Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wyatt's attorney - no crime here

That was the headline for the Northwest Herald article this morning about Jenn Wyatt's court date last week, when her public defender made a motion to have felony charges against Wyatt dismissed.

Read the article by clicking on the link, or cut and paste the following:

You can comment on the Northwest Herald website before Sunday, July 1, 5:00AM CDT.

Why do you think? Will the charges stick? Do you think obstruction of justice is the correct charge?

The Woodstock Police apparently believe that Wyatt lied to them twice.

Read the statute, 720 ILCS 5/31-4, at

Read it slowly and carefully. Your comment is invited.

What was "Operation Wetback"?

What did Presidents Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower have in common?

This is something that should be of great interest for you to pass around. I didn't know of this until it was pointed out to me.

Back during the great depression, Herbert Hoover ordered the deportation of ALL illegal aliens in order to make jobs available to American citizens that desperately needed work.

Harry Truman deported over two million illegal aliens after WWII to create jobs for returning veterans.

In 1954 Dwight Eisenhower
deported 13 million Mexicans. The program was called Operation Wetback. It was done so WWII and Korean War veterans would have a better chance at jobs. It took two years, but they deported them!

Now, if they could deport the illegal aliens back then, they could surely do it today. If you have doubts about the veracity of this information, enter Operation Wetback into your favorite search engine and confirm it for yourself.

Why, you might ask, can't they do this today? Actually the answer is quite simple. Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower were men of honor, not untrustworthy politicians looking for votes!

Reminder: Don't forget to pay your taxes - 12-to-20 million illegal aliens are depending on it.
(The above came to me in an e-mail. You can view "Operation Wetback" on Wikipedia. I support the hopes and dreams of legal immigrants.)

Customer service

A few weeks ago I published a quote by Zig Ziglar about complaining customers.

Zig had said (or written): "Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business." ~ Zig Ziglar (1926 - )

Receipt of a complaint is an opportunity to serve. And often that complaint is just the tip of the iceberg. Some surveys indicate that for each person who complains, there might be 10-15 others who feel the same way. Or more...

Think about it. When you get good service at a business, how many people do you tell? Anyone? Two? Three?

But when you get rotten service somewhere, how many do you tell? Many! And you keep on telling people about what happened, even years after the moment of rotten service.

When I worked at the Sears, Roebuck headquarters (1997-2002), one of my jobs was handling customer complaints that made it through all the filters to the desk of a senior executive. When I say "senior executive", I mean somebody up on B-6, in what I referred to as the "nosebleed" section. 

Now, don't misunderstand. I was glad that I got to meet those senior executives and to know them on a first-name basis. They were human beings, struggling with a tough job. And they cared. When they found out that I actually liked handling customer complaints, they would send them to me and ask me to handle them personally; i.e., not farm them out to a customer service rep in an off-site call center.

When I called a disgruntled customer, my goal was to satisfy him (or her) and retain him as a customer. And I never had to "give away the store" to do that.

It was extremely important to respond to dissatisfied customers and not just blow them off. 

The long-time motto at Sears was "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back". Every employee should have had to enter the front door at the Hoffman Estates headquarters and repeat that motto three times aloud before proceeding to his or her desk. Might that have saved Sears? Who knows?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Obama wastes $$$ for Colo. photo op

Pres. Obama must be riding high on his Supreme Court victory on healthcare and then blew how many (hundreds of?) thousands of dollars on a photo op visit to the Colorado fire zone. No doubt his picture will be all over the news today.

What does it cost for him to go in Air Force One from the Washington, DC area to Colorado Springs? And back?

How much? $1,000,000? $5,000,000? More? By the time you fly the plane, haul security, vehicles, use ground manpower...

What did that little jaunt cost us?

Kinda makes you sick, right? Why not just have a drone fly over to send some images back to Washington? Or maybe he could just watch the NBC Nightly News?

The guy plainly does not understand waste. That's w-a-s-t-e...

Timothy Smith trial now Nov. 26

There was to be a court date on Monday, July 2, and a trial was to start on July 30. And before that, the trial was to be in May. And before that, back in December, Timothy Smith's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Kim Messer, told the judge that she didn't need any more court dates before the May trial.

Timothy Smith is accused of murdering Kurt Milliman, who died on May 29, 2011, after being shot in Smith's residence just outside Woodstock late on Saturday night, May 28. Smith has been staying at Hotel Nygren since then.

Since there was a court date scheduled for Monday, at which a Motion could have been presented to move the trial date, why was a motion filed for an appearance today? Was this an attempt to slide under the eyes of the reporters and family?

The VineLink system isn't reliable for alerts regarding events involving inmates. That is an electronic notification system which, once you have registered, is to notify registrants of court dates, releases, etc.

Don't you just have to wonder at the "games" being played when court dates are postponed and target dates for trials are missed? According to the Northwest Herald today, Smith's attorney "... recently received information regarding gunshot residue analysis but is waiting for other test results, such as weapons and ballistics analysis" You know, like there is some doubt that a certain weapon was used. Yeah, sure... But back in December, she didn't see any problem with a May court date? I guess the judge wasn't curious about that at all.

The paper says that the prosecutor objected, but the judge allowed the delay.

An interesting game should be underway as to whether Timothy Smith's trial should precede or follow his wife's trial. Kimberly Holian Smith was present when Milliman was shot, and apparently the Smiths tried to concoct a story and delayed calling for help. Are the Smiths adversaries in this case? Will each be trying to save his own neck?

Why hasn't Kimberly Smith been charged with greater offenses?

How long did the Smiths delay before calling? That hasn't come out yet. Had they called police immediately, might Milliman have lived? And, had he lived, what would his side of the story have been?

Lake Ave. arrest - Thursday night

Last evening (Thursday) a deputy in an unmarked white McHenry County Sheriff's Department squad car made some kind of a stop at 508 Lake Ave., Woodstock. A woman driver was arrested and taken to jail.

A rollback tow truck was called to remove the woman's vehicle, and the unmarked squad was parked behind it with its overhead lights activated.

Behind it was a Woodstock Police squad car. I heard a dog bark, so perhaps it was the canine unit. Perhaps Woodstock Police assisted with an exterior "search" of the vehicle by Brinx, Woodstock's drug dog. The overhead lights were activated, but the engine had been turned off. When the driver re-entered the car and tried to start the engine, it cranked hard but wouldn't start in several attempts. It may have started later, or perhaps it was towed. The officer may have tried to conserve fuel by shutting off the engine. That's commendable, but a police car needs to start when the key is turned.

A second County squad car showed up for transporting the arrested woman to jail. She was cuffed in front, which was considerate of the deputy. After being searched, she was placed in the rear seat of the second County squad car. The door was carefully closed by the deputy, unlike the door closing method of Dallas County Sheriff's deputy that has gone viral. Then the deputy returned to the first car to move her purse to the squad car that would transport her to jail.

The sheriff's department may or may not issue a press release on that arrest and tow.

Woodstock crash - June 22

Last Friday, June 22, about 5:30AM power was knocked out in the 700 block of Washington St., Woodstock, when a pick-up truck managed to take out three utility poles.

An initial Northwest Herald article on Monday reported on the crash and mentioned that Woodstock Police were unable to provide more information on Sunday. This kind of leads one to wonder why Police didn't provide more information during the working part of the day on Friday, such as the name of the driver and what tickets were issued.

Woodstock Fire Rescue District Lt. Michael Hill was quoted as having said, “It was weird from the get-go,” he said. “I’ve never seen three [utility poles knocked down] in a row. ... I’ve never seen damage like that before, and he walked away from it.”

A Police Blotter at the Woodstock PD, in the lobby outside the security door, would be a great way to provide information to the public on police activity daily. Crashes could be reported, along with criminal incidents, lost dogs, missing wallets. Posting the Blotter where the public can actually get at it would be a good public service.

The Sheriff's Department might follow suit here and move its clipboard with the blotter to the entrance of the courthouse, outside the security screening devices, so that anyone wanting to read it can do so without having to pass through Security. Right now the clipboard and Blotter are located on the second floor of the government center, inside the Administration Offices of the sheriff's department. You don't have to ask for it; it's on a small table in the public seating area. Just wander in, have a seat and start reading.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cop rage by Texas deputy

Dallas County (Tex.) Sheriff's Department Deputy Westbrook deserves to be arrested and charged with assault and battery. Check out this story and video, which are circulating widely, thanks to the internet. The Huff Post video (link below) has been edited.

The motorcyclist's video (above) is about 11 minutes of uninterrupted prove to Texas-style law enforcement.

On Memorial Day week-end Chris Moore was out for a motorcycle ride with buddies, when Deputy Westbrook pulled him over. Watch how Deputy Westbrook loses control of himself and manhandles Moore. Watch especially how, in anger, he shoves Moore into the patrol car and slams the door, probably on Moore's leg or foot.

Bet they'll learn how to spell l-a-w-s-u-i-t over that traffic stop.

Keep in mind that, in Illinois, a helmet webcam with voice recorder would be illegal. You can't record voices without permission, even if you are being threatened or hurt.

Watch the longer video of the complete traffic stop. Note that many motorcycles were traveling faster than the one who got stopped. Also, notice the other deputy's improper maneuver from the inside lane to the exit (at 6:15 into the video). That deputy (Car 8302 ) stopped in the inside through traffic lane and then worked his way over to the exit, endangering many drivers who were forced to stop unnecessarily. Be sure to notice the humor on that deputy's face while the motorcyclist was being arrested.

This is true Texas-style cop work. Major attitude. Illegal arrest. Dangerous driving. I lived in Texas for six months and hated it.

Westbrook is a shameless bully, and the other deputy isn't much better. Sheriff Lupe Valdez must be really proud of Westbrook!

Gas for only $2.00/gal.

Do you know that you can get gas in northern Illinois for only $2.00/gal.?


If you are a reader of McHenry County Blog, then you know. Read it right here.

I wonder if the State of Illinois buys it at a retail pump and pays the Federal and sales taxes on each gallon (and then sells it at a loss), or if the highway workers fill those five-gallon cans at the State, tax-free pump. If they do, does it constitute illegal use of tax-free gas? Or is such distribution considered and allowed under tax-free laws?

What will the Great State of Illinois do for you, if you have vehicle trouble?
  • Changing tires
  • Battery boosts
  • Adding coolant*
  • Dispensing fuel*
  • Transporting customers
  • Moving vehicles away from traffic
  • Calling for a tow
* small fees may be charged, such as $2.00/gal. for fuel.

Gratuities are strictly prohibited. So says the Tollway website, anyway.

If you need help, dial *999, or call 630-241-6800 x5028. H.E.L.P. is available Monday-Friday, 5:00AM-8:00PM.

Remember, the Number 1 Rule on the Tollway or on any highway in the Chicago area is: Be Safe. Stay out of the roadway. If you have a flat, call for help. Trying to change it yourself might just get you killed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NIXLE waste

Is it totally unnecessary for the McHenry County Sheriff's Department to waste its time and resources and the time of the public to tell people to "Stay cool w/ the upcoming High Temps..."

Frankly, I don't need Big Brother to tell me something I've known for 70 years.

Do they think they are improving their image in the minds of the public?

Every year, every summer, it gets hot. That's what happens in the summer.

Somebody over at 2200 N. Seminary - perhaps Sheriff Nygren (if he is anywhere around) or Undersheriff Zinke - is responsible for these stupid messages. Next time you see them, tell them what you think.

Where must sheriff live?

One of the qualifications to be elected as, or appointed, Sheriff of McHenry County is that the candidate must have lived in the County for 12 months. In addition, the candidate must be a U.S. citizen, not a felon and at least 18 years of age.

Once in office, must the sheriff continue to reside in the County?

The question arose immediately after the November 2010 election, when Keith Nygren sold his home in Hebron, Ill. For about four months after that, he did not have a legal residence in McHenry County. He had a roof over his head. It was the roof of the house he had sold and from which he refused to move.

For reasons yet unknown, the Buyer failed to enforce his right to take possession of the $180,000 house he had just paid $250,000 for. And it took him four months to get Nygren out of his house.

Some of his initial resistance to tossing Nygren out might have had to do with his being an employee of the Sheriff's Department. And not just "an employee". A good employee and the Sheriff's chauffeur during political parades. Did the friendship dissolve over Nygren's refusal to move out? And did the Buyer then quit his job or was he basically forced out of it? Did he quit under duress?

I've always wondered about the "deal" he got on the house. Why did he pay $70,000 more than it appeared to have been worth? And how easy was it for him to get his mortgage at Home State Bank, where Nygren dealt?

Home State Bank had loaned Nygren $690,000 on a $620,000 house purchase in Florida. Most people have trouble getting a 100% mortgage; Nygren's was $70,000 (11%) over the full purchase price! Sweet, huh?

So, after election, must a sheriff continue to reside in the County of his Office? And the reason for the question?

Where does Keith Nygren live now? Some folks thought he lived in Boulder Ridge. Some Boulder Ridge folks think he doesn't.

Is there anyone keeping an eye on the requirement, if there is one, that the sheriff must reside in the county of his elected office?

Whose job is it to monitor "little" things like that? And who would enforce it? The State's Attorney? Not likely. He is the sheriff's attorney. Remember?

M.D. goes to local health center

This morning's Northwest Herald reports that Dr. Elizabeth McMasters, a psychiatrist at Family Service and Community Mental Health Clinic, which closes Saturday, will move to the McHenry Health Center. The McHenry Health Center will be adding psychiatric services to its menu of services.

The McHenry Health Center can be reached at 815.363.9900. It is located at 3901 Mercy Drive. This is on the east side of Route 31, south of Bull Valley Rd. and directly east of NIMC (now called Centegra Hospital-McHenry).

Get a load of this patient load. The paper says she'll see 600-800 clients (don't doctors see "patients"?) a year, "entailing 5,100-5,200 visits". Assuming Dr. McMasters will take four weeks' vacation a year and another four weeks for CEUs, what does that leave for client time (not even counting paperwork time)?

600 patients in 44 weeks is 14/week; manageable
800 patients in 44 weeks is 18/week.
But these numbers are if a patient just comes in once a year, which does not happen.

Now look at her weekly load of appointments:

If she is expected to conduct 5,100 appointments in 44 weeks, that's 115/week. Let's say she works 45 hours/week. That's 2.5 appointments/hour - every hour, and that is impossible.

What kind of clinic manager ever creates that type of expectation? If Dr. McMasters isn't already looking for a new job or to open her own private practice, by August 1st she will be.

The newspaper has continued to carry the propaganda that Family Service is closing in part because the State of Illinois was behind $850,000 in payments. While that's true, no one is asking what the rest of the picture is? What "part" does the $850,000 play? Was the $850,000 only a small part of the financial reason for Family Service's shutdown?

The worst part of the question is why no one is asking it.

Should Woodstock pay employees extra?

Woodstock management may be pondering a plan to reward employees for ideas.

Sometimes an incentive program can benefit all. Would it work in Woodstock?

Certain "ideas" should be just common sense on the job; e.g., when you remove a paperclip, you put it in your desk drawer, not in the waste basket? Will employees want to be rewarded for saving paperclips or rescuing them from the waste baskets all over town?

Where do you draw the line?

I'm reminded of the story about a U.S. Government worker who recommended that two seldom-used forms be combined. They were, and the employee got a $500 bonus for that idea.

A year later, the same employee recommended that the combined form, which was never used, be made obsolete, and so the Government paid him $500 for that idea.

When I was first in business in the Chicago Loop, a colleague had a sign on the wall in his office, which read, "We have a time-proven incentive program here. Those who work, get to keep their jobs."

How about that one, Woodstock?

City Councilman RB Thompson praised City Manager Tim Clifton in this morning's Northwest Herald with, "... Clifton has created an environment in which our employees are highly motivated already."

"Highly motivated" means different things to different people. Consider the seller who is about to lose his house in foreclosure; he is "highly motivated". Consider the deputy at the Sheriff's Department who wants to complain about racial profiling; he is "highly motivated" now to keep his mouth shut.

Maybe RB's "Northwest Herald" example was taken out of context, when he is reported to have said that a reporter who withholds an idea (for the purpose of monetary gain) would not be doing his job as reporter. That's far too general. If that reporter is researching a story on paid newspaper time and learns pertinent information for the story, he shouldn't withhold that. But, if he comes across other information and can use that for his gain, why not?

An incentive plan will need to be crystal clear about whether the line is. But the City should be careful that it doesn't spend years of future savings on legal fees now to define the Incentive Plan.

Red-light cameras - Woodstock?

Should Woodstock install red-light cameras?

If drivers made full stops at red lights before turning right, these cameras would not be needed. Since they don't (or won't), should cameras be used? What if red-light cameras could be mounted on mobile units, like the radar trailer?

In the past week I've spotted many good locations for red-light cameras:

Northbound 47 at U.S. 14. (It could also nail shoulder users.)
Eastbound 14 at 47.
Eastbound Lake Ave. at 47.
Northbound 47 at McConnell Rd.
Westbound Country Club Rd. at 47
Northbound 47 at Irving.

Video observation of other major violations, such as violating the two-way, left-turn lane for a long distance to then enter a left-turn lane (northbound 47 approaching Lake Ave. and northbound 47 approaching Judd St.) would be a great way to catch violators who won't do that, if drivers can see a squad car sitting in sight.

And, speaking of the radar trailer, why isn't it in use on the streets of Woodstock, instead of placed in the P.D. parking lot to promote a race at Emricson Park?

A terrific place for the radar trailer would be on southbound 47, just south of 14.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What? No police department?

Name one town in New Mexico that has no police department.

Name three disgraced town officials.

That town is Columbus, N.M. It's a small town that closed its police department because it could not afford the $300,000 tab to keep it running, when the town (the whole town) had only $62,000 in the bank. The town is spitting distance from the Mexico border, if there is a strong south wind.

The three officials? The former mayor, the police chief and a town trustee were among 10 arrested, plus one wanted fugitive, in March 2011.

You can find the 2011 news article through a link on

The Luna County Sheriff's Office was providing law-enforcement services to Columbus, as of last fall.

A more complete Fox News article describes the crimes that led to charges - mostly, gun-running. I wonder whether Fast and Furious was involved. One gun dealer sold about 200 guns to the defendants and is himself a defendant.

Don't shoot yourself in the foot

You've heard the idiom, "Don't shoot yourself in the foot", but do you know what it means? provides this explanation: "If you shoot yourself in the foot, you do something that damages your ambition, career, etc."

You can ask Frank Beatty how he'd define it. Actually, he wouldn't be "defining" it; he'd be telling you what happened on Monday evening. Beatty, who is Hebron's village president and also a McCullom Lake police officer, did just that in his home.

The newspaper article didn't describe in what room of Beatty's home the shooting took place. Was he changing clothes or in the bathroom? In any event, the gun fell out of his pants pocket, hit the floor and Bang! Beatty took a round in his left foot.

Hebron's officer (more than one?) was dispatched to his home, and somehow the McHenry County Sheriff's Department got involved. This led to a media statement by the Undersheriff, who must be looking for all the face time he can get in the press. Why didn't the Hebron P.D. just issue the press release?

Zinke's statement about the evidence, trajectory, angle and bullet recovery about the one-shot self-inflicted injury is more than was said by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department in 260-plus pages of reports after the triple homicide near Marengo a year ago, when Jack and Audrey Feldkamp and doran Bloom died.
Check out this statement of wisdom. "Beatty was the only person home at the time and no other injuries were reported"
What do you suppose Beatty learned about carrying a pistol in a pocket? Maybe, from now on, he'll carry it snapped in a holster on his belt and, when he changes clothes or drops his pants in the bathroom, he'll keep the barrel pointed away from his body. He was very, very lucky.

Will Wyatt charges stick?

Jenn Wyatt-Paplham has a court date with Judge Condon tomorrow. It's only a "status" hearing, meaning the next court date will be set. Although Beth Bentley vanished more than two years ago, this case hasn't even begun to gather dust in the courthouse, since charges were only filed in March.

Jenn was charged with two felony counts of obstructing justice. Will the Woodstock P.D. make the charges stick?

What does the statute say?

    (720 ILCS 5/31-4) (from Ch. 38, par. 31-4)
    Sec. 31-4. Obstructing justice.
    A person obstructs justice when, with intent to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person, he knowingly commits any of the following acts:
    (a) Destroys, alters, conceals or disguises physical evidence, plants false evidence, furnishes false information; or
    (b) Induces a witness having knowledge material to the subject at issue to leave the State or conceal himself; or
    (c) Possessing knowledge material to the subject at issue, he leaves the State or conceals himself.
    (d) Sentence.
        (1) Obstructing justice is a Class 4 felony, except
as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection (d).
        (2) Obstructing justice in furtherance of streetgang
related or gang-related activity, as defined in Section 10 of the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act, is a Class 3 felony.

I wondered from the start whether the charges would stick. Will they?

Or does the case fall apart in the first sentence on the statute? "A person obstructs justice when, with intent to prevent the apprehension ... of any person..."

No person has been identified even as a person of interest, much less a suspect. Woodstock PD continues to classify this case as a Missing Person case, not as a crime. So, who is the "any person" whose apprehension has been interfered with?

The statute continues, "A person obstructs justice when, with intent to ... obstruct the prosecution ... of any person..."

Does the PD know something about which it has not informed the public? Has someone been charged in the missing person case of Beth Bentley? Is "any person" being prosecuted?
The statute continues, "A person obstructs justice when, with intent to ... obstruct the ... defense of any person..."

Again, has someone been charged and therefore is in need of defense?

If those conditions aren't met, you don't even have to read further in the statute, do you?

I'm not defending Jenn. Personally, I think she knows a great deal more about the circumstances surrounding Beth's disappearance than she has told. But do the police have the right charges here?

If not, this should not become a four-year ordeal like the Hoeft case in Huntley. If these are the wrong charges, then change them now.

Nygren nailed for speeding

Wisconsin State Trooper Dennis Bedish was wide awake and alert on Thursday, January 5, 2012, when Keith R. Nygren (that would be McHenry County Sheriff Keith R. Nygren) was clocked at 70MPH in a 55MPH zone in Vilas County, Wisconsin. That's up north; right near Minocqua.

And Trooper Bedish did his duty on behalf of the People of the State of Wisconsin and issued Citation Number Q1908874 with a court appearance date of February 13, 2012, 8:30AM.

This Vilas County case was No. 2012TR000067 and Nygren was guilty due to a no-contest plea. This resulted in a fine of $175.30. The People of Wisconsin thank you, Keith. Come again soon.

What's important about this? Vilas County is just north of Minocqua, Wisc., where Nygren maintains one of three homes. Minocqua is 290 miles north of the McHenry County Government Center, where the McHenry County Sheriff's Department is located.

Keith was driving a vehicle with Illinois plate 196 3705 (VIN 1GNFK13018J115869). I recognize that plate, because it's the same license plate that was on the white Chevrolet Tahoe, when Keith pulled his little "glare" stunt in the Jewel-Osco parking lot in September 2009. That's the one that the Woodstock Police Department documented.

Is this Nygren's personal vehicle? Is it a County-owned vehicle? If it is a County-owned or -maintained vehicle, why was Nygren driving a County vehicle to his Minocqua home? Was that the first time? The only time? Or does he regularly drive that vehicle out of the state on personal trips? Does he pay for his own gas on those trips? Does he report personal vehicle use for income tax purposes? Does he reimburse the County, if it is a County vehicle, for the wear-and-tear during personal miles?

Nygren told me about 8-10 years ago that he "had to" drive 20MPH over the speed limit in Wisconsin just to keep up with traffic. I remember thinking to myself, "Some sheriff! Why doesn't he obey traffic laws?"

Do you suppose Nygren informed MCSD of the ticket? Any deputy must do so, according to General Orders. Every contact with police is to be reported.

Multi-chamber mixer today - not Woodstock

I had to read this morning's excellent column in the Northwest Herald by Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce President Gary Reece to learn of a multi-chamber mixer this afternoon right in our own backyard. When I say "our own", I mean Woodstock; right here in Woodstock.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County is hosting a mixer today at the Hennen Conservation Area, 4622 Dean St., Woodstock, for members of the Chambers of Commerce of Crystal Lake, McHenry, Marengo and LITH/Algonquin. You can read the notice for it at on the Crystal Lake Chamber's website.

If you are a member of the Woodstock Chamber and wonder why we aren't included, you can call the Land Conservancy at 815.337.9502 or email them through their website at Information about the mixer is also there, at

Or you can call the Woodstock Chamber.

Seeing is different than reading about

Today I got my first look at the Nygren Golf Classic sweatshirt. Sure, it's old news. But the impact was clear. And worrisome.

Look carefully at the embroidery on the front of the golf classic sweatshirt.

For those with weak eyes it reads, "Sheriff - McHenry County Sheriff's Police". In the blue circle are the words, "State of Ilinois".

Is this not clear mis-use of the badge of the Office of the Sheriff of McHenry County?

Now, imagine wearing this sweatshirt and walking into a 7-11 while it's being robbed. Do you think an armed robber, upon seeing the badge, is going to stop to read "Nygren Gold Classic" before he pops off a few rounds at the "cop" he sees?

Is someone wearing this sweatshirt going to be mistaken in other surroundings for a cop or deputy?

I first complained in 2006 after I received a fundraising letter in an envelope bearing this emblem and the words "Keith Nygren Sheriff". At first I thought the contents might be a subpoena in a traffic case in which I was a witness. Then, with disgust, I found a fundraising letter. Think I could find someone to take an interest in my complaint then?

Then Zane Seipler tried to get a Special Prosecutor appointed to investigate Nygren. No luck. And the State's Attorney won't take Nygren on, based on what he thinks are ethical reasons for not doing so. I kept waiting for Zane's lawyer to ask the judge if the State's Attorney could legally investigate the sheriff, even though he didn't want to on ethical grounds. That question was never asked.

Pedal to the metal for Marengo - July 1

Animal Services and Assistance Programs Inc (A.S.A.P.) is hosting their 4th Annual Pedals for Paws Car Show at Joe's Place on Route 20 in Marengo on Sunday July 1st.

The show is open to all vehicles 1980 and older; enter your classic for a fee of $20 - registration runs from 9 a.m. to noon.  Custom trophies for Best Muscle Car, Best Rag Top, Best Survivor, People’s Choice and many other categories will be awarded.

The car show is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.  Listen to 50's and 60's music and enjoy a meal at Joe's Place.  5% of Butcher Shop sales and 15% of food sales at Joe’s Place will be donated to A.S.A.P. when a ‘Share the Dough’ flyer (available from A.S.A.P. or at the car show) is presented that day.

A.S.A.P. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization; over 15 million pounds of pet food has been donated to animal shelters and rescue groups since 2008, feeding over 100,000 homeless pets.   For more information about the car show call Kent Burns at 630-673-2360. For information about A.S.A.P. contact Cindy Gaffney at 815-568-2921.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A winning statement

On Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog today, Cal wrote, "Nygren said that Zinke 'will be the best sheriff we ever had,' according to the article" and "The price is $30."

He's talking, of course, about Zinke's next fundraiser for his 2014 run to be the next sheriff. When was the last time somebody ran for office around here and started raising money 2 1/2 years ahead of Election Day?

One commenter to that article said, "He calls the Greg Pyle pedophile problem a 'domestic issue'." I'm not sure whom "mighty mouse" means by "He": Nygren or Zinke?

Is there anyone in McHenry County (or elsewhere) who thinks that ten counts of predatory criminal sexual assault against a child (under age 13, and related) are a "domestic issue"?

In his January 8th email to command personnel, which directed them to disseminate "to to" (sic) department staff, Undersheriff Zinke, over Keith Nygren's name (signature), informed them of Pyle's arrest and charges. It's a rather bland, soft-soap, boiler-plate message and includes "Bond was posted and Greg is currently on administrative leave."

Conveniently, Zinke/Nygren failed to inform personnel that Pyle was placed on paid administrative leave. He also referred to the ten (10) charges as "multiple" counts. And notice how he refers to Pyle as "Greg". Just one of the boys. The good ol' boys. Our friend, Greg.


Then he tosses more vomit at the troops. "Different types of family issues affect all of us."

No, Keith and Andy, they do not!

And then Keith (or Andy) suggests use of the Employee Assistance Program. What a joke! Are they setting up a mental illness defense for Pyle?

And then they write, "Please join and share your prayers for those affected by this case..." This is law enforcement; not church.

Can you believe that garbage? This, from the sheriff of a county of 320,000! A man who claims that he'll have 50 years of cop work when he retires in 2014.

Zinke says he has served the people of McHenry County for 22 years "happily, compassionately and with honor".

What does Jimmy, the Greek, have to say about when Nygren's last day at MCSD will be?

Comments, anyone?

Square patrol

Back on May 1 the Woodstock Police Department issued a press release about increased enforcement around the Woodstock Square. It read,

"The Woodstock Police Department is conducting special enforcement operations in the Square and downtown area of the City. While the Officers are enforcing all laws, particular attention continues to be focused on disruptive behavior that takes away from the public’s enjoyment of the Park in the Square and the downtown business district of Woodstock. Special enforcement operations will focus on violators who are in possession of open alcoholic beverages, minors smoking, groups blocking public sidewalks, individuals that are disorderly in their conduct and other violations pertaining to the downtown area.

"The goal of the special enforcement effort is to ensure the safety of the public and to re-educate the public on local laws that have been put in place to preserve the Woodstock Square.

"Recent arrests have been made for public consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, minors in possession of tobacco, blocking public sidewalks and a number of traffic violations.

"Any citizen that has noted any problems in the Square area is urged to call the Woodstock Police Department at 815-338-2131."

Do you visit the Square or the Park in the Square late in the afternoon or in the evening? What is it like? Do you feel safe there? Is it enjoyable to be there? Do you take your kids there?

What about walking around the Square and on the streets adjacent to the Square? Any problems?

Post park rules

Should the City of Woodstock post the special rules applicable in the Park in the Square, so that visitors can know the laws before a cop swoops down on them?

The Park in the Square has several rules that are more restrictive than for the other parks in Woodstock.

City Ordinance 6.2B.2 reads

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

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

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

"C. To ride any bicycle, skateboard or other devices on any adjacent sidewalk to the park in the Square. (Ord. 1365, 4-20-1977)"

When the Ordinance reads "...unlawful for any person...", does that mean a father and son playing catch on the grass in the Park on the Square? Or is the law just applied to a teenager or other young adult? Kids or young adults with a Frisbee or a paper airplane are violators and are subject to a citation and a $100 fine, plus court costs.

If two or three are standing on the sidewalk that runs through the Park in the Square and talking, must someone be attempting to pass for "free access" to be restricted, prohibited or blocked? Or is the fact that they are standing there (no one passing by) enough for a cop to cite them?

I commend the Woodstock Police Department for keeping down crime and rowdiness in the Park on the Square and throughout Woodstock. But is this ordinance enforced only again kids and transitional youth, or is it evenly applied across all ages and socio-economic groups?

How about on Saturday mornings, when the Farmers Market is operating?
Should the City post signs at entrances to the Park in the Square to inform all of these special rules?

What about dogs and other animals? Isn't there a sign at entrances to the Park in the Square that no dogs are allowed? Although the sign is there, I don't find an ordinance forbidding them. In addition, the sign at the south entrance (across from the Opera House) has been defaced. Does the presence of a sign (alone) constitute a law? I would say that it does not. So, is it unenforceable? People seem to have dogs in the Park in the Square all the time.

CFI - want a taste?

CFI - Continuous Flow Intersection... Good or bad? Improvement or disaster?

I don't know what it cost for McHenry County officials to make a fast trip to Colorado to inspect the CFI in Loveland, which is about 50 miles north of the Broncos' stadium in Denver. I'll bet it wasn't cheap; I wonder who paid for that trip.

Loveland's CFI is at the intersection of Madison Avenue and Nickel Drive. Check out this article on a local resident's blog, complete with diagrams.

Author Perry Peterson's comments are worth noting here:

"A continuous flow intersection is never logical to the uninitiated."

"Besides local drivers doing the wrong thing at the wrong place in the intersection it's quite normal to see out-of-state cars really fouling up the traffic flow causing potential hazards."

The Loveland intersection is on what is obviously a busy commercial corner. The confusion of drivers who are trying to figure how to get into a store on the corner needs to be added to the mix and seriously considered by planners. Toss in responding emergency vehicles, too.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flash mob - Woodstock-style

Were you part of Mixin' Mingles' flash mob yesterday?

Check out this video of a practice session:

Anybody tired yet?

Please vote - every day (until June 29)

Jeep is running a contest, and a friend in Columbia, S.C. needs your vote.

Jeep's contest is its "6th Man" Contest, recognizing six men and women. Steven Diaz is Director of Strategic Outreach for Professional and Vet Peer Counseling Services, Hidden Wounds, of Columbia.

Check out Hidden Wounds at

For the contest, go to this page in Facebook:

It's a little tricky. Play the video for Steven Diaz, then click OK to close the video (Note: that "OK" is not your vote!) Then zero in on the small circle under Steven's picture and click there. That's your vote.

You can vote every day until Friday. Please do. Hidden Wounds is in line for a $20,000 donation from Jeep. Hidden Wounds is doing incredible work with returning veterans.


Wolf Camera closes in C.L.

Photo - courtesy, McHenry County Blog
Heading over to Wolf Camera in Crystal Lake today or next week? Maybe to buy a new camera? Or pick up some film? Or photos?

McHenry County Blog reports that this store has closed. Your pictures will be in Vernon Hills for pick up (or call 847.918.0400). Their tasteful sign includes, "Thank you for allowing us to be part of your lives and memories."

That was a good store, staffed with professional, knowledgeable people. Unfortunately, today buyers do not reward that. They might go to this store and "shop", then buy their camera at Best Buy or online. Result? Another one bites the dust!

Are customers still willing to pay for quality service? No.

The only thing I saved from my 18 years in the life insurance business was a slogan on an 8 1/2 x 11 card from Northwestern Mutual. "In the beginning there is price; in the end, there is cost." This is true, whether you are buying life insurance, cars, cameras or anything else.

I bought my Rollei many years ago at Schiller's in St. Louis, a professional photographer's store. Got good advice and, while I paid a little more, I got value.

I bought my Nikon 35mm camera at a professional photographer's shop on Broadway in Denver, right next to Carl Swanson's gun shop (did business there, too, and also at David Ferretta's music store, also on Broadway). Paid a little more for quality service and advice; it was worth it.

Trailer - Heroes Behind the Badge

Watch this brief trailer for a new documentary to be released this fall.

Heroes Behind The Badge, in association with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), has launched this documentary trailer.
Almost everyone will acknowledge that law-enforcement work is dangerous. Police officers, deputies, troopers and all officers are taught to be on their toes every minute. There is no such thing as a "routine" traffic stop.
Watch this trailer and then help spread the word about it. 

Heroes Behind The Badge on Facebook:  (Please "Like and Share"!)

Smoker's tax - up $1.00/pack

I'm so glad I quit smoking. An Associated Press article in this morning's Northwest Herald informed me that a new $1.00 tax on a pack of smokes will take effect today.

The tax was already $0.98 per pack; now it's $1.98 per pack.

Ten packs in a carton... tax is $19.80 per carton. And you haven't paid for the cigarettes yet!

Today a pack of Marlboro is $5.59, plus sales tax. A clerk at Walgreens told me she thought the new tax doesn't take effect until tomorrow. So, does that mean $6.59/pack tomorrow, plus sales tax? $65.90 for a carton? Really?

The AP reports that the cigarette tax in Missouri is only $0.17/pack.

What part of "stupid" does Illinois not understand? When you raise the tax, you drive down consumption. When consumption goes down, sales go down. When sales go down, tax goes down.

Did I ever smoke? Sure did.

When did I quit? Age 7. My mom said I was never going to live to see 8, if I didn't quit!

Oh, I might have to re-think my objection to conducting hypnosis sessions for smokers. Let's say I charged $200 for a person to stop smoking; that's three cartons of cigarettes at the new price. Say, maybe 3-4 weeks of smoking for a lot of people.

Court panel - waste of time

The Northwest Herald carries a nice "puff piece" on what's wrong with the McHenry County Circuit Court today. Chief Judge Michael Sullivan will serve on a commission created by the Illinois Supreme Court to make the justice system more accessible.

In our lifetime?

No commission is needed to fix what is broken in McHenry County. Judge Sullivan wouldn't have to change his court calendar to allow him to attend commission meetings. Anybody who doesn't know what's wrong at 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock, just hasn't been in court.

For starters ...

Just over a week ago, a four-year-old case against a woman was dropped by the State's Attorney's office, just before her trial was to start. How many court dates had there been in that case (Case No. 08CF000928)? I think I counted 62. SIXTY-TWO court dates! Why did Judge Prather tolerate 62 court dates and then allow the State's Attorney's office to say it didn't have any evidence?

On June 15, 2012, Judge Prather allowed Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs, chief of the criminal division, to drop the single count against Hoeft.

The Northwest Herald reported, “'I don’t think there’s any evidence to prove it,' Combs said. 'In a perfect world, that case never would have been charged.'”

No evidence? After four years of prosecution?

Hello, Judge Sullivan? Is it time for Judge Prather and you to pay a visit to the State's Attorney's office? No State Commission is needed to figure out what's wrong with that case. Did the defendant refuse to bargain and force the case to trial? And then, at the 11th hour, the SAO wormed out of it by deciding not to process (nolle prosequi) the charge further?

Unfortunately, the folks at Michling Hofmann Plaza & Wick, the defense attorneys, probably won't make too big a stink about it, because they will (rightfully) be concerned about appearances in future cases before Judge Prather and other judges.

Years ago I heard a man say, "If you don't know what your rights are, you don't have any." This is as true today as it was then.

Regarding the Self-Help Center at the government center, it's a nice place, if you like nice people. But they should just have little cards printed that read, "We can't give legal advice" and save their breath 100 times a day, when people come in for help. They could help more, but they are not allowed to help more. Yes, they aren't lawyers; I know that.

But what could be wrong about informing visitors that they can file Motions without a lawyer. And where the Motion forms are available. And that a Notice of Motion has to be mailed or delivered to (list of people). And handling out a sheet of instructions for doing that. And that fees might charged for filing cases. And that, if you can't afford the fees, you can ask the Court to waive the fees. And how you go about doing that. And what you'll need to know about appearing in court.

"We don't give legal advice. Get a lawyer." Can't afford one? Too bad.

And as far as getting help from Prairie State Legal Service? Good luck even being able to get through. Last week a man told me they no longer have an office in Woodstock. Is that true? Go to and/or call (800) 942-3940. They used to be on Russel Court. On the website now, an office is listed at 5320 West Elm St. (Route 120), McHenry. Prairie State used to have (and may still have) walk-in hours on Tuesday mornings; otherwise, call the toll-free number for information and, if you qualify for their services, to schedule an appointment. Prairie State Legal Service does not handle criminal cases.

The "low-hanging fruit" (majority of problems at the Circuit Court in Woodstock) could be handled with orders from Judge Sullivan. I wonder if telling judges and lawyers to speak up in the courtroom is on his list.

Beth Bentley - gone 112 weeks now

Last week the Bentley reward trust document came up in a reader's comment. That prompted me to re-read it and to think again about who might have drafted the trust. (If you are brave enough to try to understand it, clear on the image to enlarge it.)

As another reader commented offline, "I didn't know 'successor' could be spelled three ways." And don't miss "refereed".

About all I can say is, it's a good thing this trust agreement never found its way into court. A judge would have been banging his head on the wall, wondering who had tried to patch this thing together out of a form book.

It's clear that the document was never run through SpellCheck or Grammar Check. I'd say it probably wasn't even proofread.

I don't know or care whether any money ever became an asset of this trust (or whether it was ever returned to donors or distributed to charities).

This is the document that was described in a Facebook comment (summer 2010) as having elaborate terms and conditions, including return of donations if Beth wasn't found within a year. Numerous other details were offered in the Facebook comment, all of which I figured would be nuts to include in a Reward Trust. As it turned out, none of those elaborate terms and conditions was in the trust.

The only thing happening in this matter is a case (Case No. 12CR000250) involving Beth's BBF, Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham. She is to be back in court on Wednesday, June 27, 9:00AM, McHenry County Courthouse, R 302. Maybe Judge Condon will just set a trial date and not allow the usual pattern of months of continuances.

Schedule a trial for July and let's find out what she really knows about Beth's disappearance.

Are Woodstock Police Department detectives continuing to investigate this case? In missing persons' cases the police usually seek the involvement of the public. That has never happened in this case. Why not?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bullied chaperone - beneficiary of love

Karen Huff Klein has become a household name in America, thanks to four nasty little seventh graders in Greece, New York. A ten-minute video has gone viral, showing students on a bus taunting and bullying Ms. Klein.

Like to see what the principal of Greece Athena Middle School has to say about it? or click here.

Like to see what people around the world have to say about it?
How about $628,127 (at this moment) or click here.

And this is with 27 days left!

The donation page was opened with a goal of $5,000.

I am reminded of the 1994 movie, It Could Happen to You, with Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda.

Well, Ms. Huff, it did happen to you!

Want to send along a little (or a big) contribution? Go to the indiegogo page above.

Haven't seen the video? Watch it here.

Pickle Palooza Poll

Many thanks to the 49 readers who participated in the Pickle Palooza Poll, where the question was "Did you go to Pickle Palooza?" Pickle Palooza was an entertainment program sponsored by Claussen Pickles (of Woodstock, Ill.) and the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce on June 8-9.

Of the 49 respondents 8 (16%) indicated that they did, and 41 (84%) indicated that they did not.

The local weekly paper printed a scorcher of a letter from a Woodstock senior citizen. She wrote to Claussen and quickly received a reply. She also wrote to the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and is still waiting for its reply.

A letter from a Chamber member and business that provided numerous volunteers reflected a positive point-of-view. This second letter was published also in the weekly local newspaper.

If you have suggestions or thoughts about whether the Pickle Palooza should continue, let the folks at Claussen and the Chamber hear from you.

Grandparents' Rights group

Are you a grandparent who is raising a grandchild?

OK, you might know what you want and what you need, but do you know what your rights are? Do you have any rights in Illinois as a grandparent?

A support group for you meets on the 4th Sunday of the month at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 932 S. McHenry Ave. in Crystal Lake from 2:00-4:00PM.

The next meeting is tomorrow, Sunday, June 24. The subject? What else? Grandparents Rights!

If you bring the rugrats, there is a carpeted gym next to the meeting room, where the kids can play during the meeting. The notice did not include whether there is actual child care.

If you want more information or have questions, call Peggy O'Connor at 847/772-5158

Nygren - 50 years in LE?

Undersheriff Andy Zinke's 2012 political promotions include statements that Keith Nygren will retire as McHenry County Sheriff in 2014 "after 50 years in the police service".

Correct me, if I'm wrong. During the 2010 McHenry County race for sheriff, didn't Nygren claim 42 years of employment in cop work? Even at that time some readers could add up only 38 years. But let's give him 42, for purposes of arithmetic.

If Nygren will have "50 years" in 2014, that would mean he got started in 1964; right? Where was Keith in 1964?

But in 2010, when he claimed 42 years of cop work, that would mean he started in 1968. Where did those other four years come from?

Is this what's called the "New Math"?

Inmate files lawsuit from jail

"Jailhouse" lawyers. You've heard the phrase.

On Page B3 of this morning's Northwest Herald (print edition, of course) is the headline, "Burglary, escape suspect sues investigating officers."

James Henson. 44, is a resident at Hotel Nygren in Woodstock, where he has been locked up since being captured last October after kicking his way out of a McHenry County Sheriff's Department and escaping from custody. Henson was being transported to the County Jail at the time of his escape. That case, No. CF001093, has its next court date on June 27.

An "interesting" aspect of that case is how Henson came to be arrested in the first place. He was allegedly trespassing and in a barn in McHenry County near Crystal Lake. He may have been challenged at gunpoint by a person who was not a law-enforcement officer and detained until deputies could arrive. If there is ever a trial for this case, the details preceding his arrest may be revealed.

And the details of his escape may also be revealed; i.e., was he handcuffed properly in the squad car? Was he seatbelted in, in the back seat? How did he get loose from the seatbelt and from his handcuffs? Is it customary for a deputy to transport solo a person with Henson's history history? What actions did the transporting deputy take to prevent Henson's escape?

The article describes Henson as having a "lengthy" criminal history. That was certainly modest of the Northwest Herald.

On Tuesday, June 19, Henson pro se filed a suit against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the City of Woodstock, the County of McHenry, Woodstock Detective Spitzer and Sheriff's Department deputies Ed Maldonado and Daniel Danczyk. That's Case No. 12LA000219, and it's next up in court on October 23 before Judge Caldwell.

In Henson's criminal case (11CF001093) he was originally represented by the Public Defender. His defense attorney-of-record now is Michling Hofmann Plaza & Wick.

Emails - persona non grata

Regarding the article on McHenry County Blog in which Cal Skinner reports on an email signed with the signature of Jack Franks, the following two comments were made by "No Dog in the Fight":

"No Dog in the Fight says:
It’s amazing – but somehow not surprising – that both Gus (well, not so much Gus on this one since even he concedes (sorta, kinda, maybe) that somebody may be jerking Cal’s chain).
The rest of you idiots, and Cal, take this crap at face value and actually believe it. Are you nuts?
Jack Franks is many things – not all of them pleasant – but I doubt that he’s a complete moron.
No, he leaves that for the likes of those who believe this crap.
He’s a politician, he’s a public figure (as is “he who would be sheriff” Zinke)
They know they can’t stop commentary such as this any more than I could ever prevent you from making fools of yourselves for not considering that this is somebody – maybe even Cal or Gus themselves – playing games.
No Dog in the Fight says:
Why don’t Cal and Gus provide the e-mails themselves, complete with the message headers to some competent investigative type.
While they may not be able to identify the source, it would be easy enough to determine if the originating addresses were falsified.
No, that won’t work.
It would be too much like real investigative, fact finding and not enough like muck raking!"

The "crap" mentioned by "No Dog" is the email purportedly from Jack to Cal Skinner, telling Cal not to print Jack's photo or show up at any of his events. "No Dog" is right - no one should believe it. Or, even if someone does believe it, it has no value or meaning. If Cal wants to print a photo of Jack, he'll do it. As will I.

Of course, we can't climb a tree and lean over a fence at Jack's Place to shoot a photo through an open window. Neither of us would do that. That boot on Cal's right foot would surely keep him from climbing a tree, and I'm afraid of heights. So ..

"No Dog" wonders if Cal and I created those emails. No way. "No Dog" asks if the originating addresses of the emails were falsified. You tell me.

The email I received that appeared to be from Andy Zinke came from "Zinke for Sheriff 2014 <>". If Zinke didn't send me that email, all he has to do is write and tell me that he didn't send me that email and/or that email address is not his. This email address is, in fact, the email address that is shown on Zinke's political website.

"No Dog" suggests that I ought to provide Zinke's email to "some competent investigative type." For what? No crime has been committed. Zinke, if that email is really from him, just blew a little hot air at me. So what? It was a hot day that day, anyway. I'll write anything I want about him or about Jack. As long as I don't libel either, I will not lose a minute's sleep.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vehicle Impound ordinance – unconstitutional?

Has Woodstock overstepped the boundaries on fairness and integrity with its new Vehicle Impoundment ordinance? This law, enacted quietly, without fanfare, without announcement, without discussion and unanimously on January 17, allows police to seize vehicles under certain circumstances.

Woodstock calls it “impoundment”. A nearby community calls their similar ordinance a “seizure” law.

By now, you're familiar with my rantings about Woodstock's ordinance and its $500.00 “ransom” to get your vehicle back.

These laws aren't new in this country. What is new is how municipalities are using them to raise money – to increase City revenues.

An article three years ago by an attorney questioned whether city towing practices are unconstitutional. For example, in Oregon cities started to worry about exposure to civil liabilities when their cops ordered tows. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals weighed in (November 2005) and declared in Miranda v City of Cornelius that impoundment in that case was seizure without a warrant within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That impoundment did not fit within the “community caretaking doctrine.”

That doctrine basically says that, generally, if the vehicle isn't obstructing traffic and won't be at unnecessary risk of harm, it can be left right where it is, when the driver is taken into custody. And, if someone licensed is available to drive it, it can be driven away.

If that doctrine were applied in Woodstock or around McHenry County, the revenues would surely drop. No more ka-ching, ka-ching from $500 dropping into the till at the P.D.

Did Woodstock's City Fathers (with all due respect to the two women on the City Council) think at all about the number of people who would lose their cars entirely under this ordinance? If they thought about it, it certainly wasn't to the point that they bothered to discuss it out in the open. Was there another document from Woodstock's Police Chief Robert Lowen in which he estimated how many of the impounded vehicles would not be redeemed, because the owners were broke and couldn't afford tow fees, storage, $500 impound fee (or fine or bond) to retrieve the cars?

This is a rotten ordinance that needs 1) to be repealed and 2) to have all the tickets rescinded and fines (and bonds) returned. In fact, the city should also reimburse the owners for towing and storage.

Anybody agree?

Copycat strikes in Crystal Lake

Someone in McHenry County must be up to no-good.

After letters to Cal Skinner and Gus Philpott from McHenry County Sheriff's Department No. 2, Undersheriff Andy Zinke, were circulated, it appears to me that someone did a cut-and-paste and sent Cal Skinner a letter purportedly from Ill. State Rep. Jack Franks. (To enlarge the image of this letter, just click on it. Then, to close the image, click on the "X" or on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

Zinke's letters to both of us were hot air. Sort of like, "I'll huff and I'll puff until ..." Cal and I like brick construction!

The letter above appears today on McHenry County Blog under the headline "Jack Franks Threatens McHenry County Blog".

Why do I say "appears" and "purportedly"?

It's hard to believe that a McHenry County lawyer and a State Rep (since 1999) would puff up his chest in such a manner and send a "threatening" letter to a prominent blogger, former State Representative himself and popular Crystal Lake resident.

As soon as Franks Gerkin McKenna P.C. opens this morning, I'll call to inquire whether that letter on their stationery is authentic. I wonder if it is, because it contains no address, telephone or other contact information. Ever hear of a law firm not including that? If you want to call them, too, just dial (815) 923-2107  (Do not call the number that appears first in the Google search results for the law firm.)

The wording is too similar to Zinke's letter - much too similar.

Jack's letter (if, indeed, it is from Jack) warns Cal not to use any photo of him. You may not recognize Jack around town from this photo on the State Government website. Compare it with the photo of Jack and Speaker Mike Madigan lawyer Mike Kasper in today's article on McHenry County Blog.

Which Jack do you like? Happy Jack with his $1,000 suit on or the Jack who needs a larger-size shirt and a shave?

Just for the record, Cal Skinner is welcome at any political fundraisers that I might ever hold, at family events or any business meetings at the world headquarters of the Woodstock Advocate, and to publish any photographs of my family or me. Your cameras will be good enough credentials for me, Cal.

Next time you see Andy or Jack, Cal, I hope they don't turn around to walk away from you. Just make sure this Size 11 boot stays on the floor.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Truck drivers and cell phones

What's the law about handheld cell phones and drivers of large trucks and buses?

Late last fall U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a final rule that prohibits drivers of interstate trucks and buses in motion from using handheld cell phones. Think anybody knows about this law?

How would a driver learn of this law? Ever seen any signs?

Today I saw a driver of a large gravel-hauler moving south on Route 47 across Lake Avenue in heavy traffic and thought about the danger of holding a cell phone during a conversation.

How about a $2,750 fine? That'll get a driver's attention.

But then you have to define "interstate" travel. Is the gravel-hauler traveling down Route 47 engaged in "interstate" business?

Does Illinois have its own laws on this topic?

Calling all Vespas

Own a Vespa? Know someone who does? (Besides Frank and Jeanne Wedig of Woodstock)

This Saturday, June 23, there will be an attempt at a world record for the number of Vespas in a parade. The parade will need 861 Vespas to claim the record.

Meet at or near the Vespa dealer. If you're a Vespa owner, you know where it is (or can find it). Hint: 251 Host Dr. (off Wells), Lake Geneva, Wisc.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Skinner skins the scoop

Looks like Cal Skinner was first out of the box with word that McHenry County isn't going to fight Zane Seipler and Blake Horwitz to recover fees and expenses in Zane's petition to get a special prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren.

The McHenry County Blog is reporting today that "The County Board is backing off on its attempts to get paid for Special Prosecutor Caldwell and the time Assistant State’s Attorneys spent on the case."

Presumably it would take County Board action to give Woodstock attorney William Caldwell a green light to commence what could become a lengthy and expensive (and possibly, embarrassing) legal adventure. When you start turning over rocks, you never know what worms may crawl out.

If Caldwell "advised" Board Chairman Ken Koehler to "forget it", then he gave him good advice.

Letter disappears from MCSD

Many readers will remember hearing about (and perhaps reading) a January 4, 2011 from the FBI to Undersheriff Andy Zinke of the McHenry County Sheriff Department - the man who wants to be sheriff.

As the Number 2 in the sheriff's department, he'd be pretty good about documenting details; right? Pretty good about following protocol and procedures; right? Pretty good about rules and regulations; right? I mean, come on, Number 2 is almost at the top of the heap. You know the rules and you follow them.

So, on January 4, 2011, Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Grant wrote to Zinke. Actually, to me, it looks suspicious and unauthentic. The letter looks like it was prepared on an old Woodstock Typewriter Co. typewriter (no disrespect meant to the Woodstock Typewriter Co.). It's only saving grace from that era is the border-to-border justification, which didn't exist with old typewriters.

Agent Grant's letter begins, "We have had the opportunity to carefully review your December 3, 2010, letter requesting reports..."

There would be no reason for Agent Grant to lie in his letter, would there? So there must have been a December 3, 2010, letter from Zinke to the FBI. Grant's letter is signed by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Angela Byers, whose name and signature appear below the name of Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge. So the case is that it is Agent Grant who is responding to Zinke.

Recently, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for Zinke's December 3, 2010, letter. The Department had provided me a copy of Agent Grant's letter, and there shouldn't have been any question about providing Zinke's letter.

But MCSD doesn't have it! The response to my FOIA request from MCSD was, "the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is not in possession of a letter addressed to the FBI on or about December 3, 2010."

Impossible! How could it be gone? Didn't Zinke make a copy of it before or after he sent it? Was it sent by email? It's in his computer. Did he mail it? The document is in his computer.

But MCSD has told me twice that it doesn't have it.  If MCSD is not in possession of it, who has it? Did they give it to their lawyer, so that they wouldn't be in possession of it? Even so, a copy ought to be in Zinke's Word document file or in his Sent email.

Did he delete that letter? Isn't it illegal to delete information being used in a court case?

Does Zinke know why his letter is not in the possession of MCSD?

If you would like to read that January 4, 2011 letter from the FBI to Zinke, you can read it on McHenry County Blog. You can read it right here where it was published on the McHenry County Blog as recently as June 2, 2012..

A FOIA request with the FBI has been sent and is pending. Hopefully, their records management is superior to that at MCSD.

King Obama extends rule

This infuriates me.

King Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege over documents in the Fast and Furious gun-running program.

Why shouldn't the truth come out - totally and now? Why should Eric Holder be protected?

The U.S. House of Representatives' Oversight Committee had Eric Holder squarely in its crosshairs - right where he belonged.

If you don't know what "Fast and Furious" is, do a search and start reading.

Is there any doubt why gun sales are booming in the country with Obama in the President's seat?

Start reading today, right here

MCC behind peers in pay?

Look out, folks. You're about to get it in the checkbook. Again.

A Florida-based consulting firm (there is no qualified consultant in McHenry or Lake County?) is telling the MCC Board that their "poor" teachers and staff are underpaid.

This makes me want to vomit!

MCC is a two-year college. It's a community college. It's not a four-year college. It doesn't need to be a four-year college.

MCC doesn't need a Ph.D. to teach a kid how to put resin on a violin bow.
Or how to slice and dice an onion.
Or how to change oil in an old truck.

And it doesn't need to pay teachers to get MAs and PhDs so that they can hold up the College for more money before they move on to another school.

And it doesn't matter what teachers in other similar schools are being paid. Maybe the name of the consulting firm is really Jones Jones Jones and Jones. You know, "keeping up with the Jones"?

MCC has revenues, out of which the trustees hire administrators to run the College. That's all the money there is, folks. That's all you get.

Your job, Trustees, is to do the best you can with the money you have available. You don't have to hire the best. We don't need Nobel Prize winners at MCC. There is plenty of money to hire "good" teachers.

After all, look at the students they are working with. Too many of them need remedial reading and math, because our McHenry County high schools failed to teach them those skills before kicking them out with diplomas they didn't "earn".

How much should taxpayers spend on a person to teach a student how many ounces there are in a cup or in a pound? It's not worth $80,000/year!

MCC should offer classes in basic skills and general, liberal arts education. If a student wants more, then he goes on to a different school.

School - a $5MM health center?

While the public sleeps ...

Maybe the public had better wake up!

The headline today is, "D-200 nixes health center bids"

Who knew that Woodstock School District D-200 wanted to pop for a $5,000,000 health center at one of its schools on the north side of Woodstock? And then it was going to out-source management to a third-party healthcare agency. At what expense?

The District has its hand out for $500,000 for a health center at Woodstock North High School. Why? Why? WHY? Let's hope the State is smart enough to just say No. And not just here, but all over the State of Illinois.

District 200's business is education. Health care of students? That's the parents' business. And expense.

Maybe 100-200-300 parents ought to start showing up at School District Board meetings and ought to start some blogs. The People had better get back in control of the school district and board through involvement, and I don't mean in just selling cookies for the PTOs.

Dean Street School is getting a new Media Room for $205,000. Dean is an elementary school - a grade school. Why remodel the structure to put in a skylight? And soundproof? And why spend this money out of life-safety funds? What is "life safety" about a Media Room? Life safety is removal of asbestos and adequate sprinkler systems.

Is NWH failing its readers?

Yesterday two lawyers met in court about a case that has been ongoing since January 2010. Just about 2 1/2 years now. Case No. 10MR000011 is Zane Seipler's request for a special prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren for theft, official conduct and misappropriation of funds. THAT is what the case is about.

Judge Meyer ruled in April that he would not appoint a Special Prosecutor.

Then McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler, on his own and without consulting the Board, decided to sic Woodstock attorney William Caldwell on Zane for fees.

Stop! Can you imagine the chilling effect if this were allowed, except in cases involving frivolous lawsuits (which this was not)?

Yesterday's hearing was Attorney Blake Horwitz's Motion to Dismiss the County's request for sanctions against him.

And what Judge Meyer apparently "suggested" was that Attorney Caldwell go back to his client and find out if his client (the County of McHenry) wanted to allow or fight the Motion to Dismiss.

I say "apparently" because it was almost impossible to hear anything Judge Meyer said. And I wasn't the only one who couldn't hear. I don't know why Judge Meyer (and other judges) doesn't speak up and why he doesn't require attorneys to speak up. These are public courtrooms, not chambers in Iran or Iraq or Russia or North Korea or China.

Did you understand what happened in court yesterday from the Northwest Herald article?

Next court date? Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 9:00AM, Courtroom 201.

And did you like the NWH summary of Zane's fight to get his job back? "After arbitration and a series of rulings in Seipler's favor, Nygren was forced to give Seipler his job back. He returned to work in mid-March."

"...a series of rulings..." Well, the decisions were in McHenry County Circuit Court and then at the Appellate Court. And then the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Nygren cost the County about four years of Seipler's pay. How much is that? $300,000? And that's in only one case. You'd think the County Board would be more than a little upset about that!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Woodstock PD rakes in another $10,500

Roll out the wheelbarrow. They are going to need it at the Woodstock Police Department.

The PD raked in another $10,500 in vehicle impoundment fees. Woodstock Police had to impound 21 vehicles in May to create that take. Considering that Chief Lowen told the City Manager in a letter on January 3 that he thought they might impound 50 vehicles in the first year, he's running quite a bit ahead of schedule.

Is that good? NO!

The total ripped out of wallets and purses so far this year is $39,000. That's for 78 vehicles impounded under the City's new ordinance that was quietly passed in mid-January, unanimously and without discussion.

According to a news article, at least four people has lost their vehicles. If you can't afford $500 plus $150 tow plus storage (probably $40/day), you lose your car. After 35 days, your car is declared abandoned. So you will owe the tow yard $1,400 (35 x $40) + $150 = $1,550.

And you'll still owe Woodstock $500. And you'll no longer have a car. If you needed the car to get to work, so long, J-o-b.

Remember to thank City Hall on the way out of town.

Is there a scorecard at Woodstock Police Department? Do officers get gold stars by their names, if they are in the Top Producers group?

Since officers have discretion to impound a vehicle, in how many cases has discretion been exercised? Maybe the police department will include that statistic, or maybe the Mayor or a member of the City Council will quiz Chief Lowen on that number - every month.

Ya think? Probably not.