Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Who owns the Northwest Herald?

Is anybody really sure that the Sheriff's Department doesn't own the Northwest Herald?

Looks like an unnamed reporter got another scoop out of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. No writer claims the online article published at 4:51PM today. Read the masterpiece of investigative reporting at www.nwherald.com/2011/05/31/police-couple-concocted-break-in-story/ajokg40/ and then decide for yourself whether any of it is worth the 1's and the 0's used to put it together.


"McHenry County Sheriff's investigators say ..."
"Police say ..."
"McHenry County Sheriff's Police responded ..."
"The couple was standing outside and told the deputy ..."
"Kimberly Smith told a deputy ..."
"She also told an officer ..., police said."

Referring to a November 2010 deposition given in the Zane Seipler civil rights' lawsuit against Sheriff Nygren and the Department, "As part of the deposition, Scott Milliman said ..."

Isn't that the deposition that Nygren authorized a subordinate to give to Jose Rivera, who is thought to have passed it along to the Northwest Herald? The one that wasn't supposed to be made public?

Doesn't anyone at the Sheriff's Department have a name?

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department would do well to take a lesson from the little Round Lake Park Police Department over in Lake County. They kept their mouths shut; did their homework; and held one press conference. The Chief was candid and complete; there wasn't any B.S.

What are we getting over here in a big County sheriff's department? No press conference. Lots of changes to the story. Too many "police said" references. Why am I reminded of Abbott & Costello's routine, "Who's on first?"

There should have been a press conference on Sunday.
There should have been a press conference on Monday.
There should have been a press conference on Tuesday.
Tomorrow is Wednesday. Will there be one?

"Happy Memorial Day" - the right words?

A friend from the East Coast wrote this afternoon that yesterday, while he was standing in front of his condo, a woman had walked past and greeted him with "Happy Memorial Day". He said something nice back to her, but Memorial Day is not a happy day for him. His wife and he had planned to go to the cemetery and put flowers on their son's grave but then did not do it.

Their son had served two tours in Afghanistan and, when he came back, he just couldn't deal with what he had done there. It's called PTSD. He struggled for a year, saw many doctors and then ended his life about a year after he had returned to the U.S.

This greeting is one area where I cut people some slack, because they are just unconscious. As I was, until I was almost 30.

In 1969 or 1970 I took an insurance prospect to Dr. Conway in Chicago at 120 S. LaSalle St. for an insurance physical. I still vividly remember standing in his office on that Friday afternoon. As I left, I said something stupid like "Happy Memorial Day" or "Have a nice week-end", and to this day I remember the look on his face. He was an old geezer, like I am today, and his glance said it all. He was polite and didn't say a word, but I "got" it. And I have never forgotten it.

I have never since, even once, said that again. And I have tried really hard not to "educate" others who say that to me, because they are just not thinking about what they are saying.

There is a better expression to honor the veterans who gave "the last full measure of devotion." That's what Memorial Day is. It's the day to honor the memory of those who served and died. Or were injured and have died since.

When Memorial Day rolls around in 2012, find a proper way to greet others.

Just last night I watched Uncommon Valor, with Gene Hackman. Yesterday was the right day to watch that movie.

Early questions in Milliman case

The newspaper articles and the (unsigned) press release of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department create more questions than answers in the shooting death Saturday night of Kurt Milliman.

The press release, dated May 29, can be viewed on www.mchenrysheriff.org. It starts off with "Sheriff Keith Nygren announces..." and ends with a blank line above his typewritten name. (I guess my recent complaint that someone was signing his name in his absence got through to somebody.)

What are some of the questions?

At what time Kurt Milliman did arrive at the house?
Had Milliman and the Smiths met elsewhere earlier and then gone to the house?
At what time was he shot?
At what time did the S/O receive the call?
Who called? Timothy or Kimberly?
At what time did the first deputy arrive? And the second?
At what time did paramedics arrive?
At what time did they transport?
At what time did Kurt die?
With whose gun was Kurt shot?
What was the position of Milliman's vehicle on the Smith property?
Are there witnesses other than the Smiths?
When will the 9-1-1 call recording and transcript be available?
How did the first-arriving deputy "secure" the Smiths? For their safety? For his?
Why hasn't there been a press conference for this case?
How did Undersheriff Zinke give out erroneous information that Kimberly Smith had been involved in a Holiday Hills sex-on-a-squad-car-hood case in December 1999?
Why did the Sheriff's Office grant an exclusive to the Northwest Herald?

Many of these questions could be answered without jeopardizing any investigation.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kurt Milliman services Thurs.-Fri.

The final arrangements for Kurt Milliman have been published on the website of Querhammer and Flagg Funeral Home in Crystal Lake (http://www.querhammerandflagg.com/).

Visitation is scheduled for Thursday, June 2, 10:00am - 9:00pm, and Friday, June 3, 10:00am - 11:30am.

The funeral service will be Friday, June 3, 11:30am

Querhammer & Flagg Funeral Home is located at 500 West Terra Cotta Ave, Crystal Lake, Ill.

Kurt was born January 31, 1963, and he died May 29, 2011.

Guest Book messages may be placed on the funeral home's website.

Was she or wasn't she?

The online version of the Northwest Herald has retracted a portion of its earlier online version of the Kurt Milliman shooting death. A footnote now appears in the online article. This following correction was online at 6:04PM

*A previous version of this article contained incorrect information about a 1999 incident that led to the conviction of ex-Holiday Hills police officer Troy G. Hetz for having sex on the hood of his squad car during a traffic stop. Kimberly Smith was not involved in that incident.

Well, she must have been, because Undersheriff Andy Zinke said so. Here is what reporter Hilary Gowins had to say earlier:

"... Zinke said that Kimberly Smith was the woman in question during a 1999 incident that led to the conviction of ex-Holiday Hills police officer Troy G. Hetz for having sex with Smith on the hood of his squad car durng a traffic stop."

So, if the previous version was incorrect, what part of it was wrong? Did the Northwest Herald make up that part and just happen to include it (not likely)? Because reporters listen carefully and take accurate notes, it's very likely that Zinke said exactly what the reporter published.

Why would Zinke say such a thing? Were things going too fast at the Sheriff's Department yesterday? Sorry, but command officers aren't supposed to make mistakes like that. Some employee in the sheriff's department most likely told Zinke that, although he was with the department in 1999 and could have remembered the case. My guess is somebody's neck is already on the chopping block. Will we ever learn whose?

"Kimberly Smith" is not be an uncommon name. Did anyone try to match dates of birth? When did "this" Kimberly Smith change her name from Holian, a name in McHenry County Circuit Court records with a lot of history, to Smith?

It's interesting that there is no Kimberly Smith in the Circuit Court records for a December 1, 1999 traffic stop.

Let's see; there ought to be a CALEA standard here for MCSD to follow. Was Kimberly Smith (this Kimberly Smith) libeled in the original Northwest Herald article? Is there a lawyer already licking his lips over that "slip"?

McHenry County Blog calls it an "exclusive"

Cal Skinner got it right in his McHenry County Blog article about the Sheriff's Department handing the Northwest Herald an "exclusive" with the early and singular initial release of information about the death of Kurt Milliman.

You can read Cal's May 29th story here: http://mchenrycountyblog.com/2011/05/29/scott-millimans-brother-kurt-killed/

I had first called the Woodstock Police Department and the dispatcher didn't know anything about the death. Later I wondered why a WPD dispatcher wouldn't know about a shooting death 12 hours earlier and just outside the City Limits of Woodstock. Wouldn't it be routine for the sheriff's department to notify a nearby police department of a homicide just outside its jurisdiction?

Then I called the sheriff's department at 1:06PM yesterday and spoke with Lt. Popovits. I understand he is the head of detectives at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. That must have been right about the time that he was providing information to the Northwest Herald, because that paper published its first story at 2:16PM.

I added my two-bits' worth to Cal's article today:

"The public should demand an explanation of the exclusive handed to the Northwest Herald. If the sheriff's department wanted to release information before holding a press conference, then Zinke (where's the sheriff? Minocqua?) could have set up a conference call with reporters and active bloggers in the county (Cal Skinner, Pete Gonigam, me, and patch.com editors) and released the information to all at the same time.

"In fact, such a teleconference arrangement should be established already.

"Or maybe the sheriff's department should just buy the Northwest Herald."

With the existing "friendly" relationship between the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and the Northwest Herald, you can understand why there is no critical reporting. There won't be any hardball questions from a reporter that might put the undersheriff or chief of detectives on the spot. Not if you want to hang onto the inside track.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Milliman was a former process server for the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. I wonder how Zinke forgot to mention that...

Accuracy in reporting

Newspaper reporters are usually pretty accurate when they quote someone. They want to get it right; they don't want to get it wrong. As for direct quotes? When they write that so-and-so "said", you can also be pretty sure that's what the person did say.

Can a news story be tilted by what is written and by what is omitted? Let's see...

In the first story about the death of Kurt Milliman, reporter Hilary Gowins wrote in the second paragraph of the story (online on 5/29/11; print edition 5/30/11): "Kurt Milliman, 48, of Prairie Grove went to the home of Timothy and Kimberly Smith at 4320 Doty Road in response to a Craig’s List advertisement for prostitution services (emphasis added), McHenry County Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said."

Where did Gowins get that? Undersheriff Zinke. Where did Zinke get that? It's my understanding and belief that Craigslist does not advertise "Prostitution Services." Craigslist has been the news about use of its listings for that purpose, but I believe it does not have a category of services with that title. Why would Zinke say that?

No story yet mentions that Kurt was a former employee of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. I've heard that he was and that the parting wasn't entirely friendly.

Then Zinke is quoted, "Based on the evidence at the scene, witness statements, physical evidence and what was deduced from computer forensic evidence, ...”

First, why is Zinke saying anything a murder investigation? Why do I call it a "murder investigation"? If you've got someone in custody and have charged him with first-degree murder, then you're handling a murder investigation. And the investigators and the Department spokesman (the Undersheriff) ought to be keeping their mouths shut.

And don't you just love the term "business transaction" (Zinke's term)? And then Zinke said, "...some type of altercation ensued and Mr. Smith shot Milliman.” Since when do you refer to the victim by his last name only, but then refer to your arrested alleged murderer as "Mr."? This is the quote that got me started on this entire article!

Back to an earlier part of the statement attributed to Zinke, "“Based on the evidence at the scene, witness statements, ..." Witness statements? Who were the witnesses who could give statements? Oh, you mean Timothy Smith and Kimberly Smith? The accused persons who have been arrested and charged? Yeah, like their statements will be reliable and to be believed.

Gowins wrote that Kurt Milliman was shot in the torso. Front? Back? Side?

Now look at Zinke's next quote: “When deputies arrived, the couple was standing outside, and they immediately informed the deputy that the person inside had been shot,” Zinke said. “The responding deputy secured the couple for safety and gave rescue assistance for the victim.”

"When deputies arrived..." That's more than one. But then the Smiths "informed the deputy." That's one deputy.

And then Zinke said. “The responding deputy secured the couple for safety ..." What does that mean? The (one) deputy "secured" the Smiths. How did he do that? Was one of the Smiths armed at that time? And for whose safety did he "secure" them? Theirs? His own? How much time elapsed between the arrival of the first deputy and a second deputy? Did deputies know they were responding to the scene of a shooting? Did the dispatcher ask the Smith who telephoned whether there were weapons present or if anyone had been injured?

With whose gun was Milliman shot? Did his own business allow him to carry a weapon? Was he armed?

Of what value was the quote of neighbor April Zimmerman? Absolutely none. The first deputy responded at 10:59PM. April says she drove by at 11:45PM and "all the lights were on." Well, duh.... Deputies were there to investigate a crime. Of course, all the lights were on.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beth Bentley - week 53

After last week's Northwest Herald article about Woodstock's #1 missing person, Beth Bentley, I made a list of questions about this case. You know, a spontaneous, off-the-cuff list - just typed them off the top of my head.

Three pages of questions.

One near the top of the list is why no persons-of-interest (POI) have been identified. What's a POI? It's a suspect that the police are not yet ready to name as a Suspect. Since he isn't a Suspect, they can keep talking to him and not have to read his Miranda Rights to him. I could list a whole bunch of them, and surely the police have identified them.

You'd think that by this time those in the close-in circle would be looking over their shoulders, wondering who is the weakest link. Someone in the know will spill the beans pretty soon. Over the next few weeks some of the stories will be picked apart and people placed in the spotlight. Perhaps the police have already done this. Well, let's do it again.

Since this is reportedly a missing person case that is now a year old (and not a criminal case), what records at the Woodstock, Mt. Vernon and Centralia Police Departments are now open to public inspection? All? Any? And what about the Illinois State Police? Are they involved? Seems like that question might have a multiple-choice answer: Yes, No, Maybe.

Is there a basis for FBI involvement? What if some fresh hands got on this case? What if a keen investigator started at the ball diamond on Thursday night, May 19, and traced every single footprint?

This case went cold far too quickly.

Couple charged in Woodstock-area death

A 26-year-old man has been charged in the shooting death of a 48-year-old Prairie Grove man, Kurt Milliman. The shooting occurred in McHenry County, in the 4300 block of Doty Road, just south of Centegra Hospital-Woodstock.

Timothy S. Smith, 26, has been charged with first-degree murder, among other serious charges, and his 28-year-old wife, Kimberly A. (Holian) Smith has also been charged.

The case is being investigated by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

At 1:06PM today I called MCSD and spoke with Lt. Popovits of the Detective Division and asked to be informed of any press conference to be held. At 2:16PM the Northwest Herald published an online story of the shooting. The Daily Herald has not reported it yet. No press release has been posted on the Sheriff's website at http://www.mchenrysheriff.org/

A cozy relationship must exist between the sheriff's department and the Northwest Herald for the story to get reported only there. Did the sheriff's department hold a telephone press conference with the Northwest Herald staff to provide details that are, as of now, still not available elsewhere?

A review of the Public Access records on the website of the McHenry County Circuit Clerk (http://www.mchenrycircuitclerk.org/) shows lengthy records of both. Timothy Smith has 73 entries, mostly traffic charges, but also including two charges in 2010 in Woodstock, including resisting a police officer and battery.
The maiden (or also known as) name of Holian is important in searching records of Kimberly A. Smith; under Holian she has 53 entries in her record, mostly traffic (but not all).

Let's see - it's 5:30PM and Popovits still hasn't called me back. I guess it's safe to assume that he will not. I thought he might have extended the courtesy of an information call, especially since I didn't file a complaint against him, after he spoke disrespectfully about me to a citizen in the courthouse on April 15.

MCSD investigating shooting death

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department is investigating a death that occurred last night or earlier today, but no information has been released yet by the sheriff's department.

I received several calls that included the name, occupation and employer of the deceased, who was shot. In the absence of confirmation, the name is not being published at this time. A message was left at the Sheriff's Department, requesting notification of the date and time of any press conference with details.

More information to follow.

Bill to let motorcycles stop at red light, then go

What about House Bill 2860 in the Illinois legislature? What is it?

It's a bill that would let a motorcyclist "run" a red light. Well, not exactly "run", but it would allow the motorcycle driver to treat a red light as a stop sign - after a while. And it's that "while" that will probably put most tickets in court and result in a Not Guilty for any motorcycle driver (I thought they were called "operators" in Illinois) who challenges a ticket.

I remember a night (ok, so it was a "morning") in Denver when I pulled up on my motorcycle at a red light. It was about 2:30AM, and there was NO traffic. I waited through what I estimated to be the time for three-four light changes and then, with no traffic in sight, drove across the intersection. I figured that my bike (a Harley-Davidson 1200cc) had not "tripped" the sensors in the pavement and, at that hour, who knew how long I'd have to sit there before a car stopped behind me.

About a block up the street I said to my passenger, "Hang on. We're going to get stopped." I had seen a car turn left at the light on the street I had crossed, where I knew it was posted as No Left Turn, so it most likely would be a cop. And it was.

I picked out my stopping place, and when the officer lit up his emergency lights, I pulled over and stopped. He had to slam on his brakes and his first words, when he approached me, were, "Why did you stop so fast?"

"I saw you make your illegal left turn back there, and I figured you thought I had run the red light," I said.

"You did run it," he said.

I said I had waited through the time for three-four light changes, and then I carefully crossed the intersection. He thought about it and then sent me on my way without even a warning.

What are the problems with HB 2860? The first problem I spotted was the word "reasonable" as a waiting time at a red light. The bill reads, in part, "...the driver of a motorcycle, facing any steady red signal which fails to change to a green signal within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle due to the motorcycle's size or weight, has the right to proceed, after yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic facing a green signal, subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign."

The motorcycle operator would have no way of knowing that the light was malfunctioning, so that technically is also a problem. All he knows is that the light is not changing. And what might be "reasonable" for the motorcycle driver might not be reasonable for the cop (or the judge).

The "smart" (demand-actuated) traffic lights are activated by "mass" or the disturbance of an electro-magnetic field, not by size or weight. It's importance to stop within the grid, too.

But that is not always the case. Last Friday I sat on Russel Court at the light at Route 47, by the McHenry County Government Center, for a long time at 4:00PM. The car in front of me was waiting, and its "mass" should have tripped the sensors. When it doesn't, lights have a built-in cycling function that will cause a traffic light to change. Engineers foresaw signals that wouldn't change and, after a long interval, a light will eventually change. You might wish for a Dunkin' Donuts on the corner and a packed lunchbox, but it eventually will change. If you are a motorcyclist and encounter frequent problems with traffic lights that don't change because they don't "read" your bike, you can install a "traffic light activation kit" for the bottom of your bike that a sensor will recognize more quickly.

If a light consistently doesn't change for you, notify your local police department and request that the operation of the signal be checked. It could be that the inductive-loop traffic detector is faulty and needs replacement or adjustment.

What do you think? Is HB 2860 a good bill? Let your Representatives know - right away.

N.B. If this bill passes, it won't apply in Chicago.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why doesn't sheriff speak for himself?

In today's Chicago Tribune story (date-lined May 29) about the latest (fourth?) racial-profiling investigation within the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, reporter D. Hinkel writes, "An attorney for the department said Sheriff Keith Nygren is committed to racial equality. The mislabeling should be attributed to error rather than any plot against minorities, said attorney Jim Sotos." (9:50PM Note: the Tribune article was removed. Because it had the date-line of May 29, I expect it will re-appear on Sunday.)

And "Should (the mislabeling deputies) have done that? No," he (Sotos) said. "Was it proof that these guys were pulling people over because of their race? No."

Taxpayers and McHenry County residents ought to be asking about now, "Why doesn't the sheriff speak for himself? Why does he hire (and pay) Jim Sotos to speak for the Department and for him?"

While an attorney can say that Nygren is "committed to racial equality", that doesn't make it so. And what does "racial equality" have to do with it, anyway? Look at the play on words. By deflecting the issue and avoiding a direct statement, Nygren and his attorney keep the public in the dark.

Remember, Jim Sotos is the attorney representing Nygren in Zane Seipler's civil rights' lawsuit against the sheriff department, the sheriff (personally and as sheriff), and certain named deputies. Think Nygren and Sotos don't put their heads together and decide what to say? And how to say it?

Read Jack Cashill's book, Hoodwinked. Don't blow through it. Read it thoughtfully. Then question everything you read, including the stories in the Northwest Herald, the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune. And here. Don't be "hoodwinked".

Friday, May 27, 2011

Buckle up! - or else

On May 18th the Woodstock P.D. conducted a seatbelt enforcement campaign on Route 47, just north of Lake Avenue.

Hours: 9:30AM to 3:30PM
Manhours? 31.25

There were 58 unrestrained-occupant citation issued, and each victim (err, violator) will cough up $60, if he doesn't fight it. So that's $3,480 in fines.

Zero warnings were issued, which is as it should be. You either have your seatbelt on, or you don't.

One child-restraint citation was issued. That one will cost the driver $120.

One unlicensed driver was nabbed, and there was one arrest of possession of cannabis.

Frankly, I'm surprised that there were 58 seatbelt tickets issued in the six daytime hours of the campaign.

For me, the question is, does sucking $3,600 out of the community result in fewer deaths and injuries than, say, putting up an electronic sign on a trailer, reading "Buckle up, or pull over and pay $60"? By now, drivers know the law requires them to be buckled up.

Occasionally, somebody might forget. Should the hit be $60?

Teachers, administrators are tired - so what?

It's the end of the school year, and teachers and administrators are tired. My response to that is, "So what?" They are getting paid, and paid well. They need to buck up and teach and administer with the same enthusiasm and energy as they did last September. After all, they are still getting paid, aren't they?

Many of the kids for whom I advocate are in Special Education or have other challenges that make them "special"; i.e., they get special consideration in their academic planning. And they should.

When an administrator tells a mom that her son is just too much to handle and he suspends the student for the last week of school, the administrator is taking a callous and, probably, unlawful action. You can't just say, "I'm fed up. You're outa here." A student deserves the support to finish out the year and to be able to chalk up Success.

IEP Teams in schools are supposed to create and implement Behavior Improvement Plans. I have yet to see a good one, and I've looked at a lot of them. "Student will do better, or else" is not a Behavior Improvement Plan (BIP)! What I've found is that the "Team" really doesn't know how to write a BIP.that will actually bring about an improvement in behavior.

Today a mom got the bad news from the kid's teacher. I told her to call the Principal, then the Superintendent. The Superintendent told her to call the teacher and try to work it out. When I got involved, the teacher quickly told me he is out of the loop now, since the Principal is the one who kicked the kid out of school for the last week. A meeting is set up for Tuesday, after school. Too late for the kid to be back in school on Tuesday.

Where does Due Process come into this? I mean the opportunity to challenge the discipline before it is imposed. Why should schools have the right to kick a kid out and then let him appeal it and maybe get a hearing a month later? Suppose the discipline is overridden by the School Board. It's obviously too late, because the discipline has already been served.

Of course, there is always DUE PROCESS (those fear-instilling words to a school district). That's where a parent gets the Illinois State Board of Education involved. School districts don't always win, and they know it's going to cost them $25,000 or more by the time it's over. That would buy a lot of classroom assistance in a Special Ed Department!

S.O.S. - Save Our Square

I was appalled at the trash on our Square this afternoon about 4:00PM, and I'm not talking about the blowing paper trash. I mean, the human trash.

If the citizens of Woodstock don't actively get involved right now, we're going to lose the Square. The Square and the Park in the Square are to be enjoyed - by all. But they are not a place for loitering and driving away potential shoppers and customers or visitors who have come to walk the Square and view the Opera House.

If you are 15-16-17 years old and feel the need to hang out half-dressed, then do it in your backyard. Loitering in a parking place alongside the car that belongs to one of you is not the right place. The business owners, the Chamber of Commerce, the City and the People of Woodstock will not put up with this.

The City Council will have to direct the City Manager to direct the Police Chief to direct his officers to pay close attention to congregating potential troublemakers. We are not going to let the Square or any other part of Woodstock turn into the slums. You want slums? Go to Chicago or pick a suburb south of I-90.

I don't care if you are black, brown, yellow, red, white or any other color. Wear your shirts on the Square and hitch up your pants. I don't care to see your boxer shorts. Bring some money to spend or clear out of downtown. Don't sit in the chairs in front of Starbuck's, if you are not a current paying customer. Just because you might have bought a cup of coffee at Starbuck's on some other day does not permit you to loiter in their chairs today. You are driving away customers.

Walk on the right half of the sidewalk. Use the crosswalks. If you are crossing mid-block, yield the right-of-way to vehicles. And cut out the foul language.

Residents, express your views to the city manager and to the police chief. It won't hurt to copy all the members of the City Council and the Mayor. You can find all the addresses on the City's website at www.woodstockil.gov

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stolen riding lawnmower

On Wednesday at about 5:30PM a large black riding lawnmower was stolen by two kids from the vicinity of Country Club Road and Sharon Drive, just east of the Woodstock Post Office. Two boys about 10-12 years old were seen on it about 5:30pm, when it had apparently stalled in the roadway. They must have gotten it going again. Where would they have taken it?

If you have any information as to its location or the boys who stole it, please call the Woodstock Police Department at 815.338.2131

The house from which the mower was stolen is actually in unincorporated McHenry County, so information about the theft or the thieves can be directed to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department at 815.338.2144

Or you could take your chances with Crime Stoppers for McHenry County at 800.762.STOP Be sure to get your confidential informant's code number from the operator, and ask what the procedure is for staying in touch for any reward.

Crime Stoppers for McHenry County seems to operate as a secret society. The officers and board members refuse to answer questions or provide financial information. For example, for a tipster to qualify for a reward, must Crime Stoppers first offer a reward?

The information will be forthcoming from Crime Stoppers. I cannot understand why they are so secretive about operations. Last year they weren't even curious about information of three callers to the Tip Line who were disappointed in how their calls were handled. The McHenry County Sheriff's Department answers the Tip Line bt refused to identify any supervisor of the operators within the Department.

Gas price gouging in Woodstock

A reader sent this comment today: "Ok i think you posted in your blog about the gas prices in woodstock, but have you noticed how the prices are going down in the surrounding area; crystal lake, harvard, etc and the prices are still sky high in woodstock? looks like price gouging to me. i contacted jack franks today about it, did not know who to contact about it.... City of Woodstock too? Whats your take?"

I offered some possibilities: Governor's office; Illinois Attorney General; Better Business Bureau. Unfortunately, I doubt that good will come from any of them.

But here's what will help. Shop gas prices on http://www.gasbuddy.com/ as you see the needle dropping on your fuel gauge. Please - not while you are driving... And do your part to keep posted fuel prices current. Try the Fuel Logbook, too.

Then buy gas when you are in Marengo or Rockford or Crystal Lake or Cary.

And stop at your friendly Woodstock gas station and tell the manager why you are not buying from his or her station. Ask the attendant to inform the manager or owner. Ask them to explain a valid reason for such a big price difference. The attendant won't know; the manager might be able to find out. Tell them you want fair pricing; there is no reason for such a pricing disparity.

Obviously, it's not economical to drive to the next time just to buy gas but, if you can buy there while you are there, why not? Right now, gas is $3.89/gal. at Sam's Club in Crystal Lake  Yes, you have to be a member; there is a summer special now - 10 weeks for $10.00. It wouldn't take much to get your membership fee back just in gas alone!

Twisting data

Sheriff Keith Nygren said it himself. He is quoted in a Daily Herald article, after reporting that there is no racial profiling done in his department: “We need to come up with a better way with being accurate with how we send this information to the state and have it be meaningful.”

And there you have it.

How do you send data to the State of Illinois (IDOT Traffic Safety Division) and have it mean what you want it to mean?

You don't. IDOT sets the system for collecting data. The job of the sheriff's department is to enter the data accurately, and then IDOT will make it meaningful! The "better way" already exists; just accurately and honestly answer the questions on the tickets!

You'd better believe that Sheriff Nygren doesn't want to find racial profiling in his department. And so they didn't. How in the world can you believe an "internal investigation" by a department that doesn't even have an Internal Affairs Department? This whole mess sounds to me like the fox is counting the chickens in the henhouse. (Hint: the fox is!)

Go back to July 13, 2008. A large event outside Richmond, Ill., in unincorporated McHenry County. The Sheriff's Department apparently knew alcohol was being served/sold without a license, yet deputies did nothing to halt liquor sales. Well, they didn't exactly do nothing. They waited for drivers who were leaving. They waited for drivers with brown skin to leave. I was told that deputies would watch a car with a Hispanic-appearing driver to pass, then run the license plate through the in-car computer.

If no driver's license was associated with the registered owner of the car, then they'd stop that car. Is that racial profiling? Of course, they didn't know that the owner of the car was driving it at the time, only that the registered owner didn't have a license.

One driver arrested (Hispanic surname) was seated, arrested, in the back of a patrol car, when the deputy made an illegal u-turn off the shoulder and struck the side of a car passing by. Guess who got the ticket?

No one. Not the woman who was driving by. Not the deputy who pulled illegally off the shoulder and struck her car. Was the crash independently investigated? No. Not by the State Police. Not by a local law enforcement agency. Rather, by the deputy's supervisor. And then the crash report was falsely prepared, showing the woman driver as the at-fault driver, resulting in a denial of her claim for $5,000+ damage to her car! And no Witness Statement was taken from an eye-witness, the arrested passenger in the patrol car, as it should have been in accordance with Department policy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Racial profiling - is it? was it?

When will the issue of racial profiling at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department be put to rest? And how?

Will an outside, independent, trustworthy agency be brought in to investigate? Or will the sheriff's department investigate itself - again?

What will they find?

I remember the phone call I received one day after rollcall. "They told us, 'Just mark everybody down as white.'" Now that's a good way to end racial profiling, isn't it? Seems like some of the deputies did just that.

And I remember the statement to Judge Mahoney in Federal Court in Rockford by the sheriff's own attorney: "...Seipler was terminated for complaining about racial profiling."

Now we all know how I have complained about not being able to hear so well in McHenry County Courtrooms. Could I have "mis-heard" in Rockford? Let's see what the transcript of that fateful day in Rockford has to say:

"MS. BARTON: Because Mr. Seipler was terminated for complaining about racial profiling. ..." [Page 6, Lines 21-22]

Well, I guess the way I wrote it down right in front of Judge Mahoney was pretty accurate; right?

How many investigations were there at the sheriff's department into racial profiling, before and during the early parts of Zane Seipler's civil rights lawsuit against the Sheriff and the Department? Three?

If there is a "current" investigation, could it possibly come up with any other result than "No racial profiling"? If it did, how would they ever explain away the results of the first three "investigations"?

Wait! Breaking News: SEE http://dailyherald.com/article/20110525/news/705259788/  The Sheriff says there is no racial profiling. Four deputies just "mis-marked" citations.

Oh, my. Thank goodness...  Somehow, I think this isn't the end of things...

I'm reading an interesting book right now - Hoodwinked, by Jack Cashill. On January 24, 1980, author and progressive Mary McCarthy was a guest on The Dick Cavett Show. She had this to say about Lillian Hellman, as she answered a question from Cavett about her accusation that Hellman was "tremendously overrated, a bad writer, and a dishonest writer." She added, "I said once in some interview that every word she (Hellman) writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'" (Hoodwinked, by Jack Cashill. pp. 37-40, Nelson Currant, Nashville, Tenn.)

Click-it-or-Ticket - 2011-style

From the first line of the press release by IDOT on May 13, 2011: "SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and law enforcement officials today announced the start of the 2011 Click It or Ticket mobilization focusing on nighttime law violators across the state."

So when was Woodstock P.D. out on Route 47, spending its grant money and shaking a few motorists upside-down until $75 fell out of their pockets? 12:00PM-4:00PM, maybe, on May 18? I'm waiting now for the response from Woodstock P.D. to learn how many tickets (and how many warnings, if any) they wrote and how much manpower was used.

A short clip in The Woodstock Independent today mentioned that Illinois seat belt compliance is at an all-time high of 92.6%. The state's goal is to increase it to 93% this year.

What will the State of Illinois (that's we, the taxpayers) spend for this 0.4%? Oh, wait; it's Federal money.

From that same State press release (hold onto your hats!):

"A total of $1.58 million in federal safety dollars has been made available to the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Police and more than 500 local law enforcement agencies to provide additional safety belt and impaired driving patrols during the two-week mobilization period. The federal dollars will also fund more than 1,200 safety belt enforcement zones and 1,000 safety belt saturation patrols. Fifty percent or more of these patrols will occur during late-night hours (11 p.m.-6 a.m.). The mobilization also includes impaired driving enforcement, including more than 60 roadside safety checks."


Assuming that police officers are fully utilized during their workweeks, for which they are paid salaries, then does this grant money pay them at overtime rates to write what are popularly called (OK, I'm not going to use that word here) tickets?

Sure, they find other violations; wanted persons, uninsured motorists, drivers operating while licenses are suspended, but that's not the purpose of the grant, except for the almost after-thought of looking for impaired drivers. For that, all the cops have to do is park near Offsides or Niko's Red Mill or the bars on the Square at closing time.

Instead of a seatbelt compliance detail of five cops and five squad cars, how about using that electronic sign on the trailer? Just program it to read, "BUCKLE UP - NOW!"

As you can tell, I don't like the primary aspect of enforcement of the seatbelt law. I think it's stupid to drive without fastening your seatbelt.

How much effort and how much money do YOU think the Feds ought to throw at Illinois to push the compliance rate up to 93%?

For more information, visit www.buckleupillinois.org/

Suicide Awareness & Prevention

Last night the fourth and final program of the Suicide Awareness & Prevention part of May's Mental Health Awareness Month was held in Huntley. Previous programs were held in other parts of McHenry County earlier this month.

An informational video, produced by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (http://www.afsp.org/), was shown, and discussion followed.

We are fortunate to have strong local resources for suicide prevention here. The McHenry County Crisis Line is available 24/7 by calling (800) 892-8900. If you believe you are at risk or if you know someone whom you consider at risk, call the Crisis Line. Ask how they can help you. This tollfree number can only be reached from Area Codes 815-, 847- and 224- (landline) telephone numbers.

If you are in McHenry County, you should be able to reach the Crisis Line from any cell phone number (even out-of-county phone numbers). If you cannot, call (815) 338-2500 and ask to be transferred to the Crisis Line. Also, there is a national suicide talk line at (800) 273-TALK (-8255).

If you live elsewhere, inquire before the need arises and know the number to call. In the event of an emergency involving a suicide risk or attempt, you can always call 9-1-1 or go directly to an emergency room.

A national survey in 2008-09 found that 8.4 million people had considered suicide and that 1.4 million had attempted suicide. This is no minor problem. Treat all symptoms seriously.

Locally, the rise in suicide is a concern. The anticipated rate of suicide in McHenry County is 6.9/100,000. With a population of just over 300,000, McHenry County would expect approximately 21 suicides in a year. However, in 2010 there were 37 suicides. And in 2011 the rate is running ahead of the 2010 rate.

The national suicide rate is 11.5 per 100,000, and the Illinois rate is 8.6 per 100,000.
For more information, contact the McHenry County Crisis Line (yes, you can call even if a crisis is not at hand) or visit www.nfsp.org/

County Board needs heat, and a lot of it

This morning's headline in the Northwest Herald was "Heat on to lift county pay freeze". There ought to be enough heat there to boil the blood of every taxpayer in McHenry County (except the County employees, who are still, at least for the time-being) out-numbered by non-County employees).

The Finance and Audit Committee approved a recommendation this week to give raises, beginning with a June paycheck. The 5-2 vote went like this:

YES: Scott Breeden, Tina Hill, Mary Donner, Robert Bless, Mary McCann.
NO: John Hammerand, James Heisler

Well, thank YOU, Mr. Hammerand and Mr. Heisler!!!!

Raises are estimated to cost $228,000 for the six months remaining in the County's fiscal year. How many in the public won't calculate that there are two halves in a year, making the cost $456,000? Allowing for a little error, let's just call it HALF A MILLION DOLLARS. For a year. For every year.

County employees are under a pay freeze. OK, so how many County employees have lost their jobs in the past two-three years because of the economy? Any?

I've got news for County Board member Bob Bless, who was quoted as saying, "...(employees') expenses keep going up like everyone else's." Well, duh....  Bob, ask your constituents who haven't been able to find work for two years whether County employees pay ought to go up! Or how they feel about losing their homes! Or filing bankruptcy!

Voters elect County Board members to represent the voters! At least, that's how it is supposed to work. Oh, and to do the right thing, since this is a democracy, not a republic. Tell the County employees: "The gravy train has pulled into the station. It is stopped. It might even back up."

And go ahead and figure out right now how you are going to fight off any employees' attempt to organize into a union. They are lucky to have jobs. Tell them to ask their neighbors in the private sector! They feel insulated and secure in their jobs. Lay off 10% of them, and let them all experience the reality of the economy. When they see their co-workers being laid off, those remaining will straighten up, work a little harder, demand a lot less.

The numbers? There are 942 non-union County employees. You had to get all the way to the end of the article to learn that 75% (706) earn less than $50,000. Of those 706, 42% (296) earn less than $30,000.

Well, what do those 942 (or 706 or 296) do? Are these full-time employees, or are there many part-time employees earning these annual pay rates? What job classifications are non-union?

Once again, to John Hammerand and Jim Heisler, THANKS!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The target in Wisconsin - know the law

As many already know, Wisconsin allows open-carry of loaded firearms. Many people aren't used to seeing sidearms displayed on the hip, but it may become more common in Wisconsin.

I remember the first time I saw open-carry in New Mexico or Arizona. That was back in 1989, and it really got me by surprise. And I was used to being around guns.

Wisconsin Senate Bill 93 is thought of as a Constitutional Carry bill. If passed into law, it could become legal lin Wisconsin to carry a gun in the open or concealed, without a permit. Right now, no permit is needed for open carry. Law-abiding citizens, such as members of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., would like it to be that way for concealed carry, too.

Keep in mind... it's not the law-abiding folks with guns that you have to worry about. It's the criminals, and they are already packing.

A question mark is school zones, which are gun-free school zones (GFSZ) under federal and state law. You can't carry within 1,000 feet of a school, unless you hold a permit to do so.

All this makes it more important for there to be national reciprocity of gun laws. A Uniform Law would be nice. Sort of like with traffic lights: red on top, green on the bottom. Then you know where to look for a red light in all 50 states.

It wasn't all that long ago that Nebraska had a different rule. Wish I had a picture of the old horizontal traffic signal. And, of course, I remember a traffic light near a city bus barn in Denver where the red light was on the bottom and the green on top. The highway department insisted it wasn't that way (but it was, until they corrected it).

Clothing needed - Joplin

A Woodstock woman is collecting clothing for a Care package for a friend and former classmate, Karen, who lives in Joplin, Mo. and who lost everything in the tornado there. She was hiding in the bathtub and all of her house is gone, except for the bathtub and the wall it was next to.

Women's clothing (shirts (size Large/X-Large) and shorts/pants (size 10/12)) will be appreciated. If you have something you'd like to donate, please email twenty4dupont@sbcglobal.net You can arrange to drop it off in Woodstock for shipping to Joplin, or it can be picked up.

Thanks, everyone.

Poor Mr. Speaker Mike Madigan

Gee, I almost feel sorry for Speaker Mike Madigan, of the Illinois House of Representatives. In the House of Representatives since 1971. A lawyer. Almost 70 years old. A father and a grandfather.

And he has no email address.

At least, that's what his Chicago office told me today, as I finished compiling my list of the 53 members of the House who had voted NO on HB 0148, the concealed-carry bill. Of the 53 who voted NO, 40 email addresses are published in their House of Representatives profiles.

I called all 13, and in 12 cases the office email was pleasantly furnished without question.

When I called Speaker Madigan's Chicago office, the young woman who answered the phone was pleasant enough, and I'm sure she'll keep her job, because she said exactly what she must have been trained and ordered to say, "The Speaker does not have an email address."

Of course, that is not what she should have said, had she been permitted to speak the truth. Of course, he has an e-mail address. So, to tell her to tell callers that he does not, is to order her, a State employee, to lie.

What she should have said is, "The Speaker does not have a public email address."

My thanks to the Representatives who publish their e-mail addresses on their webpages and to those who allow their employees to give them out when requested.

And to Speaker Madigan? Thumbs down!

FOIA foibles in the Senate

The Illinois Senate is about to stick it to the voice of freedom. Check out Senate Bill 2203; go to http://www.ilga.gov/ and search in the box on the left for SB 2203.

Sen. Ed Mahoney (D-Chicago) ran to the rescue of the Village of Alsip after some jerk filed 90 FOIA requests in one day. Was he looking for a prize or something?

The Bill is an attempt to limit access to public information by restricting the number of FOIA requests in a year to 48 before deeming someone "vexatious". Oh, no! The dreaded V-word! Also, to extend the response time. And a worrisome part of the bill is a possible $25/hour search fee.

Can you just see it now? A reporter (or blogger or other concerned citizen) tries to hold a "public body" (that's your government office!) responsible and pry out some information that it refuses to release. Then the "public body" says, "This will cost you $25/hour, and we think it will take about a dozen hours to find what you want. Will you play (errr, pay) for $300?"

City Hall doesn't like it when I call a FOIA Request "prying" information out of them, but that's exactly what it is. I believe that most information should be available from a city, county, state, township, etc. without a FOIA request. In fact, it was recently suggested to me that I FOIA information that I had just been told wasn't available. The immediate question in my mind was, "If the information isn't available, what good will it do to submit a FOIA request?" How much would they have charged me to search for information that didn't exist?

The Citizen Advocacy Center's executive director said, "SB 2203 is a detriment to the democratic process." (Northwest Herald 5/24/11). Amen.

Renewal Center Open House - 1-year anniversary

The Renewal Center, part of Advocate Good Shepherd's cancer recovery program, will hold an open house to celebrate one year in operation on Thursday, June 2, from 5:30PM-8:00PM.

Drop by the Advocate Good Shepherd Emergency Care Building in Crystal Lake, at 525 Congress Parkway.

There is a good description of its services on the Crystal Lake Patch. Go to www.patch.com/ and find Crystal Lake, Ill.

Does anyone care?

Last night a program was held at Family Service & Community Mental Health Center called "Helping Young Adults Navigate Today's Challenges." This program was part of the Mental Health Awareness Month in McHenry County.

You'd have expected the large, third-floor meeting room to be packed. Right? How many were there? Three. T-h-r-e-e..... plus the presenter, Chris Gleason.

Chris sat down informally with us for a discussion, instead of making a "presentation". I complimented the 20-year-old woman who attended. Thanks for being there!

When asked about Lazy Cake, Chris was adamant about its potential harm, which is contrary to a comment posted last week that ingredients are harmless. Cannabis use (that's marijuana, folks) may lead to early-onset schizophrenia. "Oh, it's harmless." Oh, really?

I'd like to see a computer model of mental health needs by the drug-using culture. Let's run it out 10, 20, 30 years. Will addictions be so severe that many more segments of the population will be unsafe on the streets and in their homes?

Then it will be too late to say, "If we'd only known."

Chris explained the Transition to Independence Process (TIP) System. Some of the key points are:

* Engage young people through relationship development
* Tailor services and supports to be accessible, coordinated, appealing, developmentally appropriate, and build on strengths
* Acknowledge and develop personal choice and social responsibility with young people.

Information about the TIP System can be obtained from Scott Brown at Family Service. Contact Scott via sbrown @familyservicemch.org

C.L. teen's condition not "unknown"

The Northwest Herald carried a follow-up story this morning on Crystal Lake teen Dylan Smith, 17, who was seriously injured on May 8 near Lake Delton, Wisc. The paper has kept the Comment section closed.

The young man's condition certainly is known, contrary to the newspaper's headline. It just not has been released to the public. His doctors and the family know his condition. With all due respect for their privacy and likely grief over his injury, the story needs to be told and respectfully commented on. A 30' fall is very serious, and his injuries are most likely severe.

What is delaying legal action by the Lake Delton Police Department? May 8 to May 23? It's way past time for the Lake Delton Police to remember that their job is enforcement. That's their job; that's their "primary focus." The doctors will care for Smith.

So just look at what happened here...

A 17-year-old is off, apparently on his own (with friends), 140 miles from home.
With an older brother's ID to "prove" age 21.
With alcohol.
Did the older brother loan his ID to Dylan, or did Dylan take it without Jordan's knowledge? Had Jordan ever loaned his ID to Dylan?
Out roaming in the dark at 2:30AM in an unfamiliar area.
Had he been drinking before trying to cross a log over a ravine?
Why did resort security inform the kids that they had called the police? Why weren't police just called and let them "surprise" the kids in their rooms?
Who provided the alcohol? Did he or others take it from Illinois homes or fraudulently use ID to buy it in Illinois?

What does it take to get across to kids that irresponsible, illegal, high-risk activity and actions can be life-changing, even fatal?

I was at a discussion group recently that included adults and young adults, and I thought about the folly of adults trying to "persuade" the younger adults. What we needed to be doing was listening to them and understanding from them how to get messages through to them. Talking to them or "at" them just doesn't work.

Schools are getting large grants and then trying to impose top-down authority on kids. While authority can corral the kids and force them to assemble, schools have not found the right way to convey important messages, once the kids are assembled.

Legal action in this case should be swift (too late for that) against all who were involved in any illegal activity that week-end.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beth Bentley - Week 52

Fifty-two weeks ago Beth Bentley was last seen, by one report, in Centralia, Ill., when her friend and traveling companion of the week-end, Jennifer Wyatt, dropped her off near the Amtrak station. According to Jenn on June 10, Beth never intended to take a train.

The logical conclusion is that she was meeting someone in Centralia. Centralia is not a major transportation hub. If she wasn't taking the train, then someone with a car had to be picking her up. Jenn claims that she doesn't know whom Beth was meeting. Some find that pretty strange, since they were such good friends.

A ceremony was held today in Emricson Park, where 40-50 friends and others who are interested in this case gathered to hear words by Beth's friend and neighbor, Angela Montgomery, and by Woodstock Police Chief Bob Lowen. A number of balloons "escaped" early, when car doors were opened, and the rest of the balloons were released by family and close friends. (Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

The Northwest Herald carried a story this morning, and it can be viewed at www.nwherald.com/2011/05/18/family-friends-remember-missing-woman-1-year-after-disappearance/axr0ygw/

How police work works

The Crystal Lake Police Department distributed information to the media about an arrest of a 20-year-old Lake in the Hills man who allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old Lundahl Middle School girl last November.

I hope I got the word "alleged" in the right place. I think the Crystal Lake P.D. didn't. The Northwest Herald story said "Investigators confirmed that (the suspect) had a sexual relationship with the girl on or about Nov. 20" in a Crystal Lake residence.

The reporter was careful to use the a-word in the first paragraph of the story. Staff at the school apparently heard about it on about May 12 and reported it to police. At the "onset" of the investigation and during the "initial" investigation, the girl denied that such a relationship had happened. Then the police and school decision it had happened.

Won't the true story about what happened and how the information came out be interesting? What tactics were involved to get a different story, if they did? How did they decide that the initial information was credible, if the victim said otherwise?

If the girl lied initially and made false statements to the police, will she be charged with obstructing justice?

The police and the newspaper have no compunction about publishing the name and photograph of a person accused. Since a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, should release of identity be withheld until after a court case settles it?

Here's another interesting "tidbit". A warrant was issued, but the suspect "turned himself in without incident." Did he read the cops' minds? Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned police work? You know, the kind where the cops go to the door and arrest the person who is wanted? Sure is nice that a 20-year-old could come up so quickly with $6,000 for his 10% bail on the $60,000 bond. The newspaper article doesn't report that he was transported to the McHenry County Jail; apparently, he was bailed out at the police station.

Free annual credit reports

It's "old" news now that you can get free annual credit reports from the three major credit-reporting bureaus in the U.S. But ... do you get them?

The free reports can be ordered from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/  Be careful how you type it in or the result you click on, if you do a search on a major search engine. You might end up at a website that is similar to the free-order website but which will ask you to pay for the report(s).

You can order one free report from each of the bureaus each year. I order one every four months; I don't order all three at once.

You can print the report, but you don't need to. Examine it carefully. If it looks okay to you, merely record the Reference Number and exit the report. Look carefully for indications that credit cards or credit accounts that you thought were closed, that are still open.

These reports do not inform you of your Credit Score. To get your score, contact one of the bureaus directly and ask its procedure. There is often a charge for that service. Ask if there are circumstances under which you can learn your Score without a charge.

An article in the USA week-end magazine (newspaper insert) reported that four out of five credit reports contain errors. The time to fix errors is before you apply for new credit. Order a report today.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

RTA Ride-Free program to change

The RTA's Seniors Ride Free program is about to change. It will still be free "for some", but not free for all. Some thought the program was ill-conceived by former Gov. Blagojevich, because it provided a potential benefit for all seniors, regardless of need or income. The practical benefit (and cost) was probably small, because how many well-to-do seniors are ever going to use public transportation?

How is the plan changing? If you are a senior citizen (age 65) and receive Circuit Breaker benefits, you won't see or feel any change. You'll still ride "free" on RTA, Metra and Pace (not free on Dial-a-Ride).

But, if you are a senior and don't receive Circuit Breaker benefits, then all you'll get is the Reduced Fare benefit of being a senior.

Do you suppose anyone calculated the cost of re-issuing all those cards and connecting seniors to the Circuit Breaker program? My guess is the cost of the change will far exceed the savings to the State.

So, if you are a senior, you'll need to keep an eye on these changes. Or if you know a senior, tell him or her to find out how to get the new Seniors Circuit Ride Free card. RTA reports that it began sending correspondence to seniors on April 8. If you are, or know, a senior who hasn't received such a communication, then call 312.913.3110 Monday-Friday, 8:30AM-5:00PM.

If you want to attend the public hearing (probably more accurately called a public information meeting, since it won't do any good to "provide input" or complain about the change) in McHenry County, it will be on Thursday, June 9, 2:00-3:00PM, at the McHenry County Government Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, 2nd floor, Conference Room A.

August 1st. RTA will start mailing out the new cards.
September 1st. The old Seniors Ride Free cards are history. Seniors will need the Seniors Circuit Ride Free cards to ride free on the CTA train or bus, Metra train and Pace buses.

For more information, visit http://www.rtachicago.com/

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kirk Martin - May 25 - Canceled

If you were planning to go to South Barrington on Wednesday night for the Kirk & Casey Martin/Celebrate Calm program, don't. The program has been canceled due to space limitations and will be re-scheduled.

Keep an eye on the schedule on http://www.celebratecalm.com/ for Kirk's next trip to Chicagoland.

The time for control is NOW

About 6:30PM there was a huge gang of kids gathered on Clay Street, just north of Church Street. When I passed, there was just one police car in the Metra parking lot, and shortly after that I noticed an officer on foot.

My guess was 50-60 in the vicinity, blocking the sidewalk in front of the fence in front of the beer garden behind the bowling alley, and spreading north on Clay. And these weren't clean-cut kids heading to the movies. Many were in the category described as "Minority" and were obviously just out to roam the streets.

Hello? Where are the parents?!!!

Police presence no doubt was the cause of their moving along fairly promptly. Here we are at the beginning of the summer. School isn't out yet, but the gangs are already roaming the streets.

We the People are not about to let gangs take over Woodstock. All law-abiding people - men, women, boys, girls - are welcome, as long as they obey the laws. If they form gangs and block sidewalks, jaywalk, walk in the streets or ride bikes so as to impede traffic, litter, or disturb the peace, then they should be arrested.

Heavy police contact with them should be constant to identify them. Write lots of contact cards. Tighten down on curfew. Three young males crossed Church Street right as the cop on foot passed them, and he didn't say a word to them. Why not run them up to the crosswalk, after writing out contact cards?

What will Main Street look like later tonight and later this summer? Will the restaurateurs' and movie theater business suffer? What will the Park in the Square look like and sound like?

The police alone will not be able to control these gangs. It is going to take parents, social workers, school personnel, church members - everyone.

If you are unwilling to let Woodstock go to the dogs, then speak up now. Contact the City Council, Mayor, City Manager and Police Chief. Tell them now what you expect. Come on down to the Square and enjoy it. If you are not able to enjoy it because of the punks, call the police.

The time to establish order is now, before it gets more out of control.

Remember Harvest Moon?

An article in last week's Northwest Herald reminded me of a fine restaurant that had been on the Woodstock Square - Harvest Moon. Remember it? It was in the corner just up the block from Harris Bank.

Rob Macey, former co-owner and chef with his wife, Kim, has been struck with a catastrophic illness and huge medical bills. A benefit is scheduled for tomorrow night, Saturday, May 21, 5:00-9:00PM in Barrington. Why not take a hike tomorrow and show up? Here's where:

Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie
710 West Northwest Highway

I met Rob and Kim, because their restaurant's phone number was one digit off from mine. The English script for the one (1) in their phone number looked like the seven (7) in my phone number. I received many phone calls for their restaurant. If I answered, I just gave the caller the correct number. If I wasn't home, many callers left messages with reservations, and I'd call Kim and relay them.

After Rob and Kim sold Harvest Moon, the name changed and it stayed in business for a while, and then it closed. That corner needs a good restaurant with good food and reasonable prices. High rent and taxes probably will keep it vacant for some time.

What happens when you die

What do you think happens when you die? OK, I'm serious. What do you really think happens? Or don't you ever think of it?

Do you think "nothing" happens? That it's just "Lights out." Down goes the light switch; the room goes dark; and that's it.

Or do you think it's off to Heaven? or Hell? or Purgatory?

Is it worth thinking about? Can you influence what happens?

I just finished reading How I Died and what I did next. The book was compiled by Peter Watson Jenkins and was channeled by Toni Ann Winninger. Channeled? What does that mean?

For 27 years Winninger was a prosecuting attorney in the Cook County (yes, that Cook County) State's Attorney's office. Jenkins is a retired clinical master hypnotist, Cambridge University graduate in theology, former parish minister, and author.

In this book they interview 25 souls. Jenkins asks the questions, and Winninger translates the vibrational reports given by the subjects. Their answers will give you important clues and might just change your life.

You can buy this book (and their others) on http://www.celestialvoicesinc.com/ and on http://www.amazon.com/

I do want to report just the one problem I had with this book. I had a very hard time putting it down. I wanted to keep reading and go straight through. Every time I paused during my day or evening, I'd pick up the book and read another story. I recommend your purchase and reading of this book. It's definitely one that you will share with your family and friends.

Available in print or e-book (ex., Kindle).

Woodstock armed robbery Wed. night

Buried on Page 4B of today's Northwest Herald was news of an armed robbery late Wednesday night at Three Star Pizza, 1019 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock. A slender white male robbed the pizza place at gunpoint just before midnight and fled northbound on foot, according to the press release on the Woodstock P.D.'s webpage.

Armed robberies in many other parts of the county make the front section of the paper, but for Woodstock? Page 4B, where most people probably won't even see it.

Isn't midnight one of the shift-change points? Did the robber know that? How many squad cars were still on the streets? How many squad cars responded? Did the Sheriff's Department assist? Was Brinx, Woodstock's K-9, on-duty or called out?

Did the robber have a car stashed on the street north of Donovan Street or in a parking lot? From the description (age 20-30, 5'10", 150 lbs), do the police have an idea of his identity? While it's pretty stupid to rob a place in your own neighborhood, it's not unknown to happen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mental Health Recovery Day held in Woodstock

At Emricson Park this morning approximately 50 men and woman (and one dog, Brutus) gathered to celebrate Mental Health Recovery Day, part of the May Mental Health Awareness Month. The program got underway about 10:30AM, and James Carpenter, a Recovery Specialist at Pioneer Center and one of the event's organizers, introduced the first speaker.

Speakers included Lorraine Kopczynski, CEO of Pioneer Center for Human Services, Rick Mason, Director of Mental Health Services at PCHS, Lou Bianchi, McHenry County State's Attorney, Scott Block, Coordinator of the McHenry County Mental Health Court, Astrid Larsen, Manager of the McHenry County Crisis Line, Julie Gibson, Program Director at Thresholds-McHenry County, Alan Belcher, Executive Director of Transitional Living Services, Lori Nelson, CEO at Family Service and Community Mental Health Center for McHenry County, Linda Grieshaber, a Program Manager at PADS, and Sue Krause, director at YSB.

Not to take anything away from the fine remarks by the above, the highlight of the event was the remarks by various consumers of the mental health services offered in our county. For those not "in the know", the term "consumer" is how clients and patients of the various mental health services agencies are known. Several shared their personal stories and journeys and what these services have meant to them. 

The services of our county really work.

When James announced this event less than two months, I'll admit that I was skeptical about how he was going to put it together on such short notice. He assembled a team and got all the plans in place, and today came off without a hitch. I didn't meet others on the team, and I apologize for not identifying them for the praise they deserve. Thanks to each and every one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Police Chief Lowen may comment at 1-year anniversary of missing Bentley

On Monday evening Angela Montgomery wrote on "Missing Beth Bentley" (Facebook) page, "... NW Herald is doing a story. Also, Chief Robert Lowen of the Woodstock PD will be attending and making a statement about the case." Angela is referring to Sunday's planned balloon release in Emricson Park (Woodstock) at 3:00PM. Does anyone know where to meet in the Park?
It will be interesting to hear what Chief Lowen has to say about this case, which apparently is still classified as a Missing Person case by the Woodstock P.D. Perhaps he'll follow the lead of the chief of the Round Lake Park Police Department and really give out some new information.

Interested and concerned people around here want to know...
... is the Woodstock Police Department still the lead investigative law enforcement agency or has any agency taken over the case?
... how involved is the Illinois State Police?
... have Ryan and Nathan Ridge been questioned? Supposedly, Beth and Jenn stayed with them in Mount Vernon that week-end.
... were romantic links established between Beth and any other men?
... have the police determined whether Beth was pregnant at the time she disappeared?
... to what extent do police believe drug or alcohol use or abuse might be connected with her disappearance?
... is there proof that Beth ever left Woodstock on Thursday night, May 20?
... what were the plans, if any, that Beth and Jenn made to rendezvous on Monday, in order to return to Woodstock together?
... do the police consider it "unusual" that a woman reported to be working in Scott's office in Beth's place is also reportedly living in Scott's home?
... is Jenn Wyatt still working in Scott's office and, if so, is she classified as an employee?

Readers on Facebook are back to talking about how, if Beth had been in Centralia, Ill. on Sunday, May 23, 2010, about 5:30PM, somebody would have seen her. This position is really hard to understand. Why would somebody necessarily have seen her and attached any significance to it? First of all, someone could have seen her, and it's just that nobody has found that "somebody". If she ever was there and got out of the rental car that Jenn was driving (was there ever really a rental car?) and stood around for a few minutes before somebody else picked her up, why would anyone think that was a big enough deal to remember?

On Saturday a Facebook reader commented that Jenn's Facebook photo looked just like Beth. She wrote: "...I literally gasped outloud! I swear I was looking at Beth. Jenn has the platinium (sic) blonde hair styled just like Beth did, big old black sunglasses and a necklace, and I wonder if it was Beth's necklace?"

And then Angela commented that Jenn had used that photo before. I can't access that Facebook page or photo, but maybe someone else can.

That the incorrect information on the "Missing Beth Bentley" Facebook page hasn't been corrected is very strange. It reads that she lives in Mount Vernon, Illinois and it provides an incorrect year-of-birth.

Something was brewing at noon...

... and it wasn't coffee. At about 12:30PM there were five Woodstock police cars on the northwest corner of Route 47 and Lake Avenue, plus one red SUV. I couldn't really tell what was going on as I drove by, so I circled into the old Benoy Motors parking lot (and still couldn't tell what was going on).

Want a better look? Click on the image; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.

Was it a training exercise? From the line-up of police cars, it could have been.

If it was a training exercise, it would have been better conducted away from the business signalized corner in Woodstock. There are too many rubber-neckers who won't notice that the car in front of them has stopped. Lately, there have been many rear-end crashes on two-lne highways.

A week ago on Monday there was one northbound right in front of Jack Franks' office (across the street from this photo), and 20 minutes later I saw a rear-ender in front of Gary Lang Automotive Group in McHenry County. Crystal Lake had a rash of them earlier this week.

If anyone knows what was going on, please post in a Comment below. Thanks!

Island Lake tickets, but has no court

In March of this year Joe Crisara was written a Social Hosting ticket by the Island Lake Police Department and apparently told to cough up the $1,000 fine. He hasn't done so.

The violation was written on a police department local citation and for violating a local ordinance (Code Section 3-2-7-1). Communities like to do it this way, because then they get to keep all the money in town. If they write tickets under Illinois Statutes, the cases go to Circuit Court (in Island Lake cases, either McHenry County or Lake County Circuit Court), and then only a piece of the action comes back to town.

There are some advantages to the person charged - court costs are often lower than in Circuit Court, and any conviction for a finding of "liable" (rather than "guilty") doesn't go on his record.

Woodstock Police write tickets for local ordinance violations, and those cases are handled in the Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court, which meets monthly.

The problem in Island Lake? They don't have a local court. So how does a person plead Not Guility (Not Liable) and get his day in court? He doesn't.

Island Lake Police write tickets for other ordinance violations, such as parking, curfew violations, minors in possession of tobacco. If the person doesn't pay by the due date, then they send him (or her) a letter. Fines increase if not paid by the Due Date. If the person still doesn't pay, then the tickets go to a collection agency. Except Island Lake doesn't have a collection agency at this time. But where is Due Process in this whole picture. It's AWOL. How can you just send an unpaid ticket to collection?

And with Crisara's Social Hosting ordinance violation, the fine was apparently set at $1,000, but there is no provision for an increased fine if it isn't paid. Although the original newspaper article said Crisara was to be fined $1,000, the ordinance calls for a $500 minimum fine (and maximum fine of $750) for the first offense, and a minimum fine of $750 for the second or subsequent offense within a 12-month period.

Where did the $1,000 come from? Was the charge for a second (or subsequent) offense? Can the officer set the fine? The answer ought to be a resounding "No".

My guess is that Island Lake has no way to carry through on this ticket (and maybe even no way to carry through on any local ordinance ticket) without its own court. With all the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on legal fees, did Island Lake forget to buy some legal advice on this topic?

Crisara has been arrested on drug charges and alleged intimidation (11CF000308 and 11CF000305), and his next court date with Judge Condon in McHenry County Circuit Court is June 1.

Mock job interviews at Huntley H.S.

Students in a career development class at Huntley (Ill.) High School participated today in a series of mock job interviews to gain practical experience as they prepare for graduations. Many of the students already had part-time jobs or were participating in serious community service projects, some of which involve a minimum of 12 hours of volunteer time each week.

I was invited to be one of the interviewers and enjoyed 12-14 conversations with five different students. Each arrived with an excellent resume and a portfolio that he or she had assembled during the year. The five whom I interviewed were well prepared, and I heard comments from other interviewers that their experiences had been similar to mine.

One student had just been promoted yesterday at his part-time job at a major grocery chain. He had been working as a bagger and cart collector and described the work rules that must be followed, such as proper bagging procedures (no, Gus, the tomatoes don't go on the bottom and the watermelon on top), limiting the number of carts to be pushed at one time and wearing the reflectorized vest in the parking lot, and offering carry-out assistance to every customer. He had noticed over the past week that new baggers were being hired. And last night management promoted him to checker, for which he will now receive 30 hours of intensive training and supervision.

These students have been very well prepared for next year's college and community college work and for job hunting in the "real" world. My congratulations to teacher Mary Graft at Huntley High School for a job well-done in preparing these students for the next step after high school.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New boilerplate in sheriff's media releases

Have you noticed the new boilerplate in media releases from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Sheriff's deputies responded on two calls that were reported in today's Northwest Herald. A 1-year-old boy fell out a second-floor window near Cary, and a 1-year-old girl fell into the Fox River near McHenry. Both children were temporarily unattended by mothers at home.

What's the boilerplate? Although two Northwest Herald reporters used similar, but not exactly the same, wording, it amounts to "As mandated reporters, members of the sheriff's office notified the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, but they do not believe any law enforcement actions are required." Neither MCSO call is reported this morning on the Sheriff's website Press Release section.

Will DCFS look unkindly on the near-drowning of the girl and how the boy fell out of a second-floor window?

By the way, the Daily Herald explains the near-drowning a little differently. Addison Fire Dept. paramedic Joel Arnier saved the child's life by forcing water out of her lungs and resuscitating her. The sheriff's department report apparently failed to clarify for how long the mother had left the children unattended or how far the house is from the river. Why???

Contrast this with the response and arrests after a State Parole Officer made a 9:20AM routine check last week on a parolee and found the parolee not at home, but a 5-year-old boy alone. Two men were packed off to the "McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility", also known as the McHenry County Corrections Center or the McHenry County Jail. That press release is on the sheriff's website.

(Note: this was published previously but "unpublished" mysteriously by Blogger today; thus, it is re-published.)

Help Wanted - 5-month "vacation"

I had to laugh out loud this morning at the classified ad in The Woodstock Independent for a clerical employee at a Harvard asphalt company. Excellent skills required. $10.50/hour to start. (Huh?) No insurance. BUT, and this is a big BUT, "We are a seasonal asphalt company so you will be laid off for the winter and be eligible to collect unemployment Nov-March."

I wonder what IDES has to say about that...

Can a company really hire someone for $10.50/hour, who has excellent phone etiquette, Word/Excel/Email skills, can multi-task, has good math skills, positive and friendly, and "most importantly" excellent attendance? For $10.50/hour? For $78.75/day gross pay?

(Note: this was published previously but "unpublished" mysteriously by Blogger today; thus, it is re-published.)

New Beth Bentley page hits Facebook

Yesterday's Northwest Herald article about a May 23 balloon release for Beth Bentley carries information about a (new?) Facebook page called "Missing Beth Bentley". At first glance, it appears to be a make-over of a previous page, but a closer look reveals numerous errors and misdirections. What would be the purpose of deceiving readers?

First of all, the page carries this statement under "Works at": "I AM AN ENDANGERED MISSING PERSON - PLEASE HELP BRING ME HOME!" (caps in the original)

Then it says, at the top, "Lives in Mount Vernon, Illinois." Oh, really? When Beth went missing, she lived in Woodstock. At least, nothing to the contrary has ever been stated publicly.

Who chose the "favorite quotes"?

#1 "Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.......W. H. Auden"

#2 "Lovers have a right to betray you... friends don't....Judy Holliday"

#3 “Lying is done with words and also with silence.” Adrienne Rich"

If "society" has a direct interest, then it is up to the public to keep the pressure on law enforcement agencies to keep digging.

Next, whoever put of the Facebook page didn't even get her date-of-birth right. It's February 12, 1969 (not 1967). She was 41 when she disappeared last May.

Her marital status is shown as "Married" and farther down the page reads, "Scott, Beth's husband, is devastated and has been completely ruled out of any suspicions."

Yep, he's so "devastated" that rumors were flying within a couple of months of her disappearance that Beth's purses and things were being sold off and that a single woman had moved into the Bentley family home and was also working in Scott's office. Perhaps whoever put up the Facebook page might want to check the dictionary for a definition of "devastated".

And that Scott "has been completely ruled out of any suspicions"? Whoever wrote that was dreaming (or standing downwind in the haze at a rock concert). "Ruled out" by whom? The police apparently have no suspects and have not identified any "persons of interest", but they have not ever stated that they have ruled out anybody. Period.

The page continues the lie about the 6:00PM Amtrak train from Centralia. Why do I say the "lie"? Because her traveling companion, Jenn Wyatt, called me on June 10 and told me that Beth never intended to take a train. It wasn't long after that that people began to question whether Beth ever was in Centralia, and then whether she was really ever in Mount Vernon, and then whether she ever really left Woodstock.

And then "Beth's" phone number is given, except it's the phone number for the Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department.

The Facebook page also says to see the FAQ section under "Info". The only problem with that is there isn't any FAQ section!

(Note: this was published previously but "unpublished" mysteriously by Blogger today; thus, it is re-published.)

$14,380 for 8 park benches, 2 trash cans!

I don't know, but spending $14,380 for eight park benches and two trash cans seems like a lot of money. Can't wait to see them! And to sit on them. And to throw trash in the cans.

The Woodstock City Council approved the purchase from the international firm of Landscape Forms (http://www.landscapeforms.com/). I'm glad they spent under the budgeted amount of $17,000, but why didn't they spend way under it? And why not buy from a Woodstock or McHenry County business?

After all, here's a bench for $50 at Ace Hardware. OK, so maybe the City doesn't have to go that cheap, but $14,380? Is that $1,500 for each of eight new park benches and then $2,380 for two trash cans?

And the City approved $34,916 for Hampton, Lenzini & Renwick to design more "bump-outs" around the Square. Keep in mind that this is for design (only). $35,000 for design work. Then comes the bidding process. And then construction. At what total cost? Seems the City has a pile of dough just waiting to be spent on "streetscape". The City already bought and paid for design work for bump-outs in other areas of the Square. Is none of that transferable?

And yet the City will not invest in an employee to market Woodstock and bring profitable new businesses to town. The position of Development Director has been vacant for - what? - two years. Right there was $50,000 that could have paid for such an employee. But maybe TIF dollars cannot be spent for that.

New book for men about understanding women

If Woodstock Public Library carries this, they'll have to offer extended renewals. I hear it's only available in the fine-print edition so far.

Should Woodstock repair roadway?

The other night, during hours of darkness and rain, I ran through these potholes when I drove a little to the right in the lane but where I thought the edge of the road way was. This is on westbound Lake Avenue, just west of Route 47 (just past Coleman's). Notice the white shoulder line is worn out. With water standing in the roadway, there was no way to know that the chuck holes were lurking there, just waiting to claim a tire or a rim or an alignment (or worse).

Why is this important? Because if your car is damaged from a chuckhole, you might be able to get the City to pay for it. If - IF - the damaged road surface has been reported to the City. And if the City follows the rules that IDOT uses to protect itself from claims.

IDOT will tell you, if you report pothole damage to your car, that they are responsible only if the road surface in question has been reported and if they have had time to get out to repair it. What a joke! IDOT is supposed to maintain the roads. Do you think IDOT employees report road surfaces needing repair? (Now, I don't know the answer to that question. I'd like for them to do so, but do they do so at the risk of their jobs?)

A friend in Minneapolis is fighting for a $1,500 auto repair bill, and the roads department is saying that it isn't responsible, because no one had reported the potholes.

Do your part and report them. Of course, this assumes that highway department maintain accurate records of potholes reported. And it assumes that reports don't go into the "circular file" at the end of the day. Who would know?

This road damage is being reported to Woodstock Public Works. So, if you run through these holes and damage your vehicle, you'll know that they know about it now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mental Health Board holds public hearing

The McHenry County Mental Health Board, one of 56 in the State of Illinois, held a public hearing tonight at McHenry County College. The first hour was composed of reports given orally, and then the group adjourned to rounds of tables in the cafeteria to discuss specific topics, such as Substance Abuse-Children and -Adults, Mental Illness, Developmental Disability, etc.

A number of young adults and older students attended, many of whom are in the AmeriCorps program.

Lazy Cake? Ever hear of that? Until tonight, I had not. Kids can buy it right over the counter in at least one convenience store. Apparently, it can be eaten to get high, although it contains no illegal ingredients.

Check tomorrow's Town Crier (http://www.towncriercl.blogspot.com/) for what I expect will be a good recap of tonight's meeting. I'm not going to spend an hour writing it up. If you are interested in mental health in our County, you should have been there tonight to hear the big picture with your own ears. Basically, the demand for services is high; funds are drying up.

Remember Thursday's event in Emricson Park. 10:30AM. Rain or shine.

On your mark, get ready, shred!

Golden Eagle Community Bank will host a community shred event this Saturday, May 21, from 9:00AM until noon.

Now's the time to collect all those old bank statements, stock records, credit card receipts, old tax papers, etc. and haul them to the bank's parking lot on Saturday and watch them disappear into an Ameri-Shred truck.

Limit of four boxes. Please help replenish the Woodstock Food Pantry and donate perishable food items. It's okay to donate more than one can.

This bank has done much to help our Chamber of Commerce survive. Make this a successful event for all. And, if you think you might have some profitable business for a bank, be sure to speak with them inside during banking hours. The bank is located in what might be commonly called the Jewel-Osco shopping center. Its address is 975 Country Club Road, just east of Route 47.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Charges dismissed against "Madison Five"

Last September 18 five men were enjoying a meal in a Culver's Restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. Enjoying it, at least, until a squad of cops showed up in response to a customer's call about five men in the restaurant with guns.

The five were seated and wearing their handguns openly in sight, as required by Wisconsin law. The caller told the police dispatcher that there was no disturbance; she was just "concerned" that something "might" happen.

When the cops showed up, they demanded identification, and two of the men refused. According to a blog on the website of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., "Wisconsin law does NOT allow officers to demand ID from individuals who have done nothing wrong. Wisconsin law also specifically does not allow officers to arrest an individual who has done nothing wrong for merely refusing to show ID."

The two who refused were arrested for obstructing justice. How's that for bullying (by police)? Two days later, those charges were rescinded. Then the P.D. mailed disorderly conduct charges to all five.

And the fight was on.

Again from the same website, "According to Attorney (Chris) Van Wagner (representing Wisconsin Carry, Inc., and its members): 'The Madison City Attorney agreed after a full review of the police investigation and 911 call that there was absolutely no disturbance created by our members and that the disorderly conduct citations were inappropriate'." Wisconsin Carry, Inc. learned on May 5 that all five disorderly conduct charges were dismissed.

If you are going to carry openly in Wisconsin, read the law carefully, especially as to being inside your vehicle. Since a motorcycle is a vehicle, I presume the operator or passenger cannot wear a firearm openly. There is an opinion from the Wisconsin Attorney General that the peace of an "anti-gunner or do-gooder" (my words) cannot be disturbed by a person who is merely wearing a gun openly, absent any disorderly manner of that person.

If you are not a Wisconsin resident, find out in advance whether a non-resident can carry openly.

What this country needs is concealed carry in every state and then uniform laws, not laws that change at the state line. Wisconsin permits open carry, but not concealed carry.

The website for Wisconsin Carry, Inc. is http://www.wisconsincarry.org/