Monday, April 30, 2012

TribLocal reports Woodstock arrest

Jeremiah Pedersen
Thank goodness for the Chicago Tribune and TribLocal. Is that where we have to go for news of cocaine arrests in Woodstock?

Jeremiah Pedersen, 29, was busted on Friday, April 27, near Washington and Wheeler Streets in Woodstock. According to TribLocal, sheriff's deputies pulled him over. Pedersen fled on foot but was caught. Pedersen's car was searched and $4,000 worth of cocaine (43.5 grams) was found.  Pedersen (a "Woodstock man", according to the article) posted 10% of a $100,000 bail bond on Sunday.

OK, so if this happened on Friday, why is there no press release, even now, on the MCSD website? And why doesn't the Northwest Herald report this already?

Thanks to the two readers who sent me the information. If you want to read the TribLocal article, go to

Last week I was informed that there are CALEA requirements about press releases - something about posting press releases that then become available to all media.

Other readers report that northside neighborhoods are going from bad to worse. Remember the middle-of-the-night fight, injuries, repeated police calls to a Washington Street address that resulted in paramedic calls and transports to the hospital? That building is still focus of neighborhood problems and police attention. Why would a car pull up at midnight and horn the horn?

In another neighborhood cars pulled up to a house at all hours, stopped for a few minutes while people ran in and out, and then drove away. Dates, times, vehicle descriptions were furnished repeatedly to the Woodstock Police Department. Was there ever a stake-out? Any arrests? The neighbors don't think so.

The police can't do it all on their own. But, when the public wants to help and does help, and still nothing happens, something needs to change!

Nice home, Hemet, Calif.

A friend is helping a friend sell her home in Hemet, Calif. If you know someone who might be interested in a nice mobile home, get in touch. I'll help you connect with the owner. I can forward three photos to interested parties.

The asking price is $35,000. Contact the Park for the cost of space rent.

"2008 Catalina 9200 SPEC  Park Model: 9295A
Original price: $53,000, including full deck, full aluminum skirting and awning with downspout, and storage shed with electric. Central HVAC, full size refrigerator, garbage disposal, gas range, and microwave. Built in cabinets for storage. All blinds and draperies and plants remain. Unit can remain in Mountain Valley RV Park (space 147) or moved to a different location. Deck was built with trex and designed for easy moving.
Some furniture available if desired. Carpeting allowance included depending on offer.
Desire sale to close no later than May 30, 2012."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Zimmerman Road shooting range

Yesterday afternoon it sounded like war had come to Woodstock. Or maybe an armed stand-off after a robbery or kidnapping. Or was it just that the Zimmerman Road Shooting Range was open for business.

I heard numerous shots (rifle, shotgun or large-caliber pistol) in the afternoon and then again about 6:00PM. I live about 1/2-mile west of the "range" and am buffered by trees, buildings and railroad tracks, but the sound of many shots being fired could clearly be heard.

What's it like to live at Prairie View Apartments or in one of the many homes along Country Club Road and McConnell Road?

Frankly, I don't care that the shooter lives "in" the County. Shooting in a heavily-populated area is just plan stupid, as well as rude. There must be some law that can be applied against the shooter, such as endangering men, women, children, animals, property, vehicles...

How about Disorderly Conduct? A shooter in a populated area surely would be alarming or disturbing to another and provoking a breach of the peace.

Beth Bentley - gone 99 weeks now

Beth Bentley, mother of three and age 41 in May 2010, has now been missing for 99 weeks.

Are there any new leads?

Are any old leads being re-investigated?

Is there still any reward being offered? Two Crime Stoppers groups each offered "up to" $1,000 for information. Typical Crime Stoppers rewards actually paid averaged $300, so who is going to cough up information for $300?

Or even for $1,000?

And the other $3,000 that was initially offered? Has that faded into oblivion with most of the Missing Person posters?

Should any significance be attached to the absence of any meaningful reward or of any ongoing public attention to this case?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Drivers should not wave through

A good reason why drivers should not wave pedestrians ahead of them was demonstrated on Friday morning in Huntley, when a 12-year-old boy was crossing Haligus Road near Marlowe Middle School.

According to the Northwest Herald, a driver was stopped northbound in the left-turn lane and waved the boy to cross the street. Presumably, the boy was on the southeast corner of the intersection and waiting to cross in the crosswalk. The unnamed driver waved at the boy to cross, and he apparently walked out in front of a northbound car in the through lane.

Looking at the intersection of Haligus Road and Scott Drive on Google Maps, it looks to me like the northbound driver, Nicole Tims, should have seen him. There is probably a school zone speed limit there, and signs would alert drivers to the school zone and the school.

If the boy was at the crosswalk, why didn't Tims slow and yield the right of way? And why didn't Huntley Police ticket her for failing to yield to a pedestrian?

Hitting a student in a school zone is a  huge driving error. Sure, the northbound driver turning left should not have waved the boy to cross. And the boy should have looked carefully and not tried to cross in front of approaching traffic. Tims' car didn't come "out of nowhere."

The Northwest Herald did not allow comments to its article. Comments could result in increased awareness by drivers.

Have you ever waved a pedestrian or another driver to "go ahead", only to see that person almost involved in a crash?

Flags in courtrooms

Where is the correct location for a U.S. Flag in a courtroom (in the United States)?

When the flag pole is placed in a floor stand, where should that stand be placed in the courtroom?

At the front of the courtroom?
To the judge's right (on the left as the spectators look at the bench)?
At the back of the courtroom?

Is there more than one judge in the McHenry County courts who begins every session with the Pledge of Allegiance?

Why concealed carry works

An armed citizen in Salt Lake City halted a stabbing spree on Thursday night.

A man had purchased a knife in Smith's Marketplace and began stabbing others. The armed man drew his weapon and ordered the criminal to drop his knife or he'd shoot him. The man dropped the knife and was grabbed and held for the police.

Notice that the armed citizen didn't shoot the criminal. He warned him, and that was sufficient. But what if he hadn't been armed?

This is why we need concealed carry in Illinois. A trained, armed citizen will intervene. We won't replace police. We will act when they aren't around. And, with good training, we'll use only that degree of force needed.

Where is McHerny County?

I decided to look for any press releases this month with the signature of Sheriff Keith Nygren on them. You know, if he is in town and puts out a press release with his name on it, shouldn't his signature be on it? Or his initials? Or the initials of any employee who prepared the press release or signed Keith's name to it?

But now the press releases merely provide the typewritten name, "Sheriff Keith Nygren", near the bottom.

And sometimes not even that. For example, a press release about the Woodstock District 200 "Project Sticker Shock" directs readers and interested parties to Laura Crain at District 200 or to Deputy Aimee' Knop, Community Relations/PIO (Public Information Officer).

Presumably, the press release was typed at the sheriff's department, because it is on stationery with the infamous seven-point (Nygren political campaign emblem) "star" at the top of the page (even though Keith's ever-so-proud picture in uniform clearly shows him wearing the official five-point star).

If you want more information from Deputy Knop about Project Sticker Shock, you can contact her at (sic)

Is McHerny County the 103rd county in Illinois?

Not one of the seven April press releases on the sheriff's website contains his signature or a set of initials by his name. Does this meet the CALEA standard for attribution of a press release? When no employee's name is on the release, that means no one is responsible for its accuracy.

"The field is going to be crowded"

Who wants to be the next sheriff of McHenry County?

Why is the word out already that the field is going to be crowded, when (if?) Keith Nygren retires (resigns)?

When would be a good time for him to bail out? Not before July. If he bails right now, then there will be an election in November 2012 and the voters would have a chance. Not a big chance, but at least a chance.

Why should he wait until July? Because, if he leaves office within 28 months of the end of his term of office (November 30, 2014), then the McHenry County will appoint a successor to serve out his sentence (err, term...). That's how he got to be sheriff in the first place. The County Board appointed him. Nygren was Chief of Police of Crystal Lake at the time he was tapped for the big kahuna's job in McHenry County law enforcement.

It probably looks to him right now like a "sentence". All he can do is stay out of sight. He seems to be doing that, pushing his undersheriff into the limelight and keeping his name out of announcements and press releases.His heart rate might have returned to somewhere near normal after Judge Meyer decided that he (Judge Meyer) could not legally appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Nygren.

The question now is whether McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi will decide that maybe he can investigate, indict and prosecute Nygren.

Any public official suspected of theft, official misconduct, misappropriation of funds (and maybe even murder-for-hire solicitation, trafficking of illegal immigrants, and fraudulent loan documents) should be investigated. The question is, who will do it?

Okay, so who is in the running for appointment as the next sheriff?

The candidate has to be 18 years old, a one-year resident of McHenry County, not a felon, and a Republican. You'll notice that law enforcement experience is not a requirement or qualification.

Minimum additional qualifications should be honesty, integrity and a desire for transparency in government. A pair of sturdy work gloves will be needed, if the right person is chosen. He will need to make a stop at ACE Hardware and purchase a big pushbroom. A good housecleaning at MCSD is needed. The new commander-in-chief at the sheriff's department ought to bring in an out-of-county person to be Undersheriff,

By cleaning up the shop there, many future lawsuits can be avoided and maybe even a lot of the existing ones can be settled a lot cheaper than forking over hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside legal fees and ultimate settlements. Many lawsuits happen to force unwanted change on a public agency; it's often not about the money.

Lawyers' Relief & Retirement Act (a/k/a court)

Back on about January 19, 2011, a two-car vehicle crash occurred between cars driven by a woman and a Woodstock Police officer. The crash was investigated by a deputy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

The woman was ticketed (of course). The police officer was not (of course). What happened?

The woman had a green light southbound in the through lane on Route 47 approaching Lake Avenue. The officer was responding to assist another officer, although he had not been dispatched on the call. He heard police radio traffic and decided to go. He activated his emergency lights and siren. As I recall, he had made several turns and was westbound on Lake Avenue against a red light.

Illinois statutes require an officer driving against a traffic signal to exercise extreme caution and not to cause an accident. He ended up in front of the southbound vehicle and the police car got hit. Views of both drivers were probably obscured by a vehicle stopped in the southbound left-turn lane. In my mind, this creates a higher burden on the police officer not to drive in front of a car that has a green light.

Enter the lawyers.

The woman driver obtained the services of Donahue & Walsh to defend her against the traffic ticket for failing to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle. Case No. 11TR003240 has had numerous court dates. A jury trial was set for May 9, 2012, but now has been re-scheduled to August 6. Number of court dates so far? 11

The police officer sued the woman driver. The woman is counter-suing. Case No. 11AR000086 was filed on February 4, 2011. Note the short time between the date of the crash and filing date. The original claim by the officer was for $389.13 for Woodstock Fire Rescue to transport him to Centegra, plus $1,621.44 for treatment at Centegra, plus $120 to replace his uniform, plus $120 to replace his eyeglasses.

Why would an on-duty police officer sue for all these expenses, which would normally be paid by his employer, the Woodstock Police Department and the City of Woodstock?

Look at the line-up of parties in the case. In addition to the two drivers, the list includes the City of Woodstock; Franks, Gerkin & McKenna; Ancel Glink Diamond Bush et al.; Stellato & Schwartz LTD.

Number of court dates so far? Ten. The next court date is May 9, 9:00AM, for a "Status - Check".

Isn't it time for the judges and the public to take back control of the judicial system and put a stop to this type of nonsense? The judge should set a trial date and tell the lawyers that, if they aren't ready, he'll throw it out. Then give each side 30 minutes for its case. Just the facts. Leave the emotions at the door in petty cases like these two.

These two cases most likely will get settled just before juries are sworn in. Judges need to put a stop to these types of games. If lawyers really want a jury trial, make them stick to their choice. After they get embarrassed a few times trying a weak case, they'll give up. And I'm not talking just about defense lawyers. The prosecutors need to determine whether they have a bonafide case right away; if they don't, drop it.

By the way, why didn't the deputy issue a ticket to the cop for his clear violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code?

Friday, April 27, 2012

When is a poor person not?

The hot news from Florida earlier today was that George Zimmerman, accused of killing Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. on February 26, had filed in court as an indigent person.

I guess he forgot about the $200,000 in his PayPal account. Kind of easy to overlook such a paltry sum, right?

This caused me to reflect on a case involving June 7th homicides right here in McHenry County in which a person recently filed a Petition as a Poor Person; you know, an indigent.

In the Florida case Zimmerman was not initially charged. Martin was blamed for attacking him, and Zimmerman claimed self-defense. Martin is dead, and so he can't talk.

In the McHenry County case, the survivor has not been charged with any crime. In fact, if you read all the reports from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, he is not suspected of any crime. A man from down the road was blamed, and he's dead, so he can't talk.

From the June 9, 2011, Northwest Herald, "(Sheriff Keith) Nygren said Scott Feldkamp had 'absolute authority' to use deadly force to protect himself and his family."

“'He killed a dangerous offender,' Nygren said." 

Case closed.

Nygren's rapid conclusion about what happened on Somerset Drive in Marengo less than two days earlier shows wondrous investigative powers and analysis. It also shows that a conclusion was announced to the press that is not substantiated by the written reports.

On March 7 a Petition and Order to Sue or Defend as Poor Person was filed by Scott Feldkamp as Executor of Audrey Feldkamp's estate in the foreclosure action on the Feldkamp Somerset Drive residence. PNC Bank claims it did not get the June 1, 2011 payment on the mortgage or any payment since.

Were there $52,000 in liquid assets in bank accounts and investments last June? Weren't household furnishings liquidated? Weren't there two vehicles? Since Jack Feldkamp died first, everything went to Audrey. What happened to everything?

PNC filed a Motion for Leave to file an Amended Complaint and to Appoint a Special Representative. The Bank wants William Butcher to serve as Special Representative for the deceased, whom it named in its Motion as "Thomas M. Wagner". Who is Thomas M. Wagner? The Motion named John Feldkamp as the deceased in two other places in the Motion.

On the same day as Scott Feldkamp filed his Petition to be considered a Poor Person, two Appearances were filed in the case of Prairie Community Bank v. John Feldkamp Estate, et al. Scott Feldkamp, as Executor, filed pro se and Attorney R. Duane Slayton, of Hampshire, filed as attorney for the Estate of John Feldkamp. 

The Prairie Community Bank case involves Harmony Real Estate Partnership. Attorney R. Duane Slayton filed a Motion acknowledging IDOT's planned take-over of the property under Eminent Domain. That taking of the property by IDOT could bring $500,000 into the Estate.

Because of the short time between the deaths of Jack Feldkamp and Audrey Feldkamp (only about two hours), the estates warrant careful tracking of assets. Audrey inherited everything from Jack by surviving him. Those with claims against the estates should exercise great care in protecting their financial interests.

What is a LODD?

LODD is short for Line-of-Duty Death.

When a law enforcement officer or firefighter or person in another specified category of employment dies in the line-of-duty, the State of Illinois pays a death benefit that is defined in the statutes.

Before 1974, the death benefit was $10,000. Then it began increasing - to $20,000 to $50,000 to $100,000 to $118,000 to $259,038 (July 1, 2002-January 1, 2003). And then on upward based on Consumer Price Index increases.

How much is it in 2012?

More than three hundred twenty-nine thousand dollars! $329,130.36, to be exact.

When you think of a fallen firefighter (let's say, in a building on fire when the roof collapses) or a police officer who gives his life fighting crime, maybe a State payment of $329,130 is in order. The legislature has made it so.

This is probably in addition to workers' compensation survivor benefits and certainly would be in addition to any personal or group life insurance that was in force.

From the statute (820 ILCS 315/...), "Killed in the line of duty" means losing one's life as a result of injury received in the active performance of duties as a law enforcement officer, civil defense worker, civil air patrol member, paramedic, fireman, or chaplain if the death occurs within one year from the date the injury was received and if that injury arose from violence or other accidental cause. 

The statute continues ...
(3) the injury is received by the officer while the
officer is travelling to or from his employment as a law enforcement officer or during any meal break, or other break, which takes place during the period in which the officer is on duty as a law enforcement officer.

The Illinois Court of Claims doesn't limit the payment just to law enforcement officers, even though that's what the legislature said in regard to commuting or travel. So the statute pays for a officer (firefighter, etc.) while he is commuting to and from work (before and after his actual work hours) and also covers him if he heads out for lunch or coffee during his work day.

What other employee in the State of Illinois gets these rich benefits? I'm all for providing the benefit for that cop or firefighter who dies in the actual performance of his duties. But I strongly object to such a large payment for a death that is not directly related to the actual performance of his duties.

How much did the State of Illinois pay out in Fiscal 2011 (ending 6/30/11)? Between $11,-13,000,000, according to the Illinois Court of Claims. This included military and non-military claims.

The legislators need to do some work on this statute and make it more specific to actual "line-of-duty" deaths and eliminate commuting and break-time trips for lunch or coffee. Traveling under non-emergency conditions and to training or administrative meetings should not be covered under LODD.

Northwest Herald - let's be honest

The view of the editors of the Northwest Herald about Zane Seipler was once again stated in its Our View editorial in the paper this morning.

The headline? "Taxpayers win, for once"

The editors are pleased that Judge Meyer denied Seipler's request for a special prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren for wrong-doing.

They wrote that they "are certain most taxpayers are pleased, as well."

How did they arrive at that?

They are so sure of their belief that the Reader Poll for today is "What did you think of the Bears' first round pick?"

Why didn't they ask readers for opinions and put the poll up at the top of the page, where readers will find it?

The Northwest Herald continues to mis-report the Petition in which Seipler asked for a special prosecutor. The editors deflect readers' attention away from the real reason for the Petition - that Nygren is alleged to have committed 1) theft; 2) official misconduct; and 3) misappropriation of funds.

Why wouldn't the big daily newspaper of McHenry County want any sheriff investigated for those suspected crimes?

Judge Meyer made the right decision. Under the circumstances, legally he cannot appoint a special prosecutor in this case.

Now, about Lou Bianchi's reason for not even looking at the merits of the allegations. In court, he testified that he cannot "ethically" investigate, indict and prosecute Nygren, because he defends him (in civil cases).

Neither attorney, Bill Caldwell or Blake Horwitz, asked Bianchi if legally he could investigate, indict and prosecute Nygren. The question was hanging out there in the air. Why didn't either ask it? I can understand Caldwell's not asking it. They both must have known the answer. The answer is "Yes".

Why is the Northwest Herald snuggled up so closely with Nygren? Has the paper ever taken a stand against Nygren?

Many people say Nygren is too powerful to fight. This is, of course, patently untrue.

Zane Seipler stood up to him and won. Seipler got his job back and is now entitled to four years' back pay. Nygren lost in front of the arbitrator, in front of Judge Meyer, in front of the Appellate Court and at the Illinois Supreme Court level.

In the Federal case, Seipler claims that Nygren fired him for complaining about racial profiling. Nygren's own attorney even told Federal Judge Mahoney in April 2011 that was true.

I stood up to him when he tried to intimidate me in the Jewel-Osco parking lot in September 2009. There is a report on file with the Woodstock Police Department about that. I filed information with the Woodstock PD and insisted on a Report Number from the officer, so that it couldn't be swept under the rug later.

And I stood up to Nygren when he subpoenaed 27 months' worth of documents related to my blog in Seipler's federal lawsuit. I wrote my own motion to quash the subpoena. When it was argued before Federal Judge Mahoney, he told Nygren's attorney that she was on a fishing expedition and that she was asking for documents that didn't pertain to that case. The result? Philpott 1, Nygren 0.

Scott Milliman is standing up to Nygren.

Maybe the Northwest Herald should investigate the cost to McHenry County taxpayers for Nygren's legal fees in all these cases.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Milliman murder suspect & wife in court

Accused murdered Timothy Smith appeared in Judge Condon's court this morning on a Motions hearing. Smith continues to be in custody and  was escorted in from the jail side for a short hearing. His public defender, Kim Messer, represented him.

Smith walked in wearing the customary orange jail clothing but without handcuffs or leg shackles. The hearing was held in Judge Condon's open court, Room 302, not in the Jail Court. His defense filed the Motion, and in an earlier appearance his trial date was changed from early May to July 30.

Smith's wife, Kimberly Holian Smith, was in court for her own appearance on her charges in this case, and she was asked to leave the courtroom when Timothy's case was called, in order to prevent any communication between them.

Kimberly's trial date was set for November 5 at 10:00AM. Kimberly Smith is out on a relatively low bond, and Judge Condon warned her that she could be tried in absentia, should she fail to show up for her trial.

The State's Attorney has never filed additional charges against Kimberly Smith. While she is at risk for state prison time of one-to-six years, she might also avoid any prison time and be sentenced to probation, should she be found guilty.

Early reports indicated that the Smiths had attempted to concoct a story about what happened at their Doty Road home on the night Timothy Smith allegedly shot Kurt Milliman. That resulted in charges of Obstruction of Justice against both Smiths.

Timothy Smith was recently hospitalized at Centegra Hospital and was under guard there. He was apparently allowed broad use of the hospital room telephone, whereas while in jail his telephone calls are very limited, often requiring Judge Condon's order (permission).

The State's Attorney should investigate why the MCSO corrections officer in the hospital room allowed those phone calls and prosecute any violation of Judge Condon's rules on phone calls or, at the least, demand that Sheriff Nygren commence disciplinary action against the corrections officer(s?) who allowed the phone calls.

Corrections officers and hospital staff, hospital patients and visitors were potentially placed at risk, had Smith used the telephone to plan an escape. What are the hospital rules for "cleansing" the room when it is to be occupied by a prisoner? Does hospital staff routinely remove telephones and any objects that could be used as weapons? Are guards placed in the rooms and at the door entrances? Who delivers meals? What about visitors?

Why coyotes avoid Oklahoma

THE COYOTE (Many thanks to whoever wrote this.)


The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature

A coyote jumps out and attacks the Governor's dog, then bites the Governor.

1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie "Bambi" and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.

2. He calls animal control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.

3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.

4. The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.

5. The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.

6. The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a "coyote awareness program" for residents of the area.

7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.

8. The Governor's security agent is fired for not stopping the
attack. The State spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.

9. PETA protests the coyote's relocation and files a $5 million suit against the State.


The female Governor of Oklahoma is jogging with her dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks her dog.

1. The Governor shoots the coyote with her State-issued pistol and keeps jogging. The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.

2. The Buzzards eat the dead coyote.

And that, my friends, is why California is broke and Oklahoma is not.

Note from Gus: I lived in California for 4 1/2 months in 1989. All I wanted out of the state was me! When it was time to leave, I didn't even slow down to go to Disneyland.

Approve speed cameras now

The City of Chicago is considering use of speed cameras.

The Illinois State Police began using them a while back in Work Zones.Did they have any effect?

Paradise Valley, Arizona began using them years ago. They were in use, when I lived in Phoenix in 1989. And you know what? Drivers slowed down in Paradise Valley!

What's wrong with speed cameras? Nothing. They photograph cars of speeders and record the speeds. Then a ticket is mailed to the owner of the vehicle.

In Paradise Valley, if the owner wasn't driving the car, he could write back and say so, identifying in whose possession his car was at the time. I remember a conversation with a woman who was livid that her husband had mailed back a ticket and identified her, without telling her. I thought that was hilarious. She didn't claim that she wasn't speeding; only that he ratted her out.

All you have to do is drive on the Illinois Tollway, the Dan Ryan or the Kennedy Expressway to experience the insanity of the speeding problem. Many drivers routinely speed 15-20-25-30 MPH over the limit. What's wrong with nailing them with PhotoRadar?

And what's wrong with nailing those who operate at 15 or 10 or 6MPH over the limit? The speed limit is the Speed Limit. If you think the Speed Limit is unreasonably low, put some pressure on those who set the Speed Limit.

I'll tell you one speed limit that is too low, and that's on the Dan Ryan from the circle to about 63rd Street. The speed limit is 45MPH. To obey the 45MPH is very dangerous; yet IDOT maintains that unreasonably low speed limit. It is probably set at 45MPH because IDOT admits that "everybody" speeds.

Try the I-90 Tollway any day between Randall Road and in near O'Hare. You might want to set your Cruise Control for about 75MPH (in the 55MPH zone), so that you don't get run over.

Police manpower does not exist to enforce speed limits. Using electronic enforcement gets my 100% approval.

Special prosecutor "factory"?

I almost missed Kevin Lyons' op-ed piece on Page 2 of this morning's Northwest Herald. After reading the two Page 1 articles by Kevin Craver and Sarah Sutschek, I skipped to Page A6 for the continuations. Then, after reading my favorite three comic strips and as I walked to the re-cycle bag, my eye caught "The Right Decision" and Lyons' comment that it would have set a "horrible precedent" to have a special prosecutor appointed to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren.

Oh, really?

The only "horrible precedent" I can think of is that a special prosecutor would investigate, indict, prosecute and convict Nygren, who has been sheriff of McHenry County since 1997 or 1998.

Keep in mind that I experienced Nygren's "evil eye" in the Jewel-Osco parking lot in September 2009. And I immediately reported it to the Woodstock Police Department, insisting that the officer issue a report number and requiring him to write a report. That was four months before Seipler filed his Petition.

One would think that "the" daily newspaper of McHenry County would be clamoring for an investigation. Why wouldn't it want the air to be cleared? Do we have an honest sheriff or don't we?

Is it likely that this summer the McHenry County Board will have the opportunity - nay, the duty and obligation - to appoint Nygren's successor for the remaining term of his office to December 1, 2014? Is the heat in the "kitchen" too hot? Does a summer in Minocqua and the first year of retirement sound like a good idea to Nygren?

On the other hand, why not spend the summer in Minocqua and just keep drawing his $12,000/month salary?

Why didn't Nygren himself comment to the Northwest Herald's reporter Sarah Sutschek? She certainly has the "inside track" at MCSD. Was Nygren even in town yesterday? How many days has he been in his office this year? Sutschek wrote, "Through his secretary, Nygren said that the court's decision speaks for itself and requires no further comment from him."

Remember that Keith was the one who asserted that he had the right to be present and represented in a court hearings that might lead to appointment of a special prosecutor. Judge Meyer saw right through that one and tossed that plan out of his courtroom. As he should have.

County officials relieved?

Is the headline in this morning's Northwest Herald correct?

Under "Judge: No special Nygren probe" was the sub-headline "Ruling relieves county officials".

I wonder if they really understand just what Judge Meyer's decision means.

All it means is that he stated that State law doesn't allow him to grant the Petition for a Special Prosecutor. That should "relieve" county officials???

The only thing that ought to relieve county officials is a complete investigation of Nygren that resulted in a finding of no evidence of misdeeds or crimes. And Judge Meyer's decision doesn't do that. What would do that?

The Petition for a Special Prosecutor laid out certain alleged criminal acts by Nygren.
1. theft
2. official misconduct
3. misappropriation of funds

In court on April 11 the Petitioner's attorney, Blake Horwitz, laid out a few more:
4. murder-for-hire solicitation
5. trafficking in illegal immigrants
6. fraudulent loan documents

Is this what county officials are relieved about? That Judge Meyer did not appoint a special prosecutor to look investigate Nygren for these?

The ball is back on Lou Bianchi's desk. He has said that he never considered the merits of the allegations, only whether ethically he could investigate, indict and prosecute his client, the sheriff. These allegations cannot be swept under the rug or left to wither in a corner of Lou's office.

If Lou were in private practice, it might hold water that he could not sue a client whom he had defended (unless, as evidenced by many cases filed in McHenry County Court by private attorneys, a lawyer can sue his own clients; e.g., for fees).

But Lou is not a private attorney. He is the McHenry County State's Attorney. He is elected by the People to prosecute crimes. That's his first and highest duty. That's why he was elected, not hired.

No doubt that Nygren believes he is too powerful to be investigated, indicted, prosecuted and convicted. He isn't. No sheriff is that powerful.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bite the bullet - do your share

This, just in from a friend in Texas.
"The President ordered his cabinet to cut $100 million from the $3.5 trillion federal budget.
"I'm so impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same thing with my personal budget. I spend about $2000 a month on groceries, household expenses, medicine, utilities, etc, but it's time to get out the budget cutting axe, go through my expenses, and cut back. I'm going to cut my spending at exactly the same ratio, 1/35,000 of my total budget. After doing the math, it looks like instead of spending $2000 a month; I'm going to have to cut that number by six cents. Yes, I'm going to have to get by with $1999.94, but that's what sacrifice is all about. I'll just have to do without some things, that are, frankly, luxuries.
"Did this President actually think no one would do the math? Please send this to everyone on your list so people understand how idiotic a $100 million cut is in a $3.5 trillion budget. Ludicrous! In a year I should save 72 cents. In 6 years I can buy a gal. of gas."

Jenn Wyatt - next court? May 2

Since several people have contacted me about Jennifer Wyatt's court date this morning on her perjury charges, here's what happened. Nothing.

The standard, routine 20-second appearance and collecting the next court date is all that happened. Jenn is represented by McHenry County Public Defender Kim Messser. Messer had several cases and she got an early place in the line of attorneys to approach Judge Condon.

The next court date? May 2, 9:00AM, Room 302 at the McHenry County Government Center.

What could happen in the next week? Why only a one-week continuance? The preliminary hearing set for today is now set for next week.

Is there any choice but to plead Not Guilty?

Sure, there are other choices. One of them is Guilty. And then another choice. Nole contendere. Is that a plea that flies in Illinois?

Does Jenn think that the Woodstock Police can prove the charges?

Just drawing from memory, I recall one of the charges is that Jenn lied to Woodstock Police about saying she didn't talk to Beth on May 25, 2010. Now, how are they going to prove that Jenn did talk to Beth on May 25? Seems like Beth would have to walk into the courtroom and say "Jenn didn't talk to me that day."

A call to Beth's phone on that day wouldn't prove anything. Even a call from Beth's phone that day wouldn't prove that a conversation took place. You would have to know who was on Beth's phone. Leaving a message in a cell phone voice mailbox is not talking to the person. Is it?

Jenn didn't look worried at all in court today. She was on her phone in the hallway before court, and she breezed up to the judge and out of the courtroom like she was buying cantaloupes at Jewel.

Tell me this makes sense

This week's The Woodstock Independent carries a box ad in the Help Wanted section.

Now we all know that The Woodstock Independent is a weekly newspaper in Woodstock.

The ad reads, "Masterson Personnel in partnership with Brown Printing Company has immediate openings for general labor positions in Woodstock, Il. (sic) Please apply in person at 1833 Larkin Ave., Elgin ..."

So here's the question. Why are jobs at a business located in Woodstock advertised in Woodstock, but the temp agency requires interested persons (from Woodstock) to travel to Elgin (23 miles each way) to apply in person?

Have people stopped thinking these days?

Applications could be collected by email, mail and fax, and then one person from Masterson could come out to Brown Printing to interview 25-30 people and hire the few needed. That person could conduct a cattle call (errr, group interview), sort out the few workers of interest, excuse the rest, and more thoroughly interview the most likely hires. All in one day.

Judge rules, cannot appoint Sp. Prosecutor

Shortly after 10:00AM Judge Thomas Meyer issued his decision in a case that has lingered in McHenry County Court for 27 months. Zane Seipler had filed a petition for a Special Prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren.

Recently State's Attorney Lou Bianchi testified that he could not investigate, indict or prosecute Sheriff Nygren because of an ethical conflict. He is, by law, the sheriff's attorney, and he said that he cannot represent him and prosecute him at the same time.

This morning Judge Meyer did not comment on the "ethics" involved. From the portion of the hearing that was audible in the courtroom (low voices prevailed too long), I understood Judge Meyer to say that Bianchi was not unavailable (i.e., he wasn't sick, ill, absent from the office, on vacation) and that he wasn't unavailable due to a conflict. Judge Meyer said, as I understood him, that it was an exercise of discretion by Bianchi not to launch an investigation into Nygren's activities.

Judge Meyer said the court lacked the legal authority to appoint a special prosecutor in this case. He also said that the Court is concerned about appearances in this case.

Is the Sheriff now getting a free pass, since Bianchi refuses to consider whether to investigate Nygren?

Will Bianchi now re-consider his position and look really hard to determine whether he actually can investigate, indict and prosecute Nygren? Should he perform the duty of his office and then fight any attempt to disbar him that arises?

Of course, Nygren would hire an outside defense attorney in that case, since he couldn't expect the State's Attorney to defend him while it was prosecuting him. Ka-ching. Some law office must be licking its chops over the size of possible fees to defend Nygren. Count on three years - minimum. Lots of court appearances. Lots of in-office conference time with multiple attorneys. And Nygren would expect the County to pay for it.

Nygren's personal attorney was in the courtroom. I wonder what Mark Gummerson charged for his 15 minutes there. I hope he bills Nygren promptly and gets paid.

And the sheriff's Chief of Security Howie Parth was in the courtroom. What was that all about? He sat in the back row with other spectators. Since he was in uniform and the time was during work hours, why was he there? Certainly, no outbursts or threats were expected.

Fender-bender near Ace Hardware

Just before 11:00AM a two-car crash occurred on Route 47 near the entrance to the Jewel-Osco shopping center. The first car that got my attention was a red Ford four-door sedan in the grass on the west side of Route 47, at the north end of the Bohn's Ace Hardware lot.

The driver had obviously missed the entrance, or maybe he had not intended to turn in at all. There was debris in the southbound lane, and the red car seemed to have left the roadway, jumped the curb, and gone through the grass to the point where it stopped.

A second car was stopped in the parking lot. It was a white Ford four-door compact with damage to both left-side doors.

The larger red sedan had front-end damage. I didn't hang around to ask how the crash happened. Both drivers were on their phones and, as I drove away, a Woodstock Police squad car was arriving from the north, with overhead lights blazing.

Any guesses to how the crash happened?

Monday, April 23, 2012

The value of MIAT

What's the value of the McHenry County Major Incident Assistance Team (MIAT)? I've been wondering why it wasn't alerted at the time of the triple homicide in Marengo on June 7, in which Jack Feldkamp, Audrey Feldkamp and Doran Bloom died.

An experienced law enforcement officer has offered this comment.

In regards to M.I.A.T team, one of the best advantages of this, is having other qualified detectives from other non-involved agencies assisting looking at the same incident, but perhaps from a different view from the other. It's not that you're trying to convict the suspect, but rather review all the evidence, from many different angles, by different people, and see where it takes you. Follow the physical evidence. Does each investigator's trail brings him right back to the same person? By trying to eliminate a suspect, you wont become tunnel blind and concentrate only on what one suspect is telling you.
If he shot from the angle it was stated, there should be projectile marks in the 
flooring from final rest of the bullets. 

Where were the shell casings found in regard to the stance the shooter said
he shot from?

Was there any gun residue recovered from the stair rail area or floor from 
where the shooter said he shot from?

Do the angles line up from where the shot was fired, to the area on the body? 
"Did the injuries reflect that the bullets came in from above? 
"Were there any bullet holes with a straight shot through the chest area? 
"Which way was the victim facing when he was shot ?

Did the bullets fired into the victim go straight through him, indicating a 
closer point of impact?”

Concealed carry in Ill. - now?

You didn't read about this in the Northwest Herald. That's for sure. At least, I don't think so. Did you read about anywhere up this way, in northern Illinois?

Voters in Pike County, Illinois, approved a firearms concealed-carry ordinance by a 3,214 to 550 margin in the March 20 primary. Well, imagine that!

Where in the world is Pike County? I would have guessed farther south and central, but it's along the Mississippi River, north-northwest of St. Louis. Pittsfield in the County seat and is located 75 miles west of Springfield and 40 miles east of Hannibal, Mo.

The county ordinance applies only to Pike County and ended up on the ballot because of a citizens' initiative.

It's probably risky to carry a concealed weapon in Pike County. Municipal officers and deputy sheriffs may be between a rock and hard place in addressing any contact with a person in Pike County who is found to be carrying a concealed weapon. That person will be violating State law but not County law. So, do they cite or not?


Visions of Hope awards, play

Save this date! Saturday, May 12th, 7:00PM

Be at the Woodstock Opera House for this year's Visions of Hope awards and play. The themes are Finding Peace in This House and Erasing the Distance, sponsored by the McHenry County Mental Health Board and the McHenry County Behavioral Health Foundation.

This year's play format will be a little different from the past years' performances by Thresholds of Chicago. This year, there will be professional performances of true stories.

The awards ceremony will be at 7:00PM at Stage Left Cafe. Performances start at 8:00PM in the Opera House. The suggested donation is $5.00 at the door.

For more information, please email

Does one vote count?

March 20, 2012 was the primary election in Illinois. How'd it go?

Dismally. Only 19.72% of the registered voters turned out. Pretty sick; right? Guess this is what happens when you live in a free country.

Does one vote make a difference?

According to a letter from Kathie Schultz, McHenry County Clerk, "The Village of Fox River Grove ... had a public question on the ballot. It ended up with a tie vote, so the question was defeated."

And then, "The Village of McCullom Lake also had a public question on the ballot. It failed by one vote."

And "In County Board District #4; 12 votes separated a winning and a losing candidate."

How many votes were cast? 39,242. And the breakdown?

Republican, 33,268 (84.8%)
Democratic, 5,585 (14.2%)
Green, 42 (0.1%)
Nonpartisan or Proposition-only ballots, 347 (0.9%)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beth Bentley - 98 weeks and counting

And now she has been gone 98 weeks. Beth Bentley vanished sometime on the week-end of May 20-23, 2010.

She supposedly traveled that week-end with her friend, Jennifer Wyatt, from Woodstock to Mount Vernon, Ill. on Thursday night, May 20. Leaving Woodstock after her son's baseball game and a trip to Dairy Queen, they might have hit the road about 9:00-10:00PM. Beth's car had been parked in the garage of Jenn's rented home at 749 Tara Drive, Woodstock, and they were using a rental car.

Jenn didn't have a valid driver's license. Her California driver's license had expired on her birthday in November 2009. The rental car agency would not have accepted her as an authorized driver. So did Beth drive all 300+ miles to Mount Vernon?.

They were to hang out with Ryan Ridge (reportedly, Jenn's boyfriend at the time) and his younger brother, Nathan

What time did they get to Mount Vernon? Did they sleep? How late on Friday did they sleep? And then what did they do? Did they have dinner at the Frosty Mug, where a waitress said she refused to serve Nathan Ridge, because he was under 21? What did they do Friday night after dinner?

And Saturday? Did they really rent a boat? Were there four men and the two women on the boat? Woodstock Police say they confirmed the boat rental. A local resident said she talked to the marina operator and it never happened. Saturday night? Was there a party at the house being rehabbed by Ryan Ridge or did they go to town?

And Sunday? What did they do during the day? Why were there so many phone calls from Jenn's phone to Ryan on Sunday morning? Weren't they together? And was a pizza really ordered from Beth's phone, right about the time Jenn says she was dropping Beth off 25 miles away near the Centralia Amtrak station?

And what were the original plans for Beth and Jenn to meet back up near Woodstock, so they could return to Jenn's house, so that Beth could pick up her car and get home before Scott got home from work?

So many unanswered questions... One person knows most of the answers. Others know some of the answers.

Law enforcement shootings investigations

How carefully do law enforcement agencies investigate shootings?

Certainly, the actions of the Sanford (Fla.) Police Department have been in the spotlight, since George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin on February 26. Police initially bought Zimmerman's story and didn't charge him. Following appointment of a special prosecutor (now, that didn't take two years!) Zimmerman has been charged and jailed.

Closer to home, there was a shooting last June near Marengo. Two elderly residents, John and Audrey Feldkamp, died from stab wounds. Doran Bloom died from gunshot wounds. One person remained - Scott Feldkamp, son of John and Audrey Feldkamp. He suffered stab wounds.

A detective, Travis McDonald, interviewed Scott in the hospital on the following day. Sheriff Keith Nygren quickly held a press conference and announced what had happened on the evening of June 7 in the Feldkamp home.

And on that day, June 8, 2011, the Northwest Herald carried this opening sentence, "The stabbing deaths of an 83-year-old Marengo man and his 81-year-old wife were part of a random act of violence by a suspect with a history of mental health issues, police said."

And the Northwest Herald story contained this: "Scott Feldkamp then broke free from the fight and ran to an upstairs bedroom to get a 9 mm pistol, but Bloom began stabbing Audrey Feldkamp in the meantime, Nygren said."

The article continued, "Leaning over an upstairs banister, Scott Feldkamp was able to shoot Bloom multiple times."

Where did Sheriff Nygren get that? I just re-read Scott's statement to Det. McDonald, and I didn't see that. Maybe it's "between the lines". I'll have to look there.

The conclusion at the Sheriff's Department on the very first day after the deaths? We're done. Case closed.

From the reports in the 260-page file, it appears that the McHenry County Sheriff's Department did little investigation. Apparently, they did not question how Scott could shoot 9-10 times from the second floor balcony and hit Bloom without hitting his father. No reports detailed the trajectory of the bullets or the wounds that Bloom suffered. Why did he carry an unloaded gun downstairs and place it on a small table? The Coroner's report is not part of the sheriff's department report.

The reports do not mention whether (or not) gun powder was found on Bloom's clothing or body.  One report (not from the sheriff's department) indicated the presence of gunpowder, which would only be expected if the weapon were close to the point of impact. The crime scene drawings wouldn't get a passing grade at MCC in a criminology class on a student's first day. No one questioned in the reports why so many casings were found between Bloom and the wall. No drawing compared a logical trajectory of spent casings from the point on the balcony from which the shots were fired with the actual locations of the casings on the first floor.

MIAT should have been called in; it wasn't. What's MIAT? The Major Incident Assistance Team. These are trained cops from around the county with different departments, who have specialized training. Their availability means that any one department doesn't have to maintain the specialties on its staff. When expertise is needed, MIAT is called in. Why wasn't MIAT called for a triple homicide?

McHenry okays indoor range

This morning's Northwest Herald carries an article about approval given for an indoor shooting range last week by the McHenry City Council. That action got lost, temporarily, is the glare of the spotlights on the proposed outdoor range at the old miniature golf course on Route 120, northeast of Woodstock, and in McHenry County.

The City Council voted 6-1, over-riding the earlier decision of the McHenry (City) Planning & Zoning Commission not to recommend the range. It would be interesting to know what the concerns of the Commission were.

I had to chuckle at the "economic revitalization" component to the City's decision. Also, at the remark by Herb Regan, who is the developer of the idea. Said he,“There’s certainly a niche for this market.” Is there a grammarian among readers who would like to take a bite out of that remark?

The news article mentions that this indoor range will be a"tactical" shooting range. Anyone intending to get a concealed-carry permit (should we ever live so long in Illinois...) should get to this range, visit and become a member.

You'll want the experience of moving around on a live-fire range. Standing and shooting at beer cans (how many of us started that way?) is one thing. Firing while moving, and/or at a moving target, in varying light conditions may make the different between life and death (yours!). Try shooting while you are lying down or kneeling. Or standing behind an obstacle. Or shooting with your weak hand. Or pretending that you are injured and have to re-load that semi-automatic pistol with one hand. What's better for home defense? Shotgun or pistol?

If you end up in a gunfight, you must be prepared to survive.

While we're on this topic, check out the U.S. Concealed Carry Association's website and membership at

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Shooting range "standards"

The word "standards" was bandied about during last week's ZBA hearing on the proposed shooting range in McHenry County (Ill.) along (state highway) Route 120 and Queen Anne Road.

Today I received a link for the NRA Range Sourcebook. The description of the Sourcebook indicates that the book contains suggestions but not standards. In fact, the description reads, "All information contained within is in the form of suggested practices only, and no standards are stated or implied. Failure to follow any of the suggestions in The NRA Range Source Book in no way implies that the range is being operated negligently. Nothing contained within The NRA Range Source Book shall be construed as a standard for the evaluation of any specific shooting facility."

And the first page of the description includes, "Proper design work requires practical understanding and knowledge of local ordinances, codes and engineering principles. Therefore, it is recommended that an architect, engineer, or consultant experienced in range planning and design be consulted from the onset."


This, of course, cannot mean that proper planning and range design cannot be completed without this Sourcebook.

Maybe it's sort of like brain surgery. You either a) find a good brain surgeon who has done 100 surgeries in the last 12 months or b) you can get some books on surgery and start reading.

The petitioner may now face even more of an uphill battle, since the hearing ran long on Thursday and got only to the point where audience questions were accepted, following which the audience was going to get a shot at making comments. First the questions, then the comments.

The petitioner and his attorney had their chance last Thursday to make the best "first impression" on the ZBA members and the public. The board members then asked their questions. Now there is a 7-day break. When the hearing reconvenes on Thursday (April 26) at 1:30PM, the audience will have had a week to mull over what they heard last week and start peppering the Board and the petitioner with questions and comments. If all 40 residents return and don't bring more with them, probably another three hours will be filled - this time, probably, with mostly negative questions and comments.

Will the hearing conclude in the same manner as a trial, with the petitioner getting another chance to state why the Board should approve his request? Or will testimony end with the questions and comments from the audience, which may set the tone for a decision by the Board?

Should interested parties bring their shooting ear protection to the meeting? Will somebody figure out how to capture the sound of 12-gauge shotguns, .44 Magnums and .50 cal. rifles and bring a recording to the meeting?

Activity in Milliman murder case

Since my article last week about the change in trial date in the first-degree murder case of Timothy Smith, a new court date has been entered. Smith has been in McHenry County Jail since May, when he was accused of killing Kurt Milliman at a house just outside Woodstock.

The new court date is Thursday, April 26, at 9:00AM, in Judge Condon's courtroom, 302. The court date is set as "Motion-Discovery".

Back on December 8, Smith's public defender told the court that no further court dates were believed necessary until a May 7th trial date. Then, at an April 13 court appearance, the trial date was moved from May 7 to July 30. And now this April 26 date for a Motion shows up. The motion hearing and the trial are both set for Room 302 (not the Jail Court).

From online court records available to the general public, it cannot be discerned which side has made the motion.

I wonder if Judge Condon could have said back in December, "OK, since no more court dates are needed, let's just start the trial on Monday, December December 12. See you at 10:00AM!" 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Calling the Woodstock Walmart

Have you been trying to reach the Woodstock Walmart? On its published telephone number of 815.206.0263? Good luck!

They are experiencing a business's nightmare, after ordering a revamping of their telephone system. Calls to that number ring unanswered. Not what Sam Walton would have wanted! Right? Right!

When I couldn't get through yesterday, I emailed a one-liner to the company via

What response did I get? A very friendly and warm thank-you call from the Woodstock store. What a nice thought. I received two calls, not just one, thanking me for letting them know that there was a problem with phoning the store. All calls feed in through the trunk line, which is the number published on the Walmart website. And they hadn't known there was a problem until they got my e-mail.

The phone vendor is working to solve the problem. In the meantime, to call the Woodstock (Ill.) Walmart, dial 815.206.0256

Many businesses could take a lesson from Walmart's customer service in the Woodstock store. They haven't lost touch with thanking a customer.

Boon to Feldkamp estate?

Are the Feldkamp estates about to become $500,000 richer?

IDOT is planning a roundabout at U.S. 20 and Harmony Road, and it wants to buy the corner where Harmony Real Estate had been operating. It needs the land for a highway improvement project in its effort to reduce the number of fatal accidents at that intersection.

Rumor has it that a $500,000 cash offer is on the table for the Harmony Real Estate building and lot. Will the owner sell? Who owns the corner?

The real estate where Harmony Real Estate was located was owned by John G. Feldkamp, individually. When Mr. Feldkamp died last June, the property passed to his wife under his Will. When she died a couple of hours later, the property would have passed into her estate. Mrs. Feldkamp's estate didn't pay the 2010 real estate taxes on the property, and the taxes were sold shortly after the second instalment due date  to Edward Beasley. Illinois statutes dictate the redemption terms on sold taxes.

The Executor of both estates is their son, Scott Feldkamp.

There is a bank that has an active case filed against Harmony Real Estate Partnership (Case No. 12CH00532). This could mean just the business. Is the business still operating? If you have any listings and sales pending with Harmony Real Estate, contact your broker and lawyer to learn the exact status of your dealings.

From what legal entity will IDOT purchase the land and building? It will want to demolish the building for its roundabout. Will anyone be interested in buying and moving that building, for its historical value? Should the full net proceeds from the land sale end up in the probate assets, where the McHenry County Court system ought to be keeping an eye on them, until the probates are closed?

Creditors ought to get first crack at probate assets, and then the children of John and Audrey Feldkamp split what's left, after reasonable expenses of clearing the estates. Will they?

The Illinois State Police say ...

"Ladies, vomit on your attacker."

Pardon the graphic ad from AmmoLand, but do you really think this will work? Or would it enrage your attacker and result in even more violence?

Oh, don't forget the nail file. They say that's a good defense, too.

I don't recommend living in a state of fear or paranoia. I do recommend being alert and being prepared to defend yourself, as soon as you think you might be in a dangerous situation.

I also think the threat of violence will start going down, once we finally have a concealed-carry law in Illinois. When the criminal doesn't know if you are armed, then he is likely to think twice before attacking you. Or he'll attack and have a rude awakening.

If you are alert and attentive to your surroundings and your safety, the criminal will pick someone who isn't. Don't be the one who isn't.

Visiting choir on April 26

Grace Lutheran Church in Woodstock will host the Wartburg College Choir on Thursday, April 26, for an evening concert at the Church, 1300 Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock. Pastor Ken Gibson recommends arriving by 7:00PM for good seats. The concert begins at 7:30PM.

Wartburg College ( is a four-year liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is located in Waverly, Iowa. Wartburg is the only private college in Iowa offering a music therapy major. The college is highly competitive and has an 89 percent medical school placement rate and a 100 percent placement rate in other fields of medicine. (Source: Wikipedia)

Wartburg College was founded in 1852, and its 2011-12 enrollment is 1,805 students.

Come and enjoy the music on April 26. Arrive early. A free-will offering will be accepted that evening.

Advertise to Woodstock area?

The Woodstock Independent, Woodstock's weekly hometown newspaper, is coming down to the wire on its Torch edition for May 4. If you'd like to advertise your business, today is the day to call 815.338.8040. Ask for Brian or Melissa.

The Torch will reach 16,000 residences in Woodstock, Bull Valley and western Wonder Lake. The theme will be Happy Trails and will feature horse, bicycle and hiking trails.

Call today, April 20, and I wouldn't wait until the end of the day. Ask Brian or Melissa about special advertising rates. (Mention the Woodstock Advocate and they'll give you the WA "special" rate - only twice the normal advertising rate - just kidding, of course.)

And if this deadline is too short for you, ask about the next edition of the Torch, which will be the home and garden issue on May 16.

ZBA sights in on shooting range

Yesterday the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) conducted an all-afternoon hearing on the application for a shooting range at the site of the former miniature golf and driving range on Route 120 at Queen Anne Road, northeast of Woodstock.

The owner of Marengo Gun and Coin, Dominick LeBock, and his lawyer were there to present their plans and to request approval for his project, which is to include a shotgun range, a pistol range, archery range, paintball course and the existing miniature golf range. It's still not clear to me if there will be a rifle range. Reference was made to calibers not larger than a .50 cal. pistol. Will the facility permit .50 cal. rifles?

The safety issues were pretty well defined, with the range design expected to control all intended and stray shots.

The noise question was another issue. There were audible chuckles from some members of the audience when testimony was given that the sound of a shotgun's being fired was not so loud as a passing car and that the sound of six shots fired at the proposed range could not be heard by the microphone of a video camera at distances from the proposed range of 3,289, 4,905 and 2,439 feet.

One board member attempted to calculate the number of shotgun and pistol rounds that might be fired by totaling up the maximum number of shooters and the number of rounds each shooter might fire.

To me that was sort of like counting the number of bricks in the streets around the Woodstock Square. So what? The range will not be in use by the maximum number of shooters every hour during the 12 hours of daily operation, 8AM-8PM. But there will certainly be peak shooting periods. Will that corner then sound like you are in Kabul?

The McHenry County Planning Dept. staff member and the project's attorney frequently mentioned the "standards" of the National Rifle Association for shooting ranges. One member of the audience had an NRA range bulletin, and it stated that there aren't any NRA standards. Hopefully, he will send me the link to that bulletin or quote the NRA's disclaimer himself.

The hearing was suspended as the clock approached 4:30PM, and the hearing will resume on Thursday, April 26, at 1:30PM at 667 Ware Road, the County's Administration Building.

A shooting range anywhere in McHenry County will affect somebody. The huge housing project that was proposed for diagonally across the intersection before the building bubble burst was not mentioned. Nor was the Lutheran School that had been proposed on Route 120, west of Queen Anne Road. This range is proposed within earshot of civilization and is, in my opinion, better suited on ground much farther west of Woodstock, not in its proposed location.

An armed, uniformed deputy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department was present throughout the hearing. Because he sat in the back of the room, his role was not entirely clear to me. Was he there because an expected rowdiness or threat from the mostly-mature group of concerned citizens? Or was he there on behalf of law enforcement and the issue of guns?

I didn't approach him to ask - most MCSD deputies keep their distance from me, but I did ask the Board why he was there. They didn't know, so apparently he was not there by invitation. The audience generally ignored him, and he asked no questions.

This public hearing was a function of government and citizens. What law enforcement purpose was served by his being there all afternoon, instead of out patrolling. Certainly, he would not have been there on his own. He had to have been directed there by a superior at MCSD.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Watch this - dynamic anti-Shariah speaker

Watch this video featuring a dynamic speaker who warns Americans about the creep of Islam into our lives.

She itemizes the millions of dollars donated to universities, and then she brings it forward to the younger students. Watch this video. Then decide for yourselves.

"Give me the children. I'll change society in ten years." Who said that, according to Brigitte Gabriel, President of ACT! for America? Adolf Hitler!

Thanks to the reader who sent this to me.

Leon Panetta doesn't "get" it

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta just doesn't "get" it. This morning's paper says he apologizes for the recently-revealed military photo scandal.

I wonder if he has thought about what it was that provoked soldiers to set up and take those photos. "Foolish decisions", he calls them. "Young troops", he says.

He needs to spend a week visiting OUR own troops in military hospitals. Up, close and personal. Oh, and take his family. Take his grandkids.

How long has the U.S. been in that war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Ten years? The U.S. Government doesn't even understand what kind of war we are in. The terrorists have been around for 1,000 years. They don't care about how long it takes to win or how many suicide bombers or jihadis die. When they think they are going to their rewards with all those virgins waiting for them? How do you fight that?

Not the way we are. Was it Bush with the stupid idea that we could impose democracy? On how many points will Obama's plans fail? Will that war bankrupt the USA, financially and morally? I hadn't visited for quite a while.

Maybe every American should make that page his homepage. Look at those numbers. Watch the page for one minute. I dare you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Applause for this Congressman

This is a Congressman who deserves to be in Congress! Check out Rep. Mike Kelly from Pennsylvania. Thoughts?

Murder trial - not May; July 30

Back in December, the attorney for Timothy Smith told Judge Condon that they didn't need any more court dates before trial, and the trial date was set for May 7, 2012. Smith will go on trial on a First Degree Murder charge for shooting and killing Kurt Milliman on May 28, 2011.

Today I was discussing this case progress with a reader, and I said that I thought the day before the trial started, Smith would fire his public defender and retain a private attorney, which would put the case off for another 5-6 months while the new attorney came up to speed.

When I looked in the online court records for the court date, I learned that on April 13, just last Friday, Smith was granted a continuance and a new trial date of July 30 has been set.

Perhaps I overlooked a report in the Northwest Herald about this change in trial date. Did anyone else see it there?

Smith's wife, Kimberly Holian Smith, is in hot water on her own set of charges, and her next court date is April 26. No trial date has been set in her case. How do you suppose that cases like these, almost open-and-shut cases, can drag on this way, and then still drag on longer?

Autism fair - this Friday

Like to know more about autism? Interested in finding new or additional resources? Want to meet other parents who have (or need) information to support living with those affected by autism?

There will be a fair this Friday evening, April 20, from 5:30-7:30PM at Spectrum Support, located at 1575 W. Lake Shore Dr., Woodstock. Spectrum Support is located just east of Woodstock on U.S. 14 across from Culver's Restaurant. Turn north at the traffic light and then take the first left. Then it's the first building on the right. Got that?

Spectrum Support is teaming up with Options & Advocacy and Crystal Lake District 155 for Friday's event. Approximately 30 organizations and vendors will be represented, so you can get  most or all of your questions answered.

And it's free.

For information about Spectrum Support, visit

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Woodstock Liquor Commission?

Is there still a Liquor Commission in Woodstock? Well, yes and no. Maybe no. But there is still a Liquor Commissioner. That's the Mayor.

Now, my logical brain asks, If there is no Liquor Commission, how can there be a Liquor Commissioner?

A few years ago the City Council agreed to disband (or abolish) the Liquor Commission by deciding not to appoint community residents to two vacant positions on the Commission. This consolidated all the power of the Liquor Commission in the one remaining member, the Mayor.

Now what happens is that the Mayor meets with an applicant for a liquor license and has a "discussion". One man sets out the limits and makes the rules. Then the deal goes to the City Council. All the pieces are lined up so that all the City Council has to do is agree.

What got my attention today? I was looking for Minutes of a Liquor Commission meeting for a matter that would have been considered within the past 18 months. The latest Minutes on the City's website are for a meeting on March 15, 2010. That was the last meeting of the Commission.

When the Mayor meets with a liquor licensee or applicant and the issue is to go to the City Council, I was told that he prepares a Memorandum that is included in the City Council packet. As you know from other articles here, many items before the City Council get approved without discussion on the Consent Agenda. In effect, the public never hears about it, unless it digs out the packet at the library or City Hall.

In an era of higher demands for transparency in government, information about City dealings should be more easily available to all residents and other interested parties. This means putting it on the City's website in a place that can be easily found.

Anti car-jacking device

What do you think? Would this be an effective device for preventing car-jackings?

This is sort of like the holster on the motorcycle seat that an El Paso leather shop put together.

Obviously, this would violate current Illinois law - unless one happened to live in his car. Or may claim it's his office. For many salesmen, their cars are their offices (places of business).

Somehow, I think that, when I was in the life insurance business, had a client gotten into my car for a ride to a luncheon meeting, he might have had a few questions for me. Like, what's the gun for?

Answer: "Well, after we do your estate plan, we're going to test it and see if we got everything right."

Would it be legal in Wisconsin, where open-carry was already the law, when concealed-carry became lawful in November? It's important to read the fine print in Wisconsin law. At least until last November, open-carry did not include carrying openly in a vehicle. It still might not. I realized that "vehicle" included motorcycles, and so I decided not to carry openly on motorcycle rides in Wisconsin. And now? I don't know.

I'm not a real fan of open carry, even if it is lawful, because people get upset when they see an armed person on the street. Don't they realize that they probably don't need to worry about the person who carries his gun in the open? There was no problem in a Culver's restaurant in Madison, Wisc. with five armed men who were enjoying their burgers - until the cops showed up. The "Madison Five" never should have been charged, and the cops lost their cases.

Oh, the above holster under the steering wheel? What do you do with the weapon when you hand the car keys to the valet?

Monday, April 16, 2012

A "must read" - author John L. Work

I wish I could recall exactly how I recently came across the books of John L. Work. Perhaps I was browsing Amazon's Kindle offerings. In any event, I read his first book first, A Dark Obsession Times 2. It was a good mystery story, and I went right on to read his second book, Murder for Comfort. That too was a good detective story.

I tried to find an address for Work, even an e-mail address or a city of residence or the name of his publishing company, so that I could send a message to him. After reading his third book, I understand why he doesn't publish it.

His third book, A Summons to Perdition, should be required reading for every American. Perhaps every person around the world. Every non-Muslim person, that is. If you wonder why you should study and understand Islam, read this book. Then get busy and do your own research.

Let's just say that John Work is not a fan of Islam. Each chapter starts with a quote from the Quran or The Legacy of Jihad (by Andrew G. Bostom) or another source.

When I read his first book, he mentioned a book (Games Criiminals Play, by Allen & Bosta), and I assumed, initially, that, since Work's book was fiction (although based somewhat on a real case in which he had been involved as a police officer), then the book mentioned within the book was not a real book. Searching revealed that it was, indeed, a real book, as is The Legacy of Jihad.

What is your understanding of the "religion of peace"? Is it a religion of peace? Or is it not? If it's not, we'd better wake up fast and start paying attention - and taking action.

In A Summons to Perdition, published in 2011, Work wrote in Chapter 53, "The President of the United States spoke from a mosque in Egypt about the great contributions of Islam to the history and culture of the United States while jihadis (sic) blew up his own American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq." Should scrutiny of President Obama and his religion intensify? 

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." ~ John Philpot Curran (1750-1817), Irish politician and judge.

"Occupy Rockford" rebuffed

The print edition of the Northwest Herald today carried an article in its "State Briefs" about Saturday's Occupy Rockford effort that failed, thanks to prompt action by the Rockford Police Department.

The online version of the Northwest Herald did not include that story.

Protesters had marched to a city-owned lot and intended to set up a camp. The police were ready and acted quickly to prevent it.

What would happen if a similar "occupy" action started in Woodstock? or McHenry? or Crystal Lake? Are police trained and prepared to step in immediately? Let's hope so.

Adequate preparation would mean written plans, assignments, available manpower upon demand, and anticipation of necessary escalation, if occupiers don't promptly comply with lawful orders. If they take over public or private property unlawfully, they should be given one calm, clear order to move along and take their "stuff" with them.

If they don't, then they should be arrested. They already know they are subject to arrest. They know this before they even start out. So they won't be surprised. What should surprise them is the unwillingness of authorities to engage in deliberations, conversation, negotiation or anything else to slows down their disbanding.

If the City Council or the Police Chief were asked, "What action will you take, if Occupy Woodstock tries to take over the Park in the Square, Emricson Park, Raintree Park, City Hall or any other public facility? Or if it tries to take over a private building (meaning, without the owner's permission)?"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What does a letter from the FBI mean...

... besides nothing?

Read this:

A familiar name will jump out at you - Angela L. Byers, at that time (September 22, 2008)  Unit Chief, Initial Processing Unit of an FBI office.

That name surfaced in a letter to Undersheriff Andy Zinke dated January 4, 2011, when she wrote as Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Field Office, FBI. She affixed her signature under the signature plate of Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge, whose signature did not appear on the letter.

The very first thing I noticed about that letter was that it did not bear a File No. That immediately caused me to wonder whether her letter was genuine. Actually, what I wondered was whether her letter was fraudulent. What comes out of an FBI office without a File No., which is needed for any reply sent.

What was the topic of her January 4, 2011, letter? That was the one that said, in effect, that Scott Milliman had "...provided information in confidence..." and that the FBI had decided that none of the information had "prosecutive merit."

Nice, huh? Since when does the FBI "out" an informant or even acknowledge an investigation, especially if it involves the boss of the person to whom the letter was addressed?

That letter should have been enough to get Angela transferred to Paducah. Or maybe it was a red herring, designed to create a false sense of relief to "certain" people.

The letter continues to be highly suspect to me and, indeed, meaningless and worthless.

I'm just waiting for the day when some FBI agent shows up at my door with one of those self-written search warrants. What are they called? You know the ones - the ones that you cannot tell anyone about. Not even your attorney. Under penalty of imprisonment. It's a felony with a 5-year prison tag on it. Hey, this is the U.S.A., folks.

The Patriot Act ought to be catching terrorists, not making criminals out of law-abiding citizens.

Beth Bentley - now gone 97 weeks

What is it going to take to break wide open the missing-person case of Beth Bentley, the Woodstock woman missing since May 23, 2010?

Should the investigation start from Square One? Go all the way back to the beginning and start fresh. Has that been done?

First, did Beth ever get out of Woodstock alive? Supposedly, Jenn Wyatt and she drove from Woodstock to Mount Vernon, Ill. on the night of May 20, 2010. Did they?

There is only one person available with actual knowledge of such a drive, if it happened. So, which one drove? How far? Did they change drivers? What route? How did they pay tolls? When did they make pit stops or food stops? What time did they arrive in Mount Vernon, if they did?

Next, what do Ryan and Nathan Ridge have to say about the night of May 20 and the early morning hours of May 21?

What do Ryan and Nathan Ridge and Jenn have to say about how Friday, May 21, was spent? Friday night? And Saturday? Saturday night? And Sunday? How do they explain the frequency of telephone calls between them that week-end?

How does Jenn explain the trip to Centralia to drop Beth off near the Amtrak station? And the phone call from Beth's cell phone to Pogue's Pizza at the same time? And the failure to pick up the pizza?

And Beth's 4:00PM phone call to her husband? Only two minutes? To explain why she won't be back in Woodstock for her father's birthday dinner that evening? And no phone call to her father? Did Beth talk to any other family member during the week-end?

What, exactly, were the plans for Jenn and Beth to meet back up on Monday and return to Woodstock, where Beth's car was parked in Jenn's garage for the week-end?

Who checked out the rental car and analyzed its use, including any tolls charged to its I-Pass? How many miles were on the car during the rental period? Where was it rented? Where was it returned? Who were the authorized drivers? Where was gas purchased?

Since Jenn's California driver's license was expired, she could not have been an authorized driver. Did she drive the rental car? Probably. She didn't seem to have any problem driving daily with her expired license? It was expired when she got a seatbelt ticket in Woodstock early in December 2009, and it was expired when a McHenry County Sheriff's deputy ticketed her on June 23, 2010.

Her June 23rd ticket was nolle prossed. An Assistant State's Attorney told me that, in court on September 15, Jenn had presented an Illinois driver's license that was valid on June 23. Only, according to the Illinois Secretary of State Police, Jenn did not have a valid Illinois driver's license on June 23. Her Illinois driver's license was issued after June 23!

Who is really interested in what happened to Beth Bentley? Just as importantly, who is not interested? Or, rather, who is interested in Beth Bentley's not being found?

Shooting range - good idea; wrong location

The McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) will consider a petition on Thursday, April 19, 1:30PM, and/or on April 24, 10:00AM, for a shooting range northeast of Woodstock on Route 120 at Queen Anne Road, where the miniature golf and driving range were located.

Having an outdoor shooting range in McHenry County is a great idea. Having it along Route 120 at Queen Anne Road? A disaster waiting to happen.

If the ZBA wants public feedback, it ought to hold the hearing in the evening. The members may not need to work for a living, but the People do.

And, speaking of the ZBA, why is it so hard to find the names of the members of the ZBA on the County's website?

I finally found Minutes of the April 4th Voting meeting, and the Minutes contained these names: "Kelly, Eldredge, Gartner, Haerter, Kooistra, Scherer". This sentence appears, too: "(Dave Stone should have read 12-14-11)" What would something like that mean?

These people are appointed by the County Board, and it shouldn't be a secret who they are or how to contact them. Full names should appear in meeting Minutes, and full contact information (name, address, telephone number, e-mail address) should appear on the County's website. If it's there, it's carefully hidden.

Good luck trying to communicate your opinions to the ZBA, if you wish to address Board members individually and away from the Planning Department.

No doubt the ZBA will consider safety issues, such as distances any bullet can travel from the firing line. Will it draw a circle with a 1.0-1.5 mile radius? While all shots fired ought to be down-range, what consideration will be given to "wild" or accidental shots fired other than down-range?

What about the "noise" circle? Three miles? Five miles? How large a caliber will be permitted? .50 cal.?

An outdoor range belongs way out in the country, not adjacent to existing housing or reasonably expected housing in the future. A good location would be somewhere between Harvard and Marengo, west of Route 23. The location at Route 120 and Queen Anne Road is a terrible location for a shooting range!