Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How can MCSD "lose" letter?

How can the McHenry County Sheriff's Department (MCSD) "lose" an important letter?

On December 3, 2010, Undersheriff Andy Zinke wrote to the Chicago office of the FBI. Apparently, he wanted to know about the FBI's investigation of Sheriff Keith Nygren.

On January 4, 2011, the FBI wrote back to Zinke. "We have had the opportunity to carefully review your December 3, 2010, letter..."

So, unless the FBI lied, there was a letter from Zinke dated December 3, 2010. Right?

But now the MCSD has no record of it. Imagine that! Three responses to my FOIA request all have the same answer. No such letter can be found.

Even the Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor was given that answer.

Did Zinke type it himself? Did a secretary type it? Did another deputy type it? Was it typed on his office computer? On his laptop? On his home computer?

Why wouldn't there be a copy of it?

Legally, there should be a copy. There is this fussy thing called the Local Records Act. You can't just delete a copy of a letter that you wouldn't want people to find or see.

I'm not holding my breath while I wait for the FBI to respond to my FOIA request. I submitted it on June 14, 2012. When I hadn't heard from the Chicago office of the FBI by July 11, I emailed the Chicago FBI office. Funny thing happened then - they forwarded my FOIA request to Washington, and Washington sent me a letter dated July 11 that they would process my request. What if I hadn't followed up?

Today the Washington FBI office told me it might take 118 days to respond to "small" requests (for less than 250 pages). Since the response to me will be one (1) page, I guess I still have to wait 118 days.

Yesterday's Chicago Tribune carries the announcement of the retirement of Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) Robert Grant, whose name was on the January 4, 2011, letter to Zinke. The letter was signed for him by Angela Byers, Assistant SAIC. Too bad he didn't just response to my request back in June, before he decided to move on to Disney.

Monday, July 30, 2012

How important is accident investigation?

How important is accident investigation at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

In the past five or so years there have been numerous fatal and serious-injury accidents on McHenry County roads. County roads are the ones outside city and village jurisdiction. Within a city or a town with a police department, that department will commonly handle the crashes, unless a town's police vehicle is involved.

But on County roads it's the McHenry County Sheriff's Department that investigates crashes (unless a deputy is involved - more about this in a moment).

Accident investigation is crucial to the safety of drivers and pedestrians in the County. For this reason deputies attend special training institutes and learn specialized skills of accident investigation. With this specialized training, they should be able to ascertain with high degree of skill what the contributory causes were. They can assign fault, and then appropriate tickets to surviving drivers can be issued.

It is essential that these skilled investigators be allowed to do their jobs completely and as trained, and without interference from "above".

It is not a pleasant job. Just recently I met with a person in the rescue business to ask about PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wanted to know how those involved in handling fatal and serious-injury accidents are helped. There is every reason to expect that they will need help. It's not a weakness to need and ask for help. And departments, whether police or fire/rescue, should be on high alert for indications that their employees need help in dealing with the aftermath.

What is happening at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department with its traffic and accident-investigation teams? Are these teams being trimmed back, even eliminated?

The job is not over. Just because a reduction in crashes may have been noted, there is no reason to discontinue accident-investigation services.

And what is the Department's response when a senior commander is involved in yet one more crash? How many does that make, in the past ten years? And why didn't that one make it to the newspaper? Was he ticketed?

Was that crash investigated by one of his subordinates (and a close friend)? Should the State Police have been called to investigate it? What caused that squad car to strike a fixed object? Maybe a little driver distraction? Perhaps something to do with an electronics device?

Protocol for investigating accidents (crashes) involving patrol cars is that the Illinois State Police or a police officer from a nearby town gets called. The idea is that the investigation will be impartial. Not really much chance of that, but it's worth a try.

But when your subordinate is called to investigate? What do you think the chances are that he'll say, "Sorry, boss, but I need to write you a ticket for this crash." If we had stockyards in McHenry County, you can guess where that deputy would be patrolling the next week!

Licensed gunowner arrested in Colo.

Ahhh, shades of Culver's in Madison, Wisc.

James Mapes, 48, was arrested in a Denver-area movie theater Saturday night while legally carrying a gun that he has carried without problems since 2003. He has a concealed-carry permit from a sheriff's department in Colorado (coincidentally the same sheriff's department where I was a reserve deputy in the late 1970s), and Colorado is, according to the news article, an open-carry state (like Wisconsin).

Read the whole article in the Denver Post online.

Some do-gooder got carried away and called the police. Understandably, cops and movie theater personnel are on edge, in light of what happened in the Denver area about a week before.

Wisconsin has a smart Attorney General. He ruled a while back that a person should not be "alarmed and disturbed" by the sight of an openly-carried firearm, absent any threatening actions by the gun bearer. The Madison Police who went off half-cocked and arrested five men in Culver's got their own lunch eaten, after the Madison Five were released of all charges.

Let's hope the City of Thornton in Colorado exercises the same wisdom. Was Mapes right to carry?

Well, would you want to be in a theater, unarmed and defenseless, if an armed person came in and started shooting?

Worried about your gun rights?


    Fellow Firearm Owner,

    As many of you know, a ruthless criminal recently murdered 12 persons and wounded scores more at a theater in suburban Denver. Of course, the gun control movement has absolved the perpetrator and transferred blame for the this brutal crime to you, the law-abiding firearm owner. Once again, the gun grabbers expect lawful gun owners to take it on the chin for the murderous misdeeds of others.

    In the weeks and months ahead, you will hear the media and anti-gun politicians calling for a "national dialog on reasonable solutions to violent crime." Rest assured, this will not be a "dialog." Rather, this so-called dialog will be a listening session for gun owners who will find themselves on the receiving end of a scolding from the self righteous, gun-hating leftists who will make it very plain that gun owners must accept curtailment of their rights.

    In recent days, gun control advocates have been all over leftist talk radio shows and internet blogs advancing proposals for "reasonable restrictions" on gun ownership. Among these restrictions are the following:

    1. A ban and mandatory surrender of your semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns.

    2. A ban and mandatory surrender of magazines having a capacity exceeding 10 rounds.

    3. A ban on internet sales of ammunition and reloading components.

    4. Limits on ammunition purchases (100 rounds per year according to one proposal)

    5. Performance-based bans on certain bullet designs and calibers.

    This list of restrictions being furthered by the gun control movement is just the beginning with even more onerous limits sure to follow. Nonetheless, enactment of any of these restrictions would certainly doom private firearm ownership. As we all know, the true aim of the gun control movement is a gun-free America.

    My friends, I guarantee you that the ISRA will never engage in any "dialog" that will result in the diminishment of your right to keep and bear arms. We will not set foot on "common ground" and we will never participate in any sort of compromise just to make some political candidate look good. We are gun owners helping gun owners preserve gun ownership.

    Given the political climate, the task before us is daunting. Yet, I am confident that, with your help, we will turn back this latest attack on your right to keep and bear arms. Here are 5 things you can do to help ensure victory for our nation's traditions.

    1. Call the offices of your U.S. Senators, your U.S. Representative, your Illinois Senator and Illinois State Representative. Firmly, yet politely tell the person who answers the phone that you are a law-abiding firearm owner and that you will not accept arbitrary limitations on your gun rights merely for the sake of "doing something" in response to wholesale slaughters carried out by disturbed criminals. If you do not know how to get in touch with your elected officials, then follow this link:

    Illinois Board of Elections District Official/Search:
    http://www.elections.state.il.us/DistrictLocator/Distric tOfficialSearchByAddress.aspx

    2. Please pass this alert on to your gun owning friends and family members for action.

    3. Post this alert to any and all Internet blogs, bulletin boards and social media sites to which you may belong.

    4. Join the ISRA or ask a friend to join.  www.isra.org/join

    5. Give a generous donation to the ISRA by going to the following link: www.isra.org/fight_4_your_rights.

    This is one of the most crucial moments in the history of private firearm ownership. If we lose this upcoming battle, then we may never see our rights restored. Hard work, determinations, and love of our Constitution are the three greatest tools we have to ensure that our traditions are preserved for future generations.


    Richard A. Pearson
    Executive Director
    Illinois State Rifle Association

Myra Brassard and Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Ms. Myra Brassard, 90, of Crystal Lake, got Page 1 of today's Northwest Herald in its article about the loss of Illinois Circuit Breaker and Illinois Cares Rx by thousands of senior citizens in Illinois.

Ms. Brassard lives on her Social Security check and must tighten her belt even more now because of higher deductibles, co-pays and monthly premiums to pay for her medications. What will she have to give up? Food? Or needed meds?

Three cheers to her for her comment about where the legislator responsible for slashing Circuit Breaker would find her shoe!

And then on Page A4 Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s daddy speaks up for him and says there is "no timetable" for his son's recovery from depression and gut issues, while Jr. is treated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Now, let's pick on Jr.'s treatment at Mayo. What kind of health insurance plan does a U.S. Congressman have that is difference from Ms. Brassard's?

The finest treatment? No co-pays? No deductibles? No pesky premiums? Unlimited expenses? Oh, and privacy.

Maybe if I were facing an ethics investigation in the U.S. House of Representatives, I'd be depressed, too. And maybe my gut would be all twisted. I wrote before now when I suspected mental illness.

I have great respect for those who suffer mental illness. They should be treated. And privately. And they shouldn't be Congressmen or State Representatives.

Anyone else who didn't show up for work for seven weeks would get fired. However, Jr.'s office didn't even reveal he was out of sight. When did they? About five minutes before the filing period for elections closed.

Oh, but wait... The timing of that announcement didn't have anything to do with the filing deadline. You do believe the spokesman, don't you?

Hey, if "The Rev." Jesse Jackson really wants to do something about gun control (he was outside a downtown Chicago movie theater Saturday night, protesting assault weapons), how about if Rahm Emanuel, Father Pfleger and he go to "Murder Park" on Chicago's southeast side some Saturday night and protest the drive-bys. Think any one of them would go there on a Saturday night without immense police protection?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How many personal miles on take-home vehicles?

How many personal miles should a deputy be allowed to put on his take-home squad car?

Almost every deputy at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has a take-home squad car. Pretty nice deal, huh? Supposedly, a deputy could respond to an emergency in the take-home car, if one happened and if he got called out.

Has there ever been an emergency call-out in McHenry County?

One claim by advocates of take-home cars is that they make the streets safer. You know, when you see a cop, you slow down...  When is the last time that was true?

I remember being passed by an Illinois State Trooper on I-90 near Huntley. He was running 70 in a 55 zone, just leading the pack. And then there was the Sunday on westbound I-90 in by Highway 59, when a trooper passed me at 70 in a 55, again just "leading the pack." I remember him, and he'll remember me. He tried to intimidate me after I flashed my headlights at him, and it backfired.

And then there is McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren, who got a ticket on January 5 in Vilas County, Wisconsin, for 70 in a 55 zone. In his take-home car. What was a McHenry County vehicle doing 300 miles from the County, when a deputy can't even get a take-home car, if he doesn't live in McHenry County?

Nygren bought gas for his vehicle (Illinois license plate 196 3705) on December 23, 2011, when he topped off the tank at the County fuel pump with 4.7 gallons at mileage 77,493 miles on the odometer.

The next time he fueled that vehicle was 17 days later, on January 9, 2012, when 18.7 gallons were pumped at 78,759 miles.

If my subtraction is correct, he drove 1,266 miles on the 17 days between fuelings. It's 300 miles from Crystal Lake to Minocqua, Wisc., where one of Nygren's three homes is located. Getting there and back would account for 600 miles. So it looks like he might have driven around 600 miles while he was up north.

Do you suppose he used a personal credit card for the 70 gallons of gas for that trip? Wisconsin gas prices are lower than Illinois', but it appears he didn't top off the tank (at his personal expense) on January 8-9 in Wisconsin, before crossing the state line on the way back.

What would his Department credit card statement show? Any gas purchases between December 23 and January 9? Sure hope the taxpayers didn't foot the bill for $200+ in gas cost for that Christmas holiday trip.

Algonquin parade - where was Zinke?

I read with keen interest the article on McHenry County Blog about the Algonquin Founders Day parade - even looked at all the photos, just waiting for the one with Undersheriff Zinke to come into view in a marked squad car with his undersheriff magnetic sign.

What to my wondering eyes did not appear? Zinke was AWOL. Nygren was AWOL. In fact, the entire McHenry County Sheriff's Department stayed away. Why was that?

The Sheriff's Department didn't even see fit to participate in the parade. It could have sent an on-duty deputy or even asked if an off-duty deputy wanted to volunteer to be in the parade. Not even any MCSD motorcycle officers showed up.

Cal got in the last word, with "A special note for you Sheriff's Department watchers. The McHenry County Sheriff's Department had no entry in the parade. Neither Sheriff Keith Nygren nor his Undersheriff Andrew Zinke was anywhere to be seen."

Cal's punctuation tells the real story. Thanks for making the point, Cal. I got it; I don't know if anyone else did.

Should gov't. track "assault" rifles?

Care to participate in a poll about whether government should track who owns assault weapons?

Go to the website of the Illinois State Rifle Assn. and take the path to the newspaper (The Herald-News, a Chicago Sun-Times publication) conducting the poll.

As of right now, the numbers are 1774 (No) and 43 (Yes). Or you can go straight to the poll by clicking here.

Sure would have been nice if ISRA had sent an email to members about this poll. Guess that would fall under Member Services.

Anybody have a clue what is going on with concealed-carry in Illinois? Has it fallen by the wayside? Again?

Of interest to birthers

The joys of e-mail brought this to my in-box this morning. What part of it is true? I don't know. Somebody ought to be figuring this out. Why won't the questions of Obama's birth go away?

"Republican or Democrat or Independent or "couldn't care less"   Food for thought

"Have seen these issues raised separately, but not assembled in one document like this. And it still doesn't include his fraudulent draft card.
"Interesting Bit Of Detective Work

"1. Back in 1961 people of color were called 'Negroes.' Then, in the late 60's & 70's, people of color were called Blacks. Remember "Black is Beautiful." So how can the Obama 'birth certificate' state his father is 'African -when the term wasn't even used at that time? African was his nationality - Negro was his race. The term African-American wasn't coined until 1984. Look it up.

"2. The birth certificate that the White House released lists Obama's birth as August 4, 1961. It also lists Barack Hussein Obama as his father. No big deal, right? At the time of Obama's birth, it also shows that his father is aged 25 years old, and that Obama's father was born in "Kenya, East Africa". This wouldn't seem like anything of concern, except the fact that Kenya did not even exist until 1963, two whole years after Obama's birth, and 27 years after his father's birth. How could Obama's father have been born in a country that did not yet exist? Up and until Kenya was formed in 1963, it was known as the "British East Africa Protectorate". Look it up.

"3. On the birth certificate released by the White House, the listed place of birth is "Kapi'olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital". This cannot be, because the hospital(s) in question in 1961 were called "KauiKeolani Children's Hospital" and "Kapi'olani Maternity Home", respectively. The name did not change to Kapi'olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital until 1978, when these two hospitals merged. How can this particular name of the hospital be on a birth certificate dated 1961 if this name had not yet been applied to it until 1978? Look it up.

"I believe this is the biggest fraud perpetrated on this country ever. The country's love affair with this phony is unprecedented."

What would be the impact on this country if it turns out that Obama really is not qualified, under the law, to hold the office of President?

Beth Bentley - up to 117 weeks now

Beth Bentley vanished sometime between May 20-23, 2010, from somewhere in Centralia, Ill. Or in Mt. Vernon, Ill. Or maybe even from Woodstock, Ill.

The only thing for sure in this case is that Jenn Wyatt has a court date of Wednesday, August 1, 2012. She is accused of lying to Woodstock Police. A Motion to Dismiss was continued from last Wednesday to this Wednesday.

The three people most likely to know of the last whereabouts of Beth are Jenn Wyatt, Ryan Ridge and Nathan Ridge. That's because Beth and Jenn supposedly left Woodstock on May 20 and went to visit the Ridges in Mt. Vernon on May 20, arriving very early on Friday morning.

If Beth never got there, Ryan and Nathan didn't see her that week-end.

If Beth got to Mt. Vernon with Jenn early on May 21, then Ryan and Nathan have knowledge of her whereabouts on at least a portion of that week-end. But they aren't talking.

If this is "only" a Missing Person case, as it is called by the Woodstock Police, then why isn't everyone among Beth's friends and acquaintances speaking out about her activities of the week-end and trying to find her.

I have heard of chatter on a closed Facebook (FB) page that started out as a Beth Bentley Missing page. Those posting on that FB page seem to be more interested in criticising those who are asking persistent questions than they are in finding Beth. At one time there were 7,000 followers. Then a couple of noses got stuck in the air, and a couple of people (page administrators, they called themselves) began slicing and dicing and cut out about 50% of the followers. In-fighting caused more to leave.

Now that FB page has been diluted and broadened to Bring Them All Home. So much for Beth's friends.

One of these days somebody is going to "break". She or he will get caught in something nasty and decide to "talk". In the meantime, that person (or those persons) is probably, and properly, concerned about personal safety and security for self and of family members.

"Assault weapon" not used in Colorado shootings

Smith & Wesson M&P
In this morning's Northwest Herald is a Letter to the Editor who questions why any person would need an "assault weapon", apparently referring to one of the weapons used by James Holmes in the shootings in the Aurora, Colo. theater last week. Many persons do not understand the difference between an assault weapon, an assault rifle and a rifle that looks like an assault rifle.

An "assault rifle", as defined generally on wikipedia.com, must have these characteristics:

- It must be an individual weapon with provision to fire from the shoulder (i.e. a buttstock);
- It must be capable of selective fire;
- It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle;
- Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable magazine rather than a feed-belt;
- It should have a minimum firing range of 300 meters (1000 feet)

The key difference for the lay person to understand is the difference between semi-automatic firing and fully-automatic firing modes.

Semi-automatic means that you must pull the trigger each time you want the weapon to fire. This is the type of weapon that Holmes had. One newspaper article said that his weapon could be fired 50-60 times in a minute. That's true, if he could pull the trigger 50-60 times in a minute (and if his drum ammunition feeder didn't malfunction (which it did) or if he could change magazines quickly enough).

Fully-automatic means that you pull and hold the trigger one time and the weapon will fire all the rounds available in a drum or magazine. This is not the type of weapon that Holmes had.

Anti-gunners love to refer to all nasty-looking rifles as assault weapons. Even Illinois legislators have declared that, if it looks like an assault weapon, then it is an assault weapon.

The author of the Letter to the Editor wrote that an NBC producer went to a Gander Mountain store and within a half hour had a brand-new assault weapon. If that's what NBC aired, then I believe it lied to its viewers. The public cannot buy or own a fully-automatic "assault weapon" without having a highly-restricted Federal gun permit. You cannot just walk into a store and in 30 minutes walk out with a fully-automatic weapon.

An informed public will not tolerate misleading news.

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

Driving + Texting = Stupidity

From Sprint:

"Did you know that texting while driving at 55 mph takes your eyes off the road for the length of a football field? At Sprint, we are committed to educating our customers about the dangers of distracted driving. And drivers under the age of 20 are most likely to get into a distracted driving crash, so we recently partnered with Do Something on a fun campaign called Thumb Wars that educates young people (and parents) on distracted driving and offers a chance to win a $10,000 college scholarship.

"Participants between the ages of 13 and 25 can enter the scholarship contest in a couple of ways: Send five friends texting and driving stats on DoSomething.org or sign up on the site to receive two pairs of thumb socks that remind drivers not to text while wearing them. Give one pair to a friend or family member that you think could use a reminder on the dangers of texting and driving and then send photos of you and your friends wearing your thumb socks! You’ll double your chances of winning if you do both steps. Visit the Scholarship page on DoSomething.org for more information on how to participate.

"Even Glee’s Harry Shum put on some thumb socks for a good cause! Watch him in this funny video with a serious message: http://bit.ly/OdhfID. Show @iharryshum and nearly 75,000 other Thumb Wars participants your support for driving without distractions by tweeting to your friends about #ThumbWars with @sprint and @dosomething.

"Do Something even launched a mobile app that includes the Thumb Wars campaign! You can download it for free in Google Play and stay informed about Thumb Wars and other campaigns that Do Something is launching.

"Thanks for using the power of your thumbs to help raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Harvard arrest "without incident"

Today's story in the Northwest Herald titled "Two Harvard men charged in beating" said that one, a documented gang member, is still on the loose but the other was taken into custody "without incident."

A local resident reports that the front door at 701 N. Lincoln St., Harvard, was covered with a sheet of plywood earlier today, and later the door was seen splintered on its side outside the house and a new door was being hung.

Is that what is meant by "without incident" in Harvard?  Or maybe "without incident" means no cop was injured. The Harvard Police Department is not mentioned in the article, which says that the Sheriff's Dept. gang unit became involved. The July 23rd beating report was taken by the sheriff's department.

No doubt that's the information that was fed to the NWH reporter. Somebody please pass the mouthwash to the reporter.

Friday, July 27, 2012

$100 penalty on $55 late payment

Let's hear a round of applause for a decision made in 2003 by the legislators of the Great State of Illinois. NOT!!!

Did they even seriously consider this bill in 2003? Did they understand it? Did they even read it? Or was it tucked way inside another bill that was being passed because of "negotiation"? I am so glad that I am not a State legislator!

There is a little-known tax called the Mobile Home Local Services Tax. It doesn't affect very many people in Illinois and certainly not very many in McHenry County.

The tax rate per square foot decreases as the mobile home ages, eventually reaching $0.075/sq. ft. Recently, I was informed that a mobile home resident in Crystal Lake had not paid her $55.44 bill due last October. What did it cost her to square up with the County Treasurer?

$155.44! On top of the $55.44 bill, she had to pay $100 in late fees (penalty). Late fees are calculated, by Statute, at $25/month to a maximum of $100.

They used to be lower. Until 2003, the late fee was 1.5%/month. Then our legislators, in their infinite wisdom, jacked up the penalty to $25/month.

The County Treasurer has little choice in assessing the penalty, because it is set by Statute (35 ILCS 515/), which reads in Section 9 that "...the taxpayer shall be required to pay a penalty of $25 per month, or any portion thereof, not to exceed $100."

I haven't lived in a mobile home since college days in eastern Iowa in the early 1960s. It was economical then, and I suspect it might still be so. I did call my landlord one day when a tornado was forecasted. I asked what to do if the home "took off".

His answer was, "You know those jalousie windows? If it takes off, you run around and adjust them for level flight!"

How will Woodstock respond?

How does the City of Woodstock act, if it discovers that a resident has violated a City ordinance involving substantial fees that are required to be paid to the City?

If it (meaning, employees in supervisory or management capacity) has general knowledge of a violation, but no one actually files a complaint, does any corrective action begin?

An important part of the City Code is the requirement that an owner who intends to improve his residence must apply for a Permit. In the application for a permit he describes the general improvements to be made (addition of bedrooms, bathrooms, finishing of basement, etc.). As the work progresses, inspections may have to be made of plumbing and electrical work before those changes disappear behind new walls. This is for the safety of the occupants.

No permit? Probably no inspections.

As importantly, the City collects its "due" in the form of permit fees and Impact Fees. The Impact Fees are those nasty, often-considered exorbitant fees that are mostly complained about by builders of new homes, because they affect the price of the new home.

But Impact Fees are required when certain improvements are made to a house; for example, when bedrooms are added. Otherwise, might not builders start selling one-bedroom houses (lowest Impact Fee) and then purchasers would just finish 2-3-4 more bedrooms and escape with the lowest Impact Fees? The cities wised up to that possibility.

If you buy a two-bedroom house and later add two more bedrooms, you must, in Woodstock, pay the difference in Impact Fees. This could be $7,-8,-10,-12,000 in new Impact Fees.

The City must be diligent and alert for homeowner improvements. Few will consider it "fair" for the City to collect such a large fee (tax) on a remodeling job, but that's the law. If you don't like it, complain. But you can't just not pay it.

Well, actually, you can "just not pay it." You don't apply for a permit, and then no one knows about it. For example, the Township Assessor doesn't know about it. A prospective buyer wouldn't know about it, unless he or his real estate agent paid sharp attention. A listing agent should be alert and diligent, too.

There is language in the Real Estate Contract about this. It requires the Seller to state, certify, attest that all permits required for any remodeling were acquired. Does an agent go over the Contract with the Seller line-by-line? Does a listing agent trust, but verify?

What if the original permit for construction is for a two-bedroom, two-bath house, but the listing agent is advertising a four-bedroom, two-bath house? A logical question would be, "Did you pull a permit for this remodeling?" Wouldn't a listing agent look at the tax record and contact the Township Assessor to confirm that the house being listed is properly assessed?

What agent wants a sale to backfire, especially after closing? This will generate huge problems for the Buyer, for the selling agent, for the listing agent, and for the Seller. And where was the Title Company in all this? Does it do anything except collect a fee for sitting down at a conference table for an hour and say, "Sign here, and here, and here, and here..."? Did an appraiser come up with a value for the listing agent?

And what does a City do if it discovers that no permit for remodeling exists and that impact and permit fees were not paid? Who is responsible now for the fees? The current owner? Or does the City have any recourse against the previous owner?

Sticky, sticky, sticky.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kids and drugs

Is your kid into drugs? Even just a little? I mean, illegal drugs.

Grab him or her by the hand and spend a morning in Judge Sharon Prather's courtroom, Room 304 at the McHenry County Government Center. Get there about 8:50AM and have a seat in the front row. Tell your kid to take notes.

Have your kid listen to Judge Prather advise a defendant of his or her rights. Watch the parade of men and women in the orange jail clothing, as they are escorted from "custody" to the bench. Tell your kid to write down the risk of a term in the Illinois Department of Corrections, the maximum fine that might be imposed, the length of probation after a sentence is completed.

Have a real discussion with your kid about what his or her choices could lead to.

Ask him (or her) to what extent he is using drugs. Not "if", but "to what extent".
Ask if he ever shares them with friends.
Ask how he gets them; from whom does he buy them?
Ask how often he has sold them.
Ask if he has felt he needs to sell them, in order to get the money to buy his own?

Ask how he would feel if he were caught and had to come into the courtroom from the jail side of that door, wearing orange.

Ask if he would care how you felt to see him at the bench, being read the charges against him.

Take him to your lawyer and ask how much a defense would cost. Tell him whether or not you will further mortgage your home, blow your retirement plan or otherwise spend your money to defend him.

Ask him if it's worth it to destroy his life with a misdemeanor or felony charge and/or conviction in a criminal record.

And then tell him (or her) that you love him and, if he ends up in court, you'll be there to watch what happens, but it is he who will pay the price.

NWH harps on "Gacy nephew"

A man on trial in McHenry County Circuit Court this week has been continually referred to in Northwest Herald articles this week as the nephew of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

So here is the question. Why, since Judge Joseph Condon has ruled that the relationship to Gacy is irrelevant, does the Northwest Herald persist in identifying the accused by that relationship?

Could it be that the Northwest Herald is having a hard time understanding the definition of "irrelevant"?

If the judge says it's irrelevant, why does an editor at the Northwest Herald leave it in the reporter's story?

I'd post this comment to the NWH article but for the fact the the NWH is not permitting comments to their stories about this trial.

Doctors or guns?

(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
(C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171
Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.

Now think about this:

(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. (Yes, that's 80 million)
(B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
(C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .0000188
Statistics courtesy of FBI

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners. Remember, 'Guns don't kill people, doctors do.'

FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT almost everyone has at least one doctor. This means you are over 9,000 times more likely to be killed by a doctor as by a gun owner!!! Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.

We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!

$400,000 City money into movie theater?

The City of Woodstock, through action of the City Council, seems poised to sink about $400,000 into the movie theater expansion on Main Street.

The Woodstock Independent, in its July 25 weekly edition, reports that the City Council came to a consensus... Too often, that means that one side held out longer than the other and finally gave in.

The owners of the Woodstock movie theater are good people. They own a chain of movie theaters throughout northern Illinois, and they operate a customer- and family-friendly chain. And they are in business. There is nothing wrong with that. It is to be commended. Plus, they are nice people.

Personally, I was not in favor of destroying the "look" of Main Street with the new, modern, un-historical design of the theater addition that is planned. Destroying the historic appearance of that block was necessary to accommodate the new theater design, which includes stadium seating. Take a look at the block of buildings between the current theater and parking lot (previously-owned by the City) to the end of the block at Washington St. Under the approved design, you can say Good-bye to historic downtown on the Square.

And if you think parking is bad now, just wait until the new theater is built. I don't believe for a New York Minute that parking is not going to be a huge problem. Bring in many, many cars that will be parked for a minimum of 2-3 hours for a movie. Where will customers of other businesses park?

They won't. And so the other businesses will suffer.

If, as Mr. Johnson says, in 2010 it was too expensive to do the project, why should City money now bail out a private business?

The city fathers (and mothers) think they are going to recuperate the city's investment in six years. And what if the rosy figures on today's projections collapse?

When is the last time you went to a movie theater? Ticket prices continue to increase. It wasn't long ago that movie tickets in Woodstock were $3.00, then $4.00, now $6.50 (6:00PM and later shows). At $6.50 it's still a good deal, compared to Crystal Lake and other theaters. But, when the stadium seats are in, will prices go up again?

When prices go up, fewer people go to the movies.  So the theater has to raise its prices; then attendance drops further. So prices go up, and attendance goes down.

And then there is the horrendous price of popcorn (corn kernels, air and a little butter) and soft drinks.

With home theaters, Netflix, Redbox, online streaming, Comcast, satellite, etc., is the City going into this with eyes wide open?

And is it even the City's province to invest public money in a private enterprise?

Classic Cinemas has not yet had to address the issue of allowing or prohibiting concealed weapons in its theaters, because Illinois legislators refused to allow law-abiding citizens to defend themselves outside their homes. What will the Johnson family decide, once Illinois does permit concealed-carry?

My guess is that the Woodstock City Council and the Woodstock Police Department will encourage prohibiting concealed-carry in a movie theater here. What do you think?

BLOND 67 - polite driver, but ...

After the Jeep left
At Dunkin' Donuts this morning I paused to speak with the driver of a blue Jeep Wrangler in the handicapped parking place in front of the store in Woodstock. I had noticed that it did not have a handicapped person license plate or a placard displayed from the inside mirror or on the dashboard.

The driver was polite enough. I approached the driver's side window and asked, "Are you aware of the handicapped parking laws?"

Before she could answer, an older woman in the passenger seat asked in a demanding manner, "Are you with the city?" No.

"Are you a police officer?" No.

Then she said, in effect, "Well, then, butt out."

About that time a Dunkin' Donuts employee came out with a to-go bag, and the driver backed out, saying, "We're going now."

Would it have been fair to sic the Woodstock cops on this driver and cost her a $600 ticket, because of her passenger's (her mother?) attitude?

I didn't approach the car with an "attitude". Maybe I saved her a $600 ticket in the future. But her passenger's surly attitude will certainly get her a ticket, if she ever is stopped by a cop for parking or stopping in a handicap spot.

LL world series - a curve or spitball?

The Northwest Herald painted the proposed use of Emricson Park for a district Little League world series venue in a fairly glowing light, and this week's Woodstock Independent provided a little more information from the grass up.

For example, that it might cost the City much closer to $200,000 than $130,000 to partner with the Little League. Now, that's a pretty big jump - almost 50%.

No wonder organizers are hopeful.

I had to laugh at "But a price tag of $200,000 means Woodstock Little League will have to approach the city of Woodstock for funds." Right! Especially since they are stepping up to the plate with only $10,000.

Two council members saw the score right away and wanted to call the game early. Council members Dick Ahrens and Julie Dillon didn't want to continue with negotiations. One member was absent, and the other four want to keep pitching into the rain and darkness.

Will that mean pitching $190,000 down the drain?

Darrin Chonos, Woodstock Little League president, was quoted as saying, "The board and I feel that it will really rejuvenate a lot of interest in Little League in the area."

Foul ball! What else do you expect them to say? Think they'll waltz in and ask the Council to squander $190,000 on a fly ball to short right field?

How did reporters hear two numbers so far apart? Is it $130,000 or $200,000 that the LL is asking the City to go for.

If the City builds it, will they come? You'd better be watching the agenda of a future City Council meeting for this topic to come up to bat. Then suit up, grab some bats and do some warm-up swings, and step into the batter's box over on the right side of the City Council Chambers, and take three swings at the Council.

If you don't, you'll forfeit the game. The City will blow $200,000 and end up with another useless, "private" field on City property, and your kids won't even to able to go out to the park and run the bases on days when there are no games.

Thanks to Council members Ahrens and Dillon for standing up. Of course, there wasn't any vote at that meeting. Will their opposition hold up?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"I'll just be a minute"

What do you suppose people think about, when they stop in a crosswalk, in a Fire lane, and right under a No Parking sign? Or don't they?

The driver of this vehicle dropped by the Woodstock Jewel-Osco on Tuesday night about 8:00PM and parked, leaving someone in the passenger seat and the engine running, to keep the passenger cool no doubt. Her "minute" was more than ten.

If there had been a fire call last night, would the first engine have just bumped up against the rear bumper and pushed the car forward? Or if there had been a police-response emergency and 2-3 police cars had arrived, would this car have been in the way?

Many communities have Vehicular Control Agreements with shopping centers to allow police to enforce traffic laws on the shopping center's private property. And, in fact, Woodstock has a few of the Agreements. There was even one at the old Jewel store, before it moved a couple of blocks north and to the east side of the street to its current location.

But the City has refused to complete one on the new property on the northeast corner of Route 47 and Country Club Road, now home to Jewel-Osco, Hallmark, Golden Eagle Community Bank, Papa Murphy's Pizza, other small stores and, soon, the new Panera Bread.

Not sure what the reluctance is. Probably just that I reminded them that there is no Agreement there.

Maybe I should encourage the City not to enter into such Agreement. Then it would probably be struck within 30 days.

Was theater a gun-free zone?

Questions are already arising in the Denver Post (www.denverpost.com) as to whether the movie theater where a madman shot and killed 12 people and injured 59 last week might be in any way liable.

The only question I have is, is the Century Aurora 16 Theater a gun-free zone?

When I lived in Aurora, Colo. in the early 1970s, I lived about four miles south of that theater's location. As a reserve deputy sheriff, I often carried off-duty. Or I did, until the election of a new sheriff brought an educator into office and he canceled our 24/7 commissions.

The new sheriff left us with our concealed-carry permits, but he restricted our law-enforcement authority to on-duty hours. One of my big questions at that time was my risk when I was in uniform and armed and riding my private-owned, police-equipped motorcycle to the department to go on-duty and pick up my portable radio. I never got an answer as to what I was to do if flagged down by a citizen and informed that a bank was being robbed.

Since I would be officially off-duty, I asserted that I'd give the citizen a dime and tell him to call it in. That would be lousy public relations, since he would see me as a Deputy. But I wasn't; I was only dressed like one. Several other reserve deputies and I stopped carrying off-duty, because we well understood the personal financial risk if he intervened in a criminal situation without authority.

Rep. Jack Franks voted for concealed carry in Illinois in May 2011, when he voted for HB 0148. The bill almost passed the House. Unfortunately, Illinois House leadership is believed to have muscled a few Cook County Representatives, and the bill could not get the 71 votes needed.

One of Jack's previous reasons for not favoring concealed carry was that he worried about his own liability, if he declared his law office as a Gun-Free Zone (GFZ). What would happen if a divorce client was in his law office and the spouse came and started blazing away? Well, obviously, the only really important factor would be that his client and he would be dead, because they wouldn't have had a chance to shoot back.

I have not seen in the news that the Century Aurora 16 Theater was or was not a GFZ. No information is available on their website this week. It looks like the entire theater is closed; there are no show times for any movie.

What if there had been 5-10 people in the audience who were armed? Holders of concealed-carry privileges understand very well their responsibilities and liability. They might have had an opportunity to shoot James Holmes, who was wearing armored protective gear. Whether a lucky shot might have dropped him is anyone's guess.

Illegal searches planned at Emricson Park

Check out the signs posted at the entrances to Emricson Park, Woodstock's largest city park. (To read the "fine print", click on the image.)

Like this line? "All vehicles and coolers are subject to search."

I don't think so! And you shouldn't, either. You may want to be prepared to assert your rights against unreasonable and illegal search.

Call your lawyer and ask if you must allow a police officer to search your vehicle. Ask your lawyer if you must open your cooler and allow a police officer to search it.

Also, ask your lawyer if it is lawful for a police officer to threaten you with arrest, if you do not permit a search.

Just because the City passes an ordinance does not make it lawful. Of course, you'll need the money to fight any arrest. And you might incur the wrath of a police officer or department, if you refuse.

Then you'll have to watch out the next time you get stopped right in front of your own house for a burned-out headlight that has been out for 15 minutes and 10 miles on a winter night. The cop might start to give you a warning notice. If he can write quickly enough and send you on your way, you'll be lucky.

But if a second officer shows up and reminds him that there is an order at the P.D. to ticket you and not give you a warning if you are stopped, then plan on parting with at least $100.

Woodstock - about to get skunked again?

2013 World Series in Woodstock? No, not the Yankees and the Cards. Try Little League International.

The Little League would apparently like to make a deal with the City of Woodstock to use Emricson Park fields for its 50/70 Division for 11-to-13-year-old players.

A good deal for Woodstock? Man, if they can peddle this deal to our City Council, they'll be back in a year wanting to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.

Woodstock Little League offers $10,000. Big deal! And the improvements could cost the City $130,000, according to Mayor Sager. So, taxpayers, where will the other $120,000 come from. Guess...

What improvements?
- larger field dimensions
- upgrade the irrigation system
- enhance the press box (what press box?)
- enhance the score box (is there a score box now?)
- expand and enclose the dugouts
- new lighting
- new fencing

There is no way (NO WAY) that's going to cost only $130,000.

Let some other town have the "opportunity." (I guess my "advice" almost assures the improvements will be made and Woodstockers will end up footing a big bill.)

Baseball Field A
City resident now? Have kids? Some friends coming over? Want to go to Emricson for a little "pick-up" baseball game? Want to just send your kids to the (taxpayer-supported) park to play ball for the afternoon. Don't even think of it!

Check out the "Welcome" signs posted at the baseball and soccer fields. Keep in mind that your taxes pay for these parks. And you can't use them. They are reserved or dedicated for league play.

Prohibiting resident use and dedicating these public fields for league play only is so wrong in such a big way. Why does your City Council permit city administration to make rules like these? Here's why. It's because YOU don't complain.
Soccer field near South St.

It's time for interested parties to band together, to combine your voices so that you will be heard.  Start showing up at City Council meetings en masse and start telling the City Council members and Mayor what you want. And what you don't want.
(Click to enlarge images)

Court time (Wyatt) - waste of time

Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham had a court date this morning at 9:00AM. Courtroom 302. Checked the  hallway monitors for the courtrooms, when I arrived. Sure enough, Room 302.

While I was waiting in the front pew for court to start, I overhead other people say something about cases were to be heard in another courtroom. When I inquired of the court's clerk, she said there was a jury trial this morning, and that cases on Judge Condon's call would be heard in Room 304.

On the way out of 302 I asked the bailiff why the monitor was wrong and why there was no sign on the door. He didn't know.

Judge Prather was late getting started. No doubt she had some court business elsewhere. Why is no courtesy shown to those in the courtroom by announcing that court will convene (in about so-many minutes)?

Finally, at 10:11AM, Jenn's case was called. Geez, had I been Judge Prather, I'd of found her Guilty right then for how she was dressed. Jenn's hair is now some shade of red or pink, and she had on heels and a very tight black skirt. And a low-cut top with plenty of skin showing. Was she ready to go clubbing?

Her public defender, Kim Messer, asked for a continuance, and Assistant State's Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division of the State's Attorney's Office Michael Combs did not argue against it. Judge Prather continued the case to August 1, 9:00AM. If you plan to attend, find out ahead of time in which courtroom it will be, 304 or 302. You can follow Case No. 12CF000250 at www.mchenrycircuitclerk.org

Why do judges tolerate routine, unexplained requests for continuances? Why weren't both sides ready to go today?

After Jenn's case was continued, I went to Court Administration to ask why the hallway monitor was wrong and why there wasn't any sign on the door. A secretary there didn't know, but she offered the possibility that the cleaning people might have removed the sign that she thought was posted yesterday.

And so, about today? Maybe someone will think to put on the courtroom readiness checklist to post a sign on the door and/or announce the change as people enter the courtroom.

More on the Motion and Responses for today's court date. On the list of names of possible witnesses to be called were Woodstock Police Officers Falat, Parsons and Rosenquist (now retired from Woodstock PD and employed at the Sheriff's Dept. as a court security officer),
Illinois State Police Special Agent Daniel Thomas,
Chet Gibbs of Bensenville,
Todd Jackson,
Kimberly Timmerman,
Steven Marshall of Centralia,
Christopher Ury,
Jeremy Velmont (Beth Bentley's eldest son),
Joshua Velmont (Beth Bentley's middle son)
Cissy Sullivan of Marengo, and
Angeline Holtgrave of Breese (Ill.).

I was amused by the sentence in the Motion and in the Response that the State and the defense were not aware of any prior criminal convictions of any of the witnesses. Whew! Somebody better do some more homework.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eric Holder: 2A = no guns

Attorney General Holder says, "WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO POSSESS GUNS"


Guess they were not happy with the poll results the first time, so USAToday is running another one...Vote now...

Attorney General Eric Holder has already said this is one of his major issues. He does not believe the 2nd Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms. This takes literally 2 clicks to complete. Please vote on this gun issue question with USA Today. Then pass the link on to all the pro-gun folks you know. Hopefully the results will be published later this month. (Use the small white envelope below to forward this.)

Here's what you need to do:

First - vote.

Second - Send it to other folks,

then we will see if the results get published.

Click to vote:  USAToday.com

Remember - four-way stop

Traffic lights at Route 47 and Lake Avenue were out at 6:00AM, after a brief downpour in Woodstock. As I followed a car north on Route 47, the driver approached the intersection and never even slowed down. Fortunately, other cars remained stopped, as that driver blew through the intersection at 30MPH.

It was dark, and it was raining. A driver unfamiliar with Woodstock wouldn't even know there was a signalized intersection there. I had gone through about ten minutes earlier and noticed that all cars, including a northbound Woodstock Police car, were making full stops before entering the intersection.

The City of Woodstock needs to request IDOT to install folding stop signs in all four directions. These stop sign are kept folded in a closed position until needed; when the traffic lights go out, then an officer can quickly "open" the sign and provide the additional needed warning to drivers. This is especially important at dark intersections during inclement weather.

Coming soon (I hope) to a corner near you...

Handicap parking scofflaws - beware

From the Governor:

Tempted to sneak into that Handicapped Parking slot and run into Jewel "just for a minute"?

That "minute" could cost you - big time!

House Bill 5624, signed by Gov. Quinn yesterday, increases the initial fine for unauthorized use of a disability license plate or parking decal to $600 (up from $500), and doubles the initial fine for creating or possessing fraudulent disability plates and using a genuine disability placard in the absence of the authorized holder ($1000, up from $500).

Think you'll just ask your doctor to certify that you are disabled, when you really aren't? Ka-ching, ka-ching. That one will cost your doctor $1000.

The legislation ends, effective in 2014, the full parking meter fee exemption for those with disability placards and allows the Secretary of State to issue a new meter-exempt decal or placard to people with disabilities who meet certain requirements and who are unable to access or operate a parking meter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life is so great...

This afternoon I received a telephone call from a woman in another state, who started the conversation a little hesitantly with, "Is this the Woodstock Advocate?" I love these calls; it's another opportunity to serve.

It turns out that she cannot get her lawyer to call her back about her personal injury lawsuit. She last spoke with him two months ago, and he stopped returning calls.

She was searching on the internet for help and came across my blog. We had a nice conversation and I hope I helped her with some ideas for prodding her lawyer into returning her calls.

She doesn't think he has abandoned her case. I suggested she send him a letter by Certified Mail and ask him to call her. If he doesn't, then she will have begun to establish a paper trail of her efforts, and there are further steps that she can take to "encourage" him to return her calls.

A while back a woman called from Florida about a traffic violation that her adult son was charged with in downstate Illinois.

I get quite a few calls for DCFS and the new Kohl's, too.

I used to give out the "inside" numbers for the Woodstock Post Office, the Woodstock DMV and the Woodstock office of Social Security, but callers now are forced to dial toll-free numbers and speak to operators in call centers.

Politicking with County vehicle!

Courtesy: McHenry County Blog
Take a look at this picture. Feel your blood pressure going up?

This is an outrageous, flagrant, mis-use of county property for political purposes. When is somebody going to put a stop to it?

There are no vehicles of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department that carry the seven-point star on a magnetic sticker with the word "Undersheriff" and name "Andrew Zinke" in the course of regular use and patrol.

That's not even the County squad car that is assigned to Zinke. Is it Sgt. Steve Schmitt's assigned vehicle? Why was it in the parade? Of course, it's not like Schmitt could refuse an order from Zinke to permit the use of his squad car in the Fiesta Days parade.

Courtesy: McHenry County Blog
Q. Who was driving this vehicle? Zinke? Or a deputy? Sgt. Schmitt? Somebody else?

A. Sure looks like Zinke behind the wheel, in uniform and, most likely, armed.

If the Sheriff's Department wants to pay a deputy to drive his squad car on-duty in the Fiesta Days parade as a promotion of the work of the Sheriff's Department on behalf of all County residents, fine.

If a County vehicle is used in a parade for political persons, then somebody needs to go to jail.

Are home-remodeling permits important?

How important are home-remodeling permits?

These are the pesky ones that cities require, holding out their hands for cash but also protecting occupants of the building against hazard such as fire danger (electrical) and water contamination (plumbing)

For example, if you are going to remodel your home by, say, adding two bedrooms, a bathroom and finishing a basement, local ordinances require the homeowner to apply for and receive permits from his city. Generally, you lay out the scope of the work to be done, pay the necessary fees, receive the Permit, display the Permit, do the work, call the city and request an inspection of the completed work, await the inspector with sweaty palms (yours, not his), and obtain the new Certificate of Occupancy.

The inspector will check the quality of the remodeling, confirming that plumbing and electrical work was done correctly, satisfactorily and within Code. From time-to-time, inspections might have to be made while the work is in progress, as portions of the remodeling may be covered up by installation of new walls and wallboard.

Something else important happens when Permits are issued. The Township Assessor is notified, and you know what that means. It means the possibility of re-appraisal of the valuation of the property and adjustment in Assessed Value and, therefore, taxes.

And something else happens. The issuance of the Permit triggers Impact Fees, those onerous and often exorbitant taxes that a City imposes on new construction. You remember hearing developers scream about these, right? What you don't hear are the anguished cries of existing homeowners who are just trying to add a bedroom or two, because they don't want to (or can't afford to) buy a new, larger home. What if, in addition to Permit Fees and the cost of re-modeling, you had to cough up $8,-10,000 in Impact Fees.

OK, to a case in point. Let's say that a new home was built in Woodstock in 2003 as a two-bedroom house, with two bathrooms and a total of seven rooms.

And then let's say that the owner wants to sell the house in 2012 and the real estate agent lists the house as a four-bedroom house with three bathrooms and a finished "lower level" (basement) - total of ten rooms.

Language in the standard Real Estate Contract includes the Seller's assurance (as attested to by his signature on the form) that

231 21. SELLER REPRESENTATIONS: Seller represents that with respect to the Real Estate Seller has no
232 knowledge of
nor has Seller received written notice from any governmental body regarding:
233 (a) zoning, building, fire or health code violations that have not been corrected;
234 (b) any pending rezoning;
235 (c) boundary line disputes;
236 (d) any pending condemnation or Eminent Domain proceeding;
237 (e) easements or claims of easements not shown on the public records;
238 (f) any hazardous waste on the Real Estate;
239 (g) any improvements to the Real Estate for which the required permits were not obtained;
240 (h) any improvements to the Real Estate which are not included in full in the determination of the most... (emphasis added in lines above)

You'd think there would be an application for a Permit for the remodeling in the property file at City Hall and a record of the Permit's having been issued.

Wouldn't you?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beth Bentley - gone 116 weeks now

One hundred sixteen (116) weeks ago Beth Bentley, then 41, vanished.

I was thinking last week how there is no statute of limitations on murder.

Anybody losing any sleep?

Somebody will slip one of these days. Somebody will say something, and a person listening will think, "Aha!"

Let's hope that person dials 815.338.2131 and asks for the Detective Division of the Woodstock Police Department. Or that s/he calls Crime Stoppers of McHenry County at 800.762.7867 and furnishes the tip that way, and gets in line for a Reward of up to $1,000.

Don't call the Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers. I was told a couple of months ago that the Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers was dissolving and had transferred its remaining assets to the Crime Stoppers of McHenry County.

However, according to the Illinois Secretary of State website today, this organization is still active. I would have thought that, by now, the President of the group would have directed the attorney for the group to submit the necessary legal documents to the State of Illinois to dissolve it and that the attorney would have done it.

The Woodstock organization ignored my correspondence earlier in the year, when I expressed interest in putting together a group of concerned citizens to join the Board and continue it.

The Crime Stoppers of McHenry County operates like a secret-handshake society and refuses to communicate with me about its activities, funding, officers and board members. I felt totally unwelcome, when I requested what should be public information.

What was it that Nixon said? "Trust me. I am not a crook."

Beth Bentley could be found. The police investigators should pull in Jenn Wyatt, Ryan Ridge and Nathan Ridge every week until they are certain they have extracted all the information about that week-end. Supposedly, Jenn and Beth drove to the Ridge house in Mount Vernon, Ill. late on the night of May 20, 2010, and the four of them spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday together. Jenn has said that she drove Beth to Centralia, Ill. late Sunday afternoon and dropped her off near the train station just before 6:00PM.

On June 10, 2010, Jenn called me out of the blue and told me that Beth never intended to take a train (there was a 6:05PM train to Chicago) and also that Beth never intended to spend the entire week-end with them (Jenn and the Ridge brothers).

Are the police certain that they have extracted the full truth from those three?

Clermont (Fla.) PD Chief not amused

They handle things a little differently down in Florida from the way they do in McHenry County.

See this story in the Orlando Sentinel about two Clermont, Florida police officers who got fired for a stupid prank. Included with the story is the in-car video.

Officer Christina Fowler spotted a speeding car (highway speeds of 80-90MPH) late one night and tried to pull the car over. The car didn't stop for her emergency lights. When the car finally did stop, the driver got out and started laughing. She had drawn her weapon and then realized that the driver was fellow police officer Marc Thompson.

Sgt. Mark Edwards was also in the car, along with a third officer. Police Chief Steve Graham fired Thompson and Edwards.

Officer Fowler did not ticket Thompson for any of the traffic violations. Who says that some cops don't favor other cops, even after a high-speed pursuit?

This brings to mind a "chase" in McHenry County a few years, when a car failed to stop for a deputy. The pursuing deputy reported over the radio that objects were being thrown from the car. When they finally stopped, there were three deputies in the car. Everybody at the sheriff's department knows about this and who was involved. Copies of the disciplinary actions were reproduced on McHenry County Blog.

How was that handled by the McHenry County Sheriff? Very quietly - as an administrative matter, out of the public view. The disciplinary action only reached the public's view as the result of a Federal civil right's lawsuit against the Sheriff and the Sheriff's Department.

Frankly, I think the public would be shocked and outraged, if the disciplinary records of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department were made public. The sheriff can mete out 30-day suspensions and never make them public, and he does. But he doesn't make them "more than 30 days", because then he have to take them to the Merit Commission, where they would become public record.

Compare that to the policy of, say, the Woodstock Police Department. If the Police Chief disciplines an officer for more than five days, he must take it to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BOFPC). The BOFPC is a "public body", and its records are open to the public.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quinn signs terrible laws

Gov Quinn signed some lousy bills into law on Friday, according to State Briefs on Page A3 of this morning's Northwest Herald. He probably didn't think they were lousy bills. They are.

One law that goes into effect immediately applies to using mobile phones while driving within 500' of an emergency scene. It also makes it illegal to use a cellphone to take pictures near emergency sites.

The article was too brief to distinguish between driver-use and passenger-use; presumably, it applies to the driver, although sections of the Illinois Vehicle Code can apply to passengers. So watch out.

Will extra cops be stationed at the 500' mark to grab violators?

I'll see if I can learn the Bill Numbers and the Statute numbers, so that you can read the above and the following laws for yourself.

Another law prohibits use of cell phones in construction zones, even if there is no speed-zone reduction signing. Where might you get caught on this one? If the law were effective immediately, you'd run into trouble on Route 120 at Fleming Road, which is a construction zone but for which there is no speed reduction. Is that Bull Valley jurisdiction there? Think they'd be thick there?

By the way, the construction there is for a traffic light! All I can say about that is, whose dumb idea was that?

These laws are ones that will be unposted and most violators are going to find out the hard way, after they see the cop motion them over or see the red/blue lights in the rearview mirror.

Another new law prohibits handheld cellphone use by commercial drivers. There has been a Federal law, about which I wrote recently. Now, a new law makes this a violation under the Illinois Vehicle Code. So those drivers of the semis on Route 47 and other roads in McHenry County are going to have to hang up and drive. 

The laws won't go into effective until January 1.

It's too late, but you can always vent to Sen. Althoff and Reps. Tryon and Franks, anyway.

Send in the Clowns

Watch this video (Send in the Clowns, sung by Frank Sinatra (1915-1998)) and stay with it to the end and the bit by Orson Welles (1915-1985).

Then ask yourself, "Where are the clowns today?"

Bull Valley speed limit alert

For those drivers who are aware of the intense speed limit enforcement by the Bull Valley Police Department, be aware of a missing speed limit sign on westbound Country Club Road.

There used to be a 45MPH speed limit sign just west of Fleming Road. It's gone.

The speed limit in the County for westbound traffic (toward Woodstock) is 50MPH. Bull Valley PD officers have a reputation (no disrespect intended) for tightly enforcing the speed limit in their village. If a driver doesn't slow down west of Fleming and passes the point where the local ordinance pronounces a 45MPH speed limit, he (or she) may find himself on the receiving end of Greetings.

Consider that you might be rolling along in the County, east of Fleming Road, at "5 over"; i.e., 55MPH in the 50MPH zone. Then you pass Fleming Road and enter Bull Valley's (non-unmarked) speed zone of 45MPH. Instantly you are "10 over".

Where it might be your lucky day in Bull Valley if you are only "5 over", you probably are not going to get a pass at "10 over". Will the cop be understanding about the missing sign? Maybe. Maybe not.

If you fight the ticket, you might be lucky enough to get a Circuit Court judge who says, "Bull Valley ticket? Case dismissed." But you might not.

For any records that you keep, an email has been sent today at 11:33AM to the Village of Bull Valley at , informing them of the missing speed limit.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Brick column on Davis Road

This morning a resident on Davis Road called me about a brick column close to the roadway, one that could create a problem, should a driver's car begin to leave the paved portion of the road.

Just west of Dean Street on Davis Road (just south of Route 14), there is a column of bricks built as a receptacle for a mailbox for the house on the north side of the road. It won't win any awards from Architectural Digest, but it does a good job of protecting the mailbox from miscreants who drive around at night with baseball bats and try to hit mailboxes out of the park.

And it's in the right-of-way.

The Dorr Township Road District has apparently known about it for a year. Other mailboxes, on wooden or metal posts, are constructed at about the same distance from the edge of the road, but this one is a "post" of great impediment to a driver whose attention wanders.

The Road District may have determined that the brick column should be removed, but it hasn't been a high priority. Will it move up the list?

Reporter finds important information

Northwest Herald reporter Sara Sutschek uncovered important information related to the early morning fatal accident on July 1 that claimed two young lives just outside Woodstock.

She wrote in this morning's Northwest Herald article that Jacob Norys and Alec Kaiser had talked to a friend in a Woodstock gas station parking lot shortly before the crash. Then she wrote, "Norys and Kaiser switched spots, with Kaiser getting behind the wheel."

This would indicate to me that Norys drove from his home to Kaiser's home and then back into Woodstock to that gas station parking lot, which location was not identified in the Northwest Herald article.

At that point a Woodstock officer in an unmarked car pulled in. From the article it appears that just-barely-16 Alec Kaiser was behind the wheel of the Norys car. It may be that the officer felt he did not have cause to ask for identification, if the car was on private property.

Before that, when Kaiser was passenger, there were 22 outgoing calls from his cell phone.

Depending on what "shortly before 2 a.m." means, the boys must have left that convenience store and perhaps drove south on Dean Street, crossing U.S. 14, and turning right on Davis Road.

There was a cell phone call at 1:58AM from Kaiser's phone to "Potatoe", and the crash time is reported as 2:02AM. "Potatoe" will know whether he was talking to Kaiser or Norys (on Kaiser's phone) at the time of the crash and what their conversation was about.

Norys' cell phone was damaged in the crash, and deputies were unable to extract a record of his cell phone usage from the phone. They could have obtained call records from the cellular service provider, but those records were not in the Coroner's file last week.

The question now is, what will parents and friends do, so that crashes like this one don't happen in the future?

New Sheriff's Dept. book

Here's the new book about the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

The book can be viewed at Read Between the Lynes bookstore, on the Woodstock Square. It's coffee-table size (about 8 1/2 x 11), as you can see on the right, alongside a sheet of paper describing it.

Read Between the Lynes is accepting orders until July 31; call 815.206.5967. Take your check for $40.00, plus tax, into the bookstore to hold your copy. They need 100 orders for the printer to get the OK.

The book contains some history of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and color photographs on many of the 70 pages.

OK, think Christmas now (and cool down). The book would be a nice gift for any employee (active or retired) of the sheriff's department. But order now; don't wait for last-minute shopping.

The bookstore will hold your check until the 100 orders are received. If they don't make it, your check will be returned. (Or you can spend it on other books there.)

Drop by this week and look at the book. If you want it, order it now. (Nothing like pressure; right?)

Executor terminated/removed in Feldkamp probates

In McHenry County Circuit Court this morning, Judge Michael J. Chmiel heard a Motion to terminate Scott Feldkamp from his position as independent executor of the estates of his late parents, John (Jack) and Audrey Feldkamp.

Mr. and Mrs. Feldkamp died on June 7, 2011, in their home on Somerset Drive in McHenry County, southeast of Marengo. Mrs. Feldkamp survived Mr. Feldkamp by about 2 1/2 hours and, because of a 30-day survivorship clause in his Will, his estate did not pass to Mrs. Feldkamp. Thus, two estates are open.

Judge Chmiel heard and considered the issues presented as part of the request for termination of Scott Feldkamp as Executor, and he expressed great concern about the handling of the estates. Scott Feldkmap did not appear in court, nor did any attorney appear on his behalf. There is no attorney-of-record on either estate.

The family home on Somerset Drive has been occupied for the past month or so by a tenant, although the rental terms do not seem to be clear. The rental arrangements may have been handled by an attorney involved in the foreclosure proceeding on that property. According to Circuit Court records, Attorney R. Duane Slayton of Hampshire is the attorney for Scott Feldkamp, as Executor, in the foreclosure matter, but he has never filed an Appearance in the probate matter.

Slayton was informed today that Scott is no longer the Executor and that he is not to provide any further services on behalf of the owner (now the Estate of Audrey Feldkamp) of the residence that was the family home on Somerset Drive.

Woodstock Attorney Mark Gummerson told Judge Sullivan on August 30, 2011, that he represented Jackie Feldman, who is the daughter of Jack and Audrey Feldkamp (and Scott's sister), but he never filed an Appearance, in spite of telling the judge that he had or, if he hadn't, he would. He hadn't and he didn't. Now he represents one of the banks in the foreclosure action on the home.

The successor executor has now assumed all duties and responsibilities for the estates of Jack and Audrey Feldkamp, and Scott Feldkamp has no further legal involvement, other than as heir. The successor executor will be collecting all assets of the estates, protecting them, itemizing them and accounting for their whereabouts and values. Assets of the estates and their values as last June 2011 will be determined, and the assets that can be located and valued will be determined. Judge Chmiel ordered that Scott Feldkamp turn over all assets and records to the successor executor. The estate administration will now be supervised by the Court, whereas Scott had been allowed an unsupervised administration.

It is expected that the Court will now keep a close eye on the administration of the Estates.

The property at the corner of U.S. 20 and Harmony Road, on which Harmony Real Estate is located, is also in foreclosure, and IDOT has expressed an interest in acquiring that property in an eminent domain action for a highway intersection roundabout. IDOT must now deal with the successor executor only.

The next court date for the estates is Monday, September 17, at 9:30AM in Courtroom 202.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

$750,000 to prevent fleeing?

Accused sex offender Isaias L. Hernandez-Bautista, 49, from Harvard is probably trying to figure out how to lay his hands on $75,000, so a key will turn in the right lock at the McHenry County Jail.

But I wonder if something is out of order. Supposedly, when Hernandez-Bautista was first arrested, he was released upon posting a $15,000 bond. When he was released on what was probably a hot day, ICE was at the door and grabbed him. According to this morning's Northwest Herald, he was turned over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in Jefferson County.

Now, you do know where Jefferson County is, don't you? That's down by Mt. Vernon, where Beth Bentley may have vanished two years ago. Distance to Jefferson County? 300 miles! Why didn't ICE just house him in McHenry County? Was it Jefferson County's "turn", regardless of expense?

How didn't they house him in McHenry County? That would have made sense, of course. I guess that's why they didn't do it.

The McHenry County State's Attorney's office is afraid he might flee the U.S., since he has been here illegally for 14-15 years and in Harvard for 11 years. Apparently, Hernandez-Bautista could waive deportation proceedings, and then ICE might ship him out of the U.S. in as short a time as a week. Do they buy him a plane ticket or give him a bus ride?

In Harvard, illegally, for 11 years. Nice, huh?

What happens now? If he waives deportation proceedings, does McHenry County send a couple of jailers to Jefferson County to bring him back to a bed in Hotel Nygren? For how long? Months until a trial? And if he posts a bond, will he disappear?

If he is convicted and his new (prison) neighbors find out that the victim was a child younger than age 8, he might wish he gotten out of the U.S. and back to Mexico.

Hernandez-Bautista is represented by Kililis, Ridings & Vonau.

Readers are reminded that, in the U.S., an accused is considered innocent until found guilty. Even if they are illegal aliens.

MCC in the travel business?

Why is McHenry County College in the travel business? Why is MCC competing with private enterprise? Should travel and vacations be offered by the travel agents in the area and not by a publicly-funded college?

The Northwest Herald was kind enough to give about eight column-inches of space to MCC's April 2013 "yoga experience" trip to northern Arizona. And for just a mere pittance of $2,878 for a five-day, four-night tour.

Between rides to and from the airport, two plane rides, bus rides, tours to scenic locations, and the included (only) eight meals, just how much "yoga" will there be?

It seems to me that there are plenty of yoga instructors around McHenry County who would like a piece of the pie. Why compete with them? Is MCC going to put private yoga instructors and studios and travel agents out of business?

The phone number in the article is for an employee of MCC who identifies herself as Coordinator of personal development programs at MCC.

Let's push MCC back to the basics; i.e., education. And that's all.

About Mitt Romney

An email arrived in my in-box this morning with this content. Being naturally suspicious, I went to snopes.com and found a True rating.

The email is quoted in its entirety. The "I" is not I.

"Romney's TRUE Character
Before sharing this with you, I wanted to make sure it was factual.
It is!
You can verify it here:

You will not be hearing a story like this about Obama............
One doesn't exist
Yes, character does matter, and what we have been hearing in the media recently has been quite shocking.  I thought you might like to see another side of one of the candidates.  It appears there is more to the Bain Capital story than is being told.  So, I hope this inspirational story is informative enough to convince youthat Mitt Romney is one of the good guys!
Romney's character...  This facet of Romney's personality isn't so subtle.
In July 1996, the 14-year-old daughter of Robert Gay, a partner at Bain Capital, had disappeared.  She had attended a rave party in New York City and gotten high on ecstasy.  Three days later, her distraught father had no idea where she was.
Romney took immediate action.  He closed down the entire firm and asked all 30 partners and employees to fly to New York to help find Gay's daughter.  Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Marriott and hired a private detective firm to assist with the search.
He established a toll-free number for tips, coordinating the effort with the NYPD, and went through his Rolodex and called everyone that Bain did business with in New York, and asked them to help find his friend's missing daughter.
Romney's accountants at Price Waterhouse Cooper put up posters on street poles, while cashiers at a pharmacy owned by Bain put fliers in the bag of every shopper.  Romney and the other Bain employees scoured every part of New York and talked with everyone they could --
including prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless people, -- anyone.
That day, their hunt made the evening news, which featured photos of the girl and the Bain employees searching for her.  As a result, a teenage boy phoned in, asked if there was a reward, and then hung up abruptly. The NYPD traced the call to a house in New Jersey, where they found the girl in the basement, shivering and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a massive ecstasy dose.  Doctors later said
the girl might not have survived another day.
Romney's former partner credits Mitt Romney with saving his daughter's life, saying, "It was the most amazing thing, and I'll never forget this to the day I die."
So, here's my epiphany:  Mitt Romney simply can't help himself.
He sees a problem, and his mind immediately sets to work solving it, sometimes consciously, and sometimes not-so-consciously.
He doesn't do it for self-aggrandizement, or for personal gain.
He does it because that's just how he's wired.
Many people are unaware of the fact that when Romney was asked by his old employer, Bill Bain, to come back to Bain & Company as CEO to rescue the firm from bankruptcy, Romney left Bain Capital to work at Bain & Company for an annual salary of one dollar.
When Romney went to the rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he accepted no salary for three years, and would not use an expense account.  He also accepted no salary as Governor of Massachusetts.
Character counts!!! (and yes... that's worth reading again!)
It's nice to hear something positive about one of the candidates for a change.
Why isn't this story Publicized More in the Media?
(You tell me!)
Please, Remember this story when you vote in November.
snopes.com: Romney Business Partner Daughter Search
<( It's TRUE! )>"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Marijuana + cell phone + speed + inexperience =

A more complete picture of the July 1 tragedy that cut short two lives in McHenry County emerged from the reports on file at the office of the McHenry County Coroner.

At about 2:00AM a car driven by Alec Kaiser, 16, was apparently speeding westbound on Davis Road from Dean Street, when it left the roadway after topping one of the rolling hills in the roadway and in front of 14217 Davis Road. Alec had just turned 16 about a month before, on May 29. The car belonged to the family of Jacob Norys, 16, who was riding in the right-front seat. The crash report filed by the Sheriff's Dept. erroneously reported that the car was owned by Alec Kaiser. The local newspaper never mentioned who owned the car.

The reports of the McHenry County Sheriff's deputies don't mention where the boys were before the crash, but there was very heavy cell phone usage on Alec's cell phone late Saturday night, June 30, and into the morning of July 1. A text message to Alec's phone at 12:36AM from Jacob read, "Can you?" That was followed by three incoming calls at 12:41AM, 12:49AM and 12:53AM.

On Alec's phone there were 22 outgoing calls from 1:11AM to 1:42AM. Alec's phone was in use at 1:58AM to "Potatoe", as listed in his cell phone directory. Presumably, the sheriff's accident investigators will ask "Potatoe" if he (she?) was talking with Alec at the time of the crash. Investigators ought to be able to determine whether Alec, the driver, had made all those calls or if any of the calls were made by Jacob, while Alec attended to the driving.

No evidence of alcohol was found in either body; however, cannabinoids (marijuana) were found in both.

Will Sheriff's investigators be tracking down the source of the marijuana?

Three Woodstock High School identification cards were found in Norys' wallet; two bore the name of Jacob's brother, Luke, and one bore the name Yoshua Solomon.

Jacob had been ticketed by Woodstock Police on April 3 for improper lane usage and a Graduated Driver's License violation that appears from Court records to involve a passenger under age 20 (not related). On May 18 he was assessed $321.00 in fines and court costs, sentenced to a 4-hour traffic safety school and placed on 120 days supervision. The GDL violation was nolle prossed.

I would like to explain my reason for this article. I know it is a terribly painful time for the families, and it is not my intention to create further distress for them.

From the facts presented here from the Coroner's reports and court records, parents, as well as young adults, can figure out the combination of factors that resulted in two unnecessary deaths on July 1.

Parents, school personnel, church personnel, counselors, young adults and students themselves must band together and create the alliances that will raise awareness levels and lead to better decisions.

Oh, if only ...

How would you like to see this decal on the front door of every business in Woodstock and throughout McHenry County? (Click on image to enlarge.)

Of course, you won't see this in Illinois (at this time). But possibly in our lifetimes.

Did you see the video of the 71-year-old man in an Ocala, Fla. internet cafe who stepped up, when two robbers came in?

One robber said something like this about his gun, "Heck, man, it was just an old gun that didn't work, anyway."

It is way, way past time for concealed carry in Illinois. You don't have to carry, if you don't want to or if you don't like guns, but you'll be glad that somebody is, if you are in a business when the robber barges in.

Prof. John Lott's well-written book, More Guns, Less Crime, is still a good read.

SAO drops charges against E. Sanders

On June 20 the McHenry County State's Attorney's office dropped charges against Ehren Sanders, 33.

Sanders had been charged on May 1 with three criminal misdemeanors, which need not be repeated here because the charges were dropped. There is no attorney-of-record shown in the McHenry County Circuit Court online records, so Sanders must have represented himself. He probably saved himself $5,000. Good job, Ehren.

How do charges that aren't going to hold up get filed?

According to this morning's Northwest Herald, the State's Attorney's office informed deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department that they would not approve felony charges.

Who all would have been involved in a decision at the Sheriff's Department to file charges?

First, there would have been the first deputy dispatched on a call, who would have taken a report. Then he would have conferred with his shift sergeant.

Then probably a lieutenant would have gotten involved, and maybe the undersheriff and then, perhaps because of Sanders' being related to a previous challenger of Sheriff Nygren in a county-wide race for the office of sheriff, maybe even someone tracked Nygren down to discuss filing of charges. I'll bet there is no paper trail of those calls, although there should be.

Sanders was jailed, and Judge Gordon Graham advised him of his rights in the Jail Court on May 1. The Jail Court is used for defendants who are in custody.

Sanders next court date was May 23, when his case was continued.

At his next court date, June 20, all the counts were nolle prossed. No attorney is shown as representing Sanders. Was he pro se?

How could he be charged as he was and the case be so weak that the State would drop charges?

If Sanders wants all this trash removed from the Court's records, he'll have to spend money to have the records expunged.

Should he sue the Sheriff's Department? You bet!

And just in case anyone is wondering whether I know Tom Sanders, Chief of the Spring Grove P.D., yes, I met him when he was running against Nygren, and I went to one fundraiser then. I haven't spoken with Tom in ten years.