Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Queen" at the Raue - not impressed

Did you see the front page of this week's Sidetracks, the entertainment insert of the Northwest Herald.

There, for all to see, was the perfect show of disrespect for the U.S. Flag.

As a tribute group, Gary Mullen and friends will rake in a huge pile of dollars, with ticket prices at $59-62-65 a pop. Frankly, I don't understand why people part with that kind of money for a "tribute" (look-alike, sound-alike) group.

But it's the flag disrespect that I don't like. Draping the flag around his microphone and his body ought to provoke outrage from audiences. Maybe it will...

And the Northwest Herald should have asked for a different picture!

Are dogs "patients"?

In this week's Woodstock Independent is a photograph of a dog's being treated at a Woodstock veterinary clinic. Under the photo the caption reads "(name) works with a patient ..."

I love animals, but they are animals. They aren't humans. In my book, humans are "patients". Animals are not patients.

Some people talk about animals as "loved" ones. They "can't live" without them. Then why do they drive around with small dogs on their laps, between the steering wheel and their chest? Aside from the danger of interference with driving, imagine the injury to the dog if the airbag deploys.

If they were "just" animals, would the vets be able to rack up bills in the amounts they do? I swear, when you take your dog in for a $15 rabies shot, you can't get out for less than $150-200. First, the vet's receptionist wants to know the dog's name. No, dearie; ask my name. I'm footing the bill.

Then they want to weigh the dog. It's a wonder they don't put little paper shoes on the dog's paws. After all, another animal was just on that same scale.

Then you track through the urine puddles left by other animals to a chair in the lobby and sit down and wait. Then off to the examining room. Do you cringe as the vet feels your dog's body? What will he find? Fleas? A tumor? Just matted hair?

Yes, when I had a dog, I loved him. Or her. Or it.

And I didn't want to hear, "You do want to take care of your dog, don't you?" Guilt, guilt, guilt. Do they learn those words in seminars at vet conferences?

Yes, I do want to take care of my dog. That's why I'm here with it for its rabies shot for $15. That's all I want! But a lot of vets won't give your dog that $15 rabies shot without all the extras. So then, just go some place where they will. And, yes, some will.

Tonight's candidates' forum canceled

Reminder: Tonight's candidates' forum for the Woodstock City Council race has been canceled. Please refer to Monday's article for details.

Social hosting - what is it?

Legal bills for the small Village of Island Lake have gone out of sight in the past year, far surpassing the budgeted amount.

In this morning's paper a charge of "social hosting" attracted my attention. It sounded to me like a local ordinance, rather than an Illinois statute, and that it is. The part of the article that caused my interest was "On Sunday, (Joseph W.) Crisara, 23, received a social hosting citation ... He was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine."

Can't happen. If he was issued a citation, he gets his day in court first. A police officer can't order anyone to pay a fine.

Does Island Lake have its own administrative adjudication court? The social hosting ordinance was hard to find, because it is new (3-2-7-1). See Title 3, Chapter 2 of the Village Code. Then follow the red banner at the top to the new ordinance, which was enacted November 11, 2010. After the WHEREASs comes the new ordinance.

The first offense carries a fine of $500-$750. A second offense carries a fine of not less than $750. I wonder where the $1,000 in the news article came from.

The goal of the ordinance is to prevent under-age drinking. OK, isn't there already a state law about that? Was 3-2-7-1 really necessary?

And, further, is it even constitutional? Examine the definition of Event (think peaceful assembly), Person (includes firm, association, partnership, corporation), Reasonable steps (subjective, not objective), Residence or premises (home ... public or private), etc. If a parent offers his child a sip of wine at dinner, is he breaking the law?

It's a sweeping ordinance that might allow police to grab about anybody for anything, if there are alcohol and minors in the same area.

I'm not sticking up for Crisara. Other, more serious, charges were filed against him, and I imagine his court dates in Woodstock won't be any fun (or cheap) for him.

While I was looking in the Village Code and searching for the social hosting ordinance, I came across Title 3, Chapter 3, Sexually Oriented Business Licensing.

If you ever wonder why a community sees its legal budget heading for the Red Sea, look at the amount of space and legalese devoted to SOB Licensing! If you have time for a good laugh, be sure to read the Purpose of the ordinance. Just try to keep from laughing at

"The purpose of the chapter is to establish reasonable and uniform regulations..."
"The provisions of this chapter have neither the purpose nor the effect of restricting or imposing a limitation or restriction ..."
" is not the purpose nor (sic) effect of this chapter to restrict or deny ..."

Wanna bet? If you can read all of that ordinance and still figure out how to open a "sexually oriented business" in Island Lake, well .... enough said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Show up and protest on Sunday

McHenry Citizens TaxWatch will host a tax protest party on Sunday, April 3rd, two days before the referendum for McHenry School District 156.

Meet Bob Anderson and David Yang near the corner of Route 31 and McCullom Lake Road, at the McHenry Walmart, on Sunday, April 3, from 1:00PM until 3:00PM.

The tax protest will be on the public sidewalk, not on Walmart property.
If you happen to park on the Walmart property, please park well toward the back of the lot so that you don't take parking spaces for shoppers. In fact, you might run in and make a purchase.

Think this is silly or unproductive? Well, think about your property tax bill and the annual retirement pay of recently-retired D-156 school administrator Teresa Lane. She ought to be comfortable on her $172,531/year retirement pay. Think about your neighbors who have been laid off and who are losing their homes. Think about the future.

See you there.

For more information, go to

Grafton Township Motion lacks hearing date

Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog ( carries the Motion filed March 25th with the Circuit Court by Grafton Township Linda Moore in her running battle with the trustees, but initially the hearing date was not clear.

The Motion is to ask Judge Caldwell to confirm her request to the trustees for the appointment of John Nelson as Township Attorney.

The trustees have refused to "advise and consent" to Nelson's appointment, leaving the Township without an attorney. The trustees are acting like spoiled little children; they may want their favorite playmate, Keri-Lyn Krefthefer of Ancel Glink et al., to be the Township's attorney, and apparently they are getting free legal advice from Ancel Glink.

Must be nice; I don't know anyone else (who isn't broke) who gets free legal advice.

Anyway, I noticed that this Motion, filed March 25th, didn't seem to be in the court date line-up for this case (No. 10CH000684). When I called the courthouse to ask when this Motion would be heard, I was told that the Notice of Motion did not contain a date.

Presumably, the Motion and its Notice of Motion are being served on the Defendants. But they need to be told when Judge Caldwell will hear the Motion. A date is normally set by the clerk, when a Motion is filed.

After a few emails and phone calls I have been informed that the April 26th date in the court's calendar is the date for this Motion to be heard. At the March 11th hearing Judge Caldwell told the Supervisor to file a Motion, and this Motion is the one. Let's hope nothing of legal urgency arises before April 26. The Township is doing without legal advice for the time-being.

Who knows? Maybe it will find that it can survive without spending thousands and thousands of dollars on legal fees. What a novel idea!

Woodstock candidates' forum canceled

Reminder: Thursday night's candidates' forum for the Woodstock City Council race has been canceled. Please refer to Monday's article for details.

Who travels the AAA way?

I enjoyed a good laugh this morning, long before I ever got to the Comics section of the Northwest Herald. So glad I get the print edition of the paper. It's a lot easier to read and clip for comments!

The average daily cost for meals and lodging for a traveler in 1950 was $13.00, according to AAA.

And in 2008? AAA recommended per-person "budgeting $80 a day for meals, not including tips or beverage, and $164 for lodging."

You've got to be kidding. If I had followed AAA's budget in 2008, I never would have left home!

Check out this masterpiece of words. "...people did cut back on their travel, and that did affect their decision to go on a trip."

Do rankings make any sense?

A "Staff and Wire Reports" article carried in the Northwest Herald this morning reported rankings by U.S. News & World Report magazine of "best hospitals". Ho-hum...

Why does this get the snooze award of 2011?

Forty-six Chicago-area hospitals were listed and the top three (in Chicago) were
1. Northwestern
2. University of Chicago
3. Rush University Medical Center

Then, Edward Hospital (Naperville) and St. Joseph (Joliet) were tied with several others at No. 15.

Huh? Two plus several others were tied at No. 15??? Wouldn't that be Numbers 15-16-17-18-19?

And then Centegra Hospital-Woodstock comes along. It was ranked with Vista Medical Center East (Waukegan) "among several" at No. 34. So, would that be Centegra-Woodstock, Vista and "several" (maybe 3-4 more)?

Where is Centegra-Woodstock in the pecking order - really? No. 41? 42?

At that ranking, who cares?

Maybe there should be a ranking of blogs in the Midwest. I can see the headline now ...

The Woodstock Advocate, along with others, is ranked No. 1 for "Most-Read Blogs in the Midwest."

Why casinos want smokers

The casinos in Illinois are pushing on the legislators (lobbying!) to get the smoking law changed in Illinois, so that smokers can roam the floors and throw their money away on the slot machines and tables.

And it looks like the Illinois House of Representatives coughed and sputtered on enough of the smoke to approve HB 1965 (62-52) and send it to the Illinois Senate.

Will the Senate stand firm and "Just Say NO"?

What rules? $$$s

Why do the casinos want the law changed?

It's simple. Money. Who cares about health, of either their workers or their customers?

When gamblers smoke, they drink. And, when they drink, they lose more money. Ka-ching. And when customers lose, who wins? Get it?

A gambler and his money are soon parted... The lights on the casinos, like the lights in Las Vegas, are not kept burning from peoples' winnings!

Fine-tune your interviewing skills

How much practice do you get interviewing for a job?

If you are an HR director, you get lots of practice. Except you already have a job.

If you are like one area resident who worked 20 years for one company and then 10 years for another, you don't get much practice at all.

If you have been unemployed or under-employed often, you might get a lot of practice. Who has the edge?

Attend Thursday night's (tomorrow!) class at the Woodstock Public Library on basic interviewing skills and learn from Janelle Crowley, the Human Resources director for the City of Woodstock. Class begins at 6:30PM in the large training room on the lower level at 414 West Judd Street, Woodstock.

Register online at Click on Calendar at the top. Then search for March 31 and click on "Interviewing Basics".

The first rule of interviewing? Be on time. And consider parking across the street, please, to leave closer parking spots for other library users.

It's new - The Cary Report

Thanks to McHenry County Blog, this morning I learned of The Cary Report. It's a new, local, Cary-oriented website, apparently created after its founder attended a candidates' night and noted that recording it was not going to be allowed.

After all, whoever would want to be held accountable for what he said while trying to get elected. This is Illinois, folks!

The identity of the publisher wasn't easily found during a quick look-see at the site. Take your own look at If you live in Cary, you'll probably want to bookmark it.

What else is available now to McHenry County readers? (Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Huntley) (Island Lake) (Cary, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills)

MCC ups tuition; spends it fast

Wasn't it just last week that McHenry County College announces a substantial tuition increase?

The trustees didn't even have the fortitude to wait a week to announce a make-over at the college and plans to blow $3,500,000, so the campus will be prettier. New President Vicky Smith told the Northwest Herald, "The renovation project ... will send a message to the community about the quality programs we offer."

Tell me, please. How does removing the columns from the commons area do that?

And a new on-campus culinary arts center? They currently have a deal with Woodstock District 200 to use its kitchen center at the almost-new Woodstock North High School. They are going to pull out of that? Does MCC own the kitchen equipment there, or did D200 cough up the $$$ to lure MCC there? What will D200 do with that kitchen equipment now?

I definitely did not like the secret Wish List that MCC has for future projects. That cannot be in compliance with Open Meetings Act or FOIA. Has the Northwest Herald already submitted a FOIA Request for the project list?

The public needs to get a big stopper and plug the drain at MCC until they reveal the plans for this public institution. The days of flying under the radar are over! President Smith referred to "... three items she could not discuss..." Sorry, but no pass! You get an F on Transparency.

Does MCC provide an education, or is there some empire-building going on there on U.S. 14?

Reader says, be a sole proprietor

Recently the Northwest Herald published my Letter to the Editor, in which I expressed dislike for the proposed law to increase the minimum wage in Illinois to over $10.00/hour.

Northwest Herald reader Joe Alfe, of McHenry, has his rebuttal published this morning. He suggested that I "just become a sole proprietor. Then you can happily pay yourself as little as you wish."

Thank you, Joe. With rare exceptions in the 47+ years I've been working, I have been self-employed or a commission salesman.

I'd guess you have never been a sole proprietor. If you had been, you'd know the long hours that most sole proprietors work. Work starts before 8AM; work doesn't stop at 5PM. There is no such thing as a lunch "hour". There are no coffee breaks. No paid vacations. No expense account. No employer-paid health insurance or retirement plan. Sometimes, no health insurance or retirement plan contributions at all. No year with 11-12-15 paid holidays. Open for business on all holidays, except New Year's Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day. Cough up an extra 7.65% of net business income for Social Security/Medicare.

But there is freedom... something most employees don't experience. And there is one more advantage. The sole proprietor is the last one to get laid off!

Chicago Tribune on Bianchi trial

Read the Chicago Tribune's take on Lou Bianchi's trial. Then re-read it. Then read it a third time. And read carefully Lou Bianchi's words,0,7223978.story

Let's hope that all of the staff at the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office read it.

But what the public needs to know, also, is that it is the State's job to prove you are guilty. And it is your job to keep them from doing so. You don't have to prove your innocence; they have to prove your guilt.

So, if the State's attorneys are better "salesmen" in court, if they are better showmen, if they play the game better than the defense, you are going to get convicted - by a jury. However, a judge may be likely to be swayed by theatrics and just let them bounce off him.

Lou Bianchi was smart to choose a bench trial. He understands judges. Too many people rush for a jury trial, because it will drag out the calendar until the hammer drops. By picking a bench trial, and an out-of-county judge, Lou got a fair trial.

A defendant cannot count on a jury to give him a fair trial, because a jury can be swayed by emotional arguments by the prosecuting attorneys. In a 2006 case in McHenry County the State "humanized" a dog that had been shot in self-defense. The judge warned them not to do that. They did it again and got away with it again. Did the jury even understand "humanize"? The prosecution launched an emotional campaign on the jury, and it "sold" them. The defense was playing a different game, and it never caught up.

Chicago Tribune editorializes on MCSD

Look at what Sheriff Nygren's attorney, James Sotos, told the Chicago Tribune: "The sheriff is committed to ensuring that there is no racial profiling at the sheriff's department."

Look at, and understand, the words. Lawyers are good at using a lot of words so that people really don't understand what is being said. Is this a classic example?

He didn't say, "There isn't acial profiling." He didn't say, "There will not be racial profiling." What he said was, "The sheriff is committed to ensuring ..." That's not the same thing. That's a statement that is not measurable and attaches no accountability. How do you measure commitment?

You can read Tuesday's editorial in the Chicago Tribune right here:,0,5937494.story

The Tribune has this to say about "mislabeling" in the McHenry County Sheriff's Department: "In 2006, 1 in 8 likely Hispanics who were ticketed in McHenry was labeled as white or was not logged. By 2009, the Tribune reported, the error rate had spiked to 1 in 3."

But remember that Sheriff Nygren confidently announced that his (first) investigation revealed no profiling. And so did the second. Only after a smart, out-of-McHenry-County (read, Chicago Loop) attorney got involved did the profiling bubble up to the surface where it counted - in Federal Court.

Why did Zane Seipler go to Chicago for an attorney? Why did Jerome Pavin go to Chicago for an attorney? Why did the Estate of David Maxson go to Chicago for an attorney?

Heck, why did Sheriff Nygren go out of McHenry County for an attorney?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

19 out of 20 Hispanics - "white"

WGN-TV hit the McHenry County Sheriff's Department pretty hard last Friday night in its 9:00PM news. Reporter Mark Suppelsa had come out to McHenry County for background, and the report was aired last Friday.

Suppelsa reported that one deputy apparently labeled 19 out of 20 Hispanics as "white".

How did it happen that MCSD investigated reports of racial profiling three years ago and found it didn't exist? And then about a year ago, and reached the same conclusion? Does it now finally agree that, after a few thousand questionable tickets have been found, there might be a problem?

Watch here and decide for yourself: Racial Profiling

Badge case against former officer dismissed

A case was dismissed in Judge Condon's court yesterday, but I guess it wasn't big enough for the local paper to cover right away. Needless to mention, it got quite a splash when it happened. Should it get the same prominence when disposed of?

The case involved former Algonquin Police Department Sgt. Wade Merritt. Merritt was charged by Crystal Lake P.D. for "badging" an officer during a traffic stop. Merritt was no longer a police officer; he had resigned after a mess with his wife one day that resulted in a police visit, charges against him, and a conviction in 2009. He was found not guilty on two charges but guilty on a third, after which he resigned.

Fourteen months later, yesterday, March 28, the "false personation of a police officer" charge was dismissed. Merritt still has to deal with a speeding ticket, and his next court date on that one is April 25.

As I recall, when he was stopped on January 1, 2010, he wasn't ticketed. A week later, he was charged with speeding and "false personation". My guess is that somebody put "2 and 2" together and realized that Merritt was no longer a cop.

What too often happens, when a cop gets stopped for speeding or some other traffic violation? The speeder, if he's a cop, "badges" the officer, identifying himself as a cop. Then the cop gives his buddy a pass. Some call it "professional courtesy". I call it "unprofessional courtesy". For years, I've thought cops ought to be the first to obey the laws, not the last.

So, to me, it looks like the Crystal Lake cop gave Merritt a pass on January 1, 2010. And then, later, when somebody woke up and said, "What a minute. Merritt is no longer a cop", the "wheels of justice" began to creak.

Now the serious charge of badging of cop with an expired badge is gone. Will the speeding ticket be thrown out, too, because it wasn't issued when the violation occurred?

Why do I even write about this? I met Wade Merritt before the first mess happened. I had called him after reading a story in the Northwest Herald about left turns as traffic lights changed from yellow to red. He invited me in to discuss the story, and I enjoyed meeting him. He was a professional cop and citizen-friendly. I was sorry to see him lose his job and career over the incident involving his wife. I suspect that use of an Employee Assistance Program at work would have been a suitable alternative, and he could have continued as an officer.

Did Jail procedure cause suicide?

Do employees at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department have enough training, when it comes to working with persons (suspects, inmates) who are experiencing emotional upset and/or mental health issues? Do procedures require departing shift officers to inform arriving shifts of problems with inmates? Are those procedures followed?

A month ago an inmate died by suicide on a Friday night. According to a report written four days after his death, he may not have been given all of his medications at the 9:00PM medication distribution. The inmate, Thomas Puchmelter, 42, had become argumentative with medical staff.

Then he was asked if he wanted the rest of his medication, and the inmate became argumentative with the Corrections Officer (CO) asking him that question. A second CO approached and ordered Puchmelter to his cell, escorting him there.

Puchmelter had been complaining of seizures and was detoxing. What happened when his medications were withheld?

An Order of Protection had been served on Puchmelter that day and was found later in his cell. Would he have been upset about that? Despondent? Suicidal?

The lengthy report of the investigation in his suicide failed to address the service of the Order of Protection and what Puchmelter's reaction was to it. An inmate reported to the investigating Deputy Sergeant that Puchmelter had been yelling at guards. A second inmate reported that Puchmelter and he had had a "conversation that centered on Thomas' feelings toward his mother kicking him out of her house." Both inmates said that Puchmelter had faked seizures, and one said that Puchmelter had told him he had faked a seizure.

Nothing in the report indicates that the evening shift relayed any of this information to the night shift. Puchmelter was in his cell, when the night shift came on duty.

Does it seem logical to anyone else that, had the night shift known of these problems, they might have kept a close eye on Puchmelter? Would they have moved him from his cell to a holding area, where monitoring would be more frequent?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Island Lake Clerk gives only one week notice

Why would the Village of Island Lake Clerk, Pam Miller, resign on just one week's notice, and especially with Election Day's being only one week away? This leaves that little town in a very precarious position. Is there a Deputy Clerk to take over? I doubt it.

Her resignation was announced today. Actually, I'm not sure just what a village clerk does on election day. Isn't it the County that conducts the voting business? Maybe the village clerk really doesn't have much to do that day but turn on the lights and make the coffee.

Island Lake seems to be suffering more than its share of conflicts and difficulties.

Read about this and also about the Great Sign War of 2011. Look especially at the e-mail exchange between Trustees Laurie Rabattini and Connie Mascillino. Laurie asked Connie what Connie's position was in regard to political signs being placed in front of a home against the homeowner's wishes. That's pretty straight forward; right?

Two candidates in the People's Choice Party were caught putting up election signs in the front yard (parkway) of R.I.G.H.T. Party candidate Joe Ptak. Is this small-mindedness to the nth degree?

But read the exchange between Laurie and Connie. See if you can figure out why Connie wouldn't just say in plain English whether or not she agreed with the action of the two candidates of the People's Choice Party. She ducked it six ways from Sunday.

Tailgater - see you later

During the noon hour I was reminded of a song that Garrison Keillor sang on Prairie Home Companion on February 20th - "Tailgater".

Today it was a man in a small gray sedan, Illinois license 907 8841. He rolled up fast and close behind me on Lake Avenue at a red light at Route 47, by 3 Brothers Restaurant. Southbound traffic was heavy, so I had to wait before pulling onto 47. I wasn't sure he was going to wait.

He made it onto 47 on "my" stop and came up close behind me, so I briefly hit the four-way flashers and he backed off a little. But then he got tired of waiting, while I poked along at 35MPH (the speed limit), and he came up close again.

When I signaled my right turn into the parking lot of the Green Garden Chinese Restaurant, he went around me, using the two-way, left-turn lane for a passing lane.

Where are the cops when you want one???

If you are a Prairie Home Companion fan and want to track down "Tailgater", go to, then click on Archive. Select the Feb 2011 show, and then click on the February 19, 2011 show. Play the first segment; "Tailgater" is at 20:50 into the first segment. It's "classic" Garrison Keiller, if you enjoyed his programs back in the 1980s.

Woodstock candidates' forum canceled

The candidates' forum for the Woodstock (Ill.) City Council race, scheduled for March 31, has been canceled. Four of the six candidates have indicated they will not attend; three will be out of town for Spring Break.

After a discussion with the two candidates who were very interested in meeting with the public and who were available for the forum, Mark Indyke and Joe Starzynski, we decided to cancel the forum.

We wish to express appreciation to Woodstock School District 200, which agreed to open the Woodstock High School auditorium for the evening forum. The District had generously agreed to make the school available without charge, even though it was during Spring Break, and to waive the liability insurance requirement for this community event.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Petty politics in Island Lake

Yesterday I attended a R.I.G.H.T. Party gathering at Culver's in Island Lake. While I was there, one person mentioned having spotted a man removing a political sign of R.I.G.H.T. Party candidates from a location near Culver's. By the time she turned around and returned to the corner, the person and the sign were gone.

Today Chuck Cermak and Allen Murvine were at Joe Ptak's house and erected two of their campaign signs in the parkway in front of Joe's house. Although Mrs. Ptak told them not to do so, they asserted that they had a "right" to do it. The Murvine took a photograph of their signs in front of the Ptak household.

Can you imagine voters even possibly considering Cermak and Murvine for office, if that's the jerk stuff they pull during a campaign?

Just imagine if I had gone to Nygren's house in Hebron and put up two of my campaign signs in the easement? Would I have had the "right" to do that? How long do you think it would have stayed there?

To me, it sounded like Joe was alarmed and disturbed and that his peace and that of his wife and daughter, had been breached. That's all that is needed for Disorderly Conduct charges against Cermak and Murvine.

Joe, just be sure not to point your ".38 cal. finger" at them! You're in Island Lake, home of the Trigger Finger.

Mixed standard in jail reports?

There appears to be a mixed standard (or an unclear standard) for dates to be used in reports written by corrections officers at the McHenry County Jail.

In reading numerous reports contained in a 94-page report following an inmate's suicide in February, I noticed this discrepancy. On some reports the report date and time are given as the date of the incident.

In other reports the report date and time are given as of the writing of the report. This would seem to be the preferred procedure.

Obviously, corrections officers are not writing the reports as an event occurs. They've got their hands full dealing with whatever is happening. So reports will be written later.

Entering a correct date and time in the Date and Time fields on the report means that it is easy to determine just how much later the report is written.

In the case of the reports written four days after the inmate's suicide, the date and time of the report are correctly, truthfully and honestly entered. It might raise a question as to why the reports weren't written before four days had passed, but there will be an answer.

The McHenry County Jail should establish the "correct" procedure for entering Dates and Times in those fields at the top of reports.

Did jail follow procedures before inmate's suicide?

On February 18th an inmate at the McHenry County Jail committed suicide. The inmate, a 42-year-old Crystal Lake man, had been arrested earlier in the week on a domestic violence charge, and on the day of his death he had been served an Order of Protection (while he was incarcerated).

Following his death a lengthy report (94 pages, according to a March 4th Daily Herald article) was written, and a jail lieutenant and the deputy chief of the jail concluded that "policy & procedures were followed by all staff involved." After reading the report, I'm not so sure.

Regrettably, the summary in the Daily Herald was not quite correct. Although inmates in two cells near the deceased inmate said he had faked seizures, the jail reports also say that the inmate had reported on February 17 that he had had ten seizures since being jailed earlier in the week. (I understand that it may not be uncommon for inmates to fake seizures.)

The article said he "needed to detox from alcohol", but a Mental Health Evaluation form dated February 17, in the 94-page report, indicated "alcohol - lat use 6 mos ago".

On the night of his death, while medications were being dispensed to inmates about 9:00PM, according to a report written four (4) days later, this man became argumentative after he was asked if he wanted the rest of his medications. He was ordered to his cell and escorted there. The report does not state whether he was given the rest of his medications. Since it doesn't say so, one must assume that he didn't get all his needed medications. (Note: this report was not written until four days after his death.)

Earlier that day he had been served with an Order of Protection. A logical assumption is that he was upset.

If the man was upset and argumentative and he didn't get his prescribed medications (he may have been detoxing from a prescribed medication), then he should have been under special watch. Perhaps he should have been taken to a booking cell, where he could have been closely monitored. And the night officers should have been informed of what had transpired shortly before they went on duty.

There is no record in the 94-page report that the inmate's psychological state might have been disturbed or that his medication regimen had been interrupted, until the reports written four days after his death. There is no record that a possible health factor, such as seizures, and the service of the O.P. were reported by the evening shift to the night shift. The absence of any mention of forwarding of such critical information is, to me, an indication that the information was not relayed.

The fact that the evening-shift jailers wrote reports four days later (dated February 22) is a red flag. Why didn't they write these reports as the circumstances occurred? Did they report them to their supervisor(s)?

How does information get relayed? An on-duty corrections officer advises his supervisor of a condition in the jail. The supervisor decides whether a report should be written. Then the supervisor of the shift informs the supervisor of the arriving shift, so that the arriving supervisor can advise the officers coming on duty. The responsibility is on the supervisor to relay the information.

Apparently, that did not happen in this case. Had arriving night-shift corrections officers been informed of the inmate's emotional instability and lack of full medication dosage, would they have moved him to a location where he could have been more closely monitored?

Once the inmate was found in his cell, it appears from the reports that corrections officers acted quickly and did everything they could to save him.

But was there an important breakdown in communications between the evening and night shifts?

Beth Bentley - now missing 44 weeks

Now that Spring is almost here, will there be some serious plans for searching for Beth Bentley, either in the Woodstock area or in Jefferson County, Ill., near Mount Vernon? Bentley, 41 at the time she disappeared, hasn't been seen since May 20-21-22-23, 2010, depending on to whom you talk.

If you talk to local Woodstock residents, they haven't seen her since Thursday night, May 20, after her youngest son's baseball game.

If you talk to a waitress in Mount Vernon, she was last seen in the Frosty Mug, a restaurant and bar in Mount Vernon.

Supposedly she went on a boat rental on Rend Lake and was seen in an IGA grocery store on Saturday with her distinctive, designer bag.

If you talk to her friend, co-worker and traveling companion, Jennifer Wyatt, Beth was last seen in Centralia, Ill. on Sunday near the Amtrak station, when Wyatt dropped her off before 6:00PM. Some (many?) jumped to the conclusion initially that Beth had taken the northbound 6:08PM train to Chicago, intending to catch the 12:30AM (May 24) Metra to Woodstock, arriving at 2:01AM.

But then there is a report of a pizza's being ordered from Beth's cell phone in Mount Vernon about the time Wyatt says she dropped Beth off in Centralia.

And now there are rumors that Beth's cell phone "pinged" in McHenry County about 11:00PM that Sunday night. And of a break-in at her husband's office, where she was the office manager, that night and tampering with computers.

On June 10 Wyatt called me and told me that Beth never intended to take a train to Chicago.

So, if Wyatt did drop Beth off in Centralia, what was Beth going to do? Was Beth going to meet someone? Be picked up by someone? Be driven back to northern Illinois, where Wyatt and Beth would rendezvous so that they could return to Woodstock together?

The investigation into Beth's disappearance needs to start again, right at Square 1.

Racial profiling in McHenry County? yes or no

It wasn't long ago that McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said there was no racial profiling by deputies of his department. And that was after he had said it at least once before that. The second time was after an "investigation" had revealed no profiling.

There isn't? Ask Chicago Tribune reporters Bob McCoppin and Joe Mahr, who wrote a long article about just this topic this week-end. You can read it at,0,1864956.story And read other stories about the thousands of tickets finally produced for a federal lawsuit by the Department after requests and delays - tickets with errors about race.

Now, you ask yourself. How would you classify the race of three men from the Chicago Tribune story? They are men with brown skin who spoke Spanish and were from Mexico, according to jail records. Their names are Pedro Lopez, Jose Salas and Pablo Toxqui-Zavala.

Hispanic or white? Not too hard, right?

McHenry County Sheriff's deputies identified them as "white". Agree?

How could that happen? It might have something to do with a phone call I received a while back, when I was told that, at roll call, patrol deputies had been told to "just mark everyone down as white".

The Tribune reporters did an in-depth study. The article is worth reading. So is a second article.

The headline for the second story is "Whistle-blower or not?" This one is about Zane Seipler, a deputy who had complained to his supervisor about what looked to him like racial profiling. Following the chain-is-command is what you do in a law enforcement agency. And you had better follow it! If you don't, you find yourself patrolling the night shift at the stockyards or out in Dogpatch. Of course, McHenry County doesn't have stockyards.

In Zane's case he was fired for something that other deputies had gotten three-day suspensions over. I'd say he is about to get his job back. An arbitrator ruled that a three-day suspension was appropriate discipline. A McHenry County Circuit Court judge agreed. The sheriff didn't like either decision and has appealed the case further. Motions are being submitted, hearings are or will be scheduled. Eventually, the appellate judges will rule. Will Zane get his job back then, along with back pay all the way back to 2008?

This second story is at,0,5192467.story

R.I.G.H.T. Party is the right party

The candidates in the R.I.G.H.T. Party in Island Lake gathered yesterday afternoon at the Island Lake Culver's for a meet-and-greet.

Pictured are Thea Morris (left) and Shannon Fox. If you click on the image to enlarge it, you'll see that Joe Ptak was present (in spirit and on the small card). A family member's sudden illness kept Joe away this afternoon.

For information about the candidates, visit Once you are there, you'll find links to newspaper articles and endorsements about the candidates.

It's clear that these candidates are seriously about creating stability in Island Lake government and eliminating the conflicts that have resulted in huge legal expenses in recent years.

I first became acquainted with Island Lake after resident Greg Kachka was arrested for pointing his ".38 cal. finger" at the Village Clerk and a Trustee. I bought legal defense fund t-shirt #2, even before Greg started autographing them.

If you know anyone in Island Lake, call them and ask them to give close attention to these R.I.G.H.T. Party candidates. Every vote counts.

What do they have planned for Election Night? An Island Lake Food Pantry Fundraiser. A family-event celebration is planned, starting at 4:00PM at the Fan Club Sports Bar & Grill. Take a non-perishable food item and join the fun, including face painting and free (temporary) tattoos.

Springtime - MCCD park closed

Just south of Woodstock on Dean Street is the Kishwaukee Headwaters Park of the McHenry County Conservation District. It's between U.S. 14 and Lucas Road, on the east side of Dean.

Although it's a little nippy out, it's fine weather for walking, or walking the dog. The problem? There is a gate across the entrance and a sign that reads, "Parking lot closed for season". Does that mean the park is closed, too?

If you'd like to use this park that your tax dollars pay for, call MCCD at 815.338.6223. Tell them you want your park open.

If you get lame excuses like "We don't have officers to patrol it", tell them you'll take care of yourself and, if you do need help, you'll call for it. If you hear that they don't have money for maintenance or trash removal, tell them to remove the trash barrels and put up signs, "Pack it in; pack it out."

MCCD is sitting on millions of dollars. Our parks should be open!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

OWC gets "Most Creative"

At this year's Crystal Lake Business Expo being held this week-end at Crystal Lake South High School, Other World Computing (OWC) won the award for the Most Creative exhibit.

Just look at the bugs in that computer! (Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

OWC is the Woodstock company with the wind turbine on its premises. Watch for it on the south side of U.S.14 as you drive between Woodstock and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock.

Never needled like this before

Today was the first day of the Crystal Lake Business Expo. Talk about excitement! Every year the Expo is bigger and better. The "buzz" is evident from the first step inside the door.

I'll be writing about some of the exhibitors, but one that really got my attention was Nature's Balance Acupuncture. Another Expo visitor and I had been moving past the exhibits at about the same pace, and we ended up at Dr. Ziv Greenfeld's booth about the same time. He and I needled each other about who was the braver and who would be the first "victim" of Dr. Ziv. I volunteered - him! He admitted to some lower back pain. After a few questions by Dr. Ziv, he agreed to go first. Within moments his back pain was alleviated.

Then it was my turn. I had never experienced acupuncture, but I didn't have any reservations about trying it. From time to time I too experience back pain, usually after standing on hard floors or concrete, or walking half to a mile after, say, my kid drives past me and waves.

Click on the image to enlarge it. You'll see four of the five needles in my left hand. (Then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

If you haven't tried acupuncture, I recommend it. Call Dr. Ziv at Nature's Balance Acupuncture in Crystal Lake - (815) 788-8383, and view

Cop leaves gun in bathroom - not named

Thursday night a customer at the Crystal Lake Walmart found a (presumably loaded) handgun in a bathroom. What a dilemma!

A retired cop had apparently used the bathroom and left his gun there. Pretty embarrassing, eh? How could that happen?

Most people (cops) carry guns on their belts. If the cop's holster didn't have a snap over the weapon, which slows drawing time by a milli-second, then the weapon might fall out of the holster,when he sat down in a stall. Or it might be visible to someone else in the bathroom.

Imagine the shock, if a customer sees a gun in a belt holster under the wall of a stall! It probably wouldn't take long to make a 9-1-1 call and for a dozen cops to arrive and enter the restroom with guns drawn. Maybe even S.W.A.T. would be called.

Or did the cop hang the handgun on the coat hook on the door of the stall and then walk out without it?

The newspaper article was short on details.

I was glad to see that no one was charged, including the unlucky customer who spotted the gun and turned it in. Do you suppose he walked through the store, holding the gun in plain sight? Did he walk up to Customer Service? "Can you help me, please?" Or, worse, ask for the manager while he (she?) was holding the gun?

Did the customer have a FOID card? Did the police handcuff the customer while verifying the legal right to be in possession of a firearm? Did the customer hide the gun in a bag or under clothing, while finding the right authority at Walmart?

And why not name the officer? If we had concealed carry in this state and some person left his legally-carried gun in the men's restroom, would the matter have been handled differently, if a civilian had been involved? I hate to think of the legal problems such carelessness would cause, along with the expense.

And speaking of billing ...

What's the deal you make, when you enlist the services of a lawyer?

You don't "hire" them; they aren't your employee. When you enlist the services of a lawyer, you "retain" them? Any idea what that means?

When you get the "Engagement Letter" from your lawyer, you'd better take it to another lawyer and buy 30 minutes of time for a legal explanation and interpretation of its meaning. It may be "what" the Letter says; it may be what the Engagement Letter doesn't say!

Do you really need a lawyer to protect you from your (own) lawyer? Well, you just might.

After an initial consultation on a legal matter, you might decide that you want a certain lawyer to represent you. You may or may not be charged for the initial consultation. When you call to make the first appointment, ask if there will be a charge. If there will be, understand what the charge is for, how long the initial appointment will be and, most importantly, what will be discussed. And how much the fee is for the initial interview.

Generally, a lawyer will not discuss the specifics of your case before he is retained. And he shouldn't. He deserved to get paid for his time and legal advice on a car. There is no reason he should give you legal advice for free. But should you have to pay for the "sales talk"?

The initial appointment is for you to size up the lawyer and determine whether he (or she) can handle your case, whether you want that lawyer to handle your case and how much it might cost you. Key word: "might". And it is an opportunity for the lawyer to size you up and determine whether he wants to handle your case and whether he'll get paid for doing so.

Before moving ahead on your case, your lawyer ought to send you (or give you on the spot) an Engagement Letter. This spells out the terms and conditions of the legal relationship between the lawyer and you, the client.

You had better read it two-three times and make sure you understand it. Unfortunately, you may not have the skill to "read between the lines" and discern what it does not say, which might come back to bite you in the future.

It will often mention the hourly rates for the several levels of expertise in the lawyer's firm, such as the rate for the "name on the door" (the partner), the associate attorney, the paralegal and the secretary. It will mention "expenses". What are they?

It will likely mention the amount of retainer and by when it is to be paid. This is money you place on deposit with the lawyer, against which he bills his rates.

What happens when your retainer is exhausted? This can happen very quickly when a lawyer bills at $300-400/hour. And what happens when two lawyers work on your case? Bingo! If one bills $400/hour and the second bills $300/hour, your money is being sucked out of the retainer at $700/hour, when the two of them sit down together.

Did you stipulate that a certain attorney (certain billing rate) only is to work on your case? Did you tell your lawyer that only one (1) lawyer is to work on your case? In other words, no double-dipping?

Did you put it in the Engagement Letter? If you didn't, guess what?

Your retainer can be gone before you ever receive the first accounting statement. Did you tell your lawyer, in writing, not to exceed the retainer without written approval from you? In other words, when they have blown through the retainer, are they to stop working on your case until you give them a green light to proceed?

Don't end up with a big surprise (shock), when you open the envelope from your lawyer after a month or two.

Believe me; I'm not making this stuff up!

Quest's billing procedures questionable!

Take a look at McHenry County Blog for the bills submitted to Judge Gordon Graham by Quest International in the case against Lou Bianchi. In particular, note the number of full-hour line entries.

Does it seem coincidental, careless or intentional that Quest's employees and contractors would just happen to schedule meetings that are 60 minutes long? Well, why not, if you are charging $135/hour and $250/hour?

Does anyone else hear a loud, sucking sound at the County cash drain?

I posted this comment to Cal's article on

"I am appalled and insulted by the high number of even-hour billings. Just look at them. Looks to me like their billing procedure is to round up to the nearest hour. Is 31 minutes billed as 1 hour? Must be a good deal for someone billing at the hourly rates they are charging?

"A lawyer would never get away with that type of billing. Who will bring Quest to its knees over its billing practice?"

Read his article; look at the billing. Then post your comment there, too, and let your County Board member hear from you.

If you were being attacked in your home, you'd call the police. Seems all you can do this case is to whistle at the County Board and hope for a little help. And that's probably what you'll get. A little help. Or, maybe, none.

Meet the candidates Thursday

Reminder: the only candidates' forum for the Woodstock (Ill.) City Council race will be held on Thursday, March 31, at 7:00PM, at the Woodstock High School. The election is April 5. You can vote "early" in the coming week or on Tuesday, April 5.

Candidates Mark Indyke and Joe Starzynski will be there. Will you?

The three incumbents all had previous plans to be out-of-town during District 200's Spring Break. Derek Lee has indicated he will not attend.

You are invited to care; that's c-a-r-e about the composition of your City Council and to come Thursday night to do two things:

1. hear what your candidates have to say; and
2. tell them what you want them to know about your city.

The plan is for this forum to be friendly and impersonal. Sit down close to the front; don't hide in the back under the balcony. The candidates will be right there with you - not "up above you" on the stage or behind skirted tables. Remember, they are you - concerned community members who wish to make a difference and who are willing to step up and devote time and energy. They have jobs or businesses, just as you do. They have families.

And they are willing to give up considerable personal time to serve you. Believe me, the pay isn't worth it. So come to the high school auditorium on Thursday night and part of this important process.

CUSD uses good email address for School Board

Carpentersville Community United School District (CUSD) 300 uses a single email address for email communications with its school board and president. What a great idea!

This idea should be adopted by all public bodies that currently require individual email addresses for communications to board members and trustees.

CUSD 300 uses for a common email address. This show solid thinking and respect for the community.

Any takers on this around here? Maybe the McHenry County Board? Woodstock School District 200? Woodstock City Council? Dorr Township Board of Trustees? Woodstock Fire Rescue District?

No apology needed from Monica Clark

The Northwest Herald reports that District 300 school board member Monica Clark has apologized for using some four-letter words during Wednesday night's "contentious" school board meeting. Apparently, her voice was picked up by sensitive microphones while referring to the meeting as a "XXXXing sham" and to some students as "these little XXXers." The Northwest Herald decided to keep itself out of hot water by using XXXX to replace whatever four-letter word Ms. Clark used.

Where was the School Board President Joe Stevens in all this? What was he doing to maintain decorum and respect during the meeting? Where was Superintendent Ken Arndt? Was the principal from Dundee-Crown High School there?

Maybe they need a copy of the Dorr Township Public Comment Rules.

When, according to the Northwest Herald, Nicholas Spindler mouthed off in a comment directly personally at Ms. Clark, should Board President Stevens have jumped right in? YES! Maybe he did. If he did, I didn't see it reported in the paper.

The impertinent comment by Spindler was, "Monica Clark, can you please look at me when I'm speaking?" Who does he think he is? She is "Ms. Clark" to him. Maybe she should have lectured him on his grammatically incorrect sentence!

And, worse, when some unnamed student claimed that Ms. Clark was "either falling asleep due to her old age or is obviously bored due to what I am saying", he should have been cut off and kicked out of the meeting. Don't they have any guts in Carpentersville?

Perhaps Ms. Clark's choice of words might have been a little better. Why do I think, though, that XXXXing and XXXXers are words one might hear every day on the Dundee-Crown campus, even in the buildings and classrooms?

I was reminded of the words of a minister in Denver who had been accused, and later cleared, of molesting his step-daughter. When asked by a reporter from The Denver Post what he thought of the charges, he said, "If I weren't a minister, I'd say it's all bullshit."

So, Ms. Clark, you might regret what you said, but you owe no one an apology!

Friday, March 25, 2011

NWH sets up look-alike Facebook banner

Check out (or, maybe, don't check out) the Facebook-style banner at the bottom of articles on certain webpages of Northwest Herald online. It's titled "Mailbook" and is styled to resemble the Facebook blue bar with red indicators that you have unread messages and notifications.

"You have one (1) message!" But, if you click on the "Open Message now" link, it starts to open some type of application called "". Uh-uh. No way! Sorry.

Without some explanation of what's going to happen, I'm not clicking on it or opening it. Surely, it wouldn't plant some spyware or virus on my computer, but I'm not taking chances. How about some fine print to tell readers what is going to happen?

How news is sometimes reported

This one has been around for a while, but it's still funny.

A Harley biker is riding by the zoo in Washington , DC when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the collar of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents.
The biker jumps off his Harley, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch.
Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly. A reporter has watched the whole event.

The reporter addressing the Harley rider says, "Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I've seen a man do in my whole life."

The Harley rider replies, "Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and acted as I felt right."

The reporter says, "Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed. I'm a journalist, you know, and tomorrow's paper will have this story on the front page... So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?"

The biker replies, "I'm a U.S. Marine and a Republican."

The journalist leaves.

The following morning the biker buys the paper to see if it indeed brings news of his actions, and reads, on the front page:


That pretty much sums up the media's approach to the news these days.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MCSD making Chicago news

Rumor has it that WGN-TV (Channel 9) and the Chicago Tribune will be featuring the McHenry County Sheriff's Department on either the Friday night or Saturday night news at 9:00PM.

Gee, what kind of "special report" could they be planning?

WGN-TV (Channel 9 in Chicago) reporter Mark Suppelsa was in Woodstock recently, and one of the people he interviewed was Zane Seipler. Zane is involved in three legal cases with the Sheriff's Department.

He's fighting to get his job back. He has won twice, yet Sheriff Nygren refuses to put him back to work, running up thousands of dollars in his fight to keep from taking Zane back. The case is now in the Appellate Court in Elgin.

In a second case Zane has asked McHenry Court Judge Meyer for a special prosecutor to investigate Nygren. Judge Meyer is trying hard to keep the case alive. Unfortunately, the pressure may be on in McHenry County now to avoid special prosecutors, since both sides of the Bianchi case are likely to cost the taxpayers a total of $750,000-$1,000,000.

The third case is Zane's civil rights case in Federal Court in Rockford against the Sheriff's Department for wrongful termination.

The Chicago Tribune Bulldog (late edition on news stands Saturday night and home delivery on Sunday) is expected to carry a special report on MCSD. Be sure to get the Tribune this week-end.

Could be a good week-end for certain people to be out of town (which they are).

Crime Stoppers for McHenry County - what a mess

Since late last summer I have been attempting to obtain information about Crime Stoppers for McHenry County, which Illinois State Crime Stoppers identifies as a "coalition" that collects statistics (whatever that means) from Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Woodstock, Cary, Fox River Grove, Marengo and Harvard police departments.

Of significance, I have learned it is virtually impossible to make any contact with Crime Stoppers for McHenry County. Helen Torscher, then-Secretary and now-President, sent me one rather curt letter in October and has refused to reply to a second letter or to email. Richard Heizer, possibly last year's president of the group, has not returned a phone message left on March 4.

I've tried to learn whether it is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization. They apparently told a national Crime Stoppers organization that they are tax-exempt, because that's a requirement for membership. One small problem - IRS doesn't know about it. And, if IRS doesn't know about it, then it's not a 501(c)(3) organization!

Now I've learned that they can't locate initial organizational paperwork and records. Apparently, when different board members were elected as officers, such as President, Secretary, Treasurer, they didn't bother to obtain and secure the records. Surely, out of all the money they have raked in over the years, they could have gotten legal advice. Just in the past 3 years and 3 months, they have received over $50,000 from the McHenry County Circuit Court alone. In 2009, they paid out only $3,400 in tips.

Where's the rest of the dough?

I was offered an excuse on their behalf that "significant turnover" of volunteers might account for some of what I'll call sloppiness in record-keeping. Only I'll bet, if I look at the lists of board members and officers over the years, it looks more like Musical Chairs than turnover.

When your lawyer won't call you back...

What do you do, when your own lawyer won't call you back?

Let's say that you have an important, almost immediate, nearly urgent need for legal advice. You are facing a deadline, and you need to speak with your lawyer.

You call and call, leaving messages at his office. You fax him, asking him to call you. With a critical deadline approaching that could have severe consequences, hard and more expensive to reverse, what do you do?

Keep calling. Keep an accurate list of every attempt to reach him and keep a copy of all faxes and emails. Then you'd better get a different lawyer, if you can afford it, or hotfoot it into court and represent yourself.

Take your list with you - to show the judge the record of your attempts to reach your lawyer. Do the best you can to defend yourself and your position. Buy some time by asking for a continuance, if you need to, so that you can find an attorney who will represent you.

And next? Consider the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois (ARDC) ( Contact the ARDC and ask how they can help you.

If your attorney no longer wishes to represent you, then he needs to say so. It is just not okay to ignore your calls or to fail to return at least one of them. If he wishes to resign from serving you, then he should send you a letter. Such a letter takes about five minutes to produce and $0.44 to mail. Big deal!

Is Ill. Sen. Lightford light-headed?

The following came to me in an email today.

“Call now to Stop Illinois from Adopting U.N. Parent-Child Policy.

“Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester, on the Illinois Senate Education Committee) has introduced legislation (S.B. 0092) urging all Illinois state agencies to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and urging the U.S. Senate to ratify it and thus make it the law of the land.

“The relationship between parents and children has always been considered "off limits" to government intrusion, with narrowly defined exceptions, such as divorce, abuse or neglect, etc. The CRC turns this time-honored approach on its head and places, without exception, every aspect of the parent-child relationship under government regulation.

“Right now, you have unquestioned authority to determine what is best for your children--what church they should attend, how much time they spend on chores, what websites and books they should read, whether they should be homeschooled, what friends they can hang out with, etc.

“The CRC takes your right to make all those family decisions and places it second in line behind the government's. Every parental decision you might make would be subject to review and veto by a government agent.

“If Senator Lightford's legislation passes, state agencies and judges could begin implementing aspects of the CRC in the state of Illinois, even if the U.S. Senate never ratifies it.

“Action Requested. Please call, email or visit Senator Lightford, if you are her constituent, and ask her to withdraw her legislation, which is known as SR 92. Use the HSLDA legislative toolbox to see if you live in her district . Your message can be as simple as, "Please withdraw SR 92. Parents--not the government--should decide what is best for their children."

“If you would like to understand the issues in greater depth, an excellent and well-footnoted resource is "Twenty Things You Should Know about the CRC" available at this website:

“Her Springfield office is 323 Capitol Building, Springfield, IL 62076; phone (217) 782-8505; fax (217) 588-2068.

“Her Westchester office is
10001 West Roosevelt Rd., Suite 202
; phone (708) 343-7444; fax (708) 343-7400.

“Background. If this email is your first exposure to the CRC, you may be shaking your head in disbelief right now. Or you may be telling yourself that this would be so bad that it could not POSSIBLY really happen.

“Please accept the challenge of reading an excellent, well-footnoted document called, "Twenty Things You Should Know about the CRC" available at this website:

“And if you think it could not POSSIBLY happen in America, consider that: (1) former President Bill Clinton ALREADY placed his presidential signature on the CRC on behalf of the U.S.; and (2) every nation in the world has adopted the CRC except the U.S. and Somalia.”

The Law of the Land in the U.S. is the United States. We, the People, make our laws here. Sure looks to me like it’s time for Lightford to be sent packing.

Is your kid a victim of bullying?

The next meeting of the Principled Minds' anti-bullying group will be held on Saturday, April 2, at the Woodstock (Ill.) Public Library. Starting time is 9:15AM in a downstairs meeting room.

Principals of McHenry County school district schools have been invited. Even though it's the Saturday at the end of Spring Break, either a principal or a staff member designated by the principal could attend, plus parents and other residents who are ready to put an end to bullying.

Talk to the principal of your child's school and make a specific request that the school be represented at this meeting. Try to get a commitment from the principal regarding attendance. Ask who will attend. (And then thank the principal after the meeting for having the school represented.)

The only way to get bullying stopped is for parents, administrators and teachers - and students - to work together. Bullying can come to a screeching halt.

Please consider the courtesy of parking across Judd Street in the new parking lot. Thanks!

Class war comes to the U.S.

An open discussion on the topic "Not Just Politics as Usual: Class War Comes to the U.S." will be held in Woodstock on Tuseday, March 29, at 7:00PM.

From the flier for the event: "In Congress, in state after state, an unprecedented assault on the lives and wellbeing of ordinary working people has been unleashed under the cover of faux populism. Backed by powerful interests with unlimited resources and both an unparallel media operation of their own and an otherwise acquiescent media, gains long thought secure are under fire in a brilliantly coordinated campaign. In the cross hairs are not only unionized workers but women, minorities, immigrants, the disabled, the elderly, and the children. A tiny plutocracy wins at the expense of the rest of us. And when we have the audacity to complain they charge US with class war! How can we best respond? Are the conventional tools of politics, petition, and 'respectful protest' enough?"

This event is sponsored by the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregational Church and will be held at 221 Dean Street, Woodstock. The program will be moderated by Patrick Murfin.

Murfin writes Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, which can be found at

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Special Meeting of Dorr Township

A Special Meeting was held tonight at Dorr Township for the purpose of examining an inter-governmental agreement between the Township and its Road District, which is a separate taxing entity. You've probably noticed that on your tax bill. You do look carefully at your tax bill, don't you?

The agreement seems to be mostly a matter of dotting the i's and crossing the t's, since the Township owns the property where the Road District is located. Several years ago the Road District paid the Township $10,000/year rent, but then that stopped.

The trustees weren't able to finalize the agreement tonight, because the Action item was omitted from the agenda.

The trustees then launched into a long discussion related to the expansion project at the Highway Garage (Road District). Mark Rohde from Legat Architects explained the work that Legat has been contracted to perform. Trustees Andersen and Evanoff were behind the curve, because they hadn't been furnished copies of the proposal before the meeting, and they were clearly surprised at the cost of projects for a wash bay and a salt storage facility.

The Road District hasn't been able to wash its vehicles on its property for a year, said Tom Thurman, Highway Commissioner. Apparently, the Environmental Division of the McHenry County Department of Health had paid them a visit and didn't like road salt being washed away. Now the Road District is faced with spending in the area of $150,000 to construct a wash bay. Long gone are the days of just hitting the dirty trucks with a garden hose and a nozzle.

A glitch has also come up with the property where the new home of Dorr Township might be, at 747 South Eastwood Drive. The Township has made an offer on the south end of the building, which is actually a condominium building. When the Township Attorney was investigating the status and history of the commercial condominium association, he found that there is a second building in the association; the second building houses AutoTech and the stores to the north of AutoTech.

The Township is working against an April 21st date to complete its due diligence and decide whether to go through with the purchase or pull out. It is not uncommon in real estate deals for buyers to request extensions, and normally a seller will grant them. Attorneys use form letters and fax them back and forth. In this case the Township Attorney might request a five-day extension and state why; then the Seller's attorney will, if the Seller agrees, sign the Acceptance portion and fax it back. There could be numerous extensions, as long as both parties are working toward closing.

Important dates are coming up for Township residents (electors).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 7:00PM Annual Town Meeting at 12322 Davis Road, Woodstock.
Thursday, April 14, 2011 7:00PM April Regular Meeting, 140 Newell Street, Woodstock

Sunday brunch at The Other Place

Hey, everyone in the Woodstock area....

How about a $10.95 Sunday brunch at The Other Place ... at the Elks, 140 Cass St., Woodstock, which is right next door to the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce?

Families, couples, singles, everyone. Sunday, 9:00AM-2:00PM. Come before church or after, or instead of...

Omelet station, Carving station, Waffle station, and over 20 feet of of buffet line filled with plenty of other goodies. All for only $10.95!!!

No reservations needed. Just bring your appetite. Be sure to meet restaurant owners Sara and Mark.

They are open Friday nights, too. Find their Facebook page.

If you go away hungry, it'll be your own fault!

It's a wonderful life

Ever see the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life"? Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore. 1946

Well, it's a wonderful life right here in McHenry County. Keith Nygren, Andy Zinke. 2011. Florida. Panama Canal. Washington, D.C. in the Spring. What could be better?

How can you top $12,000/month salary and not having to work? Pretty nice, eh? Live rent-free for three months. Be gone a week or so. Come back to town and work three days - Thursday, Friday, Monday. Sign a bunch of papers. Charge up the cell phone. And then maybe head on off to Florida and do a little sight-seeing through the Panama Canal before coming back to good, ol' McHenry County.

What a time of year to be homeless. I hear there is a park in Crystal Lake where a tent can be pitched.

Oh, about the Washington, D.C. end of things. CALEA is located in Gainesville. That's Virginia, not Florida. Gainesville is 21 miles southwest of Dulles International Airport. Word is that several supervisors will be there to receive the certification award from CALEA. Are two already there? Did two othes leave yesterday? Is the Undersheriff leaving Friday?

Who's in charge of the Sheriff's Department, when everybody is gone? Is it a good idea for the Sheriff and so many command personnel to all be gone at the same time?

Is that plan of absence from a large department part of CALEA's endorsed procedures?

Wouldn't it have been cheaper to fly one (1) of CALEA's administrators in for the afternoon, serve up some cake and coffee, and send him back home that night?

That's all, folks

Just received an email about the conclusion of the Bianchi witch hunt and then read in the Northwest Herald that the judge ended the case after the prosecution rested.

Common sense prevailed in McHenry County, raising its seldom-seen head at 2200 N. Seminary Ave.

I just said to a friend yesterday that perhaps, now, the Office of the State's Attorney will have a little better understanding of how a defendant feels, since the forces of "justice" were slammed against their own heads.

Will the County pay for Lou Bianchi's defense costs?

I thought the whole charade was a joke. Except numerous felony charges are no joking matter. What do you suppose Bianchi's defense cost him? In dollars, I mean. The emotional cost will be much higher, even with the outcome as it is.

The prosecution of a person charged is a serious matter, and it must be so considered by all. When the State's Attorney's Office "wins" a case, it is no time for high five's or congratulatory handshakes in the courtroom. Obviously, I'm thinking of previous cases here.

What's in line for the U.S. in Libya?

Pay attention, folks.

Early reports from "our" government cause some to think our involvement is a hit-and-run deal. We're just supporting the U.N. and France. Anybody believe that? Call me right away - I've still got that bridge in New York that I'd like to sell you.

And then the Associated Press article this morning with the Northwest Herald headline, "Lengthy U.S. stay is likely in Libya."

Isn't it Congress that is supposed to declare any war that the U.S. enters?

Gadhafi says, "We are preparing for a long and glorious war." Just rhetoric. Just posturing?

Tell me how the U.S. is not trying to change the regime in Libya.

All this causes me to wonder how we, here in the Heartland, would be supported if, say, "our" government came and began confiscating all the legally-owned guns from law-abiding, private citizens. Would a Resistance spring up? What if Iran, Russia (or any of its now-many countries), China, North Korea, etc. (or even England, France, Germany) invaded the U.S. to support the "rebels" (that's us, folks)?

Are we now in three wars?

Woodstock crime reports - no crime?

I'm so glad I live in Woodstock. It has to be the lowest-crime part of McHenry County.

Just this morning I read the Police Reports in the Northwest Herald. Yep, today is March 23, 2011, just like it says on my calendar.

There were only four items in the Crime Reports for Woodstock, and they were for incidents that occurred December 11 and 15 and January 12 (2).

Something smells here. Either (1) Woodstock had no crimes. Or (2) Woodstock PD didn't release the information to the Northwest Herald. Or (3) the Northwest Herald didn't print what it got from the Woodstock PD.

Personally, I'm going with (3). The Woodstock PD is mandated to release arrest information within 72 hours.

Several years ago I was interested in setting up a website to report crime in Woodstock as soon as the information was available from the Woodstock PD. The City, through the City Attorney, informed me that my site would not be considered "media", and they refused to routinely provide crime information to me. I was told that I could file a FOIA request every day, if I wished to receive the information.

A "blog" is not media, according to the city. Apparently, a "blog" is not "electronic media", either. The City's denial was based on the attorney's advice that the word "blog" does not appear in the statutes, although "electronic media" does.

And so a Woodstock resident might believe his city is safe and leave the doors unlocked, the garage door open and the keys in the ignition.

We in Woodstock fortunately don't live in a "war zone", but we need to be vigilant. Be smart; don't be stupid.

But, if crime were more fully reported, as it is in other communities, residents might be better reminded to be smart about their residences, property and personal safety.

High-speed rail in Illinois? dumb, dumb, dumb

Is 90 minutes worth $1,200,000,000 in Fed money and $42,000,000 in Illinois money? That's how much time might be saved on a train trip from Chicago to St. Louis (high-speed rail vs. current train service).

First of all, who takes the train from Chicago to St. Louis these days? St. Louis is not a work hub for Chicago. Nor is Chicago a work hub for St. Louis.

If I'm going to take a train to St. Louis, first I must get myself to Chicago; that's a 1 1/2 hours trip. Maybe I need to arrive an hour ahead of time, and then argue with a TSA employee about whether I'm going through a full-body scanner. That bring travel time up to 2 1/2 hours. Then four hours to St. Louis. That's 6 1/2 hours. Then I have to get myself from the St. Louis train station to my ultimate destination.

I'm driving, thankyouverymuch. Same time. More convenient. Lower in cost.

I liked Sen. Durbin's statement - not! Said he, "The governors of these other states that have given up their money (Fed money for high-speed rail) can stand by and wave at our trains when they go by." Florida rejected $2.4 billion. Does Sen. Durbin really think that Florida Gov. Rick Scott cares even a little about a rail project between Chicago and St. Louis? Gov. Scott won't even hear the train whistle 1,300 miles away!

Come on, Dick. You can do better than that. I hope.

NWH weighs in on minimum wage

Whew! I was glad to see that I am not alone in thinking that raising the minimum wage in Illinois to over $10.00/hour is wrong. Read today's editorial.

One of the problems with increasing the minimum wage is that those who were working at minimum wage will want more. Is an entry-level worker at any low-skilled job worth $10.00/hour? Let's say, unloading a truck or making fries or cleaning toilets.

I'm not saying those jobs aren't important. They need to be done, and they need to done well.

I remember a sign in an office of a colleague on LaSalle St. in 1966. It read, "We have a time-proven incentive program here - those who work, get to keep their jobs." And there was a second sign - "Your raise becomes effective when you do."

Not sure the first is true any more. The second might still be true in some places.

What Special Prosecutor bills are yet to come?

Cal Skinner reported yesterday on testimony in the Lou Bianchi trial and included remarks about an exchange between Bianchi's defense attorney Terry Ekl and Quest International computer forensics expert Dan Jerger. On Cal wrote:

"At $250 an hour, Ekl calculated he (Jerger) had charged the county $86,250.

"That’s when he (Jerger) revealed the total Quest bill as $225,000."

Billings from Quest International from the Special Prosecutors and already approved by Judge Gordon Graham total "only" $127,668. If Jerger is correct (and why wouldn't he be?), then there is another $98,000 in billings coming from Quest.

Not counting legal fees for December 2010 and January and February 2011, the bill for the Bianchi witch hunt will stand at over $409,000. Now add in the legal fees and expenses for March 2011 - right now, for the trial.

And then for the appeal that will surely follow Judge Joseph McGrath's decision, no matter which way he decides.

How much mud in on the faces of the County Board for estimating that $100,000 would suffice? Why should they sweat the miscalculation, though? It's not their money; they just open the cash register drawer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One for the road (to jail)...

Keith Gruber. 49, should have known better, when he had a court date with Judge Frank LaBuda last week. Any drunk driver heading off to see a judge with "Bud" in his last name was fairly forewarned.

Gruber showed up 90 minutes late for his court date (not good to keep your local judge waiting), and the four cans of beer in his bag set off the metal detector, when he entered the courthouse in Monticello, N.Y. One news article said Gruber appeared before Judge LaBuda carrying an open can of Busch beer (not even a Bud!).

After learning that Gruber had enjoyed his "liquid lunch", the judge revoked his $30,000 cash bail and sent him off to a cot at the County Jail. The arrest that brought Gruber to court last week wasn't his first DUI.

Will the Sullivan County Sheriff hold those beers as evidence and return them after the trial? Keep 'em cold, Sheriff.

Kathie Schultz - 174 years in office?

OK, so what's the first thing you thought, when you saw this banner? This banner appeared at the bottom of this afternoon's online article in the Northwest Herald about the Bianchi trial.

I know what I thought ... "How young she looks for serving since 1837!"

And then I noticed that the "ad" is for her office...

For some strange reason, an additional banner is being automatically included above the banner for the McHenry County Clerk. Just one of the strange happenings in cyber-space; I can't delete it.

Too many excuses?

If I watched TV, I might have seen the Nike ad. But I don't, and I hadn't - until this morning.

Think you've got problems? Trying to think up an excuse for not going to work? not shoveling snow? not doing anything?

Watch this Nike commercial featuring Matt Scott.

Bianchi trial, Day 1 - did judge err?

In an article on publisher Pete Gonigam wrote (and not until the end of the article) that Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw prevented the media (Northwest Herald, McHenry County Blog, FirstElectricNewspaper (FEN)) from entering his courtroom until 10:45AM, after the conclusion of the arraignment of Ron Salgado and hearing motions in the Bianchi case early.

In most courtrooms "audience" members come and go (hopefully, quietly). But yesterday? It was different.

Gonigam also wrote on FEN that "Dalby ... said she gave the flash drive itself to the campaign manager of Bianchi's Primary opponent Dan Regna."

Apparently, no one asked the name of that "campaign manager". In a statement to the Illinois State Police during the investigation into Dalby's theft of the flash drive and thousands of documents related to criminal cases, Dalby told the trooper/investigator that she had given the flash drive to Michael Cooper, who was an employee of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.

No one seems to be asking how Cooper "lost" it, after he was supposed to retrieve it from his safe deposit box and give it to the Illinois State Police investigator. Why the trooper trusted Cooper is beyond anyone's guess. Why didn't he invite Cooper for a ride in his ISP vehicle and drive him to the bank on the spot?

And why wasn't Cooper ever charged with being in possession of stolen (and legally-sensitive and -privileged prosecution) material and failing to immediately turn it in as evidence?

Bianchi trial, Day 1 - what really happened

If you want to know what really happened on Day 1 of the Bianchi trial, go to the McHenry County Blog ( Cal Skinner's hearing was "20/20", it appears.

Maybe the attorneys used podiums; maybe even microphones.

Here is one exchange that might better have drawn a long pause before the answer was given. Defense attorney Terry Ekl was at Tom Carroll's throat with,

Ekl: “Are you not concerned with not being charged with a crime because you did not believe you engaged in any illegal act?”
Carroll admitted trouble dealing with the double negative, so Ekl rephrased the question: “You don’t think you committed a crime, do you?”
“No,” Carroll replied."

I had to think twice or thrice and go over the question in my mind to figure out whether Tom Carroll intended to answer "Yes" or "No."

Was his answer meant to be, "Yes, I don't think I committed a crime"?

Or did he mean, "No, I don't think I committed a crime", which is apparently what he said.

Which is the double-negative that he said he was having trouble with. Did he get trapped into saying that he thought he had committed a crime? I suspect he wasn't saying that.

I'll bet that question didn't just roll off Ekl's lips and that he spent a fair amount of time crafting it for just that moment.

Carroll should have skipped the "Yes" or "No" in his answer. And if you are ever on trial, this might be a good rule for you, too.