Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kirk Martin in Elmhurst this Saturday

"Secrets to A Stress-Free Home & School Workshop for Parents & Teachers"

Do you know a parent or teacher of a special education or regular education student who could benefit from this program, which will be presented this Saturday, March 6, in Elmhurst?

I've met Kirk Martin and his 16-year-old son, Casey, and any parent or teacher will find it well worth the drive to Elmhurst for this program. And maybe we can come together in the future to invite Kirk and Casey to Woodstock or, at least, to McHenry County.

Saturday, March 6, 2010
Time: 10:30AM-12:30PM
Location: Sandburg Middle School, 345 E. St. Charles Rd., Elmhurst, IL 60126
Cost: FREE

Saturday's problem will help you to

 Create a calm home—eliminate yelling and arguing.

 Improve focus, attention and behavior in school.

 Create stress-free mornings and homework time.

 Relieve anxiety, sensory and sibling issues.

 Eliminate defiance and disrespect.

Join Kirk and Casey for a humorous, practical workshop. Nationally-recognized expert Kirk Martin has trained over 75,000 parents and teachers. You'll find help in reducing anxiety and stress in all families, including those with special needs.

The Workshop is FREE. There is no need to register. Just bring friends and neighbors—you’ll have a great time, have several “Ah-hah” moments and leave with a dozen practical tools that will help immediately. Please plan to arrive early.

Visit to learn more. Gather up some friends and carpool to Elmhurst. Allow some time to hang out after 12:30PM. Don't rush off.

Please forward this to 4-5 parents, using the small white "envelope" below this article. Thanks!

Cell phones pop corn. Oh, really?

Watch this. Try it. I dare you.éléphone-portable-micro-o_news

If it works, will you give up your cell phone or take them away from your kids?

Residents endangered by no snow law

Are some Woodstock residents endangered by the lack of a law in Woodstock to require residents and merchants to shovel snow from their sidewalks? Or to prohibit snowplow operators from doing this? --->>>>

Will the City come down on snowplow operators who pile up snow and block sidewalks?

Just after noon today this resident was making his way to 3 Brothers Restaurant. He operated his motorized wheelchair from Walden Oaks up Kimball to Lake Avenue and then southeastward toward the restaurant.

This photo was taken from the parking lot in front of Napoli's Pizza and Bob's Woodstock Motel. You can clearly see the sidewalk disappearing under the snow pile.

Is it going to take a serious-injury or fatal accident to get the attention of the City Fathers regarding blocked sidewalks?

Angel Food

No, not cake; food...

An article in this morning's Northwest Herald attracted my attention to Angel Food Ministries. It's a Market Day®-type operation, but a little different twist.

I'm going to place an order this month and pick it up in Crystal Lake. Check it out at

Has anyone already used it?

Is there a church or another site in Woodstock, Illinois considering this service?

Daley asks stupid question

Well, maybe not "stupid"; maybe just irrelevant. But, because he is mayor, he can run off at the mouth and get a lot of press for his hot air.

At a news conference in Washington, where the U.S. Supreme Court case of McDonald v. Chicago will begin on Tuesday, Mayor Richard Mayor reportedly asked this question. "Does anyone really believe that the founders of our nation envisioned that guns and illegal weapons would flood our streets and be used to kill our children and average citizens?"

That's the wrong question, Mayor Daley!

Chicago appears to be poised to lose its control over handguns in the City. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on March 2, and a few months later it will issue its decision. Law-abiding citizens are hoping that retiree Otis McDonald wins his case and regains the right to own a handgun in Chicago for self-defense.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Marathon station wants electronic sign

The Marathon station on Highway 47 south of U.S. 14 has a request before the City Council for a new electronic, changeable-message sign.

The request has gone through the Project Review Commission. In response to a question about how often they would change the message, the station's representative answered that they might change messages mornings and early evenings. They were apprised of the City Code requirement that signs not be changed more than every four hours. They agreed, of course.

Now what difference does that really make? How did such a requirement ever make it into the City Code?

The Unified Development Code (UDO) requires that not more than 40% of the sign be a translucent message area. The sign applied for will have a 52.28% area, but the applicant explained that away as "This is only slightly above the 40% requirement."

They must have gone to a different math class than I did. It seems to me that 30.7% above the requirement is more than "slightly above." But, so what? It's a standard Marathon sign. The station is in a commercial area with no residential housing nearby.

The Council is bending so many other rules right now that they will quite likely let this pass, too. Codes are made to be broken, aren't they?

Parking on Russel Court soon

The Woodstock City Council is set to allow parking on the north side of Russel Court, between Highway 47 and the entrance to the courthouse parking lot. It's about time.

If I recall correctly, parking used to be permitted there. Then it was prohibited. Now it'll be back, if the Council approves a proposed change in the parking ordinance on Tuesday night.

Will it be unrestricted, day-long parking, or will the Council set a one-hour or two-hour limit on parking? (If that's the case, then it's a revenue-generating move, because late arrivals at the courthouse are going to be in there for a while.)

There have been a few days when the courthouse parking lot has been full, and snowplowing in the lot has eliminated many parking spaces after particularly heavy snowfalls. A few spaces on Russel Court will be helpful, but they won't accommodate the entire shortage of parking spaces, when the plows cover so many spaces.

Permitting this parking is a good decision.

Bus stop zone at St. Mary's

For the past couple of years, after attending a funeral at St. Mary's, I have wondered about the Bus Stop zones on Throop and Lincoln Streets by the church. Two emails to Public Works went unanswered, and I was never able to learn, officially, whether they were legal bus stop zones.

Now I know the answer. They aren't.

There is a Loading Zone there, but on Tuesday night the City Council will consider an Ordinance to remove the Loading Zone and formally change it to a bus stop.

But it looks like it might be an all-day "bus stop", not just a bus stop during morning and afternoon school hours. If this is the decision that the City Council makes, what consideration is the Council giving to the residents who live in the houses on the east side of Throop, across from the church? Where will visitors park? I'm not sure from this side of my keyboard right now, but I believe parking is prohibited on the east side on Throop. At least, you never see any cars parked there by church-goers on Sunday mornings.

It would be reasonable to restrict parking between 7:30-8:30AM and 2:30-3:30PM on school days, if those are arrival and release hours. Why not permit parking there during the middle of the day?

Harding renovation draws Michigan letter

Former Woodstock resident Esther Hall Gordon wrote from Michigan about the City Council's agenda item for March 2 to re-vote on the window on the renovated building at 223 South Tryon Street. She also weighed in on the City Council's failure to retrieve the Grace Hall landmark nomination from under the table and make a decision about it. Esther, thanks for writing!

"Last Friday morning, after glancing through all of my usual media contacts, I noted the upcoming agenda of the 03.02.10 Woodstock City Council meeting, as posted on the city's web site. I recalled having read the Harding story, as posted on The Woodstock Independent's web site just a couple of days prior, and which highlighted the concerns of Woodstock's City Council and the Historical Preservation Commission relative to a replacement window installed in a private home located in the historical district of Woodstock, but which, apparently did not meet the city's code for a home built during this particular time period

"In today's Woodstock Advocate, the picture of the window replacement in question does reveal a rather noticeable disparity between the width of the transom and that of the double window replacement installed below it by the home's two owners. If my understanding of Woodstock City Council and its Historical Preservation Commission's recommendation to Mr. Harding is correct, i.e., that he remove the double-pane window and replace it with a single pane window, while keeping its width as close as possible to, or exactly the same width as the transom, I wholeheartedly support the HPC and the city council's decision.

"Oddly enough, however, Woodstock's City Council has decided not to "stick to their guns," and has decided to cast a re-vote during this Tuesday's regularly scheduled city council meeting, when all of its members are present. Given the absence of two members during the initial vote on this issue by the city council, and now that a re-vote has been decided upon, I will closely follow the outcome to see whether the presence of the two absent council members and their vote produces a result in Mr. Harding's favor. The city's decision to conduct a second vote following an appeal from Mr. Harding, who currently owns the home and personally completed the window replacement project, along with the assistance of another contractor, is a fairly novel way of conducting municipal business.

"Given the "shoddy" manner in which Woodstock's City Council arrived at a "majority" vote, and, thereby, totally negated untold hours of work carried out by Woodstock's own Historical Preservation Commission, which nominated Grace Hall, aka Harrison House, as an historical preservation site, and demonstrated that it more than adequately satisfies all state and local requirements for same, and, thus, certainly a project deemed worthy of continued efforts on behalf of the HPC and the City of Woodstock relative to exploration of adaptable re-use of this historical building, which, unfortunately, is currently owned by the Woodstock Christian Life Services enterprise, I'll also be watching to see whether the City Council will soon re-open the "flood gates" with regard to further action on the nomination of Grace Hall, aka Harrison House, for historical preservation AND adaptable re-use.

"In an effort to learn when the City Council intends to "un-table" that "stalled in the water" tactic employed earlier in 2009 as "a smoke and mirrors game" in order to circumvent the HPC's nomination for historical preservation, in good faith, I contacted the Woodstock City Manager's Office back in mid November of 2009 prior to the holiday season. At that time, it was conveyed to me in no uncertain terms, and I paraphrase loosely, that "Grace Hall is a dead issue." When did it die? Who killed it? Or, after being “tabled,” last year, did it just get swept under the table?

"With regard to the Harding case, again, one can only begin to wonder how the decision to re-visit and re-vote on it came about, and by whom. If the city council is flexible enough to take another look at a single, double-pane window, it seems reasonable to expect that they have enough flexibility to initiate a “super-majority” re-vote in the matter of Grace Hall, aka Harrison House, after it is “un-tabled” by Woodstock’s City Council, and a frank discussion is held relative to how the current CEO of Woodstock Christian Life Services, Mr. Terrence Egan, and the current board of financiers of “Woodstock’s oldest human services organization” - and soon to become its largest “faith-based commercial enterprise” – have failed to meet ALL criterion, as previously set forth by Woodstock’s City Council. As I recall, that one un-met criterion happens to be Criterion D, i.e., that any and all viable adaptable re-use proposals will be “fully explored,” which I envision as a fairly exhaustive process, and not the “quick and dirty” method which has been employed up to now by WCLS, so they can demolish the building and be done with it.

"Given Grace Hall’s, aka Harrison Houses’ state and nationwide notoriety in connection with The Todd School for Boy, not to mention its association with the late great playwright and actor, Orson Welles, in my opinion, Grace Hall, aka Harrison House, sits at the top of a list of probably only five other nationally recognized historic landmarks in Woodstock.

"The manner by which Woodstock's City Council arrives at decisions, or decides to eliminate any further discussion of a proposal by placing the issue on the proverbial table, but - as with the Harding case - arbitrarily revisits it, is - to say the least - intriguing. I'll be watching to see the outcome of the council's second vote, as a result of Mr. Harding's appeal. In light of the inaction of the WCC and the HPC relative to Grace Hall, and their purported decision to "cave in" to a "faith-based commercial enterprise," I'd be flabbergasted if the re-vote by the city council members did not weigh in on the side of Mr. Harding. I'm hopeful it does!”

Cna yuo raed tihs?

Only great minds can read this. This is weird, but interesting!

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Emergency light filched from restroom

As if getting caught in a tobacco sting last week wasn't enough, the Shell station at 315 North Madison Street got stung again, when a thief removed the emergency lighting fixture from the men's restroom and made off with it.
Now, it's not just a simple matter of unplugging it. It was hard-wired in.
OK, how about a description of the thief?
Male. The fixture was taken from the Men's restroom. Or maybe by a woman dressed like a man?
Tall. He was able to reach the fixture and disconnect it without getting fried in the process. No one was observed entering the restroom with a stool or ladder.
Knowledge of electricity. An electrician looking to save $300 for a job the next day?
But he stole only the fixture and not the mounting plate.
Would a sharp investigator be on the look-out for someone ordering a mounting place from a local electric supply company?
If you just happen to notice a new emergency light fixture (the type that lights up automatically, when the power goes out) where there wasn't one before, notify the Woodstock (Ill.) Department.
Have you ever wondered just how much stolen property is reported to the Woodstock Police Department in a month?
Jan. 2010 $10,054
Dec. 2009 $5,450
Nov. 2009 $17,746
Oct. 2009 $17,187
Sept. 2009 $40,306
Aug. 2009 $19,289
July 2009 $54,308
June 2009 $13,178
May 2009 $8,602
Apr. 2009 $9,611
Mar. 2009 $7,585
Feb. 2009 $152,019
Jan. 2009 $65,021
Any questions?

Videotape or broadcast Wdk. City Council meetings

The value of video- and audio-taped public meetings and of broadcasting them for residents' viewing was clearly demonstrated by last week's meeting of the trustees of the Village of Island Lake.

What would it be like if Woodstock City Council meetings were videotaped and made available to residents, either by Comcast public access channel or by videotaping and streaming (as is done in Island Lake)?

Not only could residents get a good idea of what is going on at City Hall (without leaving the comfort of their dens or living rooms), but the public record would be preserved for later viewing. Sometimes, days, weeks or months later a resident (or even another member of the Council) might wonder who said what, exactly, and the tone and manner in which it was said.

A couple of years ago I suggested such taping to the Woodstock City Council and began to checking into Comcast public-service broadcasts. Comcast wouldn't talk to me. Comcast will talk to City Hall. Will City Hall talk to Comcast?

There might not even be any cost to Woodstock for this service. Maybe it's part of the deal that the City and Comcast make, so that Comcast has the lock on cable in Woodstock.

Should Woodstock City Council meetings be videotaped and available for viewing, either on Comcast public-service TV or internet streaming? Please vote in this week's survey.

Island Lake may suspend S. Hyde

Island Lake trustees held a lengthy discussion Thursday night after returning to open session. From an audiotape of the final open session, residents can learn that Trustee John Ponio made a very clear statement to the Board that it/they need to address the issue of Sharon Hyde’s continued employment as the head of the Creative Playtime school operated by the Village.

The issue apparently did not get discussed in the executive session that was presumably called to discuss the suspensions of Acting Police Chief Anthony Sciarrone and Officer Fred Manetti.

From the audiotape it sounded like an effort had been made to include Hyde’s employment in the executive session.

Trustee Ponio said he wanted to make a motion to consider unpaid administrative leave for Sharon Hyde, who is under grand jury indictment on felony charges.

Considerable discussion took place, including advice from an attorney from Ancel Glink (where was Scott Puma again?), and it finally came back around to Trustee Ponio’s original statement that he wanted the Board to consider action regarding Sharon Hyde.

He made an eloquent and on-target statement to the Board that they should address that issue. He said the residents are owed an explanation and action. There’s the man who should have been elected Mayor of Island Lake. He understands that his election to the Board means he is responsible to the People of Island Lake!

How often do you hear that at any meetings of any town, village or city?

At about 14 minutes into the tape, Attorney Anderson was explaining that, at the next meeting, they could have an agenda item to go into executive session and then discuss the (Hyde) personnel issue. And, when they came out of executive session, they could say what action was taken.

WHOA! A Board cannot take action in executive session. It MUST leave the executive session, return to open session, and then take whatever action in public, open session! He said, “That action could be taken and reported, coming out.” No, NO. Absolutely not!

Then one of the trustees stated that the Board cannot vote in executive session. At that point at least three people were talking at the same time.

Both earlier in the evening and in the post-executive session Village Board members engaged in free-wheeling discussion, often talking over one another and disagreeing with others. Two of the Trustees, O’Malley and Mascillino, mostly stayed out of the fray.

If you’d like to listen to the audio, go to, then look for February 25th, Audio, and click on “II”.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Slow mail - anyone else?

I'm always glad to get a check in the mail, even when it has to be forwarded. At the end of November I closed my P.O. Box after deciding that it had to be the highest-priced, rental real estate in Woodstock. I was told there would be an initial delay in receiving forwarded mail, but after that delivery should be prompt.

I mean, the P.O. ought to pay me for having a box! The mail carrier is always inside; only has to walk about ten feet; no slip-and-fall on the ice; no vehicle to wear out; no gas, tires, oil changes, wrecks; no towing. Plus I have to gas up the buggy to go to the Post Office to pick up my mail!

Today I received a check (a small one, so don't everyone rush to my doorstep) that was printed on December 14 and mailed on December 17 - all the way from Crystal Lake. It was mailed to my P.O. Box in Woodstock, where it should have been received on December 18 and then sent to the forwarding section in Palatine, where they would put a forwarding label on it and send it out for delivery.

The date on the forwarding label? February 25! Not bad. Two months!

Also delivered today was a piece of mail postmarked February 24 and mailed in Woodstock. The forwarding label for that one was dated February 24 - the same day.

Has anyone else noticed a problem with forwarded mail?

Grand Jury indicts Casciaro in Carrick murder

February 27, 2010

State’s Attorney’s Office Files Charges in Eight Year Old Carrick Cold Case

For Immediate Release:

Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, reports that on February 25, 2010, the Grand Jury returned a six-count Bill of Indictment against Defendant Mario Casciaro, charging him with First Degree Murder (five counts) and Concealment of a Homicidal Death. The Indictment alleges that on or about December 20, 2002, Mario Casciaro, or one whose conduct he is legally accountable for, while committing the forcible felony offenses of Intimidation, Unlawful Restraint, and Mob Action, struck Brian Carrick in the head and thereby caused his death. The Indictment further alleges that Mario Casciaro concealed the death of Brian Carrick with knowledge that Carrick died by homicidal means. The offense of First Degree Murder carries a fixed term sentencing range of 20-60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections with no day for day / good time credit to apply. The offense of Concealment of a Homicidal Death is a Class 3 Felony which carries a sentencing range of 2-5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. By statute, the penalty for this offense must be imposed separately and in addition to the penalty for First Degree Murder.

Defendant Mario Casciaro was apprehended in Fox Lake, IL on February 26, 2010 at approximately 4:30 p.m. by the Johnsburg Police Department. He is being held on a 5 million dollar bond.

The above-referenced charges resulted from the joint and collective investigatory efforts of the FBI (Casey J. Solana, Acting Supervisor for the Rockford office and Special Agent Randy L. Sealby), the Johnsburg Police Department (Chief Rydberg and Detective Keith VonAllmen), the U.S. Marshalls Service – Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force, and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office (Ron Salgado, Chief of Investigations). The length of the investigation totaled more than seven years. The charges against the defendant are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Some kind of sheriff!!

Earlier today I wrote about Jim Alderden, Sheriff of Larimer County, Colorado, where Colorado State University is located. He doesn't like the new policy to take effect at CSU in August that you can't protect yourself on campus.

Read his response to my email to him today...

"I may have already responded to some of you so if this is redundant, please forgive me. I have been overwhelmed with e-mails regarding my position on the CSU rule prohibiting students, faculty or staff from carrying anything on campus that may be used in self-defense; i.e. concealed handgun, mace, or stun gun. This is incredibly irresponsible.

"I have received 285 e-mails from all corners and coasts of the United States supporting my position. I haven't had such a response since my Third Annual Politically Incorrect Christmas tree Decorating Party or the Balloon Boy incident. For those of you who haven't made the connection, yes, I'm the overweight bald Sheriff who was at the center of the Balloon Boy Hoax. I tried responding individually to your e-mails to express my appreciation for your kind words, but it soon became evident that I wasn't going to be able to. I do have a few other things on my plate. To each of you, please accept my humble appreciation for your support and encouragement.

"By the way, I did get one negative e-mail. 170 to 1, and it wasn't from Dr. Frank, the CSU President.

"Many of you have suggested that I run for higher office. I have said it before, but I don't think there is any higher office than that of Sheriff. It is an office that gives me the most direct contact with the people and the best opportunity to act rather autonomously to do the right thing. I only have to answer to the public, not the politicians. In any event, I'm about to wrap up a 38 year career and my 12th as Sheriff. I would love to hang around but Colorado enacted term limits several years ago to ensure that the most qualified and competent people can't remain in office too long.

"Again, thank you for taking the time to write but my position really wasn't a difficult or courageous decision to make as some of you have implied. It was simply the right thing to do and in keeping with my sworn oath."

Jim Alderden
Larimer County Sheriff

Tobacco stings - entrapment catches 3

A press release buried on the City Police Department's webpage reveals that on February 18 the Woodstock Police Dept. and the McHenry County Dept. of Health conspired to violate Illinois law. Of course, they won't see it that way, but Judge Andrew P. Napolitano certainly would.

I have never liked entrapment by cops. You know, breaking the law to enforce the law. And I never liked it well before I ever heard of Judge Napolitano or began reading Constitutional Chaos - What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws.

On February 18 police officers supervised sending four minors into 23 local stores to purchase tobacco. An employee in each of three businesses checked allegedly did sell a tobacco product to a minor that night.

Where will these cases be heard? They'll start in Woodstock's Administrative Adjudication Court on March 11, 2010, at 9:30AM. This Court is conducted by Judge David Eterno in City Council Chambers at 121 West Calhoun Street, Woodstock.

I encourage every Woodstock resident to show up at Tuesday's City Council meeting and give the Council members an earful about the unlawful actions of the Woodstock Police Department. (Oh, my. Will I have to worry about being charged with a crime by recommending this?)

Since when does it become legal for the sworn officers of the police department to encourage, support and supervise minors to break the law.

Why did these minors agree to break the law? Will the minors be in court on March 11 to testify? Did their parents consent? Should the parents be charged with conspiring with the police to endanger their kids and induce them to break the law? How about contributing to the delinquency of minors?

Read - better yet, buy! - Judge Napolitano's book! From the jacket on his book: "He was voted four times as the most outstanding professor at two law schools where he taught constitutional law. (He) is the youngest person in New Jersey history to receive a lifetime judgeship." He is now Fox News Channel's senior judicial analyst.

Entrapment is wrong. Using minors for tobacco (and liquor) stings is wrong. Stand up now and tell your City Council what you think of this!

Local internet radio survey

After getting acquainted with the folks at I asked readers the following question: “Do you listen to”

Yes – 4 (9%)
No – 40 (91%)

Thanks to the 44 who responded. I know it’s hard to “listen” to this broadcast when you’re on the road during “drive time.” Cops frown on use of many electronic devices in moving cars, and one of the station’s best broadcasts is the Morning Buzz from 7:00AM-10:00AM on weekdays. And how many people have air-cards for their laptops?

Dave Gardner, Henry Stevens and Jim Matthews have fun each morning, and their “cheesy” webcam hardly ever gives the on-air host a break. They play good music (more oldies, no rap) and include some rare ones like “The Streak” and some sound effects. They have fun!

Got something to share with them? Call their Listener Line at 815.322.7900

And be sure to mention the station when you visit their advertisers.

Don't like "No"? Just ask again

At the last City Council meeting the Council decided 3-2 to deny an appeal by Tom Harding to allow a window change on the building he renovated at 223 South Tryon Street (corner of West South Street).

It was just an "honest mistake" that a window on this building in the Woodstock Historic Preservation District was replaced. The original window, facing west onto a right-of-way, was a single pane that was the same width as the "transom" window above it. The window opening was enlarged during the renovation and a double-hung window replaced the single-pane window. It's not like the HPC didn't accommodate some of Harding's requests; it did, but it required him to keep the single-pane window, and his architect agreed.

On February 16 the Council said, in effect, "Put it back", supporting the decision of the Woodstock Historic Preservation Commission. I believe that was the first time in the memory of any HPC member now or recently serving that the City Council had supported it, rather than over-riding a decision made by it.

OK, fine. But now the Council is set to "re-consider" the very same appeal again, only two weeks later. You can read the Agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting at the bottom of the City's homepage:

The Council's 3-2 vote, killing the appeal, was the right vote. However, I thought at the time, "Had the two missing members of the Council been there, might the vote have been 4-3, in favor of the appeal?" On March 2 we'll find out.

No doubt that the members of the Historic Preservation Commission will continue to be concerned about their worth and value to the City of Woodstock. Will they just say, "The hell with this" and walk out?

Four experienced members of the HPC left the Commission within the past 3-4 months. Two experienced members remain, plus new members.

Months ago certain members of the Council were aware that the Commissioners didn't feel "appreciated." Well, keep stabbing with that knife. Maybe you can kill off all the Commissioners this time.

CSU bans guns; sheriff objects

Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colo.) is going to ban concealed weapons from its campus. To show how worried the college trustees really are, the ban doesn't go into effect until August 1. I'm interested in this, because I lived in Fort Collins in 1989.

What does Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden have to say about it? He advises students to ignore the rules set by the Board of Regents. Further, he says he will not jail any permit-holder who is arrested for legally carrying a concealed weapon with a permit issued by him.

Now that's my kind of sheriff! He is standing up for the Second Amendment and Colorado law that permits carrying concealed weapons in many public places.

Read these stories in the Fort Collins Coloradoan at and in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado State University Police Chief Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt supports CSU's ban, so what will she do with prisoners who are to be transferred to the County Jail? Naturally, she supports it! It's her employer who created the ban! It's called, "How much longer would you like to work here?"
The ban is effectively an "administrative action." Anyone found on campus with a concealed weapon after the effective date on August 1, 2010, will be asked to store it or leave the campus. If they refuse, they might be subject to a trespassing charge.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprised of over 40,000 college students, professors, college employees, parents of college students, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCCC has members in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. See
When guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mayor threatens to call officer

Tonight's Village Board meeting in Island Lake was verbally combative and, as the same time, one in which the trustees really opened up with communication.

The Trustees and the residents clearly wanted to know what was going on with the suspension of two officers of the police department, Acting Chief Anthony Sciarrone and Officer Fred Manetti.

Big news came just before 10:00PM with the statement that the "incident" which prompted Mayor Debbie Herrmann to arbitrarily and unilaterally suspend Sciarrone had occurred on Monday morning (February 15) just before she emailed the Trustees about it, not on Friday as previously reported in the press. No information about the incident was disclosed, but one trustee offered earlier in the meeting that nothing he had learned caused him to think that any discipline would approach the level of the discipline imposed by the mayor, called "paid administrative leave" in the press before tonight's meeting.

Trustee Saville tried to elicit information about rules for suspending the chief from Don Alexander, the attorney present from the Village's law firm, Ancel Glink. No one asked why Scott Puma wasn't present. Saville was trying to learn about the "grey area" of discipline that is less harsh than termination or suspension. He never got an answer to the question he was asking.

(Acting) Chief Sciarrone holds the department rank of sergeant. Procedures allow the mayor to remove the chief, but discipline of Sciarrone as sergeant (or chief) ought to fall under the rules of the Village's Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. That sticky little requirement didn't make it to the table for discussion.

It was clarified for the trustees tonight that Sciarrone was working without the contract as Acting Chief under which he had served. Apparently, that contract expired last Spring. That one got some of the trustees by surprise. So was the Island Lake Police Department actually functioning without a Chief of Police for several (many?) months?

Trustee Ponio questioned why the mayor had bypassed the chief, when she suspended Ofc. Fred Manetti on January 1. Under normal chain-of-command procedures, it should have been the chief who suspended one of his officers. And no one asked why Fred's suspension hadn't already gone before the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

At one point the quarreling between Mayor Herrmann and Trustee Rabattini got so verbally combative that Herrmann asked Rabattini if she (Rabattini) wanted her (Herrmann) to "call an officer." That produced outcries of "Out of order" from the audience. No doubt that everyone in the room remembered the charges filed by Herrmann against a resident who gestured to his neighbor but caused Herrmann to feel so alarmed and disturbed, breaching her peace, that she had the man arrested a few days later and charged with disorderly conduct. Those charges were thrown out after the man secured representation by a high-powered Chicago Loop law firm.

I've been trying to recall the exact sequence of who said what. I think Trustee Ponio and Mayor Herrmann were going at it, and Trustee Rabattini entered the verbal fray. Or Rabattini had the floor and the mayor interrupted. When Rabattini continued to talk, since she had the floor, that's when the mayor threatened to call the cops.

Is it a crime in Island Lake to talk when the Mayor is talking?

One resident called to the Trustees' attention that only one set of Minutes have been published on the Village's website since May. I forgot to ask him if he knew whether any Minutes had been prepared and approved at subsequent meetings of the Village Board. No approval of Minutes was scheduled on tonight's Agenda.

These are just the highlights of tonight's meeting. There was much more. I left at 10:00PM, as the Village Board was preparing to go into Executive Session.

Speed limit signs - how important?

Yesterday I drove again on McConnell Road east from Highway 47. A Woodstock officer was checking speeds east of Zimmerman Road, and I hope his radar showed my exact 30MPH speed. I guess it did, because he stayed put after I passed.

Just how important is it for Woodstock to post speed limits correctly on its roads? I've been wondering this for quite a while about McConnell Road. Like, maybe about two years.


Setting off from Highway 47, the speed limit is 30MPH and it is posted as such. Just east of Courtauld Drive, there is a 35MPH speed limit sign.

The next speed limit sign is a 45MPH sign east of Applewood Drive, but the speed limit eastbound probably becomes 45MPH back near Harrow Gate Drive.

Further along, the speed limit on eastbound McConnell Road probably becomes 55MPH at Greenview Drive, but you'll never know it from signing (that isn't there).

Somewhere on farther east, near Lily Pond Road, you leave the City of Woodstock and enter unincorporated McHenry County, but no sign informs a driver that he is leaving Woodstock.


As you drive west on McConnell Road from Country Club Road, you are in unincorporated McHenry County, where the speed limit is the unposted State 55MPH limit. When you pass Lily Pond Road, you enter the City of Woodstock, but you won't know it because there is no City Limit sign.

When you get to Greenview Drive, you'll come upon a 45MPH speed limit sign. Since this is where the westbound 55MPH zone ends, it is also where the 45MPH zone ends for eastbound traffic. Across the road from the 45MPH sign should be a 55MPH sign for eastbound traffic or, at least, a sign advising the end of the 45MPH zone.

As you continue west in the 45MPH zone, then you'll come to a 35MPH speed limit sign just east of Harrow Gate Drive. Since this is where the 45MPH zone ends for westbound traffic, right across the road there should be a 45MPH sign for eastbound traffic. In fact, I think there used to be a sign there.

Should the City of Woodstock post these speed zones, so that drivers will know what the correct speed limit is? Is there any reason for an answer other than "Yes"?

The City may hope to hold down speeds by not informing drivers of the points at which the legal speed limit increases to 45MPH and 55MPH. If it hopes to hold down speeds, then the City Council should address this issue and lower the legal speed limits.

Yesterday I also drove on Lily Pond Road, which was improved and repaved, thanks to the Merryman gravel mining operation (OK, I won't call it a "pit"). Shouldn't there be speed limit signs in both directions on Lily Pond Road? Yes, there should be, and there are no signs in either direction.

If speed limit signing was part of the deal, hasn't anyone checked and asked why the signs aren't up?

Grafton Township in-fighting

I got to thinking that I ought to be planning ahead for the next catfight in Huntley and maybe even make a reservation for the Press Box. So I went to the Township website ( to learn when the next meeting is. Ready?

The "next" meeting is February 11th at 7:30PM. And the "next" Special Meeting is February 22nd at 7:30PM.

Now, wouldn't you think that with a Township Supervisor (earning how much?) and a Township Administrator earning $35,000 and a Township Supervisor's Assistant earning $40,000 that one of them could update the website with accurate dates for the next meetings?

Seeing the Pledge of Allegiance on the agenda is nice. The Woodstock District 200 school board opens its meetings with the Pledge; if I recall correctly, so does Judge Weech in his courtroom.

According to the Township website, meetings are at the Huntley Recreation District, 12015 Mill Street, Huntley.

Who knows? Are the Regular Meetings of the Township on the second Thursday of the month at 7:30PM?

They certainly use some "interesting" wording at the top of the Agenda. What business will be conducted? It reads, in part: "... regular Township Board Meeting of the Grafton Township Board, McHenry County, Illinois will be held on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. for the purposes of considering the following agenda."

Boilerplate wording gets carried forward month-to-month without anyone's really taking a close look at it. What do you suppose is plural about the "purposes" of the agenda? And are they convening to "consider" the agenda? I don't think so. The agenda is the program for the night. They won't "consider" it; they'll follow it. Hopefully...

Another "interesting" aspect of the agenda is the public participation portion of the Meeting. Each speaker gets three minutes, and only 30 minutes is allocated for the public to put in its 2-cents' worth.

And another "interesting" observation? The Township's legal beagle faxed the Agenda to the Township. Did it only review the agenda or did a lawyer write it? What did either of those legal services cost the Township? It's pretty sloppy to post the fax copy of the agenda, when the Township Clerk or Supervisor probably has the responsibility for publishing it. Why not publish a "clean" copy of the agenda, even if they do have the lawyer preview it? And why publish the blank third page?

March 11? See you there. Maybe the Supervisor and the Administrator will have hired a mediator by then. Hopefully, they won't hire a lawyer to mediate their differences. Lawyers are adversarial. A mediator's role is to bring the parties closer together. After all, there is something on which they do agree. It's that they don't agree! A skilled mediator will start with that.

Man! Where is Bob Anderson when you need him? Get busy, Bob. Let's get rid of townships in Illinois. But then, who will provide the entertainment in Huntley?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BOFPC cancels 3/1 meeting; avoids training

The Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners has canceled its March 1st Regular Meeting and has once again avoided completing the training directed last May by the City Attorney on behalf of the mayor and the city manager.

On May 19, 2009, City Attorney Rich Flood wrote to the Commissioners and its attorney and stated, "Also, the City has asked us to make a presentation to the Commission on the requirements of and compliance with the Open Meetings Act at its next regularly scheduled meeting."

There were regularly-scheduled meetings in June, September, December and now, March 1. And there were numerous Special Meetings.

This Commission is appointed by the mayor. Why is it being allowed to cancel Regular Meetings and thus avoid the Open Meetings Act presentation and training by the City Attorney?

TWI cries over broken window

At last week's City Council meeting Woodstock Realtor Tom Harding said that window that had been removed from the west side of the old house had gone into the dumpster; thus, the "broken window." He said it was an honest mistake.

No doubt about it. I'm sure he wishes whoever on his renovation team had failed to look at the plans and the Historic Preservation Commission directions had been more careful. That "little" oversight might add $3,000 to his renovation expenses. Or maybe only $1,500.

The Woodstock Independent's news editor Mike Neumann wrote a fine article on Page 1 of this week's paper, recounting the City Council meeting and the vote to deny Harding's appeal of the denial of his revised Certificate of Appropriateness (to allow the new, incorrect window to remain). Confused yet?

And then I turned to Page 4, where "Our View" rips the HPC and the City Council for their 3-2 votes. Those votes mean that Harding must restore the window to the plans that were approved; i.e., remove the double-hung windows and install one single pane.

And why not?

TWI's editorial board seems to believe that its okay to be careless. TWI wants the City Council to have a little compassion and show they are flexible. Just let it slide, in other words.

Maybe the next time my $30.00 is due for my TWI subscription, I'll be a little tardy in remitting; like, maybe, 4-5 months tardy. I wonder if they'll have a little compassion for me, and show me how flexible they are, by continuing to deliver my paper weekly.

Are you laughing yet?

Woof, woof. - OK, you! Paws up!

I had a good laugh this morning before I even got to the comics in the Northwest Herald.

Harvard bad boy Michael T. Spencer, 19, was charged Tuesday for his alleged actions last May, when he apparently impersonated a McHenry County Sheriff's Department deputy when he stopped by a parked car outside of Harvard with a young couple in it. You can read the whole story at

The article didn't say what the 16-year-old boy and the 15-year-old girl were doing, but what does a young couple do in a parked car out in the country?

Why did I laugh? Spencer was convicted last month of barking twice at a Harvard police dog that was inside a squad car. That's what the article says. Really!

What "crime" did he commit? Did he alarm the dog? Disturb the dog? Threaten the dog's peace?

Last time I walked by K-9 unit, the dog went crazy. Maybe I should have called Animal Control.

Well, there is probably more to the story.

MCSD Lt. Andy Zinke offered some good advice at the end of the article. "Drivers who are signaled by an unmarked car should drive safely to a well-lit area, preferable in a crowded area." And "People who question the identity of a purposed police officer also can use a cell phone to call the local police department to confirm his or her employment."

Man, I hope all the cops on the road know that...

Red-light cam gets another one

The red-light cameras are working, and they are catching the violators. And, every time a violator whines about his ticket, he just takes one more step into that big pile of manure he just drove through.

In a Letter to the Editor of the Northwest Herald this morning, Gilberts resident Michael O'Brien griped about his ticket for not stopping for the red light as he rolled up to turn left. Or was he just postulating? Here's what he said:

"If you are in the left turn lane and the arrow turns red while you are about to make your turn, and you decide to brake and be one car length past the solid white stop line..."

Well, he just admitted entering the intersection (passing the white stop line) on a red light. What was he doing when the green arrow changed to a yellow arrow? Gotcha, Mike. You should have "decided" sooner and stopped.

If you can make it into the intersection before the light turns red, then you have not violated the law and you won't get a ticket. A yellow light gives you that time. Now, if you are racing to "make" it, you run the risk of not making it. But being able to stop only one car length (20-22 feet) past the white line means you weren't going all that fast.

And what does "one car length past the solid white stop line" mean? Was there a car length between the white stop line and the back of your car? If so, you were probably out in the intersection. But the main thing is that you admit the light turned red while you were "about to make your turn". You should have stopped sooner.

It's very seldom that a green light will turn to red with no warning.

You said it all, Mike, when you wrote, "What a novel concept for people to look and pay attention while they drive." Yes, indeed.

NWH printing off to Schaumburg

For those who don't read the Northwest Herald, it probably won't matter at all that the Northwest Herald printing is leaving Crystal Lake and being "out-sourced" to Schaumburg.

The NWH has been getting smaller, at least on Mondays. But print quality will improve; so says the article in this morning's paper. Maybe they'll make the type in the comics a little larger and a little darker. Then I can put away my magnifying glass.

This "important" story got 24 column-inches of "real estate" today. I mean, who cares where it is printed, as long as it is on my doorstep when I open the front door. I'll tell you who cares; the stockholders care. Oh, yes; the employees in the printing plant care, too.

Twenty-five full-time and six part-time employees care. I know one of them.

"Paddock has agreed to interview those Shaw employees affected by the printing transition." Oh, isn't that nice? Big deal; that doesn't cost Paddock anything but a little HR time. Maybe a few will be hired; maybe not. It's probably a pretty good bet that few, if any, of them live between Crystal Lake and Schaumburg.

A sign of the times...

Harvard rescues Chev dealer

I wish I felt good about the deal carved out by the City of Harvard to save its hometown Chevrolet Buick GMC dealer. This morning's paper reported that the City of Harvard and the Harvard Economic Development Corporation will cough up $500,000 to keep the doors open and the lights on.

In exchange, the dealership is to "grow its business" and hire some more full-time employees. The City thinks that remodeling and expansion will preserve the $100,000/year it has been collecting in sales taxes. Let's hope so. And the dealership must increase sales by 2% within the first year.

Has word of the recession (some say, the Depression) reached Harvard yet?

If sales go up 2%, then sales tax revenues will go up 2% (in a perfect world). So they make a $500,000 investment and get a $2,000 return?

Or else. Or else, what? Do they think they'll get their money back, if sales decline (or continue to decline)?

It's a 10-year deal. If the business closes or moves out within ten years, Harvard gets its money back, plus interest. (If there is any business value for it to claim against.) But get this: "the amount the dealership would have to repay decreases by $50,000 every year."

What a deal!

Anti-gun sentiment in NWH

An article in this morning's Northwest Herald illustrated the anti-gun sentiment prevalent with so many newspapers. The article, on page 3A under State Briefs, reported the shooting death of a 28-year-old woman in Joliet, Ill., while her 8-year-old daughter was in the back seat of her parked car.

The woman's car was parked in a Joliet driveway early Tuesday morning, when, as the article stated, "two men approached the vehicle and fired nine shots from an automatic handgun."

Well, there's a lot wrong with that sentence.

Did the "two men" fire the nine shots? One would have had to fire some, but not all, of the nine rounds and then hand the gun to the second man, who would have fired the remainder of the nine rounds.

Or did two men approach, and (only) one fired nine rounds?

But the part that got me was the adjective used to describe the handgun - an "automatic" handgun.

Have Joliet police already identified the gun that was fired? I suspect the reporter meant to write "semi-automatic" handgun, so why didn't an editor catch the error and correct it?

Most readers here know the difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic. If you don't, 'fess up and someone or I will explain it to you.

Did the reporter sensationalize the story by writing that the "... girl watched from the back seat ..."? Was the girl asleep? Whose driveway?

There is obviously a whole lot more to the story, yet the Northwest Herald gave it only 3 1/2 column inches.

Were the assailants known to the mother or recognized by the child?

Was there an order of protection, or was this a case of "wrong time, wrong place"?

Use of childrens' photo challenged

The following letter was written by Esther Hall Gordon, formerly of Woodstock and now residing in Battle Creek, Michigan.

"As one of the minor children who appear in the front row of the photograph of the Woodstock Children's Home Choir of 1963, as featured in the 02.17.10 edition of The Woodstock Independent and entitled, "Picture This," I'd be very interested to know who provided this picture for publication without permission from any of us shown in it.

"I'd also appreciate knowing how to access today's "Picture This" feature photo on your web site, or having a scanned copy sent to my email address, a hard copy of which, incidentally, I already own.

"Those of us pictured as members of the Woodstock Children's Home Choir don't appreciate having photographs of our very private experiences of exploitative fund-raising efforts by the Woodstock Children's Home plastered in the form of a photograph in your newspaper. This choir was used to "raise funds" for the home - just another example of how minor children were exploited by those entrusted to their care - in order to build the current financial enterprise known as Woodstock Christian Life Services empire.

"Those of us who spent any length of time as resident of the Woodstock Children's Home, also, soon became convenient minimum wage workers, who were made available to perform menial, as well as illegal, child labor on campus and in the community at large. A few of us were even allowed to care for the elderly in various capacities at the Sunset Manor, formerly located on the site of the current Hearthstone Village.

"Currently, Woodstock Christian Life Services is planning to expand its tax-exempt empire, while continuing to hide behind their "faith-based" facade. That ridiculous motto, "Caring for the Young and the Old" needs to either be discarded or slightly reworded to something more reality-based, e.g., "Our Young Cared for Our Old," to accurately portray how their ever-expanding human services empire was built on the backs of many of the children's home residents just a couple of decades ago.

"Since we have invested enough sweat equity into the current WCLS enterprise, and are watching as WCLS's current board of financiers, led by Mr. Terrence Egan, current CEO of Woodstock's oldest human services organization, demand demolition of Grace Hall, aka Harrison House to those of us who are proud enough to say we made our home in that beautiful old building, I appeal to the Woodstock Independent, as well as the community at large, to respect our privacy, and cease any further exploitative photo opportunities on behalf of former residents of the children's home.

"As a tribute to the hundreds of minor children who, through no fault of their own, found a refuge from "wayward parents" during their years in residence at the Woodstock's Children's Home, formerly the Todd School for Boys, perhaps your newspaper could invest its energies in garnering much-needed support from the local community in an effort to preserve Grace Hall, aka Harrison House as an historical landmark.

"Esther Hall Gordon (Woodstock Children's Home resident from 03.28.63 - 06.08.71)"

Cat fight in Huntley

Be sure to read Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog about the cat fight yesterday morning in the Grafton Township offices. Newly-hired Grafton Township Administrator (and Huntley Village Trustee) Pam Fender tried to force her way into Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore's office. Her mission was critical: she wanted to use the copier and get some office supplies.

When two cats get in a fight, you don't want to try to separate them. I've found the best thing to do is get a garden hose, adjust the nozzle to the highest force for the spray, and point it straight at the cats. The only thing to watch out for is that they don't come after you.

Fender got repelled (without a hose) and so she called the Huntley Police. The police report shows "Battery" (battery and assault are different) at the top, and it states that "(Moore) stated she hit (Fender) because was (sic) scared of what (Fender) might do to her."

Just a few more words in the officers report would have made a case for Disorderly Conduct. All that was needed was for the officer to ask Moore if she felt 1) alarmed, 2) disturbed and 3) that her peace was breached. Bingo!

But one of the responding officers decided that there was no violation of criminal law, and nobody left in handcuffs.

Grafton Township had better put in a closed-circuit TV system, because the cops will be back there often.

Cal did a great job with his article and getting the police report so fast. Gee, how does that happen? Getting a police report the same day? Not having to wait for a FOIA request to be processed? And no redactions?

Be sure to read all about it at
And also read Pete Gonigam's article in the First Electric Newspaper, which carries some additional information and quotes. You might stop by the Grafton Township offices (where are they?) and wait for early fireworks. You won't have to wait until July 4.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Billy Vahldieck Memorial Scholarship

Billy Vahldieck was a former member of the McHenry County Junior Golf Association who passed away in 2009. Billy enjoyed the competitive golf tournament experience and the friendships he made during his time playing in MCJGA events. His family and friends were kind enough to make donations to the MCJGA to help create a scholarship fund in his memory.

Two $1,000 scholarships will be given to MCJGA members who have entered their senior year of high school in the fall of 2009 and have been accepted to a four year college or university for the fall of 2010.

Information about these scholarships and the application procedure can be viewed at

Job Fair hits a bulls-eye

Today's Job Fair at the Church of the Holy Apostles in McHenry was a success, if measured by the number of "tables" and the number of job hunters. It was organized by John O'Neill, Republican candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives - 63rd District, but John said this morning that getting a job doesn't belong to one party or another.

Pictured at the top right are John O'Neill, with his wife, Barbara, and their youngest child, Jeremiah.

Upon first arriving, I was greeted by Joyce (sorry I didn't get her last name). She pointed out John to me, who was back at the AFLAC table. There I met Angela Schiek, District Sales Coordinator for AFLAC. Interested in exploring affilation with AFLAC? Call her at 312.661.1222 x5711. Oh, yes; the AFLAC duck was there, too.

Then I headed over to the Tupperware table and met Bridget Fagan. Bridget is a recent gradulate of NIU and loves being a Tupperware rep. I had to love her mother's business card, which says about Tupperware, "We've been GREEN for 60 YEARS!" For information on the business opportunity with Tupperware or to purchase Tupperware products, call Bridget at 847.540.5959

And then off to the Tastefully Simple booth, where Mary Lebrecht told me about their food selection. Sounds like even I could cook with help from Tastefully Simple. Mary didn't have cooked samples today, but my mouth began to water just from looking at their brochure! For food or information about the business opportunity, call Mary at 815.451.7730

I'm often asked what it takes to be successful in a home-based business, such as Tupperware or Tastefully Simple. It takes belief in your product, a desire to help others, discipline and persistence.

There were many other business opportunities represented at this Job Fair. As so many know, there aren't many "jobs" available. If truth be told, most people don't really want a j-o-b; they want a check. The business opportunity, such as with Tupperware or Tastefully Simple, is worth exploring. Don't be put off by the self-employed nature of it or the fact that it might be called (or thought of as) multi-level marketing (MLM).

I recommend reading Robert Kiyosaki's book, The Business School for People Who Like Helping People. He has written excellent information about MLM. I met Robert in Denver in about 1984 and treasure a personal note he sent me after we met. Robert is known for the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series. And, while you are at it, read Zig Ziglar's See You at the Top. I met Zig at a National Speakers' Association banquet in Washington, DC in about 1994.

USA - leading jailer in the world




[Feb. 23, 2010 Crystal Lake, IL] The McHenry County College Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) will host an informational seminar featuring Dr. Vincent Gaddis on March 4th, 2010 at 7:00pm in the College's Conference Center. The event is titled "The United States: Leading Jailer of the World."

According to Human Rights Watch, the United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China. In 2008, the American penal system held more than 2.3 million adults, China was second with 1.5 million and Russia a distant third. The United States leads not only by the sheer number of inmates but in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children whereas in the United States, the rate is eight times higher or 750 per 100,000.

As incredible as it sounds, 1 in 100 adults are now locked up in America and for Hispanic and black men, imprisonment is far more prevalent. Dr. Gaddis will analyze the structural flaws within our system that lead to these astounding statistics. Imprisonment has become the answer to many of the social problems rooted in poverty. The practice of locking up the poor from racially marginalized communities has become big business. What once was considered government work has increasingly been turned over to private contractors, creating a monstrous "prison industrial complex" whose profit depends on people to punish. Dr Gaddis calls for a revolution - "a revolution in values." He persuasively argues that what we need is not new prisons, but a powerful movement for social transformation in health care, housing, education, drug programs, jobs, and education.

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

The college is located at 8900 U.S. Hwy. 14, Crystal Lake. For more information, contact the MCC Student Activities Office at (815) 455-8772.

For information, contact:

Molly McQueen
Action Coordinator for SPAN
McHenry County College
(815) 354-3161

Monday, February 22, 2010

36 arrests - at what cost?

The First Electric Newspaper ( published an article early this morning about the arrests of 36 people in McHenry and Lake Counties, presumably last week.

The agencies involved?

Illinois State Police
McHenry Police Department
Cary Police Department
Crystal Lake Police Department
Huntley Police Department
Island Lake Police Department
Woodstock Police Department
Harvard Police Department
Lake County Sheriff’s Office
McHenry County Sheriff's Department
United States Marshal Service

According to FEN, "The bulk of the warrants were for misdemeanors or contempt with a handful of burglary and drug felonies."

Frankly, I wonder how many officers/deputies were involved, how many vehicles, and what the exact charges were on the arrest warrants. There was a lot of "horsepower" involved for only 36 arrests.

Job hunting in McHenry County?

Thanks to Cal Skinner's blog this morning, I learned of a jobs fair being held tomorrow, Tuesday, February 23, at the Church of the Holy Apostles, 5211 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, Ill. Hours are 10:00AM-3:00PM.

This jobs fair is sponsored by John O'Neill, Republican candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives - 63rd District.

So, if you are looking for a job (or a better job), dust off your suit or "business attire", print some clean copies (that's plural!) of your resume, shine your shoes and be there!

For information about John's campaign, go to
And be sure to read Cal's blog at today and each day.

Investigation estimated to cost $100K

The Daily Herald ( has a Community News story online this morning on the estimated cost to McHenry County taxpayers for the probe into whether political work was conducted on the taxpayer's dime at the McHenry County State's Attorney's office.

The price tag for this probe is estimated to be $100,000. Attorney (and former Lake County judge) Henry Tonigan III grabbed the brass ring on this one. He was appointed as the special prosecutor and has already billed McHenry County $34,231 since September. The Finance Committee of the County Board is expected to ask the Board to authorize up to $100,000 for this little venture.

Who splits up the pie? Tonigan's Barrington firm, Kelleher & Buckley, and Attorney Thomas K. McQueen.

According to the article, State's Attorney Lou Bianchi "...repeatedly has denied the accusations."

Also according to the online article, "Tonigan has given no indication as to when he might wrap up his investigation, and did not return a call seeking comment last week."

Well, of course not. There is still $66,000 on the table; errr, I mean a lot of investigation yet to be done.

Too bad I didn't read this article sooner. I'd have attended the Finance & Audit Committee's meeting at 9:30AM. Well, that probably isn't where the fireworks will be. The next County Board meeting is Tuesday, March 2, 9:30AM.

The next Finance & Audit Committee meeting is Tuesday, March 9, 9:30AM. And the County Board meeting after that is Tuesday, March 16, 7:00PM.

Restorative Justice Event - March 27

A restorative justice event sponsored by the Joliet Diocese Peace and Social Justice Ministry and Restorative Justice Committee will be held in Joliet on Saturday, March 27, from 9:30AM-3:00PM. The topic for the event is "Children: How they are affected by the criminal justice system." Registration opens at 9:00AM.

The event is for teachers, catechists, youth ministers, those working with prisoners, advocates for restorative justice, family members of people who are incarcerated, persons who have been incarcerated and anyone who is interested.

See program details at

Location: Sacred Heart Parish Hall, 337 S. Ottawa St., Joliet, Ill.

Reservations are requested by March 18. The suggested donation is $15/adult or $10/student. There are several ways to make your reservation:

1. email to
2. mail to Peace and Social Justice Ministry, Diocese of Joliet, 402 S. Independence Blvd., Romeoville, IL 60446, or
3. telephone 815.834.4028

When you make your reservation, please include your name, phone number, email address, parish or organization, if any, and any diet restrictions.

If you are reading this after March 18, call anyway. If you can't afford the $10-15, call anyway.

Congressional Reform - 2010? Not likely!

I don't know who wrote this, but this is how you fix Congress!!!!!

A friend sent this along to me. I can't think of a reason to disagree.


Congressional Reform Act of 2010

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two six-year Senate terms
B. Six two-year House terms
C. One six-year Senate term and three two-year House terms

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

2. No Tenure / No Pension:

A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security:

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans.

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people.

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/11 .

The American people did not make these contracts with congressmen; congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

(Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.)

OMA training for Woodstock BOFPC

Last May the City Attorney for the City of Woodstock sent a rather stern letter to the three members of the Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BOFPC) and its attorney about a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA). In that letter it advised the Board that they were to receive training in the OMA law at its next regular meeting.

That was in May. So far, no OMA training has taken place at a regular meeting. Or at a special meeting.

It seems to me that this training is not "optional" for the BOFPC. The Mayor and the City Manager were greatly displeased with the failure of the BOFPC to observe the OMA law. Since the BOFPC members are appointed by the mayor and serve the City, there shouldn't be any hesitation or reluctance to follow the letter from the City Attorney.

But it hasn't.

Will OMA training be on the agenda for the March 1, 2010, Regular Meeting of the Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners?

Undersheriff appointment - how? when?

At the February 10th meeting of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission I intended to ask the Commissioners how the position of Undersheriff is filled, should a vacancy occur. A rumor had been floating around that Gene Lowery was interested in the Deputy Chief's position at the Crystal Lake Police Department, following Dennis Harris' retirement.

The scheduled regular meeting was canceled at the last minute for lack of a quorum. Some will likely accuse me of suspecting a conspiracy to withhold information about Lowery's move, which had not yet become public knowledge; bring it on. Did anyone "request" three of the Commissioners to duck the meeting? Who was the third Commissioner to notify the secretary (or Chairman) that s/he would not attend? (Does the chairperson have a standing conflict, due to her employment as Human Resources Director for the City of Woodstock?)

If they were aware of Lowery's application and strong chance of selection, shouldn't they have made every effort to be present at the meeting, so that business could be conducted?

Some say that the lieutenants' and sergeants' eligibility lists have expired, and an agenda item was "Extension" of those lists. Without a quorum, no action could be taken. Does that mean the current lists continue or that now there are no lists of eligible candidates for any open positions?

So, what is the process for filling the Undersheriff's slot when Lowery leaves the sheriff's department and moves to Crystal Lake P.D.? Does Sheriff Nygren merely tap the person he wants as Undersheriff and appoint that person? Or does this position require a vote by the Merit Commission? Does the County Board have anything to do with the appointment? Is there a "short list"?

The next scheduled meeting of the Merit Commission is Wednesday, March 10, 10:30AM, at 667 Ware Road. Please mark your calendars now, Commissioners.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Self-written search warrants - look out!!!

How would you like to go to prison for telling the truth? Could you violate the Patriot Act if you tell the truth? You've got to watch this!

Andrew P. Napolitano is a 59-year-old former New Jersey Superior Court Judge. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Notre Dame Law School. At Princeton he was a founding member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton along with Justice Samuel Alito.

Judge Napolitano is the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of the State of New Jersey.

Click below and listen to Judge Napolitano's important message to all Americans.

Freeedom must be defended!

This crusade by Judge Napolitano is not new. Do a Google search for "self-written search warrants", sometimes referred to as national security letters, allow Federal agents to bypass Constitutional safeguards. Read Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws.

Snow on sidewalks - OK?

During a recent heavy snow in Woodstock (Ill.), I noticed a number of children, elderly and handicapped persons struggling past piles of snow on sidewalks, and I wondered again whether Woodstock ought to adopt a City ordinance that would require residents to clear their sidewalks.

The following question was asked of readers, "Should Woodstock require residents to shovel snow off sidewalks?"

Many thanks to the 64 readers who responded.

Yes - 26 (41%)
No - 38 (59%)

Will concealed carry taken another hit?

The anti-gunners will probably come out in full force because of last week's shooting at NIU. I can just hear it now. "Concealed carry" is dangerous. People shouldn't have "concealable" guns. "Glocks are bad."

Zachary Isaacman, 22, allegedly (there doesn't seem to be any "allegedly" about this one) shot Brian Mulder, 24, when Mulder tried to prevent Isaacson from entering a dorm where he did not live.

Isaacman will have to surrender his AK-47 and a second handgun. Nowhere in any article has it revealed whether Isaacman holds a FOID card. Commonly, a bond requirement for a crime involving a firearm will include surrender of a FOID card. Maybe he doesn't have one; if not, additional charges will likely include possession of firearms and ammunition without a valid FOID card.

Concealed carry shouldn't take a hit on this crime, since Illinois doesn't yet have a concealed carry law. Those who legally carry a concealed weapon have not been found to be any major problem in any state where it is lawful to carry.

Cicero's ex-mayor still gets health ins.

The Associated Press has reported the release of Cicero's ex-mayor, Betty Loren-Maltese. Remember her? Even if you don't remember her, you'll remember her hair.

She was headed for a Salvation Army halfway house in Chicago, where she'll spend the next four months. Guess that'll be a little different than her island golf course in Wisconsin or her horse farm or her California prison cell, where she spent the last 6 1/2 years.

So, are things cleaned up in Cicero?

Supposedly news surfaced only last Monday that Loren-Maltese, 60, and her mother were receiving health insurance benefits from Cicero "under a law she (Loren-Maltese) 'rammed through' while still in office that provides coverage to all Cicero elected officials for life..."

The next day her mother's benefits were cut off because she had never held elected office. Will someone explain, to me or to anyone else (like the taxpayers in Cicero), why it took until February 15, 2010, to figure out that Loren-Maltese and her mother were still being provided with health insurance benefits?

Are there any municipalties in McHenry County that provide such benefits to elected officials?

Sometimes good comes ...

... to those who don't wait.

Late yesterday afternoon I went to Kohl's in Crystal Lake to use a "Kohl's Cash" certificate. I didn't really need anything and it was a little out of the way, but I decided to use the certificate and not just "throw away" $10.00. You know, maybe a tie or something that wouldn't cost much more than the $10 worth of "cash".

As luck would have it, I didn't easily find a tie. Ties are getting wider again, and the ties for $24-28-32 just didn't "feel" right. Plus, whoever heard of blowing $30 on a cheap tie? But I finally found one, but only after noticing the disarray of clothing displays and quite a number of clothing items on the floor in the men's clothing area.

As I walked to the cashier, I noticed that the particular tie I had selected didn't have a price tag or barcode on it, so I returned to the rack to check the price. $28.00, less 40%.

When I got to the cashier, she had to call a department employee for a price check. That employee came to the register, then went to the tie department, then came back to the register. She opened a second register, so I wouldn't have to wait in the line that had formed; that was very nice.

But then she rang up the tie and the price was $32.00, less the 40%. I pointed out the different brand of the tie she had brought to scan, and she was going to have to return to the department at the back of the store for a tie of the correct brand with the right price for the barcode scanner. By that time, I was tired of waiting and told her I'd just pass on any purchase.

As I walked out, I noticed her disappointment and thought about going back. She really had tried to help me. Should I have been more patient?

So, what was the good that came out of this? At my car, my cell phone rang and a neighbor was calling with a last-minute invitation to the Woodstock Opera House to see Alan Kaye as Joe Cocker in the Woodstock Tribute series.

OK, don't laugh now, but I said, "Sure, I'd like to go. ....... Uhhhh, who's Joe Cocker?"

OK, you can laugh now.

Some say, if you remember the sixties, you weren't there. Well, I guess I wasn't. Does college in Iowa count as an excuse for missing the sixties? Oh, trying to make a living selling life insurance in Chicago from 1965-1970? Maybe I should have been in Haight-Ashbury.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Prairie Ridge groping team

Whatever happened to the "news" about the Prairie Ridge wrestling team's little mope-and-grope session?

News goes off the front page so quickly these days and is blasted into the past by hot new items. But some of these things shouldn't just slip into the shadows.

If 60 boys were involved and there was enough messing around for the Crystal Lake Police to get involved, then there was probably some fire along with the smoke.

Did I miss follow-up stories or any so-called final resolution to that? Has anybody heard any late news?

Lakewood sports deal ... watch it

Be sure to read the First Electric Newspaper's story about the proposed project on Route 47 that McHenry County Sportsplex LLC hopes to build.

Pete Gonigam writes about a messy deal in Wisconsin with the project's consultant and loss of his Wisconsin CPA designation. That consultant, Terry Gaouette, Vice President of Administration and Business Consulting Services for H&K Sports Fields, Egg Harbor, Wisc., pitched the McHenry County Finance and Audit Committee in late December for a fistful of stimulus dollars.

See for its February 15th story.

What is the strangest secret?

Check out this excerpt from Earl Nightingale's The Strangest Secret. It's only about three minutes. It was recorded in 1956 and it's worth watching. (Not to be confused (or necessarily compared) with The Secret.)

OK, here's the test. Who was Earl Nightingale (1921-1989)? No fair doing a search before answering.

This reminded me to dust off my album of Nightingale's The New Lead the Field and pull out cassette number 1.

Spotlighting the USA

Check out this beautiful presentation of some of the most scenic spots in the USA. Wouldn't it be a great family trip to set out to see all of them? How long would it take? I mean, to see and enjoy them?

Be sure your speakers are on.

Braun found guilty of domestic battery


February 19, 2010

Man Found Guilty of Felony Domestic Battery


Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces that a McHenry County jury found Michael S. Braun guilty of the felony offense of Domestic Battery on February 18, 2010 following a three day trial. The Defendant was charged with physically assaulting his girlfriend by grabbing her around the neck and throwing her over an office chair. Following the guilty verdict, Judge Joseph Condon revoked the Defendant’s bond until the future sentencing date of April 1, 2010. Due to a prior domestic battery conviction, Defendant faces a sentence of probation or one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant faces an additional charge of Harassment of a Witness stemming from an April 2008 arrest--that charge is currently pending. The case was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorneys Sharyl Eisenstein and Kirk Chrzanowski. This case further highlights Louis Bianchi’s aggressive stance against domestic violence.

It's spreading!

At the end of 1970 I moved from Forest Park (Ill.) to Denver, and shortly after that I met Vic. Our friendship has lasted throughout the years and my many moves.

He led an effort in his county a couple of years that resulted in the removal of the County Sheriff from office. Today he wrote:

"I have been reading some of your blogs and I realized that you and I are a lot alike. When we see a problem we try to do something about it. You are inspiring me to get even more involved in things. Just like where you live we have the same kind of problems here. I may have a new ally in my fights. A new family moved here last summer and we have become good friends. Jim is an active guy and I know you would like him. I want him to run for one of our town council seats. Keep the pressure on, Gus."

Friday, February 19, 2010

New title - Gus Philpott, Other

You know you have graduated to the top of the class, when you receive an invitation to your child's school meeting and your name is listed as "Gus Philpott - Other".

At least they got the last name right on this Notice.

Staff at Woodstock District 200 has called me many things over the past 13 years, not all of which can be printed here. Usually, it has been Gus Philpott - Parent. Sometimes, step-parent. For a while, ex-step-parent. (That was when they decided I wasn't a "parent" and kicked me out of the support group for parents of students in special education.)

But now I've reached a new level. I think I'll show up with my own name badge: "Gus Philpott - Other".

For more rantings about typos and misspelled words, see

Mayor, are you out of order?

Has the mayor of Island Lake acted outside the scope of her authority in the firing of part-time police officer Fred Manetti?

Mayor Debbie Herrmann suspended (fired?) Ofc. Manetti on about January 1, 2010, and it does not appear that, until last night, Ofc. Manetti had any appearance before either Island Lake's Board of Fire and Police Commissioners or the Island Lake Trustees.

What does the Island Lake Village Code have to say about part-time police officers?

"A. Prior to appointment, all proposed part time police officers shall be fingerprinted and their fingerprints shall be checked with the federal bureau of identification, Washington, D.C., for any possible criminal record. No person shall be appointed as a part time police officer if he has been convicted of a felony or other crime involving moral turpitude. The appointment of any or all part time police officers may be terminated by the mayor subject to the advice and consent of the board of trustees. (Ord. 332, 12-9-1976; amd. 1987 Code)" (emphasis added)

From all appearances Mayor Herrmann has disregarded the Village Code.

Throughout the Code reference about her decisions pertaining to hiring of police officers includes "subject to the advice and consent of the board of trustees". The Code refers mostly to hiring, rather than termination, but it is logical to extend that requirement to matters of suspension and/or termination.

Is the mayor on the hot seat by taking unilateral action, in the absence of a declared emergency, and further by her refusal to meet with the board of trustees to explain her action?

Under what circumstances could the board of trustees wrest control of their town from the clutches of the mayor and disempower her?

They could probably get an answer to that question from their law firm, Ancel Glink. The board should address that question to Attorney Scott Puma. If he feels any obligation not to answer it because of his advice to the mayor, then the board should go to a more senior partner at that law firm - or to outside counsel.

TACA meets Sat. at 4:30PM

There is a TACA meeting tomorrow, February 20, at 4:30PM in Crystal Lake. The meeting will be held by the local chapter of Talk About Curing Autism, and the group will meet from 4:30-6:30PM. The topic is biomedical intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

For more information, go to

Meeting location:
Home State Bank
Community Meeting Room on basement level
611 S. Main St.
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

The topic will be discussed by Sonja Hintz, RN and Barry Smeltzer, MPAS, PA-C
You are invited to bring your questions about biomedical treatments, including diet, chelation, hyperbarics, methylation, supplements, sleep problems, poop problems, yeast issues, anything!

Your questions will be answered and become the catalyst for discussion. TACA invites you for some GFCFSF food and a great biomedical discussion with Sonja and Barry.

Sonja and Barry will come Crystal Lake from Dr. Anju Usman's practice at True Health Medical Center in Naperville. Sonja is a nurse and has a son who has recovered from autism. Barry is a physician's assistant and is also the father of a child with autism.

For chapter information after the meeting, contact

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Island Lake Gov't. minus Mayor & 1 Trustee

The Trustees of Island Lake met tonight and, as expected, Mayor Debbie Herrmann and Trustee Donna O'Malley were MIA. Many residents showed up to protest the stonewalling of the community by the Mayor and to criticize her for refusing to meet with the Trustees to explain her suspension of police chief Anthony Sciarrone and Ofc. Fred Manetti.

The meeting started on time at 8:00PM, with Trustee John Ponio calling the meeting to order and asking for the first order of business to be the appointment of a person to run the meeting in the absence of the mayor. Upon motion and second, Ponio was voted to run the meeting.

Public comments were invited, and many of the residents spoke about the damage to the reputation of their community by the mayor's arbitrary and unexplained actions. Concern pertaining to loss of credibility for their police department was expressed. Trustee Ponio expressed his own concerns for the public safety of residents and the town.

Scott Puma, attorney for the Village who has been in the news recently, did not attend tonight's meeting. Representing Ancel Glink tonight was Don Anderson, who is listed on Ancil Glink's website as "of Counsel", not as a Partner or Associate Attorney of the firm. I did not hear him introduced or even his presence seated with the Trustees explained. For such an important meeting as this, why would Ancel Glink send an "of Counsel" attorney and not a Partner?

One member of the audience questioned the Trustees as to whether there had been any dialogue between the "legal person present" about the Mayor's or the missing Trustee's not attending tonight's meeting. Attorney Anderson said there had not been.

There was no reason to think that his answer was incorrect; he answered the question that was asked, which was whether he had had any dialogue with Herrmann or O'Malley. However, it didn't answer the question as to whether there had been any dialogue between any lawyer at Ancel Glink and Herrmann and/or O'Malley. Media reported this week that O'Malley had been advised by the Village's attorney not to attend tonight.

A woman resident in the audience stated, with great feeling, that the mayor had taken away the checks and balances that the Board provides and stated that she was very disappointed that the mayor did not show up tonight.

When Ponio was asked who started the investigation of the chief, he said that the Mayor started it and said she would inform the Board when she thinks the Board needs to know. In response to a question about whom the law firm of the Village represents (the mayor or the Village), Ponio said that the law firm represents the Village.

Another woman resident referred to the mayor's actions as "pathetic, regarding the lack of caring by the mayor."

At 8:20PM the Trustees voted to enter executive session, and the members of the public were asked to leave the Board room.

Ofc. Fred Manetti arrived as the members of the public were leaving the Board room, and he waited outside the Board room until he was called in. When I approached Ofc. Manetti about a possible comment, he politely refused any comment. After a period of time he left the Board room and the building. A comment on the Daily Herald website remarked that Manetti may be a part-time investigator for the State's Attorney's Office.

I heard only positive remarks tonight from the residents tonight about both Chief Sciarrone and Ofc. Manetti.

I also heard from a resident that sometimes it was difficult to get answers from the Village's law firm, because one attorney would be asked a question and say he would get back with an answer, but then a different attorney would show up at the next meeting and know nothing about that question or the answer that was to be provided. Perhaps the Trustees should inquire why Attorney Scott Puma did not attend this meeting himself.

At about 10:30PM the Board returned to open session and stated that no action would be taken tonight. In spite of that statement a letter from three of the Trustees will ask for the reinstatement of both Chief Sciarrone and Officer Manetti.

Obviously, there is much more to come from this. The next regularly scheduled Board meeting is Thursday, February 25. Anyone interested in following this saga should check the Village's website daily; visit

Be sure to click the link on the left side for "Agendas/Notices" and then click on the link at the top of the Agendas/Notices webpage for the "upcoming meeting agenda." That's where you will find out about any special meeting before or after a regular Board meeting.