Friday, April 29, 2011

Police Chiefs' Assn. now supports concealed carry

I'll bet you didn't see this in the paper...

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police now supports concealed carry. This is a huge shift from several years ago. The Chiefs' Association had been against concealed carry and then moved to a neutral position about two years ago. Now they not only do not oppose concealed carry, but they favor it. The Illinois Sheriffs' Association previously came out in support of concealed carry.

Read the March 31st article on and from there to the complete article via the link on that site.

I wonder where the chiefs of police in McHenry County municipalities and throughout northern Illinois stand.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Looking for a shadow

Sometimes there are things in the shadows that one can sort of make out, but they aren't clear. You think you know what you are seeing, and then the light changes a little, and the image shifts.

At other times you can create the shadows you want. You move the light or you block the light, and you watch the shadow as it changes. Photographers position lights to cast shadows one way or another. They can tell a story with shadows.

When shadows themselves have something to say, some people want to listen. And sometimes these people can respond with information that will help the shadow tell its story to the right listener.

There's a Shadow in McHenry County for whom I have information. His dilemma is clear. The risk is high. No light will be cast by me on that shadow.

Accident simulation at WNHS on Monday

When you drive by Woodstock North High School on Monday afternoon, May 2, and see scores of emergency equipment and maybe even the Flight-for-Life helicopter, don't worry. It's a training exercise (an expensive one, for sure), designed to scare high school students into safer driving practices and care during prom season.

The Woodstock Fire Rescue District will be simulating  a two-car crash at WNHS. WFRD personnel will stage the extrication of victims from vehicles, and a Flight-for-Life helicopter may participate, weather permitting. Since Flight-for-Life bills $6,000 to start up the helicopter, who is paying for that?

This training exercise and demonstration is scheduled for 1:45PM. If you are driving on Raffel Road or on school grounds, please mind your driving. Hopefully, WFRD will place adequate warning signs on Raffel Road that the event is a training exercise, not the "real thing."

Perhaps D-200 personnel will see the wisdom of informing parents and students that this is a drill. Advance notice of this type will alleviate concern and hundreds of phone calls to the school. As of now, nothing is posted on the WNHS webpage.

Woodstock student gambling

Did you see the little ad in The Woodstock Independent this week about gambling by Woodstock School District 200 students?

"Gambling is a problem!
"25% of eighth-grraders and 40% of high-schoolers reported gambling for money or valuable items.
"Data WCUSD200 2010 JYS Results"

OK, so some gamble and don't report it. Others report it but never gambled. I wonder what the margin-of-error was in the survey, not that it matters.

What type of gambling was involved? If a student flipped a coin one time for a milk shake, is that "gambling" that gets counted?

For these percentages to mean anything, much more information is needed. Will TWI be expanding on this?

Sweating time in the Beth Bentley case?

Will certain friends of Beth Bentley be sweating a lot more this summer? Bentley, 41 at the time she went missing in May 2010, has not been seen or heard from since the next-to-last week-end in May 2010.

If any of her friends or acquaintances have any knowledge (that's any knowledge) of what happened to her, they could be at risk for a felony charge in Illinois. That's because concealment of a death is a crime.

The statute actually reads "concealment of a homicidal death", but the word "homicidal" won't necessarily let someone with only knowledge off the hook.

720 ILCS 5/9-3.4(a) reads, "A person commits the offense of concealment of homicidal death when he or she knowingly conceals the death of any other person with knowledge that such other person has died by homicidal means."

(b-5) reads, "'Conceal' means the performing of some act or acts for the purpose of preventing or delaying the discovery of a death by homicidal means."

"Conceal" means something more than simply withholding knowledge or failing to disclose information.

"Homicidal means" means any act or acts, lawful or unlawful, of a person that cause the death of another person.

Bentley didn't just walk off the edge of the planet. Why was the Round Lake Park Police Department successful in finding Melissa Best in less than 10 days by strong detective work, and in almost a year no persons-of-interest or suspects have been identified in the Bentley case?

Should all persons with even remote connections to Bentley be re-interviewed? I'll bet that stories will change, even if ever so slightly, and enough to provide new leads. It's not like we have a new person to go missing every week from Woodstock. Call in her traveling companion from the week-end and the two men they visited in Mt. Vernon, if she ever left Woodstock and actually reached Mt. Vernon.

Re-trace the driving route from Woodstock to Mt. Vernon. Check the toll records on the Tollway for I-Pass use. Either the rental car had an I-Pass that triggered tolls, or the rental car recorded toll violations (or tolls were paid in cash and would have been spoken of in initial interviews).

If the claim of a drive to Centralia on Sunday afternoon is still made, what roads did the driver use? What was her timetable? Where did she go after dropping Beth off? What time did she start back for Woodstock? Where and when was she to meet Beth, in order to return to Woodstock together?

Every lie will start to unravel. No one is good enough to remember what she or he said 10-11 months ago. When some of the people start thinking about prison time for a felony conviction, they will start thinking about saving their own hides. What really happened to Beth?

Sheriff wastes over $300,000

According to the Northwest Herald this morning, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department is finally squaring up with Deputy Bob Schlenkert, and it's costing the Sheriff's Department over $300,000 to do so.

Schlenkert is to receive $185,684 in back wages for the period September 13, 2007 to April 12, 2010, plus $5,646.12 for medical expense reimbursement. That's $191,000+. Estimating the cost of the Sheriff's wasteful legal actions at another $100,000 and the possibility that the sheriff's department might have to pay Schlenkert's legal costs, the Department wasted over $300,000.

The Northwest Herald said, "Because Schlenkert's position was held open, his pay already was part of the office's budget." The newspaper article attempted to minimize the outlay, for people who just read the first paragraph of a story, by first reporting it as "$130,000 in lost wages," because Schlenkert must reimburse IDES for $51,764 unemployment pay he received.

Does that mean that the sheriff expected to lose? If the position was "held open", does that mean that the County did without a deputy on patrol in that position? If it doesn't mean that, then where did the money come from to pay for the replacement deputy who filled in for Schlenkert? And was that deputy laid off, when Schlenkert returned to duty?

Taxpayers should keep in mind that at least two other deputies are cooling their heels and expect to win back their positions. Zane Seipler has won legal actions before an arbitrator and a McHenry County judge. Yet Sheriff Nygren continues to fight an uphill battle and has his outside lawyers in Elgin now, hoping for a victory in the Appellate Court. When he loses there, will he head for the Illinois Supreme Court and waste more taxpayer dollars?

And Deputy Scott Milliman, who was paid while on administrative leave, is now off pay status. Yet the sheriff hasn't fired him. He had taken him off active duty and then stopped paying him.

Now, how does this work in the wonderful world of HR rules? Can you just send somebody home, pay him for a while, then stop paying him, but never tell him that you are firing him? Seems like this should have been presented to the Merit Commission a long time ago?

Milliman ought to show back up at the office, dressed for duty and ready to go to work. Otherwise, the sheriff might say that Milliman didn't come to work, so he is letting him go. Milliman would have a problem now dressing for work, because the Department recently confiscated his uniforms.

Maybe the battery is dead in the sheriff's cell phone and he can't be reached to make decisions. Why doesn't Undersheriff Zinke take action? Isn't he in charge when the sheriff is on vacation and out of the country? Of course, it could be hazardous to his own position, if he made an independent decision to go against his boss's (wrong) decisions.

Is the Undersheriff even around? Last week I sent an email to him and also to the general email address for the sheriff? It was a politely-worded request about an incomplete press release, but no one had the courtesy of replying.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Woodstock misses home-rule by 230

Is missing home-rule status by 230 a bad thing for Woodstock? Are homeowners, business owners and other residents breathing a sigh of relief?

The 2010 Census of 24,770 prevents Woodstock's jump into automatic home-rule status. Is that good? What are the pros and cons of home rule?

According to today's article in The Woodstock Independent (TWI), Woodstock would have more control. What might it do with this new control? "Home-rule municipalities can constitutionally impose additional taxes on certain items or uses that are not income, occupations or earning without voter approval. Examples could include a home-rule gasoline tax, a vehicle tax or other product or service-specific taxes."

Get it now?

The article also gave certain raw numbers from Census data, but it omitted an important calculation - the change from 2000 to 2010. You can see the raw numbers in TWI's article. Here is the change in the numbers that you won't see there.

Population, up 22.9%

Total housing units, up 23.2%
Occupied housing units, up 18.6%
Vacant housing units, up 131%

Ethnicity and race
Hispanic/Latino, up 52.8%
White, up 12.7%
Black, up 163%
American Indian/Alaskan native, up 33.3%
Asian, up 40.5%

Another inmate dies at McHenry County Jail

Yesterday morning an inmate died in the McHenry County Jail, after being taken there from a judge's courtroom. Tommy J. O'Dell, 37 (O Dell in online court records), had three Woodstock traffic charges pending and further court action of a 2008 possession charge.

Online court records show a warrant issued April 19 and quashed April 21, and then a warrant issued April 26. And a warrant issued on the traffic cases on April 19.

The Northwest Herald published its article at 8:33AM today but, as of 4:30PM today there was still no publication of the media release on the Sheriff's webpage at  Considering that the media release should have been ready before the end of the day yesterday and then published, favoritism seems to be shown to the Northwest Herald and such withholding of the media release from the Sheriff's website needs to be challenged.

Was O'Dell carefully searched after ordered remanded in Judge Feetterer's court? Was he again searched in the booking area before being placed in the holding cell? Did he have any contraband that might have contributed to his death?

A worthy cause - Woodstock Food Pantry

I had heard about the Woodstock Food Pantry but didn't really know anything about it, so today I stopped in. Then I got so busy talking with Jack that I forgot to pick up a referral form, so that I could inform readers how to become a user of the Pantry.

The Pantry is located at 226 Washington Street, between the Zoia Monument building and DQ. The entrance is hard to see from the street; it's on the side of the building that faces the Zoia building. Today there were two volunteers there, plus Jack, who with his wife, Karen, helps keep the Pantry going.

Food is donated to the Pantry by local churches, groups and Woodstock residents, and some foods are purchased from the Northern Ililnois Food Bank. Donations of money are also accepted. And one of the most important donations is Time. Volunteers operate the Pantry; even though there are plenty of volunteers much of the time, sometimes there are not enough when needed.

Eight local churches are "members" of the Pantry, and numerous other churches donate to the Pantry to support it. Some families drop by every week to donate.

This is a good way to give back to your community. Perhaps you don't use the Pantry and think you may never have to. But it's there, if you do need it.

To become a recipient of food at the Pantry, pick up a Referral Form during any hours they are open (Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:00AM-3:00PM). On the form are the names of groups that can provide the referral for you or for someone you know.

And consider dropping by to ask how you can help. You could pick up a case of soup or cereal at Aldi and donate it. Or you can drop off some money. They will tell you whether or not your donation is tax-deductible. Or you can call for information: 815/337-0375

Unfairness to water bill customers

How fair is the City of Crystal Lake to its residents?

If a resident runs up a water bill and is late paying it, the City of Crystal Lake nails the customer for a 20% late-payment fee. The City bills customers monthly, so run some numbers and see if you feel that the City's billing practice is unconscionable, usurious and ought to be illegal.

How do they get away with it? The City Council passed it. That makes it right; right? Wrong!

Let's say you have a $220 water bill. You're short of money and can't pay the full amount; so you send in $20. That leaves $200. And the wonderful City of Crystal Lake then adds 20%.

How much is that? 20% x $200 = $40. So, when you go in a few days later (after pay day) and want to pay the balance of your bill, you find out that your bill is $240!!!

Since the City of Crystal Lake bills monthly, you could incur a 20% late-payment fee every month. Is this pretty close to 240% year? See what I mean about usurious? Unconscionable? Ought to be unlawful? And it probably would be, except that they call it a late payment "fee", not "interest".

The City of Woodstock is a little gentler on its residents, charging only a 10% late-payment fee. And it bills only every three months, so you at least have a fighting chance to work down your bill and not get killed on interest.

Thumbs down on Crystal Lake's policy.

Where is Dep. Milliman? Back at work?

I think it was back in November that Dep. Scott Milliman of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department gave a deposition in the Federal lawsuit by Dep. Zane Seipler against Sheriff Keith Nygren, the sheriff's department and a number of deputies. Of course, the public shouldn't know about that deposition or its contents, but it seems that the sheriff told the undersheriff to give it to Jose Rivera (La Rosita Grocery), and the Northwest Herald ended up with a copy.

Dep. Milliman was placed on paid administrative leave. Seems that the sheriff may not have liked some of the things that were said under oath in the deposition. Okay, I realize that's redundant...

What is Dep. Milliman's status? Is he still on paid administrative leave? Is he still receiving a paycheck but not at work? Does he still have all his department uniforms? Has the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission been scheduled to hear any request from Sheriff Nygren to terminate Milliman? Not according to any agendas of the Merit Commission, which cancels most of its monthly meetings.

The Merit Commission is thought by some to be merely a rubber stamp of the Sheriff, rather than an independent public body whose members are confirmed by the McHenry County Board. You can view the names of the members of the Merit Commission at No information is published about two men who have been members since 2002. William Mack and Brian Goode are pictured, but no profiles are provided. Goode is connected to RITA Corporation in Crystal Lake.

What is the status of Milliman's employment? If any reason of the sheriff for taking Milliman off duty is unfounded, then Milliman should be put back to work.

Deputies are choosing to go to arbitration, rather than taking their chances with the Merit Commission. I don't blame them. And arbitration has proved to be successful for deputies, when fighting for their jobs.

What's up?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Band concert at Woodstock High School

There was a huge band concert at Woodstock High School last night, and parents and band members were entertained by four groups of bands. (Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

The performers were the combined bands of the school district, and three rings of band members were seated on the gymnasium floor. It looked like one huge sea of players and instruments.

First up were the 5th Grade band members; then the 6th Graders. They were followed by 7th/8th Graders, and then the High School combined band.

Almost every seat was filled with parents and family members, and there were plenty of administrators present, too.

Many thanks to the family who invited me to join them there. Sorry I couldn't find you.

PACE bus driver nearly causes crash

This morning a PACE bus driver pulled a stupid and reckless stunt in McHenry. About 10:17AM I was following the bus eastbound on Route 120. After passing through the Route 31 zigzag, we continued east on 120. At about Riverside Drive a westbound fire engine with red lights operating was approaching and the PACE bus pulled over into a parking lane and stopped parallel to the curb.

State law does not require vehicles to stop - only to pull to the right and to stop if necessary to allow safe passage of the emergency vehicle. Many drivers do stop when meeting oncoming emergency equipment. And the PACE bus driver did just that. I had slowed and intended to continue on eastbound in the outside through lane, when suddenly the PACE bus driver turned his wheels to the left and pulled out sharply to block the outside traffic lane. I braked sharply and avoided hitting the bus.

Apparently, the bus driver's nose was out of joint that I wasn't going to stop for the oncoming fire truck, and he decided to insert himself into the traffic lane, risking his vehicle and any passengers on it and nearly causing a crash.

On another day I would have summoned the McHenry Police and had the bus driver cited, but today I was enroute to the press conference at the Round Lake Park P.D.

A serious complaint was lodged with the Pace folks, although it took several calls to reach them. First I called the McHenry County Government Center to reach the contact in the County Transportation Department who is in charge of the Pace Bus program for seniors. I figured she'd have a good number for Pace. Instead, I got transferred to the Jail.

Ten minutes later, I called back, and there was no answer by the County Government telephone operator. Actually, they don't have a telephone "operator". Calls get answered by a clerical person in the County Administrator's office. A third call got me a number for Pace, but not the right number. The fourth call, to the (wrong) Pace number, got me the Pace customer service number, where I insisted that a supervisor take my complaint, hoping it would get handled today and just sent through the general complaint pipeline.

That PACE bus driver was dangerous and deserved a ticket.

Round Lake Park woman found dead

A 34-year-old Round Lake Park (Ill.) woman, Melissa Best, missing since April 15, was found dead early Monday evening in Grayslake, Ill. Best went missing on Friday, April 15, after dropping off one of her children at a friend’s house.

In a news conference held this morning at the Round Lake Park Police Department, Chief George Filenko, flanked by two detectives and Mayor Jean McCue, gave a candid and informative accounting of the past week’s investigation. Best is believed to have driven herself to Waukegan, where she may have died within 4-5 hours of dropping off her child. Her body was then driven in her own van to Grayslake, and the van was left in the parking lot of the Gray’s Point Studios, at the corner of Routes 120 and 45. The van remained parked there until it was found yesterday about 6:50PM.

She was previously considered a missing person, and the case is now a death investigation. Active detective work, including follow-ups to Facebook leads, resulted in the finding of the van and Best’s body. It is believed that she died on Friday, April 15. Initial presumptive blood tests indicate the presence of opiates in her body, but the Chief would not speculate on the type of drugs. Their investigation revealed a history of alcohol abuse.

Two “persons of interest”, not yet classified as suspects, have been identified and have been interviewed. The Round Lake Park P.D. is in communication with the Lake County State’s Attorney about the possibility of charges under a new Illinois statute that pertains to concealment of a body, which is a Class 4 Felony. The two POIs were known to Best. It appears the Grayslake apartment parking lot was chosen at random.

Best and her husband, Clint, had known one another since age 15 and were married for 18 years.

The PD parking lot was full of press vehicles. Remote broadcasting vans were there from CBS-2, WGN-9, Fox, and ABC-7. Portions of the press conference were carried live. Chief Filenko made a short opening statement and then answered many questions from reporters.

No seat belt = serious injury

Is there a relationship between not wearing a seat belt and a serious injury in an intersection accident?

On Friday a crash occurred at the intersection of Route 173 and Johnson Road, which is less than one mile west of Hebron, Ill. The southbound driver, an 18-year-old woman from Cary in a Chevrolet Cavalier, apparently pulled out in front of a westbound Dodge Ram.

A 16-year-old McHenry boy in the Cavalier didn't have his seat belt on and is in critical condition at Centegra Hospital - Woodstock. The driver and another passsenger were treated and released.

I haven't been through that intersection recently, but it must be outside Hebron, where the speed limit on Route 173 is 55MPH. This would be why the McHenry County Sheriff's Dept. investigated the crash. What kind of distraction inside a vehicle causes a driver to misjudge the distance and speed of an approaching vehicle and pull out in front of it? Noise in the car? Loud radio? Cell phone? Texting? Driver's reliance on a passenger to indicate that no car is close?

The newspaper article doesn't mention where the boy was sitting in the Cavalier. If he was seated behind the driver, it might not have made a lot of difference whether he had a seat belt on or not. He would have been near the point of impact. On the other hand, if he was seated in the right-rear seat or the right-front seat, then he probably was thrown inside the vehicle, and a seat belt would have kept him in place.

A smart driver refuses to move a vehicle until all occupants are buckled up. Passengers ought to be interested in self-preservation, but some aren't. So then it's up to the driver to insist that they buckle up.

What's the rule in your car?

Monday, April 25, 2011

How bad is U.S. Gov't. debt?

Received this link today to a YouTube video put out by

Watch it and then find out for yourself whether all of it or some of it is true:

If it's true, this is a snowball rolling downhill that we must stop!

Interference with Grafton Township Mail

Today a letter I had sent to Linda Moore, Supervisor, at the Grafton Township office was returned with one of those familiar, yellow labels reading "Moved Left No Address - Unable to Forward - Return to Sender". (Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to return to this story.)

The envelope was correctly addressed to Linda More, Supervisor, Grafton Township, 10109 Vine Street, Huntley, IL 60142, Hello? Don't they get mail delivered to the Township office? They did.

Ha-ha. Big laugh. OK, so I already know of the P.O. Box 37 on the Supervisor's website, but isn't there mail delivery to businesses and houses in Huntley? A booming metropolis, growing leaps and bounds? No door delivery of mail?

Did someone (not Linda Moore) submit a stop-order for mail delivery to the Township offices?

Only one person could legally put in such an order for mail to the Township, and I don't think she did it. So who did? And why is the Post Office honoring it? Interference with mail is a significant crime in this country. Let's see what the Huntley Postmaster intends to do about it.

New committee forming in Grafton Township

Read the following press release from Grafton Township Supervisor Linda Moore.

"Grafton Township Disabled Citizens Advisory Committee

"Grafton Township is now taking applications for interested residents to serve on a Disabled Citizen’s Service Advisory Committee.  This committee will explore ways that the township can develop programs to ease the difficulties associated with disabilities.  The committee will also work to establish criteria for documenting disabled citizens eligible to utilize the transportation services offered by the township.  Please contact Linda Moore, Grafton Township Supervisor if you would like to apply for this committee by calling 847-669-3328."

If you know someone in the Huntley area or in Grafton Township, let them know about this.

Free at the Opera House Friday night

This Friday at the Woodstock (Ill.) Opera House is an opportunity for a rare treat. The Thresholds Theatrical Group from Chicago will perform in "Maybe In a Moment" at 8:00PM, and the performance is open to the public and without charge. That's free, as in f-r-e-e.

The performance blends narrative, music, poetry and movement to relate personal experiences with humor and emotion, and it is based on real stories shared by persons who have experienced mental illness.

The performance will be preceded at 7:00PM by the 3rd Annual Visions of Hope Awards in Stage Left Café, located just next door to the Opera House.

No tickets are needed for either event. The Opera House will likely be full on Friday evening, so arrive early for the best seats.

Donations will be accepted to keep this theater group in action. Be generous...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beth Bentley - 48 weeks and still missing

Forty-eight weeks ago Beth Bentley, then 41, went missing. She disappeared from Centralia, Ill. Or was it from Mount Vernon, Ill.? Or was it from Woodstock? Did she run away? Did a stranger do away with her? Did someone she knew do away with her?

If someone around here knows what happened to her, pretty soon they will slip up. Somebody will hear something that just doesn't match up, and Woodstock Police departments will have another clue to run with.

Should a command center be set up, run by civilians, with all the tips, leads and clues posted publicly for anyone to see? Of course, they would need to be backed up and photographed daily, just in case a perp came in and decided that the net was closing around him (or her). Or them.

Right now I'd say that there are no solid leads for the location from which she actually disappeared. Can Jenn Wyatt's story be believed that she drove her to Centralia and dropped her off by the Amtrak station? What about the pizza order from Beth's phone about the same time as the drop-off? Was that call placed from Centralia or Mount Vernon? Was there really even such a call?

And what about the rumor that Beth's cell phone "pinged" in McHenry County late Sunday night? And of some missing computer files from the Bentley law offices that might have been taken or deleted on the Sunday night of her disappearance?

And what about all those text messages on the week-end, especially on Sunday? Did they exist? Or was that story just one of many red herrings in this case?

Why has the family's interest gone quiet? What happened to all the money from the fundraiser? What "search" was there in Las Vegas during the week after the fundraiser?

Does the reward fund at CHASE Bank still exist? All $140 of it...  The two Crime Stoppers rewards of "up to $1,000" each may still be in effect, but what about the other $3,000 reward?

Does anyone even know who is offering it? And why is it only $3,000?

As of last week, the Woodstock Police Department says Beth is still a missing person.

HB 0148 - 40 co-sponsors; come on, Jack

HB 0148, this session's concealed-carry bill, now has 40 co-sponsors. McHenry County residents are invited to contact Rep. Jack Franks and urge him to join in. Why is he holding back?

Call Jack's office this week at 815-334-0063. Ask to speak directly with Jack. If he is in Springfield, ask what days he will be in his office there and then call 217-782-1717. Then call him there and ask to speak directly to him.

If you must speak with a staffer, ask them to take your specific message and comment, along with your name and phone number, and request an intelligent response. Don't accept a "pat" answer or form letter.

Jack likes to be on the winning side. Will he hold off until he can see that the winning side has the bullet-proof number of 71 sure votes for a super-majority?

I've heard that Jack is concerned about the liability of a business owner who declares his business a gun-free zone. Suppose a customer leaves his lawful weapon in his car, enters the business, and then is hurt when a gun-wielding criminal enters and shoots. Let's say, for example, that a man is sitting in Jack's law office and discussing a divorce. Assume Jack has declared his law office to be a gun-free zone. The man's angry about-to-be-ex-wife enters and shoots the dirty dog who is about to divorce his wife, run off with his Barbie doll, and leave the kids and her penniless. Jack doesn't want to be liable.

Jack has several choices. He can try to protect his own hide and continue to leave the entire State of Illinois as unarmed victims to gun-toting criminals. Or he can buy more liability insurance (he probably already has plenty). He can decide not to make his office a gun-free zone (the best choice). He can favor concealed-carry and throw a bone to business with an exemption from liability for a gun-caused injury in a gun-free zone. He can risk the loss of legal business from law-abiding, gun-toting, prospective clients.

Call Jack and reason with him. Explain that you believe law-abiding, gun-carrying citizens will not turn Illinois into the Wild, Wild West, just as they have not in 48 other states. Ask him to read More Guns, Less Crime, by Prof. John Lott. Ask him to read From Luby's to the Legislature, by Suzanna Gratia Hupp.

Councilman raises valid point

At last Tuesday's Woodstock City Council meeting a liquor license application for Trax Depot was up for vote. It's to be a nice, quiet place for drinks; not a rowdy bar room. I'd guess not a word was said about how drinkers will get home. Driving home in their cars; right?

As you may recall, the Woodstock City Council exterminated the Woodstock Liquor Commission earlier this year. The former three-member commission had been allowed to dwindle to one member, the Mayor, when no replacements were appointed to serve two vacant positions. I didn't like that decision at the time, and I don't like it now. Councilman RB Thompson voted against abolishing the Liquor Commission.

The same Councilman RB Thompson raised the issue at the City Council meeting that the anticipated manager of the new liquor license applicant is the godson of the Mayor.

Councilman Thompson is quoted in the paper as saying the the mayor has very high integrity and operates with an open-government attitude. "He's transparent, and he's very cognizant of appearances, so I was very stunned."

The Northwest Herald reported that a "hearing" was held on April 1 for the beer and wine license. Since there is no longer a Liquor Commission, what was the hearing? Was it open to the public? Where was it held? How was it announced? Or was it? The article refers to minutes of the hearing, perhaps taken by City Office Assistant Monica Amraen. Do those minutes contain any reference to a conflict of interest that might have made it necessary for the mayor to recuse himself?

If the mayor as Liquor Commissioner recuses himself, who makes the initial decision about a liquor application, so that it can go to the City Council? If Woodstock still had a Liquor Commission, then the mayor could have recused himself, and then the two remaining citizen-commissioners could have decided the fate of the license application.

The mayor's conflict of interest apparently did not surface at the City Council meeting before Councilman Thompson raised the question. If the item had not been removed from the Consent Agenda, it would have slid by right under the radar.

Thanks to RB for his keen attention and his intestinal fortitude to step forward and interrupt the process. Were any of the other Council members aware of the conflict of interest?

I don't see any malevolent intent to deceive here, but there was an obligation to disclose. The mayor later told the reporter, "As mayor of the city of Woodstock, I have the responsibility to be absolutely sure I follow the same processes and same procedures for every application that comes before the City Council." And no doubt he did. But apparently he didn't disclose the close relationship with an employee of the license applicant.

Before the Liquor Commission was abolished, the City records should have been checked for completeness. The online Agenda schedule for the Liquor Commission shows agendas for December 15, 2010, December 14, 2009, and October 15, 2007, but no Minutes. There are Minutes for a November 18, 2008, meeting, but no published Agenda. Will someone at City Hall be able to correct this "minor detail"?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Charlie Sheen's police escort

Just how did Charlie Sheen end up with a police escort to his stage show in Washington, D.C.?

Obviously, the well-connected people know other well-connected people. But who knew whom to get two police cars to escort Sheen at 80MPH with lights and sirens to his performance venue? Let's hope that D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier publicly cracks some heads over that and is transparent in her handling of such an abuse of police vehicles and manpower.

Assuming, of course, the reports of such a shenanigan are true.

But it's not just entertainers who get such privileges, and it's not just in D.C. that it happens.

We saw similar use of police vehicles right here in McHenry County last year. Will it happen again?

Algonquin gold store robbed

On Friday about 9:30AM a gold and jewelry store in Algonquin was robbed.

It would be interesting to know if the robbers entered with their masks on and guns drawn, so that employees and the owner, if on site, didn't have a chance to go for any weapons. If they even handy any weapons on the premises. As the depression in this country deepens, the need to defend ourselves may become greater. And the way to stop armed robberies may be for the robbers to have a very strong suspicion that they will immediately meet armed resistance to their efforts. Most robbers, I think, will avoid gun fights.

Police, of course, frown on any type of resistance. They recommend giving the robbers everything they want; hold the door for them as they leave, and help the robbers out to the car with the loot. OK, just joking about the last part.

But try to rob a gun store sometime. I'm not sure if employees at G.A.T. Guns or HP Shooting Range in McHenry are armed, but I know that employees in gun stores in Colorado are armed. Anyone who thinks he is going to rob a gun or jewelry store in Colorado is quite likely going to end up dead.

Here? Dumb Illinois laws and the threat of enforcement against people who defend themselves give robbers the edge. In this state we need concealed-carry laws and the Castle Doctrine. Call your State Representative on Monday and ask him or her to call HB 0148 for a vote and to vote for it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Was Nygren's signature forged?

A reader has questioned whether Sheriff Keith Nygren signed the April 15, 2011, media release about the crash involving the McCullom Lake PD squad car. You can see Nygren's signature on the media release on the sheriff's website at Look under Press Release on the left side, and then click on the McCullom Lake release dated April 15.

The signature resembles the sheriff's signature, but there are differences. Did someone at the Department sign his name? Or rubber-stamp it? Was he in town on April 15?

If someone signed or stamped his name, that's forgery. Even if they had authority to sign certain documents in his absence, it's forgery. It's forgery because they did not include an indication that they were signing his name, such as their own initials at the end of his name, perhaps encircled. Of course, that would be a clue that he wasn't around to sign it.

Forgery of a sheriff's name on an official document? That ought to be pretty serious. Right?

And another reader has asked me whose new, shiny, white Lincoln SUV (a Navigator?) is parked in the garage at the sheriff's registered voting address. The vehicle has a sheriff's department decal on it. Has it been in that garage for the month he has been gone?

Is that what the sheriff is driving now? A Navigator? What did that cost??? What happened to the Chevy Tahoe with the leather seats? What was wrong with it? Just time to upgrade?

Why I won't buy a Nissan

Today I saw an online ad for the all-electric Nissan Leaf and watched a short advertising video. Then I decided to read about the car and went to When the site opened, it was for Nissan Computers, and I realized that a Nissan auto site must have a different URL. No big deal.

But then I started reading on the site about how the Nissan car company has bullied a small computer company that was established by Mr. Uri Nissan, after he came to the United States in 1976. I encourage you to visit and read the story for yourself. You may remember that Nissans were first called Datsuns.

Mr. Nissan has been engaged in a running court battle with Nissan Motor (car company) since 1999. He keeps winning in court, but Nissan Motor, with millions of dollars available to keep the case going, doesn't give up. In 2008 a court ordered Nissan Motor to pay Nissan Computer the grand sum of $58,000, which is less than 2% of its cost to defend itself against Nissan Motor! (Thus, Nissan Computer calculates its cost to defend itself at more than $2,900,000.)

That lawsuit reminded of Volvo's lawsuit against the Volo Auto Museum. Why would Volvo ever have had any thought the little Volo Auto Museum, just east of McHenry, was a threat to its survival?

Cop avoids ticket through novel form

Recently a McCullom Lake PD officer caused a traffic crash in his community, when he whipped a U-turn to goafter a speeder and misjudged the following distance of the car right behind him.

The press release from the Sheriff's Department, signed by Sheriff Keith Nygren, didn't explain the crash thoroughly or even name the drivers involved or the investigating deputy.

On Thursday evening, April 14, Ofc. Michael Gneuchtel was driving east on McCullom Lake Road and operating his in-car radar. He spotted a westbound speeder and later told McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Knudson (#2002) that he looked in his rearview mirror, saw headlights behind him and assumed that the vehicle was a safe distance away. Then he "veered" right and started a U-turn. Yep, that's what the report says. Ofc. Gneuchtel veered to the right.

The following car, driven by Edward McCoy, 32, of Barrington, couldn't stop in time and nailed the squad car broadside, on its left side, pushing it several feet.

The crash report reads that McCoy stated that he did not want Gneuchtel to get a ticket because he was "only attempting to do his job." McCoy then signed a Failed to File Form, which Deputy Knudson provided. (Click once or twice on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to return to the story.)

I wonder how McCoy knew to tell the deputy that he didn't want the cop to get a ticket. I can just hear it now. "Deputy, don't you have some kind of form I can sign, so that this good officer, who was just trying to do his job, won't get a ticket?"

How is the Sheriff's Department ever going to issue a ticket to any driver in the future? Will every defense attorney in the County now include a routine question when the deputy is on the stand during a trial, "Didn't you offer a Failed to File Form to the driver who says he was hit by my client? Oh, you didn't? Why not?"

One experienced traffic officer I spoke with told me he had never heard of using a Failed to File Form in a traffic accident. Never. How did it happen that it got used in this crash?

Why didn't Deputy Knudson write Ofc. Gneuchtel a ticket? Every - e-v-e-r-y - civilian driver causing a crash like this one gets a ticket. This goes way beyond "officer discretion."

There wouldn't have been any story here if the deputy had issued a ticket and if the sheriff's department had promptly released its announcement of the crash and named the drivers and deputy involved. The way it was handled, I knew there had to be a story. And there is. What is it going to take to get this kind of nonsense stopped around here?

I wonder if this was a CALEA-approved procedure in accident investigation...

Gang attacks on HB 0148

Several gangs are attacking House Bill 0148, this year's best effort to get concealed carry in Illinois. Let's fight off these gangs. Who are they?

Well, one is the Brady Gang. No, not the Brady Bunch, but the state group called the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence that is aligned with the national Brady gang. They aren't just against handgun violence (who isn't?) - they are against handguns! Period. They often spread misleading information to inflame readers who don't question what they read.

And Illinois college and university administrators are tearing down HB 0148, according to the National Rifle Association (NRA). They don't like the NRA's position that carrying a gun onto a campus shouldn't be a felony.

Let's say that Illinois passes concealed carry. Should a college campus be a gun-free zone? What better place for a shooter than a gun-free zone, like a college or university campus. Why wouldn't a college president want a law-abiding, trained, armed student on his or her campus who could help protect other students?

What if there had been one or two armed students in Cole Hall at NIU on Valentine's Day in 2008? Think maybe one of them might have stopped Kaczmierczak sooner?

Call your Illinois State Representative on Monday. Ask him or her to vote for HB 0148. Ask him or her how he or she intends to vote. Get a clear answer; no waffling allowed.

When you call Jack Franks' office, ask him to support this important bill and not to stop it because he is worried about whether a gunman will come into his office and shoot a client, if Jack declares his law office a gun-free zone. The many reasons to support this Bill far outweigh the small reason that now seems to be Jack's excuse for not supporting HB 0148.

Tell Jack whether he can count on your vote in a future election, if he supports this bill now. McHenry County will be a safer place, if concealed carry passes. Ask Jack if he wants McHenry County to be a safer place. Ask him to get out in front, be a leader, and to become a co-sponsor of this Bill, even at this late date.

Start Seeing Motorcycles

Motorcycle accidents have already started happening in McHenry County.

Driver turn in front of motorcycles. Drivers cross intersections in front of motorcycles. Drivers pull out in front of motorcycles.

This IDOT banner says it all - "Start Seeing Motorcycles".

And, motorcyclists, increase your awareness and alertness to maneuvers by drivers of other vehicles that might put you at risk. Check the equipment on your bike (lights, horn, etc.). If you ride a ninja-style bike, be aware that your low profile reduces your visibility. Slow down to the speed limit. And no wheelies!

Training hand grenade found

Yesterday about 5:30PM the Woodstock Police Department was notified of a suspicious item near the railroad tracks in the Applewood subdivision off McConnell Road. Police responded to the area of 2400 Aspen Drive and observed what appeared to be a rusty hand the grass along a wood line.

The Kane County Sheriff's Department bomb squad was summoned and arrived about 8:30PM. They determined that it was a non-functioning training hand grenade and removed it.

Thanks to the area resident who informed me, so that I could request this information from the P.D. The information is now on the website of the Woodstock Police Department, where it was posted at 3:20PM.

Volunteers needed for Graffiti Patrol

Woodstock citizens, are you ready to put a stop to graffiti and vandalism in Woodstock?

Do you know the extent of vandalism in Woodstock? Since April 2008, vandalism over 33 months has averaged over $7,400! In two of the months, vandalism was over $25,000 each month!

Citizens are invited to get involved. The next Coffee with the Chief is scheduled for Monday, May 8th, at 7:00PM at the Woodstock Police Department.

You don't have to just sit there and "be good". If you have a complaint or an on-going problem in your neighborhood, attend the meeting and air that complaint. Tell the chief that you don't want to listen to a prepared program; tell him that you want him to listen to you. Ask specifically what will be done to address your neighborhood's problems. Ask what, exactly, you can do to aid the police department in solving the problem.

Don't want the police car to roll up in front of your house or for the officer to come in for information? You can contact the beat officers and their supervisors by phone or by e-mail. For Beat 22, for example, address your email to; if you have a concern about another beat, just change the beat number in the email address. Your email will be distributed to all the beat officers on the "beat".

Don't know your Beat Number? Check the Woodstock City Scene or just call the P.D. at 815-338-2131.

How can you help?

1. Grab a buddy, a couple of cell phones, and ride around Woodstock at night. If you see anything suspicious, dial 815-338-2131 immediately and report what you see. (Be aware that you might get stopped, if you are riding slowly through neighborhoods. Be prepared to ID yourself and explain what you are doing.) You might send an email to the beat officers to describe your car and inform them what you will be doing.

2. Volunteer for a graffiti clean-up detail. Several years ago students from Woodstock High School turned out to paint out graffiti on a small commercial building. This could be organized by a service group, a church (or churches), or even by the City. Names, phone numbers and email addresses are needed by the leadership, so that fast contact can be made. Crime Stoppers would be a logical organizer, because they might be able to collect donations of paint, brushes, ladders (and food for volunteers).

Let's band together and put a stop to this criminal activity right now. Tell the taggers to cut it out or get out of town. If they continue, be in court when they are prosecuted and ask the judge to sentence them to 180-270 days in jail.

More vandalism in Woodstock

Late Thursday night or early Friday morning taggers were back at work in Woodstock, vandalizing a truck, a house, and two brick columns on N. Seminary Ave. at Hutchins St.

Gang signs were sprayed on a house and on two sides of the north entrance to Emerson Loft townhomes, and the words "Pussy" and "Bitch" were sprayed on a pick-up truck. The vandalism was observed during the night and attracted police attention.

This morning I emailed the president of Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers, former Woodstock PD police chief Joe Marvin, to ask that Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers (WACS) get involved. In response to a request after the Hill St. water tower was tagged, I learned that the WACS waits to be contacted by the Woodstock Police Department.

I say, "Don't wait." The WACS is an autonomous organization, fully independent of the police department. Residents of the City are on the Board, although it's virtually impossible to find out who they are. You'd think I was looking for the identities of CIA agents operating in Afghanistan.

A reward of up to $1,000 might just entice somebody to spill the beans on the jerks who are destroying Woodstock. And a healthy pay-out would help, too, not just dangling $1,000 in front of some noses and then tossing $100 at somebody for a valuable time.

The vandalism to the truck could probably be classified as a "hate crime", which carries very serious penalties.

It's time to put the gang members on notice that they really might want to consider moving out of Woodstock. Or they can become respectful members of the community. I, for one, am not willing to watch Woodstock go downhill and become another Elgin or Chicago.

As weather warms, residents might like to use the Park on the Square. All residents need to feel safe in going there and walking on the Square at night. If the punks think they are going to take over the Square this summer, they've got another "think" coming.

Everyone is welcome on the Square. Just behave yourselves. Don't block the sidewalks. No bicycles, dogs, loud radios. Make way for the elderly. No loud, rowdy, or profane speech.

A constant police presence (and expense) should not be required in our small town. If it is, then there ought to be a lot of arrests to drive away the troublemakers. No special "beat" for the Square should be needed.

For now, as you drive around Woodstock at any hour, but especially at night, watch for anyone loitering and quickly notify the police. Program 815-338-2131 into your cell phone. If you see some punk with dark clothing, standing on a neighborhood street corner late at night, with his hands in his pockets and cap twisted on sideways, looking around like he has nothing to do and trying to look "innocent", call the police and let them stop by and make an Interview Card on him.

Keep yourself safe. Don't stop. Just roll on by, and then call.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chicago Police Sergeants want concealed-carry

The Northwest Herald carried a Page 3A article this morning titled "Conceal-carry law concerns Chicago police."

The AP reporter didn't get it quite right, when she wrote "Chicago police joined gun control groups ..."

What she didn't tell you was that the Chicago Police Sergeants Association is in favor of HB 0148, which would establish concealed-carry in Illinois, if passed by the Illinois House and the Senate and then signed by Governor Quinn.

If ISP Firearms Bureau Chief John Coffman studied the concealed carry issue a little more, he'd get more sleep. Maybe his sleepless nights are really caused by worry about whether some gun-toting criminal will burst in on his family or the family next door and that no armed citizen will be available to help him while he waits for the cops to arrive.

I've got news for Bureau Chief Coffman. He can stop worrying about "potential" tragedies and trot on down to Chicago's south side and talk to some parents of murdered children about real tragedies.

No responsible gun owner, impatiently awaiting the right to carry concealed, objects to reasonable safeguards on the issuance of permits. I'm one heck of a lot more worried about the thousands of criminals who are carrying guns right now than I am whether a very few people might slip through some cracks to get a permit for which they are not eligible.

If the Chicago Police Sergeants are for concealed carry, I'll bet that many Chicago police officers are, too. It's Daley and Emanuel and the followers on the City Council that are blocking the entire state from having concealed carry. The Aldermen? Do you realize they can carry concealed?

No training. No practice. Probably couldn't hit the broad side of a barn - from inside! But they can carry. What's wrong with this picture???

MCSD Phone System rip-off

Be very, very careful if you receive a telephone call from an inmate at the McHenry County Jail. Occasionally, I receive calls, and I am willing to talk to the inmate who calls me.

On March 16, I received such a call and today, when I received my telephone bill, I was surprised to read that I was billed for the call on March 16 as a Collect call. The problem? The automated system that places the call for the inmate did not inform me that it was a Collect call.

The recorded message did inform me that the call was from an inmate. The recording directs the person receiving the call to accept the call by pressing the # key on his telephone. It did not inform me that the call was collect!

At other times collect calls have been placed to my phone, and I have not accepted them.

If I'm not here, the answering machine records the call and I hear the message that an inmate has called.

I'm on hold right now with the third-party provider for inmate-placed calls, Zero Plus Dialing, and I'm about to find out how they intend to adjust the charges for this bill.

What cut does the Sheriff's Department get for a 10-minute call that is billed for $7.34? Do they get their standard 50% rake-off?

If Zero-Plus Dialing doesn't reverse the charges for this call, then tomorrow I'll call MaBell (well, OK; AT&T) and complain.

The resolution? The first CSR refused any adjustment, so I asked for a supervisor. Thank goodness for speakerphones; I could type all this while waiting on Hold.

The supervisor at first refused any adjustment, merely quoting the script that I had to pay because I had accepted the call. It seemed to make no difference to her that the "electronic operator" had failed to inform me that the call was collect. I repeated that the system had failed, and then she offered me a $2.50 credit.

I told her that was insufficient. I persisted and then informed her that I would be registering a complaint with the telephone company and the sheriff's department. Then she upped her "one-time courtesy adjustment" to $6.50 plus tax. It was not about the $7.34 or the $6.50 or the $2.50. There was a principle involved.

Listen very carefully to the entire message, if you receive a call from anyone in the McHenry County Jail. An inmate can call a Woodstock phone number for $2.50 and the call is untimed; but he needs the $2.50 in his commissary account to make the call. (Fees are higher for calls placed longer distances away and include per-minute charges outside of Woodstock.)

Has anyone else been surprised with collect call charges on your phone bill?

Stupidity in Grafton Township

After reading an article on McHenry County Blog this morning about some stupid new rules against recording and photographing of "open" meetings held by Grafton Township, I visited what I thought was the website of the Township. It's easily found. Just go to

One of the first things I noticed is the line-up of button for elected officials. There are buttons for links to the Assessor, Trustess, Clerk and Road District.

Hello? Does Grafton Township still have a Supervisor? Why isn't there a button or any information about the Township Supervisor? This is the Township website, isn't it? Isn't this where residents would go first for information about their township?

As I looked more closely at, I spotted many other problems.

The next Monthly Township Meeting will be June 9, 2011. What? No May meeting?

Why is there no contact information for the Supervisor? No name. No phone number. No email address. It's almost like Grafton Township does not have a Supervisor.

How would a resident know whom to contact for General Assistance?

Pictures of two trustees (Betty Zirk and Barbara Murphy) are missing. No trustee bios are published. No contact addresses or phone numbers for any of the four trustees are published. How do residents contact them? You know, just in case someone did want to contact one of them?

Township Clerk Harriet Ford does not have her photo published.

The Grafton Township Assessor does not publish his photograph or the names of any assistant or deputy assessors.

Is this the "official" website of Grafton Township? Maybe not.

There is a second website for Grafton Township about which many electors might not know. To find the website that is maintained by the Supervisor, who is the Chief Executive Officer of a township, according to state law, go to

Why are there two Township websites? Why is the Supervisor's information excluded from what most residents would believe to be "the" township website?

Petty, petty, petty...

Grafton Township residents are reminded to send General Assistance applications and supporting information, such as financial documents, only to the Supervisor, and not to any other official of the township.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When will judge put his foot down?

Remember back in September, when an Island Lake police officer chased Seth Pedersen for many miles, including through school zones at high speeds, and issued him over 50 tickets?

Have the charges been resolved yet in McHenry County court yet?

How many times should a judge grant a continuance in a case? After the appointment of a public defender and two continuances at the State's request, a demand for a jury trial was made on October 19. Since then, Pedersen's public defender has asked for, and received, nine (9) continuances.

The next court date will be May 3. Will Judge Condon put his foot down and say, "Enough is enough! We are going to try this case on the next court date, whether you are ready or not."

What would a fair trial be? Thirty minutes for the prosecution. Thirty minutes for the defense. Thirty minutes for the jury. Ten minutes for sentencing.

Let's start cutting out the nonsense and clear out the courts' calendars.

How young does disrespect start?

As I passed Woodstock High School yesterday, four high school students jaywalked across South Street in front of my car. The last one was straggling behind the other three and stepped off the curb without looking. When I honked my horn at him, he and the other three glared at me like, "Who the heck was I to honk at them?" Actually, their looks were worse than that.

From the looks of the three already on the sidewalk, they are trouble-makers. Or maybe they were clean-cut, straight-A students just dressed up like punks for the day. Yeah, sure...

I'm glad I'm not a high school teacher these days. I'd last about one day. Maybe even not the whole first day.

If I were principal at Woodstock High School, I'd establish a dress code. Oh, they have a dress code, you say? Really!


I used to point out to the H.R. V-P at Sears that, when employees came to work tired and sloppily dressed, their work was sloppy. Duhhhh.....  Sure, I wore jeans when I rode my motorcycle to work, but then I changed into slacks and dress shoes for the workday. There was a headquarters' policy that no sleeping was allowed at lunch-time in the lobby of the headquarters. Think any officer of the company was brave enough to awaken a sleeping employee? Fear of being sued for discrimination, I guess

How early does disrespect for and disobedience to laws start? Just drop by any of Woodstock's elementary schools. Dean Street School, for example. Do staff and teachers still jaywalk from the parking lot across Dean Street? Do parents walking their kids to/from the parking lot to school still jaywalk?

What does this teach the kid? That laws aren't important. The cross-in-the-crosswalk laws are for good purpose.

Alcohol - minors to minors

A case in Judge Weech's court this morning involved a high school senior who had allowed visiting minors to consume alcohol in his parents' home. The accused was accompanied by his mother, and Judge Weech was very direct and very stern with the kid.

Apparently, there had been a pool party, and two other students, ages 14 and 15, had come over to his house. The kid pled guilty to the availability of the alcohol, although his attorney explained to the judge that the other kids had already been drinking before they arrived.

The kid's parents were home, but asleep. Judge Weech told the kid in no uncertain terms that he should have told the kids to leave or awakened his parents to call the parents of the kids to pick them up. Judge Weech explained the financial risk to the kid - that, had one of the kids drowned in the pool, his parents could have lost their home in a civil case.

Judge Weech also explained that he could put the kid in the County Jail for 364 days and fine him up to the maximum of $2,500. By that time the kid must have been wondering whether he was going to end up with jail time. Instead, Judge Weech sentenced him to a $500 fine plus court costs, one year of supervision, 50 hours of community service, and an alcohol evaluation.

Too many kids today think that criminal charges and court are not serious. Maybe we should do away with Conditional Discharge. Maybe there should be more jail sentences. Maybe hard labor should be required during community service. Maybe judges should direct that parents' not pay their kids' fines and court costs and the County could provide hard-labor jobs for those who can't pay their fines and court costs.

As I sat in court watching this, I wondered just how effective District 200's student alcohol awareness program is. I don't know that this morning's case involved Woodstock, but it's a county-wide problem - even larger than McHenry County.

What is it going to take to get through to today's kids that they are jeopardizing their future by high-risk behavior that leads them into court?

Graffiti damage - only $100

I was delighted to learn from Woodstock City Hall that the estimated cost to correct the graffiti damage done to the Hill St. water tower recently was only $100.

I had called Public Works first to ask what the estimated cost was, after I tried to estimate the total for repainting the several water tower legs and the small buildings under the tank. No estimate was available, so I called City Hall.

I was concerned that the cost might have been much higher, considering that probably at least two Public Works employees and a supervisor might have been involved, along with at least one truck and painting supplies, such as sandblasting equipment, primer, paint, brushes, cleaner. I didn't know whether two trips might have been required; one to prime, one to paint.

But the City got it all done for $100 - a very efficient and economical repair job. With costs at only $100, now I understand why there was no press release to the community and no contact with Crime Stoppers to offer a reward to catch the vandals.

Hopefully, Woodstock officers and detectives have identified the tagger(s) and that an arrest will be announced soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One vote doesn't count?

Who says that one vote doesn't count? I'll bet some of the people in Island Lake are kicking themselves about now.

The race for the third open seat on the Village Board is tied between Chuck Cermak and Allen Murvine. The race involves McHenry and Lake Counties, and apparently all the votes, including late-arriving absentee and provisional ballots, have been counted.

And the winner is? It's a tie!

The Daily Herald had this to say: "According to the unofficial results:
Fox placed first with 635 votes;
Morris was second with 617 votes;
Cermak and Murvine were tied at 576;
Mary Piekarski had 557 votes; and
Joe Ptak had 522 votes.
Apparently, state law requires the decision to be made by a coin toss. The catty remarks have already started. Does the state law say who is to toss the coin? The date for the toss has not yet been set. It will be very carefully watched and, no doubt, taped by many recorders.

Crossing guards to go in Carpentersville?

Four crossing guards might lose their jobs in lay-offs in Carpentersville, according to today's paper. Will C'ville balance its budget by saving $100/day at crosswalks?

When I was a kid, my grade school had crossing guards. These "guards" were 5th and 6th Graders. They got a white "Sam Brown-type" belt to wear. I don't remember that they even had Stop paddles. Their job was to stop the kids on the sidewalk, until the cars stopped. Then the "guard" stepped out into the street and held up his arms until the last kid had crossed.

Nobody ever got run over. No kids ran around the guards. And the only cost to the school was for the white "belt" with the red letters that read "School Guard" or something like that.

As I recall, being a crossing guard was a position of honor and trust. The belts are a little different now (I liked the white better), and the cost is higher at $15.00. But why not use student leaders for this job?

Who is sheriff's personal attorney?

In a phone conversation with a reader this afternoon, I got to wondering who is Sheriff Keith Nygren's personal attorney in the civil rights lawsuit that Zane Seipler filed against the sheriff's department.

The defendants in the case are Capt. Anton Cundiff, Lt. John Miller, Lt. William Lutz, Lt. James Popovits, EEO Kathleen Seith, the McHenry County Sheriff Office, the County of McHenry, and Keith Nygren, Individually and as Sheriff of McHenry County.

It's the "Individually" that I began thinking about this afternoon. Do you suppose Keith Nygren has his personal attorney involved to represent his individual person, as opposed to his "official" person as the Sheriff? Is there another attorney involved, or is Jim Sotos representing Nygren in both capacities?

Are the taxpayers footing the whole bill here, or should some portion of Nygren's defense be paid by him personally, since he is named individually?

Is some of the actions taken by the defendants were outside the rules, regulations, General Orders of the Department and maybe even outside the law, would the County pick up their defense bills for those actions? Or would the defendants have to bear their own legal costs for any actions taken in the case that were outside of their official duties?

Looking for Dr. Peter Koehn?

If you are a Harvard resident and have a child in special education in District 50, read today's article on

In my book it takes a lot of "intestinal fortitude" (guts) to buck the system and risk your job for what is "right". Being a whistle-blower is a high-risk job. It's also empowering. When you do the right thing, for the right reasons, your backbone gets stronger, you stand taller, and your energy increases. You sleep better at night.
You'll find a phone number for Dr. Peter Koehn there, in the event you would like to speak with him about your child's IEP. Just click on the link above.

No ticket issued in McCullom Lake crash

Will it surprise you to learn that no ticket was issued in the crash last Thursday night in McCullom Lake?

According to information this morning from the McCullom Lake Police Department, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department deputy who investigated the crash did not issue a ticket.

The crash occurred with Officer Mike Gneuchtel was making a U-turn on McCullom Lake Road to run down a suspected speeder. The crash involved the squad car and, according to a newspaper article, a Dodge Intrepid.

OK, so now I'm curious about how the crash occurred. A FOIA request has been filed with the sheriff's department to learn the details and the name(s) of the deputy(ies) involved in investigating it.

Hey, maybe no one was at fault. Maybe both cars were just sitting there and, the next thing the drivers knew, the cars were rubbing up against one another. Bingo, no tickets.

Or maybe not.

Illegal alien gets 9 yrs. in DUI crash

Yesterday's paper carried a story about the nine-year sentence dished out by Judge Sharon Prather to Uri Herrera-Garcia, 24, an illegal alien convicted in a drunk-driving crash in which an 18-year-old man died in October 2009 in Lakemoor.

The story said that Herrera-Garcia "had been charged multiple times with driving without a valid driver's license and deported twice."

So it looks like there could be many stories written about this guy and our good, ol' court system in Illinois. If he was charged "multiple times" for no valid driver's license, was he convicted multiple times? What were the penalties assessed for those convictions? Any jail time?

But the biggie is his two previous deportations? What happened when he returned after the first deportation? Did he get some jail time before he was deported? And did law enforcement know he was back after the second deportation? And, if so, for how long did they know? And what did they do about it?

Supposedly he came back to the U.S. for his brother's funeral. When was that? After the first deportation? After the second?

What the story didn't say was that there are $10,184 in costs assessed in this case? Any chance of collection? Yeah, that's what I thought. How much do prisoners earn at Stateville? Nine years .... that's 3,285 days. At $4.00/day that'll get his debt paid off, IF the State of Illinois sends that money to McHenry County. But how few days will he actually have to serve?

When will residents of McHenry County insist on a crackdown on illegal drivers, DUIs and illegal aliens? Ever?

A separate case also wound up on Monday against Herrera-Garcia, when he was adjudged guilty of Felony 2 in Crystal Lake crimes apparently involving thefts from autos last July. Look at this! What is really going on in McHenry County???

Burglary (Felony 2) nolle prossed
Obstructing identification (he gave cops a fake name) nolle prossed
Theft (under $300) nolle prossed
Theft (under $300) nolle prossed
Theft (under $300) dismissed
Burglary (Felony 2) Conviction - Credit for time served (276 days); $528 fine, costs, fees; one-year conditional discharge (no special conditions).

What about an immigration hold? Why a "conditional discharge"?

Sure, he's going away from McHenry County for a while. What minimum prison sentence must he serve for causing the 18-year-old's death in the DUI crash?

Oh, by the way, he wasn't the deceased 18-year-old's "killer", as the newspaper article labeled him, unless Herrera-Garcia deliberately drove off the roadway and into the tree to cause the 18-year-old's death.

Height of stupidity - NYC Sanitation Dept.

This morning's paper carried an article about the 643 summonses (until today I don't think I've ever seen the plural of "summons" in print) that were issued by the New York City Sanitation Department. Or is it correctly referred to as the New York Sanitation Department (but not to be confused with the State of New York).

It seems that a moving company posted fliers around town. The Sanitation Department did a "thorough" (yeah, sure...) investigation by (merely) running a reverse-number check and cranked out the 643 notices with a total penalty (fine? fee?) of $48,000.

The 72-year-old former insurance salesman who got the summonses said he had never had that phone number, and the moving company is apparently out of business. How much time did it take to generate 643 summonses? Did they mail them separately?

What did they Sanitation Department have to say? They would "recommend" that the summonses be voided. Should a supervisor get canned over such stupidity?

Hey! This is just one more reason to subscribe to the Northwest Herald and get the print edition delivered to your doorstep. You probably missed this, if you read only the online edition.

Sheriff busted!

The sheriff was busted in a drug case involving a meth lab. We've been reading about drugs busts and meth labs and arrests in drug cases and confiscation of drugs, and now, according to the morning paper, the sheriff got busted, thanks to an informant.

Residents had been a little curious why the county had seemed to be somewhat immune to the effects of the drug business around it, and now they know why. An informant says that the sheriff gave him meth and even snorted it himself.

The sheriff has been charged with meth distribution and is sitting in jail with a $250,000 bond. Anyone ready to cough up?

And where is this happening? Van Buren, Missouri! That's in southern Missouri and about 150 miles SSW of St. Louis. Out in the boonies, as they say. Tommy Adams, 31, (maybe about-to-be-former) Sheriff of Carter County, is probably thinking pretty hard about now about "the right to remain silent", while he sits in the clink in the Cape Girardeau County Jail.

Adams had been elected sheriff in 2008 by just one vote (1,424-1,423), after his opponent committed suicide before election day.

Who do you suppose had to get involved, when there was a suspicion that the county sheriff was dirty? The Missouri State Police? (Photo from Cape Girardeau Sheriff's Office)

Thinking about history

I enjoy posting my "Favorite Quotes" to the right. They often remind me of people and places I've known in the many places I lived. And of incidents and events in my life.

But one of the things of which I am also reminded is what the times must have been like for the person to whom the quote is attributed. For example, in Norman Vincent Peale's lifetime of 1898-1993, what was going on in his life? in the United States? in the world?

Do you ever think about constructing a calendar of events in your own life? or think about what was going on in the U.S. or in the world, when you were a child? in high school? after college? during your working years?

Check out this interesting website:  Maybe even use it to create some interesting dinner-table conversations.

You do eat dinner around a table as a family, don't you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Details on McCullom Lake PD crash

It would certainly be nice to be able to inform readers of more detail about last Thursday's two-car crash involving a McCullom Lake PD officer and a citizen. Earlier today I sent an e-mail to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, asking when they would provide a media release with the names of the drivers, information about tickets and the name of the MCSD accident-investigation deputy.

This afternoon MCSD posted a press release on its website. It's the same, old, tired information that they had already given to a Northwest Herald reporter, who published a story online last Saturday morning at 5:30AM. No names; no information about tickets; no ID of the MCSD deputy.

But it had the Sheriff's signature on the signature line, so Keith must be in the office today. Is he back? Isn't anyone else authorized to make press releases? Did someone sign his name on the media release?

And why isn't full information about the crash being made available?

A call this afternoon to the McCullom Lake P.D. was answered by a dispatcher who told me to call the Village President. Duhhh.... why would I want to do that? Why not the police chief? When I asked the hours for the village hall, I was left on hold for more than five minutes. Did she go out for an early dinner?

Then I called the Village Hall, where I reached a very friendly woman who told me I needed to talk to the police chief. She also explained that the dispatcher with whom I had spoken was at the McHenry Police Department, which dispatches calls for McCullom Lake P.D. How nice it would have been, if that dispatcher had explained that she only dispatched police calls and was not at the Village Hall. And, of course, it would have been nice if she had not abandoned my call!

I'm hoping the Village Hall employee will be able to call back with the name of their officer who was in last Thursday's crash, the name of the MCSD deputy who investigated the crash, and with information about any tickets issued. She was kind enough to ask if I could get the information from MCSD. Yes, I could. I could order it, pay $5 for the Crash Report and wait five days for it. Why should that be necessary for information for the public?

My thanks to the Village Hall employee who did call back just before 4:30PM. She didn't have the information but told me she had left messages for Village President Terry Counley and Police Chief Zach Beatty.

Is Elgin stealing money?

Today's Daily Herald carries an article about Elgin's "administrative" charge when a cop stops a driver for certain violations. The cop is allowed to have a vehicle towed, even when a licensed driver is available, and to issue a $500 ticket to the driver.

See if your blood boils when you read the article at

An Elgin cop stopped a driver who rolled up to a stop sign, made a complete stop, then signalled and turned. He hadn't signaled within 100' of the intersection. (Hey, I can relate to that one...)

Yes, it's a reason to stop someone. It's a reason to check driver's license, registration and insurance. In the case in the article, the driver was operating on a suspended license. Good stop; right?

But then the cop wouldn't let the driver's girlfriend drive the car. He had it towed, resulting in a $175 tow bill AND a $500 administrative ticket. And right there is where the City of Elgin is stealing money from drivers.

Yes, Elgin has figured out how to do it legally. Maybe. Constitutionally? It probably hasn't been tested.

I have my own opinion about whether failing to signal within 100' is worth ticket that will cost a couple of hundred dollars. If it causes a crash, fine. In McHenry County now, the minimum court costs are, I think, $125. Toss in $75 for the ticket, and you're at the $200 mark.

Now, should a citizen make a scene when the driver of a police car does not signal a turn within 100' of a stop sign? Or when the police officer/driver doesn't come to a complete stop before crossing the stop bar? Or rolls through the red light on Lake Avenue to turn right on Route 47? Or drives across the centerline of the roadway while reading the in-car computer?

What civil rights' violation exists if there is a standing order at the police department that, if a certain driver gets stopped, he gets a ticket - no warning. Officers have discretion, don't they? Will they begin to just overlook violations that maybe they ought to stop someone for, because they aren't willing to force the driver to part with $200 for a ticket?

Or, worse, they know the driver is a cop and they are not about to write a $200 ticket to a buddy...

About a year ago the City of Woodstock told me there is no similar law in Woodstock. If one ever starts to gain traction around here, every driver in the City had better show up at the City Council meeting and give the members of the City Council an earful.

Bentley vs. Bobo - What's the difference?

Read this article about efforts to find Holly Bobo, 20, a young woman reportedly abducted from her home in Tennessee.
Then compare the urgency that can be recognized in those efforts with any "urgency" (or lack thereof) in the search for Beth Bentley, missing from Woodstock (or Mt. Vernon or Centralia or (wherever)).

Yes, there are differences. A 41-year-old mother of three vs. a 20-year-old nursing student. An unknown point of disappearance vs. an observed abduction. And I could go on with the comparisons, but they are meaningless.

The Bentley case is cold. It has been allowed to go cold. The absence of family involvement, outcry and demands for action has probably contributed to the lack of media attention. Although Beth is from a small (relatively) community, compared to a big city, there still is much more "press" that could have been gotten.

Has Beth's husband "moved on", as some have described it? Some have even been searching online records of other Illinois counties, looking for any divorce action that might have been filed. But how do you file a divorce action, when the whereabouts of the spouse are unknown and in question? Does a judge inquire why the spouse isn't present, or does the Court just accept a bland statement like, "Service of divorce papers was attempted, but the other party cannot be located."

People who never met Beth seem to be taking a greater interest in finding her. Why is that? Is it because they care about any human being who is missing? Beth Bentley didn't just walk off the edge of the earth. Someone knows what happened to her.

How much longer will it take to find out?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reporter misled in Special Ed article?

In today's Northwest Herald is a front-page (top of the page, even) article about Special Education. Reporter Chelsea McDougall mentions Harvard School District 50 and a recently-terminated psychologist. Also, she mentions a retired school psychologist and author.

Chelsea is in the ballpark, but the "experts" were tossing 98MPH fast balls at her. Let's slow down and see what is really going on.

I don't have experience with the Harvard school district, but I do have considerable experience with Woodstock District 200 Special Education. And I'd be willing to bet all the money in the Northwest Herald's bank account that the Special Education problems in Harvard are real, just as they are in District 200 and schools all over McHenry County and the State of Illinois.

Read the article at

District 50 Superintendent Lauri Tobias was quoted by her front-page photograph as saying, "We absolutely did not change IEPs with students. We have a procedure, and we go through the process beautifully."

I do not doubt that Ms. Tobias believes what she told the newspaper reporter. Believing it doesn't make it true. Yes, it is true that she believes it. And she probably believes what she is told about how the special education department operates. They will tell her that they always follow the laws and the rules. Would they dare tell her otherwise? So, based on what she is told, she believes that correct procedures, laws and rules are being followed. But that doesn't make it so.

Here is why I don't believe her statement.

In District 200 a third-grade student's IEP wasn't being followed. Of course, it's hard for a parent to uncover the facts, because s/he is not in school every day to watch what goes on. But after consultants from Project Choices ( visited the classroom of the student, they reported to the principal at an after-school meeting that the teacher could not arbitrarily change a student's IEP. They had made that observation during their one visit. What happened? The teacher stormed out of the meeting, and the social worker went with her "to see if she was okay." What should have happened was, the teacher should have been required to return the meeting and be accountable for her errors in the classroom.

Every year that student's IEP was violated. Later, in 9th Grade, a first-hour computer class was put in his schedule. It turned out there was no computer available and no room available, so the student was sent to study hall to twiddle his thumbs for an hour. No wonder he didn't want to go to school. His absenteeism in 9th Grade was over 60%, and he was never reported for truancy.

Parents of special education students are kept isolated from one another. This, of course, keeps them from exchanging information and forming groups to bring about change and correction.

I don't know Peter Koehn, the former junior high school psychologist who blew the whistle in Harvard. Somehow, though, I'm pretty sure I'd like him. He stuck up for the kids. Look where it got him. Fired.

And then think back to Huntley, where a Special Education Director was tossed out because she stuck up for the kids. Parents liked her; she knew the Special Ed laws and followed them. Of course, that got her in hot water with the district's administrators.

If you want to keep your job, you learn to keep your head down. Don't make waves. Don't talk to parents. Don't tell parents that their kids are not getting what they are supposed to. Be a follower; don't ever try to be a leader. Get tenure. Know your place. Just keep sucking at the public trough.

The former associate superintendent of District 200 told me that "every teacher is an advocate for every student." I almost fell off my chair laughing. Yeah, sure.... at the risk of their jobs, maybe. And they won't risk them by standing up for what is wrong in their Special Education departments.

Watch for following articles here to correct the wrong information that was given to the reporter. And, if you are parent of a Special Education student, get in touch with me. I'll help you find other like-minded parents in your school district.

Bentley - gone 47 weeks. Habit change, a clue?

Beth Bentley has been missing since about May 21, 2010. Or is it "since May 23"? What's the truth here? Nobody seems to know.

About all that is known for sure is that she was seen at her youngest son's baseball game on Thursday, May 20.

After that? Did she really leave Woodstock and drive to Mt. Vernon on Thursday night with her friend, co-worker, frequent alibi and monetary beneficiary, Jenn Wyatt? Did Beth, Jenn, and Ryan and Nathan Ridge eat in the Frosty Mug that Friday night? Was that the date when Nathan was refused an alcoholic drink, because he couldn't prove he was 21?

If one person is a frequent customer in an establishment and, after Beth's disappearance, he stops going to that that establishment, is that a habit or pattern that should be looked at closely?

Or were they in the Frosty Mug two weeks before, on Mother's Day week-end? Earlier rumors placed Beth on a trip to St. Louis that week-end and included a missed flight out of St. Louis on Monday, which supposedly caused Jenn some concern.

Airline reservations, flights and missed or changed flights are easily traced in airline records. Do they exist?

Why have law enforcement agencies had so little to say in the past 11 (that's eleven!) months? Surely, some of the stories have been confirmed or dismissed. Yet police agencies have had virtually nothing to say about this case, unlike in missing person cases in other parts of the country.

No organized searches were ever conducted. Where might searches have been made? In the woods within a mile of a home in Mt. Vernon where Beth was thought to have stayed one or two nights? Along the banks of the Big Muddy River? Near or under a certain bridge? Even at selected locations in Woodstock?

Was there really a boat rental on Rend Lake on Saturday? That's pretty easy to prove or disprove. Contact the Marina operator and ask about rental records. Was that ever done?

Did Beth's phone really ping in McHenry County late Sunday night, May 23? Yes or No?

What about all those text messages to and from Beth's phone on Sunday?

Did she, previously described as a "serial texter" and a mother in frequent contact with her kids, actually speak directly with her children on Saturday or Sunday of that week-end?

These are questions that have never been answered.

Is she still considered a runaway by the Woodstock Police Department? What did "endangered" mean, when Woodstock PD added that on the second poster that was put up on the P.D. webpage (where it will be seen by few people)?

Has the lead investigation agency now been transferred to the Illinois State Police?