Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Harmony Real Estate - what's up?

What was up tonight at Harmony Real Estate, located on Route 20 about seven miles southeast of Marengo and just north of I-90? At about 7:00PM there were numerous squad cars of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and at least one paramedic vehicle in the parking lot of Harmony Real Estate.

That property was the business of Jack Feldkamp, long-time real estate agent in the Marengo area who was killed last June 7 in his home about five miles up the road toward Marengo.

The ownership of the real estate business may have changed hands since June. The real property may or may not have been sold with the business.

Scott Feldkamp, the surviving son of Jack and Audrey Feldkamp, is the executor of their estates and continues to reside in the home in which Jack and Audrey died. He was seen recently in a Marengo gun store buying ammunition, so he must have a FOID card now. You are not supposed to be able to purchase ammunition (or guns) in Illinois without a FOID card.

There is no record in the report of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department that Scott Feldkamp had a FOID card on June 7, when he told deputies that he shot the man he accused of having killed his parents. The Sheriff's Department seems to have "overlooked" that minor matter, even though Scott had moved to Illinois in about February 2011, three-four months before June and in plenty of time to apply for a FOID card.

Anyone with information as to the goings-on at Harmony Real Estate is invited to email me at  Thanks!

Where's the news?

On Sunday morning Woodstock Police "rescued" three injured men from an apartment on Washington Street in Woodstock. On their third visit to the apartment in a fairly short period of time, they pushed their way in and found three men injured. According to the Northwest Herald articles, seventeen were transported to the Woodstock Police station, where they were later released without being charged. Are charges pending?

News made it into the Monday morning Northwest Herald but, other than an update on Omar Manriquez-Cazares' hospitalization (after a Flight-for-Life ride from Centegra Hospital-Woodstock), there is no word.

Is this just another case of "old news". Are residents of Woodstock are to be kept in the dark? Are reporters having a hard time getting updates from Woodstock PD?

Somebody (or, let's say, some people) in that apartment pounded on those three guys. Didn't the police notice bruises or scraped knuckles or blood on anyone else? What about the three minor girls in the apartment? Any alcohol or drugs present?

Why was the early-morning Northwest Herald online story altered to remove the name of the 23-year-old female renter of the apartment and to remove the comment by Chief Lowen? Did I just dream that at 3:00AM?

Should Woodstock residents feel secure that their police department is acting promptly and thoroughly to halt gang activity in Woodstock?

Residents want the police to issue complete press releases and want the newspapers to print them. Sticking heads in the sand and pretending crime is not happening is not acceptable. The City of Woodstock doesn't want to consider a blog as media, so I don't receive press releases from the police department. If I want news, I have to submit a FOIA request and wait five business days..

In 2008 the City claimed The Woodstock Advocate didn't have many readers, so I put a counter on this blog. There have been over 3/4 million page views in the last three years.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Seipler back at work yet?

Recently Zane Seipler won "again" in his on-going battle with Sheriff Nygren to get his job back.

The Illinois Supreme Court refused to take Nygren's appeal of the decision against him made by the Appellate Court. And that was after Nygren lost at the Circuit Court level. And that was after Nygren lost to the Arbitrator. So it looks to most (maybe, in fact, all (except Nygren)) that he has run out of options.

When will he put Seipler back to work and pay Zane all his back pay (three years' worth)?

Is Nygren now just going to try to "run out the clock" and stall in every way he can to avoid putting Zane back on the payroll while he is still in office?

Many think Nygren will bail out (retire) as soon as the 28-month window before the next election has arrived. Within that window it's the County Board that will appoint Nygren's successor to fill his unexpired term. If Nygren left office sooner, the voters would elect a sheriff in November 2012.

Did Nygren say in his campaign that he would serve out his four years? Did anyone ask him that question before the November 2010 election? Some might have wanted to and might have tried to, but when was he around to answer?

And has he been around (say, working in his office) much since that election? Is someone keeping a calendar and putting a little checkmark on it for each day Nygren has worked since the last election?

Being Sheriff for $145,000/year plus benefits, is pretty cool, especially when you consider the sheriff doesn't have to answer to anyone. I am often asked to whom the sheriff reports; i.e., who is his boss?

He doesn't have one. As an elected officeholder, he is accountable only on one day every four years, and that's to the voters.

And so, when the voters are mad at him for wasting three years of pay and benefits (Seipler's pay and benefits) and several hundred thousand of dollars in legal fees to his outside counsel, the only way they can gripe is on the next Election Day.

Well, that's Illinois for you, folks. Some states have Recall of elected officials, but not Illinois. Guess who made that law? The Elected Officials!

Of course.

State employees in McHenry County

Be sure to read McHenry County Blog and try to keep your blood pressure under control when your eyes scan over the salaries of State of Illinois employees in McHenry County.

$122,699 for a State Police master sergeant?
$88,018 for a Conservation officer?

Look at the salaries of the people in the Dept. of Employment Security.

Anyone else thinking it was a serious career mistake not to head for the public sector years ago? If only we had known.

Is it time to get out of Illinois before the entire system implodes from bloated payroll and benefits? Or is that "explodes"?

Check out the new "Zoneloading"

What kind of wizard does it take to paint lane lines in parking lots? I wonder if the Work Order was written that way and approved as written.

OK, all you Zones out there, there's your loading spot. Check out the shopping center on the northeast corner of Route 47 and Irving Rd., just north of Wendy's.

But does it really make any difference in Woodstock to paint lane lines for a Loading Zone? Until the property owner contracts with the Woodstock Police Department, the police cannot enforce parking in a loading zone. Just check out the Loading Zone at the Jewel-Osco, where customers routinely park (not just "stop") their cars and even go into the store to shop, leaving the cars empty or occupied just by passengers.

Thanks to the reader who sent me this photo.

Pyle indicted by grand jury

McHenry County Sheriff's Sgt. Greg Pyle has been indicted by the McHenry County Grand Jury on the charges for which he was arrested on January 7. Those charges are ten counts of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child.

In a press release on Thursday, February 23, the names of those indicted were released.

I may have missed it in the Northwest Herald, which I still get at my doorstep, but I cannot find the news in the online editions of the Northwest Herald, Daily Herald or Chicago Tribune.

Maybe this indictment will wake up those upstairs at the Sheriff's Department and the Sheriff will not cancel the March 14 of the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission. It should have met in February to examine Pyle's employment, but that meeting was canceled. Now that Pyle has been indicted, will the Merit Commission meet on March 14?

Wasn't Pyle one of the sheriff's I.T. guys? Didn't he get special training regarding internet investigations? Was he ever asked (or directed) to cross the line and attempt to identify deputies who were writing blogs anonymously or submitting comments on other blogs?

If he ever was asked to do something like that, could he flip that into leverage for some type of leniency if he "talked"?

They're going to do what?

This online headline appeared in the Northwest Herald...

"Sex tape of John Edwards, mistress to be destroyed"

Oh, that poor woman. Don't you feel sorry for her? I didn't think "they" could do that in this country. Maybe in Iraq or Iran, but not in the U.S.A.

Or, is this the "change" that we've been hearing about?

Fight story edited without comment

The Woodstock Police released information to the press, and the Northwest Herald quickly published, about police calls to a Woodstock apartment early Sunday morning. And then, early Monday morning, the Northwest Herald revised the story and removed details. What's up?

About 3:00AM today the online story reported that a 23-year-old woman, identified by name as the renter of Apartment 1 at 436 Washington St., Woodstock, reportedly answered the door when police arrived on a loud music complaint at 2:45AM Sunday. The story said she told police that the music would be turned down.

Shortly after that, Woodstock police returned and she told police that the visitors would be leaving. And, a few minutes after that, police returned again and, upon over-hearing conversation that someone was seriously injured, they entered ("forced their way into", according to the article) the apartment and found three injured men.

One arrest was made, and seventeen people, including three minor girls (hello.... curfew violation??? Oh, wait; they were with adults... duh....) were transported to Woodstock PD and later released without charges.

Investigation continues. Will charges follow?

Police Chief Robert Lowen was quoted in the early-morning online article before it was sanitized. Why was his comment removed?

Now, be calm, everyone. We all know there is no gang activity in Woodstock. Just because the most seriously-injured man is a documented gang member. So, who pounded on him enough to require a ride to the hospital and a Flight-for-Life ride to a second hospital? Does he have insurance or money to pay for that?

More importantly, why did the Northwest Herald replace story content without any comment about correction or revision? Normally, it updates stories but does not totally change content without saying so.

Did anyone else read the same online version earlier this morning?

Thanks to the Woodstock Police for quickly releasing information to the press.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's supposed to be humor

And this arrived today in my email:

President Obama goes to a primary school to talk to the kids. After his talk he offers question time. One little boy puts up his hand, and Obama asks him his name. 

"Walter," responds the little boy.

"And what is your question, Walter?"

"I have four questions: First, Why did the USA Bomb Libya without the support of the Congress? Second, Why do you keep saying you fixed the economy when it's actually gotten worse? Third, Why did you say that Jeremiah Wright was your mentor, then said that you knew nothing about his preaching and beliefs? Fourth, Why are we lending $ to Brazil to drill for oil, but America is not allowed to drill for oil?"

Just then, the bell rings for recess. Obama informs the kiddies that they will continue after recess.

When they resume, Obama says, "OK, where were we? Oh, that's right: Question time.. Who has a question?"

Another little boy puts up his hand. Obama points him out and asks him his name.

"Steve," he responds.

"And what is your question, Steve?"

"Actually, I have two questions. First, Why did the recess bell ring 20 minutes early? Second, What happened to Walter?"

Beth Bentley - gone 92 weeks

About the only thing new in the Beth Bentley missing-person case is that someone blew the dust off the canned statement that goes in the monthly report from the Woodstock Police Department to the City Manager (and City Council) and polished up the grammar a little. Did anything else happen besides a little editing on the two-sentence statement?

When will the true story of Beth's disappearance be told?

Woodstock residents should not forget Beth and "just wait". Even now, people with knowledge of Beth and her life could provide tips to the Woodstock Police Department that could lead to finding her. Are the police re-interviewing people close to Beth? Should they be widening the circle of persons to be interviewed, in view of the length of time Beth has been missing?

All the stories from persons with knowledge of that last fateful week-end should be carefully checked and re-checked. For example, some who ought to know her exact movements over the week-end have never been quoted or had any remarks attributed to them. Their names are seldom mentioned.

Beth supposedly spent from Friday at about 2:00AM until Sunday at about 5:00PM in the area of Mount Vernon, Ill. Has every hour of Beth's movements from, say, Thursday night at 9-10PM in Woodstock been tracked? First of all, it's six hours from Woodstock to Mount Vernon. It's more than 300 miles. Did Beth and Jenn both drive? By what route? Will Jenn Wyatt's story start to fall apart, as she re-tells it?

Jenn Wyatt's California driver's license was expired. Was she an authorized driver on the rental car agreement? Not likely. Did Beth care? Did Jenn worry about driving the rental car back from Mount Vernon? What if she had gotten stopped?

Picture this: expired California driver's license and driving a car rented to someone else, who was not in the car. Any smart cop would have locked her up and towed the car, while he figured out what was really going on.

When did Jenn get an Illinois driver's license? A month after Beth disappeared, a McHenry County deputy ticketed Jenn for an expired California driver's license. She didn't show up for her first court date; however, when she showed up for her second court date, she miraculously had an Illinois driver's license that was valid when the deputy issued her the ticket in June. At least, according to an Assistant State's Attorney.

How did that miracle happen? Don't you have to surrender your expired, out-of-state driver's license when you apply for an Illinois license?

The sheriff did what?

The New Orleans Division of the FBI website announced on Friday the arrest of a parish sheriff. Why, imagine that? A sheriff got arrested?

Sheriff Royce Edward Toney, 64, of Monroe, La., was arrested on charges of conspiracy, computer fraud, identity theft, and obstruction. ... Also charged was Michael Karl Davis, a major with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office who works in the IT department.

Just imagine... a sheriff and his I.T. guy 

What are the crimes of which he stands indicted?

* conspiracy to track a third-party’s communications
* attempt to cover up the illegal activity
* accessed a protected computer without authorization
* identity theft by utilizing an AOL e-mail address and password belonging to another person
* obstruction for reformatting and installing a new operating system on a computer after the I.T. guy learned of the ongoing FBI investigation
* obstruction by retaliating against a witness who was cooperating with the FBI investigation
The FBI announcement contained this disclaimer: "An indictment is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty."

I wonder why they include "merely"... It certainly is more than "merely"!


Startling statistic - 75% unfit for military

75% of America's 17-24 year olds are unfit for military service!

This startling statistic was given at yesterday's Parent University by Dr. Dennis Embry. It is based on a report by what Dennis calls a "bunch of 4-star generals".

Some {only some) of the facts in that report ~

Thirty-five (35%) percent of young Americans are ineligible for military service because medical or physical problems. ... 
Eighteen (18%) percent of young Americans are ineligible for military service because of the use and abuse of illegal drugs. ... 
Nine percent (9%) of America’s potential recruits are illegible to serve because of poor intellectual functioning. 
Six percent (6%) of the young people cannot enlist in the military, because they have too many dependents under age 18. 
Five percent (5%) of young adults in America are ineligible to be in the military because of criminal record as juveniles. 

Read Dr. Embry's posting about this on one of his websites here. Scroll down just below presentations and documents.

D-200 Parent University - yesterday

Woodstock District 200 held its 2012 Parent University yesterday at Woodstock North High School. Considerable effort and expense went into creating a half-day program and included a keynote speaker from Tucson.

Dennis Embry, Ph.D., was a delight as the keynote speaker and in the first of two hour-long sessions of his that I attended. In fact, it wasn't just an hour. Although it started a little late (due to "technical difficulties"), it ran almost 30 minutes over. He held the attention of the many parents who followed him from the auditorium to his classroom presentation. He definitely was not dull or boring! Dennis had conducted programs for students on Friday.

What does every school do when it's time to change classes? They sound a klaxon or bell that would wake the dead. Do they think that students won't hear them? Have you ever been in WNHS during a changing period? What did Dennis use to capture attention of those in class? A harmonica!

You can catch some of Dr. Embry's materials by clicking here. They are well worth reviewing!

Returning this year was Dr. Michael Feld, a North Shore psychiatrist whom I wish we could clone in McHenry County. I had heard him speak at last year's Parent University, and he was one of the reasons I attended this year. He is an unusual psychiatrist in that he conducts counseling sessions with his patients.

Without a doubt the intentions of the D200 staff were high. A large number (25) of booths were staffed by agency and service providers.

But where were the parents?!!! This year, to boost attendance, D200 invited other school districts to join in this program. Invited were McHenry High School District 156, Harvard School District 50, Johnsburg School District 12 and Alden-Hebron School Distict 19. Did anyone show up from those districts?

At the morning opening session at 8:30AM I estimated there were 50 parents in the WNHS auditorium. Maybe 60.

The morning's schedule was geared up to accommodate 200-300 parents. Where were they? Topics included co-parenting in two homes; bullying; under-age drinking; transitioning to college; ADHD: a misunderstood diagnosis and two sessions in Spanish. One of the things that the district ought to determine is whether Spanish-speaking parents want separate sessions. What about including them in sessions, but providing a translator and earphones? Sort of like the U.N., you know...

Hopefully, D-200 will conduct a post-mortem (I recommended this last year) this year and get to the bottom of the reason for low attendance. They should pull in other members from the community for ideas, including marketing specialists. If they try this again next year and can't increase attendance, the program will likely die a quiet death.

One of the reason might be that school district personnel are educators, not marketing specialists. When you don't have a needed skill, then you go out and get it. I wonder how many "tools" were used to get parents there yesterday: social media, email, students' backpacks, school electronic notices to parents, broad invitations from each principal in the district, personal invitations from the students to their own (and other) parents, etc.

A question for each D-200 parent that the district ought to be asking tomorrow is, Did you know that Parent University was last Saturday? Start with that question. And go from there.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stopping the Sadness, Stopping the Cycle

Jail Brakers is a support group that provides a safe place for children and families to express their emotional reaction to the separation from a family member who has been incarcerated.
They embrace a holistic approach to healing and everyone is welcomed and treated with respect.
Jail Brakers will be holding its monthly meetings at 6:30 p.m. in the POWER room of the Unity Spiritual Center of Woodstock on the first Thursday of the month. The first meeting convenes on March 1, 2012. The Unity Center is located at 225 W. Calhoun St., Woodstock, Ill.
If you know of an individual or a family that is experiencing incarceration within their life experience, please let them know of this resource.
Unity members provide a welcoming meeting place for this and other groups that help to co-create a world that works for all. 

For information about Jail Brakers, visit or contact Cheryl Niemo, Founder and Executive Director at or 224.422.7431

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Concealed carry. "Catch up, McHenry County." hosted a town hall meeting in Rockford last evening. Too bad it didn't get some publicity in McHenry County. I learned of it only by checking Facebook today. Since I don't depend on Facebook for regular, advance notice of anything, I'm wondering why I didn't hear about it from ISRA, IllinoisCarry or the McHenry County Right to Carry Assn.

Today the Rockford Register Star had this to say about opinions of cops in the counties west of McHenry County:

"Most law enforcement leaders in Boone and Winnebago counties support the right for residents to carry concealed firearms, so long as proper safeguards are in place. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police also supports concealed carry.

“'Any time we allow a well-trained person to carry a handgun, they can possibly prevent some of these tragic incidents that happen ... or cut down on the number of victims,' said Cherry Valley police Chief Todd Houde.
Local law-enforcement leaders note that proper safeguards, such as thorough background checks and mandatory training, must coincide with any new concealed carry laws.

“'I believe some form of concealed carry in Illinois is just a matter of time,'” Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers said."

What would "law enforcement leaders" in McHenry County have to say about concealed carry with proper safeguards?

This might be a good task for the McHenry County Right to Carry Association to carry out. Sure, I could send out a dozen emails and start the clock ticking, but I can almost guarantee that there would be no response to me. But would they respond to a request from the Association? The question to them would have to be clear, unambiguous, short and require a yes or no answer.

Property taxes - why no outrage?

I cannot understand why McHenry County property owners have not started a revolution!

Yesterday I drove by an attractive, newer home near Woodstock, but just outside the city limits and in McHenry County. Probably, about anyone driving by would have thought that the property was in Woodstock, but it's not.

I was curious about its value. It looked new and unoccupied (or vacant), although I think I'd seen vehicles around the property. I was able to find its tax bill on the County Treasurer's website, but not at first, because the street is misspelled on the tax bill.

On the 2010 tax bill, the Fair Cash Value is $451, 932, and the taxes are a whopping $11,240! That's $936/month - every month - just for property taxes. That's not the principal, interest or the property insurance; that's just for taxes! indicates the actual value of the property might only be $299,000, or 2/3 of the market value as appraised by the Assessor's Office.

The house is situated on a fairly busy road and has narrow frontage on the road. The lot appers to  be about seven longer than it is wide, and the entire rear of the property appears to be good for little except scenery. And not even great scenery, at that.

Maybe that's why the house appears to be empty.

Want to be a Dorr Trustee?

Dorr Township has an opening for a trustee. Care to put on your armor and step into the arena?

Barry Lamb, Sr., resigned. I don't know the reason. I think I read elsewhere that he didn't like the direction in which things were going. Having attended a number of meetings last year, but none since Chris Cantwill was appointed, I wish the candidates well.

You know, running a township shouldn't be all that hard. The duties and obligations of a township are pretty simple and pretty clear.It ought to be a small-potatoes operation. If it's any bigger than that, then there ought to be a some serious qualifications for the elected position. Right now, all it seems to take is enough votes. Or, in the case of an appointment, enough favor on the existing board.

The Township requests that resumes be submitted by Friday, March 2. The Trustees will meet on March 13 to interview applicants, and those trustees who show up on March 13 will pick Lamb's successor, who will fill Lamb's unexpired term.

Applicants must be Republicans. Republican status is determined by the last time voted. I guess that means based on the party ticket pulled in a previous primary.

If you are not a Republican and want to be considered, then vote early for the upcoming Primary Election (March 20 is the regular voting day) and pull a Republican primary ballot. And, of course, you'll do that not because you are a RINO (Republican In Name Only); right?

My dad would have loved Illinois election laws. He frequently said that he would always vote for the best man, "as long as he was a Republican."

This same-party successor requirement is really dumb. Just look at the problems the County Board is having trying to appoint a successor as Superintendent of the McHenry County Regional Office of Education.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bill for the bills

Northwest Herald senior reporter Kevin Craver has a great idea. Charge the legislators to file bills. Read the article on his blog at or just click here. So far, in this session 9,755 bills have been filed. Unbelieveable!!!

Kevin wrote, "That's 3,827 in the Senate and 5,928 in the House as of noon today (February 21, 2012) (look here). And boys and girls, we still have 10 months to go in the two-year session of the 97th General Assembly."

Other ideas from Kevin?

Call the filing fee the Nanny State Implementation Act;
Give each legislator three free bills a year, but require them to pay $500 to file each additional bill.
Double the filing fee to $1,000 for any bill imposing an unfunded mandate on a local government.
Boost the fee to $2,000 for any bill increasing state spending without an offset.

What would I add to it? After the three free bills, how $500 each for the next five?
Then $1,000 each for the next five?
And $2,000 each for the next five?
And then $5,000 each for next ten?
And then more after that.

This might slow the insane number of bills filed by Illinois legislators.

Good idea, Kevin!

Bentley missing person case - WPD reports changes slightly

The monthly report of the Woodstock Police Department to the City Manager and City Council has changed ever so slightly in its mention of the Beth Bentley missing person case. Let's hope it's not just a cosmetic change or one made because of my constant harping on use of the identical report month after month.

How does it read now?

"The Woodstock Police Department continues to aggressively examine follow up on all leads in the investigation of the Endangered Missing Person Benedetta "Beth" Bentley. The Investigations Division maintains contact with the family of Benedetta Bentley, the Illinois State Police and all other Police Agencies involved in this case for updates and the sharing of intelligence/information."

Of course, only they (the family) can vouch for the frequency and quality of contact with the P.D. Are they told whether or not there are any new leads? Or if there ever were any leads? What does "contact" mean? 

Could the family have information that could help the police, but which seems unimportant to them? What about the birthday dinner with her father on the Sunday night she disappeared? When was the dinner re-scheduled from the previous week? Who re-scheduled it? Did anyone inform her father that she wasn't going to show up? Did she just stand him up? Did Scott go and have dinner with him? If so, how did he explain Beth's not being there for her dad's birthday?

Supposedly Beth called her husband at 4:00PM on Sunday. Phone records indicate it was only a two-minute call. If she was in Mount Vernon, Ill. at 4:00PM, instead of in Wisconsin, she obviously wasn't going to be back in the Woodstock area for dinner. Doesn't it seem a little strange that that 4:00PM call was less than two minutes in duration?

When will Woodstock P.D. crack this case? Have they figured out yet that it's not just a Missing Person case. Apparently, they have, but they have never re-classified it. For them and for the Illinois State Police to deny an entire FOIA request causes me to think that this is a criminal case, not a missing person case.

For starters, the police ought to be wondering why so many of Beth's friends shut down their Facebook pages or closed off access to them. If they have nothing to hide, why are they hiding?

BOFPC vacancy - who is being nominated tonight?

Before every Woodstock City Council meeting a "packet" is prepared for the members of the Council. It is transmitted from the City Manager to the Council electronically. Fortunately, a copy is posted at the library and at City Hall. Does anyone ever read it? Do the Council members even read it?

The Agenda for a City Council meeting is posted online at least 48 hours before a meeting, in compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

One item on this week's Agenda is Council consideration of a person to replace one of three members of the Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BOFPC). Commissioner Tom Schroeder has left the Board, and Mayor Sager is poised to nominate his choice of successor on the Board.

The Mayor gets to nominate, but the City Council must concur. Will it?

The City does not disclose details of the agenda items online. To learn the details you must go to the library or to city hall and read the printed copy of the packet.

Who is the nominee? None other than the former Human Resources Director for the City, Janelle Crowley.

Should she be appointed to fill the unexpired term on the Board? no, No and NO. Why not?

The People of Woodstock depend on the Board to be fair in its decisions. Since those decisions often involve discipline of the city's police department who find themselves in the Chief's crosshairs, it is imperative to have a neutral and unbiased Board. Appointing a former and long-time city director to this Board could mean that at least one member of the Board might tend to favor the city in decisions.

Already the balance is somewhat out of kilter because a second member of the Board is a police chief in a neighboring community. He would be expected to be on good terms with our own police chief. Could that have some influence on decisions of the three-person Board?

Ms. Crowley already holds a position as Chair of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission, a hand-picked (by the sheriff), five-member public body of the County. That's enough. Let her serve her volunteer duty there and not also in City of Woodstock.

This appointment will automatically pass tonight, unless a Council member pulls Item 6 on the Consent Agenda for discussion or a member of the public asks for Item 6 to be pulled (and a Council member agrees).

What can you do? Immediately call or email the City Council. And show up at City Hall tonight at 7:00PM.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Illinois - next stop? Bankruptcy

Rep. Mike Tryon has this to say, in part, about Gov. Quinn.

"When the governor presented his State of the State address two weeks ago, he announced his intention to seek $1 billion in new spending. The feedback on that proposal was quick and definitive: the people of Illinois are tired of leaders who spend money the state doesn’t have. Today one of every three budget dollars in the general fund is spent on debt repayment."

Isn't this what Illinois voters feared when the legislator raised the income tax?

People are waiting for a Plan; that's p-l-a-n. A plan out of the financial mess this state is in.

Increasing spending is not it.

ISRA bashes 2% ammo "sin tax"

The Illinois State Rifle Assn. (ISRA) has taken aim and pulled the trigger on the 2% ammunition "sin" tax on retail ammo sales proposed in the Illinois state legislature by Chicago's Rep. Kelly Cassidy.

ISRA describes the tax this way: "This bill, HB5167, also creates the "High Crime Trauma Center Grant Fund". All proceeds from the 2% Ammunition Sin Tax would go into this grant fund to pay for medical bills racked up by gang-bangers injured while trying to kill one another.

"HB5167 is a slap to the face of all law-abiding gun owners as it places the blame for violent crime on you because you dare to wish to own firearms."

Two percent isn't going to keep anybody from buying ammo; it's just going to make us mad. A lot of us will head out and buy it now, before the new tax is imposed. 

Thanks, Kelly. You're a real charmer. Her bill (HB 5167) which has only two sponsors, and she are two more reasons for law-abiding residents of Illinois to seriously consider packing up and moving elsewhere. Visit for her bio. She has only been in office since May 2011 (appointed to succeed Harry Osterman) and is already making her mark as a short-sighted politician cooking up bad ideas. She has a lot of company with gun-control pols as a Chicago Damocrat.

Maybe many more than two sponsors should be required before a bill can be introduced and start wasting time of 118 legislators.

Paula Basta, Cassidy's opponent in the March 20 primary, has asserted dirty politics by Cassidy. Is that redundant?

And the gangbangers? They'll probably just avoid the tax by stealing the ammo. 

Smoke & Mirrors

If you wonder why your property taxes are so high, take a look at the packet for the February 21st County Board meeting - all 253 pages of it. Then try to estimate the cost of all the paperwork in the packet. How many tens of thousands of dollars of lawyers' fees and employee time go into producing such a massive document. And that's just for one meeting!

Do you think that all 24 members of the County Board have read it? Some of it? Any of it?

For example, on Page 189 is a resolution about SCAAP - the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. What the heck is that?

The sheriff's department is about to receive $100,820 from the U.S. Department of Justice for housing criminal aliens in the County Jail.

But the resolutio also includes provides $69,820 for undefined "security equipment" and $31,000 for a vehicle (not described anywhere in the resolution).

Will the County Board just approve the second $100,000 without asking any questions? Is the white Tahoe worn out? What "vehicle" is to be bought for $31,000? From whom? For the department pool? Or for one of the deputies or commanders? Through the State purchasing contract? Is that equipped, or will another $10K be spent to put it on the road?

Deputies issued high percentage of warning

An interesting part of law enforcement is the ticketing pattern by officers.

In the January 2012 report of the Sheriff's Department to the County Board, including in the packet for the February 21st County Board meeting, are the statistics of patrol activity (Page184 of the .pdf document at

Deputies issued a total of 1,100 tickets in January, which included 645 tickets and 455 warnings (described as "warning tickets". Forty-one (41.4%) got warnings. Four out of ten excaped fines and court costs, and nearly six out of ten will get to reach for their checkbooks or fight their tickets in court.

What would account for a 41% warning rate?And what are the guidelines for a deputy's discretion to issue a warning, instead of a ticket?

A deputy must have probably cause to make a traffic stop. In other words, he observed a traffic violation. So, what then determines whether a driver will get a pass.

Several years ago I learned how it happened in Woodstock. After I got stopped for a headlight that had been out for 10 miles and 15 minutes, the cop said he was going to give me a warning. That was fair. I had had numerous headlight problems, showed him the frequency of repair, and told him I intended to have the headlight repaired the next day.. Then a second cop showed up and reminded him of an order at the P.D. that, if I got stopped, I was to get a ticket - no warning. Was that fair?

When bonafide traffic stops are made, is a 41% rate of warnings to tickets the "right" number. If those 41% include mostly headlights and other lights out, I'd say it sounds right. Issue the warning, give the driver five days to correct it, and require compliance and proof of it.

To what extent to supervisors track the warnings and tickets by type of violation and name of driver? Any? The numbers ought to be pretty even across the ranks. Are there deputies who are far outside the norm, one way or the other?

Wearing of the uniform at politcal events?

Read what reporters at the L.A. Times had to say about Sheriff Lee Baca:

"Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca admitted Friday that he broke state law by making a political endorsement while in uniform for an online campaign ad touting Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich for district attorney.

"Baca's acknowledgment came after inquiries from The Times about a video on Trutanich's campaign website that shows Baca wearing his badge and his department-issued sheriff's uniform."

Now, contrast that (OK, it's California state law that was violated by Sheriff Baca) with the white shirt, sheriff's department patches and badge of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department being worn by Undersheriff Andy Zinke at McHenry County political gatherings.

Whether or not Illinois law allows or prohibits it, Zinke should not be wearing his uniform to political events, whether in preparation for his own 2014 campaign or someone else's 2012 campaign. It's common sense not to do so!

Note that I don't mention any 2012 campaign by Zinke. Basically, all he has to do is keep enough distance from hot water and wait for Keith Nygren to retire as soon as Nygren hits the 28-month mark before the next General Election for the office of sheriff. That mark will hit about July, and rumor has it that Nygren will bail out (err, "retire") in August.

It's a sure thing that Nygren will stall on Seipler's reinstatement and leave it in Zinke's lap. In other words, Seipler will get another six months of back pay, all because of Nygren's ego. Nygren lost all his hands in the poker game with Seipler. Nygren lost before the arbitrator, before Judge Meyer, before the Appellate Court, and at the Illinois Supreme Court, which refused to hear his case (of course).

Didn't his lawyers tell him that he was holding a losing hand and that a bluff wasn't going to work against Seipler?

Yet Nygren still won't "give up". He can't "retire" now, or it would throw the sheriff's office into the November 2012 election cycle, where a lot of people are ready to vote for any strong candidate who will face off against Zinke.

So expect to continue to see the white shirt at future political events. Unless, of course, some small shred of integrity grabs Zinke in the gut and he changes clothes before showing up at the political gatherings.

Gee, by now, maybe Zinke is wishing he'd found my email in his Spam file a year ago in September. Or did he really read it after I sent it but choose to ignore it? Maybe, if he had just acknowledged it or even replied to it, I might not hold the opinion today of him that I do.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Woodstock parents - Attention!

If you have a child in a Woodstock, Ill. school, you'd better read Cal Skinner's article right now in the McHenry County Blog.

Apparently, a grade school lunchroom watchdog didn't like that a kid brought a brownie in her lunch from home. The aide, according to Cal's article, told the kid that the brownie wasn't good for her and that she couldn't eat it.

Pardon me???????????

Maybe she had a food allergy that her mother had disregarded... (I doubt that.)

Did the brownie have some special ingredient that Brinks, the Woodstock PD K-9, would have noticed? I doubt it.

Was the kid maybe a little on the chubby side?

Well, the aide ought to look around at the teachers. Take aware their brownies! Was the aide a Size 0? What did she do with the brownie? Did she eat it herself?

If this story is true (and why wouldn't it be?), then the Principal and the aide both owe apologies to the student and to the parents, in writing, and hand-delivered on Tuesday..

Schools are closed on February 20. Maybe the staff will be home and baking brownies...

Who knows which grade school in Woodstock was involved?

The D-200 School Board will hold a Special Meeting on Tuesday, February 21, at 7:00PM at the District Administrative Services Building. (The address was not given in the agenda; the meeting may be at 227 W. Judd St.) The only agenda item is an Executive Session for a personnel issue, so it may have to do with the recent suspension of a WNHS teacher.

Keep in mind that District 200 is a "public body" and all meetings of the School Board are open to the public. The public cannot attend the Executive Session, but you can be there before and when it end. The School Board is not to make a decision in private. It must leave the Executive Session, re-convene in public session, take a rollcall vote of members still present in the re-convened open session and then act only on any motion made in the public session.

No public comment item is included in the agenda. My guess is, if 100-200 parents showed up Tuesday night, the Board might be willing to listen. You probably wouldn't even have to wait long. The Executive Session could be as short as five minutes, if they all have their minds already made up.

Are you registered to vote?

Thanks to McHenry County Advocate I came across the "Peace and Quiet" video produced by the NRA Freedom Action Foundation to promote voter registration. Watch the video here.

You'll enjoy R. Lee ("Gunny") Ermey make the point about registering to vote. From comes the following: "A talented character actor known for his military roles, R. Lee Ermey was in the US Marine Corps for 11 years. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, and later was bestowed the honorary rank of Gunnery Sergeant by the Marine Corps, after he served 14 months in Vietnam and later did 2 tours in Okinawa". Check out his movie credits at

The next election in McHenry County is March 20. If you aren't registered to vote (or are not sure if you are correctly registered (like, if you have moved)), you must take care of this by this Tuesday. Call 815.334.4242 and be prepared to go to the Elections Office at 667 Ware Road, if necessary.

The following is from the McHenry County Elections webpage: "REGISTERED VOTERS who have MOVED FROM ONE PRECINCT TO ANOTHER within the County since last registered, or from one address to another within the precinct of their residence, MUST NOTIFY the County Clerk, in writing, by signing an application for change of residence or by returning their present voter's card to the County Clerk's Office specifying the new address, on or before Tuesday, February 21st, 2012." (Capitalization is in the original; Emphasis is red was added) 

Early voting will be permitted on February 27-March 15, inclusive.  

Remember, it's the Second Amendment that protects your rights under the First Amendment.

Beth Bentley - gone 91 weeks now

How does a week pass so quickly? It seems only yesterday that it was Beth's birthday, but it was a week ago, on February 12, at the 90-week mark.

Is there anything going on in the case? Any further investigation? Any leads?

The Illinois State Police (ISP) denied a FOIA request for all information, even such innocuous information as their last contact with the Woodstock Police Department. What in the world could be top-secret about that?

ISP stalled me and asked for seven additional days to respond, claiming the records were somewhere other than in Springfield. Of course, they are somewhere else. Probably in DuQuoin, at the ISP Investigations zone office there.

The reasons for denial were remarkably similar to the reasons that Woodstock P.D. gave me when denying my FOIA request to it. "On-going investigation". Release of information could ...(you can guess the rest). I'm debating whether to file a Request for Review with the Attorney General's Office. I certainly don't see how providing the date of the last contact with the Woodstock PD could jeopardize any investigation.

How can missing women all over the country get so much publicity and be found so quickly, but a missing Woodstock woman can't even merit occasional press conferences by the police chief or the family with some real information? When the police department has nothing to say in a case that is now 21 months old, the public can reasonably believe that nothing is happening. Is nothing happening?

Obviously, the missing women who are murdered and found quickly get the headlines. There are probably thousands of women missing. Are all the cases as cold as this one?

How many of those women are likely to be women who did disappear on their own, fleeing abusive husbands who had threatened to kill them? It's a whole lot better to run than to be found dead. But tell someone you're going; okay?

What's even better is to buy a good gun and learn how to use it. Line up a good teacher, practice a lot and be on Red Alert all the time. And, if he breaks in and comes for you, drop him. No warning shots. No "shoot to injure". Don't try to shoot the knife out of his hand.

Remember to keep your mouth shut until your lawyer is with you. About all you'll want to say is, "He broke into my house, came at me with a knife and said he was going to slit my throat." Then shut up!

How's the food at the MCSD Jail?

Yesterday's article about a prisoner lawsuit in Chicago about inmate food got me thinking about the food in the McHenry County Jail. Fortunately, I haven't had the "opportunity" to taste the "cuisine" there, but I'm starting to hear that even the rats might turning up their noses at it.

You can read about the Chicago lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) here. I'm sure there is more in the Chicago papers. There, the prisoners are complaining about the amount of soy products in their food.

From that article, "The Illinois plaintiffs say they had up to 100 grams of soy protein per day in their prison diet, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 25 grams.As a result, the plaintiffs say, they suffered maladies ranging from thyroid disorders and allergic reactions to digestive distress and weakened immune systems"

Could the food served at the McHenry County Jail be related to the number of serious ailments and hospitalizations of McHenry County Jail inmates? What happens when an inmate complains of a stomach ache or a pain in his side. Could it be appendicitis?

Nahh, just take a couple of Tums or maybe Ibuprofen.

Have two inmates suffered burst appendixes recently? Who pays for that? The County? You?

I've heard the breakfasts described as "slop".

Just exactly what is the diet provided to inmates and detainees? The calorie count can be held up high with a little peanut butter on the side. But what about the overall nutritional value of the meals? Is there a Federal or a State standard? Well, probably IDOC shouldn't be asked, since the state inmates are suing over the soy levels.

Why is fiber in diet important?

My guess there is plenty of money already available to feed the inmates. What happens when you feed them slop? They get unhappy. What happens when inmates get unhappy (unnecessarily)? The danger level for guards and inmates themselves goes way up.

What's cheaper? A couple of more dollars a day for food per inmate, or putting down unrest (or a riot) with injuries and fatalities and resulting lawsuits?

Open Letter to MCSD Merit Commission

The following is an open letter to the five members of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission. These civilian members, appointed by Sheriff Keith Nygren and confirmed by the County Board, should represent fairness to all employees of the Department. Although they are hand-picked by the sheriff and, at least in some cases, are significant financial contributors to the sheriff's election campaigns, they serve the Public.

The letter has been sent to the secretary of the Merit Commission at McHenry County government headquarters. The letter reads:

Chairman Janelle Crowley and Members Patrick J. McAndrews, William (Bill) Mack, Brian Goode and Gloria Urch:

The Merit Commission is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, March 12, 2012, at 10:30AM for the monthly Regular Meeting. A matter of significance needs to be addressed by you, and that is the status of employment of Sgt. Gregory Pyle.

For whatever reason, Sheriff Nygren and Undersheriff Zinke did not bring that matter before you at the February meeting, which was canceled. While Sgt. Pyle is entitled to a presumption of innocence in court, he has brought great discredit to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. I believe that, by doing so, he has most likely engaged in a serious violation of General Orders.

Should the Sheriff or Undersheriff attempt to cancel the March meeting, I ask you to refuse to cancel it and to hold the meeting at its regular time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's up with City's website?

Something goofy is going on with the website of the City of Woodstock. Check it out at

Last week I noticed that no events were posted on the Community Calendar on the homepage. Usually City Council and board/commission meetings are posted. Not now.

Then I began looking more closely.

Groundhog Day 2012 has, obviously, come and gone. It would take about five minutes to put up some interesting pictures from the festivities and a "See you on Feb. 2, 2013" message.

The notice for Christmas tree collection is still there. Huh? The collection period was January 2-20. Here we are - a month later. Why is that notice still there?

And the Route 47 IDOT study? The second meeting was held September 15, 2010. That's 17 months ago. How about some new news? Except there probably isn't any.

The Coffee with the Chief link goes to a 404 Error.

The logo for the 2007 selection of Woodstock as a historic designation is dead in the water. Maybe a 5-year-old award ought to be removed? In place of the logo is this message: "please do not hotlink images". Did the City not have approval to use the image that had been there?

The City lost its standing in the Illinois Main Street Community organization, when funding dried up. The City and an insufficient number of business owners apparently did not think that a few dollars toward the (now-defunct) Woodstock Downtown Business Assn. was a worthwhile investment. It was. Now that information is way past time to be removed.

Some say that Woodstock is a jewel. Well, it needs polishing!

The City's website is dull and boring. Its stagnant condition will not attract viewers to return. It needs an entire make-over to instill some LIFE into it. Is there someone in City government whose job is to maintain the website? Did that person retire or was the position eliminated?

The City's response is invited and will be posted here, if one is received.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Attn. Small (really small) businesses...

Take a close look at this excellent, affordable opportunity for a low-cost way to promote your home-based business in Woodstock!

From the Mixin' Mingle website:

"If you are an independent consultant with a home based business and would like to exhibit at the Home Parties Pop-Up Shop, please complete the application below. (Click on the link)

"The non-refundable fee is $30 and includes the use of a 5ft folding table and 2 chairs. We will review your complete application and respond as soon as possible. Upon acceptance, payment is required to guarantee space. Payments can be made by check or money order payable to Mixin Mingle. Mail or drop off at 231 Main St. Woodstock, IL 60098.

If you would like to represent two companies in one space, we will allow it as long as there are no other vendors from the same company. The Home Parties Pop-Up Shop will be open on Saturday, March 31st, 2012 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. Vendor set-up begins at 8:00AM.

For the online application for space at the Pop-Up Shop, click here or go to

Visit the Mixin Mingles website at to see all their offerings.

See you there.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Woodstock City Calendar - blank

What's happening in Woodstock this month?

Not month. In fact, nothing. But didn't Groundhog Day happen?

The City Calendar on the homepage at is totally blank. I had looked there tonight to see if a special city council meeting had been called for Wednesday, February 15th, after seeing it on the Calendar in The Woodstock Independent.

But I don't think there was such a meeting, as no agenda is published on the City's website.

One of my "issues" with the City Calendar is that, once a meeting is held, it disappears from the calendar, leaving no easily-found record that such a meeting was ever held. Contrast that with the calendar of meetings of McHenry County Government. Those meetings remain on the calendar for all to see.

All it would take on the City's website would be to uncheck a small box that probably reads something like, "Delete meeting after it is held?"

Blago wants country club

Did you get a load of this morning's Associated Press article about Rod Blagojevich's upcoming prison stay? He might get to choose where he goes. His choice? Englewood, Colorado. For those of you not too familiar with Colorado, that's the Denver area.

Not that he'll get to go skiing, hiking or camping, but he might get a nice view of the mountains through the barbed wire fence when he heads to outdoor recreation.

Why does a convicted felon get any say in where he'll serve his sentence? Is it that way anywhere else in the world? Why didn't the judge send him to some hole in Alabama or Mississippi? Or maybe Sheriff Joe Arpaio has some space in a tent and could issue some pink shorts to Rod.

Says his attorney, Carolyn Gurland: "It's his desire to have dignity surrounding the process. He wants to surrender without cameras in his face." Give me a break!

Who in the heck cares what Blago wants?!!! He is a convicted felon. Pack him off. Maybe a jail in Mexico would be suitable...

March 15th is his reporting date. Suppose he'll surrender in Chicago and get a free ride to Colorado. Or maybe there will be a ski trip to Vail and he'll just stop off in Englewood. Or will he skip on March 14? He won't need his passport, if he's not coming back.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Workforce Network - in business?

Is the McHenry County Workforce Network in business?

Yesterday one of its Woodstock "customers" told me he had gone to the office on Russel Court and was told by a person leaving that the office was closed this week. I urged him to contact the office himself and verify the information, rather than relying on an unofficial person. (It is open this week.)

When I attempted to call for information today, I got a continuous busy signal for 45 minutes, when dialing the main number of 815.338.7100  Don't they have an electronic attendant that answers and routes calls? Is it overwhelmed with the number of callers? If all the office lines are busy, do other callers then get a busy signal? If so, it's an inadequate, antiquated system and needs to be replaced! (And, yes, I know that costs money.)

Just after 10:40AM I was able to get through. After listening to the recorded hours, I confirmed with an employee that  they are open.

Normal business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30AM-5:00PM. The office will probably be closed on Monday, February 20, in observance of the Washington Birthday holiday.

What is MIAT? Not used in Feldkamp/Bloom homicides

MIAT is the McHenry County Major Investigations Assistance Team. MIAT is mentioned in the December 2011 Woodstock Police Department report to the City Manager and City Council. Woodstock PD assisted (City of) McHenry PD, when it had two serious incidents within one hour on December 3, 2011.

Various departments in McHenry County make their officers available, when a wide range of investigative specialties is needed. This results in economies to all departments, because they don’t all have to staff up with experts in many investigative areas, often seldom needed, just waiting to be called.

Thinking back to June 2011, I wonder why the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department didn’t request MIAT after MCSD was summoned to the Somerset Drive residence of Jack and Audrey Feldkamp for a triple homicide.

Mr. and Mrs. Feldkamp and neighbor Doran Bloom died as a result of events of that evening, and the Sheriff’s Department quickly concluded its investigation based on the statements of the one injured survivor.

Suppose that expert investigators from various departments had been called in to examine the crime scene. Might these independent officers, who would not have been in a direct-report employment relationship in the sheriff’s department, have come up with different observations, answers and conclusions about what had happened? Would their questions have taken the investigation into different territory?

Did the events occur as related by Sheriff Nygren so quickly in a press conference the following week? Most electronic-news reporters were excluded from the press conference, which could have eliminated some embarrassing questions to the sheriff. If I remember correctly, a reporter was admitted, but McHenry County Blog, FirstElectricNewspaper and the Woodstock Advocate were kept out.

Sheriff Nygren made a serious error in excluding local blogger Cal Skinner (McHenry County Blog) and Pete Gonigam, who publishes First Electric Newspaper. I can understand, but not professionally accept, his snubbing me. And it doesn’t have anything to do with my coming in third in the 2010 race for County Sheriff. By letting in only “credentialed” media, Nygren attempted to control the news, knowing their stories would be headlines for a day or two and then be “old news”.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Department quickly announced a story about what happened, concluded its investigation, and closed the case. I’ve been through the 260-page report of MCSD; it has more holes in it than Swiss Cheese. I could describe it another way, but I’ll refrain. I do expect experts not to be so polite.

The Sheriff’s Department may think that this case is over and done, but it’s not. Speaking on a condition of anonymity, a person close to the case revealed that major, national media are looking very closely at the events of June 7, 2011 and how the investigation was conducted.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Latin Kings - not welcome

From the Office of the McHenry County State's Attorney -


February 11, 2012

For Immediate Release:

Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announced today that his office has filed a civil lawsuit against the Latin Kings street gang under the Illinois Street Gang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act. While the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has previously prosecuted individual gang members, this initiative seeks to destroy the infrastructure of the gang and promote zero tolerance of gang-related activity. The Act, passed in 1993 by the Illinois General Assembly, recognizes that the activities of street gangs operating throughout Illinois present a clear and present danger to public order and safety; a danger which no society should be required to endure without recourse.

Gangs continue to survive, ever present in our streets, parks and schools. This injunctive lawsuit is a strong tool to combat the existence of street gangs and thwart gang-related criminal activity. The lawsuit seeks to classify Latin Kings members as members of a “street gang,” as defined by the Act, and seeks to stop identified gang members from associating with each other, possessing or discharging firearms, using, possessing, delivering or manufacturing illegal or controlled substances, directing or participating in assaults and batteries, and applying gang graffiti to public or private property. In addition to injunctive relief, monetary damages, and any other relief considered equitable and proper by the court are sought.

The McHenry County State’s Attorney would like to thank the City of Harvard, and all Harvard Police detectives, officers, and staff for their dedication to public safety, hard work, preparation, and cooperation with the State’s Attorney’s Office. We hope that this collaboration will encourage further cooperation amongst various law enforcement and community agencies to bring an end to street gangs in our communities.

Valentine's Day - where's Beth Bentley?

What’s new in the Beth Bentley missing-person investigation?

The report of the Woodstock Police Department for December 2011, included in the February 7, 2012, packet to the City Council, looks remarkably similar to the reports in previous months. That’s the only remarkable part of it, aside from the deletion of the hyphen between follow and up.

The December report of the Investigations Division is contained in the narrative summary, and it reads, "The Investigations Division continues to aggressively follow up on all leads in the investigation of the Endangered Missing Person Benedetta "Beth" Bentley. The Investigations Division maintains contact with the Illinois State Police and all other Police Agencies involved in this case for updates and the sharing of intelligence information."

Do you suppose there were any new leads in December? In November? October? September? How far back would you have to go, before you found a lead on which the Woodstock PD Investigations Division had “aggressively” followed up?

This is “only” a missing person case. As such, why was the public never asked for any help? Or, at least, not the past 12 months.

Even when the case was fresh, did the police ever ask for anyone to come forward with information? Like, with information about Beth’s appearance and/or demeanor during the weeks before she disappeared or even at that Thursday night baseball game in Woodstock?

Why did the police never announce the route by which Jennifer Wyatt and Beth drove to Mount Vernon, Ill. on the night of May 20, 2010 (if they did)? Or any specifics of the week-end? Or the route they took to Centralia (if they did)? Or the route that Jenn drove back to Woodstock in the rental car (if she did)?

Did they ever check video recordings of the vehicle through any I-Pass toll booths on May 20? Did the rental car have an I-Pass? Were tolls collected from its account?

Was the rental car ever searched?

Compare this case with other missing person cases around the country. Why are those searches intensive? Why do persons-of-interest get named quickly in other cases? Are there factors that should have put detectives in the same mode early in the case?

The new head of the Detective Division of the Woodstock Police Department is Det. Jeff Parsons. Perhaps he might consider holding a public meeting in the City Council chambers to discuss this case. Or perhaps the Coffee with the Chief on March 9th might be devoted to renewed efforts to find Beth Bentley. If you have information that will help crack this case or would like him to conduct a public meeting about this case, call Det. Parsons at 815.338.2131.

Would the police ticket?

As I sat in a line of traffic on Bull Valley Road yesterday afternoon, I got to wondering just where the driver in front of me was from?

The plate obviously needs replacement, as do many licenses plates in Illinois. This one, though, was issued by the State of New Mexico, according to the barely-readable bottom line on the plate, "New Mexico USA".

New Mexico apparently had to add USA to its plates, because so many people thought New Mexico was south of the border.

Would an alert police officer, deputy or trooper stop this vehicle and examine the registration papers? Is the "SEP" sticker for 2011 or 2012? Can't tell, because the license plate frame obscures it.

It would be a good car for a bank robber; right? Just imagine the questions from the cops about the license plate.

The purpose of a license plate is to identify a vehicle. Letters and numbers should be clear, and the bracket should not obscure them, the state of issue or the renewal tag. In my opinion, letters and numbers should be against a plain background. Illinois legislators don't agree; you've noticed the proliferation of specialty plates. The same number can even be issued on different classes of vehicles. Maybe even on different specialty plates. Dumb...

I lived in New Mexico in 1989 and in 1991 and, as I recall, it is a single-plate state. The vehicle pictured above did not have a front plate. Illinois is a two-plate state, and both plates are required to be mounted. An alert cop will stop a vehicle with no front plate; it's a legal traffic stop. They often find problems that way, such as unlicensed drivers, drivers with suspended licenses and wanted persons.

Too many owners are allowed to "skate" on this requirement, when they skip mounting the front plate because it doesn't look "nice" on the front of their Beemer or Corvette or (fill in the blank). If a cop wants to give such a driver a break, he should at least issue a Warning with a 5-day compliance requirement and then check the vehicle for compliance.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kimberly Holian Smith case - "Continued" (again!)

Last Friday Kimberly Holian Smith's case (11CF000521) was called again in Judge Condon's court. And it was continued - again.

Smith is charged with crimes but not directly connected to all the charges of her husband in the fatal shooting last May of Kurt Milliman just outside Woodstock.

Smith's charges?

Obstruction of Justice/Destroy evidence (two charges)
False Report of Offense

Just how many times will Judge Condon allow continuances?

After two continuances, the public defender was replaced by the law firm of Donahue & Walsh on September 19, 2011. Since then, there have been continuances on October 19, November 23, January 13 and February 10. Her next court date is March 16.

There would seem to be some obvious legal maneuvering, strategy and tactics, in view of her husband's trial date set for May 7, 2012. Will Kimberly's lawyer try to get her trial delayed until after the trial of her husband? Timothy Smith is charged (Case No. 11CF000520) with First-Degree Murder, Aggravated discharge of a firearm in a building, Obstruction of Justice/Destroy Evidence, Pandering and Pimping.

The unanswered question in all this is why hasn't Kimberly Smith been charged as an accessory or accomplice to Murder. Why is she out on a $15,000 bond, while her husband sits in Hotel Nygren on a $900,000 bond?

Kimberly was right there when Milliman was shot. Supposedly, Timothy and Kimberly delayed calling the sheriff's department, while they tried to cook up a cover story.

Why aren't more people raising questions and demanding that the State's Attorney upgrade the charges against Kimberly?

Telehealth - good for McHenry County?

Will "telehealth" be good for McHenry County mental health clients? I guess it'll be better than no health at all. No (mental) health (services) at all, that is.

Family Service Community Mental Health Center seems to be in dire straits, financially. The State's slow-pay plan is contributing to the financial ills, but it's probably only part of the problem.

A merger with North Central Behavioral Health Systems ( is being considered and might even be finalized within two weeks. What is North Central? Located in La Salle, Illinois, it operates throughout a seven-county area. They have out-patient centers in La Salle, Ottawa, Streator, Princeton, Canton and Macomb, Ill. I thought it might be easy to find a list of the seven counties on its website, but it wasn't easy or quick. In fact, I gave up.

Family Service currently provides mental health services to more than 6,000 clients annually. Tentative plans look like a joint operation beginning May 1 and then "telehealth" starting in McHenry County by October 1.

I've been on a consumer advocacy committee at Family Service for two years, and I predict a huge interruption in services. The case load at Family Service will overwhelm North Central, which will attempt to control services and costs as the rescue plan proceeds.

Telehealth? Picture sitting in front of your computer, conferring with your psychiatrist or social worker via Skype. Got an addiction problem? Will the doctor or therapist see your glass of booze sitting next to your computer? "Oh, that? That's just ginger ale, Doc." And interacting in a group session? Imagine the baby crying, dog barking, phone ringing, pit stops, gotta put the laundry in the dryer so the clothes don't wrinkle, etc.

Providing mental services in seven rural counties is a lot different that having one (new) building that serves 6,000 clients.

I think both agencies had better gear up early to anticipate the problems and be prepared to address them quickly and thoroughly.

Fire marshals - all wet

Look what the fire marshals are trying to jam down the throats of home builders (and home buyers). How about - Every new home must have a sprinkler system!

Home builder Tom Stephani summed it up with Illinois is a "nanny state that wants to protect everybody from everything."

Sure, put in a sprinkler system. Every homeowner would like one. Just don't charge for it. And make sure it's maintenance-free and that there is no monthly fee at the Fire Department for monitoring it. Well, that's not going to happen.

You can read this morning's article in the Northwest Herald right here. Hurry, though, because the paper will archive it in seven days and then expect you to pay for reading it. However, you may be able to access archived articles through your public library. Call your library to ask how.

Rep. Mike Tryon jumped out right in front of the argument, telling the Northwest Herald that he strongly opposes requiring sprinklers for new home construction. Thanks, Mike!!! I'm sure the emphasis should be on the word "requiring".

Sen. Pamela Althoff apparently hasn't taken a position yet, so call her now. Rep. Jack Franks wasn't mentioned in the article. Call him, too. And don't just tell them where you stand on the issue. Ask where they stand (or when you can find out where they stand).

The National Fire Protection Assn. estimates that the cost for a sprinkler system adds "only" $1.61 per square foot of sprinkler coverage. So, for a 2,000 sq. ft. home, that's "only" $3,220.00 more. OK, want sod or a sprinkler system? Or the family room finished? However, Stephani estimates the actual cost is double that. Are you willing to pay $6,440, plus maintenance?

If you are willing to, go for it. Order it as an option. But don't let legislators or local pols jam it down your throats.

Just look at the incomplete information presented. "Out oif 377,000 residential fires reported in 2009" ...  OK, out of how many houses? And how many of those were "new" houses? And, there were 2,590 civilian deaths ... For that, the fire marshals and pols want to force every new homeowner to install a sprinkler system? What about in all the existing houses?

And more incomplete comparisons... "The odds of dying in a house fire are reduced by 82 percent in a house with both sprinkler and smoke detectors." OK, what's the percentage for houses with smoke detectors (only)? And then the incremental additional percentage for houses with smoke detectors and sprinklers?

It's like seatbelts and airbags. Seatbelts prevent many injuries and deaths. Airbags increase the safety factor "a little". A Crystal Lake paramedic told me several years ago that he knows paramedics and firefighters who have disconnected their cars' airbags, because the risk of injury from the airbag is greater than the increased safety factor!!!

How many fires have been started by a cat's knocking over a candle or a smoker falling asleep in bed? You can't stop "stupid".

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Good samaritan dies in New Orleans

A 44-year-old New Orleans man died last Wednesday while trying to aid a woman victim of a carjacker. You can read the CNN story here.

Harry "Mike" Ainsworth died in front of his two sons on February 8, when he was shot trying to stop the attempted carjacking of a woman in his neighborhood. He had been waiting with his 9-year-old and 10-year-old sons at their schoolbus stop, when he heard the woman scream.

A fund has been established to help his family. Even $5-10-25 from many people would go a long way to help this man's family. If you wish to contribute, please send donations to:
Ainsworth Family Fund
Whitney Bank - Algiers Branch
501 Verret St.
New Orleans, LA 70114

Would your life change?

What would you do if you had won $336,400,000 jackpot in the Rhode Island Powerball?

Would you go to work tomorrow?
How long could you keep it a secret?
Would you go to the Loop for a good tax attorney and CPA?
Hire security for your family and you?
Change your name and phone number?

Just think of all the new "friends" you'd instantly have...

MCSD General Orders and political involvement

What do the General Orders at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department have to say about political involvement of employees of the sheriff's department?

Would someone like to provide me with a copy of the General Orders, so that I don't have to submit a FOIA request for them? They can be provided to me confidentially. However, handle any photocopies while wearing gloves, so that your fingerprints won't show up on copies. You can mail them to me; I'll be sure the envelope is destroyed.

My guess is that political activity is controlled to some degree, as it should be. That is, political activity is probably not allowed on duty time, in a government office or from a government vehicle. I also guess that political activity off-duty and out of uniform will not be restricted. (The only hazard there is if you align yourself with a person who doesn't win his election.)

What about uniforms? Can they be worn while the off-duty employee is participating in a political activity?

Do the rules apply to ALL employees?

Bogus Indiana trooper alert

The Chicago Tribune carries an article that the Indiana State Police is warning drivers of a bogus trooper on I-80 near Hammond. You can read the full article here.

A woman reported being stopped by an unmarked black Ford "police-type" car with interior red and blue flashing lights. She was robbed and her cell phone thrown away.

Read the article for information and tips, should you be stopped there. The Indiana State Police say that troopers must be in uniform or in marked squad cars.

Beth Bentley - now missing 90 weeks

Beth Bentley would be 43 today, except that she has been missing since about May 23, 2010.

My guess is that there are those who know why she is "missing". What is being done to uncover the truth? Is the investigation at the Woodstock Police Department still an open investigation? The P.D. denied release of any information late last year for a FOIA request, citing such release could interfere with an investigation. So, what, exactly, is the P.D. doing?

They aren't going to say, and that's okay. But are they doing anything? Or just resting behind a bland claim of "ongoing investigation". When you read the monthly report of the P.D. to the City Manager (and, thus, to the City Council), it appears the P.D. is doing nothing, because the boiler-plate summary hasn't changed in months. The head of the detective division at Woodstock P.D. retired recently and is now employed as a court security officer. You'll find him at the east door, checking carkeys and pens. (Hopefully, Sheriff Nygren will get him a uniform soon, so he won't have to work in civilian clothes.)

The Illinois State Police should be responding this week to a FOIA request for information, after the main office in Springfield collects files from the DuQuoin office.

On January 25, 2011, JP Morgan Chase bank filed a mortgage foreclosure action against Beth (a/k/a Benedetta Ballard), Scott, TCF National Bank, the United States of America and the Ponds of Bull Valley Homeowners Association, Inc.

Who will represent Beth's interest in court? Should Beth's interest be represented by her own legal counsel? Will the Court insist on that?

For how long have payments on the mortgage not been made? Who were the occupants of the house? Just Scott (Beth's husband) and the youngest son of Beth? Beth's older sons moved out a year old. Anyone else there?

If Beth had walked back into Woodstock a year ago, would she have been welcomed back home?

To what extent have police or private investigators traced all the transactions (personal or business) in which Beth was involved in the 6-12 months before her disappearance for clues that would explain her sudden disappearance without a trace? Was it wrong for the case to be quickly identified only as a Missing Person case? What did "Endangered" mean, if anything?

Since she apparently took only a few clothing items for the week-end and then disappeared, why wasn't it a logical conclusion that she didn't "intend" to vanish on her own? And why didn't the police then conclude that foul play might have been involved and pursue it as a criminal case?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The wearing (out) of a uniform

Readers have pointed me to Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog for raised eyebrows, because Undersheriff Andy Zinke is showing up in uniform and armed at off-duty political gatherings.

Remember the Assistant State's Attorney who was "fearful" when a Woodstock Police officer showed up in court for a hearing involving her son? She had just gotten off the night shift and went straight to court. Didn't he say he felt concerned or worried by the presence of a person with a gun? (Give me a break!)

Photos on Cal's blog show Zinke, in uniform (white shirt with Department emblems) and with gun at McHenry County political meetings last October (Nunda Township candidates' night) and at the McHenry County Business Meeting, a new political action committee (PAC), on February 8.

Can you imagine the furor if a deputy showed up (off-duty) in uniform at a political gathering, particularly if he were running for an elected office? He (or she) would get raked over the coals by his supervisor and probably get "written up"; you know, that dreaded document that will be held over your head for years into the future, impeding your promotions and raises.

Or how about a police office in Crystal Lake or Woodstock or McHenry? If an officer showed up (off-duty) in uniform and armed at a political function, how long would it take for word to reach his chief and for the after-effects to "run downhill"?

So, why is it that Undersheriff Zinke can show up at political meetings in uniform and armed? Wouldn't it be appropriate for him to change into civilian clothing and wear a jacket over his sidearm? Sure, everyone knows he'll be armed, but he'd better be at political functions off-duty and not in any official capacity, unless he is "on the clock". Is he doing so, because he knows there is no one to complain to?

And, if he is on the clock, maybe as an administrator he ought to be sending a deputy to provide any needed security and not be there as a law enforcement officer himself.

To whom can a taxpayer complain? To Zinke's boss, of course. Let's see; do you want to call Minocqua, Wisc. or Cape Coral, Fla. to reach his boss?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Driving (or not) on snow

What are people thinking about? Or are they thinking?

Let's see: Snow-slick road. Curving roadway. Railroad crossing.

Ouch! This crash on Lily Pond Road at the Metra rail grade crossing looks like it left this vehicle in a rather dangerous position, should the next Metra train for Chicago come by.

If you come upon such an accident, the phone number for Metra is on the utility box near the crossing. The number may not be on the side of the box facing the crossing, so walk around it. If a train-vehicle crash is imminent, move up toward the approaching train, so that you won't be hit by debris.

What's it look like to you? Maybe about 20-25MPH speed at impact?

Thanks to the reader who emailed the picture to me! You are appreciated!

Rahm Emanuel - a danger to your Rights

Rahm Emanuel
This is a guy who is more dangerous than Richard Daley (either one of them). Remember: he is just at the beginning of his many years to come as Mayor of the Nation of Chicago. You can see the danger in his fake smile, haughty expression, stare-through eyes.

From the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA): See more at the ISRA  website



On Thursday, February 9th, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for the Illinois General Assembly to pass a $65 per handgun fee to be levied against every law-abiding gun owner in Illinois – INCLUDING YOU. Of course, gang bangers, murderers, robbers and rapists are exempt from the fee. This fee would be charged every 5 years on every handgun you own. Additionally, you would have to register with the government in the same manner as sex-offenders.


If Rahm Emanuel’s gun tax passes, you will be required to pack up your handguns and take them to the local police station for examination and registration. If you have 10 handguns to bring in, you’ll walk out paying $650 in taxes. If you own 100 handguns, the government will lighten your wallet to the tune of $6,500. And, you’ll have to repeat this process every 5 years – unless Emanuel and his buddies in the legislature bump this up to an ANNUAL FEE.


If you cannot pay the $65 tax on EACH of your handguns, you will have to surrender your guns to the local police for destruction.


If you decide not to pay the tax, the police will come to your house and take your guns away. They will also arrest you and charge you with a CLASS 2 FELONY.


1. Using the link below, contact your State Senator and State Representative and politely tell them that you are a law-abiding Illinois firearm owner who does not want their rights taxed. Tell your Senator and Representative that you expect them to vote AGAINST Rahm Emanuel’s gun tax should it come to the floor of the legislature.

2. Please pass this alert on to all your gun-owning friends and family, tell them to follow the directions contained in the alert.

3. Please post this alert to any and all Internet Blogs or Bulletin Boards to which you belong.

4. Go to the City of Chicago web page and fill out this form. Tell Emanuel that you will NOT LET HIM TAX YOUR GUNS.

5. Please use the donation link below to send a generous donation to the ISRA, today. We badly need the money to continue to fight against Emanuel and his gun-grabbing pals. Think about it:
would you rather send your money as taxes to Emanuel,  or donate to the ISRA?!

Please make a
donation on-line here , or over the phone at 815-635-3198. If you would like to mail or fax a donation, we have a printable form here .

If you're not an ISRA member, now is the time. You can
join on-line , or over the phone at 815-635-3198. You can download a printable application form here .