I don't know why he would lie.

I was a police officer in 1963-64. Where was Keith then? Still in high school? Sure, it was part-time. Sure, it was a small town. Sure, it was in Iowa (the state to the left). But I had a badge and a gun and handcuffs and a ticket book, and I knew right where the night officer hid the keys to the police car between shifts.

Keith and Mike rattled off their extensive backgrounds, so I had to challenge them with all the cop shops where I had not gotten jobs:

U.S. Border Patrol (even though I scored 99 on the written test);
Littleton (Colo.) P.D., where I was #3 on the written test (they wouldn't process my application further, because they thought I made too much money selling life insurance and wouldn't be happy on a cop's pay):
Colorado State Police, where I was 1/4" short of the 5'9" minimum height and wore glasses;
Lakewood (Colo.) P.D., where at my age of 48 I wasn't as fast as the younger applicants on the P.E. test.

As I said Monday night, it's a good thing no one hired me. On the first day I would have been telling them everything that was wrong in the department, and then I would have been washing squad cars, not driving them!

ElderCare financial advice?

Does anyone know of an (Illinois) State-certified program that provides guardian, counselors or possibly volunteer managers to the elderly to assist them with managing their money (and keeping it out of the greedy little paws of the relatives just waiting for them to kick the bucket)?

I met a McHenry County woman a while back who provides that service, and I would like to refer a senior citizen in need of her services to her.

In only 30 minutes I was bounced from a friend to Senior Services in Crystal Lake, to Senior Services in McHenry, to Prairie States Legal Service (won't wait for hours on hold there), to Sen. Pam Althoff, to the Illinois Department on Aging, and back to Senior Services in McHenry.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be 85 years old, hard of hearing, slow in comprehension, hard to understand soft voices with a foreign accent, and trying to get this information. It would be an all-day exercise in futility!

Cary PD - unusual practices

What could be going on at the Cary (Ill.) Police Department, when an officer makes a traffic stop, does not issue a ticket, but keep the driver's license and tells the driver s/he must go into the P.D. to pick up his license?

A phone call has been placed to the Cary P.D. for information. In the meantime, perhaps readers can tell their own stories.

First, if a driver gets a welcome break on a ticket, considering the fines and exorbitant court costs at the McHenry County Courthouse, he appreciates that. A driver might thank an officer for information about a violation and appreciate an officer's courtesy.

But why would the officer keep the driver's license and merely give the driver a business card with a note on the back "Driving on a ticket", when no ticket was issued? What's going to happen if that driver gets stopped by another officer? (This is an easy one; the second cop is going to laugh and write a ticket!)

The driver must then go to the Cary P.D., probably during daytime, "normal" business hours.

Why would a driver then be asked to pay a $120 bond to get the driver's license back? Sure sounds to me like the driver was either issued or was going to be issued a ticket. But this driver says no ticket was issued. So, what is the $120 for?

How many driver's licenses is the Cary P.D. holding in this manner? 10? 25? 50? Some of the drivers will believe they have to fork over $120 to get their driver's licenses back. Some will know that they don't and insist that the driver's license be returned - and will get it.

More details will follow, as soon as the Deputy Chief of the P.D. calls me back.

Political sign misdeeds

A reader notified me that last Friday, as he was driving from Crystal Lake to the Social Security office in Woodstock, he saw a guy in a truck putting out a campaign sign for Bill Brady by Centegra Hospital and, as the guy was leaving, he quickly removed one or two signs for other candidates running for office and threw them in his truck.

The reader couldn't see whose signs were removed, because the light turned green and he had to keep moving with traffic.

Nice, huh?

Your debit card - know this risk?

You probably have a debit card; right? You know - the card that allows you to stop writing checks and just use plastic in place of checks?

When you use your debit card, the money comes right out of your checking account. Better and faster than writing checks. All you have to remember is to enter each card use promptly in your checkbook register (unless you are Daddy Warbuck's).

Is there any risk when you use your debit card? Sure, you might blow right past zero on your way out the door at BestBuy. You can spend more than the balance in your checking account, but you might already know that. It creates a nice payday for your bank or credit union, to the tune of $29-39 for the overdraft.

But there is another risk. A bigger one. One much more dangerous to your financial health.

What if you lose your debit card? Or if it is stolen?

"Hey, no problem. The finder (or thief) won't know my PIN."

Think you are safe? Think again!

A finder or thief might go into a store and present your debit card to a busy cashier and tell him (or her) to ring it up as "credit". In fact, the cashier might even help out by asking, "Debit or credit?" Your PIN is not needed if the sale is rung up as "credit".

It's not really "credit", because the amount is going to come out of your checking account balance, but after a few days - not immediately. Read - the thief has some breathing room, like for more purchases against your account!

You might end up with a little protection from your banking institution, if you complain about fraudulent use of your debit card. Call your bank now, before the fact, and ask about your bank's rules. Get the name of the person who answers your questions, and put the information, name, date, time, phone number in that file you keep for bank records (you do keep such a file, don't you?).

You might consider ordering a new debit card. Instead of writing your signature on the back of the card, write "SEE IDENTIFICATION". This might or might help you. The cashier will have to ask for the card, turn it over and then comprehend what that means. This is asking a lot of many minimum-wage cashiers.

Now, in all fairness to cashiers in Woodstock, especially at Farm & Fleet, some are really well-trained. I have a unique signature, and the sharper cashiers are asking me about it. My congratulations to them!

Ill. A.G. asked to rule on Nygren eligibility

The Illinois Attorney General has been asked to rule on the eligibility of Keith Nygren to run for re-election as sheriff of McHenry County.

The County Clerk ducked, and reportedly an attorney with the Illinois State Board of Elections felt similarly inclined. They believe that an objection to a candidate's filing must be made within five business days after the end of the filing period. The filing period for the general election ended November 2, 2009, and the five-day contest period ended November 9.

However, information about the Nygrens' illegally claiming homestead exemption in both Florida and Illinois did not surface until the spring of 2010, well after November 9. Keith Nygren, incumbent sheriff, apparently is trying to stand on the fact that only his wife signed the application for Florida homestead exemption, and therefore his own residency did not change.

When Keith's wife changed her residency and then filed for the homestead exemption, that effectively changed Keith's residency, too. He enjoyed the economic benefit of the Florida homestead exemption (and the Illinois homestead exemption on their Hebron, Ill. home, too) until this spring, when some wise person blew the whistle. (I confess; I didn't do it.)

And then Keith hotfooted it over to Donna Mayberry's office, then the McHenry County Assessor, where a quick letter went to the Assessor in Florida, giving up the Hebron homestead exemption.

Well, if you give up your Hebron homestead exemption, then you must not "reside" here. You might "live" here some of the time (and more of the time since the questions have surfaced about just how much time you really do spend in Wisconsin and in Florida), but you no longer "reside" here, and that is what is required to be eligible to run for Sheriff.

This ought to knock the race down to two candidates - Mike Mahon and me. Won't it be interesting when Nygren is ruled ineligible to run for re-election?

Island Lake officer wrote 57 tickets!

Checking court records this morning, I learned that Island Lake PD Officer David Walz wrote 57 tickets last week to Seth Pedersen.

Is there a little training needed at Island Lake P.D.? Is this like throwing mud against a wall and hoping some of it will stick?

If you want to see an example of wastefulness of government assets, go to and look up Seth Pedersen. Those tickets are now in the system. I wish I had the time and energy to click on each one and list the 57 tickets here.

A public defender was appointed for Pedersen.
A bond hearing is scheduled for 9:00AM today, which probably means that Pedersen was a guest in the Nygren Hotel for a few days.
A plea date is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 30, 9:00AM in Judge Condon's courtroom.

Do you suppose that Pedersen's attorney (public defender) will require that each charge be read separately, rights read for each ticket, and a plea heard on each one? If I were the public defender, that's what I would do. Just to make a big deal out of it.

Let's see; how long would Judge Condon have to sit there? Say, 2-3 minutes for each case. Times 57. That's 171 minutes, or almost three hours.


P.S. How long did it take Ofc. Walz to write out 57 tickets? Did he suck up some good overtime? Did he have to issue all the tickets before ending his shift? Are Island Lake tickets written by hand or with the aid of a computer?

Short-sightedness at NWH

Why is the Northwest Herald so short-sighted in its decision to limit online comments to Letters to the Editor?

Its "new" policy, implemented a few months ago, is that you get 48 hours to respond; i.e., if you get any opportunity at all.

On Saturday, September 25, the Northwest Herald published a letter critical of Dorr Township elected officials. The letter was published on the paper's website at 7:48AM. This meant that a reader had until about 7:48AM today to comment. If you snooze, you lose.

As to "no" opportunity to comment, the Northwest Herald did not permit readers to comment on the article about the 55 (actually 57) tickets written by an Island Lake police officer last week. FIFTY-SEVEN tickets!

Dorr follies continue

Jane Collins' excellent Letter to the Editor of the Northwest Herald on Dorr Township practices was published last Saturday. You can read it at

One comment followed the story. It was by "dpierc" and posted on September 25 at 7:46 a.m.

"More like you can't trust Jane with this information. Jane wht don't you inform peolple in your letter that you turned Dorr into the Illinois EPA. How about this, we shut down Dorr's Road Department, and Jane shovels the 70 miles of roads this winter. Jane, I do not want you for my advocate, go stir up trouble somewhere else with your band of merry halfwits."

dpierc's comment is reproduced as published by the Northwest Herald, including errors.

Aside from the fact that Dorr Township is now responsible for only about 32 miles of roads, dpierce either doesn't understand the value of a resident who stands up against bureaucracy and nonsense, or he is one of those who has a vested interest in the current state of affairs.

The folly of FOIA denials continues at Dorr Township. Jane is trying to get information that the Supervisor and Trustees will use to make decisions on expansion of Township facilities. Is there anyone, other than Dorr elected officials, who could possibly think that a citizen, resident, taxpayer, voter should NOT have the right to example publicly-funded reports? I mean, besides "dpierc".

The October monthly meeting of Dorr Township officials will be held on Tuesday, October 12, at 7:30PM. Come and join the fun.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Illegal pricing at sheriff's commissary

Inmates and immigration detainees have the dubious "privilege" of buying items from the jail's commissary of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. If they wish to write to family, friends or lawyers, they can buy stationery, envelopes and stamps. If they are hungry between meals, they can buy snacks. If they want a private bottle of hair shampoo, they can buy it.

But at what price?

The Illinois Administrative Code reads, "Prices charged detainees shall not exceed those for the same articles sold in local community stores..." The purpose of this law is simple - to keep the local keeper of the jail for gouging prisoners on prices. How well is the state law working in McHenry County?

The new price schedule of commissary items would shock just about anyone. Here is just a sample:

A 15 oz. bottle of Suave shampoo or condition is $0.99 at Jewel (on sale today for $0.79). The price to inmates? $3.58!

Suave Fresh Scent Deodorant? At Jewel the 2.6 oz. size today is $1.99. At the commissary? The 1.4 oz. size is $4.58 - everyday.

How about Vaseline Intensive Care hand lotion? At Jewel, it's $3.69 for the 10 oz. size, and $6.49 for the 20.3 oz. size. At Sheriff Nygren's commissary? $6.10 for the 3.0 oz. size.

How about toothpaste? Crest Tartar Control at Jewel is $2.39 for the 6.4 oz. tube. At the jail? $5.89 for 4.2 oz.!

Let's shop for food. Ramen noodles, 3.0 oz. size. At Jewel? $0.25. At Sheriff Nygren's place? $0.78!

Still hungry? How about a Snickers? For a 2.07 oz. bar at Jewel, you'll pay $1.00 (today, $10.00/10). Actually, today they are $0.59. At Keith's counter? $1.31. At the jail the price list does not inform the purchaser of the size candy bar he will be ordering.

I understand there may have been a recent change in vendors for the commissary. The vendor now is Stellar. How fitting!!! The prices certainly are stellar!

The problem here is that the pricing is criminal. And not only is it criminal, it borders on extortion! Read again the state law on pricing. "Prices charged detainees shall not exceed those for the same articles sold in local community stores."

If there is a crime being committed by the sheriff's department, what law enforcement agency investigates and charges those responsible?

Meet the author - Oct. 1

This Friday, October 1st, Read Between the Lynes bookstore on the Woodstock (Ill.) Square will host author Laura Caldwell (pictured right) and a discussion about her book, Long Way Home.

What's it about? It's the story of Jovan Mosely, who at 19 was falsely accused of murder and was left jailed for six (6) years without a trial. Could that happen in Chicago? It did.

Where will this be? According to an announcement in the bookstore, this event will be held at Oddfellow's, which is on Main Street, right across from the movie theater. Be there at 7:00PM.

Questions? Call the bookstore at 815.206.5967

Beth Bentley $5,000 reward. Is there $5K?

I have been trying to find out about the paltry $5,000 reward that is offered for information leading to Beth Bentley.

In response to a question about funds raised on the first Facebook site about Beth's being missing, the woman (poser) who writes under the name "Kool Breeze" has written, "the money raised at the fundraiser was to cover the reward money the extra $3000 offered with the $2000 that crimestoppers offered to make it $5000 total, that is why they had the fundraiser, Scott and Beth's friends wanted to help collect the money for the reward and what ever was left would aid in the search for Beth.

"The money that was to be raised by donations to the trust fund was for search and to raise the reward. There was ONLY $140 collected from that."

That isn't the way things were described before the fundraiser at Gus's Roadhouse. The $5,000 reward had already been announced, and I'm sure that followers believed the amount had been funded. Crime Stoppers is probably good for its $2,000; what about the rest?

The "ladies" (and I use that term loosely) were adamant that any money raised at Gus's Roadhouse was to go to Scott Bentley for him to use in any way he saw fit. No doubt a bunch of it was spent on his trip the very next week to Las Vegas. Was that a true search mission?

The $2,000 amount from Crime Stoppers is not a solid $2,000. It's $1,000 from each of two Crime Stoppers' organizations. And it's "up to" $1,000 from each. Based on 2009 pay-outs for tips, Crime Stoppers will pay out well under $1,000, unless the tip is sure-fire golden and leads right to Beth.

So here is what I wonder. If somebody called Crime Stoppers with a tip tomorrow morning, and the police went straight to Beth, is the other $3,000 "in the bank" and available for immediate pay-out?

There have been questions about the amount of the reward, such as 1. Why was/is it only $5,000? and 2. Why hasn't it increased?

No one is going to rat out on a criminal for $5,000, if Beth died back in May. Nor for $10K or $25K or $50K. More? Maybe...

If she is alive somewhere and just in hiding, somebody will say so, since the reward is as high as it will probably ever be, and they might as well just pass Go and collect $5,000.

If no one does, then the Woodstock Police should seriously consider re-classifying the case and stop wasting time by believing it's a Missing Person case.

Dorr Township responsibility

There is an excellent letter to the editor in the morning's Northwest Herald from Jane Collins. Jane is an attorney and is an excellent elector/voter/resident of Dorr Township who has been holding the feet of the elected officials to the fire over expansion plans. She served on a citizens' committee and stuck up for voters at the April Annual Town Meeting.

Dorr officials have been ducking behind the skirts of the Town Attorney, or should I more correctly say, behind the pants of the attorney?

This has caused me to think about what the role of a township attorney is. He is the legal advisor to the town. He is not a decision-maker. He is not elected by the voters. The attorney gives legal advice to the trustees and to the supervisor.

So, first the elected officials must ask him for advice. If they don't ask, he doesn't (shouldn't) tell. And, when they ask him for advice, they are seeking his professional legal advice, not his personal opinion. That's why they pay him for his advice.

I am reminded of my life-insurance selling days in Denver. From time to time a prospective client would tell me he was going to ask his attorney whether he should buy the life insurance that I was recommending.

I'd often ask if he was going to pay his attorney for that advice. The answers frequently were along the line that his attorney was his neighbor or friend or relative and that he didn't charge for it. I'd tell him that, then, the advice was worth exactly what he was paying for it.

I never believed that his attorney ought to tell him whether or not he should buy the insurance. Instead, he should explain the consequences of buying it or not buying it. That's the role of the attorney. And, if the attorney had all the facts of the prospect's economic situation, he'd arrive at the same decision: buy the insurance you need.

It's like if you are going to rob a bank. You shouldn't ask your attorney if you should rob the bank. You should ask him what the legal consequences could be for robbing the bank!

And then I'd tell the prospect that he ought to pay his attorney for his legal advice and get it in writing on the lawyer's letterhead. That way, if the prospect relied on the lawyer's opinion and did not buy the insurance, and then died and his family needed the money, the family could sue the lawyer and, effectively, make the lawyer his insurance company.

The township trustees must be asking the town attorney, "How can we withhold this information from the township residents?" And then the attorney is telling the officials to deny FOIA requests. The denials and appeals now go to the Illinois Attorney General, and the count is running against the township (and the township attorney's advice). And the trustees are griping about the legal fees to stonewall residents.

Well, trustees, stop running to the attorney and stop trying to keep the information from the public. You ought to be getting the message by now that the public is entitled to the information that you are spending its money to obtain and on which you will make future decisions.

I can appreciate the delicate position in which the township attorney might find himself. If you ask him how you can refuse to release information and if he tells you that you can't, then you might decide you need a different attorney. I'm sure he likes working for you.

In the future, ask him how likely you are going to lose your case at the Attorney General Public Access Counselor level. I suspect he'll tell you, "Quite likely."

Taking school security too far?

On Friday afternoon I called Woodstock North High School to ask a general question regarding end-of-day procedures. I was calling on behalf of a parent who was late for a meeting in town and who wanted to know if her child could wait at school.

It was a simple question, not student-specific, and not involving confidentiality or security. Could I get the answer? Would I be writing this, if I had?

My general question was, can a student (any student) wait at school after dismissal for the parent to pick him or her up? Could the kid wait inside the school building until about 3:30PM, or did all students have to leave the building immediately and wait outside?

I fail to see how answering a general question like that could endanger a child or cause an administrator to worry about kidnapping or other unlawful or improper pick-up after school. Why would the administrator withhold the information? Perhaps, had I had more time to engage in lengthy dialogue so that the administrator would "get" the question (actually pause to listen to and comprehend the question), I would have gotten the answer. Perhaps I am too quick or sensitive to bureaucratic nonsense.

I was directed to the school website for school closing times. Well, I figured I wouldn't find the answer there, or at least I wouldn't find it before school closing time 2 1/2 hours later.

I can understand that, had I been asking about a specific student, then the school would probably go into lockdown mode, call out the SWAT team, barricade the doors, announce over the loudspeaker for all children to hit the floor, and circle the school buses. The administrator asked the name of the student about whom I was called (which wasn't necessary because I had said I was calling with a general question), and the administrator also asked if I had a student at the high school (which I don't).

What was the simple answer? "Yes, the student could wait inside the building until his mother arrived at 3:30PM." Could I get that answer? No.

Kind of makes me wonder how many students have been kidnapped at WNHS or from D-200 schools...

Beth Bentley - gone 18 weeks

Today marks the 18th week that Beth Bentley, 41, of Woodstock, has been missing. There seems to be nothing new but speculation.

A candlelight vigil was held on the Woodstock Square last week, and a second one, a DIY* vigil, is set for Monday night. Wherever you happen to be, you are invited to light a candle and think of Beth.

From a reader came this comment: "I recently read a comment on facebook - but didn't want to be part of the 'cat fight with woman' so I thought you would be perfect to ask this,

"SOOOOO if in fact she was pregnant and ' due any day' PLUS said to be heading for Las Vegas with a guy why wouldn't we be watching all the hospitals and adoption agencys in that area?"

The Woodstock Police Department continues to be so tight-lipped about this case that it is impossible to know to what extent they are still working on it. Is it a missing-person (only) case that is going cold? They certainly are giving no clue that it is anything else.

The second Beth Bentley Missing pages on Facebook are turning into the catfight that the above reader refers to. If half of that energy could be re-directed in finding Beth, the answer might be found by Friday.

* DIY = Do It Yourself

Hit by debit card fraud?

The Woodstock Police Department issued a press release dated September 17 about the debit card fraud sweeping the area. The release was posted on the PD's website, which guarantees that almost no one will see it.

It must have gone to the media, but I don't recall reading in the newspaper that the PD wanted victims to report to the PD.

You can read it here:

The press release contains a request that victims "contact the police department in which (sic) they reside" and not the police department where the financial institution is located. Obviously, it means that victims should contact the police department "in whose jurisdiction" they reside.

Rescind unenforced ordinances

If local ordinances are not going to be enforced, should they be rescinded?

The City of Woodstock has some ordinances on its books that are not being enforced, even when attention to violations is brought to the attention of City Hall.

Recently a benefit was held at the Woodstock Harley-Davidson dealership and included raffles and a 50/50. An inquiry to the City before the event went unanswered.

Now that same group is sponsoring a benefit, including raffles, at a Woodstock bowling alley. An inquiry to the City on September 23 has so far gone unanswered.

Maybe illegal raffles are somewhat like jaywalking. Not a big deal. Don't hurt anyone (unless the jaywalker gets hit by a car). Only happen once in a while. For a good purpose.

But maybe the City should rescind ordinances that it isn't going to enforce. "Discretion" doesn't exist regarding ordinance violations. The violation either occurs or it doesn't. If the City ignores violations, but then chooses to enforce them in certain circumstances, doesn't that leave the door wide open for discrimination or selective enforcement or, horrors!, profiling?

City staff read the newspapers and read their email. They know when an illegal raffle is being planned. And they should act without waiting around for a citizen to crank them up about it.

Stonewalling by MCSD

Recently I became interested in Crime Stoppers, due to the Beth Bentley case. How does Crime Stoppers really work? There are several Crime Stoppers groups, and my personal experience with the McHenry County tip line escalated my interest in learning more about its operations.

For example, in the Beth Bentley case there are rewards offered by two Crime Stoppers' groups, the Woodstock and the McHenry County groups. As I examined the reward offers more closely, I learned that the rewards are "up to" $1,000 from each group. What does "up to" mean?

I couldn't get answers from the press liaison at the sheriff's department, so on September 16 I emailed Undersheriff Andy Zinke, as follows:

"Will you please let me know the name and telephone number of the person in charge of the McHenry County Coalition of Crime Stoppers?

"And, is the Crime Stoppers tip line, (800) 762-STOP (-7867), answered by dispatchers of the McHenry County Sheriff's Dept.?"

Today is September 26. Perhaps he has been on vacation (no out-of-office response from his email system) or very busy with crimes not yet announced by the sheriff's department. Or maybe he doesn't know the answers. Or can't get the answers. Or perhaps there is another reason, such as "Keep the citizens in the dark" or "Don't answer any emails from Philpott."

As I look at it, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department is there to serve the public. So, why no response?

If they want to play hardball, the game has started. One of the early questions will be:

How is "Crime Stoppers of McHenry County" organized?
Is it registered as an assumed name with the County Clerk?
Is it legally registered with the State of Illinois?
Who are its officers?
What are its funding sources?
What are its expenses?

And what is the McHenry County Coalition of Crime Stoppers? Is it different? How is it different? Registered with an assumed name? Registered with the Illinois Secretary of State?

Who makes the decisions about how much reward is paid for a tip?

It is certainly too bad that information is not provided when requested. The question then gets bigger, such as why isn't the information being provided!

Is County Sheriff above the law?

In Illinois there are laws about placing signs in the public right-of-way. If anyone should obey the laws, should the county's top cop be first?

Check out this sign. It's squarely in the right-of-way on northbound Illinois Route 47 at Route 176 (east). Right on the northeast corner, where there used to be a kazillion signs every week-end but which, after persistent efforts by Green Party sheriff's candidate Gus Philpott (and a long time before he became the Green Party candidate) to get IDOT to get after sign violators and keep that corner clear.

Today there were only a few signs there; however, leading the pack was a huge sign of Keith Nygren.
Wouldn't you think he would direct his campaign workers to obey State laws? Wouldn't you think he would tell them to be scrupulous about obeying laws?

Or does the "cop mentality" rule? Is it "I enforce the laws but I don't have to obey them."
That's why I say that I am a citizen first, cop second! I believe the cops ought to be the first to obey the laws, not the last.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Political Shenanigans

A friend called me about a defaced campaign sign near Huntley and, sure enough, look what happened.

Now, let's see. Who would do such a thing? They must be really worried. And well they should be.

There are only three candidates in the race for sheriff of McHenry County. I think it's safe to rule out my supporters; they would not have defaced one of my signs. So that leaves the other two.

In the weeds near my sign laid one of Mike Mahon's campaign signs. It had been torn from the metal stand and thrown in the weeds. I think it's safe to say that Mike didn't trash him own sign, and I'm sure that his supporters didn't trash mine. In fact, I called Mike to let know of the vandalism to his sign.
That leaves the supporters of only one candidate. Now, I'm pretty sure that Keith didn't drive that white Tahoe, which was his ride to the Northwest Herald interview last Monday, to Huntley and risk getting caught trashing either of these signs. I wish I could say the same for his supporters - those who are desperate to keep him in office and keep the gravy train flowing at the sheriff's department.
If you see anyone tampering with any political signs, report them to the nearest law enforcement agency. Get a plate number and description of the vehicle, as well as the people nearby.
Now, if you see Keith's signs being tampered with, do not call him at his office. We'd all hate for the County Board to spend $100,000 to hire Mr. Tonigan to investigate Keith for political activity on County time. Tonigan might start with Keith's time at the Northwest Herald last Monday at 11:00AM and have to dig for a time slip that indicated that Keith took personal time for that interview.
Did Keith reimburse the County for vehicle expense to drive there and back? There are those who think that white Tahoe (of Jewel-Osco parking lot fame, too) is County-owned and County-maintained, even though it is apparently registered in a dummy name to avoid a direct law-enforcement connection.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lindsay Lohan in custody

The USA needs more no-nonsense judges like Judge Elden Fox, who threw Lindsay Lohan in the slammer today for failing two drug tests. According to news reports, he didn't even waste time listening to arguments by her attorneys.

She failed her drug tests. She knew the consequences. The judge locked her up. She's paying the price.

If she sits in jail for 30 days, think she'll fail her next drug tests?

She might, if she doesn't get some real help.

What if we had judges like that around here? What if they said what they meant and they meant what they said.

And the same with parents. And with teachers.
There was a jury trial that was supposed to start in McHenry County a couple of weeks ago. The kid lied to the judge and said he had to go to work. Only he didn't go to work; he wasn't working that day. He got away with it (that day), because the judge believed what the kid told him. Judges expect defendants (and everyone) to tell the truth. I suspect the judge won't be too happy with the kid, when the trial starts this next week.

Cool World Clock

Check out this really cool world clock.

I can see all the test questions popping up next week throughout McHenry County Schools. Look out, kids...

County Clerk responds to Philpott's objection

Early this week I contacted the McHenry County Clerk to raise the possibility that Keith Nygren was ineligible to run for re-election, because his wife and he receive a homestead exemption on their Cape Coral, Fla. home, making Florida his legal residence.

County Clerk Katherine Schultz wrote me on September 22 that she does not possess the unilateral power to remove a name from a ballot for any reason. She added that I had five business days after the last day for filing to raise the question.

That's all fine and good, except for this fact. The issue of the Nygren homestead exemption did not come to light until earlier this year, in 2010, far after the end of the filing period.

Does this mean that a candidate can run for office, even if he is not eligible, and keep his fingers crossed that no one will find out that he does not meet basic eligibility criteria until after the five days have passed?

Surely, this cannot be the case! But, wait, this is, after all, Illinois...

What if it turned out that Keith Nygren was not yet legally 18 years of age? Well, OK, that one is out.

What if it turned out that Keith Nygren was a felon? If information surfaced now that Nygren was a felon and therefore ineligible to run for the office of Sheriff, would he stay on the ballot, since more than five days have passed? What would the public say then? (OK, so we don't know of any felony conviction.)

So that leaves residency. If Nygren is a de facto resident of Florida, by virtue of his claim and his enjoyment of reduced property taxes on his homestead, isn't he ineligible to run for re-election?

And shouldn't the State of Illinois be the interested party here, rather than one of the other candidates?

Oh, and mentioning felonies? What level of crime is it, when you claim a property tax exemption to which you are not entitled? When you cheat a township/County out of its lawful property tax, is that tax fraud? Is tax fraud a felony?

When Nygren's illegal homestead exemption on the Hebron property was discovered, shouldn't there have been an investigation and charges? Who would investigate and charge a property owner who defrauded a township and a county of taxes? Would that be the Sheriff's Department of the County?

But look at what happened. A new land speed record was established in the Assessor's Office with Donna Mayberry's own letter to the Florida Assessor saying, basically, that Nygren made a mistake and didn't remove his puny Illinois homestead exemption, so that he could collect the significantly larger Florida homestead exemption.

All this happened more than five days after the end of the filing period. It's the State's responsibility to step in and remove him from the ballot, now that the matter has been called to their attention.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Amusing article about McHenry Walmart

I read with amusement the article earlier this week about Walmart's move from McHenry to Johnsburg.

Walmart will walk away from its large McHenry building in favor of its even larger, new Supercenter (182,000 sq. ft.) in Johnsburg. Johnsburg Trustee John Heumann wasn't quite right when he said it is really hard to turn down the largest retailer in the world. First, you have to want to turn them down. That probably didn't happen in Johnsburg.

Other towns (and residents) have said "No" to Walmart. It's hard to do, and it's expensive. You first have the legal fees to fight them off, and then you have to deal with the lost sales tax, because they'll end up nearby, anyway, and the losing City Fathers will then stew about all the dollars getting sucked up by a nearby town.

The City of McHenry needs to figure out how to get Walmart to communicate with it. It might need to put someone on a plane for Arkansas. Or you get somebody important to pave the way. Is there anybody important (enough) in McHenry? Probably not.

Huemann's "Walmart came to us" comment leaves a lot to be desired. Walmart calls the shots. You either go along or get left in the dust.

Was there anything McHenry could have done to keep Walmart (and its sales tax dollars) in McHenry? Years ago it might have told Walmart, "When you go, take the building with you." That is, you are going to knock it down, put in grass, and not leave us stuck with an empty building that is going to fall down." It's much too late for that now.

Johnsburg rolled the dice and came up with a winner. It won't be all roses; crime is likely to increase; traffic will increase; law enforcement expenses will increase. But there will a lot of income to the Village to pay for it.

Dorr Township trustees complain about fees

I missed the September Dorr Township monthly meeting, but I have heard that the trustees were griping about the $5,300 spent in legal fees to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests from residents.

Hello? Hey, trustees, here's how to lower your legal fees. Listen up.

When a FOIA Request is received in the office, respond to it. Answer it. Provide the information.

Stop running to the township attorney with every little question. Stop asking the attorney to respond to the request for you. Stop asking the township attorney for an opinion about responding. Stop asking the township attorney to write a letter denying the request, which then prompts an appeal and causes you to spend more money.

Have you figured it out yet? The township attorney doesn't work for free. He charges you for legal work. You pay him for legal work. Instead of asking him how you can stonewall the voters, do your jobs and provide the information to which the public is invited.

How much did it cost you to avoid telling me that Quinn Keefe's former employer for six years was the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce? Now that was a really stupid thing to do - to deny that part of the information in answering my FOIA request. You (the office) sent me a copy of Quinn's resume with the Chamber of Commerce name redacted. Did you think I wouldn't question it and force you to answer?

Do you think there was anyone in Woodstock who didn't know where Quinn had worked?

And why would you withhold the name of whoever or whatever awarded Quinn the 2009 Citizen of the Year Award? Was there some secret you were trying to keep? I had begun to wonder whether it was the Quinn Family Reunion that had given him the Award. Instead, you later informed another resident that it was the Woodstock Moose Lodge.

How much did that little excursion toward secrecy cost you?

Who is costing the township these excessive legal fees? You, the men elected to run the township, are. Not the public.

See you in October, fellows.

Mix It Up - in Woodstock? You're kidding

Every year a national program called Mix It Up is sponsored in many schools across the country. The purpose is to break down stereotypes, cliques, gangs, and to provide understanding, acceptance and tolerance of each person.

Years ago I recommended this program to District 200 and they tested it in one elementary school. And that was the end of it. I guess that one school must have failed the test (although there is no way to "fail".)

Want to know more about it? Go to

Want District 200 to implement this program? Contact Supt. Ellyn Wrzeski and the principal at your child's school. Ask them to create the program right here in Woodstock and to keep it going from year to year. It is virtually free to organize and operate and can pay huge benefits.

Interested in making a difference in our school district? Run for the school board! Get by the district office and pick up the forms. Attend school board meetings.

More parents of current students are needed on the board. In the upcoming election no new board members will be elected from Dorr Township. The three now on the board are not elected this time. Should Dorr Township voters get a chance more often to choose their school board representatives? Find out what it would take to get the Dorr Township terms staggered more than they are. This is your chance to influence low elections. Get involved!

Cop deserves tickets!!!

This morning's paper carries a story about one of Island Lake P.D.'s finest who chased a speeder, according to the reporter's story, "past Prairie Grove Elementary School, likely at speeds between 80 and 90 mph". That would have been about 8:05AM on a school day.

The chase continued to Route 31, north into McHenry, through the jog of Route 31 at Route 120, and into the Meijer's parking lot. Then out of the lot and west on McCullom Lake Road, past Harrison Elementary School and into Wonder Lake, where the offender was finally stopped.

Island Lake Police officer David Walz said his "lights and siren were on the whole way." How nice. Was his brain working?

"My average speed was probably 80 mph." Not likely.

And about near-misses and close calls with accidents? "We came close several times, but fortunately we didn't have any collisions with anybody."

I'll tell you - Chief William McCorkle ought to have some heavy explaining to do to the Island Lake Mayor and the Village Trustees. His back ought to hurt after standing at attention for hours in front of Mayor Herrmann.

And Walz ought to be facing disciplinary AND traffic charges. There are times when you abandon pursuit, and that was one of them!

Where were the D200 parents??? !!!

Last night there was a program for parents of District 200 students at the new Woodstock North High School. The title was "Creating Connections That Count." Who was it for? "Parents, coaches, club advisors, or any group of adults that (sic) are involved with youth."

The featured speaker, Ty Sells, had spoken earlier in the day to students at Woodstock North and also at Woodstock High School. At WNHS he addressed only junior and senior students. (What a shame that freshmen and sophomores weren't exposed to him!!!)

So, how many showed up last night? About 20. That's 2-0. Twenty, including D-200 staff (at least 4), students who came back in the evening for extra credit (8?) and a handful of parents, including Northwest Herald reporter Lee Ann Gill, who wrote a nice article that was published in this morning's paper.

I'm not going to tell you what you missed, but you missed a great speaker, whose free-flow presentation moved quickly and involved the entire audience. What did you miss? You missed what you didn't hear last night!

District 200 obviously has not figured out the piece to market to parents. It's not for lack of trying, but the staff are not marketing people who understand how to attract parents' attention and get their off their backsides and into the high school auditorium at 7:00PM on a Wednesday. Sure, they work all day. Sure, they are tired. So what? Had they shown up last night, they would have left energized!

I recommended to D200 that they investigate why the parents didn't show up. Even the parents of the students who came back in the evening didn't show up. The students were to get extra credit, if they brought their parents. Even without their parents, they came back. These students are the future leaders!
D200 should email all the parents and ask why they didn't show up. And email all the students and ask them why their parents didn't show up.

Ty is associated with Youth to Youth International ( If/when he comes back to northern Illinois, be sure to hear him and meet him!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Remember those 60 D/L tickets?

Remember those 60 tickets that now-former McCullom Lake Police officer Jim O'Doherty was issued by Kelly Given, now former chief of the McCullom Lake Police Department? The 60 tickets that were dropped by Village officials, when the matter got to court?

Yep, those 60 tickets.

Watch for breaking news that might involve Kelly Given.

First of all, there ought to be a serious questions in everyone's mind about why one officer of a department would issue SIXTY tickets to another officer - 60 tickets for the same violation on 60 days...

Like, maybe there was something wrong with the basis for the charges? Something really wrong?

Information may be coming down the pike shortly about the status of Kelly Given with the McCullom Lake P.D. She was formerly with the Marengo P.D. and was hired as chief of the McCullom Lake P.D., but she was removed from that position earlier this year.

You can probably guess what's coming, as soon as the P.D. opens in the morning and news is given out officially.

Madison Police intrude on gun-toting diners

Five diners at Culver's in Madison were challenged by Madison police last Saturday, while they were seated trying to enjoy a meal. They were "packing" sidearms, as allowed under Wisconsin state law. Law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry unconcealed weapons; they must be visible and not covered by an article of clothing.

An observant woman (in this case, a worry-wart) had called the police, and they (the police) began gathering outside the restaurant. Maybe someone should explain to her that armed robbers usually don't sit down in a restaurant and enjoy a meal before robbing the joint.

According to one news article, "These individuals were not given any choice; they were simply told they have to provide their ID or they'll be cited for refusal to do it -- for obstruction."

The trouble started when two of the five refused to provide identification, explaining that they were not causing any problem and shouldn't need to identify themselves. I'd have done the same thing!

"If you're a law-abiding citizen, certainly the law in this state is that you can have open carry," said DeSpain. "It's your Second Amendment right and we respect that. But we still need to find out what people are doing when they walk around with guns on their hips because people do get concerned."

Joel DeSpain is a spokesman for the Madison (Wisc.) Police Department.

My position? It is Wisconsin state law that you can carry unconcealed. The cops could have stopped to talk to them, learned that the bearers were familiar with the law, and left them alone. They had no reason to suspect any crime was about to be committed, just because some worry-wart called them.

I shall be contacting Culver's headquarters tomorrow. It's one of my favorite places to eat, both locally and when I travel. However, if they change their policy and deny law-abiding Wisconsin resident to right to follow state law in their restaurants, I'll be choosing some other place to eat.

The police in Madison need to understand the state law!

Got drugs?

Want to part with unused, expired and/or unwanted medications that are cluttering up your medicine cabinet and closets?

Woodstock School District 200 sent me the following announcement:

"Woodstock Police Department is joining other local police departments in a prescription medication take back program this Saturday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Abuse of prescription medications is one of the quickest growing concerns for the youth in our community, and they report that one way of receiving the medications is from family and friends medicine cabinets. Many people dispose of their unused medications by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the garbage, both of these ways expose our soil and ground water to contamination. The medications turned in on Saturday will be disposed of by qualified companies with the help of the DEA. This is a great chance to reduce the number of unused medicines accruing in your own cabinet in an environmentally sound way!

"Some items can not be collected, see the attached flyer for more information."

(Items that will not be collected are liquids, IV bags/solutions, injectables, needles, lancets and sharps.)

The Woodstock Police station is located at 656 Lake Avenue, Woodstock. Other agencies participating at Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Huntley, Johnsburg, Lakewood and Spring Grove Police Departments. The McHenry County Sheriff's Department was not mentioned.

Questions? Contact Kristy Hecke at or 815.334.4585

Governor orders flags lowered for P.E. death

The governor of Illinois has ordered U.S. and Illinois flags lowered through Friday in memory of Hindale (Ill.) Fire Department Deputy Chief Mark Johnson, 55. Johnson apparently died suddenly while exercising alone in the fire station's work-out room.

With all due respect to Deputy Chief Johnson and his family, this is NOT a line-of-duty death. It is being declared so, which will result most likely with an honors funeral and monetary settlements associated with other line-of-duty deaths.

There is something seriously wrong in this country with the rush to claim "line-of-duty" deaths for firefighters, police officers and others. Working out on exercise equipment in the fire station should not be considered "line-of-duty" death. Yes, he was "on duty"; no, he wasn't fighting a fire.

I understand that my stand will incite the ire of local firefighters. So be it. The public must take a stand against these policies.

In Woodstock we have the Woodstock Fire & Rescue District. Does the public know the definition of "line of duty" for deaths or injuries of firefighters? Or the same for police officers or deputies? Or paramedics? Or public officials? This should all be spelled out in advance, so there is no argument during times of high emotions.

If a police officer is driving a police car on duty, unless he is involved in an active police matter, his death should not be "line of duty" death, which carries with it substantial death benefits. If it is "just" a traffic crash because he or the other driver caused it, then it shouldn't qualify for the high death benefit payments.

He is just like any other employee of a business who operates a "company" vehicle in the course of his employment.

Never argue with someone lacking common sense

A person posting under "cmncents1" on the Northwest Herald website wrote the following comment to an article about the candidates' interview held on Monday by the newspaper's editorial board. He (she? it?) was responding to my comment that I am a citizen first, cop second.

"Phillpot (sic), you ARE a citizen first AND second... Because you are not and never were a cop."

You never want to argue with a person who refused to believe facts or is drunk or is having a mental breakdown or who is holding a gun on you.

He is right that I am not a cop. Today I am not a cop. No argument about that. It's a fact. Of course, I have never said that I am a cop today.

Where he is wrong is in his assertion that I never was a cop. As I have stated elsewhere and said in Monday's interview, I was a police officer ("cop") when I was in college.

During my senior year at in college in Iowa, I lived off-campus in an apartment on 1st Street West, at a corner where there was a school walk-light. As I ate breakfast in the mornings, I would watch the kids try to cross after activating the walk signal. Drivers heading for Cedar Rapids would drop off the hill from the downtown area, and the red light seemed to be their signal to accelerate (and not stop).

After pestering the town council for enforcement there (we had a night cop and a day cop, and the violations occurred when no officer was on duty), one night at a town meeting the Mayor (who was also the police chief, judge and head of the education department at the college) opened a drawer, pulled out a badge and tossed it at me. "If you think you can do something about it, go and do it!"

And so I did. Looking back, that poor little town got a whole lot more law enforcement than it deserved. I drove over to Gil Hebard Guns (Knoxville, Ill. (although I remember it as being in Galesburg) and bought a .38 Smith & Wesson, holster, belt, cuffs. Today I don't remember where I came up with a uniform. Later an Iowa State Patrolman and I bought M-1 rifles (I think they were) at the Rock Island Arsenal.

One winter night the county dispatcher called me at home and told me the night officer was in the town's one patrol car and stopped on the road in front of the college. Students were pelting his car with snowballs and had petrified him. I went to the hill overlooking the road, walked through the back door of the dorm and out the front door, where I found about 15 students who were packing snowballs.

Many recognized me and stopped what they were doing. I walked up to one kid who was icing up one snowball and tapped him on the shoulder. "I don't think I'd throw that one, if I were you." He said something impolite and tossed it, striking the windshield of the police car. The next thing he knew, he was face down in the snow and I had the cuffs on him. It turned out he wasn't even a student at the college; he was visiting from the state university 20 miles south.

So, to explain to "cmncents1", yes, I was a cop. I enjoyed it. When I left at the end of my senior year, I suspect that little town was glad to see me go. Some of the students still call me "007".

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Money talks, wealth walks

If you think that's not true, just read today's news about Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan.

Hilton allegedly got caught in Las Vegas with cocaine, and she had already pled guilty to reduced charges. Why do judges fall for such nonsense? (I'd call it something else, but I'm trying to be polite here.)

And Lohan? Early release from both jail and rehab, and the problem is back. Of course, it's back! A 3rd Grader could have told you she would continue using.

So a judge issues a warrant and then waits for her to show up in court. Well, it saves the time and money (and publicity) of a deputy's running out to serve the warrant and haul her in in handcuffs (again). Think she'll show?

Do all people get such "royal" treatment or only the well-known (and monied)?

A double standard? Only in California and Nevada? What about right here in little, ol' McHenry County???

Southern Illinois vigil for Beth Bentley

Beth Bentley, 41, has now been missing for 17 weeks. More than 17 weeks! And still no word from Woodstock Police Department, the lead investigating law enforcement agency, beyond two early press releases, the last of which was June 9.

Two active Facebook pages continue to draw comments.

In addition to concerned friends, strangers from afar who had never heard of Beth continue to follow this mystery.

A candlelight vigil will be held in Woodstock this Thursday, Sept. 23, at 8PM on the Woodstock Square.

And on the same Thursday at 8PM, residents in Mount Vernon, Ill. will gather at Veterans Park for a candlelight vigil. Beth is believed to have disappeared from Mount Vernon on May 23.

Some believe that she made a voluntary choice to vanish. Many believe foul play is involved.

Scott Bentley was a guest on the Nancy Grace show yesterday. Perhaps someone will summarize that appearance.