Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Click it or pay it

The Northwest Herald reports today that Crystal Lake Police wrote 49 tickets for failure to wear a seat belt, including child restraint device violations.

The PD said that the 49 citations were issued during 40 hours of additional patrol time between Nov. 12 and Nov. 28, under a grant received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That's a rate of 1.2 tickets per hour of enforcement. What wasn't disclosed was whether the grant paid for 40 man-hours of enforcement or whether 40 hours were spent by the officers assigned.

Considering that the duty probably involved over-time pay for each Crystal Lake officer at $60-70/hour, was it a good deal?

I myself am opposed to the "Primary" nature of the seatbelt law. If the police are really interested in improving safety, why not use an electronic sign on the side of the road? The educational aspect of their claimed enforcement interest would be accomplished. There would be no interference with traffic flow. And drivers wouldn't be out the $50-75/ticket.

Of course, the officers would not have written the 21 tickets for driving an uninsured vehicle, but there are other ways to enforce the insurance law (that the great State of Illinois will not utilize).

Privileges at MCSD at taxpayer expense

As many know, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department provides take-home cars to many patrol deputies and their patrol supervisors. This is done at great expense to the taxpayers, but the actual cost just gets swallowed up in the huge budget of the sheriff's department.

What taxpayers might not know is that many other employees at MCSD also get take-home cars. The sheriff drives at least one. Other senior command personnel have them. For example, Dan Sedlock, Chief of Corrections, has one.

And the problem with that? Sedlock has been out on sick leave. He has a take-home car, although I wonder why. All of his work is at MCSD. The jail doesn't move around. When he works, he drives to work; then he drives home. In most business operations, that's called "commuting."

I understand that the policy at MCSD is that, when an employee is sick and not going to be on duty for some period of time, then his take-home car is to be returned to the lot, where perhaps it could be re-assigned.

Did this happen in Sedlock's case? Several callers have told me that Sedlock's car is still at his residence near Chemung. And, further, that his wife is driving herself and family members to visit Sedlock in the hospital. And where is the hospital? Try DuPage County.

Why would a County-owned car and, presumably, County-purchased fuel, be used for traveling to visit a sick employee in the hospital? Say a round-trip of over 100 miles? Maybe, every day?

Why? Because "rank hath its privileges", and nobody had better speak up or complain about it!

Chicago Skyway speeders

Have you driven on the Chicago Skyway recently?

It ought to be re-named Indianapolis Speedway North!

Recently I used it for eastbound travel, and I was almost run over. If you drive your car at the posted speed limit, you had better call your life insurance agent and arrange to increase your protection.

One driver with an Illinois plate roared up behind me before I reached the Illinois-Indiana state line, yakking away on his handheld cell phone. I estimated his speed at 30MPH faster than mine, and I was at the speed limit, which was 45MPH at that point. He slammed on his brakes and made a sudden lane change to pass me, never interrupting his conversation.

The Skyway operating authority reports that its lease with the Skyway requires them to use the Chicago Police Department for traffic enforcement. I guess that explains it! CPD is ineffective on the Dan Ryan and the Kennedy; why would they be any more effective on a roadway operated by a private authority? I believe that years ago the CPD decided that the ISP was to enforce speed limits on the Dan Ryan and the Kennedy. The only problem with that is that the ISP might have only two troopers on duty for the entire Chicago District.

Aside from an automatic weapon mounted in a turret on the roof of a car, I'm unsure just what it will take to slow Chicagoland drivers. Hmmm, now there's an idea... Maybe a retired Hummer, still painted camouflage. Would a wooden or metal replica of a machine gun be frowned on by CPD or the Illinois State Police?

And maybe a bumper sticker reading, "Don't push me. I'm already having a bad day."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sheriff's Dept. abuses NIXLE again

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department has once again abused the NIXLE alert system by sending out a senseless and unnecessary announcement over the system that would be best used for emergencies only.

Today's announcement is the evaluation of the Sheriff's Department for the CALEA accreditation that it has spent so much time and money on. This is important to no one outside of the sheriff's department, and it certainly wasn't necessary to pester County residents with a NIXLE alert message.

OK, so this is the part where all the sheriff's friends pipe in with their 2-cents' worth, bucking for recognition, promotion, pay raises, etc. Guys, just put your remarks in the following space - between the parentheses.... ( ) Don't go outside the lines...

Maybe, when CALEA comes in, they will check all the tickets written by deputies to drivers with Hispanic surnames and inquire why their race was recorded as White or Caucasian.

Maybe, when CALEA comes in, they will nose around in the Woods' shooting injury at the range and ask why there is no report on file from Woods or from the ranking sergeant in the shoot room or from the ranking command officer (a lieutenant) at the range that day.

Maybe, when CALEA comes in, they will ask where the three laptops ($15,000 worth) are that were purchased for jail inmates to use.

Maybe CALEA will have a lot of its own questions.

Appealing your property tax assessment

Rep. Mike Tryon sent an email out to his constituents (and others) about steps to appeal your property tax assessment. Just substitute the name of your township and go for it. Don't count on lower taxes, though. Townships might just raise their levies.

"Unfair" is a tricky word. Check to see if that's the word used in the statute or regulations for challenges. Do you even need a reason to challenge the assessment?

"If you are a home owner in Algonquin Township or Grafton Township in McHenry County, you should have recently received your property tax assessment letter from the McHenry County Assessor’s Office. In Illinois, a property tax assessment may be challenged if the assessment is thought to be unfair. In the current declining economy, many people have successfully appealed their assessment and have received a reduction.

"The first step in determining if your assessment is fair is to call your local township assessor. When speaking to your township assessor, make sure the information about your property is correct. If you still believe your assessment is unfair, schedule an appointment with the assessor. You should bring the following evidence with you to your meeting with the assessor:

"A copy of the sales transfer declaration, a deed, or a contract
An appraisal of your property
A list of recent sales of comparable properties (similar size, story height, quality of construction, age, and style to yours)
Photos and property record cards (available at the county or township assessor’s office) should be included with the evidence of sales prices
A photo and dollar estimate of any elements that detract from the value of your property that aren’t shown in the property record card
A copy of the record card or appraisal record

"If, after this discussion, you still disagree with the assessor and are unable to work it out, you can file an appeal. By law you have only 30 days to do this. At the same time that assessment letters are mailed, assessments are published in a local newspaper. The clock on the 30-day filing period begins with date the assessments are published, so don’t delay.

"Detailed information about the assessment appeals process can be found on the McHenry County web site. A direct link to the correct page can be found here. http://www.co.mchenry.il.us/departments/assessments/Pages/FormsRules.aspx

"From this page you can access a Q and A about appealing your assessment (bullet #1) and you can also access the residential assessment appeal packet (bullet #13). You should familiarize yourself with this information and print out the packet. You should also look at the Board of Review Rules (bullet #2).

"Keeping in mind that you are working within a 30-day window, you will have to decide if your appeal will be on “equity” or on “market value.” Your home could be assessed at the correct market value, but if all of the other similar homes on your street are assessed below market value, then you are over-assessed, because you are carrying a larger share of the tax burden. In an equity complaint, you must supply the market value and assessment of comparable properties in your neighborhood. In a market value complaint, you must supply recent sales data to support the fact that your home may be over-assessed.

"Once you have filled out the paperwork and filed your appeal, a hearing date will be set. In addition, new this year is the option to have your assessment appeal heard on the evidence and you may check the box indicating that no hearing is required. In this case, you would submit your evidence to the Board of Review. The township assessor would then submit his/her evidence. The Board of Review would conduct a hearing based solely on the weight of the evidence provided by both parties.

"If you have a hearing that you attend, in most cases the Board of Review will make an oral decision at the conclusion of the hearing. Occasionally they will want to collect additional information. The Board does not issue official written decisions until all hearings have been held which is usually sometime in mid-March. If you are still not pleased with the decision, at that point you will have 30 days of the postmark of the written decision to file a new appeal with the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board.

"If, after exhausting all of these remedies, you are still convinced that your property assessment is unfair, your only other recourse is the court system."

Thanks, Mike!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How U.S. troops are used

From an Associated Press article today on the current tensions involving North Korea comes this sentence, "Washington, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect the ally, insists the routine drills were planned before last Tuesday's attack."

The article described war games involving a U.S. super-carrier and a South Korea destroyer in the Yellow Sea.

How many U.S. troops are stationed around the world like these 28,000? Why would the United States station 28,000 troops in a foreign country? How many years have U.S. troops been there? Ever since the Korean War ended in 1953? In 57 years why hasn't the U.S. trained South Koreans to protect themselves and brought our soldiers home?

What would a world map look like, if all the positions of similarly-stationed U.S. troops were plotted?

Beth Bentley - gone 27 weeks

Beth Bentley, 41, has now been missing for 27 weeks. She disappeared from southern Illinois on May 22.

Now the Facebook page for "Beth Bentley Missing" has decided to hide all the many comments made under the "Discussions" tab. For months readers have posted comments, opinions, speculation and wild guesses about her disappearance. Then, poof! An administrator of the page decided to remove the hundreds (thousands?) of comments.

When the page was started, the position was that no one would be blocked and no comments would be removed. The first was disregarded a while back, and now the second has occurred.

Interested followers in southern Illinois have been the most aggressive in their efforts to find Beth. The results from the assumption that she did disappear from the vicinity of Centralia (the "near-the-train-station" story) or Mt. Vernon, Ill., where Beth was last seen on a Friday night in The Frosty Mug.

If she is going to be found, nothing is to be gained by hiding all the previous comments. When asked today when the comments would be restored, the response from an anonymous administrator of that Facebook page was, "We will not give an explanation and we will not say if it will be restored."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Another meter maid story

Years ago in Denver I was making a sales call on a radio executive and parked on Lincoln Street in front of the station. I deposited money into the parking meter and entered the station. When I came out of the radio station, I knew I still had 15-20 minutes of time remaining on my meter.

The meter maid had already been there and gone, and I had my own personalized friendly "greetings" from the meter enforcement division of the City of Denver. I spotted the meter maid at the corner and went to speak with her.

I explained that the flag was up on the meter, but the dial showed I still had 15 minutes of time on the meter. She told me that her instructions were, "If the flag is up, I am to write a ticket."

Dumb instructions, right? Cheat the motorist out of time and then make him pay more. So, what did I do?

I went to the office of the parking referee to argue the unfair ticket. Time-wise, it wasn't worth it, because the ticket was only $3.00. But there was a principle involved here!

I fed the meter in front of the referee's office and went in. He and I had a good discussion; he agreed I was making a good point and said he'd knock the fine down from $3 to $1. I told him if I were guilty, I'd pay the whole $3 but, since I wasn't guilty, I didn't feel I should pay anything.

His response: $3.00 or $1.00?

So I paid the $1. When I went out to my car, the flag on the meter had "flown" (but I was lucky and didn't have a ticket!).

Meter Maid courtesy

On Wednesday morning I met a friend for breakfast, and we parked our cars in a metered zone on the street in front of the cafe. I noticed that the meter had a button for ten free minutes and pushed it. No luck. So I fed three quarters into the meter and set my phone alarm to ring ten minutes ahead of the 90 minutes of street parking I had just purchased.

Breakfast lasted about 80 minutes and, when we came out, a meter maid was doing her duty and addressing the parking violation of the vehicle parked between our cars. As I walked to my car, she inquired politely if she was ticketing my car. It appeared she would have stopped writing the ticket, if I had responded with a "Yes." But she wasn't and I didn't.

As I entered my car, I noticed another customer from the cafe walk to her car, loaded down with carry-out baked goodies, and the meter maid and she had a short conversation, after which she left without a ticket.

I wish I had gotten the meter maid's name or badge number. I'll be writing a letter to her boss and complimenting her courtesy and awareness. Sure hope I don't get her in trouble for being a kind City employee!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Are you traveling this holiday week-end?

How many are traveling this week-end?

I surely hope you aren't in South Dakota, where the windchill factor was -35 degrees F. last week!

Are you on the road? Driving? Flying? Anyone taking the train? In-state only or inter-state?

I have seen just one radar team out. A trooper wearing a bright reflective vest stood on a highway overpass with his radar gun. Of course, by the time you saw him, it was too late... And just down the road were three chase cars, all with the troopers writing tickets to speeders.

Good work, troopers!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Pause this day and give thanks for all you have - no matter how great or small. Be thankful for all the gifts you have received this year. They have come in many forms.

The most previous gifts are those of the heart, not of the wallet. Be aware of those around you and do what you can to help another.

Yesterday I shared with a friend about a conversation about 15 years ago in Richmond, Virginia. A minister whose church had a very poor congregation and I were visiting, and I expressed my willingness to do what I could to help.

I knew that, even if I had nothing, I still had everything, because I had hope. And I knew that many in his congregation, when they had nothing, knew that had nothing. They didn't have hope.

Be thankful for all that you have, and reach out and help another - today and every day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How many filed?

Yesterday was the filing deadline for candidates who want to enter the fray for election to the Woodstock City Council. Who all filed?

Mark Indyke, previous candidate for Mayor
Mark Saladin, newly appointed City Council member

Who else?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jefferson County re-elected a gentleman as Sheriff

On November 2nd voters in Jefferson County, Ill. re-elected a gentleman as Sheriff. The incumbent, Roger Mulch (Dem.), received 7,311 votes (59%). Republican challenger Eric Breeze received 4,593 votes (37%), and Independent challenger Rick Taaka received 489 votes (4%).

Why do I call Sheriff Mulch a gentleman?

Look at what he said to reporter Tesa Culli of the Mt. Vernon Register-News: “I’m thankful to the citizens of Jefferson County for casting their ballots and exercising their rights to vote,” Mulch said. “I wish the best of luck to both my opponents, and I’m looking forward to serving the citizens of Jefferson County as their sheriff for the next four years.”

Why is Sheriff Mulch's name known now in northern Illinois? Jefferson County includes Mount Vernon, where it is suspected that Beth Bentley disappeared on May 22-23 of this year. Suspicion centers on a home there owned by the Ridge family, where it is believed Beth was a visitor with her traveling companion of the week-end, Jennifer Wyatt.

Sheriff Mulch's jurisdiction includes Rend Lake, where one story about the week-end indicates two women (Beth and Jenn) and four men may have used a boat rented at a lake marina. No civilian has yet been able to confirm that boat rental, and it is unknown whether a law enforcement agency had any luck in doing so or identifying the four men.

D-158 blows late-bus notification

The following comment was sent to me today, when a parent wanted to complain - loudly - about the failure of a school district to give notice to parents of bus delays.

Schools know that parents worry if the buses are three minutes late. I think it could be called the Columbine Syndrome. Obviously, the school's transportation director knew the buses would be late. When did he or she know it? 15-30-60 minutes or more before the buses even picked up the kids from school?

So why wasn't notice given then that buses "might" be late? Here's what the parent had to say...

"Well, let me tell you, D-158 transportation department really dropped the ball on the parents today. They held the kids at school because of the tornado watch and the transportation didn't send out a NIXLE until 15 minutes after the scheduled bus drop-off times. When I received the NIXLE on my cell phone, it was so garbled that I couldn't even understand what it was saying.

"I wouldn't be so upset except that nobody at Transportation was even answering the phones. What is that all about? >:-(

"At the beginning of the school year, D-158 made a big deal about all the $$$ they spent on some kind of computer software for the transportation department to notify parents if there were bus delays, and this is what we get. 15 minute NIXLE delays that you can't even understand.

"(And I don't know WHAT that software money was spent on because we had NIXLE before they plunked down that big wad of cash.)"

Courtesy - gone forever?

A must-read is Peter Anderson's column in last week's The Woodstock Independent. You'll find it on Page 9 of the November 17-23 issue . I'm not sure if you will be able to read it online at www.thewoodstockindependent.com If you can't immediately, try again in a week or so. Maybe they'll loosen the bonds a little by then.

Anderson was Principal at Northwood Middle School from 1990-2000 and resides now in New Hampshire. The title of his column is "Where have gentlemen, courtesy and courage gone?"

He writes fondly of his father, who "always held doors for both women and men." When is the last time a man or boy held a door for you, ladies? And, gents and boys, when is the last time you held a door for a woman or girl? What happened when you did? Did the "holdee" pass through without even acknowledging you? Did you feel like holding your hand out for a tip? Or saying, "You're welcome", when you weren't thanked?

I guess it's okay to have the thought, if you don't say it. Good manners would dictate that you neither hold out your hand or even think the thought of a discourteous remark.

Lately, manners have been on my mind. During a visit with my daughter and grandchildren about three years ago, my granddaughter, then 9 (and the same one who designed my Wanted poster last fall), had made a cap for me with a sign on the front of it that read, "Manners Police." I loved it!!!

She had remembered my issue with feets on the chairs at the dinner table, so that knees were between the body and the table, elbows on the table, slurping up food by moving the mouth to the plate, instead of lifting food with a fork or spoon. You know, little things like that.

Anderson writes about his father's walking on the curb side of a woman, holding a door, and not interrupting during conversation. Good habits, all.

So, what has happened to courtesy and good manners? Anderson wonders whether they are gone because people are just in too big of a hurry.

I think it's something else. First, I think it's because many today don't even know what good manners are. They didn't learn them as children; why would they know them now?

They weren't taught good manners, and they weren't expected to use them. And they didn't get walloped, if they didn't use them. Or even corrected.

Secondly, I think they think that manners and courtesy don't matter. Good manners might not be commented on, but today they are noticed. Or, what is noticed is when a person uses bad manners. Like the "boarding house reach" at the dinner table. Or diving into the food before all are seated, even if the mom says, "Good ahead and start."

And how many get up from the table and either leave plates on the table for the maid (mom) to pick up or take them to the sink and leave them for the maid (mom) to clean up)? Well, in most houses, the maid isn't there. And probably never has been.

Anderson winds up his column with a quote from Winston Churchill, "Courage is the virtue that guarantees all other virtues." And so I say,

"Men, have the courage to extend courtesy" and "Ladies, have the courage to accept it."

Halloween morning wreck - more (or less)

Early on Halloween morning (4:00AM) there was a wreck in McHenry County, when a driver rolled his pick-up onto its roof.

Was he injured? The report of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department says that the driver told the deputy that he was "okay", and the report reads that he was treated and released at the scene. The type of crash reported on the Crash Report is "B Injured."

The report of the Woodstock Fire Rescue District says he refused treatment, and the "Casualties" box is left uncompleted. The "Person Involved" information fields are blank, which means they either were not completed with the driver's name or the information was redacted. If it had been redacted, there probably would have been an entry on the report so stating.

Hoping to see evidence of the driver's condition, I ordered a copy of the in-car video from Dep. Dillon's squad car. I figured that he would have run "hot" to a reported roll-over crash during the 12 minutes that it took him to respond. Any in-car videocamera should operate as soon as the emergency lights are activated.

The response to my FOIA request was that there is no in-car video during the two-hour period of his response, time on-scene or transporting the driver to his home. I had hoped the audio would pick up conversation between the deputy and the driver that might reveal speech patterns.

The in-car audio during videocamera operation (had emergency lights been in use) also would have picked up the deputy's voice during any cell phone conversations while enroute to the scene. It is common knowledge that deputies use cell phones for off-police-frequency communications.

Did the deputy know before arrival that the driver of the crashed truck was an employee of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Assessment drop; taxes to drop? NOT!

Dorr Township Assessor Kelli Myers reported at last week's Township meeting that assessment appeals have been filed on more than 500 properties in Dorr Township. I thought, "On only 500?"

And Supervisor Bob Pierce and the Trustees approved an increase in the levy.

Think your taxes will go down?

I'm reminded of the man who started a tamale vending business in the Loop. His business prospered, and soon he had more than 20 carts operating on the streets of Chicago. His son grew up and went to the University of Chicago, Northwestern Law School and then also became a CPA.

Coming home one day, the son said, "Pop, we're in a recession. You have to start cutting back."

So the man got rid of a few carts.

"Pop, we're in a depression now. People aren't going to buy tamales. Get rid of more carts."

So the man got rid of all the carts except the one he operated.

The man said, "Son, I'm so glad you went to college and became a lawyer and a CPA. You're right. We are in a depression."

Apparently, our taxing people and other elected officials don't know this yet. People are losing their jobs and their homes. Their incomes are dropping. Yet the taxers plan to keep taxes high and maybe even to raise them!

MABAS - the right use?

"The only difference between men and boys is the price of the toys." Have you heard that before?

You can see it in action in today's fire departments. What does a fire truck cost? $500,000? $750,000? $800,000? And the crew? What does it cost?

Now multiply that by 20.

Yesterday's house fire at 11611 Hawthorne Way, (rural) Huntley (according to Google Maps, just off Route 47, south of Route 176 (toward Crystal Lake)), brought them all out. According to the Northwest Herald, this house is more than three miles from the nearest fire hydrant, so Huntley Fire called for assistance through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS)

In addition to Huntley, fire crews responded from "Algonquin, Barrington, Boone County, Burlington (Ill.), Carpentersville, Cary, Crystal Lake, Elgin, East and West Dundee, Fox River Grove, Hampshire, Hoffman Estates, Lakewood, Marengo, McHenry, Nunda Township, Pingree Grove, South Elgin, Rutland-Dundee, Union and Woodstock."

How many of these were really needed? Two? Three? But I'll bet not 20 departments!

Fire Departments, and especially separate taxing districts like Woodstock Fire Rescue District, fly mostly under the public's radar. They are their own little kingdoms, with little public awareness and oversight of operations.

There will be those who cry out, "But if we save just one pet (car, garage, tree), ..." Get out a map and look at where all those trucks came from. Then ask yourself, "Why would fire crews come from so far away?" The answer? Because they were called.

Did Huntley Fire call first for a few water trucks from only the nearest departments, and then increase its request? Obviously, you want to keep a fire from spreading, but calling 20 departments in?

The paper threw out a couple of new terms to the public: "MABAS" and "change of quarters". Jargon from the FDs. Tell the public what you really mean next time. How long did it take to contain the fire? How many departments arrived, looked around and went back to their stations? Was there a pond, lake or well on the property for water?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beth Bentley missing 26 weeks now

It was on May 23 that Beth Bentley went missing from southern Illinois. That was 26 weeks ago - a full half-year.

The best brainstorming is coming from southern Illinois, where several people are still putting a lot of energy and time into reconstructing the timeline of her last sightings.

If there were a civilian command center somewhere, with storyboards showing leads, chases, follow-ups, false tips, misleading comments, misdirection, deceit, plain ol' lies and who is putting them out, then maybe Beth would have been found by now.

She wasn't picked up by little green men in a flying saucer. Someone or some people know what happened on May 22-23.

People have been talked about but have not talked directly for attribution. Some people now are cleaning up their Facebook pages or closing them completely, which causes posted comments to vanish. The silence of some of Beth's closest local friends is more than curious to many.

The longer she is missing, the harder it will be for anyone with knowledge to keep quiet. Be sure to report all tips, even suspicions, to the Woodstock Police Department at 815.338.2131

Saladin appointment still a secret

Why hasn't Mark Saladin's appointment to the Woodstock City Council on Tuesday night reached the residents of Woodstock through the Northwest Herald yet?

I wasn't at the meeting but, according to a man who was, Saladin was appointed to succeed Ralph Webster on Tuesday night. Was he sworn in that night? Apparently so. This appointment was confirmed to me on Friday, when I called City Hall to ask about it.

Surely, a press release was issued. Wasn't it?

Mark has already been added to the online directory of members of the City Council, and he already has his own City email address. Wow! That was fast! To view all the names and addresses of Council members, go to the City's website at www.woodstockil.gov Look down the left side for "City Council", but wait! When your mouse rolls over "City Council", you'll see two choices (Agenda and Minutes). Do not choose either! Instead, click on "City Council", and then you'll get the page with the Council members' names and contact information.

Screwy, I know. Common website navigation would indicate that you choose one of the options; don't do it, or you'll end up calling City Hall to ask how to find the names and contact information for the Councilpersons.

If the Northwest Herald knows about it, why hasn't it published the announcement?

Should Dorr Township Clerk report monthly?

Every month the elected officials of Dorr Township report at the monthly meeting. The Supervisor reports; the Assessor reports; the Highway Commissioner reports; the Trustees are there and their votes are recorded publicly. And the Clerk is there. Oh, did I say the Clerk doesn't report?

The Clerk doesn't report.

A few months ago I asked at a meeting for the Clerk to report monthly on what he has done. The Township Clerk has certain official duties. Has he performed them? Is there a reason he doesn't report?

I've been wondering who is writing the Minutes of monthly meetings now. There was a remarkable improvement in them, after several residents commented at meetings about numerous errors. Is someone else getting paid to write them?

Was Township Attorney Mark Saladin's appointment as Woodstock City Councilman a total surprise to the world on Tuesday night? Did the Supervisor and the Trustees have any inkling that Mark would be appointed. In the interest of transparency, if they did, then they should have said so at the meeting. As of tonight, nothing has appeared in the media about this appointment.

How many tickets?

Be sure to read Cal Skinner's article about a possible and serious error in ticket records at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. You can read it at http://mchenrycountyblog.com/2010/11/20/sheriffs-spreadsheet-of-tickets-issued-doesnt-match-tickets-in-file/

In Federal court in Rockford (Ill.) on Friday, Blake Horwitz, attorney for Zane Seipler, told the judge that at least 200 tickets seems to be missing from a MCSD spreadsheet and that's just for one deputy. Apparently, 700 tickets may have been issued, but only 500 are on the spreadsheet.

On another day in Rockford's Federal court, a question arose about whether race was being entered correctly on tickets. On numerous tickets the race was entered as White (or Caucasian) for Hispanic drivers.

I recall hearing earlier in the year that deputies were told to just put down White for everyone, so that questions of racial profiling would go away.

I wonder if the Sheriff's Department took its lead from the U.S. Census Bureau which, for some insane reason in 2010, decided that Hispanic was not a race. Instructions on the Census form were to record Hispanic residents as White.

Keeping an Excel spreadsheet accurate just isn't that hard. You start with the Ticket Number, and then you fill in the lines. You'd think that for $70-90,000/year somebody at the Sheriff's Department ought to be able to handle that simple task without errors. Right?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Here is part of Woodstock's revised raffle law

A copy of the new, proposed ordinance for Woodstock's raffle law follows. Look at the highlighted words...

Section One, C: "Licensee Qualifications: Raffle licenses shall be issued only to bon (sic) fide charitable, educational, labor, religious and veterans' organizations that operate without profit to their members ... (five year history requirement) ... or to a non-profit fundraising organization that the licensing authority determines is organized for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to an identified individual or group of individuals suffering extreme financial hardship as the result of illness, disability, accident or disaster." (emphasis added)

A benefit for an individual will likely never qualify to be so determined by the City of Woodstock's Liquor Commission, which is the arm of the City that controls issuance of raffle permits. This is because it is highly unlikely that the State of Illinois will approve a non-profit tax status for an organization that benefits only one person. But maybe it will.

This is just my opinion of the Illinois Raffle Act (www.ilga.gov; 230 ILCS 15/ )

The City shall issue, according to the revised proposed ordinance (if it wasn't altered at the City Council meeting (the typo probably was corrected)), a permit to a "non-profit fundraising organization." An individual or a small informal group of friends would not be considered an "organization". And it won't be a "fundraising organization." And, even if it is, it won't be a "non-profit" organization, which is a designation by the State of Illinois after approval of an application for that status (after filing of corporate papers, by-laws, etc.). If the "organization" tells the State that it intends to raise money for one individual, I suspect that the State very likely will deny the application.

The City administration's cover letter to the City Council and Mayor misinforms them by giving an example of a raffle for an individual or group of individuals, adding that "The proposed added language is taken directly from the State Raffle Act. It is not.

The cover letter reads, "An example of this type of raffle would be one organizaed and conducted by a group (emphasis added) established to raise funds for an individual suffering from a catastrophic illness."

The operative word in the statute is "organization", not "group".

Why am I harping on this? Because earlier this year I learned that the City would have issued a raffle permit for the Beth Bentley fundraiser at Gus's Roadhouse, had the Bentley friends found a non-profit organization to apply for a raffle permit. That would have been wrong, but apparently the City was willing to look the other way, had the friends gotten some group to agree to apply for the raffle.

The City gets its advice from the City Attorney. Now it has an attorney on the City Council. Most attorneys are pretty good about reading the law. Do they advise on how to get around something or do they advise on the consequences of doing something not allowed under the law? I recognize that the newly-appointed City Council member does not act as a lawyer to the City Council, but he has legal education, knowledge and training not possessed by other members of the City Council, and the residents should expect to use it.

Is Woodstock exempt from State raffle laws?

The Illinois Raffle Act controls raffles in Illinois. The City of Woodstock recently modified its (local) raffle ordinance in the City Code. When Woodstock broadened its ordinance, did it do so legally?

The State law says,

"Raffle" means a form of lottery, as defined in Section 28-2 (b) of the "Criminal Code of 1961", conducted by an organization licensed ..." (emphasis added)

"Licensing. (a) The governing body of any county or municipality within this State may establish a system for the licensing of organizations to operate raffles." (emphasis added)

"Licenses shall be issued only to bona fide religious, charitable, labor, business, fraternal, educational or veterans' organizations that operate without profit to their members ..." (emphasis added)

"The entire net proceeds of any raffle must be exclusively devoted to the lawful purposes of the organization permitted to conduct that game." (emphasis added)

Need I go further?

Another NIXLE abuse - lottery scams

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department has sent out yet one more message through its NIXLE alert system to will work to defeat the purpose of urgent or emergency alerts.

This time it's about Nigerian scams and lottery scams.

When is someone going to knock some heads at 2200 N. Seminary Ave. and say, "Stop!"

What is going to happen is that the public is going to stop opening and reading NIXLE messages. If the Sheriff's Department feels it needs to warn the public about a non-urgent situation, it can issue a press release and send it to the Northwest Herald and to the Daily Herald. Heck, maybe even to The Woodstock Advocate.

But not by NIXLE.

Friday, November 19, 2010

City changes raffle rules

The City of Woodstock, rather than enforcing an existing ordinance regarding raffle rules, has opted to change the ordinance. Why would they do that?

I missed the proposal and discussion on Tuesday night, because I attended the Dorr Township monthly meeting. Looking back, I should have been at the Woodstock City Council meeting to remind them that the law is the law. Period. They can't pick and choose whether to enforce the law, which is what they have done this year.

Maybe the ordinance should have been called the "R.B. McAllister Ordinance", since the City is covering up a mistake it made when it issued a raffle permit to the McHenry County Association of Realtors, so that a raffle to raise money for R.B. could take place.

At the time when the City issued the permit for the raffle of R.B.'s motorcycle, the intent of the raffle did not meet the City Code. Prior to Tuesday night, a raffle could not be conducted for an individual. Friends of Beth Bentley tried that last summer, and the City stopped a raffle that was to raise money to search for Beth Bentley. However, I learned later that the City would have issued a raffle permit, had friends of Bentley found a not-for-profit organization to apply for a raffle permit.

It is my opinion that the Realtors' Association cannot legally conduct the McAllister raffle. The raffle is for the benefit of one person, and that is not a permitted function of an organization that enjoys a privileged tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization (if that is what it is). It could conduct a raffle for the benefit of the common good of its members, but not for the good of one (only) of its members.

The Association isn't really going to "conduct" the raffle; it just applied for the permit. The money for raffle ticket sales won't pass into the treasury of the Assn.; it goes into a personal trust for R.B.'s medical care and expenses. One of the Councilmen told me previously, he is "a strong supporter of the good that will come from these efforts and trust our City Administration to appropriately work to address any issues."

He continued, "As someone with a minimalist view of government involvement and a strong supporter of activism on the part of the citizens and our community (versus a governmental body), I applaud the efforts to allow those citizens so inclined to help RB to have a mechanism to do so."

So, apparently if it helps RB but is illegal, it's okay. At least, this is how I see it. So the City never should have issued the permit.

But it did, and now it's "legalizing" its previous illegal action by changing the law (the City Code). Not good. Not good, at all.

Mayor appoints attorney to city council

On Tuesday night Woodstock (Ill.) Mayor Brian Sager appointed an attorney to fill the unexpired term of Councilman Ralph Webster on the Woodstock City Council.

Sager appointed Mark Saladin to take Webster's place through the election on April 5, 2011, when Webster's term of office would have expired.

Saladin is a member of the Crystal Lake law firm of Zanck, Coen & Wright, P.C.

Tuesday night was a busy place in Woodstock for meetings, and some of us at the Dorr Township monthly meeting wondered why Saladin wasn't there, since he is the legal counsel for Dorr Township. No one asked, though, and the elected officials offered no explanation. His appointment would not have been official until the City Council concurred in the appointment.

I wonder if Saladin was asked during the interviewing process whether he would run for election, should he be appointed. I guess we'll know whether he will run at 5:00PM on Thursday, November 22, which is the last day to file a petition to run for election.

The Coen, Zanck law firm prevailed against the Woodstock Historic Preservation Commission over a window violation on a renovated house in the Historic District and, as I recall, it represents one of the parties involved in the development of the gravel mining operation on U.S. 14 across from the hospital.

As a Councilman it will be imperative that he maintain confidentiality surrounding the City's interest in Merryman Aggregate's compliance with all ordinance conditions. This balancing act will be delicate for Saladin, since the law firm in which he works may provide legal advice to Merryman. Merely recusing himself from any decisions may be insufficient, should the City find that it has to "persuade" Merryman to meet all conditions of its permit.

Cyberbullying webinar - Mon., Nov. 22

This is not a "how-to" webinar!!! This is a "how-to-prevent" program.

Parents, want to know how to prevent cyberbullying? Attend this free webinar on Monday, November 22, from 6:00-6:45PM E.S.T.

The title of the webinar is "Ten Ways for Parents to Prevent Cyberbullying", and it is sponsored by The Ophelia Project. For information and to register, visit www.opheliaproject.org/main/calendar.htm

If the webinar registration period is closed, please bookmark that site and watch for future openings.

Alcohol and Caffeine -FDA says "Stop"

Woodstock District 200 circulated an announcement last week from the FDA about the addition of caffeine to alcohol drinks. I must lead a sheltered life; I've never even heard of the drinks mentioned in the announcement.

The FDA disagrees with the drink makers that such an addition to alcoholic drinks is safe. It warns the drink makers of further action.

The companies receiving warning letters and their products are:

• Charge Beverages Corp.: Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked
• New Century Brewing Co., LLC: Moonshot
• United Brands Company Inc.: Joose and Max
• Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.): Four Loko

According to the FDA's announcement, "(Four Loko’s maker) had announced that it was removing caffeine, guarana and taurine from its 23.5-ounce cans of potent malt liquor. Phusion previously announced that it was voluntarily ceasing sales in New York after officials there pushed to ban the dangerous concoctions."

WFRD - green light? or not?

Last night the Woodstock Fire Rescue District was scheduled to receive a report (only) from its attorney on the consideration being given to providing fire protective services to the Village of Lakewood. I thought about attending and taking a copy of It's Like That Everywhere, George with me.

This book should be required reading for the WFRD Board of Trustees, the Chief and the attorney before going further into negotiations with Lakewood. The book details some of the problems that the City of Crystal Lake had in its contracted dealings with Lakewood.

Imagine my surprise to read this morning in the Northwest Herald that WFRD will provide services to Lakewood in 2011.

The paper explains that "WFRD board members Thursday night unanimously voted to prepare an intergovernmental agreement with Lakewood to provide protection to the village for the next five years, with the village paying the district for services on a monthly basis. The fire district board and the Village Board plan to approve the agreement at their December meetings."

Is it a done deal? If you only read the paper, you'll think so. The WFRD could not have voted last night to do the deal, because no Agenda item for this appears. The lawyers for both entities will sit down for ham & eggs and make a deal, and then the Board of Trustees of both entities will nod their heads.

Before they do that, they should examine Lakewood's track record for making deals. Didn't it settle a $150,000 debt to Crystal Lake with a check for $15,000? Isn't there some disagreement even now between Lakewood and Crystal Lake over protective services before Lakewood contracted with a private firm to provide them?

How did the reporter come up with "The fire district board ... plan(s) to approve the agreement..."?

Isn't the Village of Lakewood far outside the established boundaries of the service area for WFRD? How is WFRD expanding its territory? Can it do that without taxpayer approval?

The December meeting is a great place for a major financial decision. Will the public turn out on December 16 to oversee the Trustees' vote?

If you want a copy of this 550-page book, contact the author, George Wells, at gcwells104@att.net, and he'll be happy to send you a copy for $23.00, including shipping.

Kills dog - no charges

This morning's Northwest Herald carries an article about rural Huntley resident Mark Zielinski, who shot and killed a neighbor's golden retriever, which he claimed was killing his chickens.

The dog apparently escaped its yard by crossing an invisible fence on November 4. Zielinski killed the dog because wounding it would have been inhumane, according to the paper.

Also according to the paper, "Lt. John Miller of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office said there were no charges filed because Zielinski was defending his property. Miller said Zielinski had a valid FOID card and legally owned the gun."

Lt. Miller should check a little further for "Felony Abuse of an Animal" laws. It wasn't all that long ago that a rural Harvard resident defended his LIFE by killing a neighbor's guard dog that had roamed onto his property and charged HIM. Surely, Illinois law cannot allow a person to protect his chickens and not his life!

Zielenski ought to be facing felony charges today and should expect to be found guilty, if he is unlucky enough to get the same jury that the Harvard man did. He become a convicted felon and lose his FOID card.

The Northwest Herald is protective today of the reputation of the four dead chickens; it doesn't allow comments to today's article.

Did McHenry County Sheriff's Department initially make a bad decision in this case, which can be rectified by charging Zielinski today? Or did it make a HUGE mistake several years ago when it charged the Harvard man? (The answer is Yes to the latter question!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's only going to get worse

I had the distinct displeasure of driving on the Illinois Tollway today, when I took I-90 from Ill. Rte. 53 west to Rte. 47 at Huntley about 2:45PM. If I knew how to draft (well, I do, but ...), I could have saved some gas...

Most of the drivers were tooling along about 65MPH (in the 55 zone), but once they got to Rte. 59, they seemed to drop the hammer. The pace of the pack picked up to about 72, and there were a few at an estimated 85.

Where are the troopers? I figured it wasn't even worth a call to District 2 about the speeders. Manpower cutbacks mean less and less enforcement (and higher and higher speeds). Add in the tailgaters, lane-changing without signals, and cutting off the driver just passed, and troopers could have a field day - every day.

What Illinois needs is photo radar! And no supervision after conviction. Supposedly, Illinois has photo radar in construction zones, only you never see the warning signs or the radar van.

Our narrow-minded legislators are afraid to protect the law-abiding public by legislative approval of photo radar. (Actually, they are afraid of voter backlash.) There! I've thrown down the gauntlet.

Flags at half-staff through Saturday

United States and Illinois flags are to be flown at half-staff from Sunrise, Thursday, November 18, 2010 until Sunset, Saturday, November 20, 2010, to honor the late Lance Corporal James B. Stack, United States Marine Corps, whose hometown was Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Lance Cpl. Stack, 20, was killed on November 10, while on foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eddie S. was great

The Woodstock Community Partnership Coalition (of School District 200) sponsored a program for parents tonight at Woodstock High School and present Eddie Slowikowski, a professional public speaker from Bolingbrook.

Eddie had spoken to students at Woodstock North High School and Woodstock High School earlier in the day, and tonight's program was geared mainly toward parents. Approximately 87 persons attended this evening, and thank goodness so many students came back to hear Eddie again. I estimated that there were about 60 students in the audience.

I'm not going to tell you what Eddie said. You could have been there. You should have been there. Your life would be different tomorrow, had you been in the audience tonight. If you would like to know what you missed, visit www.eddiespeak.com

The CPC hasn't found the right combination yet to entice parents to show up with their kids for the occasional evening programs of this type. The District is trying very hard to provide notice to parents and to invite them and encourage their attendance.

Why aren't the parents showing up?

Eddie, thanks for a great program. You were terrific!

Special Education - Woodstock D-200

Last Spring the Woodstock District 200 Special Education Department conducted a survey of a few parents of the 1,000+ special ed students. See the articles on www.specialkids-specialparents.info

Part 1 was published today.

Part 2 will be published late on Thursday, November 18, 2010.

If you know a parent of a special education student in Woodstock District 200 schools (or anywhere in McHenry County (or elsewhere)), please let them know of Parts 1-2 on the other blog.


School Report Cards

Parents, how are your students doing in Woodstock schools? Are you satisfied with their progress?

Do you see the report cards? Read them? Understand them? Study them? Talk with your kid(s) about them? Talk to their teachers about them?

What do you want for your kids? A well-rounded education? What skills do you want them to have by graduation?

Do you want your kids to be able to read? I mean, really read? Why should a kid learn to read?

Someone said that a person who does not read is no better than the person who cannot read. Who said that?

Do you let your kids disappear into the TV set, the Gameboy, the iPod, video games? Or do you set them up with a reading regime and let them play with all their toys only after their studies are done?

And what about their schools? Did you look at your school's report card this year? Do you talk with and meet with your kids' teachers at any time besides the 10-minute parent-teacher conference? Frankly, whatever can be accomplished in ten minutes???

Schools only have to issue report cards once a year. Then it starts collecting dust and probably the only people who look at it and worry about it are the principals and some of the folks over at 227 West Judd Street.

How involved are you with your kids' schools? Do you want to be more involved in your kids' education? Have you tried? With what results? Do their schools have Parent Advisory Councils? Where the parents are actually involved with staff in creating the best possible education for their kids and all students?

Or is there just a PTO (mostly, parents) for bake sales and raising money for certain programs?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dorr Township - new website

Check out the new website for Dorr Township at www.dorrtownship.com/

Not sure when it went live, but it's there. And, so far, I only found one broken link.

There is still time to plan to attend tonight's monthly meeting at the Township office. Two important items are on the agenda.

"7. Proposed Town Fund Levy – presentation and Motion to place on record

"8. Proposed Road District Levy – presentation and Motion to place on record"

Perhaps the Trustees and the Supervisor are going to announce a reduction in levy, in view of crashing home prices, foreclosures, job losses, and the depression in this country. Think so? Too bad the motion isn't on the agenda, so that residents can see what's in store for them!

Although the Public Comment period is at the beginning of the meeting and is normally a place where comments about agenda items are frowned upon, the public may wish to use that comment period to be sure of getting in their two-cents' worth.

Found a second broken link and an unnecessary step to get from the meeting notice to the agenda. Hello? How come website designers can't get it right the first time? I sent one free error report to the Township, but I am not going to sharpshoot the new website for free.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Halloween crash report - funny call times

After a further reading of the early Halloween morning crash report for an off-duty corrections officer, there ought to be some serious questions at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. A Call Log was attached to the FOIA response sent to me. Ask yourself - do these times make sense?

The crash is reported to have occurred about 4:04AM on October 31. It occurred on northbound Alden Road, about 1/4-mile south of McGuire Road, in McHenry County.

When the dispatch call was aired at 4:06AM, three units (3D5 (Dep. Dillon), 3D4 (Dep. Kinter) and S517 (Sgt. Tadelman)) acknowledged the call, and the Call Log indicates their locations as Alden Rd. & McCauley Rd. At least, that's the location in the Comments section of the Call Log. Presumably, that is the location from which they were responding. The importance of this location in the Call Log is that it lets the dispatchers and the other deputies estimate the travel time to the destination, the crash site.

The distance from Alden Road-McCauley Road to Alden Road-McGuire Road is approximately two miles, according to Google maps. So, the response time should have been about two minutes.

The travel times of the three deputies to the crash scene were
Dep. Dillon, 11 min.
Dep. Kinter, 17 min.
Sgt. Tadelman, 22 min.

Obviously, they were not all at Alden & McCauley Roads, when they got the call. So, why isn't the Call Log accurate?

Presumably, Dep. Dillon (and maybe the other two deputies) would have run "hot" (lights & siren), which would cause the in-car video-cameras to operate. Were these deputies 10, 15 and 20 miles away, respectively?

Why is this important? The in-car cameras may have continued to run, when the emergency lights were kept activated after the deputies arrived at the scene.

Why do I think there is something wrong with the MCSD report? When any driver - any driver - reports that he was driving at the speed limit at 4:00AM on a rural highway, I am suspicious. I am the only person I know who obeys the speed limit in McHenry County. When I do so, I am tailgated, followed with bright lights on, passed in no-passing zones; McHenry County drivers do not like drivers who "hold up traffic" by obeying the speed limits.

WFRD establishes Steckel scholarship fund

Woodstock Fire Rescue District has an announcement on its homepage (www.wfrd.org) that a $500 scholarship has been established in the name of Trent David Steckel. The scholarship is for a McHenry County student who is pursuing state certification as a firefighter or in a related healthcare field.

Applications must be submitted by December 3, 2010. The application form, more information and instructions are available on the WFRD website.

Steckel died earlier this year in an early morning, single-vehicle, motorcycle crash. It's clear that he was well-liked at WFRD, where he was completing his training as a firefighter/EMT. He was provided an honors funeral in Crystal Lake.

Please distribute this information to any McHenry County student who is studying to become a firefighter or paramedic.

WFRD growing - out of bounds?

Be sure to read Cal Skinner's article this morning about the Woodstock Fire Rescue District. You'll find it at www.mchenrycountyblog.com/ You may have to scroll down for it. The headline is "Lakewood moving fire protection from private company to Woodstock Fire Protection (sic) District".

I first thought, knowing a little of the history about the relationship of the Village of Lakewood to the City of Crystal Lake in past years regarding timely payment of charges for fire protection and rescue services, was "How much does Lakewood owe Crystal Lake, if anything, right now and how is Crystal Lake going to collect it?"

A while back I think Crystal Lake accepted $15,000 in payment, rather than fighting for the entire $150,000 that had been billed. That was a great deal for Lakewood and a lousy deal for Crystal Lake taxpayers.

Woodstock Fire Rescue District is funded by District taxpayers. Are the taxpayers going to okay this empire-building deal? What part, if any, of Lakewood is within the boundaries of WFRD? Can WFRD legally contract services to be provided out of its district?

If WFRD builds its empire, expanding its union ranks, and then Lakewood bails, what will WFRD get stuck with? How will it cover that contingency?

Although it is a public body, WFRD seems to be a rather "tight" organization, perhaps like Dorr Township was before residents began asking questions and probing actions. Does any member of the public attend WFRD monthly meetings? The November meeting will be November 18, 2010, 7:00PM, at Fire Station #1, 435 East Judd St., Woodstock.

For meeting dates and locations, look under "Board of Trustees" on www.wfrd.org/

Will WFRD cancel any contract if the Village of Lakewood commences a slow-pay program on its financial obligation? What about all those "extra" union firefighters who will want to be paid, whether Lakewood pays or not? WFRD taxpayers will end up on the hook.

Flags at half-staff through Monday

United States and Illinois flags are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise, Saturday, November 13, 2010 until sunset, Monday, November 15, 2010, to honor the late Corporal James Chad Young, United States Army, whose hometown was Rochester, Illinois.

Cpl. Young, 25, was fatally wounded last Wednesday, when his unit was attacked in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He had returned to duty after having been home on leave two weeks earlier.

Rochester is east of Springfield.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bell-ringing time

It's that season, folks. In fact, it's hard to believe that we are at the middle of November already. Thanksgiving is almost here, and the Christmas season is just beyond it. To me, it still feels like October!

Please join me in supporting the Salvation Army and its thousands of volunteers who will be ringing bells to raise money for the good work done by the Salvation Army.

There is a lot to do besides ringing a bell in your area between now and Christmas. Give a little each time you pass a red bucket, and put some in here, too.

Just click right here: http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/goto/WoodstockAdvocate

In fact, don't give a little; give a LOT.


Let the holidays begin...

Awesome! Pop-Up Hallelujah Chorus at Macy

The old John Wanamaker store in Philadelphia has a world renown organ - it is now a Macy's. See what happens to the crowd when the organ starts playing this beautiful tribute to God.


'Tis beginning to be the season for random actions of kindness...

When you drink and drive - a boat

This is what happens when you drink and drive, whether it's a car or a boat...

"Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces that 55 year old Ricky McGuire, of Wonder Lake, was sentenced to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the offense of Operating a Watercraft under the Influence of Alcohol. McGuire faced a possible sentence of probation or three to fourteen years in prison. McGuire was found guilty on September 17, 2010 after a five day jury trial. The jury deliberated for approximately three hours before finding the defendant guilty. The trial testimony revealed that the defendant had a blood alcohol level of .179 when his boat collided with another watercraft on Wonder Lake in the early morning hours of July 6, 2008. As a result of that collision, 21 year old Nicole Jurgens was killed. This case was investigated by Officer Rich Reidel of the Illinois Conservation Police. This case was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorneys Michael Combs and Patrick Kenneally."

See/meet Eddie S. this Wed., Nov. 17

You will be kicking yourself in the backside, big time, if you miss Wednesday evening's talk at Woodstock (Ill.) High School, when Eddie Slowikowski comes to town. Students will get a chance to hear and meet Eddie during the day, and they'll be crazy not to come back for more on Wednesday night and to drag their parents out, too.

This is a night to fill the auditorium at Woodstock High School. For you out-of-towners who would like to come, there will be room in the large auditorium and the balcony, so y'all come, too; ya hear?

Check out Eddie at www.eddiespeak.com

Be there on time, so the program can start at 6:30PM sharp!

Saturday, 3PM - Jailbrakers' Bingo

Tomorrow the Jailbrakers' support group is conducting a fundraiser and Bingo at the Woodstock Moose Lodge. The fun starts at 3:00PM. Drop by to check out this group and give them some support.

The group was started as a grass-roots support group for friends and families of men and women in prison or jail. The idea is the brake the cycle (not break them out) of incarceration. If families are kept together, when the person is released after serving his sentence, then s/he will have a place to go and life begins to get back on track.

The Moose Lodge is located at 406 Clay Street, Woodstock. There is plenty of free street parking and also in the Metra parking lot.

For information, write to jailbrakers@gmail.com

Will Jack be there?

Thanks to Cal Skinner's blog at www.mchenrycountyblog.com we know of a rally planned for tomorrow, Saturday, November 13, at 12:00 Noon at Jack Franks' Woodstock office. That ought to tie up Route 47 in fine fashion.

Patriots United is ganging up on Jack about S.B. 1716, described as the "Civil Union" bill.

Thanks to Cal's article I now have what I think is a good website and email address for Jack, although it's his political campaign internet contact.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Woodstock PD revises Bentley flier

The Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department has posted a revised Missing Person flier on its website in the Beth Bentley case. Wording in the flier about the Amtrak train station in Centralia has been changed.

To view the flier, go to the website of the City of Woodstock at www.woodstockil.gov Then click on City Departments, then Police, then Crime Stopper Cases, and then click on the link for the flier.

No new information has been added to the flier about Beth Bentley, 41, who disappeared on or about May 23, 2010, in southern Illinois.

Donate blood - TODAY (Nov. 11)

Donating blood is a great way to help another person at no cost to you and with very little of your time. A blood drive will be held today, November 11, for R.B. McCallister, a Woodstock resident who is battling a neurological disorder.

The blood drive will be from 3:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Pirro’s Restaurante, 228 Main St., Woodstock. Donors should take a photo ID and should eat well and stay hydrated all day.

According to an article in this morning's paper, McCallister is currently in a long-term acute care facility. RB is suffering an inflammation of the spinal cord called acute transverse myelitis. A local Realtor and pottery artist, he became ill about three months ago.

To schedule an appointment, call Christina at LifeSource, 312-279-2958 or visit www.lifesource.org/

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Choices, choices, choices

Some asked me once if I had trouble making decisions. I answered, "Well, yes and no."

Tuesday night there are four meetings I'd like to attend:

Woodstock District 200 School Board
Woodstock City Council
Dorr Township monthly meeting
Pre-Paid Legal business meeting

Where's that coin? Heads or tails...

Getting blood out of a turnip

Remember the sentence - "You can't get blood out of a turnip"?

That probably dates me! Where do you suppose the age-break is for remembering that sentence?

I got to thinking about it today, as I recalled my visit to Judge Bolger's courtroom yesterday. Just what is accomplished when an attorney tries to get blood out of a turnip. Can he?

No; if it's not there, it's not there. Ahhh, but you might be able to squeeze it out somewhere else, such as out of your client's pocket, unless you are working on a contingency. But maybe you are working on a minimum.

Let's say you are a hard-working attorney and you are suing someone who didn't complete payments on a car loan. Ignore the fact that he surrendered the car voluntarily, when he realized that he wasn't going to be able to pay for it after losing his job two years ago and not being able to find new work. No repossession was involved.

Ignore the fact that "paper" on the car is today higher than the price he paid for the car five years ago.

Ignore the fact that his home was in foreclosure and that he was seriously "underwater" on the home mortgage.

The attorney's advice was "Borrow from somebody." What? You mean borrow from somebody when you know you can't pay them back? Isn't that fraud?

So what does the attorney do? He goes after a judgment against the house in an attempt to get paid on the car loan. Hello? There is no money there! It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a Ph.D. in Mathematics to figure out pretty quickly that, if there is no equity in the home, then there isn't any money to get by putting a lien on the house.

The lien for the car debt is preventing the homeowner from completing a restructuring of the mortgage so that he could keep his home. If the car debt lender would back off for two weeks, then the homeowner could keep his home.

The Woodstock lawyer who is taking a hardball approach on this is neither serving his client or the community. He would lose nothing by standing down temporarily. He will get nothing for his lendor-client by following the path he is on. There is nothing to get.

Integrity might require him to inform his client that you can't get blood out of a turnip. It's the economy, stupid. Maybe he'll find himself in a situation someday where he can't maintain an expensive home and two luxury cars. Karma has a way of doing that to some people.

Chicago court help - Three cheers

My friend with the Chicago cell phone ticket just called to tell me the outcome.

First off, she was told earlier today, when she returned to court, that there was no way that yesterday's plea would get changed. Her only recourse would be to appeal, pay filing fees, etc. and go that route. She was told that no one in the Adm. Hearing Court had ever changed a decision and, further, there was no one with whom she could speak today. If she wanted to go higher up, she'd probably have to wait days or weeks for an appointment.

She persisted and reached the office of a decision-maker, who returned to the office while her administrative assistant was saying that she was out of the office. That manager accepted the call, listened and arranged immediately for yesterday's conviction to be vacated. The woman with the ticket then appeared before a judge, gave her explanation and was found Liable. She agreed to pay the balance of the fine and court costs, and then the Assistant City Attorney noticed that the Order incorrectly still showed the community service sentence. So he returned to the bench and had that removed.

At least one Assistant City Attorney was almost foaming at the mouth over the change in yesterday's decision.

No doubt that most of Chicago's prosecuting attorneys are hurried and harried, but she got great help from at least two of them, and she is very appreciative of their listening and their action.

And the Disorderly Conduct conviction won't be recorded. It turned out that the advice from the City's attorney yesterday was wrong that a D.C. conviction would not be recorded anywhere. Of course, it would be!

Chicago's cell phone ticket

Recently a friend got a ticket in Chicago for talking on a handheld cell phone while driving. The fact that she only answered the phone and immediately put it on Speakerphone didn't matter to the cop who stopped her. He saw the phone by her ear, and that was that. In fact, that male cop got so mad writing the ticket that his female partner got out of the patrol car and told him to let her finish the ticket.

She went to Chicago's Administrative Hearing Court yesterday (what we in Woodstock call the Administrative Adjudication (AA) Court) to plead her case, and an Assistant City Attorney (ACA)talked her into pleading "Liable" (that's the term in Adjudication Court, not Guilty). He told he that nobody beats cellphone tickets and that the cop didn't even have to be there to testify against her. And that second part correct, as it is in Woodstock. The AA Court judge assumes that the cop would testify that the defendant violated the law (otherwise, why would he have written the ticket?) and doesn't require the cop to stand up, raise his right hand and swear to tell the truth.

But the first part - that nobody beats a ticket in AA Court - is not correct.

When she complained about the extra $40 appearance fee (court cost), increasing the total cost to $140, the ACA offered her a "deal": pay $20 and do a day of community service. As an aside, he mentioned that the charge would be amended to Disorderly Conduct "for paperwork purposes." In the noise and confusion of the court, she focused on saving $120 and didn't understand the Disorderly Conduct part.

When we talked about it last night, I told her what I thought that really meant. I suggested she go back to court today and attempt to get the whole thing unwound and start over.

She ran into all sorts of flack at the court building today and people who said "You can't do that"; i.e., you can't get yesterday's decision vacated. Well, she, with the help of a senior person in the building this morning, is making it happen. She'll go back before a judge later this morning.

The first moral of the story is to fully understand that the City's attorney is not your attorney. He is on the other side. It is "you vs. them." And you had better understand exactly what the effect of accepting a "deal" is. Don't get in a hurry. Ask questions. The City Attorney, because he is not your attorney, may not answer them. Let that be a red flag.

In Woodstock's Admin. Adjud. Court, Judge Eterno makes it perfectly clear to the defendants that the City's attorney is not their attorney. He explains it clearly and unhurriedly.

People often go to court without lawyers because they think they cannot afford a lawyer. But, in the end, the cost of going without a lawyer may be much higher!

Just imagine having a disorderly conduct conviction on your record and having it spoil a career or a job application or a contract for services.

Yes, she could have just coughed up the $100 for the ticket and never gone to court. What she didn't know is that Chicago would tack on the extra $40 for the minute in front of the judge. I explained about negotiated pleas and amended charges. All in layman's terms, of course, since I am not a lawyer.

And the result in today's court in Chicago. She might even be found Not Liable. More later.

Beth Bentley and WPD

Woodstock Police Department has quietly removed the two Missing Person postings from its website. A check this morning revealed that neither the May 28 nor the June 9 announcement remains on the site.

What signal does this send to the community? Has the Department determined that Beth is no longer missing?

Does the Department now know where she is? In the absence of any information regarding foul play, did the case just go stale so quickly that the Department (and the City) is no longer willing to devote such a minute amount of bandwidth to continue the Missing Person posting?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Halloween morning rollover crash

Last week I wrote about a rollover crash in rural McHenry County that never made it to the media. Early information to me indicated that alcohol had been a factor; later information to me indicated that alcohol was not a factor.

And then today i received a response to my FOIA request. Alcohol is not mentioned at all - either its presence or absence. The presumption then must be that alcohol was not a factor.

In fact, the crash report is vague enough that it's hard to determine much about the crash.

As soon as a primary report starts with "In summary,..." it begs for closer attention. The primary report should not be a summary of a crash. It should report the details of the crash investigation. Subsequent reports might begin with "In summary, ..."

The driver and sole occupant of the pick-up truck was Bryan Henning, 25, who is a corrections officer at the McHenry County Jail. Henning told Dep. Patrick Dillon that he had been northbound on Alden Road, approaching McGuire Road, when he swerved to avoid hitting an animal that ran across the road from his right.

The report fails to mention what type of animal or its size, or where the animal was when he first saw it. The report says Henning left the roadway, over-corrected, turned sideways on the road and over-turned in the northbound lane. Tire marks are indicated in the crash diagram in the southbound lane near the shoulder, although no path of the vehicle is drawn in the crash report. Only the final position of the over-turned truck is indicated on the report. The report doesn't state whether the vehicle ran off the right side or left side of the roadway or how far it traveled on the shoulder or in the ditch.

In one section it is reported that Woodstock Fire Rescue responded and that transport for medical care was refused. In another section it indicates that Harvard Rescue was enroute for evaluation. The type of crash is reported as "B Injury" type. Henning, who told Deputy Dillon that he was okay, was treated on the scene and released, according to Deputy Dillon's report. Glad you were wearing your seatbelt, Bryan!

Henning was given a ride to his Harvard residence by Deputy Dillon. Midas Touch got the tow. of Henning's vehicle, which was reported as totaled.

The issue for me about this crash is that it was not reported to the press. Because MCSD reports crashes involving civilian drivers to the press, it ought to report crashes by employees. Is a crash to avoid an animal unavoidable? Some are, such as when a deer leaps across the road in front of a vehicle and is hit (or almost hit) or lands on the car. This report does not mention a deer; it doesn't describe the type of animal at all.

Other crashes involving MCSD employees have supposedly been caused by animals that then vanished into thin air. Stories have been passed along to me that include laughter at the point where the "driver said a deer jumped in front of his vehicle."

In the early morning hours (or late afternoon or perhaps at any time) drivers in the country should be on the look-out for running animals that might cross the road. Maybe you slow down, even though the speed limit is 55. Just today, about noon, a deer ran across Greenwood Road in front of my motorcycle. Of course, this was during daylight hours, and the corn in the field had already been harvested, so the sight distance was good.

What CALEA standard has MCSD set for reporting single-vehicle, non-injury crashes to the press?

Did sheriff's office become vacant in 2006?

Imagine this...

What if the Office of the Sheriff of McHenry County became vacant in December 2006, when Mrs. Nygren changed her residency to Florida, applied for a homestead exemption and was granted a homestead exemption on THEIR home in Cape Coral?

Because it was THEIR home (purchased and mortgaged in both names), did Keith Nygren become automatically become a resident of Florida at that time?

If so, he lost his right to hold the elected office of Sheriff in McHenry County at that time. At least, that's was Illinois law says. And the Office of Sheriff became vacant!

And what if he did vacate the office at that time, albeit unintentionally but legally so? Did McHenry County have no sheriff in office in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010?

Imagine the havoc with warrants, arrests, trials. And promotions and internal appointments. And HR cases involving Zane Seipler and Bob Schlenkert.

And imagine his having to return four years of pay and the cost of benefits! That would put a real dent in his Asset column.

All for the gain of a paltry homestead exemption. How did he confirm his Florida homestead? By giving up his Illinois homestead exemption in 2009, but only after getting caught for illegally claiming homestead exemption in two states (but not charged with any tax impropriety).

But wait, when you take a tax deduction on your Federal income tax return to which you are not legally entitled, is this a new and different issue than a tax problem on the local, county level? Will IRS start sniffing around?

Nygrens claimed the Florida homestead exemption in 2009, but they are not claiming it for 2010. When did they realize that claiming the Florida homestead exemption might jeopardize Keith's McHenry County residence and job? Is that why they are not now claiming the Florida homestead exemption in Lee County, Florida?

What if Keith Nygren is determined to have vacated the Office of Sheriff in 2006? What if he was ineligible to file to run for re-election in 2009? Would all 53,791 votes for him just be thrown out?

Would the race then be decided between Mike Mahon and me? Or would a new election between Mike and me be required? And without a Republican candidate, since no eligible Republican was on the November 2 ballot?

Or would Zane Seipler be ruled the Republican winner of the February 2 Primary, since there was no other eligible Republican on the Republican Primary ballot?

Just gets murkier and murkier, doesn't it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

More NIXLE Abuse

Today NIXLE published an announcement that the McHenry County Sheriff's Department will offer a snowmobile course on Saturday. Big deal...

Has anyone seen snow?

If you disagree with this use of NIXLE to "warn" the public that snowmobile will once again take to the roads, email the Sheriff and your County Board rep.

County Board email addresses can be found on co.mchenry.il.us, and email to the Sheriff can be sent to sheriff@co.mchenry.il.us

Newspapers and letters to snowmobile club members can adequately publicize this course. The public can stop this abuse of the NIXLE system and insist that it be used only for urgent alerts and warnings.

You can run, but you can't hide

From the Crystal Lake Police Department comes the following press release:

"On Saturday, November 6th, 2010 at approximately 03:24 AM, Crystal Lake Police received information from a concerned motorist of a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup truck traveling northbound on McHenry Avenue without headlights, at a high rate of speed, and with only three inflated tires. A patrol officer located the Dodge Ram and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The operator of the pickup truck failed to yield to the stop, accelerated further and attempted to elude the officers. As the officers gave pursuit, the Dodge Ram continued at a high rate of speed northbound on Walkup Avenue/Crystal Lake Road attempting to accelerate away from the pursuing officers before losing control and crashing into an embankment on Crystal Lake Road at Kensington Drive in the City of McHenry where the vehicle rolled over. The operator, Russ M. Starks (30) of 511 Kensington Drive, McHenry, suffered injuries requiring transport to Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry. The McHenry Police Department responded to the scene and investigated the crash. Upon release from the hospital, Russ M. Starks was arrested and charged with the following offenses; Aggravated DUI (4 Felony), Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding (4 Felony), Speeding over 40 MPH over posted limit (A Misdemeanor), and Driving While License Suspended (A Misdemeanor) along with nine additional traffic offenses (petty offenses). The Starks subject was released from the McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility on November 7th, 2010 after posting $2,300.00 cash bond. This case is pending a court appearance on December 21st, 2010 at the McHenry County Courthouse."

(Don't blame me for the one long paragraph. That's how it was issued.)

Lakewood sportsplex - a good idea?

Two comments about the Lakewood sportsplex were posted today to my September 19, 2009, article titled “IL 47 – why in Lakewood?) See the original article at www.woodstockadvocate.com/2009/09/il-47-why-in-lakewood.html

These important comments might not be seen as appended to that year-old article, so I’ll post them up-front here. Thanks to “photogray” for your comments.

“A concerned citizen might be able to be a "voice of reason". I wish you luck! There already is a sports complex less than 3 miles east of the new proposed location. Why? Is Lippold Park too full? Is it off limits to Lakewood residents? City officers too often see these projects as cash cows and push these agendas labeling them with all sorts of emotionally charged words like "Job Creator" and "for the kids". This is the sort of proposal that needs to be cut back. This is the sort of proposal that gets governments to borrow more money, way past our ability and willingness to pay for it. Don't yell but stand firmly in the way. Good luck and thanks for opposing this.”


“Land does not get gobbled. It gets taken bite by bite. Landowners willing to sell, cities wanting federal dollars,soccer moms thinking they drive too far already. This is the sort of proposal that should be evaluated critically not emotionally. There is already a sports complex three miles east of the proposed location. This is a proposal that should only be built out of need not want. Supporters will use emotionally charged words and phrases like "job creation" and "for the kids". But quality issues such as gridlock,watershed quality, incidence of vehicular accidents will not get the same discussion.
"If you value the lifestyle of McHenry county, please don't turn it into Cook county.”

Students - No headsets on buses! Or iPods!

“Students are not allowed to play or use any type of audio listening device on the bus and are not allowed to wear headphones.”

So states the Woodstock Community Unit School District #200 Handbook for Parents in the School Bus Safety Guidelines.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

You keep kids cooped up in school all day, and then you keep the lid on while they are riding home on the buses.

If a kid is quiet and in his seat, what possible reason could there be for prohibiting his listening to music (or, heaven forbid, studying a language lesson...) through earphones or earbuds? Only he can hear the sound, assuming he doesn't have it cranked up to the point of hearing loss.

Do kids listen to them, anyway? Do they just hunker down, where the driver cannot see them?

That's not the answer. The answer is to change this guideline.

It's like the 15MPH speed limit at MCC. It's stupid, so no one obeys it.

Civil Court - three-ring circus?

This morning I visited Judge Bolger's courtroom at the McHenry County Courthouse. From the sheer number of cases there being conducted by Jack Franks (representing plaintiffs against others, many of whom owed money to Jack's clients), there ought to be plaque on the door, "Welcome to Jack's Place." Whew! As one woman said later, 59 people and two lawyers!"

Jack should have had a little tape recorder with a pre-recorded tape asking for a body attachment for all the defendants who didn't show up. He was running on automatic and twice asked Judge Bolger for a body attachment while a defendant was walking up to the bench.

Maybe a lawyer reading this will explain "body attachment" to the readers here. Is it like a warrant issued in criminal court? Is it an order for the Sheriff (well, for one of his deputies, since he is likely up in Minocqua) to pick up someone and to jail that person until the bond is posted?

Why wouldn't a person show up in court? Maybe he didn't know about the court date? Maybe he is like a friend of mine who got a notice that he was to be in court for this case last Friday and showed up, only to learn that the case was not last Friday and was not in the courtroom where he was told to appear. The case was today and in a different courtroom. Could that cause a person to fail to appear?

Or the guy in court today because he got a subpoena but the case wasn't on the court call? He got sent out of the courtroom to view the monitor in the hallway and come back with his Case Number. How's that for organization? And he told the judge that he was on time for all payments and was halfway through settling his debt, only there was no Payment Order in the judge's file. The man claimed to be current in his regular payments to Jack Franks' law office.

When cases were called by Judge Bolger, he'd swear in the defendant and then say, "Have a seat. Counsel (Jack Franks) will talk to you in a few minutes."

Only Jack didn't talk to anyone "in a few minutes." In case after case, Judge Bolger repeated that instruction. And so the defendants sat there and sat there. During one 30-minute recess Jack sat at the lawyer's table, busily writing out orders. When defendants attempted to ask him how much longer they were going to have to wait, Jack must have had writer's cramp that provoked him to answer somewhat testily, "Does it look like I'm wasting time? I haven't taken a break."

When there were only people waiting for the last three cases of Jack Franks, he left the courtroom, leaving the final dirty work to his younger associate, who had neither authority or very much knowledge about the cases. Twice the judge asked where Jack Franks was and sent the bailiff to find him. The bailiff came back empty-handed, and he didn't get on the phone to order Franks back to the courtroom.

Maybe Judge Bolger will tell Jack to stick around to the finish and not abandon the cases to someone with incomplete knowledge. It was classic tradecraft. Bail out and leave the case in the hands of someone without complete knowledge and authority, so that it would have to be continued.

The judge did give direct orders in two of the cases for Jack Franks' law firm to create paperwork that would reflect payments by defendants. It may be wonder how many other similar cases there could be at Jack's law firm. (Recall earlier this year that it took over a year for that firm to release a $131.00 check to its own client. The check had been received from another law firm, and I'm sure that fact that it was written on a lawyer's trust account was the only reason that the bank cashed a year-old check.)

Flags lowered through Wednesday

United States and Illinois flags are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise, Monday, November 8, 2010 until sunset, Wednesday, November 10, 2010, to honor the late Private First Class Andrew N. Meari, United States Army, whose hometown was Plainfield, Illinois.

PFC Meari, 21, died last Monday, when his unit was attacked in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Apt. for rent

If you know a responsible person or couple looking for a nice apartment in Woodstock, please tell them about a two-bedroom, third-floor (front) apartment at 500 Lake Avenue (Apt. 6). It's a quiet building that is very well maintained by an on-site manager and attentive owners. Heat, gas and water are included in the rent.

Most of the tenants have lived in this building for three years or more.

To see the apartment or for more information, the interested person should call 815.206.4573 to discuss its availability, rent and qualifications to live in this building.

Beth Bentley - Week 24

Woodstock resident Beth Bentley, 41, went missing on May 23, 2010, 24 weeks ago. Where is she?

Did she leave voluntarily and choose to disappear? Will she re-appear one of these days?

Or did she vanish involuntarily? Was she the victim of a crime in southern Illinois?

Rewards from three separate funds total only "up to" $5,000. Tips can be phoned to CrimeStoppers for McHenry County at 800.762.STOP. There are rewards being offered by both CrimeStoppers for McHenry County (up to $1,000) and by Crime Stoppers of Woodstock (up to $1,000).

Details about the $3,000 reward are not known. I'm not aware that any contact information for that reward has ever been disclosed. Whether the conditions are the same as for the Crime Stoppers' rewards is unknown.

If you know anything about Beth Bentley, please report it to the tip line, even if you think the police already know it.

A new Missing Person poster can be viewed on the "second" Facebook page for Beth. Type "Beth Bentley Missing" in the Search box. On this latest poster the CUE Center and its phone number are given. (Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

Open letter to Nygren campaign

Thank you for picking up most of your campaign signs so quickly. It was nice to see the supervisor from the Sheriff's Department garage out on Wednesday morning (11:00AM on the day after Election Day), collecting your campaign signs along Route 47 near St. Johns Road. He was off the clock, wasn't he?

Will you please remind him that, if he was the one who picked up the other signs from 516 Lake Avenue in Woodstock, he forgot to take the big Nygren sign from that location. Perhaps he could return (off the clock, if you please) and remove that one, too. Thanks!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

District 200 buses - overcrowded?

Attention parents of Woodstock D200 students who rides buses to school and back...

Do your children report over-crowding on buses?

Last week I inquired what the capacity of a school bus in Woodstock is, and how is it calculated. Let's say, for high school students...

Do students sit two to a seat? Then it's easy to calculate the capacity. If there are 25 seats on a bus, the capacity is 50, plus the driver. Are more than 50 students assigned to ride a bus?

To me this seems a pretty simple question. One that could be answered with a simple email that might take 2-3 minutes to write. I sent my request on Tuesday afternoon. By the end of the day on Friday I had not received a reply.

I had a reason for inquiring, and I didn't intend to create a mountain out of a molehill. The lack of a response, however, now causes me to think that I might have uncovered something.

Are there any buses that have so many students that they must ride three to a seat?

OK, parents (or students)... let me know.

Round 3 Nygren v. Seipler - March

Zane Seipler reports that he called the Appellate Court in Elgin to learn the court date for the next round of catcalls and mud-slinging in the battle of David versus Goliath, and Zane has to wait until March for his case to be heard.

I don't know what Zane earns, but let's say it's $6,000/month. The County already owes him over two years of back pay ($144,000), and now another $24,000 will be tacked on, plus even more while the judges decide. And then even more while Nygren (or his successor by then) dilly-dallies, looking for a new ribbon for the calculator so that the right amount can finally be calculated and paid out.

Speaking of dilly-dallying, the Sheriff's accounting office hasn't yet figured out how much is owed to Bob Schlenkert, who returned to work a while back. They probably knew it to the penny on the date of the judges' decision, and they would know it through today. Why isn't he paying Schlenkert?

Schlenkert's lawyer should have asked the court to order payment within 14 days of back wages, but he or she didn't. Hopefully, Zane's lawyer will call the judges' attention to the slow-paying sheriff and ask the judges to put the sheriff on a short leash for payment.

Who said this about politicians?

"The reason politicians try so hard to get re-elected is that they would 'hate' to have to make a living under the laws they've passed."

Who said that? It was part of an email I received today. It sounds about right to me.

CrimeStoppers of McH Co. - still in hiding

Why is the CrimeStoppers of McHenry County so hard to reach? Why is it in hiding? Is it in hiding?

The CrimeStoppers liaison at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department says she doesn't know who the members are. But doesn't she attend their monthly meetings? How could she not know?

Undersheriff Andy Zinke has not replied, even yet, to my September 16th email.

It took a month for the Secretary to reply to my first letter, and she did not provide the requested information.

What happens when a 501(c)(3) organization stonewalls a request? Do they have something to hide, perhaps in connection with revenues and disbursements? Election of officers? Compliance with By-Laws? Will they want an inquiry from IRS? Maybe that can be arranged.

Will it be necessary to file a FOIA Request with the Sheriff's Department to learn the names of the CrimeStoppers Board members and officers? While the Sheriff's Department isn't in charge of CrimeStoppers, they know who is.

Is it really wise to play dumb?