Sunday, July 31, 2011

Outrageous raises at MCC

Friday’s Northwest Herald revealed the previous night’s approval by McHenry County College trustees – unanimously – of an outrageous package of raises for “adjunct employees”.

There are part-time teachers. Oh, wait; “faculty”. No matter what you call them, are they really worth these average raises?

16% in the first year
8% in the second year
9% in the third year
12% in the fourth year.

Let’s say that a part-time teacher makes $10,000 this year.
Next year he’ll get 16% more ($1,600), earning $11,600.
If his 8% bump then is based on $11,600, his pay goes up $928 to 12,528.
The next year, if his 9% increase is based on $12,528, his pay goes up $1,127 to $13,655.
The fourth year, if his 12% bump is based on $13,655, his pay goes up $1,638 to $15,293.

From $10,000 this year to $15,293… that’s more than 50% in four years!

MCC President Vicky Smith seems to think that teachers here (err, “faculty” (does that word make them worth more?)) deserve to earn what teachers elsewhere earn and that other schools are raiding MCC’s roster by offering more bucks.

Well, let them go.

MCC does not need a Ph.D. to teach freshman students about music. MCC should hire a competent teacher who can follow a lesson plan (and perhaps mildly improve it) for what it can afford to pay. You don’t have to chase the market. I suspect the public has no idea just how many PhD’s there are on our local junior college roster.

This is McHenry County. You don’t need to hire a rocket scientist (and pay for one) to teach remedial English and math (or music). The employer (MCC) should set the pay for the job and then find the best-qualified person it can hire at that pay scale. And if an employee goes and gets an M.A. or a Ph.D. and wants more money, let them go elsewhere.

MCC is a business. But do the current trustees realize that? They have every responsibility to operate MCC in a business-like fashion, as if they owned it. I have my doubts that this is how they look at their jobs.

The VP of the Adjunct Faculty Union pronounced the package a “boon for everyone involved.” He got that right. The trustees gave away more money for professional development (which will result in higher demands for more money in the future) and more hours that can be worked (more pay for adjunct faculty).

Now get ready for the full-time faculty to make its demands well ahead of its contract that expires in the 2013-14 school year. Better hide your wallets, folks!

Beth Bentley - gone 62 weeks now

Beth Bentley, 41 in May 2010, has been missing now for 62 weeks. Wife, mother, legal secretary, she vanished sometime on the week-end of May 20-23 and has not been seen or heard from since.

Did she just get fed up and take a hike?

Was she scared of someone or something? Did she run?

Did she get sick or ill and die, and then her "friends" got scared and hid her body?


If she shows back up in Woodstock this week and runs over to her law office in McHenry, she won't find anything there but the dust. Her husband, Scott Bentley, recently moved his office from 618 South Route 31, McHenry, where Beth had been the legal secretary and office manager.

Someone asked me recently whether I knew how much life insurance was carried on Beth's life. I don't, but I do remember that life insurance companies I had represented in Illinois and in Colorado were really careful about the amount of "wife insurance" they issued. Actually, they were careful about the amount of life insurance they issued on every person who applied.

There was a factor called Human Life Value. That's what you could insure. Typically, the breadwinner in the family would qualify for the highest amount of life insurance to be issued on a family member. Often that was the man in the family; that's just how it was back in the 1970s.

The wife/mother could qualify for insurance beyond the basic amount to cover funeral, burial and some other minimal costs, based on her economic value to the family. If a family had one dependent child who was, say ten years old, then the mother's economical value, in the typical traditional family, might be her "replacement" value until the child was 18 or, if it was likely that he might go to college, 22. For every month she lived, her economic value to the child's age 18 (or 22) would decline. Decreasing term insurance sometimes was a good type of insurance to fill that need.

Would an insurance company issue a policy for $250,000 or $500,000 or $1,000,000 on a wife/mother? Not likely, unless the family was a high net-worth family. Why not? There was too much chance for an "accident" and an "economic gain", if the wife died prematurely.

Sometimes you hear about a man who purchases a large amount of life insurance on his wife, and then she "just happens" to die fairly soon after the policy was issued. The insurance company will naturally be suspicious and investigate thoroughly before paying the proceeds. The insurance company will also look very closely at the relationship between the selling agent or broker and the family of the insured.

Because large amounts of life insurance can be purchased without a medical examination or with a simplified medical exam completed by a paramedical nurse who will even go to the home of a prospective insured, the insurance company must be certain that the person examined is the person who is insured.

It's not unknown for a "surrogate" to be examined (illegally) for a policy. After all, if the nurse expects Mrs. Jones to answer the door at the Jones' address when she arrives, and a woman answers the door and says she is Mrs. Jones, and if the woman being examined resembles Mrs. Jones generally, the nurse is going believe that she is examining Mrs. Jones. The nurse examines the impostor, the impostor signs Mrs. Jones' name, and the nurse sends the medical exam to the insurance company. And the real Mrs. Jones never even knows that a policy is being purchased on her life.

If the insurance company is really suspicious, it will pay the death proceeds into a reserve fund, independently administered by a fiduciary. The insurance company is willing to show its good faith in being responsible for payment of the death benefit, but they want to be certain they aren't paying it to anyone who might have, somehow, been involved in the early demise of the insured.

But even after 62 weeks, no one knows whether Beth Bentley is alive or dead. In a case like this, if there does happen to be insurance on Beth, somebody had better make sure that every premium is paid when due (or within the grace period).

#1 Pothole in Woodstock?

Should the City of Woodstock repair this pothole? Now?

This pothole, in the westbound lane on Russel Court by the McHenry County Government Center, is creating a traffic hazard. The size has been growing, and the pavement around it is cracking. The City should have fixed it before it ever got this bad.

Hundreds of cars each day must navigate around or over it. Most don't go over it, because cars are often parking along the north curb of Russel Court, especially when the parking lot is full. Going around it usually means driving across the center line of the roadway, not a cheap traffic violation if you get caught at it. The pothole is between the parking lot entrance to the courthouse and the traffic light at Route 47.

The Woodstock City Council recently did not approve a contract for street maintenance. Did that contract include pothole repairs?

Maybe a phone call to 815.338.6118 would provide a little encouragement to Public Works to fix this, which must be one of the worst in Woodstock. You can call right now; if it's after-hours, just leave a nice message.

If you prefer to email, send your request to

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ruling on Motion in Seipler's case for Special Prosector

Confused about what happened in Judge Meyer's courtroom on Friday, when the judge refused to grant the State's Attorney's request to dismiss the case?

Zane Seipler's attorney, Blake Horwitz, has posted this information:

The crux of the matter?

Blake Horwitz explains it in his message on his firm's website:

"The allegations regarding Sheriff Nygren concern theft of public monies and misapproriation of funds.  The allegations are that Sheriff Nygren used tax payer dollars to promote his political campaign by taking his political logo and (a) putting it on thousands of official letters mailed out to the general public; (b) placing the logo on official vehicles (motorcycles and vans) and (c) placing the logo on official buildings within the department.  In essence, the Petition alleges that Sheriff Nygren has, for years, been using public monies to promote his political campaign – a prohibited practice in the State of Illinois."

And there you have it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sunday - Joe Walsh at Woodstock H.S.

(((UPDATE 7/30/11 1:21PM Joe Walsh has canceled all weekend events due to the debt crisis.)))
Thanks to McHenry County Blog and Cal Skinner, I learned of a town hall meeting scheduled for Sunday, July 31, at 4 PM at Woodstock High School (the old one). Rep. Joe Walsh is to be there.

Maybe... you couldn't tell by anything on Joe's Congressional webpage or on his Facebook page that I could find. And, even though I am signed up for email notifications, nothing has shown up in my e-mail inbox.

Joe needs to hire somebody who understands communication with constituents!


U.S. House of Representatives - what a flippin' joke!

I happened to click onto Joe Walsh's Congressional page just now and saw the banner that the U.S.House of Representatives was in session.

The joint was empty! Where was everyone? Did they all gone home? Out to dinner? Over at the wading pool?

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut) said, "Everyone of us here ..."

It'll look good on paper in the Congressional Record. He'll have some good sound bites. So will Rep. Perlmutter from Colorado.

But what a joke for the U.S. House of Representatives to be in session and no one there!

FOID card? (or not?)

When a shooting occurs in McHenry County and someone dies, isn't it usually mentioned that the person doing the shooting holds a FOID card? Wouldn't this indicate to readers that the person was legally entitled to be in possession of a firearm and ammunition?

Two shootings occurred within ten days of one another and, to my knowledge, there has been no mention of a FOID card in either incident.

On May 28 Timothy S. Smith shot and fatally wounded Kurt Milliman in McHenry County. The Sheriff's Department has not revealed whether Smith possessed a FOID card. Since he has not been charged with violating FOID card requirements, should one assume that he held a valid FOID card?

On June 7 Scott Feldkamp shot and killed Daron Bloom, 27, as Feldkamp defended his parents and himself, according to stories in the Northwest Herald. An initial newspaper report indicated he was "visiting from Florida", although I have heard other reports that he moved back to Marengo in February or March. If Feldkamp was back in McHenry County since February or March and had brought his handgun from Florida, had he applied for a FOID card?

Nothing has been mentioned about FOID cards in either case.

After an initial flurry of press contacts in the Feldkamp case, information from the Sheriff's Department has dried up.

There never was an initial flurry of press contacts in the shooting death of Kurt Milliman. Sheriff Keith Nygren made no public statement and held no press conference that was open to local reporters from online media (blogs or electronic newspapers). In this case Timothy S. Smith is being held on a first-degree murder charge with a $900,000 bond. Smith is in custody in the McHenry County Jail.

Backing up is hard to do

What was that old song - "Backing up is hard to do"? No, wait; I think it was "Breaking up is hard to do."

While this vehicle was displaying a handicap parking placard, it should have been parked in the handicap space.

Drivers of vehicles with handicap parking placards are given some leeway; for example, I think they don't have to feed parking meters. Not a problem with that in Woodstock (so far). And they might get to park longer in restricted-time parking zones.

But do they get to park in a no-parking zone marked with yellow slash lines?

Maybe this driver arrived when another car was parked in the handicap space. Or maybe the driver arrived when all handicap spaces were occupied. Or maybe the driver parked there, because he knew he wouldn't get a ticket, even if his parking was illegal. The parking lot at the Government Center is patrolled by Woodstock Police, not by the Sheriff's Department.

Where was his front license plate? Handicap parking privileges don't allow an owner to "forget" to display the front plate. You know, there is a reason that Illinois issues two plates. That's because the second one is supposed to go on the front of the vehicle.

To enlarge either image, just click on it. Then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.

And today's winner is ... Zane Seipler

Case No. 10MR000011 was scheduled for decision this morning. This is Zane Seipler's request for a Special Prosecutor. In a hallway conversation with a long-time McHenry County attorney (one not involved in the case) before court, he clearly felt that Seipler would not prevail.

In a long and drawn-out battle over whether a special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate and prosecute McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren for criminal conduct, Judge Thomas A. Meyer has decided that the battle will continue. While Judge Meyer did not today grant the request for a Special Prosecutor, he put a stop to the near-endless round of courtroom fights and granted Seipler's request as it pertained to Paragraphs 1-30 and 66-78. Those stay in. Paragraphs 31-65 were stricken.

It would have been nice to hear everything that was said in the courtroom today. See a separate article about the lack of decorum in today's courtroom.

Seipler's attorney, Blake Horwitz of Chicago, has 14 days to file a document, and then Donald Leist, Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney, has 28 days to respond.  The next court date is September 22nd at 9:00AM in Courtroom 201, the chambers of Judge Meyer.

The bottom line seems to be that the alleged facts about Sheriff Nygren's use of County taxpayer-supported assets for political purposes are sufficient for a cause of action to continue. There are viable claims. Today's decision was about about those claims, only that they are viable. Now discovery will begin.

According to Blake Horwitz after court, the February 2011 letter from State's Attorney Lou Bianchi that the State's Attorney can only defend the sheriff is evidence of the inability and unavailability of the State's Attorney's Office to investigate or prosecute criminal conduct by Sheriff Nygren, if any.

It was a long road for Zane Seipler and Blake Horwitz. During many of the hearings it appeared to me that Judge Meyer was wanting to keep in case moving. There were many opportunities where he could have ruled and shut it down.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Mobile" gas station hit

Flash! Calling all cars! The Mobile (sic) gas station at 4407 West Hi Point Road, McHenry, was burglarized during the overnight hours on July 15, 2011. At least, that's the address at which the burglary was believed to have occurred. Where is it now?

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department put out a Media Release over the blank signature line of Sheriff Keith Nygren. Maybe no one was willing to own up to the spelling of "Mobile" or no one was willing to challenge the spelling of the person who wrote it up.

What was the last-known direction of travel of the "Mobile" gas station? Did it have four tires? Was it an 18-wheeler? Was it a drive-off without payment?

And what does "overnight hours" on July 15 mean? Does it mean July 14-15? or July 15-16? Wouldn't the estimated time of the burglary be between the time the last employee departed and the time the first employee arrived the next morning? Oh, that might take too many words...

Were lights in use on the "Mobile" gas station? It should have been pretty easy to spot rolling down the highway or roads of McHenry with no lights in the middle of the night.

OK, enough fun... everybody knows that the brand name is Mobil, not Mobile. Well, almost everyone.

Why didn't anyone sign the Sheriff's name and put his initials in a little circle, as was being done until recently? Does an unsigned Media Release mean the Sheriff was back up in Minocqua (where tomorrow's Low will be 63° F.  and the high will be 84° F.)?

Better yet, why doesn't the shift commander or the Public Information Officer issue these Media Releases and sign his/her own name?

Or will the new Intelligence Unit take over Media Releases?

More on the Milliman inquest

More questions about the death of Kurt Milliman probably were raised as a result of Det. Mike Quick's testimony than were answered.

The inquest was held yesterday at the McHenry County Government Center. One of the jurors and one of the alternates asked good questions. The juror asking the good questions was a Federal law enforcement officer. I had noticed a star emblem pinned on his suitcoat's lapel and asked him about it after the jury was dismissed.

Pete Gonigam, publisher of,  identified an important unasked question in his paper today. Were there powder burns on Kurt's back? No one on the coroner's jury asked that question yesterday. Det. Quick's testimony was that the gun held by Timothy Smith was against Kurt's back or very close to it.

I didn't hear any reference to a bullet hole through any of Kurt's clothing. Det. Quick testified that "they" (Kimberly Smith and Milliman) had dressed, and then he testified that some of Kurt's clothing was on the hallway floor where Woodstock Fire Rescue District paramedics had treated Kurt before transporting him up the street to Centegra Hospital-Woodstock.

There are many facts yet to come out about Kurt's death. For example, did Timothy Smith hold a FOID card?

Nothing in Smith's McHenry County court record seems to preclude his right to a FOID card. His driving record is something else. The public record indicates traffic charges on 33 different dates beginning on December 31, 2003. How does a driver keep a driver's license with that record?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Intelligence Unit at MCSD?

Is there a new Unit or Division at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? Rumor has it that a sergeant and two deputies have been assigned to an Intelligence Unit.

Were they transferred from Patrol? Will three people be hired to fill those spots?

What will the duties be of the new unit? Is this good manpower utilization? A sergeant with only two deputies reporting? Will they be focusing on drugs? white-collar crime? alcohol-related offenses?

Maybe a complete press release from the Sheriff's Department will be forthcoming to explain this use of taxpayers' money.

Coroner's Inquest for Kurt Milliman today

The Coroner's inquest into the death of Kurt Milliman was conducted this morning. The jury was empaneled prior to the 11:00AM starting time and instructed in private. This happened at the last inquest I attended, too. Apparently, it's up to the deputy coroner who conducts it. How should it be? Everything but the deliberations should be in public.

The public should be able to hear what instructions are given to the jurors and the alternates. These are the rules by which they will make their decision. In a courtroom a judge doesn't take a jury aside to instruct them. The McHenry County Coroner should establish a policy and see that it is followed.

The representative from the Coroner's office did not introduce herself. (The Northwest Herald article identified her as Deputy Coroner Paula Gallas.) She called the inquest to order and gave a brief summary. After stating that Kurt died from a gun shot to the chest (sic), she made a statement that his blood-alcohol count (BAC) was 0.121 and said that was "above the limit."

Whoa! Wait just one minute! The 0.08 BAC limit is for operators of motor vehicles, not for persons on foot or standing in someone's home. If she felt it was necessary to mention the BAC at that point, she should not have made any reference to "above the limit." There was nothing illegal about a 0.121 BAC!

She then introduced Det. Mike Quick from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. After being sworn in, Det. Quick attempted to tell the jurors when he was notified. After searching through his report for an unseemly amount of time, he said he was notified by Sgt. Tadelman and I thought I heard him say at "2550". I'll have to read the transcript when it is available to see whether I heard him correctly. If that's what he said, what time did he mean? No one says "2550"; there is no such military time as 2550.

He went through the activities at the Smith residence very quickly, and what I heard him say didn't make sense to me. I thought he said that Deputy Singer (first on scene?), Kramer, another deputy and he entered the residence after the Smiths were placed in patrol cars. (It sounded like he said "cars".) When they entered, they found Kurt on the front hallway floor. They "cleared" the house so that Woodstock Fire Rescue paramedics could enter safely. So, how much time passed before they entered? Or did Quick explain it incorrectly? Or did I misunderstand him?

When I went to the first inquest I attended, in 2007, I had read in the Coroner's Inquest Instructions that witnesses at an inquest were to be those with first-hand knowledge. If that's true, why wasn't Deputy Singer at the inquest?

Det. Quick didn't have first-hand information of what had happened before he arrived. About those events he could only tell us what he was told, and that's not what a Coroner's Jury is to hear.

Kurt was actually shot in the back (isn't the chest commonly referred to as the front of the torso?) and the bullet traveled upwards from the right side of his back to the left shoulder. While the time he was shot was not estimated, it had to be before the 9-1-1 call to the Sheriff's Department. Det. Quick said the Smiths panicked and concocted an initial home invasion story, but that blew up pretty quickly. For how long did Timothy Smith delay before calling 9-1-1?

The Complaint that is the basis for prostitution and pimping charges against the Smiths indicates a $40 transaction, but a $50 bill was found in the bathroom near the front entrance. After the inquest concluded, an Assistant State's Attorney said that you almost never get fingerprints off money. A condom package was found in the bedroom, but there was no mention of a used condom. Was that package even from that night?

Did they attempt to lift prints from the $50.00 bill or from any of the money in Kimberly Smith's purse or vehicle or from money in Timothy Smith's vehicle? Supposedly there was $600 cash that Kimberly had. Where did that come from? Was it released to her? Is the court-ordered Stay on the release of her property still in effect?

If Kimberly and Timothy Smith attempted to conceal the crime or discussed what to do with Kurt's body, why isn't she charged with a crime more serious that prostitution?

National Night Out Against Crime - August 2

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office has joined forces with the McHenry County Conservation District Police Department to host National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday August 2, 2011 from 6 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the Harrison Benwell Conservation Area in Wonder Lake (7055 McCullom Lake Road). Various, free, interactive events have been planned throughout the night for the community to enjoy and participate in.

All communities of McHenry County are invited to attend this family oriented event. Free food which includes: hot dogs, popcorn, donuts, and pop will be provided to those in attendance. The Sheriff’s Office and Conservation District Police Department will have current squads, MARV, motorcycles, and police equipment on display. The McHenry County Conservation District will provide a motorcycle precision riding demonstration for attendees to observe their skills. During the night, the Sheriff’s Office K9 unit will provide a police K9 demonstration. Attendees can also gather additional information and assistance with:
• Crime Prevention / Child Passenger Safety Information
• Sweeping Crime Out of our Parks Program
• Electronic Fingerprinting ID System for Children
• Blood Pressure Checks
• Other programs and services provided by your fire and police agencies

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rules on the Square

Got a call today from a Woodstock resident who told me about tickets being issued in the Park on the Square to persons standing on the sidewalks. Apparently, they are being charged with Loitering. I thought loitering laws went down the drain years ago.

This person said that the tickets are being tossed out of court by judges.

Anyone know more?

As a refresher, here's what you can't do in the Park on the Woodstock Square.


"It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in any of the following activities in the park in the Square:

"A. Playing ball, riding skateboards, riding bicycles, serving or gliding frisbees or other similar sailing or gliding devices.

"B. For any group of persons to congregate in the park in the Square in such a manner that free access along paved sidewalks is restricted, prohibited or blocked.

"C. To ride any bicycle, skateboard or other devices on any adjacent sidewalk to the park in the Square. (Ord. 1365, 4-20-1977)"
Good manners and respect for others would pretty much cover it. If somone comes along on the sidewalk, move over. Whether they are young or old, male or female, adult or child. I suppose you can claim your half of the sidewalk, but your half doesn't come out of the middle.

Does this mean the police will ticket a father and child playing catch (or trying to)? Is that two tickets - one for each? I saw a father and son a few weeks ago playing with a Frisbee. At the time I thought the kid should not have been running back and forth in the gazebo to catch it, but so what? Good thing that one of Woodstock's finest didn't come along that day.

And watch where you ride your bikes. There are plenty of signs to alert you to where you cannot ride your bicycle on sidewalks near (or in) the Square.

Kids need to realize that they caused the "No bikes on Square sidewalks" rules. Had they gotten off their bikes or slowed down around pedestrians, it wouldn't have been a big deal.

The Square is for all. Come and enjoy it. Use common sense and good manners. Don't drive away customers, or the Square (and Woodstock) will become a ghost town.

Northwest Herald gets it right (wrong)

Columnist Jana Thompson got it right this morning, when she wrote in Views that it's important to check for spelling, especially in headlines. She cited "food pantry" as an example where care is needed to avoid a reference to underwear.

Jana's column was on Page 2A. And what was right across the open newspaper in the right-hand column on Page 3A?

"Headstone providers focus on new cemetary" (sic)

Despite the spelling in the headline (prepared locally at the Northwest Herald?), the wire report spelled cemetery correctly two times in the short article.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Put some teeth in the auto insurance law

What do you think? Is this a good idea?

Dallas doing it right!

Has Dallas, TX got a good idea or what?? 

Recently, the City of Dallas , Texas , passed an ordinance stating that, if a driver is pulled over by law enforcement and is not able to provide proof of insurance, the car is towed.

To retrieve the car after being impounded, they must show proof of insurance to have the car released. This has made it easy for the City of Dallas to remove uninsured cars.

Shortly after the "No Insurance" ordinance was passed, the Dallas impound lots began to fill up and were full after only nine days. 80 + % of the impounded cars were driven by illegals.

Not only must they provide proof of insurance to have their car released, they have to pay for the cost of the tow, a $350 fine, and $20 for every day their car is kept in the lot.

Accident rates are going down and... Dallas' solution gets uninsured drivers off the road WITHOUT making them show proof of nationality.

Wonder how the ACLU or the Justice Department will get around this one. 

HPC anyone (else)?

On the Community Calendar on the homepage for the City of Woodstock was tonight's meeting at 7PM of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). This is a public body of concerned citizens who keep an eye on Woodstock's Historic Preservation District.

If you look at the Calendar on Tuesday or after, the meeting will be gone. The City doesn't archive meetings or retain them on the Calendar for historical value. It would only take a click on a box in a menu to retain meetings on the Calendar, as the County does.

This Commission meets monthly on the fourth Monday, and the front door at City Hall is open in advance of the starting time. Except tonight.

I had hoped to hear some discussion about the recent joint HPC and City Council meeting. And I also wanted to voice an opinion about the erection of an 80' cell phone tower right outside the boundary of the Historic District without HPC and/or City Council action.

But the front door at City Hall was locked. What? No meeting tonight? Later I checked the Agenda in a different place on the City's website and learned that the meeting was canceled.

Why wasn't the cancellation important enough to put on the Calendar itself?

Gone, but not going quietly

This email from a friend (a fellow transplant to Illinois) is worth sharing.

"Former State Senator and Republican Cook County Board President candidate Roger Keats and his wife Tina are leaving Illinois to live in Texas. They bid farewell to their Illinois friends in a Wilmette Beacon article (March 2011) and with this letter this weekend, saying they're 'voting with their feet and their wallets':


"As we leave Illinois for good, I wanted to say goodbye to my friends and wish all of you well. I am a lifelong son of the heartland and proud of it. After 60 years, I leave Illinois with a heavy heart. BUT enough is enough! The leaders of Illinois refuse to see we cant continue going in the direction we are and expect people who have options to stay here. I remember when Illinois had 25 congressmen. In 2012 we will have 18. Compared to the rest of the country we have lost 1/4rd of our population. Dont blame the weather, because I love 4 seasons.

"Illinois just sold still more bonds and our credit rating is so bad we pay higher interest rates than junk bonds! Junk Bonds! Illinois is ranked 50th for fiscal policy; 47th in job creation; 1st in unfunded pension liabilities; 2nd largest budget deficit; 1st in failing schools; 1st in bonded indebtedness; highest sales tax in the nation; most judges indicted (Operations Greylord and Gambat); and 5 of our last 9 elected governors have been indicted. That is more than the other 49 states added together! Then add 32 Chicago Aldermen and (according to the Chicago Tribune) over 1000 state and municipal employees indicted. The corruption tax is a real cost of doing business. We are the butt of jokes for stand up comics.

"We live in the most corrupt big city, in the most corrupt big county in the most corrupt state in America. I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks. A day rarely passes without an article about the corruption and incompetence. Chicago even got caught rigging the tests to hire police and fire! Our Crook County CORPORATE property tax system is intentionally corrupt. The Democrat State Chairman who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House (Spkr. Mike Madigan) and the most senior alderman in Chicago each make well over a million dollars a year putting the fix in for their clients tax assessments.

"We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax while Illinois just went up 67%. Texas sales tax is ½ of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job producers, tax payers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.

"In The Hill Country of Texas (near Austin and San Antonio ) we bought a gracious home on almost 2 acres with a swimming pool. It is new, will cost us around 40% of what our home in Wilmette just sold for and the property taxes are 1/3rd of what they are here. Crook County's property tax system is a disaster: Wilmette homes near ours sell for 50% more and their property taxes are ½ of ours. Our assessed home value was 50% higher than the sales price. The system is unfair and incompetent.

"Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20% and our local schools have still another referendum on the ballot to increase taxes over 20% in one year. I could go on, but enough is enough. I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us. I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent and cost effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets. My best to all of you and Good luck!"

Missing signs could kill

This morning's Northwest Herald reports that a vandalism spree in the Harvard area could result in some nasty crashes and possible fatalities. What's going on?

Vandals are removing and knocking down stop signs and stop-sign warning signs in Dunham Township. David Nolan, Dunham Township Road Commissioner, is fed up. And you should be, too.

Imagine busting down a rural road and approaching an intersection without a sign. You assume (careful about that) that cross-traffic has a stop sign. There are few, if any, completely unprotected intersections in McHenry County. So you don't slow down, or you slow down just a little.

And either you nail a car broadside, or you get broad-sided!

Where has this occurred (so far)?
Bunker Hill and Busse Roads
Marengo Road and Heritage Lane
Tomlin and Root Roads
and there may be other intersections that weren't mentioned in the article.

Where is Crime Stoppers for McHenry County (CSMC)? Why isn't it offering a reward for arrest of the jerks pulling these stunts?

CSMC hauled in over $50,000 in just three years from the McHenry County Circuit Court, and it paid out only $3,400 for 12 tips in 2009. It must be sitting on a pile of money, and I've spent more than a year trying to find out how much CSMC paid out in 2010 and in 2008.

You'd think I was trying to crack the code for the black budget in the U.S. Department of Defense! Will CSMC wait until someone is killed and then offer a Reward?

If you see an intersection in Dunham County that used to have signs and doesn't (or ought to have signs), call Commissioner Nolan immediately at 815.943.5751

And if you see someone stealing or driving over a signpost or sign, immediately call the Sheriff's Department at 815.338.2144. You might even just call 9-1-1, since an unguarded intersection instantly becomes a dangerous road condition. If you see an unguarded intersection in the middle of the night, report it and request a deputy to respond and erect a temporary stop sign.

If they don't have them, a dispatcher or deputy should call the Road Commissioner on his after-hours phone and get him out of bed to take a temporary sign to the intersection. A little lost sleep is much better than a funeral three days later.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Help wanted at MCSD - Chaplain

Rumor has it that the Sheriff's Department is looking to hire a chaplain for, maybe, 15-20 hours/week. Oh, really?

What are the qualifications? A specific religion? Non-denominational? Evangelical? How would one chaplain accommodate Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.? And what about the different branches of Christianity? Bilingual? Trilingual?

What if an inmate wanted spiritual counseling, but not religious counseling?

Aren't there already ministers or religious groups that offer religious contact to prisoners - without charge?

Is there a job posting? Trying to find employment openings on the County website ( is like trying to find one piece for a puzzle. Where does the County hide job openings?

A while back I wrote about one religious group that offered financial help to inmates without funds. They would present a check for, say, $500, and the jail employee would put $10 in accounts of 50 prisoners.

Then somebody at the Sheriff's Department got the bright idea that the group ought to submit separate $10 money orders for the prisoners - and mail each one separately!

Does this look to you like harassment and such a high extent of lack of cooperation that the donations might dry up?

And speaking of $10, does the Sheriff's Dept. really charge an inmate $10 for two Tylenol tablets?

What does 213 have to do with Beth Bentley?

Week 61. Beth Bentley has been missing for 61 weeks!

What does 213 have to do with the disappearance of Beth Bentley, who vanished sometime between May 20-24 in 2010? - now over a year ago.


213 is the address on Route 31 in McHenry of an office building. This building at one time held offices of PLM Title Company. The building is being renovated now for a division of Centegra.

It probably won't be long before the PLM sign is gone.

As a legal secretary in a McHenry law firm, did Beth ever have occasion to come in contact with Pamela Williams or Patricia Johnson, both of whom were sentenced to ten years in IDOC for their roles in a home mortgage fraud scheme? Williams and Johnson were accused of diverting clients' money to their own use.

Would any of their clients ever have had any dealings with PLM? Could Beth have known how PLM was operating? Was she about to talk? Was she a weak link for any reason? Could there have been a reason to "arrange" for her not to be able to tell about it?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Joseph's Market damaged in storm

Joseph's Market in Crystal Lake was damaged in the storm so, before you trot over there for the week-end's shopping, you might want to phone and be sure they are open.

Runaway man found after 30 years

Not every disappearance is the crime it might first be thought to be.

On May 11, 1979, Arthur Gerald Jones left to run an errand. He had been a commodities broker at the Chicago Board of Trade and reportedly had a major gambling problem. He disappeared.

After living in Florida and California and using various names, he surfaced in Las Vegas as Joseph Richard Sandelli. Now 79, he's back in hot water for using false names.

You can read all about it at,0,7638328.story

He had been declared dead in 1986, and Social Security made survivor payments. Why he wasn't caught up with sooner is anyone's guess.

Gallery in the Garden

The 2011 Gallery in the Garden will be held in Woodstock on July 30-31. It's a huge event and growing every year.

Hours are 10:00AM-5:00PM, and the location is 660 Lawndale Avenue, just around the corner from Royal Victorian Bed & Breakfast (the "Groundhog Day house").

This year's designated charity is CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and the artists will donate a portion of the proceeds to CASA. Thank you!

For information visit

Friday, July 22, 2011

Read why he carries a gun...

"The Gun Is Civilization" by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.

People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation... and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret.)

So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.

Timothy Smith's other charges

In the Jail Court (Rights Court) hearing yesterday for Timothy Smith, accused murderer of Kurt Milliman, Judge Condon stated that he had had his clerk check for other cases. Two had been found, and Judge Condon was going to have those brought into this court.

What were they?

Case No. 10CM002617 is a case in which Smith was charged with battery, after some type of altercation occurred on October 31, 2010. According to the Complaint in that case, Smith "knowingly made contact of an insulting nature with Daniel Hart, in that he slapped the wrist of Daniel Hart and shoved Danile Hart in the chest with 2 open hands."

Who is Daniel Hart? He owns D.C. Cobbs on Main St., just off the Woodstock Square.

Wrapping up that case with a murder case means, I suspect, that the battery charge will never be tried. If Smith is convicted on the murder charge, this case will get nolle prossed. Just keep watching...

Case No. 10CM001213 happened about five months earlier. On May 21, 2010, Smith was charged with "obstructing identification" and resisting a peace officer. That case has three Counts:

I. Smith told a Woodstock cop that his name was "Tim Bob" while he was being detained in a criminal investigation;
II. Smith is charged with pushing and shoving Woodstock Ofc. Kopulos and fleeing the scene;
III. Smith was charged for refusing to place his hands behind his back before being handcuffed.

Smith has an attorney on this last case, and Judge Condon expects Matthew Haiduk to show up at Smith's next court date on August 18th. These charges will probably get tossed, too. Just a guess on my part.

Smith's case was moved to the Jail Court after, according to an article in the Northwest Herald, threats were made against Smith. Oh, wait; threats weren't made. There were rumors of threats. Judge Condon made the change in an order on Motion by the Court, rather than upon a motion by either the defense or the prosecutor. And he did it outside the courtroom.

Personally, I would liked to have heard the arguments in court. If the Sheriff's Department knows of threats, then let's hear about them in open court, not in a statement from Undersheriff Zinke to a reporter. Let the Undersheriff be sworn in to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and then let him testify why he believes added security is needed.

There is already a huge gaggle of armed, uniformed court security officers at the main entrance of the courthouse every morning. Over-staffing is evident. There must be a huge budget for these officers, who are not deputies or sworn peace officers. They are security guards, although many, if not all, are former police officers or deputies.

The "C.E.R.T." corrections officer in the Jail Court yesterday was mostly engaged in informal conversation with the other two corrections officers and seldom had his eye on the defendant or anyone else who could have created a disturbance. Did they think Sara Sutschek or I would bust through the glass for a private interview with Smith? We didn't try that upstairs in open court, where there had been no C.E.R.T. officer. As I recall, Smith hadn't even been brought into the open courtroom in handcuffs or leg irons. What kept him from busting out right there?

Smith's wife, Kimberly, was in court this morning and her case was routinely continued for a month, to August 19. This one will probably get to trial in 2013 or 2014, if continuances and scheduling run true to form.She agreed to be fingerprinted as part of a major-crimes investigation. And out the door she went.

No one acknowledged Smith's birthday in court on Thursday, when he turned 27. Kimberly turned 29 last week.

Solving Beth Bentley's disappearance

What kind of detective work is it going to take to crack the Beth Bentley case?

Maybe we ought to retain Canton PD's Officer Harless and fly his Glock .40 and him to Woodstock. Sorry - couldn't resist...

Would a close analysis of telephone records be a good starting point? How about a grid (or extra large spreadsheet) of calls between Beth and close friends and family? Like, calls from her to them? And calls from them to her? And calls between the others?

Why would there be a high volume of calls between people who had been believed to be together? If they weren't together, where were they?

A large, side-by-side spreadsheet might reveal some very interesting facts. And raise some very serious questions.

Like why would one person call another and dial one call right after another, as if frantic to reach the other party? Why would calls be placed at strange hours?

And on the flip side, why might there be long stretches of no calls?

I've seen the phone records. There are very suspicious patterns. If the user of the phone were confronted about the pattern, what explanation might that user offer?

Of course, the time for this was a year ago. But it's never too late.

If you like Swiss cheese, you'll like the stories that have been fed to the public so far. But, like Swiss cheese left out in the heat too long, these stories are getting moldy. It's time for the truth and time to find Beth.

Police officer threatens driver

If you want to see a chilling example of an out-of-control police officer, watch this video from an in-car camera of Canton (Ohio) Police Department's Officer Daniel Harless. In a June 8th traffic stop he dealt with a passenger and ignored the driver for about five minutes. When he got to the driver and got him out of the car, he learned that the driver had a concealed carry permit and was armed.

Harless went ballistic. The language on the video is raw.

It will be interesting to learn whether Harless lost his job over that contact. Not only should he have lost his job, but he should have been charged with the crimes he committed. An anger management course is never going to get the job done with that guy.

Watch the video. It's on the website of Ohioans for Concealed Carry. See if you can even get through the whole thing. Notice how the officer failed to secure the driver and how he searched the vehicle without permission. Decide how dangerous you think Harless is. Then call Chief Dean McKimm at 330.489.3100 and let him know.

An update on the Ohioans for Concealed Carry website indicates that Harless was relieved of all duties, but it didn't say he was fired.

Actually, Harless reminds me of a Chicago Police officer on the O'Hare detail several years ago. I filed a complaint against that officer, and IAD sat on it for seven months, giving the officer time to retire; and then IAD closed the complaint because the officer had retired. He should have been fired before he could retire, costing him his pension.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Assn. targets Madison (Wisc.) P.D.

The following was received from Nik Clark, Chairman and President, Wisconsin Carry, Inc., an organization dedicated to open and concealed carry. Visit its website at

"Wisconsin Carry has filed a second lawsuit in response to the 'Madison 5' Culvers incident from last fall.

"To Recap:

"On Saturday, September 18, 2010, five (5) members of WCI met for dinner at a Culvers Restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. Each of these individuals was openly carrying a handgun when they arrived at the restaurant, entered the restaurant and ordered and ate their meals. At or about the time that the WCI members finished their meal and left the restaurant, a woman in her car observed them openly carrying handguns and called 911 to report it to the City of Madison Police Department. The 911 caller informed the dispatcher that she didn't know if it was an emergency, the men were doing nothing wrong and appeared totally relaxed, weren't threatening anyone and the restaurant was full of people but they each had sidearms and she didn't know if that was legal.

"Upon being informed by the 911 dispatcher that open-carry is legal the woman stated 'then there is no problem and its not an emergency'. The dispatcher then suggests that if the woman is concerned or disturbed then it becomes a problem and the woman says 'no they weren't threatening anybody or acting threatening'.
When the dispatcher informs the caller they are sending officers she says 'well, I feel bad then because they weren't doing anything wrong.'

"Listen to the 911 call here:

"As these WCI members left the restaurant, they were accosted by eight(8) City of Madison police officers, who demanded that they produce identification, and threatened that if they did not do so, they would be arrested. From the time that these WCI members arrived at the restaurant up to and including the time that the police officers confronted them and demanded that they produce identification or face arrest, none of the WCI members violated any law, nor were they involved in any violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct, nor did they through their conduct cause or provoke any disturbance.

"Wisconsin law does not allow officers to arrest for merely refusing to provide ID. 2 days later, Madison Police admitted the error in arresting and charging our members with obstruction, rescinded those tickets and instead, despite there being no disturbance, and no laws broken, issued disorderly conduct charges to all 5 of our members.

"Wisconsin Carry filed our first federal lawsuit against the Madison Police Department 10 days after the original incident to challenge the Madison Police Departments unconstitutional policy of arresting law-abiding OC'ers if a call/complaint comes in.  That lawsuit remains in front of the Federal Court in Madison.

"This second lawsuit is being filed as the disorderly conduct charges against the Madison 5 were dropped this past spring.  In this lawsuit WCI seeks damages on behalf of the Madison 5 for the unlawful detainment/ arrest including legal costs associated with preparing for the defense of the unlawfully issued disorderly
conduct citations.

"A copy of this lawsuit can be viewed here:

"Wisconsin Carry, a 100% volunteer non-profit corporation, will continue to use the federal court system to seek remedy for and deter instances where the rights of law-abiding Wisconsin residents who carry in the manner of their choosing, open or concealed (as of Nov. 1st when the new concealed carry law goes into effect) are violated."

Prior to the incident involving the "Madison 5" I had read an opinion from the Wisconsin Attorney General that a person carrying openly could not be charged with disorderly conduct just because he was carrying a gun, if he was not himself creating a disturbance. That certainly is a sensible and reasonable position. Open carry is the law in Wisconsin, and concealed carry will become the law on November 1.

Verizon leases WFRD ground for cell tower

The Woodstock Fire Rescue District (WFRD) has leased a 25' x 50' portion (1250 sq. ft.) of its Judd Street (Station 1) property to Verizon for a new 88-foot cell phone tower. The deal is done, and construction has begun.

In response to a FOIA request to inspect the documentation for the deal, WFRD responded promptly and fully, providing not only inspection but a copy of all the documentation (far more than 50 pages) without charge. Minutes of the January 27, 2011, Trustees' meeting reflect that Verizon had contacted WFRD in October 2010 to open discussion about a tower. Those Minutes suggest that WFRD's communication ability will improve with construction of the tower, as fire vehicles do not get a signal until they are out on the road. (Do they need a radio signal, while the vehicles are in the station?)

At the March 1, 2011, Trustees' meeting the agreement with Verizon was approved and officers of WFRD were authorized to sign it.

In case you want to watch the tower going up, here is the timeline:

7/12-7/15 Ground preparation and building out of caisson forms.
7/19-7-22 Drill and pour tower foundation; drill and pour shelter foundation piers. Directional boring for Com Ed power and AT&T services.
7/25-7/29 Excavate for install all site grounding, utility frames, etc.
8/2-8/5 Shelter delivery, tower delivery and tower stacking
8/8-8/12 Installation of antennas, cabling and site install completion
8/15-8/19 Site clean-up and completion on asphalt repair with their future parking lot project repairs.

It's not every day that you can see a tall tower going up right in your own town. If you go, be sure to stay out by the curb on Judd Street and away from the doors of the fire station. If you want to go closer, be sure to get permission first.

I found it interesting that only City administrative approval was needed. Verizon and WFRD did not have to go to the City Council for approval. No public hearings were required. Site plans were submitted to the City and routinely approved by City employees.

The City may have recommended to WFRD to inform the neighbors, but WFRD was not required to do so. The commercial neighbors probably couldn't have cared less.

But what about their neighbors to the northwest? Emerson Loft townhomes are located north and west of the fire station. These townhomes sell for $160,-350,000. More in a good real estate market. Would the developer or the homeowners have cared?

The monopole tower will be 80 feet high (88' with appurtenances). Atop the pole will be several antennae. (Click on the photo to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

Personally, I think there should have been a Public Hearing or at least more public exposure. One public notice was printed in The Woodstock Independent in the February 23, 2011 issue.

If you think the City should take a bigger hand in approval of cell phone towers, then let the City Manager, Mayor and members of the City Council know now - before the next tower comes to town. You can find their e-mail addresses at or just call City Hall at 815-338-4300.

Is race on ticket important?

How important is it for a police officer or deputy sheriff to record race information accurately on the back side of a ticket?

It really shouldn't be a big deal. You just mark it down. White? No problem. Black? No problem. What about this one?

Last name: Ramirez
Speaks English with a heavy Spanish accent
Says he's from Mexico
Physically appears to be Mexican or Hispanic

Race? Hispanic or White?

Why would a deputy mark 700 likely-Hispanic drivers as White? OK, you miss on a few, right? 2%? 3%? But 700?

Check out for the Police Law Institute lesson on the importance of accurate reporting of race and the consequence of incorrect reporting.

How does McHenry County Sheriff discipline deputies with a high error count on racial statistical studies? Do they get promoted or disciplined?

Sheriff Nygren has said he didn't fire Deputy Zane Seipler for complaining about racial profiling, yet that's exactly the reason given to Federal District Court Judge Mahoney by Nygren's lawyer! Who's right? Nygren or his attorney?

My money is on the attorney, who can be assumed to have told the truth in court.

Mixin Mingle opens in Woodstock

Mixin Mingle. What it's not... it's not a singles' club.

Now, what is it?

It's a place where you can do stuff. Have fun. Mix. And mingle.

Check out and stop by 231 Main Street, Woodstock.

Tim Smith's previous, but open, charges

In Rights Court this morning Judge Condon said that he had had his clerk check for other open cases against Timothy S. Smith, and two had been found. He is having those cases transferred to his court.

Smith is in custody in the McHenry County Jail on a first-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of Kurt Milliman, 48, on May 28, 2011.

On October 31, 2010, Smith was charged with battery by Woodstock Police. Case No. 10CM 002617 started through the "system".

On May 21, 2010, Smith was charged with Obstructing Identification and two counts of interfering with a peace officer. Case No. 10CM001213 is a Woodstock PD complaint and being prosecuted by the McHenry County State's Attorney. If you want to see why the Circuit Court is backlogged and jammed to the gills is cases, look at the history in the court records. Smith's attorney on this case is Matthew Haiduk.

Continuances on the Defendant's Motion were granted on June 23, 2010, July 21, 2010 (that's one year ago today), August 18, 2010, and September 15, 2010. Then a jury trial was requested on October 13. Then Continuances on Defendant's Motions were granted on November 10, December 8, January 5, February 9, March 9, March 16, April 13. On May 10, a jury trial was finally set.

Two weeks later Smith allegedly shot Kurt Milliman.

What is the wheels of justice had been oiled up sooner and if this (and the other case) had been resolved on a timely basis? What if the approach of our court system was, "You know what? We're not fooling around for months. Get ready for trial - next month!" And then stick to it. Most of the cases are not that complicated. They don't take months and months to prepare for.

Judges should stop letting attorneys stall for more time! All judges should demand reasons for continuances from attorneys and then hold them accountable at the next hearing.

T. Smith court location moved

The accused murderer of Kurt Milliman has had his court appearance location moved. Although even through this morning the Circuit Court records show that Timothy S. Smith's case (11CF000520) will be heard in Courtroom 302, the records are wrong. If you showed up there, you were in the wrong place.

Smith now will appear in Rights Court, which is conducted in the McHenry County Jail building. A Motion was approved by the judge on July 19 to move hearings to the Rights Court. He appeared there at 9:00AM today with his public defender, and the only business that was conducted was to continue the case to August 18th at 9:00AM.

What a total waste of time for the judge and the attorneys, both from the public defender's office and the office of the State's Attorney!

Because the audience and observers of the Rights Court are separated from the courtroom by a wall and security glass, the sound is amplified into the observation area. Judge Condon's voice was audible and understandable.

Because of the amplification system in the Rights Court I wasn't able to understand Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs. He turned appropriately to face Judge Condon, and apparently the microphone did not pick up clearly what he was saying.

When the Public Defender spoke, her lips moved but no sound came into the observation room. Was her microphone turned off? Wouldn't you think someone would check the sound system?

Three corrections officers were in the hearing room, including one C.E.R.T. officer dressed in his SWAT gear. I guess he was worried enough about someone that he wore his armored vest into the courtroom. Was it pride or swagger? He was busy chatting up the other COs and often had his back to the inmate. I guess he wasn't too worried about the Northwest Herald reporter or me, who were the only observers.

Online court records should reflect the correct location for the hearings. "Rights Court" is a menu choice for the data-entry personnel, because it has been used in other cases.

Initially, Smith was appointed a public defender because the judge was concerned that he was appearing on a murder charge without representation. If Smith has not ever filed a financial affidavit with the Court, is he entitled to a public defender? Does he have assets or is a private lawyer available to him? How long will he go on a First-Degree Murder charge with a public defender?

See the next article (above) about Smith's other two charges.

Future organ donor - BU 3641

My attention to this motorcycle was attracted this morning by its noise. Not the rumble of a Harley,  but the whining of a high-RPM engine coming up behind me while I was stopped on Route 47 by McDonald's. The motorcycle followed behind me as I passed the bp station, and then I could hear it accelerating. (To enlarge the image, click on it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

Looking in the rearview mirror, I saw him come up close behind me, look back over his left shoulder for what I thought was too long (had I had to brake, he would have smashed right into the back of my bug), and then he swerved sharply into the inside lane and cranked it. Only to have to immediately slow down.

The rider turned right at McConnell Road, and I figured he worked at the bike shop there, so I continued straight, turned around on Wanda Lane and headed back north to finish errands.

And there, at the red light on McConnell Road, was the same bike, waiting to turn left. I was able to turn there and get this picture, along with the motorcycle license plate, BU 3641. I think the operator might be camera-shy; he didn't seem to like having his picture taken. Oh, yes, and there was that gesture with his left hand that I didn't get a picture of.

Most of the way north on 47 he didn't speed. He caught a red light at Country Club Road but, instead of waiting for a green light, he made a right and then immediately made a U-turn to the westbound, right-turn lane, slowed and turned right back onto Route 47. Once he got north of Country Club Road, he really cranked it to pass traffic in the through lane before reaching the lane-merge just north of Jewel-Osco. I guessed his speed 45-50MPH through that congested area, although I was well behind him and stopped by the red light. He turned right on Irving and went out of sight toward McHenry Avenue.

He'll probably buy the farm one of these days, and then his friends will say, "But he was a careful rider." Not!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Non-Gov't. use of Gov't. computers - OK or not?

To what extent can government-provided computers in government offices be used for non-government business, such as promoting a golf tournament fund-raiser?

Is it a big deal? Should it be a big deal? Shouldn't it be handled off-site, from a home computer, and only to home e-mail addresses of recipients? What official government purpose is served by promoting a golf tournament?

But it's not only the use of the computer equipment and e-mail system, it's the government employee's time - that time that the taxpayers are paying for? And then the on-duty time of possibly 400 employees to open the email!

Is it okay to promote a golf-outing fundraiser of a fraternal organization, set for this Friday, July 22, by using the computer and the communications system of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? This golf outing and benefit for McHenry County Sheriff's Lodge 192 of the PB & PA (Police Benevolent and Protective Association) will be held at Plum Tree National Golf Course, located off U.S. 14 between Woodstock and Harvard.

The PB&PA is a fraternal organization of some deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. Not all of them. There is a second fraternal organization, the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police), but they don't, as I hear it, enjoy the luxury of promotion via the Sheriff's Department computer and communication system.

The July 8, 2011, email from a Sheriff's Department employee at work (well, maybe during lunch time (12:07PM)) describes what recipients will get for their $90.00 - 18 holes of golf, range balls, lunch, dinner, chance to win a door prize, silent auction, 50/50, etc.

Q. Where will the money from the day go?
A. Help to "families who have fallen on financial hardship due to illnesses, house fires, loss of employment, etc."

The e-mail went to "Sheriff Staff" (is that all 400?); some retired former employees; cc's to law enforcement officers at other departments, such as Algonquin, Cary, Crystal Lake, Fox River Grove, Harvard, Hebron, Huntley, Island Lake, Johnsburg, Lake in the Hills, Lakemoor, Marengo, McCullom Lake, McHenry, MCCD, Oakwood Hills and Richmond. Other persons, elected and otherwise, also got a copy. (Didn't see Woodstock on the list.)

A Registration/Sponsorship form was attached. Is the golf outing planning being conducted in-house at MCSD; for example, maybe on "company" time? The email did refer recipients with questions to call home phone numbers of two persons, rather than their Department extensions. Thanks for small favors.

Borders to liquidate

I'm sorry to see Borders going out of business. The remaining 400 stores will close, and 11,000 employees will be out of work.

I loved this comment to the story on Huffington Post:

"The end of Borders is partly due to YOU. You know who you are. You spent all day here, reading a pile of books, using the bathroom and the free wifi and spent NOTHING. You used us as a free babysitter­, dumping your children in the Kids Department to destroy the toys while you flipped through magazines, and spent NOTHING. You cost us payroll cleaning up after you every day, and spent NOTHING. Where will you go now?"

Think of it, the next time you are in Jewel-Osco or Walgreen's and see customers reading magazines that they won't buy or letting their kids play with toys they won't buy. The merchandise is For Sale, folks. If you want to read the magazines, go to the library or subscribe to them!

Beth Bentley rumors, myths, wild guesses

Beth Bentley, 41 when she went missing somewhere in Illinois on the week-end of May 20-23, 2010, is a mystery.

Some people care.
Some people, who never knew her, care.
Some don't care.
Some - well, are they afraid to care?

Or, are they just afraid?

Some think she disappeared from Centralia, Ill., where her friend, co-worker and week-end traveling companion and admitted sometime alibi, says she dropped Beth off near the Amtrak station. Since Jenn Wyatt said that Beth "never intended to take the train", the presumption is that Beth was going to hook up with someone in Centralia and then meet Jenn on Monday back near Woodstock, so they could return together and Beth could get home before her husband, Scott Bentley, got home from work that day. At least, that's what Jenn told me on June 10th.

Some think she may never have gotten out of Woodstock on the evening of May 20th.

Others think "something" happened to her in Mount Vernon on May 21 or May 22.

Who cares about Beth? And says so? Mostly, people in southern Illinois and a few in McHenry County who never knew her. And a few who did.

Are there some who don't care? Well, I met some yesterday. I guess, for now, they can remain nameless. I'm sure they'd prefer that. They are in a position to help. They won't. It wouldn't even cost them anything. But they'd have to do something. It would take about 15 minutes. But they won't.

Now, to the next group. Some who care - who probably do care. But who might be afraid to show that they care. Or who might have information that would help with the investigation, but who are afraid to provide it.

Who might they be? They know. They'll read this. Consider this...

If you are "dirty" yourself, you might be afraid to speak out. Let's say, as a hypothetical case, that Beth died from an overdose. And then those around her panicked and hid her body. Fourteen months ago. Let's say they know where Beth got the drugs, or at least that she did. Maybe they shared in using the drugs, at that time or at another time. They could provide information, but then they might get charged. Like, with drug use or possession, or with concealment of a body. So they keep quiet. And they hope the others keep quiet.

Or maybe they are told to keep quiet. Who might tell them to keep quiet?

Somebody else who was there. Someone else involved in using. Or supplying. What if they are threatened with harm, if they talk? Or, what if someone threatens one of their children? (probably worse than threatening the parent)

What if they tell their attorney? Must he turn them in? If it's a past crime, then he would be a defense attorney and the information might be subject to attorney-client privilege. While he might have a legal obligation to report plans for a future crime by his client to police, he might be able to avoid having to report knowledge of a past crime. Would that include a death, concealment of a body, supplying drugs that resulted in a death?

Or maybe there are other people close to Beth who are drug users. They could be afraid to speak out, because they risk being exposed for their own drug use. Whether they use cocaine, heroin or marijuana, it's all illegal. And, of course, they cops are going to ask them where they got it. Locally? Maybe right here in Woodstock? Yeah, folks. Right here in Woodstock!

There are more holes in the story of Beth's being missing than in a brick of Swiss cheese. Most likely, she is not "just" missing. Yet the Woodstock Police continue to call this an Endangered Missing Person case, but without disclosing why "endangered" applies. Nothing has ever been released to indicate that she was "in danger", or that she left without an adequate supply of any prescribed medications, or was in need of ongoing medical treatment, or had any mental or emotional diagnosis (dementia? bipolar? OCD?).

Some thought Beth was pregnant and expecting by the end of 2010. And then that she'd show back up in Woodstock, with or without baby in tow, and just say, "Hi, folk. I'm back. Miss me?" Well, we can cross off part of that one now.

What will it take to convert this case from Missing Person to a crime investigation? Are facts or evidence needed? Or is a reasonable opinion of experienced law enforcement professionals enough? Could they say, "Based on evidence (or lack thereof), we believe a crime has been committed"?

Could a key person soon slip away and get out of reach? Is it time to start pulling people back in for "interviews" and punching holes in the first stories they told?

Will a lawyer say, "Don't talk. You might be a suspect." Over how many heads might a net like that fall?

A K-9 stadium - in your lifetime?

I'm still laughing over Monday's article in the Northwest Herald about the K-9 baseball field. That one was worthy of framing.


Merryman site manager Rich Zirk was quoted as saying, "They're (the K-9 team dreamer-uppers) one wealthy baseball fan away from being open." Man! I am really stretching to avoid a candid response to that one, and it wouldn't be polite!"

I'll give the writer of the article a break; she hasn't been on the Woodstock beat very long. She wrote, "the idea was to have the ball field open by this year." Nahhh, Chelsea... please go back and read the pitch to the City Council. That pitch should have been a called strike or hit foul down the sidelines. Instead, it resulted in a home-run for EquityOne Sports Development and Merryman.

The pressure was put on the City Council and Mayor to rush through an approval. There was a land deal by Merryman that "had" to be made - and made fast. But definitely not for the City's benefit. So the Council rushed it through with what was probably a record-breaking number of Conditions - fifty (50) of them. Whoever heard of rushing through a development with 50 Conditions??? I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now.

When was that? Fall of 2009? Wasn't opening day to be in June 2010? Well, that one came and went. And so did 2011. And so will 2012.

The developers, like those trying to push through a project in Lakewood, are wanting to play with OPM. You know that team; right? OPM - the Other People's Money team. Not their own money; somebody else's money.

Oh, and that "one wealthy baseball fan"? There's a reason he's wealthy, and why he'll stay that way. He avoids letting others get rich at his expense!

But let me thank the Northwest Herald for showing readers what Merryman has really done to the land behind the berm they built to keep it out of view. I'm reminded of clear-cutting projects. They leave a row of trees along the highway, so that passersby cannot see the devastation just beyond.

City Council action ought to shock residents

Will anyone else be shocked by the decision of the Woodstock City Council last night to blow $2,000,000 on the intersection of U.S. 14 and Doty Road, where the dream of a baseball stadium still glows faintly in the minds of seven people? Those seven? The Mayor of Woodstock and the City Council. Assuming that all seven nodded in favor, which the Northwest Herald article doesn't mention.

Take a look at this innocuous entry on the agenda for last night's meeting: Item "5. Approval of an agreement for professional services for Lake Shore and Route 14 with Hampton, Lenzini & Renwick."

Where does it mention a $2,000,000 road project and a new four-way traffic light?

This is how the Woodstock City Council does business. Eighteen bland words that look like "routine" business.

The City should publish not only the agenda on its website, but also a description of each agenda item. Had 50-100 interested, concerned, taxpayers of Woodstock contacted City Council members before the meeting and shown up at the meeting, maybe the decision would have been different. Maybe not.

Many people don't think there will ever be a K-9 baseball team or baseball stadium. Merryman got what it wanted - a gravel mining operation. After that? Why should they care? The donation of ground for a stadium was a "gimme" for the gravel pit.

The City Council made a huge mistake by approving Merryman's request for a permit with 50 Conditions, some of which were fiddled with earlier in the year, resulting in more attention to Doty Road at U.S. 14 and the Lake Shore intersection, which now is not even planned to be the main entrance to a baseball stadium, should one ever be built.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers hasn't even signed off on the wetlands area. That sign-off should have been required before the quarry was ever started. But remember the bum's rush to get the project approved, so that the first season could open on time?

Get ready for a new traffic light on U.S. 14 at Lake Shore Drive (that's by Java Planet and the Social Security office), which will serve a few businesses located on either side of the highway. A new four-way light - like the one at Culver's - for how few businesses? What does a traffic light cost? A million dollars, like the one by Centegra Hospital - Woodstock? Because a few people got tired of waiting 45 seconds for a break in traffic?

Back to my original point. By not informing residents (voters! taxpayers!) in advance what they are up to, the City Council avoids challenge and objections. A few people (maybe only one) will squawk the next day or during the next week, and then it will all blow over.

It would cost the City practically nothing to put a summary of proposed actions online ahead of City Council meetings, and I don't mean just at 1:00PM on the Friday before the Tuesday meeting.

Do I expect them to do that? I'll give that possibility about as much chance as an ice cube will have in the sun today, when the temperature hits 100° F.

According to this morning's Northwest Herald article, Woodstock has secured a $1,500,000 grant from the McHenry County Council of Mayors. Woodstock will have to put up 20%, or $300,000, which is not yet budgetted.

First of all, whoever has heard of the McHenry County Council of Mayors, and where does it get its money?

Secondly, why is Woodstock spending money it hasn't budgetted? Are they taking lessons from Springfield? Or from Washington, D.C.?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

DWIHitParade makes ABC-TV news

Several years ago Ken Rossignol and I got acquainted online. We haven't met yet, but one day we shall. I was in his area of Maryland back in 2006 or 2007 and called him on short notice, but he was under the weather and we didn't meet. I did bring back a copy of his St. Mary's Today paper, though, which I had bought at a Rest Area. I just didn't get the autograph that I wanted.

Ken sold the paper in January and fired up  And on June 30th ABC news covered his crusade against drunk drivers. You can view the ABC-TV segment at

Ken is my kind of guy; he's a "take no prisoners" soldier in the war against drunk drivers. You can reach his website at any time through the link to the right of this story.

If you want to let your buddies drink, do it. Just take away their car keys!

Keep up the good work, Ken!

Woodstock Crime Stoppers group meets

The board of the Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers (WACS) met this morning for its summer quarterly meeting. Minutes of the last meeting were approved, and a report was given on the June Crime Stoppers breakfast at the Moose Lodge.

Lack of effective promotion may have been an important reason for lower attendance at this year's breakfast. WACS attempted to circulate information to Woodstock 200 students by fliers, but Woodstock 200 schools refused to distribute fliers about the breakfast, insisting on electronic distribution only in the cyber "backpack".

I wonder if Woodstock Schools have ever surveyed parents to learn what percentage of backpack materials are even looked at by parents. My guess? Next to none.

The WACS received only $2,349 from the McHenry County Circuit Court in the same three-year time period that the Crime Stoppers for McHenry County group collected $50,995. I wonder what would account for such a large difference and how WACS could get more money, with which they could do much more.

During that period eight Crime Stoppers' groups received distributions from the Circuit Court. One of them (McHenry Crime Stoppers) discontinued operations in October 2010.

According to Illinois State Crime Stoppers Association, only the Marengo Crime Stoppers is listed as a Certified Program. Article XIII of the By-Laws includes that a Certified member must be a 501(c)(3) organization; i.e., an IRS tax-exempt organization. This may explain why most of the Crime Stoppers' groups in McHenry County are not Certified members of the state association.

Crime Stoppers for McHenry County (the legal name) is not listed, although a "McHenry County Crime Stoppers Coalition" is listed. Under the Harvard Crime Stoppers listing, the "McHenry County Coalition" is listed as being the reporting group for statistics of the Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Woodstock, Cary, Fox River Grove, Marengo and Harvard Police departments. In fact, there is no such organization as "McHenry County Coalition" or "McHenry County Crime Stoppers Coalition."

It would seem to me that the state association did not make up a name for the McHenry County Coalition. It must have been submitted to them. I wonder who would have submitted the name of a group that does not exist (legally).