Monday, January 30, 2012

Smoke & Mirrors - not just on a County level

You've got to read Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog today! Read his article entitled "How to Cut a Budget, Plus How to Provide Political Camouflage for Incumbent McHenry County Board Members". You can find it quickly by clicking here

Within the article Cal wrote, "If the County Board didn’t want to raise our taxes, it could have have asked for (levied) less than the maximum allowed by the Property Tax Cap (PTELL to those who don’t use the common name)."

Now, substitute "Woodstock" for "County Board" and then read the recent article by Mike Neumann in The Woodstock Independent. You can find that article right here

This sentence from that article ought to be an eye-opener for many residents: "Shaughnessy Muldowney, tax extension supervisor for the McHenry County Clerk’s Office, said that until recent years, she had never seen any taxing body levy less money than the previous year during her nearly 20 years on the job. Even as home prices have decreased, most taxing bodies continue to request more than the previous year. Unless a taxing district requests to levy less money, the county clerk is effectively forced to set a higher tax rate." (Emphasis added.)

And I think it was the editorial board of TWI that last week praised the approach of the Woodstock City Council in its approaching decision to "abate" the property tax increase that is headed our way.

Perhaps all City Council members will read, and re-read, Cal Skinner's sentence above. If the City Council is really sensitive to the financial hardships facing too many Woodstock residents and property owners, why doesn't it ask for less than the max? Why is it poised to approve higher taxes and then "camouflage" the increase with an abatement?

An abatement is too much like a payday loan. It's not free. Let's get rid of the smoke and mirrors and require complete transparency in government and in terms that the common folk can understand.

What would it be like if 1,000 people in Woodstock packed the City Council chambers on the night they are to vote on the increase taxes?

Voters in Woodstock, and voters everywhere, should read Scott Alexander's book, Rhinoceros Success. Stop being a cow on the side of the road, chewing its cud, and watching life go by. Be a rhino; just be careful not to step on the flowers.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ACT! for America ...

 Check out the founder of ACT! for America, Brigitte Gabriel, at an anti-Shariah Nashville.

Pay attention. Is there a 3-week course on Islam taught in your seventh grade? Must your kids take an Islamic name and study jihad to get a good grade? Are there any schools in McHenry County following this format?

Click here and sit forward for 14 minutes. Stick with her to the end. No more Italian-Americans. No more African-Americans. We are all Americans. And, she says, English is the language of the United States!

As Joyce Shaffer says, "If you don't like it here, let us help you pack."

WANTED: $1,000,000

No, of course it's not for me.

A veterans' support organization in South Carolina is looking for the end of the rainbow - in the form of a corporate or personal donor of $1,000,000 to fund four years of operations. Do you know any organization that might consider such a donation? Do you have a connection with a CEO or Chairman of the Board?

Hidden Wounds is located in Columbia, S.C., home for the Army's Fort Jackson. Many of the troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have "invisible" wounds, in addition to the very visible wounds they have.

For more information, visit the Hidden Wounds website or call them directly.

Driver error kills three

See the article yet about the driver in Sacramento who drove around a RR crossing gate and into the path of a light-rail train? The story says that two freight trains had passed and the RR gates had remained down.

So, what does the dummy do? Drove around the gate and got nailed by a third train. Two adults and a baby died. A third adult is hospitalized.

The train was thought to be clipping along at 55MPH - its normal speed on that stretch. The crossing contained four sets of tracks.

Moral of the story? When the gates are down and the lights are flashing? Stay off the tracks.

I remember watching a worker in an AT&T Cable truck lift a crossing gate on U.S. 30 in Lynnwood (Ill.) one day about nine years ago. The gates were stuck down, and I guess the AT&T guys were behind schedule. The gates are counter-balanced, and it took little effort on his part to raise the gate. The AT&T worker (passenger) held the crossing gate arm up while several cars and a tractor-trailer unit passed under the gate.

Lynnwood PD wouldn't respond (they said the gates got stuck "all the time"), nor would the State Police. So we faithful, kind, reverent, law-abiding drivers just sat there until the RR service truck finally showed up. Many drivers, probably familiar with the area and the problem, went around the gates.

88 weeks now - Beth Bentley missing

Last week this message appeared in a Facebook posting on the "Missing Beth Bentley" page: "Yet EVERY SINGLE TIME remains are found Beth's brother Ron, her sons, her father and her friends hold our collective breath...because it might be her. What a way to live : ("

I submit that that is not a proper way to live. Plus, I wonder how the author happened to think that was true for all those people.

Beth Bentley has been missing 88 weeks now. The last reliable sighting of her seems to have been at the Dairy Queen in Woodstock on Thursday evening, May 20, 2010. As more and more time passes and no person, other than one, speaks out about where Beth was after that, the more likely it is foul play is involved. Did she ever really leave Woodstock?

For people to jump to conclusions and to make assumptions that every bone (or, recently, skull) found has anything at all to do with Beth Bentley  is a waste of their emotions, feelings, time, energy, life-force. Rather, these same people should be pressing law-enforcement officials to increase the pressure on Beth's entire circle of intimate friends. And not just the "intimate" ones. All of them.

Go back and re-trace her activities for the 60 days prior to her disappearance. Trace every telephone call and text message. Track down every rumor. Explore every relationship. Every single one of them. Track down her former co-workers at the law office. No need to re-hash the rumors here. The "friends" have heard them all. Hopefully, the police have, too..

There is a new officer in charge of the detective division at the Woodstock Police Department. Is the Woodstock PD even still the lead investigatory agency? Remember the talk about the State Police being involved? Are they?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Can't call you back

A week or so ago I listened to a cheery message on my voicemail, "Hi, it's me. Call me back." The call-back number was blocked and read "PRIVATE MESSAGE."

I didn't recognize the voice in the short message, and I couldn't dial back. I wondered if all her calls are blocked or if the call had been placed from a Sprint cell phone, using the one-number, instant return of a message I had left for her. I had used my Sprint service for eight years before someone asked me why I had blocked my number when calling back; I hadn't. Only then did I realize that my number wasn't displayed to the person I called, if I used the one-number return-call function.

So now, I'm wondering who is waiting for me to call her back. Or is someone?

The moral of the story? Leave your name and number, even if you know the person will know who called.

Maybe it was just a random act of kindness. You know - leave a friendly message for someone. Maybe...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Preckwinkle - naive? or worse?

In a statement about a whistleblower at the office of the Cook County Medical Examiner, where bodies were stacked in body bags one on top of another, Cook County Board President Preckwinkle said, "I can't understand why a staff member who had a concern about operations would go to the media rather than try to deal with it internally."

Now, there's a typical Cook County response. Blame the whistleblower and sic the Cook County Inspector General on that person.

Surely, Preckwinkle can't be that stupid. Can she? Employees had to be complaining, and they saw that nothing was being done! So, finally one brave employee took pictures and gave them to ABC-TV in Chicago.

Three cheers for that employee!

Remember Groundhog Day 2011?

OK, folks. What do you remember about Groundhog Day 2011? Were you in Woodstock that day?

Last year may have been the only year when Groundhog Days festivities were canceled on the Woodstock Square.

Be sure to drop by the Woodstock Public Library and see the new Groundhog Days display there.

Plan Commission denies 120-apt. project

The Woodstock Plan Commission decided 5-2 to give a thumbs-down to the 120-apartment project proposed on the former Woodstock Station grounds, which was previously the Die-Cast property. The Commission considered a proposal on January 26 for two six-story buildings, and that riled up the natives who live nearby.

Now, figure this out. The attorney for the Woodstock Land Development Company (WLDC) apparently thinks a 120-apartment development is the same as a 70-unit condominium project. I think not!  The City of Woodstock would have hoped for 70 owner-occupied units, which would have been a pipe-dream, but 120 one- and two-bedroom rental apartments is a far cry from that.

Commissioner Bill Clow thought parking would be a problem. Of course, it will be a problem. A huge one.
If WLDC really rented to 55-and-old active adults, every one of them will have a car; so that's 120 vehicles right there. Some apartments might have couples living in them; thus, two cars. How would 76 parking spaces ever accommodate residents and guests, plus employees of the project.? They wouldn't.

I didn't understand Commission Steve Gavers' comment, reported in the Northwest Herald, that the site is a "sacred site." What in the world is sacred about empty ground next to the railroad tracks and near a city public works building? Perhaps he'll add a comment here and enlighten us.

More disturbing is the developer's rush to the City Council for a reversal. Our City Council doesn't have the greatest track record in supporting its Boards and Commissions. What are the developer's odds for success, in spite of a turn-down by the Plan Commission? Guesses, anyone?

Finally, a smart car ...

MIT CitiCar
Check out this electric car. Well, it's just a prototype (at this time). The future looks pretty exciting, doesn't it?

Looks like a smart idea to me.

Would you drive one of these? Feel safe? Imagine what driving alongside a semi would feel like. Or just stopping alongside a Hummer.

Where do you put the groceries?

European shopping bags - I want one!

I want one of these...

Last time I saw the email containing the pictures of the shopping bags in Europe, I tried to find a seller.

Think I could carry my notebook into the courthouse in one of those?

Our County dollars at work ...

Oh, I just feel all warm and fuzzy - all over. I feel so special. What happened today?

I got a message from NIXLE, wishing me a happy and healthy new year and thanking me "for helping make Nixle such a success."

I thank the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for spending money with Eric Liu and NIXLE, so we can all feel safer.

Yeah, sure I do...

Pyle corrects Bail Bond violation

It was SRO in Judge Condon's courtroom, 302, this morning at 9:00AM. Because of a trial in Judge Prather's courtroom (304), her cases were moved to Judge Condon's desk. Because he was to hear cases on two calls, he asked attorneys to inform him for which call they would approach him.

A few attorneys approached him and gave him the information in the most logical order - that by which he could quickly find the case. Example: "On the call for 304, page 1, line 7 .." and then announce their client's name in a voice loud enough to bring their client to the bench.  Others didn't, such as "Line 7, page 1, on the 304 call..." Maybe they were just trying to make it interesting for the judge...

The judge heard matters rapidly, and the courtroom began to clear out. Finally, Greg Pyle's case (12CF000020) was called. His two attorneys and he gathered in front of Judge Condon, along with the Assistant State's Attorney who was filling in for the attorney handling the State's case, who was up the hall in Judge Prather's courtroom.

Today's appearance was quickly disposed of, with a continuance to a February date I couldn't hear.

I expected the State to make an issue of Pyle's Bail Bond violation, but I learned after court that his correct address had been filed with the Court this morning.

There is apparently no requirement that a Defendant to be released on a bond (Pyle's bond is $200,000) provide his true or correct address. A Defendant does not attest or swear that the information on the Bail Bond form is correct. However, there is a condition on the Bail Bond form that the Defendant must inform the Circuit Court of a change of address within 24 hours.

So, suppose you put down the Magic Kingdom for your address or maybe you put down a non-existent address in Woodstock. If you don't (or can't) live there (how can you live at a non-existent address?), are you in violation not to report the correct address? You haven't "moved"; right? Complicated, eh?

Had the State Police wished to file additional charges of any type and had they gone to the non-existent address, might the Police have then gone to the nearest house and scared the daylights out of the residents there, attempting to re-arrest Pyle?

Because of Judge Condon's soft voice this morning, I could not hear the date of Pyle's next court date, but it will be in February. No doubt it will be beyond the February 8th date of the next Sheriff's Department Merit Commission meeting.

Will Sheriff Nygren address the problem with Pyle on February 8th, or will he cancel that meeting? How long will Nygren continue to pay Pyle before putting him on unpaid administrative leave?

And if the sheriff cuts off Pyle's pay, could that loosen Pyle's lips on any issues of interest to others in the County?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Phone No. for Woodstock Soc. Sec. office?

Does anyone have the new local telephone number for the Woodstock Social Security office?

They have disconnected 815.338.3751 and may be trying to force all callers to the tollfree 800/ number (800.772.1213), where you must plow through menu after menu after menu to try to figure out the right extension and then deal with a "customer service" person in a call center.

I get 3-4 calls/week for Social Security and would like to be able to provide the correct number to callers.


How important is spelling?

The Associated Press reports that, after 18 months, the spelling of "SHCOOL" has been corrected in front of a New York City school building. The AP said that the Consolidated Edison utility used heavy equipment to grind away the H and C from the street surface, so that drivers would know they were in front of a "school" after the word repainted and spelled correctly.

ConEd could have saved a lot of money by just offering a $5.00 reward to the first 50 people who called to report the misspelling and congratulating them on their astute observation.

That was on Page 2 of this morning's Northwest Herald, under State Briefs.

Right across the fold, on Page 3, was this headline, "Number of abortions roprted (sic) in state drops." The word "reported" was spelled correctly in the copy from the wire service.

Compliments to BN-D reporter

Reporter Brian Brueggemann and the Belleville News-Democrat understand about providing complete information to their readers.

In an article on Brueggemann wrote about interest there in Illinois State Representative Paul Evans' bill to dissolve the East St. Louis election authority. You can read the article here

Only seven cities in Illinois have their own election authorities. They are East St. Louis, Peoria, Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Danville and Bloomington. The voters in Chicago will never have a chance, but those in the other six cities might have at least a slim chance of abolishing their election authorities, if they made up their minds to.
ead more here:

What is remarkable about Brueggemann's article? He included the House Bill number, so that readers could easily find it (at and read it for themselves. The bill is H.B. 4035.

A big thank-you to Brian Brueggemann!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MCSD - still no Merit Commission meeting

And still Sheriff Nygren is failing to call a Special Meeting of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission over the arrest of Sgt.Greg Pyle. Is it really true that the Sheriff's Department has never officially recognized Pyle's arrest within the Department by communicating it to all employees in writing?

The next Regular Meeting of the Merit Commission is Wednesday, February 8, at 10:30AM, on the second floor at 667 Ware Road. Why not announce a Special Meeting at 9AM tomorrow and hold it on Saturday, January 28, at 10:00AM?

Every day he waits costs the County over $300. How long is he going to pay Pyle before putting him on unpaid administrative leave???

Can you think of any reasons for Nygren to delay?

See the AZ Gov. pointing finger at Obama?

Did you see the Associated Press photo of Gov. Jan Brewer making her point to Pres. Obama? She was pointing her finger at him, and right in his face.

Good thing that meeting wasn't in Island Lake. Gov. Brewer would have found herself under arrest and hauled away in handcuffs for pointing her ".38 cal. finger" at a government official.

Island Lake is still enforcing its laws, isn't it? (Will they ever live that one down?)

Reed gets 55 years

From the office of the McHenry County State's Attorney:



Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces today that John “Jack” Reed, 35, of Cary, was found guilty Wednesday, November 16, 2011, of multiple counts of Criminal Sexual Assault and Child Pornography. 

The defendant was charged with having sexual contact with a female relative over several months.  The victim was a minor at the time of the offenses.  During the trial, the jury was shown four separate videotaped encounters that contained multiple acts of sexual penetration.  Those videotaped images were recovered from the defendant’s laptop computer and were later analyzed by a forensic computer laboratory.  Additionally, the jury heard testimony from two other eye-witnesses to sexual acts between the defendant and the victim.

After approximately three hours of deliberations, the jury found the defendant guilty of ten counts of Criminal Sexual Assault and four counts of Child Pornography.  The Honorable Judge Joseph Condon sentenced Reed to 55 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.  This case was investigated by Sergeant Parsons of the Woodstock Police Department and forensic analysis was conducted by Amy Maskiewicz of the Chicago Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorneys Sharyl Eisenstein and Michael Combs.

CBS-TV tells more about Bull Valley skulls

I guess we can rest easily, since "there is no danger to the community at this time." Well, tell that to the people whose skulls were found in Bull Valley.

CBS-TV says the (McHenry County) Sheriff's Department says the skulls are human. Trying to piece this story together from media reports? You might want to give up now.

Were the skulls found alongside the road? Was one found yesterday morning and moved? Who would find a skull and move it, and not call the police immediately?

Not connected with any open missing-person case? How can they say that so quickly?

Now read the Northwest Herald story at

According to the Northwest Herald article, a boy on his way to school found the first skull on Tuesday morning by his family's mailbox. That's m-o-r-n-i-n-g. His mom called the Bull Valley P.D. and left a message. Yet it seems to have been afternoon, say, after 4:00PM, when MCSD responded to Bull Valley PD's call for assistance.

Let's see the timeline on this one. Did hours really pass before police responded? The Daily Herald says that Bull Valley Police showed up about 3:00PM. Where do we live? In the Twilight Zone?

Feldkamp court date - no show

Judge Chmiel was ready for business in Courtroom 202 this morning, and Scott Feldkamp wasn't the only no-show. But at 9:20AM, when Judge Chmiel called his case, he definitely was not there.

Or maybe he was. Maybe his hearing is as good as mine (or as poor, as some might say), and he just did not hear the case called.

I saw lips moving at the bench in what was likely conversation between the judge and lawyers, and there was only one lawyer who spoke up during his case. And I thanked him for that outside the courtroom. He wasn't shouting, but he clearly respected the court, the judge and others in the courtroom by speaking up.

Judge Chmiel has a soft voice and used it even when calling cases.

Why do judges tolerate such a high rate of no-shows? Should they just dismiss cases, if no one shows up?

And what good is yesterday's Illinois Supreme Court view on cameras in courtrooms, if voices are loud enough to be recorded?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What's happening in Bull Valley?

Bull Valley Police have requested assistance from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for an event on Cherry Valley Road. Numerous MCSD squad cars are responding, and the Coroner and a K-9 unit have been requested.

Monitor media for more details.

What happens when you call the McHenry County Jail?

And leave a message for the Shift Sergeant? Nothing.

Apparently, they haven't been trained how to retrieve messages and that a caller expects to be called back. Or perhaps the sergeants have been directed to return calls, unless I call.

The number is 815.338.9396, press 8, then 2 for the shift sergeant.

Maybe they should re-record the message to play: "This is the voice mailbox of the shift sergeant. Leave your name and phone number; we'll call back. If this is Gus Philpott calling, please hang up now."

Then I'd know not to expect a return call.

There should be a log of all calls left on voicemail. Then, when the jail accreditation folks come in, they could check it. That would be the American Correctional Association, of Alexandria, Va. (; not CALEA. I have my doubts about what they do with complaints about jails they have accredited, because they'll tell you to call the sheriff, if you have a problem. Like that will do you any good around here.

Or a log for the Men from ICE who come in to check records. Maybe they could look up to inspect which calls about ICE detainees got ignored.

Let's make a deal...

The game show goes on. A lot of game shows are free. You might have to order tickets in advance, but many are free. Or you might be willing to cough up $5-10 for a seat, if you thought that the TV cameras might swing by so you could wave at your friends back home.

I had a great laugh this morning, when I read, "Attorney Ekl: Legal bills for state to pay." He was referring to the defense costs that the special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen will incur, when they defend themselves against his $15,000,000 lawsuit.

It wasn't even a "slow news" day for the Northwest Herald, but they gave Ekl premium space on Page 1. First of all, Ekl doesn't have anything to do with who pays for the Special Prosecutors' defense bills. He filed his $15,000,000 lawsuit on behalf of his clients Bianchi, Synek, Salgado and McCleary and is looking for a big payday. What's his hand in the game? Is he in for 30% of $15,000,000? Is he looking for a $5,000,000 payday? Or will he settle for $91.50/hour for his actual time on the case, not counting press interviews?

Trying to toss the feed dish to the State is an attempt to deflect the anger that taxpayers will display, when McHenry County gets clobbered with the defense bills. Bianchi, Synek, Salgado and McCleary were found not guilty in a directed verdict. That case is over. It's done. If nothing was ever said about it again, no lasting harm was done.

Their egos got bruised a little. They spent time in court and got paid for working. Their attorney got paid by the taxpayers. So it's done. Fini...

Except now someone (more than one?) wants a big payday. And so a $15,000,000 lawsuit gets filed.

McHenry County has a nasty hand in the deal. According to this morning's article in the Northwest Herald, "... the McHenry County Board agreed to pay $275,000 toward Bianchi and his secretary Joyce Synek's legal fees. As part of the settlement, the county was to be left out of any civil lawsuits filed against Tonigan and McQueen." And, if Ekl is successful, the County gets its $275,000 back.

County Board Chairman Ken Koehler was attributed with a remark that the county "has no intention of defending the special prosecutors." Let's see, the County paid them to sink their teeth into Bianchi, Synek, Salgado and McCleary. Now the Board is trying to distance itself (and hang onto their seats).

That deal smells. Voters should turn out every County Board member at the next election and start with a clean slate in November 2012.

Will McHenry County Courthouse open to cameras?

Current rule? You can't take a camera into the McHenry County Government Center. Is that because the courtrooms are located there? Or maybe because of another reason? I could name several...

In an article from the Illinois Statehouse News Illinois courts may be about to become more transparent.

Illinois State Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride told the News that that time is now. Too bad it wasn't a decision in a court case.

He was quoted as saying, "By having the public keeping an eye on what is going on in the courtroom, it can act as a check in the balance of power."

Cameras in McHenry County courtrooms aren't the only help that is needed. In many of the courtrooms spectators and others waiting for their time for justice can't even hear what is being said. The judges are aware of complaints, yet they do nothing to remedy the failure to conduct court matters in normal tones.

The problem is not hearing impairment of those in the seating area. I've been in court when a judge had to lean forward toward an attorney and tell him to speak up. I was in court one day when an attorney seated at the attorney's table spoke up and said, "Can't hear." Even though he was no longer a party to the case, the judge invited him to the bench.

Somehow, I think that if I said out loud, "Can't hear", the judge would also invite me up to the bench. It would be for a different reason, though. He'd introduce me to his bailiff and have me escorted through that locked door, where I might get to cool my heels for a few hours or days as a Guest of the Court.

McHenry County court security officers turn away people with cameras in their pockets or purses almost every day. At the same time, they let people in with cameras every day! What cell phone today does not have a camera?

It is wrong to prohibit cameras in a government building. If a judge wants to prohibit photography in his courtroom, then he can post a sign at the door to the courtroom. But to prohibit cameras in a public building, just because it happens to contain courtrooms, is wrong.

Will part of Nygren Palace go dark?

The Associated Press reports that an immigration detention center is being considered for Crete, Ill., which is located approximately 35 miles due south of the Chicago Loop. What's the plan? Seven hundred "beds" in a new facility, to be built and managed by a private company.

The natives are already restless in Crete and have begun opposing it. "NIMBY" is alive and well there. Where were the activists when the pitch was made in McHenry County to enlarge the jail here for a detention facility?

If ICE moves the 300-400 detainees out of McHenry County, where will Sheriff Nygren get the $90/day to keep the lights on? How many corrections officers will be "downsized"?

The stupidity of ICE can be illustrated easily when it houses a detainee at $90/day for seven months ($19,000), because he cannot raise $5,000 for his bond. I have in mind a detainee from Nigeria who satisfied the criminal charges against him by successfully completing a boot camp in Cook County. Upon his release there last June, ICE was waiting for him and brought him to McHenry County. Ka-ching, ka-ching... Every day, day after day, $90 + $90 + $90...

Why not use electronic monitoring at $15.00/day for these types of immigration violators.

The AP article also said that about 400,000 persons are being deported a year. Oh, really?

Murder charges - just a game?

What trial strategy do you suppose exists when a person is charged with five counts of murder and one count of concealment of a body and then, on the opening day of jury selection, the State's Attorney's office drops three murder counts and the concealment charge?

Mario Casciaro has been out of jail on a $5,000,000 bond. He was bailed out when 10% was posted; that's $500,000. (And, of that, 10% ($50,000) was instantly scarfed up by the Circuit Clerk's office on behalf of the court system, as a non-refundable fee; that ought to keep some lights on for a while.)

Would his bond have been less, if only two counts of murder had been filed in the first place?

And I've always wondered how you charge someone with five counts of murder, when only one death is involved.

So, is it a game that prosecutors play to load up a defendant with serious charges and then drop some of the charges before a trial ever starts?

Jury selection wasn't even completed yesterday, and already the State has dropped four charges. Does this bode ill for their entire prosecution?

Frankly, I've always wondered about the charge, since the indictment alleged that Casciaro "or someone for whose conduct he was legally accountable" killed Brian Carrick in 2002.

Casciaro's attorneys are Brian Telander and William Gibbs.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Unauthorized GPS tracking of vehicle

A reader sent me this comment today. Seems like I expressed an opinion about this a couple of years ago.

"The United States Supreme Court has ruled that Law Enforcement must have a signed search warrant from a judge to attach any type of GPS tracking device to a vehicle, or it would be a clear violation of the amendment rights of a person."

The reader asks if anyone at MCSD has any knowledge of a tracking device ever being attached by any deputy to a vehicle of a deputy or corrections officer.

PNC N.A. takes aim on Feldkamp property

It doesn't show up (yet) in the probate records for the Feldkamp estates, but PNC Bank National Association filed a mortgage foreclosure action. Without trotting over to the courthouse, I can't tell in what property their financial interest is, but I can guess.

The residence at 7580 Somerset Drive, in unincorporated McHenry County near Marengo, was owned by Audrey Feldkamp, according to McHenry County property tax records. Mrs. Feldkamp, her husband (John G. (Jack) Feldkamp), and neighbor Doran Bloom died as a result of injuries suffered at the house on June 7, 2011.

On November 2, 2011, PNC Bank N.A. filed a mortgage foreclosure action in McHenry County Circuit Court, Case No. 11CH002563. PNC Bank N.A. is represented by the law firm of Heavner Scott Beyers & Mihlar, LLC. The firm seems to be headquartered in Decatur, Ill., although no address can be found easily on its website (

The Defendants are

Scott A. Feldkamp, as Independent Executor
Scott A. Feldkamp, individually
Jaclynn Feldkamp
Resource Bank N.A.
Somerset Community Association
Caring Transitions
Transition of Illinois, Inc.
Unknown claimants & lienholders against Audrey Feldkamp
Unknown heirs & devisees of Audrey J. FeldkampUnknown claimants & lienholders against unknown heirs & devisees

It's interesting to me that PNC Bank N.A. has not filed a claim against the estate in the probate matter open in the Circuit Court. Does naming Scott Feldkamp as Executor cover that?

Sure seems like Scott Feldkamp, as Executor, ought to have a good (good=expensive) lawyer representing him. Going head-to-head pro se against a law firm that "...has over 30 years of experience working with lenders to protect their delinquent mortgage assets. Our experienced staff has assisted lenders in the default management department, providing unique insight and being responsive to our clients needs" might require more than a little legal "assistance".

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beth Bentley - gone 87 weeks

Beth Bentley vanished on May 23, 2010, from Centralia, Ill. Or was it on May 22? Or maybe May 21? Or possibly on May 20? Or maybe from Mount Vernon, Ill.? Or even from Woodstock, Ill.?

Every month the Woodstock Police Department reports its progress in the case to the City Manager, and the City Manager forwards that report to the City Council.

The monthly report for November 2011 was delivered to the City Council at its January 17, 2012 meeting. What was that report in the case of Beth Bentley?

"The Investigations Division continues to aggressively follow-up (sic) on all leads in the investigation of the Endangered Missing Person Benedetta "Beth" Bentley. The Investigations Division maintains contact with the Illinois State Police and all other police agencies involved in this case for updates and the sharing of intelligence information."

Does this two-sentence "report" sound familiar? It should, at least to the members of the City Council who wade through their electronic packets. Do they even see those two lines? Does City Manager Tim Clifton even see them?

If they do, why aren't they questioning the police chief about what his department is really doing in this case?

What's cooking in the Feldkamp probates?

A funny thing happened on the way to the Circuit Clerk's counter last summer. Or did it?

On August 30, 2011, a hearing in the probate of Audrey Feldkamp was held. That was when the lawyers for the Executor, Scott Feldkamp, wanted out of the case. Thomas Schmitt, of Filler & Schmitt, of Marengo, had filed a request to get out of the case and to collect fees owed to them. Judge Sullivan let them out, and the lawyers withdrew their petition for fees.

What was their reason for wanting out? The reason given to the Court was "lack of communication and cooperation on the part of Scott A. Feldkamp making it impossible for the Law Office of Thomas W. Schmitt and Jay K. Filler, Jr. to properly represent him."

Since that time Scott Feldkamp has filed to represent the estates of his father and mother pro se; that is, himself - without an attorney-of-record.

But something else happened on August 30. Woodstock Attorney Mark Gummerson stood with Tom Schmitt in front of Judge Sullivan, and Judge Sullivan asked Gummerson if he was involved.

Gummerson told Judge Sullivan that he represented Jackie Feldkamp (Scott's sister) and that he "believed" he previously filed his appearance.

When Judge Sullivan told him that the Appearance was not in the court record, Gummerson said, "If I haven't, I will."

It seems to me that Gummerson would have checked his files right after court to learn whether he had already filed his Appearance.

He hadn't.

It seems to me that, since he told Judge Sullivan that he would (if he hadn't), then pretty quickly he should have done so.

He hasn't.

As of last Friday there was nothing in the electronic record online to reflect that Gummerson ever filed an Appearance that he represents Jackie Feldkamp. And the last time I asked a court clerk to pull the file and tell me whether the Appearance was in the court file, I was told that it wasn't.

Why is this important?

When the attorneys for the Executor bailed out because of "lack of communication and cooperation on the part of ..." the Executor, then who is telling the Executor what he legally can and cannot do as Executor? Apparently, no one is.

Why is Scott Feldkamp driving his late father's Cadillac on an almost-daily basis? Back in June he owned a car; Sheriff's Department photographers snapped pictures of it in the driveway of the Feldkamp home. Can an Executor use a vehicle that is an estate asset, or should that vehicle be in a garage, preserving its value, until it can be sold in an arm's length transaction at fair market value?

What's the rule about distribution of estate assets before the estate is closed? Can assets of the estate be liquidated and distributed to heirs before the creditors are satisfield? What happened to Mrs. Feldkamp's car? Who is paying for the insurance on Mr. Feldkamp's car? Who is paying the expenses of the Feldkamp home? If Scott is living in the house, must he pay rent to the Estate?

What do you suppose the fair rental value is on a $413,000 home in McHenry County outside Marengo? It's $2,850/month, according to a listing on by Harmony Real Estate. Would a prospective renter or buyer have to be informed that the house is stigmatized?

Does any distribution require court approval, especially before the settlement date of the probates?

The probates have been transferred from Judge Sullivan to Judge Chmiel, and the next hearing in the John Feldkamp Estate is set for Wednesday, January 25, 9:00AM, in Courtroom 202. The next hearing in the Audrey Feldkamp Estate is not until August 22.

Nygren keeping low profile in Pyle case

Where is McHenry County's top cop when it comes to keeping the public informed regarding the case of one of his deputies, who was arrested this month on ten counts of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault (child under 13)?

A lot of people thought that Nygren was enjoying snow country in Minocqua.

However, the January-February 2012 issue of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office Newsletter places Nygren in his office on January 9th, when he swore in former Woodstock PD Det.Sgt. Kurt Rosenquist as the newest court security officer.

On Page 5 there are two photographs of Nygren and Rosenquist in Nygren's office. In one of them they are reading the scripts for the swearing-in ceremony. Whatever happened to "Repeat after me. I, (state your name), do solemnly swear ... "

Content in the newsletter near the photographs reads, "The Sheriff's Department conducted swearing-in ceremonies for two new deputies and one new Court Security Officer.
"Our new Deputies, Cody Smith and Ed Zerman, were sworn in on Dec. 19, 2011.
"Kurt Rosenquist, (sic) became our newest member in Court Security on Jan. 9, 2011 (sic)."

I suspect that the writer meant that Kurt became a Court Security Officer on Jan. 9, 2012.

Actually, the wording does not state that Kurt was sworn in on Jan. 9. He could have been sworn in on another date, with his effective date of hiring as Jan. 9.

So, why isn't Sheriff Keith Nygren out in front on behalf of the public on the Pyle matter? It's not good enough to say that "It's a State Police matter." Pyle was in the in-crowd at the sheriff's department. Everything that Pyle touched should go under the microscope.

And why hasn't Nygren called a Special Meeting of the Merit Commission? Isn't he obligated to do so, when a suspension is very likely to last longer than 30 days? What's he waiting for? Not talking about it is not going to make it go away!

Beth Bentley - 87 weeks and counting

More than a year and a half ago Beth Bentley disappeared. Sometime over the days of May 20-24, 2010, Beth vanished.

How much of her time and location has actually been absolutely accounted for? Say, from the time she left the Dairy Queen in Woodstock on Thursday evening, May 20, until late on the evening of Monday, May 24, when she was reported as missing to the Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department?

One person has offered information about a portion of her whereabouts on that week-end. Co-worker, friend, traveling companion and sometime-alibi Jennifer Wyatt has said that she dropped Beth off near the Amtrak station in Centralia, Ill. on Sunday, May 23, shortly before a northbound train to Chicago was scheduled to pass through the station at about 6:00PM. Jenn told me that Beth never intended to take the train, but she didn't say what Beth's plans were.

Yet there are reports that Beth's cell phone was used to order a pizza from Pogue's Pizza in Mount Vernon about 5:30PM on that Sunday. It shouldn't have been all that hard to trace that phone call. Apparently, the number showed up on Pogue's telephone system. From where was the call placed? Mount Vernon? Centralia? Wouldn't phone records and "pings" come up with a location for the phone when the call was placed?

And what about the rumor that Beth's cell phone pinged in McHenry County late on Sunday night, May 23?

And that Scott Bentley's law office in McHenry was broken into that night? Who knows about that? The McHenry Police Department doesn't. If his office was broken into and computers were tampered with, wouldn't he report that to police? Wouldn't he be concerned about loss of confidential client records? Were files removed from a computer in his office? What files?

And who tampered with Beth's Facebook account and removed many comments and photos? Who had access to her account? Didn't the police attempt to freeze her Facebook account to prevent tampering?

With the retirement of Det. Sgt. Kurt Rosenquist from the Woodstock Police Department, who will now lead the Woodstock PD Detective Division? Will this officer take a fresh look at this Endangered Missing Person case? Will the "Endangered" classification be continued? Removed? Was it ever justified in the first place?

Some people have commented to me that they think it's strange that Det. Rosenquist would have had Friends on his own Facebook page that included persons closely connected to Beth Bentley. Since no one can be ruled out in this case, why would he have included Jennifer Wyatt, Jeremy Velmont, Albert Bafford and Angela Montgomery as Facebook friends?

Of course, FB Friends aren't necessarily "friends". I probably have FB Friends I don't even know on my FB page. Sun-Tzu, Chinese general and military strategist, reportedly said in about 400 B.C., "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." Any correlation here?

Kurt joined the McHenry County Sheriff's Department courthouse security staff on January 9, when he was sworn in by Sheriff Keith Nygren. Two photos of the swearing-in ceremony appear in the January-February 2012 issue of the MCSO Newsletter. So much for hoping that he'd hang out his own shingle as a P.I. and solve the missing-person case of Beth Bentley.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Down with Lay's chips

I gave up on Lay's regular potato chips years ago, because I got tired of all the broken chips in every bag. I mean, do the workers have to walk on every bag?

So, when I buy chips, I buy Lay's Wavy Chips. At least, up until this week. Now the Wavy chips are all broken, too. And I noticed that Lay's took their satisfaction guarantee and phone number off the back of the bag. I can guess why!

So, are you disappointed (angry sometimes?) when you open a bag of chips and find very few whole chips? It's really hard to enjoy chips and dip when you end up with more dip on your finger than you do on the chip!

Just in case you are looking for the number at which you can call Customer Service at Frito-Lay, here it is: 800-352-4477. If you too think you ought to get more than 6-8-10 whole chips in a 10-oz. bag of Lay's chips, give 'em a call and a piece of your mind.

Don't mess with Texas

Texas AE7 1123
Those bumper stickers ("Don't mess with Texas") always got my attention. When I lived in Corpus Christi in 1990, they were all over the place. I was always looking for a store that would make a bumper sticker for me that read "Don't mess with Gus". Couldn't find one.

At the Woodstock Public Library this afternoon, some driver in this big pick-up from Texas decided that he was more important than Illinois handicap parking laws. And he got away with it, too. He (I assumed the driver was male) parked in a manner to attract attention, which he got. There were no handicap plates on the truck and no placard hanging from the inside mirror, so he risked a $250 ticket to run into the library.

Do the police ever patrol the library parking lot? Or handicap parking spots anywhere in Woodstock?

I took my "nice" pill this morning and did not sic the Woodstock Police on him. Maybe someone else did, but this is one time when I can say, "I didn't do it."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Where does Pyle live?

What's wrong with this picture? I wanted a picture this morning of 2722 Haydn Lane, Woodstock.

The house on the left is at 2730 Haydn Street, Woodstock. The house on the right is at 2720 Haydn Street, Woodstock.

Where's the picture of 2722 Haydn Lane?

First of all, there is no Haydn Lane. Assuming the person who gave that address as his own address, it's slightly possible that he might not distinguish between a Lane and a Street. But there is no house between 2720 and 2730 Haydn Street. What's the importance of this?

When you post a Bail Bond at the McHenry County Jail, I presume the defendant wanting to leave custody must provide his true address. Is that too little to ask or to expect? In fact, is it required?

How do corrections officers about to release a person from custody verify his address? Do they look at any document, such as a driver's license or vehicle title or other official identification? Or do they just take his word for whatever to write down on the form? And who writes the information on the form? Presumably, a corrections officer or a deputy sheriff or other law enforcement officer records the information on the form, after asking questions of the person in custody. Then the defendant signs the form.

What's significant about "2722 Haydn Lane", aside from the fact that there is no such address? This was the address listed by Gregory M. Pyle as his "Address." Is it?

A warrant for Pyle's arrest was issued by McHenry County Circuit Court Associate Judge Mark R. Gerhardt. (Judge Gerhardt missed his calling. His illegible signature might have also qualified him to be a doctor or a deputy sheriff.) A pet peeve of mine is illegible signatures, especially by police officers, deputy sheriffs and, now, judges.

When was the warrant issued? Until today I was under the assumption that the warrant had been issued on Friday, January 6. Police started looking for Pyle, and he turned him in on Saturday evening, January 7 and was released on Sunday, January 8, just after midnight.

BUT the Warrant of Arrest for Pyle, as on file in the McHenry County Circuit Court's office, Criminal Division, is dated "this 7th day of January 2012."

On the Bail Bond form, dated January 8, 2012, Pyle listed his "Address" as 2722 Haydn Ln., Woodstock. Why did Pyle list that non-existent address on his Bail Bond form? If police wanted to pick him up for further questioning or should a bond violation occur, will they have mud on their faces, when they try to find him?

Will they be standing in front of 2720 or 2730 Haydn Street, scratching their heads? Worse, will they show up with MARV and the SWAT team in combat gear with automatic weapons and surround these two houses with weapons drawn and cocked? And scare the living daylights out of the residents?

Or even worse, will they push in the glass on a front door, "assist" the residents down to the floor with "arm bars", and toss the house? And then find out they are in the wrong house?

On January 11 the Northwest Herald reported that Pyle's house on Autumncrest Drive in Crystal Lake was searched and certain possessions were removed. Didn't the police know that Pyle lived at 2722 Haydn Lane in Woodstock? What were they doing on Autumncrest Drive in Crystal Lake?

Is a crime committed when a defendant lists the wrong address on his Bail Bond form?

It may not be crime to provide untrue information on the Bail Bond form, because the form does not seem to contain any language that the information is truthful or accurate.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why are the Defendants after Mrs. Seipler?

What's up in the case of Seipler v. Cundiff, et al. (the "et al." includes Sheriff Keith Nygren and others at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department)?

On January 12 U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Kapala denied a motion by Mrs. Zane (Rosalinda) Seipler for leave to file an appearance of counsel and a motion to file under seal. The Defendants' motion to strike was denied as moot. The case remained on the call for January 13.

On January 17 Judge Kapala granted the Defendants' emergency motion to compel the deposition of Mrs. Seipler and directed the parties to confer and arrange for her deposition to take place no later than January 20. Defense counsel (that would be the James Sotos law firm) was directed to provide electronic notice to Mrs. Seipler and to her attorney, Dennis A. Giovannini,.as soon as possible and before the end of the day.

After how many months (years?) is something now an emergency?

This case was on Judge Kapala's call for today, January 19. I wonder what happened in court today...

USPS Customer Service dropping

This afternoon I stopped at the Woodstock Post Office to mail a small package to Texas. I had already wrapped and addressed it, and it was just the size for the Post Office to handle, not UPS.

I guess I picked a good time to make that stop, because only one customer was being waited on by a window clerk. Another window/counter seemed to be open for service, and two employees were standing back from the counter, engaged in a conversation.

I stepped up to counter, expecting that the employee who was working that counter slot would end the conversation and return to the counter.

Wrong expectation.

After a few moments, I greeted them, and one turned to notice that I was waiting. Did she end her conversation and come to wait on me?


And then, when she did return to the counter, she faced away from me and continued her conversation with the other employee.

This is the U.S. Postal Service concept of Service. They are already worried about huge financial losses and shrinking business, as more and more people use email and UPS and FedEx. Right now we don't have another choice for First Class Mail. I'm a captive customer. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to be ignored.

Now for the good part. When I bought my 20 stamps to use after the postage increase on Sunday, I saved 20¢, because she sold me "Forever" stamps.Whoopee! Frankly, I'd rather have paid the extra 20¢ and gotten faster service.

Who really pays for lawsuits?

As I glanced over the front-page article in the Northwest Herald this morning for the second or third time, it finally struck me. [And, yes, I do still get a paper at my door every morning, thanks to a faithful carrier who probably hopes he won't have to wait until his next life to get the reward he so richly deserves. (OK, Michael L.; watch your mail for an envelope in the next few days.)

Who will really pay for the lawsuit that Terry Ekl has filed against Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen?

Taxpayers, go to the head of the line.

Since Attorneys Tonigan and McQueen were hired as Special Prosecutors to work on behalf of the people of McHenry County in their investigation of now-exonerated State's Attorney Lou Bianchi, will they ask for McHenry County to defend them? And will that be right after they sue McHenry County for unpaid legal fees?

Next time you retain a lawyer and direct, instruct or even just allow him (or her) to do work for you, watch carefully what happens. Even if you have told your lawyer to allow only one of its high-priced attorneys to work on your case. What if later you realize your billing includes fees for a lawyers' conference (two lawyers in the same office, drinking coffee, discussing your case while the meter runs at both rates!)> You're going to get a bill. And what will happen if you don't pay that bill? You are going to get sued by your own attorney.

Lawyers sue their clients for fees all the time in McHenry County. (They could, of course, avoid that by ceasing work when the retainer runs dry; instead, they just keep right on "working" and billing.

So McHenry County hired Tonigan and McQueen and is now trying to skip out on a big chunk of the bill. To the County Board, I say, "Shame on you." You failed to put a cap on bills that the good judge could allow the lawyers to run up. The County Board deserves all the blame, and voters should remember this at the next election.

#1 McHenry County owes Tonigan and McQueen. How much? $380,000? Pay them. Now!

#2 Will McHenry County end up footing the bill for defense in the lawsuit filed by Terry Ekl on behalf of Lou Bianchi, his exective administrative assistant and two investigators at the State's Attorney's office?

Obviously, the State's Attorney's office will not be available to defend the County. Oh, there's that word "available". Maybe the Office is "available", but its employees are parties to the suit, so that means a Special State's Attorney, and you are not going to find one of those for $91.50/hour. More like $250/hour. Maybe, more like $400-500/hour.

You just "gotta" love the comment from County Board member Ersel Schuster (District 6). Said she, "I don't like to see lawsuits, but if there's wrongdoing, it needs to be looked into, and seriously, and it looks like that's the case."

Did she mean the case against Lou Bianchi and staff?
Does she mean the new case by Lou Bianchi and staff?

I wonder if she'll vote for funds to pay for a Special Prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren.

Lastly, the County Board should have stayed away from the "deal" with Terry Ekl to recover its defense fees in the Bianchi case. That deal smells to high heaven. Ekl apparently agreed to slice his $640,000 in billings (to defend Bianchi and staff) to $275,000 and offered to pay the County $275,000 out of any winnings against the Special Prosecutors.

Which shell is the pea under? First guess?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Buy new stamps now

Remember that the USPS will raise rates on Sunday, Jan. 22.

What do you suppose it costs USPS to raise the cost of the first ounce of first-class postage by 1¢?

I'll bet it costs more than a penny to raise rates by a penny? So, if it does, then it's a pretty stupid move to raise rates, isn't it? You can't make up that loss by increasing volume!
Now I'm like you. If there has to be an increase, I'd prefer a one-penny increase to one of two or three or five cents. But maybe no increase is even better?

Should the postal workers' unions be busted? What do you think a window clerk earns? You'd probably have a heart attack if you found out. And a mail carrier? What should a mail carrier earn? What do they earn?

An acting postmistress in Santa Fe told me in 1989 that the window-clerk position paid $33,000/year. I was shocked! For selling stamps and making change? It was a good $7.00/hour then. But it paid $16.50/hour. Outrageous! What does it pay now? $55,000? $65,000?

There is a young woman at the Circle K convenience store who would put any USPS counter person to shame. And I'll bet she earns minimum wage.

Buy the stamps before Sunday.

Double-dipping - good? bad? ugly?

Should double-dipping be allowed? tolerated? accepted by the taxpayers? Do the taxpayers even know when it is going on?

Double-dipping, as I am using it here, means the employment by government of a person who is receiving retirement pay from another government entity.

The most outrageous example in McHenry County is probably the deal worked in Lake in the Hills, Ill. The chief of police retired and claimed his retirement income. All good and well. But then the Village of Lake in the Hills created a new position of Director of Public Safety and whom did they hire? The retired chief of police!

So here is a guy getting his retirement pay for the job he did, and doing virtually the same job anew but for another large paycheck.

Other outrageous examples exist at the McHenry County Government Center, where "security" is provided by retired police officers.

Across Ware Road in the McHenry County Administration Building security is provided by a private security business, and guards are probably paid $12-14/hour.

But the pay-rate south of Ware Road is probably considerably higher.

A position became available last month, after being filled only two months earlier. How are court security officers hired? Is it by competitive application? Must officers meet physical standards and qualify at the range? And must they maintain the physical standards? What screening is there? Is there drug-testing before hiring? Is there random drug-testing after hiring?

In the case of that October hire, he had resigned as a deputy sheriff on October 3, and he went to work as a court security officer on October 4. How does something like that happen? Only if you have "pull".

One thing that I've noticed is that the entrances to the courthouse are usually over-staffed. How does it happen that so little management supervision is given to proper scheduling? Are these officers hourly or salaried? If hourly, how come stations aren't manned (no disrespect meant to the female members of the staff) only as needed? Why are officers allowed to loaf on duty, when "business" is slow? Proper supervision would dictate that they be put to work elsewhere in the building or sent home.

Back to the double-dipping. Does the Sheriff try to hire the best person for the job at the lowest possible pay, or is the plum of a courthouse security job given to the "faithful" who have retired of one of the many departments around the county? Why doesn't the sheriff help solve the unemployment problem in McHenry County by hiring and training capable men and women at a much lower pay rate than current levels?

Let the retirees live on their retirement income, and give a job to an unemployed person!

Pay grades are probably public record. Maybe it's time for the public to know what "security" at 2200 N. Seminary Ave. is costing them.

Bianchi and Ekl sink teeth into Special Prosectors

In today's email was a copy of the Federal lawsuit filed by Terry Ekl on behalf of Lou Bianchi, Joyce Synek, Ron Salgado and Mike McCleary, Plaintiffs, against Henry Tonigan, Thomas McQueen, Daniel Jerger, Robert Scigalski, James Reilly, Patrick Hanretty, Richard Stilling, Quest Consultants International Limited, Kelleher & Buckley, LLC, and unknown co-conspirators.

Well, there go all the fees earned by the Special Prosecutors and the expenses paid to Quest.

What does it cost to file a Federal lawsuit?

And what does it cost to defend yourself in a Federal lawsuit?

I don't have the capability to reproduce the 48-page filing, which is Case No. 1:12-cv-00364, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. Perhaps Cal Skinner will be good enough to publish it on McHenry County Blog.

Too bad that courthouse isn't in Woodstock.

When you think of GE, ...

From a reader this morning...

"If only our media would report on news like this!! !Unbelievable!

"General Electric is planning to move its 115-year-old X-ray division from Waukesha , Wis., to Beijing. In addition to moving the headquarters, the company will invest $2 billion in China and train more than 65engineers and create six research centers. This is the same GE that made $5.1 billion in the United States last year. but paid no taxes-the same company that employs more people overseas than it does in the united States .

"So let me get this straight. President Obama appointed GE Chairman Jeff Immelt to head his commission on job creation (job czar). Immelt is supposed to help create jobs. I guess the President forgot to tell him in which country he was supposed to be creating those jobs.

"If this doesn't show you the total lack of leadership of this President, I don't know what does. Please pass this information to others and think about it before you buy a GE product.

"This has been verified on Snopes.


(Sometimes, authors of pieces like this throw in that it is Snopes-verified, and it really is not, if you bother to go directly to In this case, Snopes says it's True.)

Want to carry a concealed gun?

A reader sent me this video yesterday:

Watch it. If you think you want to carry a gun, watch it and listen to the advice.

Train, train, train.

Training is not sitting in your chair, watching this video. Get to a class. Go to the range. Get someone who knows what he is talking about to coach and mentor you.

Many thanks to the reader who sent this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Driver gets warning, no ticket

Received the following from a motorist in the St. Louis area who had an encounter with a Missouri State Trooper yesterday. Sure is nice to read about how police treat some drivers:

"I got pulled over by a state troopoer for having a tail light out and driving on the shoulder of the road.  I didn't know it was burnt out, the brake light was ok per the trooper.  Trooper asked why I was driving on the shoulder.  I said I must have weaved over when I picked up my diet coke.  I got a warning, no ticket.  Got the tailight fixed on my way home this morning.  Trooper that they had lots of drunk drivers in that area.  Well I guess I didn't smell drunk (I think that's possible with diet sodas.) and our large sodas were clearly visable in the cup holders.  He was very polite about the whole matter."

Some drivers have the misfortune of being stopped by a polite officer who offers a warning for a burned-out headlight (and right in front of the driver's home), until a second cop shows up and reminds the first of a standing order at the Department to ticket that driver for anything! No warnings.

It's called "payback". But maybe it really puts karma in motion.

WPD Det. Sgt. retiring

The Woodstock City Council is poised to issue a proclamation tonight, recognizing Det. Sgt. Kurt Rosenquist for his 27 years of employment with the Woodstock Police Department.

In 27 years you get to see a lot of people come and go within a department, and you get to see many events and incidents and cases, some of which, I am sure, Kurt would have preferred not to see. I suspect there were a lot of times Kurt wanted to "walk", but he didn't.

Sometimes officers and detectives keep "working" a case after they separate from a department. Maybe Kurt will keep working the Beth Bentley mysterious disappearance. As a retired officer, he may not be constrained by the limitations imposed on him by his oath of office, his duties and the law. He'll no longer have to give a suspect any Miranda Warning.

I imagine that Kurt has a good idea what happened to Beth Bentley and just who, even right here in Woodstock, knows more than she or he has said. Maybe the Bentley family will hire him to pursue those who could lead to finding Beth.

Maybe he'll write a book about his career and a chapter about the Bentley case. Or maybe he'll start a blog.

Thanks for your 27 years of work, Kurt. Sorry that you weren't able to solve the Bentley case before retirement.

And still we are losing troops

U.S. troops are out of Iraq, right?

Now, what about Afghanistan?

U.S. and Illinois flags will be lowered to half-staff on Thursday through Saturday to honor the service and memory of U.S.Army Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora. Spc. Patterson died January 6th in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when the vehicle he was in was blown up by in IED. Three others were also killed.

Spc. Patterson was serving with the 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard.

When you see the lowered flags this week, pause and think of Spc. Patterson. Think also of the others who died in Afghanistan and Iraq. And those who have been wounded.

That first press release about Pyle

On Saturday, January 7, McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren issued a statement about Greg Pyle, without naming him. In fact, it's curious whether Nygren really issued the statement, since the "statement" bears a rubber-stamp signature with no initials to indicate who stamped Keith's name on the statement.

That ground was covered previously - when you sign someone else's name, you identify yourself by your name or initials. In this case, "Someone" didn't.

You can read the statement here for yourself. Just click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.

In view of what is known now (and what must have been known when the folks at the sheriff's department learned about it on Friday night), to call it a "domestic issue" fails every test of reasonability.

What do you think of when you think of "domestic" issue? Loud voices? Maybe a pot thrown at someone? Maybe someone got pushed a little?

Now we know that MCSD Sgt. Greg Pyle has been charged with ten (count 'em: 10) counts of "Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault (Child under 13)".

Don't worry, folks. It was "just" a little domestic issue.

Did Sheriff Nygren authorize and word that "statement"? Did he approve it? Was it faxed or emailed back and forth between Woodstock and Minocqua until they got all the words in just the right order?

Who put Pyle on administrative leave? Who has that authority at MCSD? Did Undersheriff Zinke assume full responsibility on Friday evening and take action? Or was that call made from Minocqua, the official Wisconsin headquarters of the McHenry County (Ill.) Sheriff's Department?

And, since Pyle's "administrative leave" can reasonably be expected to last more than 30 days, when will the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission meet? As a "public body" its meeting must be announced 48 hours in advance, and it is open to the public. You can bet your britches that they'll run for Executive Session (they don't have to, but they will), and then they'll return to Open Session and vote to suspend Pyle without pay.

As of this morning, no Special Meeting of the Merit Commission is scheduled. Can only Sheriff Nygren call a special meeting? Can the deputy in charge of the Sheriff's Department in Nygren's absence call a special meeting? Can two of the members of the Commission call a Special Meeting?

Will Nygren immediately fire Pyle for bringing discredit to the Department? Pyle's alleged activities are certainly a lot more serious than writing a warning to a driver, which got Zane Seipler fired.

Will the sheriff use the State's Attorney's Office to defend any lawsuit by Pyle to get his job back, with back pay? Tricky, eh? - since the State's Attorney's Office will be prosecuting Pyle. Is there an outside law firm already licking its chops over more legal fees from the Sheriff's Department?

MCSD - special handling of Pyle

Why is the McHenry County Sheriff's Department pussy-footing around the Pyle case within its walls?

When an employee is suspended or comes under a cloud of some type, MCSD alerts its employees. News and information alerts are sent by internal email to employees.

For example, MCSD sent the following email:

"To All Personnel;

"As of 01/13/2012, Philip Gualdoni is no longer employed by the McHenry County Sheriff's Office. He should be afforded no access not normally granted to the general public."

The strange thing is, I can't find anyone who has a clue who "Philip Gualdoni" is (or was).

When the warrant was issued for Pyle and his arrest was anticipated, every Department employee should have been alerted, just in case he used his keycard to come in the back door. Did MCSD send out an email to employees? No

Were personnel who would be involved in processing him, should he be taken into custody, informed fully? No

Have there been any information alerts to employees that Pyle is on "administrative leave" and is not permitted unescorted within the Sheriff's Department (or maybe not at all)? No

Did MCSD command personnel urge the State Police to search Pyle's home immediately, in order to preserve all possible evidence? Did they immediately secure his work area and freeze everything he was working on? Was his work area secured as soon as the "domestic" matter was reported? Why did it take so many days for investigators to show up and search his home in Crystal Lake?

Undoubtedly, someone at the Crystal Lake Police Department would have alerted "someone" at the Sheriff's Department. It would seem appropriate for the Chief at the Crystal Lake Police Department to contact Sheriff Keith Nygren. Is there documentation of such an alert?

Monday, January 16, 2012

More charges in Pyle case?

Will there be more charges in the Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault (Child under 13) case against McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Pyle?

Why are the only charges filed (so far) for the period 2006-2010? What caused the "domestic" matter on January 6? The first press release, which was the source of the first article in the Northwest Herald, said that there was a "domestic" matter. Yeah, sure. I guess there would be if there was an eye-witness who happened to walk in on (well, you know...).

Right now, other family members need a lot of support. And Pyle? What does he need? A darned sharp attorney and a big balance in his checkbook.

Should there be charges for a current time period, if a crime were alleged on January 6? Will it take a Grand Jury or only a complaining witness?

In response to a FOIA request for that Friday night "first" press release, which may have gone directly to (or was obtained by) the Northwest Herald, all I received was this photo of Pyle. No copy of a press release accompanied the photo. No explanation of a reason for not providing it. This is a first from the FOIA Officer at MCSD. Did somebody order her not to respond? Perhaps there was just a "slip-up" in the FOIA response. I'll follow up tomorrow, when government offices re-open.

At rollcall a week ago Undersheriff Zinke reportedly said Pyle's case was a "family matter" and "doesn't affect the (sheriff's) department operationally." Was this just an isolated incident? "Only" involving one of Pyle's kids?

Let's see... does that compute, folks? Pyle was trained at MCSD expense and was in charge of the Evidence Room. Of course, his arrest affects MCSD operationally! He is off-duty now (on paid administrative leave) and somebody else has to be put in charge of the Evidence Room. So we are paying double for one cop. No operational effect? If the department isn't looking hard to ascertain whether any evidence in the Room has been compromised, then the Keystone Cops are running our sheriff's department

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission is February 8. Doesn't Sheriff Nygren think it's important to call a Special Meeting immediately to suspend Pyle without pay? Why is Nygren MIA on this?

There are five community members on the Merit Commission. They are Janelle Crowley (HR Director, City of Woodstock); Patrick J. McAndrews, an attorney in McHenry; Gloria Urch, businesswoman; Brian Goode, president (?) of RITA Corporation, Crystal Lake; and William Mack. (No biographical sketches appear for Goode and Mack, who have been on the Merit Commission for TEN years!) If you know any of these five, call them and demand that the Merit Commission meet and take action. It probably takes only two of the members to call a Special Meeting.

Is there some reason that Zinke hasn't called a Special Meeting? Isn't he in charge when Nygren is away? Or is he really NOT in charge when Nygren is away?

What was Lt. Popovits doing at Pyle's residence, when the State Police was there with a search warrant last week? Should any MCSD officer have been there, when the State Police was looking for evidence to be used in Pyle's case? Maybe, cases... Are Pyle and Popovits friends, outside the Department? Is Popovits under a gag order from the Sheriff or Undersheriff not to have any contact with Pyle and to engage in no communication with him?

As to Zinke's comment about a "family matter"... how do I remain polite and respectful toward readers and not call that one the way it is.

And did a Lieutenant tell any deputy "You stick with your friends." What??? A law-enforcement officer is to set aaide his sworn duty "to serve and protect" and let a friendship supersede his sworn duty? These criminal charges are against someone accused of being a sexual predator, and against his own kid!!!

Sure, Pyle is presumed to be innocent. Let's see who shows up in court as the complaining witness. Pyle has a court date on Friday, January 27, 9:00AM, in Room 304 before Judge Sharon Prather. The Case Number is 12CF000020, if you want to follow upcoming court dates in the Circuit Court online records at

The legal games have already started with a Motion for Re-Assignment. Pyle's lawyer is Pat Walsh, of Donahue & Walsh, McHenry. Does somebody want Judge Prather dumped? And replaced by whom? Will there be a request to move this case out of McHenry County?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beth Bentley - Week 86

Beth Bentley has been missing from Woodstock now for 86 weeks. She disappeared on the week-end of May 22-23, 2010. Some say she disappeared from Centralia, Ill. Others wonder whether she was ever in the Mount Vernon, Ill. area that week-end.

If a Private Investigator got involved now, 86 weeks after she disappeared, where would he start?

He'd probably start at her old office. He'd look carefully at her activities for the two-three months before her disappearance. He'd talk to her husband, her family (her sons, her father, her brother in Phoenix, the never-mentioned brother in Woodstock), to her "best friend", to her "best friends", her co-workers, her acquaintances, her Facebook "Friends", her drinking buddies from the old Gus's Roadhouse.

He would want to examine the Facebook postings and comments that have since disappeared. Are they still available from Facebook records?

He'd dissect the last week-end, starting with her youngest son's baseball game on Thursday, May 20, 2010, and the stop at Dairy Queen. He'd find out who was at the baseball game and who was at the Dairy Queen.

He'd track down the rental car and check the mileage records and I-Pass. He'd look for any tickets to either Beth or Jenn that week-end or parking tickets for the rental car.

He'd get access to the house at 749 Tara Drive that Beth had rented for Jenn. Even now there could still be evidence to be found in the house.

Then he'd take apart the itinerary for the week-end and re-trace the route to Mt. Vernon and back, and the supposed trip to Centralia on Sunday afternoon. What route? What time? Who drove? How far? Tolls? Gas? Who called whom on the phone - all incoming and outgoing phone calls? Any calls to Mt. Vernon while Beth and Jenn were enroute? Any calls from Mt. Vernon to either of them? Why or why not? What time did they get to Mt. Vernon? What did they do then? Who slept where? Text messages in or out on the week-end?

What did the group do on Friday? What time did each person in the house arise? Where did they go? Together? Separately? Where did they eat dinner? What did each have? What does each say that the others had?

The stories are likely, by now, to mesh like gears on a fine Swiss clock> Will they "mesh" too well?

When did the Sunday night birthday dinner with her father get canceled?

Did Beth just walk away? Not likely.

And, if she didn't, then very likely there may be numerous people in Woodstock who know what happened to her? These are people you are bumping into every day. Keep asking them questions about Beth.

And tell the Woodstock Police Department what you are learning. The stories, if that's what they are, will start falling apart..

Is the Woodstock Police Department still investigating this "Endangered Missing Person" case? Why was Beth classified as "Endangered"? Do they know something they have never reported? There don't seem to be any reports of health or emotional problems. Had she been threatened?

Every month the Woodstock Police Department "updates" the City Manager and the City Council on this case. Unfortunately, it's with a "boilerplate" summary that doesn't change from month-to-month. Just what is the Woodstock Police Department really doing to find Beth Bentley?

What does a Safety Director do?

What does a Safety Director do? Well, there are different types of safety directors.

One is a nice guy that I encountered after being tailgated on a Virginia interstate by the driver of a big rig out of Minnesota. I was able to get the name of the company, city of its home office, and the tractor and trailer unit numbers and later emailed the Safety Director. That got me a polite and prompt response and a promise of action to investigate the driver's operation of their truck.

There are other types of safety directors. Sometimes people are hired to conduct background checks. Sometimes law enforcement officers are hired. Now it might be because they have a nose for action and things out of place; they might have higher than normal sensitivity for "red flags" in an application for one position or another.

Let's say that a particular law enforcement officer lined up some part-time work as a Safety Director for an organization; let's say, perhaps a sports league for youth that needed a lot of coaches and other volunteers for league games. I would suppose that the league would provide the applicants' identity to the Safety Director and that he would start running backgrounds checks and develop files on men and women who had applied to be coaches or other volunteers.

To whom would the files and background checks belong? Wouldn't you think the League would maintain a list of work it asked the Safety Director to do and would require the return of all materials, if the business relationship ended?

And let's say that the Safety Director just happened to be with a major law enforcement agency in the County; say, for example, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. Where would such an employee get the tools and equipment to access information with which to complete any background checks?

You can find out a lot about a person today using internet tools that are not too difficult or expensive. But what if such a Safety Director used Department equipment or access to more secure services to pry a little deeper? Would there be anything wrong with that?

It's important for organizations dealing with youth to have very careful background checks made on anyone who will come in contact with their under-age team members. Often a first-level search won't find the "dirt", if it's there. The investigator (or Safety Director) must dig deeper. If he happened to be specially trained in internet investigations, how would the marketplace respond?

Why would a Safety Director keep a large number of unprocessed background checks in his home, assuming that he used his home for his part-time business? That's a lot of personal information to be kept in an unsecure location.

And, if that law-enforcement officer is running a part-time business from his home, even if he is a volunteer or doesn't otherwise charge the association, would he have to get written permission from his employer? Would he have to disclose whether or not he intends to use taxpayer-supported equipment (computers, internet access, secure databases) when he runs the background checks?

Most departments do not allow unreported part-time work. Do they also control volunteer work that utilizes law-enforcement training or skills?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A bicycle bridge? Over Rakow Road?

Did you see this morning's paper? And the short article about temporary closing of Rakow Road for erection of a bicycle bridge?

Don't you just have to wonder how that decision got made and how much of the $26,600,000 road-widening project is going for the "bridge"?

The Northwest Herald was kind enough to omit whose traffic project this is. Is a McHenry County project? Crystal Lake? IDOT? The consulting firm TRANS/LAND had its hand in the pork barrel, but they didn't make the decision. Who did?

A bicycle bridge? Give me a break! Whatever happened to bicyclists following the rules of the road, crossing at corners, watching for traffic? What is that "bridge" going to cost per bicyclist?

This is what happens when "real people" abscond in their personal responsibilities and stop attending public meetings, whether they are municipal, county, state or at what level. And when the press fails to inform the public adequately in advance of agendas, whether Agendas for meetings or agendas of public departments.

A bicycle bridge? What a waste!

Nygren & Seipler - nose-to-nose on Jan. 27

Friday, January 27th. This is the next date for Zane Seipler's civil rights lawsuit against McHenry County's ought-to-be top cop Keith Nygren. I say, "ought-to-be" because Nygren is hardly ever seen in McHenry County. When does the man earn his $145,000/year? Or does he think he earns it by enjoying a wood-burning fires in Minocqua?

Nygren has only been sheriff since 1997, but he seems to believe he can take vacation time as if he worked for McHenry County for 40 years. It's 14 years, Keith, not 40!

Wouldn't it be nice to see a true schedule of the actual hours in his office at 2200 N. Seminary Ave.?

The Motions are flying back and forth, and Judge Kapala or Judge Mahoney ought to have a great time on Friday the 27th. Somehow, I think those judges in Rockford are not likely to horse around. When I watched Judge Mahoney "close up and personal" on April 6, 2011, he knew Zane's case cold. He knew that the lawyer from Jim Sotos' law office, counsel for the sheriff, was on a fishing expedition, and that was exactly what he called it. He didn't mince any words. He knew that Sotos' law firm was asking for documents that didn't even apply to the case before him, and he said so in exactly those words. He didn't have to look up anything; he didn't delay or hesitate. He knew that case cold!

See the good article today in First Electric Newspaper about the Federal case. Keep in mind that article is about Zane's Federal case, not about the case that was scheduled in McHenry County Circuit Court yesterday on Zane's request for a Special Prosecutor. Circuit Court records have not yet been updated in that case (10MR000011) to reflect the next court date.

I'm wondering ... how did Zane and Blake Horwitz, Zane's lawyer, appear in two courts at the same time? Or was the Federal case scheduled in the afternoon?

And don't forget Zane's third case. That's the one where Sheriff' Nygren refuses to accept the decisions of the arbitrator, the Circuit Court judge, or the Appellate Court. Nygren is wasting even more taxpayer dollars by stalling and appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court.

If you remember, the arbitrator decided that Zane should have just gotten three days' off without pay. Zane should not have been fired. So what Nygren is doing is arguing ad nauseum at the taxpayers' expense about taking Zane back (and paying him three years' back pay!). When he loses at the Illinois Supreme Court level, he ought to have to reimburse the County for all the legal fees he has wasted, plus the unnecessary run-up in back pay for Zane.

Let's hope that the Illinois Supreme Court will waste no more time before issuing a statement that it will not accept that case. Does it have a deadline?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Heartfelt thanks remembered

In this morning's Northwest Herald was an AP photo of a coffee shop manager shoveling snow from the sidewalk in front of his coffee shop in Dubuque, Iowa. Bill Henson was shown, clearing snow from the front of Jitterz Coffee & Cafe.

The photo reminded me of a snowy morning in 1986 Kansas City, Kans., when I was VP of Membership Services for the local chamber of commerce. We were an 1,100-member chamber, and my job was serving the membership, as well as building the numbers.

On that morning of the first snow of the season, I asked where the snow shovel was. I grabbed it and went outside to clear the sidewalk. Never thought twice about it. It needed to be done. I had thought of it, and so I took care of it.

When I returned to my desk, the VP of Administration came by. She had been there 18 years, and she told me I was the first man in all that time to shovel the snow.

One of the books I ought to write is about my experiences with that chamber. And later with the Phoenix, Corpus Christi and Richmond (Virginia) Chambers of Commerce.

I have since told friends that, if they ever find out I am thinking of working for another chamber of commerce, they should drag me out to the "back 40" and shoot me.

Sheriff's Dept. press releases - any guidelines?

Are there any standards at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for press releases? Apparently not.

What type of criminal (or other) activity would merit a press release?

Suspicion that a lit (sic) candle might have caused a house fire?
Potential juror/identity theft scam?
A deputy staying awake at an FBI academy long enough to graduate?
A snowmobile safety course?
Arrest of three druggies?

How about a person wanted for Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault on a Child?
A child under age 13.
Over a four-year period.
A family member.
A deputy of the sheriff's department.
A person in charge of an important area of the department (evidence and computer forensics)
The arrest of that deputy?

Think about this. Think the sheriff's department is trying to keep this out of sight? A Friday night's press release to the Northwest Herald called it "just" a domestic issue involving the deputy's family.

What internal procedures were not followed at the time of MCSD Sgt. Greg Pyle was arrested, booked and bailed out?

Command personnel must have made a decision not to publish such news in a press release on the department website. They didn't even inform people within the department who had a need to know.

The way to clean up the manure at the sheriff department - the only way -  is to kick the current sheriff out of office and bring in someone from the outside who will clean up the mess.

And Illinois Election Law is going to make it really hard to do that, because of the one-year residency requirement for the Office of Sheriff.

How much is Sotos paid?

Did Judge Gordon Graham really allow County Board Chairman Ken Koehler to get away with a non-answer to a question the good judge asked yesterday?

When a judge asks a witness a question, then he should get an answer - the answer. Instead, it appears that Ken Koehler ducked the answer and the judge let it pass. Thumbs down on both actions.

According to this morning's Northwest Herald, Judge Graham asked Koehler "at which rate private attorney Jim Sotos, who represents the sheriff in some cases, is paid." (The quote is from the article, not necessarily Judge Graham's exact words."

Again, from the article, "County Board Chairman Ken Koehler said that Sotos is mostly paid through insurance."

Let's see; how do I restrain myself, remain professional, and not call that answer by what it really was.

Judge Graham should have cast one glance at Koehler and just waited. And waited. And waited. Until Koehler answered the question. Or he could have said, "Chairman Koehler, I'm going to give you ten seconds to answer the question that I asked. Your time starts now."

Eleven seconds later Judge Graham should have called his bailiff and directed Koehler taken to the lock-up.

Do you think people would stop messing with judges, if that happened.

So, how much per-hour does Sotos bill the County for work for he does for Sheriff Nygren, regardless of who pays it.

If Judge Graham agreed to pay special prosecutors Thomas McQueen and Henry Tonigan at the hourly rate of $250, then the County should have paid them a long time ago. All the whining and crying by the County Board is nothing but malingering and politicking. McQueen and Tonigan ought to sue McHenry County, and throw in damages, too.

Illinois Appellate Prosecutor Charles Colburn is quoted as having said, "Public service is not a pot of gold." Books could be written about that statement, but let's just apply it to a lawyer's cutting his hourly rate from $500 to $250. Just because that is higher than the statutory rate earned by the State's Attorney doesn't have a thing to do with anything. Nice words, but ...

Oh, can't pass this up. Public service is not a pot of gold? Toss that question at Sheriff Nygren. How many weeks of vacation does he take in a year? For example, last year - a month-long vacation to the Panama Canal plus how many other weeks?

And now? One of his in-crowd deputies gets nailed for Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault on a Child, and where is Nygren? Enjoying the snow in Minocqua.