Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spelling in Woodstock

Who was that kid, the 12-year-old, who almost made the cut in the spelling bee? The one in this morning's paper? He is desperately needed in Woodstock.

Today I was snooping around on the Woodstock PD website, looking for the correct spelling for the name of the drug dog. Is it Brinx? Brinks? I thought I'd find a photo of the handler and the dog, but I didn't.

What did catch my eye was what, at first, I thought was a photo from a training room. Upon closer inspection I see that it is a uniformed officer in a classroom. See the kids? See the chalkboard?

See the poster? "WHOO'S DOING GOOD WORK?"

What school is this in? What classroom? Who is the teacher?

I don't care if "WHOO'S" is a mysterious acronym as a study aid. How many Woodstock kids will pass through that class and head off into life, believing that "who" is spelled "whoo"? The poster is right there in front of them, day and day. The subliminal message is there.

But another question - wouldn't it be better to put a photo with no misspellings on the website?

Mental Health Board & Family Services

The McHenry County Mental Health Board (MHB) conducted another public hearing last night, only it was supposed to be a Special Meeting of the Board. Sandy Lewis, MHB Executive Director, made a PowerPoint presentation that must have taken hours to create.

The public (estimated at 150 by the Northwest Herald) sat through it and was then invited to address the Board. After many comments about the importance of services offered by Family Services, the first portion of the meeting was closed and a five-minute break was announced, after which the Board would enter an Executive Session.

I didn't intend to comment until a statement was made that North Central had not breached the contract (to assume operations of Family Service). I had been confused throughout the meeting, and my question to the Board was, if North Central couldn't complete its take-over of Family Services, then why wasn't it out of the picture?

Maybe it all looked too simple to me. If you are buying a house contingent upon approval of financing and you find out that you can't get a mortgage, then the deal is over.

Family Services is just one of the agencies supported by the Mental Health Board, but it looks like the place will go dark on June 30.

Several members of the audience were passionate about the benefit of and need for services. All it takes is money. Lots of it. And it's not there. What happens to any business that can't pay its bills? It goes out of business. Apparently, North Central had received verbal and email assurances that existing contracts (for reimbursements) would be transferred to them, and those were not turned into new contracts or guarantees. No money? No deal.

Family Services clients and patients will be receiving letters. The letters will tell them to find new providers. The letters might even have some suggestions. Many clients are on Medicaid. Many providers still in business refuse to accept Medicaid. A plan is being developed to safeguard medical records.

Thirty days, folks. Don't wait to find a new doctor.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bad change in County meetings calendar

Want to know about official county government meetings in June? Trying to plan your calendar? Good luck.

A change in the meetings calendar has resulted in removal of all scheduled meetings from view. I wonder who dreamed up that change!

Go to and then look for "McHenry County Meetings" on the left sidebar.

Click on that. You used to be able to view all the meetings scheduled for the year.

Now? Now you see January through this month (May).

However, if you are good investigator, you can find the rest of the meetings. Not by the first step, though. After your initial frustration, go back to  Click again on "McHenry County Meetings".

Then click on "New Meeting Schedule". Aha, more frustration...  Remember when you were able to just look at a calendar "page" and see everything easily lined up by the day of the month. No more...

Now, click on "Full Calendar". Wait, one more step...

Then, click on "All" after the words: "Date: Recent, 2012, All"

Who in the world decided on this complicated path, when the previous Calendar did its job just fine???

FEN outs Koehler

First Electric Newspaper (FEN) has published that it was McHenry County Board chairman Ken Koehler who sicced Caldwell Berner & Caldwell on Zane Seiper and his attorney, Blake Horwitz, WITHOUT consulting the Board.

FEN reports "County Board Chairman Ken Koehler told FEN Tuesday he ordered the request without consulting other Board members."

FEN also reports, "Koehler said he didn't talk to anyone else before he told Caldwell to file the motion.  'I'm given the authority to use my best judgement,' he said."

Well, why didn't he use his best judgement? Did Koehler even know what the cost was in this case? Did he put a limit on Caldwell's fees or just sign a blank check? What if the Board doesn't approve payment? Will Koehler have to foot the bill himself?

Is this legal? Is the chairman authorized to initiate legal action against private parties without a Board resolution and vote? Why can he spend (waste?) County dollars (your dollars) on his own "Go for it"?

Good for Pete Gonigam, publisher of FEN), for getting to the bottom of it.

The Northwest Herald didn't. Or maybe it didn't want to. Last Friday the editor(s) obviously knew where they got the story, but the source was camouflaged by writing "the County". Did the paper even try to nail down who gave the green light to the Caldwell law firm? Who tipped off the paper to the filing of the Petition for Sanctions.

Since no court date has been set, the record of the filing doesn't show up in the public-access records. Did Caldwell "tip" the reporter?

Or were the sheriff's feelings hurt and he called his favorite newspaper? The Petition mentions harassment of the sheriff. Yeah, sure.

I urge Seipler and Horwitz not to comment. See you all in court...

By the way, the County Board meets Tuesday, June 5, 9:00AM. A work day for many County residents, so they won't show up in large numbers to complain about Koehler's action.

Cars hit in Marengo

From the Marengo (Ill.) Police Department (MPD):

"Two burglaries on Bauman Court during the night / early morning hours of May 27th – 28th.  One was a vehicle and one was a garage and the vehicle in the garage.  The garage and the vehicles were unlocked.

"Items taken included electronics, tools, change.  No serial numbers were recorded by the owners which gives MPD little to follow up with.  Please remind the group to take the time to document serial numbers of any / all items of value, engrave owner identification descriptors on items and list these items with insurance agents.  The follow up for MPD (e.g.) running them through various data bases to see if they were pawned is invaluable when we have specific description including serial numbers."

You know how, in a small town, you think you don't have to lock your car? or close and lock your garage door?

On the one hand, if you lose some change and don't have to spend $300 on a new window for your car, maybe your loss is less. But why not just put the barkless German shepherd in the car and give the car burglars a real surprise? !!!

If you see kids (or adults) prowling the streets late at night, call the police. If you see vehicles stopped in or cruising a neighborhood at unusual times, call the police.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Who is "the County"?

Being naturally curious about who "the County" was in the Petition filed last Thursday against Zane Seipler and his attorney, I went to the courthouse (well, okay; the "government center") today and read the Petition.

It is in Case No. 10MR000011, which is the case that Zane Seipler started in January 2010 about the sheriff's mis-use of County dollars for a seven-point "star" (badge) that he used for political purposes and also slapped on County vehicles, buildings and stationery. That "star" is referred to in documents as a LOGO (sic).

Judge Meyer ended Seipler's case with a decision that he (Judge Meyer) could not appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren. It was the State's Attorney's job to investigate, and the State's Attorney said he never considered it, because it would be unethical, since he represents the Office of the Sheriff. So the State's Attorney did not decide not to investigate Nygren; he told the Court he never considered the question of investigating Nygren.

Now, "the County" is asking for sanctions against Seipler and his Chicago attorney, Blake Horwitz.

Except it's getting hard to determine who "the County" is; i.e., who gave a green light to Caldwell Berner & Caldwell, LLC to file the Petition?

"The County" didn't; i.e., the County Board did not authorize Caldwell et al. to file that Petition. So, who did?

I started too late in the day to track down "the County" and was not able to reach Norm Vinton, Donna Kelly or Bill Caldwell.

The Petitioner ("the County) seems to be concerned about harassment of Sheriff Nygren and is requesting "that a sanction be entered for the time expended by the County's State's Attorney in responding to the five Petitions that have been filed." The Petition doesn't ask for reimbursement of the County's cost; it asks only for a sanction. So I guess that judge could just say, "Bad boy, bad boy."

It seems to me that one of County's big snowplows could be driven right through the Petition. Did it have to meet a minimum weight requirement when filed? Or a minimum number of pages? In one response it reads that the San Jose Police Department has been using a seven-point star since the late 1800s. So what???

In another section it mentions the FBI's letter (it was a strange one, indeed, and, in my mind, is highly suspect as to its authenticity) that Scott Milliman's allegations lack "prosecutive merit". Since when does the FBI issue such letters? Since when would it inform a subordinate of an investigative target of such a opinion?

The Petition also read "Plaintiff's allegations have been reviewed by multiple governmental agents. They include the F.B.I., the Attorney General's Office, the State Board of Elections, First Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Carroll and State's Attorney Donald Leist. All of these agencies have indicated that there is no prosecutive merit." It didn't mention that Carroll and Leist are no longer with the State's Attorney's Office or that Leist works for the Sheriff now.

Oh, really? All of them? In fact, any of them, other than the F.B.I.?

Horwitz is going to demolish this Petition, and I'll bet he will then turn around and go after the County.

So, my question is ... "Who is 'the County'?" Who turned Caldwell Berner & Caldwell loose on this? Who is paying for it?

Oh, and the Notice of Petition? No hearing date is requested. So, is the Petition just "I'll huff and I'll puff", but I won't see you in court?

Impoundment fees - $100,000/yr. pace!!!

I've written before about Woodstock's new vehicle impoundment fees, and I've wondered how many tickets have been written by the Woodstock Police Department officers, since the new ordinance was quietly enacted in January. Today I found out, just by reading the PD's report in the May 15th City Council packet.

The Woodstock City Council had a letter from Chief Lowen (obviously prepared by legal staff) in its City Council packet in January. That letter was dated January 3, 2012, and quickly followed an effective date (January 1,  2012) of a change in State law which allowed a small city, like Woodstock, to enact such a law. Was Woodstock ready to pounce? You bet.

Chief Lowen estimated that his officers would impound 50 vehicles per year. At a $500 impoundment fine, that would generate $25,000 for the City. The fine is collected in the Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court, not in McHenry County Circuit Court. Fifty (50) vehicles at $500 each equals $25,000.

How is the P.D. doing as a profit center for the City of Woodstock?

In its April 2012 report to the City Manager (and City Council) the Woodstock Police Department reported $10,000 collected in fines in the month of April alone, and $28,500 in fines year-to-date.

The pace? Over $100,000 per year!!! A far cry above Chief Lowen's estimate of $25,000.

This is money sucked out of the public unnecessarily. Add to that total the towing fees and daily storage fees. Money that could be spent in Woodstock businesses. Keeping Woodstock businesses open  (besides the towing companies). Instead, it will deprive Woodstock businesses of that revenue and drive business out of Woodstock.

Residents and business owners should pounce on the mayor and the City Council and demand that they rescind this ordinance.

Who came up with that brilliant idea? The police chief? Not likely. The finance director of the city? Maybe. The city manager? Maybe. The city's law firm? Most likely?

Is anyone else upset with the police-state mentality that has come to Woodstock? Am I the only one who cares? Write to the police chief, the city manager, the mayor, members of the city council and send me a copy. Here are the addresses:,,,,,,,,,,

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Message to Pres. Obama

This arrived in my email today. It is a must-see.

The message with it read, 
"This video just came out & it already has over 6 Million Hits
This is without a doubt the best video that has come out and apparently 6 Million others think so too because there have been 6 million hits in 4 days. Please watch it again and again and send it on to others. I believe the pendulum has started to swing so let's keep it going.
"This is very well done."

The copy of the video on YouTube indicates it may have come out in February 2010, and it now registers 10,201,230 views. Watch it...

Beth Bentley - gone 103 weeks!

Beth Bentley has now been gone 103 weeks. She vanished on the week-end of May 20-23, 2010, from Centralia, Ill. Or was it from Mount Vernon, Ill.? Or was it from Woodstock, Ill.?

One person knows for sure. Two others very likely know. And several others know more than they are saying, which is nothing.

When will those who know start talking? They have stories to tell. Maybe they'll stop telling "stories". It's way past time for the truth.

One interesting thing about telling the truth is that the story doesn't change. No matter how many times the story is told, it is basically the same. Small items might change - a little. When you tell the truth - whether you tell it today or told it last week or last year or two years ago - the story will be close to the same.

It's when you lie that you trip yourself up. Few liars are good enough to keep telling the story over and over and not start falling all over themselves. There are interviewing techniques that help detectives trip up liars. The detectives know those techniques. At least, they should know those techniques. And they should use them.

All the principals in the Beth Bentley missing person case, and I could name about a dozen of them non-stop, should be interviewed and re-interviewed. And by different detectives. Maybe even by different agencies. Maybe by detectives who don't know the stories.

Different detectives will pick up different information and cues, while the stories are being told. They will spot the hesitations and also the parts of the stories that have been rehearsed, thought through, thought out. The part of the story that just comes out "too smoothly".

The detectives will find the answers within the files that they have already accumulated. They should have someone new look at the case. Fresh eyes will see what's "wrong". Put pride in the bottom drawer and focus only on finding Beth. Start fresh.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Check the timing, will ya?

Just check out the timing on this one. A phone call from a reader alerted me to an article posted at 3:17PM today on the Northwest Herald's website:

"County wants deputy to pay sheriff's legal bill"

Day before holiday week-end
Government offices closed on Monday

It's all in the timing, folks...

Rather than have Seipler pay for the sheriff's legal bill, how about if we, the People, just get the State's Attorney to investigate Nygren? And, if he won't do it, how about the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor?

If the county's top cop is being associated (that is, allegedly being associated) with murder-for-hire solicitation, trafficking in illegal aliens, fraudulent loan documents, shouldn't that be investigated?


Did anybody ever attempt to confirm the authenticity of the FBI's letter that said accusations by fired Deputy Scott Milliman lacked prosecutive merts? That letter was immediately suspicious to me.

First of all, the FBI doesn't make those type of comments. Secondly, why would the FBI reveal anything about a case it had investigated? Thirdly, why would an underling at the FBI write to the second-in-command at a law enforcement agency about an investigation of his superior? Fourth, a File or Reference Number was conspicuously absent from the letter. Whoever heard of the FBI sending out an official document without a File Number?

Was the letter a fraud? Who furnished the letter to the Northwest Herald? Did the paper swallow it - hook, line and sinker?

Who dreamed up the idea of going after Seipler for the legal fees?

What "court documents" are there that are mentioned in Paragraph 2 of the story? There is nothing in the online Circuit Court records at this time. Did someone "leak" the filing to their friends at the Northwest Herald?

The first comment to the Northwest Herald online article hits the nail on the head: "They do not have the sense to quit, when they are ahead."

Remember when a guy from Marengo challenged Perry Moy's candidacy against Jack Franks a few years ago. Moy's attorney asked the Election hearing board to make the guy pay the hearing costs. His Chicago attorney said such a decision would have a "chilling effect" on every citizen. It's the same thing here.

Seipler's petition was not a frivolous action. Had it been, Judge Meyer would have tossed it very quickly. But it ran its course from January 2010 until April 25, 2012.

The State's Attorney, elected by The People of McHenry County, should investigate Nygren and, if warranted, seek to indict and then prosecute him. And, if he won't, somebody ought to know how to get the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor to go into action.

And we ought to have an investigative newspaper reporter in this county who is on the Peoples' side.

Start seeing motorcycles

Click to enlarge
Summertime is here.

Please see motorcycles. Don't just look at them See them. SEE them.

And keep in mind the message on this bumper snicker.

Is a 30-year-old motorcycle a "vintage" bike? This bumper sticker is on the saddlebag (hard-sided luggage) on Nick Chirikos' 1981 BMW.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guns - A-M (hoping for A-Z)

Saw this today on the Facebook page of MCR2CA (McHenry County Right-to-Carry Assn.) It came from somewhere else, but the source was not shown.

Some words to the wise. Shooting advice from various concealed carry instructors. If you own a gun, you will appreciate this. If not, you should get one and learn how to use it:
A Guns have only two enemies rust and politicians.
B It's always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
C Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you.
D Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside arm's length.
E Never say "I've got a gun." If you need to use deadly force, the first sound they hear should be the safety clicking off.
F The average response time of a 911 call is 23 minutes; the response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second.
G The most important rule in a gunfight is: Always win - cheat if necessary.
H Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets . . . You may get killed with your own gun, but he'll have to beat you to death with it, cause it'll be empty.
I If you're in a gun fight:
1 If you're not shooting, you should be loading.
2 If you're not loading, you should be moving,
3 If you're not moving, you're dead.
J In a life and death situation, do something . . . It may be wrong, but do something!
K If you carry a gun, people call you paranoid. Nonsense! If you have a gun, what do you have to be paranoid about?
L You can say 'stop' or 'alto' or any other word, but a large bore muzzle pointed at someone's head is pretty much a universal language.
M You cannot save the planet, but you may be able to save yourself and your family.
If you believe in the 2nd Amendment, please forward.

Useless use of NIXLE

Are there any brains at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Surely, out of 400 employees, somebody could figure out how to better than this...

Today's NIXLE alert at 4:24PM: "Public's assistance sought in identifying suspicious white male, 35-40 yoa, stemming from incident; Wonder Lake today."

Behind the NIXLE link is the story. A man in an old "white in color" (as if "in color" is necessary; "white" will do) van with a square front (like a Pontiac Sunfire (which isn't a van and which doesn't have a "square" front)) asked a female jogger for directions. He then drove away but came back. As he drove by, he reached out as if to touch the jogger.

He was wearing a white "in color" (do cops forget how to speak English?) t-shirt and had reddish-brown hair.

Anyone with information about the driver or the van is asked to contact MCSD or, get this, Crime Stoppers of McHenry County.

The NIXLE release doesn't claim that any crime was committed. OK, so why is Crime Stoppers involved? Crime Stoppers' boilerplate is tossed in about an "up to $1,000" reward. Of course, he has to be arrested and prosecuted.

What was the crime? Assault? Disorderly conduct? Did he alarm or disturb her? Was her peace breached? If so, say so.

After you click on the NIXLE link for the above information, then you have to click again to go to the Sheriff's Department website, go to press releases and click again to see his picture. Too many clicks. Most are not going to do that.

How nice. 4:40PM No press release. No photo. Keystone Cops are at it again.

At 10:53PM a composite sketch is posted in the press releases on the Sheriff's website at, but it is not in a format that can saved and re-published here. And it is not published with the online Northwest Herald news about this. So much for making it easy for the public to help.

Note: 5/25/12 7:50AM Thanks to the reader who sent me the uploadable image of the "suspicious" person.

Off-duty use of MCSD squad car?

To what extent should a deputy be permitted to use his take-home squad car for personal driving? Many deputies get the "perk" of a take-home car. The justification put forward is that the County is better protected by more squad cars on the roads. Is this true?

When a deputy is not on duty, how can he (or she) use his squad car?

He can drive it home and back to work. Can he drive it on errands? Can he head off to Jewel-Osco or Dominic's? To the shoe repair shop? (Where do you find one of those, these days?)

How about a trip down to the local liquor store? Or can he purchase liquor at Jewel-Osco and take it home in his squad car?

Let's get stickier. Can a deputy drive his take-home squad car with any passengers? Can he take his kids to school? To tae kwon do? Drop his wife or girlfriend off at work?

Can a deputy drive his take-home squad car to a part-time job?

OK, how about stickier? Let's say a deputy is a volunteer firefighter or maybe a paid, part-time firefighter. Can he take off to a fire in his take-home squad car?

Now, what if he is on duty as a deputy and there is a fire call? Can the deputy leave his full-time job as a deputy sheriff and head off to fight a fire? Say, a fire that is out of his assigned district during the hours of his duty shift? Should he get paid for being a deputy, while he is getting paid for fighting a fire?

Can he run lights-and-siren to the fire (he is responding as a firefighter, not as a deputy)?

Does anyone at MCSD say, "WTH? You can't do that!"

Feldkamp house vandalized?

Just received a telephone call that the vacant residence of the late Jack and Audrey Feldkamp was vandalized last night. Presumably, deputies from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department responded to someone's call and found damage in the house.

Jack Feldkamp, 83, and Audrey Feldkamp, 81, died on June 7, 2011, according to reports of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. Mr. Feldkamp died at home, and Mrs. Feldkamp died 2 1/2 hours later in a Rockford hospital. Scott Feldkamp, now 55, told deputies that a man had entered the Feldkamp residence and that he, Scott, had shot the neighbor after the man stabbed his parents and him.

Less than 24 hours later, Sheriff Keith Nygren declared that it was a "random act of violence". Case closed.

But was it a random act of violence? Was the conclusion hastily reached? How do you conclude in less than 24 hours how a triple homicide occurred? To what extent was the house treated as a crime scene and preserved as such until all necessary investigation could be conducted?

The house was reportedly empty in the past weeks. Household furnishings had been removed in anticipation of estate settlement, sale of the house or foreclosure. A relative may have been staying in house from time to time as "security".

A rumor is already spreading about who was responsible for the damage. Whoever hears rumors should write them down as to the time heard and who said what. Due to other investigations in progress, I'll appreciate emails and calls regarding any rumors, and I'll be happy to pass them along to people who can track them down.
A press release from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department provides the following information. Anybody care to name the driver or passengers?

Teen Cited for Driving 95MPH
May 23, 2012

Sheriff Keith Nygren announces that on May 23, 2012, at approximately 5:15 AM, a Sheriff’s Deputy observed a vehicle traveling east on IL RT 176, in unincorporated Marengo, which appeared to be traveling in excess of the posted speed limit. The Deputy activated the radar and recorded a speed of 95 MPH. The posted speed limit in that area is 55 MPH. The Deputy made a traffic stop on the vehicle and identified the driver as a 17 year old from Marengo. Also in the vehicle were 5 other passengers who were under 18 years of age.

The teenager was cited for the following violations and was released to the custody of his mother:
Speeding 40+ over the posted speed limit
Operation of an uninsured motor vehicle
Driving during restricted time – Graduated Driver’s License
More than 1 passenger under 20 years of age – Graduated Driver’s License

Sheriff Nygren would like to remind drivers that speeding is a contributing cause in many fatal traffic accidents. Drivers should obey the posted speed limit at all times.

Sheriff Keith Nygren

(Note: No signature appears on the press release. The Sheriff has stopped signing press releases, so it is not possible to determine who actually issued the press release. The wording is particularly interesting, since there is no "unincorporated Marengo". You're either in the City of Marengo or you're not.)

Huntley, Grafton Twp about to make deal

The following press release was received from Linda Moore, Grafton Township Supervisor.

Supervisor Linda Moore is pleased to announce that the Village of Huntley will be voting on the Intergovernmental Agreement with Grafton Township that provides a grant of $10,000 towards the Senior Transportation Program which serves residents of Grafton Township and the Village of Huntley.  The Village Attorney has reviewed the agreement and found everything to be in order for consideration at this time. 
The Village Staff Analysis Report shows that ridership has increased.  Rutland Township riders have increased from 1,373 in 2010 to 2,000 in 2011.  Overall rider activity has increased from 3,337 in 2010 to 4,041 in 2011 increasing the overall total ridership revenue from $4,141 in 2010 to $4,770 in 2011.  The amount the Village will pay is the same as the 2011 Intergovernmental Agreement.
Tonight the Village Board Members will vote on a resolution to approve the execution of the 2012 Agreement.
Supervisor Linda Moore, on behalf of the Grafton Township Board, would like to thank the Village of Huntley for their continued support of the senior transportation program.  To find out more about this transportation program, visit or call the office at 847-669-3328.  Registration is required before the first ride can be scheduled.

Vehicle Impoundments - how many?

In January the Woodstock City Council quietly adopted a vehicle impoundment ordinance. So far, I have not seen one official word about it. There has been no City announcement, no press release or any warning to the public that the City is going to impound vehicles for certain violations or offenses.

If the Police Department impounds (confiscates) your car, then it will cost you $500 to get it back. Plus towing. Plus storage charges.

This week's Police Blotter in The Woodstock Independent had 11 qualifying arrests for impoundment. How many vehicles did the Woodstock P.D. impound out of those arrests? All? Any?

When the City Council silently (without discussion, and unanimously) approved the ordinance allowing police to snatch your car, it did so after reading a letter from Police Chief Robert Lowen that said he expected to impound about 50 cars a year.

Based on published arrests for May 6-May 15, they could have grabbed 11. Eleven. ELEVEN.
11 X $500 = $5,500 (100% to the City of Woodstock; no sharing with McHenry County). Cost to the drivers (or owners)? Add $150 towing (11 x $150 = $1,650) and how many days' storage at $40/day.

And that's just for the arrests published in The Woodstock Independent. Was that all of the qualifying arrests?

If the cops grabbed, say, five cars per week, that's 250 cars in a year. 250 x 500 = $125,000.

Was Hanna Schacht's car towed after she was arrested for driving John Kurchina away from the Lawndale Ave. location Sunday night, after he alleged stole marijuana from the resident there?

Seatbelt compliance...

The Woodstock Police Department ran a seatbelt compliance roadblock on Wednesday on Route 47, just north of Lake Ave. Can you imagine a more congested section of roadway for this? An officer was setting up traffic cones about 10:15AM.

Previous checks have been made on southbound traffic, because drivers can be directed off the roadway into the unimproved, vacant lot on the northwest corner of the intersection.

What's the objective? To help the State of Illinois push compliance from 92.9% to 93.0%.

Now, you tell me. Does this make sense? Woodstock PD sucks up some State grant(s), possibly backed by federal dollars, to try to gain a 0.1% notch in compliance. The officers may earn overtime for this duty. Let's say a cop earns $80,000/year. That's $40.00/hour.

Put him out on this duty, and he earns $60.00/hour. Does seniority prevail, so that the longest-tenure, oldest, highest-paid cops get the gravy?

The Woodstock P.D. has an electronic sign sitting in its parking lot. Why not place it on the roadway shoulder with a message like "Buckle up or $75 Fine!" Instead, it sits in the parking lot, displaying some useless message to passing drivers, who probably don't pay any attention to it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dynamite in Seipler case

The Northwest Herald is reporting tonight that "... a deputy testified Wednesday that he wouldn't be surprised if the sheriff 'had something to do' with the murder of a former deputy's brother."

This testimony was in reinstated Deputy Zane Seipler's federal civil rights lawsuit against McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren and other employees of the Sheriff's Department. Seipler's case is being held in U.S. District Court in Rockford.

The murder referred to was the fatal late-evening shooting of Kurt Milliman on May 28, 2011. Milliman was shot near Centegra Hospital - Woodstock, to which he was transported by ambulance and at which he died hours later, on May 29.

The "former deputy" is Scott Milliman, whose deposition in November 2010 included statements about serious alleged criminal activity by Sheriff Nygren. It is believed that that deposition triggered Scott Milliman's firing by Nygren. Milliman now has his own lawsuit against Nygren.

Read the Northwest Herald article here before it is archived by the paper in one week.

If you miss it, you can go the Woodstock Public Library website and use your library card to read archived Northwest Herald newspaper articles without charge. You may also be able to access archived articles without charge through other libraries. Call them to inquire.

Open carry - Oklahoma makes 25

Oklahoma became the 25th state in the Union to permit open carry of loaded firearms. Imagine that.

And Illinois? Still stuck in the Ice Age.

What was the vote? In the Oklahoma House of Representatives: 85-3. Wow! And in the Senate? 33-10.

On May 15 Gov. Mary Fallin signed it into law, granting law-abiding citizens the right to carry loaded guns either openly or concealed. The new law takes effect on November 1.

Well, folks, we're surrounded. Will our legislators give up?

Maybe Illinois should create the Great State of Chicago. The rest of Illinois wants concealed carry. Just put up a fence around Chicago to keep the criminals in and us out, and let 'em have at it. The Democratic legislators in Chicago will be safe; no criminal would dare attack them. That might open the door for a successor to decide that maybe, just maybe, law-abiding citizens ought to have the right to defend themselves.

Dealing with confidential informants

What do principles, integrity, honesty, responsibility and CALEA have to do with confidential informants? Anything? Nothing?

Confidential informants (C.I.'s) are, at times, quite valuable to law enforcement agencies. Many good street cops and many detectives work to develop informants and to keep them on the string. It's probably just as well that the public doesn't know the whole story behind the use of CIs.

What are some of the rules for detectives (and other law enforcement officers) who use CIs?

One rule ought to be a specific, well-documented log of contacts, with dates, times, locations, purposes, information gathered, expenses incurred and appropriate and complete reports of contact.

Suppose a detective meets a C.I. and buys the C.I. a basic meal. Not a problem. Document it. Get a receipt. Report the expense. Write up a report. Don't take the C.I. to the Drake or the Palmer House. IHOP might be a good choice.

From time to time it might be necessary to meet the C.I. at "strange" hours. Probably not 9-5. Might have to be late at night. Document it. Take of official business, and part ways.

Kind of get an idea where this might be going?

If a detective is obtaining information from a C.I., sometimes it might have to be out of the public eye. Ex., it wouldn't be a good idea for a friend of the C.I. to wander by and smell a cop. I understand that some criminals have a fairly highly-developed sense of smell, when it comes to cops.

What might a detective do to compromise a relationship with a C.I.? Let's say, a male detective and a female C.I. What if the C.I. is ratting out some druggies? Any chance the C.I. is a drug user herself? Any chance? Maybe that should be, how great a chance? Or, to what extent?

Now let's say that a narcotics detective has a female C.I. and the relationship is not "strictly business." Any problem? You bet! What if a sexual component got into the equation?

And remember, up above, where I wrote "information gathered"? What if it was actually the case that information was exchanged, not just gathered? What if a detective actually passed information to the C.I.? Whoa, are we talkin' Chicago-style here? You mean, in McHenry County?

OK, so what is the top cop to do? Does he bring the forces of law-and-order to bear and initiate criminal action (well, I mean "legal" action) against the detective?

Wouldn't this be a matter that would result in extreme discipline and, if the agency had a merit commission, wouldn't the top cop hot-foot it right to his commission?

If the agency is accredited by CALEA, is there a big, thick book or manual on the shelf, in which the agency has written what it will do if such a matter arises? The CALEA Manual isn't there just to gather dust, is it?

Are there any law enforcement agencies in McHenry County faced with this dilemma right now?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Let Nick Chirikos fix it

Nick and his 1981 BMW
Had lunch today with Nick Chirikos, Democratic candidate in District 1 for the McHenry County Board.

Nick has four opponents in the November 2012 race. All he has to do is beat one of them, and he's in. Nick is a first-time candidate for office (I can relate to that) and is a 35-year resident of McHenry County. He is Chairman of the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission and has volunteered for more than 20 years with historic preservation organizations.

And we didn't once mention Grace Hall. Imagine that. Remember Grace Hall?

If Nick can fix his 1981 BMW (and he has fixed it!), he ought to be able to fix problems facing McHenry County. 

Want to contact Nick? Help with his campaign? Call 847.658.3434 or email Nick at

Sleaze by Illinois House

Look at the sleaze being put over on The People of Illinois.

A bill in the Illinois legislature starts out with one purpose, and then it gets switched to an entirely different purpose. Should this be allowed?

It probably happens all the time. But does the public know? Do the legislators even realize it?

Senate Bill 1034 started out as an anti-drug bill. Then it got to the House, where it got gutted. House Amendment 002 is where the fun began, when the anti-gunners got at it.

How would you like this jammed down your throat, if you are new resident? How would you like to move into Illinois, get your driver's license, and then be required to apply for a FOID card?

What if you are a person who doesn't like guns, has never owned a gun and will never own a gun? How would you like to become a criminal if you don't apply for a FOID card, whether you want one or not?

Want to know whom to thank for this? Ill. Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-4th House District). Care to express your opinion to her? (Be nice now ...)

Rep. Cynthia Soto
2434 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 252-0402
Cook County (of course)

Thanks to the Woodstock Advocate reader who alerted me to this.

Violators in handicap parking

A little-known section of the Illinois Vehicle Code (IVC) allows a police chief to authorize volunteer citizens to ticket violators in handicap parking spaces. Did you know that?

Thanks to a knowledgeable reader of this blog, this section of the IVC (625 ILCS 5/11-1301.7) has come to light. Want to read it? Go to Does any police chief in McHenry County allow this?

How many times have you seen an able-bodied driver pull into a handicap space and run into a store "just for a minute"? Say, over at the Jewel-Osco in Woodstock? How many times a week does this happen?

Handicap spaces are for handicapped drivers, and they must display the proper placard or license plate on the vehicle. Having it on the sun visor or in the glove compartment or under a magazine on the car seat doesn't qualify. A placard needs to be hanging from the mirror. A cop would probably pass up writing a ticket if the placard is on the dashboard.

The driver needs to know the rules for parking in the handicap spot. If a driver drops off the handicapped person at the entrance to the building, then the driver is not entitled to park in a handicap space. But they do. Instead, they should leave that space for the driver who is handicapped.

If you are a resident who wants to be a volunteer to write some $250 tickets (all of which goes to the municipality (or the County)), contact Chief Lowen (Woodstock PD), Chief Linder (Crystal Lake) or Sheriff Nygren (McHenry County) or the chief of your town's PD and ask about training and authorization. (In Algonquin and some other places, the fine is $500.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Could car here be ticketed?

Could a car parked in this handicap parking space be ticketed? Should it be?

This space, in the west parking lot of the McHenry County Government Center, has a worn-out handicap parking symbol on the pavement. There is no handicap parking sign behind the space. Compare the paint on the lane lines with the parking symbol. It would appear that the space used to be a handicap parking space.

You can see a sign on a post in this picture. (Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.) Note that it is adjacent to the handicap parking space to the east. The post could actually be placed in the grass island directly behind the parking space.

Should pavement markings be prominent enough to be easily visible to a driver about to pull in? If they are faded and worn out, are they enforceable?

Is a sign required for the space to be enforced for handicap-only parking?

The problem?

If you get a $250 ticket and wish to fight it, then you are looking at legal fees. How much? Whether you win or lose in court, a lawyer will probably charge you $250 to defend you. If you win, then you are out the $250 for the lawyer.

If you lose, then you are looking at legal fees AND court costs, pushing the cost of that $250 ticket to well over $500. So, what would most drivers do if ticketed? They'd gripe loud and long, and then cough up the $250.

Would that be fair?

Drivers are entitled to fair warning regarding handicap parking spaces. This means adequate signing, both on the ground and on a sign. Can one sign serve two spaces? Possibly, with appropriate arrows pointing to both spaces.

It's the Woodstock Police who would enforce violations. Would they ticket a car in this space that did not display a handicap placard or license plate?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Next Grafton Township circus

Earlier this month wasn't there mention of a Special Meeting of the Grafton Township circus workers? Seems so. But, if you go to you'll see that the May 10th meeting is posted. Let's see; today is May 20. Is anyone minding the store?

But wait! There is a second Grafton Township website at

I haven't been to the circus for quite a few months. Fireworks are usually on the second Thursday of each month, and the last meeting at was May 10. The relationship between the Supervisor and the Trustees is so great that each creates an agenda for the meeting, and the first order of business is a vote on which agenda to use. Guess who wins? 4 votes to 1 vote.

If Grafton Township voters are smart, more of them will start attending meetings and deciding for themselves what to do at the next election. And they should read First Electric Newspaper and learn where their tax dollars are going in the next round of court fights. Ding-ding-ding. Rount 10, coming up. Or is it Round 15?

Anyone know when the next Township meeting is?

Run against Jack Franks?

If you haven't read McHenry County Blog yet about the free pass that McHenry County Republicans are about to give Jack Franks (again), go today and read Cal Skinner's articles. Go to or click here

Tonya Franklin said she would run. No one else is stepping up to the plate. OK, so why not Tonya?

Is it because "they" don't know her? Because she hasn't paid her dues? I.e., slaved away for party regulars, worn out shoe leather, put out door hangers, made phone calls, coughed up $$$? Or is it because she's not beholden to anyone already in power? Is it that "they" can't trust her to do their bidding?

Maybe Tonya isn't one of the 'good old boys'.

And so the Republicans are willing to default in this race.

What if the GOP got behind the only person willing to stick her chin out? Is there any doubt that the Republicans could take back this seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, ifthey wanted to ?

After all, just look at the last sheriff's race? The incumbent (Republican) got 53% of the vote. There are a lot more Republicans in McHenry County than 53% of the voters. The Democratic candidate (a nice guy, but politically unknown) got 35% of the vote. That tells me that many Republicans voted for Mike Mahon instead of for Keith Nygren.

No major political office should go uncontested. Are the Republicans around here afraid of losing? Surely, they realize that they lose by not even trying. Why won't they even try for the seat in the Illinois House of Representatives?

Electronic polling - how accurate?

An email this morning reminded me of the controversy over electronic polling. Frankly, I liked it. In our "wired" age, it makes sense.

But what if it's not accurate?

The machines seem to work properly at the beginning time of use. After several hours, though, - after they have heated up - tallies are not correct.

Now, this would not have been a problem during the March Primary in Woodstock - at least, at the polling place at which I was serving. There was not one electronic vote. It not only wasn't encouraged; it was discouraged. But not for this reason.

There must be a lot written about this. You can start here

Now can I serve cookies?

I had to read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (I grew up in the St. Louis area) today to learn that vendors can now peddle their home-baked goods at farmers' markets.

What brought this to mind?

A stupid enforcement of a rule by the McHenry County Dept. of Health a few years ago against a B&B owner. A B&B, of course, can serve breakfast. It can serve a hot breakfast - a delicious, individual, gourmet breakfast. One such as you cannot get in any restaurant. And it's served to your place at a dining-room table with polished silver and the "good" crystal. On a tablecloth. With linen napkins.

I was particularly galled at the stringent enforcement because I had been after the Health Department in the past to inspect and act against the many restaurants (McDonald's, Taco Bell, etc.) in McHenry County where kitchen workers illegally handled prepared foods (cooked burger patties, buns, condiments) with their bare hands. The health code clearly prohibited that, and it occurred every day in McHenry County.

Enter the Cookie Police.

If a B&B owner can prepare a gourmet breakfast and serve it to guests, why shouldn't that B&B owner be able to cookie homemade (is this redundant?) muffins and chocolate-chip cookies and put them out for guests arriving in the afternoon?

Absolutely not! The B&B owner was supposed to buy pre-packaged, individually-wrapped cookies and put them out on a plate, still wrapped!

Will the "farmers' market" rule allow a B&B owner to bake cookies and put them out now?

You can read the Post-Dispatch article here.

Jenn Wyatt demands jury trial

Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham entered a Not Guilty plea in court last Wednesday to Woodstock felony charges filed in March in the Beth Bentley missing person case.

And she is asking for (demanding) a jury trial. Well, we know how long it takes to get a jury trial around here...

Her next court date, for Status, is June 27. Often, cases drag for 1-2 years before the actual date for a jury trial arrives. Why judges put up with continuation after continuance is beyond my comprehension. Why not set a trial date for, say, September and tell the lawyers to be ready and that, ready or not, the trial will take place? Instead of status hearing after status hearing after status hearing, wouldn't it be wonderful if Judge Condon just set a Trial Date at the June 27th court date?

After a few mis-steps, guess what? Trials would start happening while someone still remembered the facts and that cases were pending. Someone besides the lawyers, I mean.

Thursday morning's article in the Northwest Herald read, "Police (that's the Woodstock Police) alleged that Wyatt was lying when she said she did not have contact with Bentley two days later, although they will not say when the two last had contact."

Since Wyatt has demanded a jury trial, then let's have a trial. No deals. No last-minute plea to a lesser charge. Put on the case. Bring out the evidence. Let's hear what's going on this case, which is now a few days short of two years old. She wants a trial? Give her a trial.

I haven't read the Complaint recently, but from the newspaper's description of the charge a few questions quickly arise.

1. What, exactly, is the lie -
a. she did have contact with Bentley two days later (on May 25, 2010)? or
b. that Wyatt said on May 25 that she hadn't had contact with Beth on some other date? or
c. that she said at some time later than she had not had contact with Bentley on May 25, 2010?

2. Are the charges specific enough to stick?

The claim for two years has been that Beth Bentley vanished from near the Centralia (Ill.) Amtrak station on Sunday, May 23, 2010, about 6:00PM. Supposedly, no one has heard from or seen Beth since.

Wyatt apparently told the Woodstock Police that she did not have contact with Beth on May 25, two days later. Or did she tell them two days later that she hadn't had contact with Beth (since when?)?

Will the prosecutors be good enough not to confuse the jury?

Some people continue to make a big deal out of there being no record that Beth ever boarded the northbound train for Chicago. So what? Just because somebody gets dropped off near a train station doesn't mean that they intended to take the train.

But did Wyatt tell police, say on May 25, 2010, that Beth did intend to take the train? Or was she vague enough, even then, that police and others jumped to the conclusion that Beth had taken the train?

This was a red herring right from the beginning. How many people went on the wild goose chase to the Chicago Amtrak station to put up fliers? Who really thinks now that Beth would arrive in downtown Chicago on a Sunday night, dressed as described, and hoof it over to Ogilvie Station? Wyatt called me on June 10 and told me that Beth never intended to take a train and that she never intended to spend the whole week-end in Mount Vernon with Wyatt and the Ridge brothers.

Why would Beth leave the rental car in Jenn's possession, knowing (or perhaps not knowing) that Jenn did not have a valid driver's license?

What did Beth plan to do that week-end? There is no doubt in my mind that Wyatt knew, and knows, what Beth's plans were for the week-end.

Were they even in Mount Vernon? Maybe only three people know, for sure. 1. Jenn Wyatt. 2. Ryan Ridge. 3. Nathan Ridge.

The count now? Beth Bentley has been missing for 102 weeks.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What's up in court?

Yesterday, May 18, Andy L. Heintzelman, 37, was found guilty in Judge Prather's court and was handed a large fine and court costs and a six-month jail sentence.

Heintzelman had been charged as November 9, 2010, with Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault (two counts), Battery (physical contact),  Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse (victim under 13). Heintzelman was convicted on the Abuse charge, the Battery charge was dismissed (superceded), and the predatory charges were amended and nolle prossed.

His sentence includes fines and court costs of $6,318.30; 30 months probation with special conditions; medical/mental, alcohol and drug addiction treatment; and 180 days in Hotel Nygren.

In a comment on Facebook, a woman with some knowledge of the case posted, "Wow....a asshole can rape a little 11 year old and get 60 days in jail.....I lie for my bestfriend and they want to give me 8 years is fuckin crazy"

Friday, May 18, 2012

Give blood tomorrow (May 19)

Are you a blood donor? Can you be? Will you be?

Woodstock Fire Rescue District is sponsoring a blood drive tomorrow, Saturday., May 19, from 10:00AM-4:00PM at Station 3, located on Raffel Road south of the (no longer "new") Woodstock North High School. In cooperation with LifeSource and the Illinois Fire Chiefs' Association, WFRD wants to stick you tomorrow.

Take the kids and your camera. Leave the dogs at home. Get in a tour of Woodstock's newest fire station, and try to win the raffle for a birthday party package.

Your donation can be a true gift of life on someone in need of blood. What if 100 donors showed up tomorrow? They'd be happily overwhelmed and figure out some way to accommodate everyone.

Come early.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How was it for Serpico?

If you saw the movie or read the book about Frank Serpico, did it make a lasting impression on you?

What would it be like to be the cop who wasn't on the take, who didn't bend the rules for his friends in blue, who just wanted to be a good cop? I've forgotten all the details of Serpico's life as a cop with NYPD. As I like to remember the story, he was one of the good guys.

And this makes me wonder what it would be like to be a guy who beat the sheriff at his game, knowing that there is a certain crowd at the sheriff's department that tends to stick together. I think that deputies are probably divided into the in's and the out's. If I were a deputy there, I'd be among the out's. No doubt about it.

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department should be a place where all deputies show up to do the best possible job. There shouldn't be "favorites" or cliques. You do your job, and you do it right.

And, if you don't do it right, you get disciplined fairly. Everybody should know that everybody gets treated equally. This is how it should be.

But how is it?

How are differences between employees settled? Do they talk it out like grown-ups? Or do they behave like children?

Does it get "personal" right away? Do they want to head on down to the O.K. Corral and settle it at high noon? And when it's over, is it really over? Can they end up on a call together and know that their differences are put aside, so that they handle the call safely and correctly for all?

So, what exactly was going on today? And, no, I haven't talked to either party.

What are they thinking???

Pete Gonigam, publisher of, reports that a bill to increase the Illinois state minimum wage to $10.00/hour has escaped an Illinois Senate committee. That's a 21% increase.

This would push Illinois' minimum wage, in stages, to the highest in the nation, surpassing Washington state's $9.04/hour.

Let's see; what part of the picture is that that people don't want to understand? Minimum wage goes up. Companies can't afford to stay in business, so they start laying off employees and/or going out of business. Then those employees don't even have jobs at all.

I remember making a sales call on a woman business owner in Colorado in then-Rep. Pat Schroeder's very Democratic district. Mandatory health insurance was the big scare for small business in 1988. She said that she thought all employees ought to have health insurance. No argument there.

Then we talked about her meager profits in her small company of 10 employees. Using her estimates of increased cost to provide health insurance, the numbers indicated that her small profit and her own income would evaporate if she had to provide health insurance for her employees.

Her answer to those numbers? "But people ought to have health insurance."

I couldn't get across to her that they first had to have jobs!

Read Pete's article by clicking right here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crime must be gone from Woodstock

So long, Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers. It was nice to know ya.

Maybe all the crime has gone from Woodstock. Maybe the drugs are gone. The gangs are gone. Maybe retail thefts at Walmart and Kohl's have stopped. Maybe there are no more drunk drivers. No break-ins. No child molesters. No armed robberies.

Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers is going down the drain. The group of civilians on the Board of Directors apparently voted to disband and has transferred the money remaining in its bank account to the Crime Stoppers for McHenry County group.

Maybe the Board of Directors should contact its attorney and find out his timetable for dissolving the corporation and getting them off the hook as the Board members of a not-for-profit corporation. As of this morning, it still exists on the rolls of the Illinois Secretary of State.

The Crime Stoppers for McHenry County (CSMC) group is even more secretive than the Woodstock group was. A couple of years ago I tried to contact them about the operation of the tip line at the Sheriff's Department, when I encountered a process that didn't seem to work as it was probably created. Two other recent callers to the tip line at that time had the same experience.

Was the CSMC interested? No way. Instead of seeking information about how the tip line wasn't operating correctly, their noses went up in the air and their backs stiffened against the wall, and that was that. They refused to acknowledge further correspondence.

So, how was the accountability of the CSMC to the public? Rotten. It's like a private club. They don't want the public to know who is on the Board of Directors or what they do with all the money they receive from the McHenry County Circuit Court and any other sources.

Do you know how little they really pay out in rewards?

It's a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Illinois, not a secret society. But that's how it operates.

What? No tax revolt?

Why isn't there a tax revolt in McHenry County?

When your home's value drops 25-30% and your real estate property tax goes up 15.7%, isn't it way past time to scream, "Enough!"

Show up at City Hall, the County Board, your fire station, and especially at the School Board and TELL them you are fed up. Tell them you want to see some meaningful cuts and reductions in pay for employees, so that your taxes go down and you can still afford to live in McHenry County. Tell them that, if they don't figure out a way to cut expenses, then you'll vote in somebody who will!

Look at what the school district sucks out of your wallet, and yet they want even more from the State (which comes from you).

Learn how the "system" works, and work to change it. You can't control the value of your home. You've heard of Fair Market Value; right? That's what a willing buyer pays a willing seller. Note the keyword: willing.

Right now it's a buyer's market. Sellers feel like they are getting ripped off.

But just fighting for a lower assessed valuation is not the whole answer, because the taxing authorities have figured out how to rip the same number (or more) dollars out of your pockets. And that's why your house price can go down and your property taxes can go up!

Why are those clerks needed at the payment window at the courthouse to take your $100 fine for speeding plus $150-175 for "court costs and fees"? Why not just put a barcode on your fine sheet from a judge's clerk and go downstairs to an ATM and pay your fine? Or pay it online? Kind of adds insult to injury, doesn't it, when a $50,000/year clerk behind the window takes your money.

But it's also important to challenge the level of "court costs and fees". The County Board (that's your County Board - the McHenry County Board) and the State legislature (and you know who your reps are from this area) are the ones responsible for the $150-175 added to your fine. The judges will tell you, "Don't get mad at me (the judge) or the women downstairs at the payment windows."

The judges have to know that the financial damage of a fine for a Guilty verdict is small potatoes, compared to the court costs and fees. They just can't do anything about it. You can!

It will take relentless pressure on elected officials to get a change. A few griping letters to the editor and phone calls won't do it. If we want to pay less, then we must do with less.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Care about mental health in McHenry County?

Do you care about mental health services in McHenry County?

On Monday, May 21, the McHenry County Mental Health Board will hold its annual public hearing and invite comments, questions, opinions and suggestions from the community. This year's hearing will be held in the new building at 620 Dakota Street, Crystal Lake. The public hearing will open at 6:00PM and is currently scheduled to be completed by 9:00PM.

The focus will be on the needs of individuals who have a mental illness, developmental disability, traumatic brain injury, and/or are dealing with substance abuse issues.

An open house and fair will be held in the afternoon (3:00-6:00PM) and will provide an opportunity for visitors to examine the new facility, now that the expansion has been completed, and to learn about the mental health services available in McHenry County.

Sign and Spanish language interpreters will be available.

Public comment and questions can be submitted in advance by emailing to or by fax to (815) 455-2925.

Dunn is done ...

... but what a way to go out!

Two top Best Buy officers got their gooses cooked. You be the judge.

An AP article says Best Buy founder and chairman Richard Schulze is "stepping down", because the Board of Directors got its collective noses out of joint over the way he handled an internal policy violation. Schultze had learned that his long-time CEO, Brian Dunn, had a "special" friendship with a subordinate. Supposedly, Schultze climbed all over Dunn, but he didn't inform the Board or the company's HR department.

The article did not disclose the details of that "friendship", and both Dunn and the female "friend" claimed it was not romantic.

Dunn resigned in April. What did he get for his 28 years with Best Buy, when he was shown the door?

$1,100,000 bonus for 2012
$2,500,000 in stock grants
$2,900,000 severance pay
$   100,000 accrued vacation pay

Not bad from a company that had just reported a $1.7 Billion loss.

Monday, May 14, 2012

How about this tax bill?

How would you like a McHenry County real estate tax bill on your home for $17,068.71? And that's just for one-half of the year's bill?

Yesterday I was out for a motorcycle ride and took the "scenic route" from Marengo to Woodstock. Passing through Union, I continued east on Coral Road and wound around until it ended at Seeman Road. There is a huge house on that corner; I mean, huge!

$17,068.71 due June 11, 2012. (That's the first half of the tax bill.)

School District 158 will rake in $21,811.04 for the year.

The house and property are assessed at $493,107, but a Fair Cash Value is not given on the tax notice. Usually that is three times the Assessed Valuation. In today's market? I doubt it.

Who is going to buy a house with a $34,000/year tax bill???

(Almost) New motorcycle for sale

For sale. 2011 Harley Davidson Road King Classic. 350 Miles. This bike is literally (almost) brand new since September 2011. Was stored inside over the winter.

This beautiful cruiser has ABS brakes, security system, keyless starting, wide whitewall tires, and the new 103 HD motor. It has a $1,400.00 Tour Pac add-on and is Vivid Black with Silver Pin Stripe.

Selling price is $18,000 firm.

To contact the owner about inspecting and purchasing, send your name, email address and telephone number to Gus Philpott at 

I will forward your information to the seller, and your dealings will be directly with him.

Open House - The Renewal Center

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Share in the celebration
of its second year
as a cancer survivor support group.

Please join them from 5:30 – 8:00 pm.

The quilt raffle winner will be announced.

Light refreshments will be served.

                               At the community event conference room of
The Mental Health Board
620 Dakota Street
Crystal Lake, Ill.

The end of treatment is not the end of dealing with healing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Motorcycle for sale

Looking for a nice bike for summer riding? Check this one out.

1992 Honda Nighthawk. New chain and sprockets. New front tire. New battery. Windshield. Sissy bar. Luggage rack. 22,000 miles. (Click on images to enlarge them. Click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)
Price: $2,200

Summer is here. Cut your commuting costs (and have more fun getting to work and back.

For more information, contact

Mother's Day 2012 - Beth gone 101 weeks

Beth Bentley, Woodstock mother who was 41 when she vanished in May 2010, has been gone for 51 weeks. Not a trace. No phone usage. No credit card use. No letters, emails, faxes that anyone has talked about.

In a Witness Protection Program? Probably not, since Woodstock Police have only charged one person with a crime related to Beth's disappearance.

In checking the McHenry County Circuit Court online records this morning for Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham's next court date, I found a court entry for May 10 which indicates that on that date Judge Prather set a bond related to "Grand Jury". Was Wyatt-Paplham indicted?

The "Financial Summary" page of the online record is unintelligible to "normal" human beings. It reads $30.00 assessed and paid, and a Bond Balance of $700.00. Does this mean a $7,000 bond? A different or additional bond than was posted in connection with charges by the Woodstock Police Department? If a Bond has a balance, does that mean the person is in custody? Is the Bond Balance the 10% that can be posted to obtain an inmate's release from custody (jail)?

Wyatt-Paplham's next court date is Wednesday, May 16, 9:00AM, for her arraignment before Judge Condon in Courtroom 302. A Motion to Modify (something) will be heard at the same appearance. Will she enter a plea on May 16? Maybe the expectation of a Grand Jury indictment is why a plea hasn't been entered between her arrest on March 19 and now.

At 10:48AM I called the Jail's shift sergeant and left a message, asking if Wyatt-Paplham is in custody. I mention this, because the Jail sergeants usually don't return my phone calls.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Women for concealed carry

In January a new women's group, Guns For Protection in Illinois, was formed to promote concealed carry in Illinois. The group meets monthly and has changed its meeting location to the new On Target indoor shooting range in Crystal Lake.

The range is located at 560 Beechcraft Lane, Crystal Lake. It's on a new street that may not yet be found on Google Maps or Mapquest. For the exact location, visit

Women are invited to visit the group on Monday, May 14. The meeting time may be 7:00PM. To confirm the time, go to Facebook and the MCR2CA (McHenry County Right to Carry Assn.) page, and contact Jean Adams for the correct time. Arrive early and see what the range has to offer.

If you have questions about range operations, call 815-477-2020. Be sure to get the telephone prefix right, so that you don't reach the Crystal Lake City Government and the police department.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sheriff suspends deputy - - fast...

In Charleston County, S.C. the sheriff knows how to discipline a problem deputy.

According to the Post and Courier ( Charleston County Deputy Nicholas Wagner was driving his own vehicle early Sunday, May 7, when he lost control. In more ways than one.

Wagner was charged with DUI after totaling his white Lexus SUV on I-526 about 2:00AM. A Charleston police officer reported that Wagner “smelled of an alcoholic beverage, had glassy eyes, slurred speech, and he swayed as he walked.”

The newspaper carried the story the very next day. Imagine that! And contrast that with local reporting here after an off-duty deputy smashed his take-home squad car while DUI.

How did Wagner's employer react?

Monday's newspaper also reported that Wagner's supervisors placed him on administrative leave without pay.

I wonder if Sheriff J. Al Cannon, Jr. might be about to call our McHenry County, Ill. sheriff, Keith Nygren, and explain how he was able to do that so quickly. Sheriff Cannon, when you read this, the number is 815.338.2144. We have a little problem here with a deputy who was charged in January with ten felonies and indicted, but our sheriff has kept him on the payroll.


Should restaurant manager approach?

I was in the Woodstock Culver's last night at 9:00PM, and I was happy to see the restaurant was busy. Quite a few customers had shown up after baseball games, judging by the uniforms they were wearing.

So, when a young adult customer (let's say, age 16-17) in a baseball uniform displays his tiredness by lying down on a bench seat, should the restaurant manager approach and politely "invite" him to correct his posture?

Of course, it shouldn't be necessary. He is old enough to self-police his behavior. Or maybe his friends could have asked him to "sit up". Or if his parents were the older folks with him, they should have asked him to sit up or, if necessary, told him to sit up.

If he was so tired that he couldn't sit up, someone could have helped him out to the car so he could take a nap there.

If you see such a behavior in a restaurant, does it affect your decision to return to that restaurant?

Marengo resident alerts others

The following message from from Kristin Ottolino, a Marengo-area resident who is not sitting back and waiting for others to act. Read her message. She has originated the

Citizen's Alert Social media Network of McHenry County

While serving on the board of Crimestoppers in Marengo for many years, I became increasingly aggravated that the crime in McHenry county was not being publicized in the Northwest Herald to the capacity I felt it should have been. In asking the police department to report the crime to the paper, they said they do, but the paper will not print it. In asking the paper why they don't print it, they said the police do not send it. I was running around in little circles.

Frustrated, I have since quit the Crimestoppers organization. I believed that the police department could have benefited from having its community alerted. There are approximately 20,000 sets of eyes in Marengo alone. I didn't understand why the police department and our newspaper didn't want to take advantage of us.

I'm sure you've noticed that the Northwest Herald reports driving offenses and domestic abuse, but when it comes to real crime, it remains unreported. I'm not diminishing the value of reporting driving offenses and domestic abuse, but this is reported crime that our citizens can do nothing about. However, if my neighbor's house has been burglarized, I want to know about it.

I've lived in Marengo for over 12 years now. I am a nail technician, just a mere citizen. I have a few clients that come to my home. They have friends. I have been actively involved with the local dance studio for 8 years. I've made a few friends. Altogether, I had quite a large base of citizen's email addresses. When the rash of burglaries were high last year, I was getting a lot of information from my friends, neighbors, and clients. There was a burglary on the street on which I live and that was the last straw for me. Since the newspaper wasn't reporting it, I became angry and decided to do something about it.

I created the "Citizens Alert Social Media Network of McHenry County." I took email addresses from as many people as I could, and reported these burglaries as the newspaper was not. I tried to only report that in which I was certain happened. If I knew something happened and I heard it directly from a friend or neighbor of that individual, I would send out what I call a "Citizen's Alert." I refuse to take third party information because as we all know, the "telephone" method of reporting is often inaccurate.

My network has grown rather large, and due to the volume of people I was able to alert, I was able to bring attention to the burglaries that would have otherwise went unnoticed. If I was able to get one person to lock their doors, I have accomplished what I set out to do. Since then, I currently receive full cooperation from the Marengo Police Department and the McHenry County Sheriff's office.

I believe that it was because of the overwhelming response to my email about the burglaries that the police and the newspaper both became actively involved in getting the "word" out to the public. I am in no way making money doing this. I am volunteering to help the community...and it's working. Every time I send out a new "Citizen's Alert," new people ask to be on my "list."
I really like it when it's quiet and I have nothing to email my contacts, but over the past week, I received information on a man in Marengo exposing himself to two minor children. I was alerted to this and quickly alerted my network. This incident happened Friday, May 4th, and I have yet to see anything in the Northwest Herald...go figure. It does my heart good to know that with my network, at least the citizens in my community have been alerted where they otherwise would not have been. 

The list has expanded now, to almost 200 people. I would like to see that number grow. I believe that if we pull together, we can make a difference. I believe we already have. I now receive emails from people in my network, alerting me to pass information through the network. It has become self-perpetuating.

If you would like to be on my "list," just email me and I will add you. You will receive all the information I am provided. You are welcome to add your friends to the list if I can use you as a reference. Please get the permission of your friend first, before you email me to add them. If, at any time, you decide to be taken off the list, please contact me and I will remove you.

Stay Safe, Stay Vigilant.

Kristin Ottolino

(Note from Gus: Your email address is safe with Kristin. When she emails Alerts, everyone gets a "blind carbon copy (bcc:)". No one else will see your email address.)

Should MCC expand? $280MM worth?

Be sure to read a letter published on McHenry County Blog about the proposed $280,000,000 expansion at McHenry County College (MCC).

Way down in the letter is


The letter was written by Stephen Willson, of Lakewood. He asked MCC for its study, in which it would have analyzed and estimated its need.

Read here what Mr. Willson had to say.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who wants to keep Crime Stoppers alive?

Who wants to keep the Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers organization alive and well in Woodstock?

I have a list of about a dozen interested people so far, and I have called Rich Flood's office to leave a message, asking him to delay dissolving the corporation. As of this moment, the electronic records for the Illinois Secretary of State indicated that the corporation is still Active.

It's a lot easier and economical to continue an existing Crime Stoppers organization than it is to organize anew and file new papers of incorporation.

Crime Stoppers can be a vital organization to a community. If we don't want Woodstock to go downhill from crime, then it is important to keep this organization alive. And to pump fresh blood into it.

I've been told that for 1 1/2 years "they" tried to find volunteers. I almost laughed, because the Board knew that I considered Crime Stoppers was a worthwhile organization. Yet no one bothered to ask me if I'd be interested in serving on the board or whether I might know someone who would.

The time commitment is low. It can be run efficiently without a lot of meetings, but there has to be communication! It's not a "public body", so there isn't concern about the Open Meetings Act. Board members can talk among themselves between meetings and communicate by email.

The Woodstock Crime Stoppers organization has apparently already transferred the remaining balance in its checking account to Crime Stoppers for McHenry County. OK, so that $2,000 is gone. It doesn't matter. That can be rebuilt with ten phone calls.

I am waiting for Rich Flood or his legal assistant to call me back. Let me know right away of your interest. Email or call me at 815.338.2666

Nygren continues to pay Pyle - WHY?

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission met this morning. What a joke. This morning's meeting almost earned an exception to use of certain adjectives by me.

All five commissioners attended. Two visitors from the sheriff's department showed up and were granted unspoken dispensation to sit at the table with the commissioners. Lt. John Miller arrived and took a seat at the table. Now, he might not have known not to sit there. He's not a corporate type. No doubt, had I taken a seat at "the" table, I would have been told that only Commissioners were to sit at the table. NO doubt about that one.

Then the sheriff's EEO officer, attorney Don Leist, arrived. In March he had sat in a side chair away from the table, although he kibbitzed with commissioners during the meeting. When he saw Miller at the table, he sat down at the table, too.

And did Janelle Crowley say anything to them about that? No way. She could have. And she should have!

At the public comment portion of the meeting I was told that I would have three minutes. Now, it wasn't like the room was full of people waiting to speak or that the Agenda for the meeting was pages long. Since she wasn't at the March meeting, when I asked if the Commission would learn from the Commission's contract attorney whether they could initiate disciplinary action without its being brought to them by the sheriff, I re-stated my inquiry.

Big mistake, because I probably used up 30 seconds of my three minutes.

I was right in the middle to re-stating my shock during the March meeting for the Commission's failure to discipline Greg Pyle and commenting that they probably weren't going to be able to go into Executive Session today (because the Agenda did not state the Exception), when Janelle interrupted me at the 2 1/2-minute mark to tell me I had 30 seconds left.

She cut me off at the 3-minute mark. I mean, AT the three-minute mark! Perhaps I should have thrown a snide remark such as "I yield the floor to the other speakers from the public who must be hiding invisibly in the room."

What is the Purpose of the Merit Commission? "To ensure the citizens of McHenry County that there is a fair and equal opportunity system for the employment, promotion, discipline and discharge of full-time Deputy Sheriffs."

Are the citizens so ensured? When the Commission fails to discipline a Deputy Sheriff who has committed gross misconduct of General Orders by bringing discredit to the Sheriff's Department, by virtue of being charged with ten counts of predatory criminal sexual assault on a child under age 13 over a four-year period of time, I'd say the Commission is not doing its job.

Has each Commissioner approached Sheriff Keith Nygren to ask why he is not bringing this matter to the Merit Commission? Nygren changed Pyle's duty status with a discipline exceeding 30 days (although he is paying Pyle for not working). Are they just "good old boys" on the Commission? Or do they have a responsibility to the Public that supersedes their responsibility to the Sheriff? Do they?

Janelle's answer to my March inquiry was that, indeed, they had checked with the attorney and the attorney's advice was not to comment on a pending legal matter. I told her my question was a general one - can the Commission inquire about or address discipline of any employee, if the sheriff doesn't bring it to them.

Janelle told me that I can call the Commission attorney, and I'll do just that.