Saturday, March 31, 2012

Woodstock residents - $500 Impound Fee!!!

This evening I received an email from a resident who informed me of Ord. 12-O-02, passed by our illustrious City Council on January 17, 2012. You've heard all about it; right?

In the Manager's Report No. 450 to the City Council, Item No. 3 was "Adoption of Ordinance 12-O-02 amending the Woodstock City Code regarding vehicle impoundment."

That tells you a lot, doesn't it? And this is exactly why the City Council can ram new laws down your throats without your knowing about it. It's on the Consent Agenda. And, without discussion, the City Council voted 7-0 (unanimously) to sock it to you, as do other some communities, if the police can find a listed reason to arrest you.

What will it cost you to get your car back? $500 Administrative Tow Fee. And that does not include the actual towing fee.

Read the Ordinance on the City's website. Go to  On left side, click on "City Code". On the left side near the top, see Adv Search. Enter "impoundment" and click on Search. Then click on "12-02 Vehicle Impoundment".

It's about all I can do to refrain from hurling some vile words at the City Council for its 7-0 vote on this without discussion. Not one member of the Council had to guts to pull the item for discussion. They just slipped it to you, folks. Why didn't the City Council announce ahead of time that they were scheming to rob you and invite to a City Council meeting to defend yourself???

About two years ago, after reading about Elgin's similar fee (I think it was Elgin), I contacted the City Hall and asked if they had planned to pull a similar crappy stunt in Woodstock. The answer at that time was "No." My, how times change.

What possible reason could there be for jamming a $500 City fee down somebody's throat? Let's say you get stopped for a DUI. The cop can impound your car. Ka-ching. $500. Whether you are later found guilty or not. Will the Woodstock cops impound every car of a drunk driver, even if driven by a wealthy, influential member of the community? Perhaps a County Board member? Even a member of the City Council? Ha! Guess who get to allow a sober passenger to drive his car home?

If I were to express myself candidly to the Mayor and the others on the City Council, I'd use words that others would say shouldn't be used. In this case, they deserve them! I'd use words that might reflect a certain government in World War II or of some parts of the world even today.

Woodstock residents should attend every City Council meeting until those seven wake up and repeal this Ordinance. And the Council should immediately stay enforcement. This City Council has completely lost any respect that I ever had for them.

Just look at the ripple effect here. Whose car do you think is going to get towed? Some Square lawyer's Cadillac? Somebody's Beemer? Some Bull Valley resident's Lexus? Or will it be some average joe's car - a guy who hasn't seen $500 for 5-10 years? A guy who won't be able to pay the $500 OR the towing fee of $100-150 OR the $40/day storage fee. And who will lose his job because he doesn't have transportation to get to work.

Tuesday night, Folks. April 2. 7:00PM at City Hall. You'd better be there. If 100-200 people show up and each one takes his three minutes to unload on the City Council, maybe - just maybe - some sense will be restored to them. This is Woodstock. This is not Newark. or L.A. or Miami. Not that such a law is right there, either. Be there this Tuesday night. And every first and third Tuesday after that!

Check out wages in McHenry County

If you have a strong stomach, check out the series now on McHenry County Blog about highly-paid employees in McHenry County. Warning: do not read that series on an empty stomach!

And you wonder why your property taxes are so high?

Was it Will Rogers or Mark Twain who said, "It's a good thing we are not getting as much government as we are paying for." Well, you're paying for this, folks.

Cal Skinner will probably get to the P's before the next monthly meeting of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission. It meets on April 11th (if it meets), which is two days before the next court date of Sgt. Greg Pyle, who apparently remains on paid administrative leave after being charged in January with ten counts of predatory criminal sexual assault on a child under 13. Need we be reminded that all persons charged are considered innocent until proven (or declared) guilty? Are additional charges coming for whatever triggered his January arrest?

What possible reason could Sheriff Keith Nygren have for continuing Pyle's pay? When Cal gets to the P's on his list, we'll know how close to $9,000/month Pyle's pay is.

For the April Merit Commission meeting (if the Commission meets), the actual agenda for that meeting should show the specific exemption being claimed for any Executive Session on the agenda. Using Executive Session as a placeholder might be okay, in general, but it won't fly if the Merit Commission actually goes into Executive Session. Any agenda for a meeting must be published 48 hours ahead, so just bringing a revised agenda to the meeting will likely constitute a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

Will the Chairman blow off the April meeting, too? She no longer works down the street at Woodstock City Hall. Now she has to trot back to 667 Ware Road from Elgin. Presumably, that will be on her personal time and not paid for by ECC. Will she charge mileage to/from the meeting? That's 27 miles each way. Will she (and the other commissioners) charge $0.14/mile (charity) or $0.555/mile (business)?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Family Service - merger or take-over

Family Service and Community Mental Health Service ("Family Service") has been in the news lately because of slow-pay by the deadbeat Illinois State Government. In fact, Family Service had reached death's door. If money didn't show up, the doors would close.

Family Service provides necessary and meaningful services to thousands of persons every year. No one in need has been turned away. I have served on the Consumer Advisory Council for several years and am acquainted with a number of the management staff. They do good work.

Family Service is working out an agreement to be taken over by North Central Behavioral Health System. It's not a "merger"; it's a take-over. The surviving business will be North Central. North Central has said it will put three Family Service board members on its board. They will clearly be in the minority on the board.

County Board member Donna Kurtz is concerned about the possibility that McHenry County tax dollars will leave McHenry County for use by North Central in the seven other counties it serves. She's right, and the entire County Board should be concerned.

Keeping the doors open at Family Service is very important, but keeping the eyes open is just as important.

What is Jenn Wyatt's legal name?

Recently a Woodstock woman was arrested in the Beth Bentley missing person case. Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham was charged with two counts of lying to a Woodstock Police detective, when she was questioned in this case.

Just what is her legal name? Should she be charged under her true name?

Jennifer Wyatt Paplham was divorced in 2005 and her former name was restored on the divorce papers. When the judge drops the gavel and the marriage is over, isn't that the last time the woman should use her former married name?

If her name, Wyatt, was restored in 2005, should she not have changed her driver's license to reflect her true name?

Did she lie a third time, when she told the Woodstock Police that her name was Jennifer Wyatt Paplham? Should the police amend the Complaint, in order to avoid a challenge in court? Why is she still using a name of a former husband after six years' time since the divorce?

When can police enter?

When police (or sheriff's deputies) are called about a loud party, loud music or some non-violent issue at a nearby residence, under what circumstances can they enter the residence?

Let's say the neighbors are upset by a loud party in the neighborhood. Perhaps it's during spring break, and there are 40-50-60 kids at a house nearby. Some of them are of legal age (18 in Illinois), and some of them are younger. Now let's say that alcohol is present - inside the house.

The neighbors get mad in the middle of the night and call the appropriate law enforcement agency. The troops respond.

Now, let's say that all the kids are inside the house. The cops (speaking generally here, of course, and using "cops" in its generic sense) knock on the door, expecting someone to answer. No one answers. The cops knock again and announce themselves. No one answers.

The cops know the house is full of kids. Can they open the door and go in?

No one is screaming for help. They cannot see anyone being harmed. No shots have been fired. (Well, maybe a few well-aimed shots from the bottle of booze in the kitchen...) Anyway, no gunfire.

Can the cops go in?

Absent exigent circumstances, my opinion is that the cops cannot open the door and go in. And, if they do, they have entered the house illegally and any arrests that follow, and charges filed, are quite likely to get thrown out.

Now, does something like this happen in McHenry County? In any of the municipalities in McHenry County? In the County itself?

This morning's Northwest Herald carries an article about 34 arrests at a house in Bull Valley, following a loud party early yesterday morning. McHenry County Sheriff's deputies responded, after neighbors called to complain. According to the article, some of the 60 kids were outside and some were inside.

Could a visitor admit the officers, or must the resident admit the officers? The paper didn't identify the owner, but it reported that one of the kids arrested was the "son of the homeowner." The paper said that "The homeowner, whom police didn't identify, was unaware of the party." Does that mean he or she was home and holed up in a sound-proof room, or was the homeowner not home? If not, did he or she know the son was going to host a party of 60 kids? If so, wouldn't the homeowner be home???

It should be interesting to learn whether the deputies entered the house lawfully.

Twenty-six (26) of the partygoers were issued citations for Unlawful Consumption of an Alcoholic Beverage by a Minor and ordered to appear in court on Friday, April 27, 2012, at 8:30AM. A total of 34 citations were issued, according to a press release by the Sheriff's Department.

The homeowner's son is to appear in court on Thursday, April 26, at 8:30AM. A 21-year-old man was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and is to appear in court on April 26 at 8:30AM.

The press release on the Sheriff's Department website bears no signature. Not the Sheriff's signature; not the Undersheriff's name of signature. Does anyone else wonder who the mysterious person is at the Sheriff's Department who writes and issues a press release over the sheriff's name? Whatever happened to accountability?

Good reading - no joke

Be sure to read the "Dirty" blog and its firebrand articles this week. The blog goes up and down, so I wouldn't wait to read it.

Believe any of it? If you do, or if you have information to support anything you read there, you know what to do with it. Stick your neck out and contact the FBI. If you have reservations about contacting the FBI, there are intermediaries available to you.

The author of that blog names names and has supporting information. You can believe that he understands libel and slander. He is not interested in high defense costs. He is confident about the validity of his posts.

Some will say, "It can't be." Well, yes, it can. Documents published one and two years ago verify a loan in excess of a purchase price. Now, why would a bank lend more than 10% over the full purchase price of a home?

And on another note, why would a buyer pay 40% over the fair market value of a house? In deals elsewhere with similar numbers, the inflated purchase price has served as a way to get a larger loan than a buyer would otherwise qualify for.

What could induce a buyer to overpay by such an exorbitant amount? Could a buyer have a little side deal going that caused him to think he was going to see his money again someday? And what is a relationship soured, putting his overpayment at risk? It would be pretty hard for him to complain, since such a deal was shady in the first place.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Open burning starts April 1 - no foolin'

Open burning starts Sunday, April 1. Grab your gas masks, folks. Well, make that "legal" open burning, since some people are already burning.

The following press release was distributed by the Sheriff' Dept. on NIXLE. Not sure why, since it's the Health Department that enforces the restrictions. Good luck calling the Sheriff's Dept. and getting action. They might help out after day-time working hours of the MCDH staff, on week-ends or if persons or property are endangered. "Might..."  If you have a neighbor who is a perpetual violator, find out in advance how to deal with the problem after-hours and what agency will respond after-hours.

If you have breathing problems or know persons with breathing problems who live downwind from the burner, call the County Health Department now and call your elected County Board member.

Notice the set-back requirements. Also, the days when burning is permitted. Not weekdays! Fires are supposed to "burn", not just sit there and smoke. Also, fires must be attended.

"McHenry County Department of Health reminds residents that year-round burning restrictions are in effect regarding the proper disposal of landscape waste on your property. Landscape waste consists of grass or shrubbery cuttings, leaves and tree limbs. The “McHenry County Public Health Ordinance: Open Burning of Landscape Waste” permits unincorporated residents to burn landscape waste on weekend days (Saturdays and Sundays) during April, May, October and November if the burn area meets the setback requirements of at least 100 feet from a school, business, church or house; 50 feet from a barn, shed or detached garage.

"Most municipalities have ordinances which restrict or prohibit the burning of yard waste. In areas where there is not a ban or more restrictive ordinance, the County ordinance, which is in effect year round, must be followed. Please be advised that an Illinois EPA, Bureau of Air, Application for Open Burning Permit is required for habitat reclamation burns regardless of acreage. For more information, please contact the Illinois EPA, Bureau of Air Permit Section at (217) 782-2113.

"MCDH encourages a more environmentally sound approach:
• Reduce/Reuse - Use a mulching mower for grass and leaves or a chipper for branches. Native landscaping will also reduce the need for yard waste.
• Recycle - Composting landscape waste can reduce material volume by 70 - 80% and act as a soil conditioner to improve plant growth.

"Licensed municipal waste haulers in McHenry County are required to provide pick up of landscape waste from residential customers; an additional fee may apply. Some waste haulers contract with municipalities, neighbors and homeowner associations to provide collection of landscape waste. Residents are encouraged to work collectively with neighbors and associations for the most economical solution for their neighborhood. Residents may also drop off landscape waste at a local facility that composts these materials into organic compounds for reuse. A listing of these services is available at, under Environmental Health, quick link – Open Burning, “other alternatives”.

"Communities with ordinances that meet or exceed County standards, as well as those with total bans on burning are also listed. Call local police, fire or MCDH non-emergency number for enforcement of open burning issues. If reporting an emergency complaint that is life threatening or is a fire safety issue, call 911. Residents may also call the health department’s after-hours phone number 815-344-7421 for assistance.

"Complete details about the Ordinance, suggested alternatives, exemptions and permit applications are available online at the Department’s webpage or by calling 815-334-4585."

Ill. Secretary of State - boooo

Until today I was pretty pleased with the website and ease of reaching the office of the Illinois Secretary of State. Then I noticed its website had been re-designed. I wonder ... do they ever field-test changes before springing them on the public?

The new design makes it almost impossible to look up corporation status. At least, easily.

Then I called the SOS office at 217.782.6212. You know, be a good citizen; don't use the tollfree number. I didn't want to wait through three minutes of voice menu, so I pressed Zero. What do I hear? "Good bye."

Nice job, folks. When a caller presses zero to reach an operator, just disconnect the call.

NWH smear on C.L. doctor

In the Community News column of this morning's Northwest Herald, the paper reports postponement of an emergency hearing on the license of a Crystal Lake doctor. Neither the print edition or the online edition gives the time and location of the emergency hearing.

The doctor ought to sue the Northwest Herald for the smear. As noted in the paper, the Crystal Lake Police did not ever file charges against the doctor; yet it reported the alleged criminal contact with a female patient. And in great detail.

An administrative law judge recommended no action against the doctor. The board (which one?) accepted the recommendation of the judge, and it recommended no action against the doctor. And then the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation decided to suspend the doctor's license for one year.

What's wrong with this picture? Why didn't the Crystal Lake Police file charges? How did the doctor get past the judge and board without discipline?

So there must be serious questions about the testimony of the person who complained. If it's "He said, she said," then the police would file and let a criminal court judge (or jury) decide. Unless the evidence, report and testimony were so weak that there really was no case.

Why would the Northwest Herald report the alleged fondling in such great detail and smear the doctor by name?

I can just hear the phone calls from people wanting appointments with that doctor. "Hello? Is this the office of the doctor who didn't inappropriately touch a patient?"

I'd cancel my subscription to the Northwest Herald, except then I wouldn't be able to cut up the paper every day and write about its so-called "news".

Question: Why doesn't the Northwest Herald allow comments to that online article???

John Harris gets 10 days - sickening!

The Associated Press (AP) reports that Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris, was sentenced to ten days in jail for his part in Blagojevich's scheme to sell the Senate seat of Barack Obama. Somebody, pass the barf bag!

U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who meted out a 14-year sentence to Blagojevich, took pity on Harris. According to the AP, "...Judge James Zagel noted that Harris had been forced to cope with"  Blagojevich. What a load of horse manure!

So what if Blagojevich "bristled" at staff! So what if his "manic management style" wore subordinates down. What did Harris earn in that position? How straight did he stand when thinking of himself as Blago's chief of staff? How many times did he "force" staff to carry out orders?

But the worst part is Judge Zagel's statement, as reported by the AP, "I can't say that in your position, I wouldn't have done the same thing."

And this guy is a U.S.District Court judge? There should be no doubt in his mind that he would not have done the same thing! Apparently, there is some doubt. And so I say to Judge Zagel, "Resign now!"

All Harris had to do was say "No." And, if Blago didn't like it, then Harris would have been fired or could have resigned. Ten days in the slammer is nothing!

A man can have no question in his own mind about whether he will tell the truth or obey the law. No question. None! It's a decision of moral character that must be made. Most never make it. Most never even think of it. Harris went with the flow. He had to know that what he was doing was wrong. He didn't get to the spot as chief of staff without the experience of getting things done.

Harris said in court, "In seeking to maintain [Blagovejich's] confidence, I lost my way." So, it was more important to him to keep his boss happy than to obey the law. Harris deserved more than ten days in jail.

And Zagel deserves to find a new line of work.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That stupid Bobby Rush

So Chicago's Congressional Rep Bobby Rush got a little lesson, when he was tossed from the U.S. House of Representatives while delivering a rambling comment about the Florida killing of Trayvon Martin. Rush thought he could just blather on and on, while wearing a hoodie on the House floor. The Speaker of the House attempted to stop him, and Rush ignored him. Rush is a disgrace to the House of Representatives.

My personal opinion, so far, is that Neighborhood Watch participant George Zimmerman went spoiling for trouble, when he followed Martin. Zimmerman knew, of course, that he (Zimmerman) was armed, and he should have stayed in his vehicle and waited for police to arrive.

A police video online now apparently shows Zimmerman uninjured, although he reported being battered by Martin.

The nation's attention is riveted on Sanford, Florida, which is north of Orlando.

Why am I reminded of another shooting - this one, right here in McHenry County? How quickly the McHenry County Sheriff's Department accepted the statements of an injured victim in a triple homicide case? How few have questioned the depth of any investigation into what happened? Very quickly the Sheriff announced how it happened, based on the statements of the survivor. And that's that.

Was there an investigation? Or was there only a report? Did anyone at the Sheriff's Department ask, "What if it didn't happen that way?" They bought the story, and that's that.

Well, maybe "that" isn't that. Will experts looking at the 260+-page Sheriff's Department have 265 pages worth of questions? There are many "loose ends" in that report. Nobody looked for any other possibility.

And now?

Dates for the Special Prosecutor case

Court records indicate the following dates for scheduled hearings in the matter of a request for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren. Keep in mind that this case (10MR000011) has now been dragging for over two years; it was filed in January 2010.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 1:30PM. Evidentiary hearing. This is the one where McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi may appear to testify as to whether he can (or will) investigate and, if warranted, prosecute Nygren.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 10:00AM, hearing for sanctions motions.

"Sheriff Nygren is engaged in criminal activity." So says the Fourth Amended Petition, filed February 28, 2011.

In summary, it states that Nygren created a "seven star (sic) logo ('LOGO')" in 2004 for his political campaign and then used it in his official capacity as Sheriff, ordering or allowing its use throughout the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Paragraph 43 reads, "Mr. Nygren, as alleged, committed the theft of labor and services when he used and allowed to be used, McHenry County property and labor, without consent, to affix his LOGO to the Internal Wall, stationary (sic) and Official Vehicles, to promote is political campaign."

These next two hearings should be very, very interesting. Will there be more stalling?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Confusion reigns...

Yesterday Zane Seipler's petition for a Special Prosecutor to investigate McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren continued to make progress, with Judge Meyer dismissing motions to end the case and setting two hearing dates.

There seems to be a little confusion over the dates.

McHenry County Blog reports the next hearing date of April 11, 2012, as being for a request by Zane's attorney, Blake Horwitz, for sanctions against Woodstock attorney Mark Gummerson, who represents Keith Nygren personally (not in his official capacity as Sheriff).

The Northwest Herald reports that the April 11th date is the day when McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi may be quizzed in court about why he won't handle such a Special Prosecutor case against Nygren, who by law is his client.

However, the McHenry County Blog reports that Bianchi could be called on April 25 (not April 11), and the Northwest Herald story doesn't mention the April 25 court date.

Online court records indicate two upcoming dates for this case (10MR000011):
April 11, 2012, 1:30PM
April 25, 2012, 10:00AM

The Northwest Herald story doesn't mention the hearing on the sanctions against Gummerson.

On my next trip to the courthouse, I shall re-read Zane's petition for a Special Prosecutor. The Northwest Herald story says, "Deputy Zane Seipler has accused the sheriff of using a seven-point star for both political and official purposes. Nygren’s actions, Seipler’s attorney has said, amount to theft, official misconduct and misappropriation of funds."

This makes it sound like Zane is claiming one thing and then his attorney is "just" explaining it. If my memory serves me correctly, the Petition for Special Prosecutor asserts that Nygren's use of the badge ("star") of his own design for official purposes (stationery, on vehicles, on doors in the building, etc.) and also on his political campaign literature amounts to "theft, official misconduct and misappropriation of (County) funds."

It is this mis-use of taxpayer money that is at the heart of the Petition. Why won't the Northwest Herald report that?

Read the McHenry County Blog article for Blake Horwitz' opinion of the Northwest Herald's article about Zane Seipler's reinstatement as a Deputy Sheriff. Seipler returned to work on March 19, and he is due almost four years' back pay.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beth Bentley - gone 96 weeks. One arrest

The ground didn't shake last week, when Woodstock Police arrested Jennifer Wyatt on two felony charges connected to the Beth Bentley missing person case. Woodstock Police interviewed her and then arrested her on Monday, March 19. The question on the lips of many who have been following Beth's disappearance was, "What took so long?"

Wyatt was charged with two counts of lying to police, according to the Complaint on file at the McHenry County courthouse. Count One says she furnished false information when she said that did not have contact with Beth Bentley on May 25, 2010, at 4:00PM. That day and time are 48 hours after Jenn said she dropped off Beth in Centralia near the Amtrak station.

Count Two says that Jenn furnished false information to the police when she said she drove Beth to the Amtrak Station in Centralia for the purpose of Beth taking an Amtrak train back to Chicago.

Count One seems to hinge on telephone records that show two calls from Jenn's cell phone to Beth's cell phone on May 25. The first is for one minute; the second is for a six-minute duration.

Many cell phone services ding you for one minute, if you reach a voice mailbox. No answer? No ding. Now, the second call. What if Jenn left a long message on Beth's cell phone, asking, for example, where Beth was and pleading with her to get in touch? Can you leave a lengthy message in a cell phone voice mailbox? (Call your own phone and find out.) If you leave a message, is that "contact" with the person whose phone it is?

Count Two is so vague that it probably won't stick. And, without Beth, who can say why she drove Beth to Centralia if, in fact, she did? Is the lie 1) that she drove Beth to Centralia or 2) that she drove Beth to Centralia to take a train to Chicago? Again, without Beth, what can be proven?

Count Two says "back to Chicago". Had Beth taken a train to Centralia? Or is this merely a linguistic slip, like saying "returning back to" somewhere. Early reports were that Beth and Jenn had driven from Woodstock to Mount Vernon, Ill. on Thursday night, May 20, 2010. But only Jenn is around to say that. What do Ryan and Nathan Ridge have to say about what time Beth and Jenn arrived in Mount Vernon on Friday morning, May 21?

Check out the phone records for Thursday night/Friday/Saturday/Sunday. They tell a story by the calls that were made (and the absence of calls that one might expect would have been made).

The Woodstock Police have known since June 2010 that Jenn told me on June 10, 2010, that "Beth never intended to take a train." So this is a problem for Jenn, if she gave a written statement to police that she took Beth to Centralia so that Beth could take a train. Why did it take from June 2010 to March 2012 for this to result in a felony charge?

What should Jenn do now? If I were Jenn, I'd

1. Keep the Public Defender assigned to me. Kim Messer will represent her well.
2. Not bail on the Public Defender and go with an attorney who has any ties, connections, friendships with anyone else even remotely connected to this case or known in the circle of Beth's friends or acquaintances or business contacts. Since she has a Public Defender, she must not have funds for a private attorney.
3. Keep my mouth shut, no matter how tempting it might be to talk to anyone except my attorney.
4. Find one trusted (professional) ally, sit down in front of a videocamera, and make a complete accounting of my friendship with Beth and all the people around her. I'd tell it all - the good, the bad and the ugly. I'd get it all on a record, "just in case" something happened to me. That "something" being an unplanned, premature demise, even if it looked like a natural death or accident. Call such a recording "insurance".

Has Jenn been threatened? Does she know anything about drug deals (use, purchases, sales, dealer's names), misappropriation of funds, non-reporting of income (personal or business), payment of "cash wages" not reported to IRS or Illinois Dept. of Revenue (cash wages aren't necessarily "wages"), pregnancies, affairs, getaway week-ends.

It's not unlawful to pay workers in cash. But what is unlawful is to classify an office worker as a contract worker without meeting specific requirements in the Internal Revenue Code. It's unlawful to pay a contract worker more than $600 without issuing a Form 1099. If the worker in the office is actually an "employee", then the employer must withhold, and remit, for Social Security and Federal and State income taxes; also, the employer must cough up for Unemployment Insurance and Workers Comp. Were required Forms W-2 or 1099 issued to Jenn for all earnings at the Bentley Law Firm? If an office worker receives any "consideration" for services, (use of a vehicle, house rent, travel money, food money, etc.), that's reportable income.

How big a problem is it for the person who asks for a Public Defender but understates his (or her) monthly income on the financial affidavit? Does anyone from the court follow-up and verify that information? Or check on how many persons are actually supported? If the financial affidavit given under penalty of perjury?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

C.L. Expo - Wow!

The Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce hit another home-run this year with its 2012 Home & Business Expo at Crystal Lake South High School. This event is well organized and high energy! It runs one more day, and you may want to drop by on Sunday (March 25) from 11:00AM until 3:00PM.

(L-R) Button, Linden, Smith
There are 140 exhibitors. Be sure to stop and meet the folks manning the booths and pick up their promotional information. And save it.

Staffing the booth for the McHenry County College were Sharon Button, Peter Linden and Dr. Vicky Smith, President of the College. The College had a good location on the corner of an aisle, and Dr. Smith was right out front speaking to students who were passing by and promoting the College. I think it's highly commendable that a president of a college will spend her day at a community expo. Thanks, Dr. Smith! And thanks to your colleagues. They were doing a great job, too, representing MCC.

The Crystal Lake Chamber has certainly found the "magic" to promoting a successful event. All the booth space sold out well in advance of the opening of the Expo. Many thanks to all the Chamber members and volunteers for participating in this great event.

I didn't get the names of this happy couple (lower photo), but they were certainly having a good time!

Friday, March 23, 2012

MCSD - no sheriff? What if ???

When a person runs for elected office, how important is it that he be eligible to run? No, I'm not talking about Obama and his country of birth. Something more important and a whole lot closer to home. Well, if you call McHenry County "home", that is...

There are certain State requirements for a person to run, say, for the office of Sheriff of McHenry County. Those requirements are:
1. U.S. citizen
2. Resident of McHenry County for at least one year
3. not a convicted felon
4. At least 18 years of age

Those are the requirements. All the candidates for sheriff in the November 2010 general election met those requirements.

However, and this is an important "however", there may be a disqualifier that applies to two of the candidates. As you'll remember, there were three candidates in the race: incumbent Keith Nygren, Michael Mahon and Gus Philpott.

Nygren was at the time the elected sheriff and was running for re-election.
Mahon was employed by the Cook County Sheriff's Office.
Philpott was self-employed.

Nygren should have known that he was disqualified from running for office. Mahon might not have known. Philpott was not disqualified.

What could possibly disqualifiy Nygren and Mahon? A Federal law. The Hatch Act. The Hatch Act of 1939. In summary, the Hatch Act prohibits state and local government employees from running for public office, if some federal funds support the position, even if their position is funded almost entirely with local funds. (Source: this summary appears on, which is not a legal reference but is a good starting place.)

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department receives substantial federal funds for jail and other operations; hence, wasn't Nygren disqualified from running for office in 2010?

Was Mahon also disqualified?

If both were, then there was one candidate for office remaining qualified. Eliminating Numbers 1 and 2 in the results of the General Election in November 2010, that gives the elected office to the only remaining person on the ballot.

What federal investigator will choose to remove Nygren from office, since he knew, or should have known, that he was ineligible to run? How fast can it be done?

Why didn't County officials recognize that Nygren  was ineligible? Was there any talk behind closed doors about the Hatch Act disqualifier?

Will Nygren have to refund $12,000/month for the past 16 months? Should I claim back pay? I've already stated that I will drive my own car. I don't need an over-size Chevy Tahoe with heated leather seats. And I'll buy my own gas.

How will I run an office of 400 employees? I have an experienced, law-enforcement officer already lined up. This person has more than 20 years' experience, including command experience, and is totally free of any ties to anyone at MCSD. This person is not from McHenry County and will work with me to clean up the department and restore its image with the public.

The motto of "To Protect and to Serve" will be restored, and the employees will find MCSD to be a professional operation, which they will once again be proud to name as their employer.

DKvsDH is back

You may have stopped looking a while back for updates on the "Dirty Keith vs. Dirty Harry" blog that was being written a while back, but now it's back.

The site may stay up a while and then be removed, as in the past, but there is some hard-hitting information there from someone who has been following issues in McHenry County for quite a while.

The author's ire was raised when he was slammed during an election-year campaign in 2008 and when he felt that crimes he was reporting were not being taken seriously. 

What do you think would be the outcome if U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald came to McHenry County and launched an investigation into matters of interest to him (and us)? How many months would he spend digging for evidence? Maybe most wouldn't even know an investigation had been underway, until charges were announced.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

US Supreme Court on plea bargains

The Reuters News Service reports new standards for plea bargains, and EVERYONE involved in the criminal justice system should know of them. Read the article here

The scariest part of the article is that "The Justice Department reported that 97 percent of federal convictions and 94 percent of state convictions in 2009 were the result of a guilty plea."

Think about what this means. in 2009, 94 out of 100 people who were convicted of state crimes made a deal. In that deal they pled Guilty. The case was settled in a negotiated plea. Some of those undoubtedly started with a jury trial and a deal was struck before the jury came back with its verdict. Others never went to trial.

The State (the prosecutor; here in Illinois, the State's Attorney's office) struck a deal with the defendant's attorney. The deal was accepted, and the defendant pled Guilty.

It's a roll of the dice. Heck, I chickened out myself and took a deal when I got a headlight ticket several years ago. I thought about fighting it. The risk was $150 in court costs. Could I have gotten a Not Guilty in a bench or jury trial? Yes, the headlight was out. Yes, the ticket was at 6:00PM on a dark winter night, right in front of my residence. Yes, I was on a public street with a burned-out headlight. The cop was going to give me a warning, until a second cop showed up and reminded him of an order at the police station that, if I got stopped for anything, I was to get a ticket, not a warning.

Would the judge or a jury have decided in my favor? And this was just for a headlight ticket, so I paid the $100 and avoided the risk of another $150. The "offer" was to cough up the $100 and pay it in advance or go to court over it.

Now, consider the plight of a person facing felony charges (or even misdemeanor charges). Do you take a deal? What if you know you didn't do it? People are convicted every day, because the prosecution does a better sales job on the judge (or jury) than the defense.

But a felony conviction can mean prison and a lot of years behind bars, if the judge gets up on the wrong side of the bed on sentencing day. And sometimes the judge doesn't have a choice. He might be stuck with minimum sentencing requirements, after a jury convicts.

How does a defendant know if she (or he) is getting a fair offer from the prosecution or if her own attorney is counseling her adequately on the offer? Should an accused go with a public defender or do whatever it takes to round up the huge amount of money for a private attorney? Is there any guarantee of better representation by a private attorney?

Many people do not understand the quality and dedication of a public defender. The attorney is a public defender's office has chosen that employment for a reason. Every person charged with a crime is entitled to be defended. If you are represented by a public defender, talk with your attorney about his or her dedication. Determine if you can be confident in the representation provided to you.

And, if you decide to look for a private attorney, find one who is totally independent and 100% clear to represent you only. If an attorney has any ties to anyone even remotely connected to your case, pick someone else. Don't go with any low-ball fee offer or pro bono offer without first being 100% certain there is no potential conflict-of-interest.

Just as you must be completely honest with your attorney in answering questions in the privacy of the attorney's office, you must be able to be certain that your attorney is being honest with you.

Remember the car salesman who was selling the shiny, looks-like-new, low-mileage car that was driven only on Sundays? What he didn't say was that it was driven at the Sunday stock car races!

For a good novel that pretty well explains how the "system" works, you might want to spend $2.99 and buy the Kindle version of A Dark Obsession Times 2", by John L. Work.

Save 15¢/gal.

Do you have a Mobil SpeedPass? Do you use it? What is it? A small plastic, encoded "key" that you swipe at the gas pump (Mobil stations) to bypass digging into your wallet or purse for your credit card.

Check out the 15¢/gallon savings available now to May 31, by using your SpeedPass at a Mobil station. The offer is good for up to 100 gallons. Let's see ... 100 x $0.15 = $15.00. A few bucks saved here; a few bucks saved there. It all adds up.

Information is available at If you don't have a SpeedPass yet, you might just want to get one.

Just don't lose it!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wyatt case now in online record

The charges filed Monday against Jennifer Wyatt in the Beth Bentley missing person case are now in the public record.

Case No. 12CF000250 shows a filing date of March 20, 2012, and also shows a Charge Date of May 25, 2010, which is two days after Wyatt reportedly last saw Bentley, when Wyatt says she drove Bentley from Mount Vernon, Ill. to Centralia, Ill. and dropped her off near the Amtrak station.

The print edition of the Northwest Herald today reports that Wyatt was interviewed and arrested on Monday by the Woodstock Police Department. While it doesn't say so, Wyatt would have been transferred to the McHenry County Jail, presumably on Monday. The paper states that Wyatt was released Tuesday (yesterday) after posting 10% of a $7,000 bond.

The paper also states that Wyatt had worked in the law office of Scott Bentley, "where Beth Bentley also worked. But Wyatt was let go when the office moved to a different location in McHenry."

What the article doesn't state is that, in spite of early doubts in the minds of many about Wyatt's "Centralia story", Scott Bentley continued to employ Wyatt for months after Beth's disappearance. According to sources, only one employee moved with Scott with his new office on Bull Valley Road from Route 31.

Wyatt's compensation arrangement with the Bentley law firm (whether an employee or contract associate or if paid at all) was the subject of a child support action, also in McHenry County Circuit Court. That case, No. 10FA000340, dragged on and on after October, 2010. Although the entry for the last court date of January 20, 2012, shows a status check for a December hearing on a motion, the "result" shows an allowance of a "foreign judgment". That may be the substantial amount child support that Wyatt's ex-husband Kenneth Paplham was seeking.

The new criminal charges have a court date scheduled for today at 9:00AM, in Courtroom 302, that of Judge Condon. A public defender was appointed for Wyatt yesterday in Rights Court in the jail.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wyatt arrested. See

(9:40PM) At 1:34PM today the Northwest Herald published an article about Jennifer Wyatt's arrest on an obstructing justice charge. The article was updated at 7:19PM. Seethe Northwest Herald article here.

Readers called me at 1:44PM, 1:54PM and 2:27PM. Thank you!!!

I was working at a Woodstock polling place today and tried to post using a SmartPhone. It's not so smart as I had thought it was. It would let me write a headline but not add any article or text. So I'll now have to refer to it as a DumbPhone.

Unfortunately, the Northwest Herald story is a masterpiece of nothing. A reader cannot even figure out what Jennifer Wyatt is alleged to have done.

On June 10, 2010, Jenn called me and told me that she had dropped off Beth near the Centralia, Ill. Amtrak station and that Beth had never intended to take a train. What did Jenn originally tell the Woodstock P.D., after a missing person case was filed by Bentley family members on Monday night, May 24, 2010? Did she tell them that she had dropped Beth off to take a train or just that she had dropped off Beth near the Amtrak station.

I know that I made an erroneous assumption immediately that Beth had taken the 6 o'clock train north toward Chicago. I checked the Amtrak schedule for its arrival time in Chicago and for the Metra to Woodstock. I wondered who was picking Beth up at 2:05AM, when the Metra train arrived in Woodstock.

But did Jenn really tell police that Beth had taken the train? Or did everyone assume that?

Since I've been writing about this since June 2010, why did it take 21 months for police to charge Wyatt with lying about the train?

And who charged her? You certainly cannot tell from the article. Did Woodstock Police charge her, or did the Illinois State Police charge her? As of tonight there is no case against Wyatt in the online records of the McHenry County Circuit Clerk. Was she charged downstate and arrested locally on a warrant?

Seems to me that, if she was arrested and already being released on Tuesday on a $7,000 bail from the McHenry County Jail, then there ought to be some local record online, if there is to be a local record.

The reporters also wrote, "Police now say Wyatt was lying when she said she did not have contact with Bentley two days later, according to the criminal complaint."

What does that mean? "Two days later" after what date? Two days after the reported drop-off on Sunday, May 23, in Centralia? Two days after Jenn returned to Woodstock on Monday, May 24? Two days after Beth and Jenn were supposed to have left Woodstock on Thursday, May 20?

And so, if Jenn is alleged to have lied about not having contact with Beth "two days later", does that mean that the police believe Jenn did have contact with Beth? Could that be two days after the Sunday Jenn dropped Beth off?

Is the mystery starting to clear up, or is it getting murkier?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Criminal-case interviews in the Bentley case?

Is the Beth Bentley missing-person case changing into a criminal case?

On January 30th I filed a FOIA request with the Illinois State Police in the Beth Bentley missing person case.

Among other things, I asked:
* Please identify the primary (lead) investigating agency at this time. Is it the Illinois State Police or the Woodstock Police Department or another agency?
* Please identify the last date on which there was communication with the Woodstock Police Department in this matter.
* Please identify how you currently classify this case in your records: Active, Inactive, or by another category.

I also asked for a summary of the case.
On February 14th the Illinois State Police denied my request in its entirety, based on the following reasons:

"The information requested, if disclosed, would interfere with a pending law enforcement proceeding. Your case is still pending adjudication.

"The information requested could create a substantial likelihood that a person will be deprived of a fair trial or an impartial hearing if the information were made public, as your case has not yet been adjudicated.

"Release of the requested information would obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation by the Illinois State Police, as interviews are currently being conducted."

Now, should we take hope at that last reason?

Or should we think that the answer is all smoke and mirrors? Because the ISP would not even disclose that last date of contact with the Woodstock Police Department, I am highly suspicious of its entire response. And  because the ISP FOIA Officer referred to "my" (his word, your) case, I tend to think I got a standard, boiler-plate denial. Should I make them prove it by filing a Request for Review with the Attorney General's Public Access Counselor?.

Because the boiler-plate monthly summary by the Woodstock Police Department to the City Manager (and Woodstock City Council) has not changed for six months, except for a little fine-tuning of grammar. What do you suppose the secret is about the last date of contact.

But let's go with the positive note in the response. What "interviews" do you guess might be underway at this time? Who has been in the little room with the one-way mirror?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Where is Beth Bentley - 95 weeks later

Beth Bentley, Woodstock wife, mother, law-firm office manager, has now been missing for 95 weeks.

Last seen in Woodstock on Thursday night, May 20, 2010, Beth reportedly traveled to Mount Vernon, Illinois, with friend, co-worker, confidant, sometimes-alibi and banker for her friend, Jennifer Wyatt.

Reportedly they stayed with brothers Ryan and Nathan Ridge in a home just outside Mount Vernon that Ryan was rehabbing. No public statement is known to have ever been made by Ryan or Nathan. They certainly ought to know whether Beth ever arrived in Mount Vernon.

A waitress in the Frosty Mug reportedly waited on Beth, Jennifer, Ryan and Nathan on Friday night, May 21. Later there were attempts to discredit her statement and move the night of table service to two weeks earlier. Supposedly the waitress remembered the group, because she had refused to serve Nathan when he could not prove he was of legal age to purchase alcohol (because he wasn't).

Didn't the Woodstock PD chief say that a Saturday boat rental by Beth had been confirmed> Yet a local (Mount Vernon area) resident was told by the marina operator that he had not rented a boat to such a group.

On June 10, 2010, Jennifer called me and told me that Beth had never intended to spend the week-end at the Ridge house and that, when she took Beth to Centralia on Sunday afternoon, Beth never intended to take a train. Yet she let a number of local people in McHenry County make a trip to Chicago to search for Beth in the area of the Amtrak station in the Loop. Was that on the week-end of June 5? Why the wild goose chase, if Jennifer knew Beth had not taken the train?

Beth was supposed to have a birthday dinner with her father on May 23. When was that canceled, or was it? Telephone records do not indicate calls to him from Beth or Scott on May 23, after Beth reportedly telephoned her husband Scott about 4:00PM for a conversation lasting less than two minutes.

Have police analyzed the phone records and tried to put together a likely scenario from all the phone calls and text messages between people identified as significant in this case? Do the police even have the phone records?

Who entered Beth's Facebook account and removed so many comments and pictures that might have helped police find her? Who had access to her account or to her computer at work? Did police bear down on that person and treat that person with suspicion for unauthorized action on Beth's account? Does Facebook have a condition in its Terms of Service as to who can enter someone else's account?

How hard are law enforcement agencies still looking at this case?

Friday's Executive Order by Obama

While too many were thinking up ways to turn their beer and the Chicago River green, look what President Obama was signing on Friday, March 16, 2012:

Is this a preparatory order for marshal law in the U.S.?


(copy and paste that link)

The added message in the email sent to me with that link was: "Here it comes - the prep order for national marshal law and the take over of the country by executive fiat. It's got it all, from freedom of movement, to food, to fuel, the money supply, confiscation of private property, activation of the Draft, confiscation of property, everything. With this executive order, Obama is one stroke of the pen away from total power."

How's the morale at MCSD?

How's the morale at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? Are most of the employees happy?

How does a sheriff's department determine whether morale is high (or low)? How would deputies feel about participating in an in-house survey? Willing? Confident that opinions will be considered? Certain there would be no retaliation or retributions, if problems are raised?

Don't you just love it when a business (or government) says, "We don't have any problems. We have issues (or concerns)." They've got their heads in the sand. They have problems! And they won't get better by themselves.

One way to ascertain morale is to conduct 360° assessments. With these, everyone is evaluated. Subordinates are rated by bosses. And bosses are rated by subordinates. Imagine that!

The assessments must be conducted by outside consultants. And the teams, units or divisions must be large enough that the responses will be anonymous. When you have only two or three people reporting to a supervisor, the supervisor will know who submitted honest, but negative, information. In this case, a subordinate will most likely decide not to response, or he'll falsify his answers. And that will make the instrument (the 360° assessment) worthless.

What is needed at the top of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? Honesty, Integrity and Transparency. These are leadership qualities. For the MCSD to regain the trust of the public and its employees, these qualities must return.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Parking fee at MCC?

Now that MCC has the Ford interceptor for chasing down parking lot violators, it is looking at a fee for students to even park in the parking lots. Like, what other choice do students have?

There are several ways for students to get to classes. They can walk, run, ride bikes or skateboards, and drive their cars. Or ride with friends. (What student wants to carpool???) Or, of course, there might be a PaceBus. But what if you take the PaceBus there and then can't get home? Can't take the MetraRail; that's for sure.

So MCC has a captive audience, when it comes to the parking. Why not stick it to the students? What choice do they have? What voice do they have? Hence, a parking fee.

What's next? A quarter machine on the toilets? Or even to get into the bathroom in the first place?

The MCC interim VP for administrative services thinks "Fees would be justified because the college would use the money to maintain its lots", according to a Northwest Herald article on March 16. Oh, yeah; sure it would. No doubt the money would disappear into the General Fund.

When will students say, "Enough!" They already pay an outrageous per-credit-hour fee for classes to support the outrageous salaries and benefits paid to teachers and staff. Even the non-credit classes are priced almost out of sight.

It's a "community college", folks; a two-year school. It's not Harvard.

I was surprised to read of the 25 parking spaces for motorcycles and 13 for bicycles. Where are they? How do you find one of those? And what bicyclist wants a "parking space" for his bicycle? Who thought that one up? What happens if a bicyclist parks elsewhere? Do they tow his bike?

Three cheers for new trustee Linda Liddell, who opposes a parking fee.

How did this crash happen?

MCSD squad car 507
When you read a Crash Report prepared by a law enforcement officer, particularly one high up in the food chain, you ought to be able to figure out pretty quickly what happened and, likely, who was at fault.

On March 2, 2012, at about 5:52PM, McHenry County Sheriff's Department squad car 507 was involved in a two-vehicle crash on Route 47, 1/2-mile south of O'Brien Road. That's between Hebron and Woodstock, for those who don't know where O'Brien Road is. The roadway at that point is straight.

That was the evening of a snowstorm and, earlier in the afternoon, roads were very slick and blowing snow sharply restricted visibility.

Most crashes involving police vehicles are investigated by outside agencies. If a deputy's squad car were involved in a crash, the crash ought to be investigated by the Illinois State Police or a police officer from a nearby town. This means that a "more impartial" officer is writing it up, not that that always results in "impartial" reporting.

In this Friday evening crash two weeks ago, Deputy (Lt.) William Lutz said he was driving south on Route 47. He was driving a white, unmarked, 2007 Chevrolet Impala.

The other driver, Jennifer Norton, of Hebron, was driving a 2003 Ford Escape.

Numerous errors exist in the Crash Report, as prepared by Lt. John Miller #1431, of the Sheriff's Department. Was the Illinois State Police even called that evening to inquire whether a trooper was available to cover this crash, or did deputies "assume" (or hope) no trooper was available? Was Hebron PD called to request an officer to investigate? Or was Woodstock PD called?

The white unmarked squad car shows direct-impact damage in the left rear door and the fender over and toward the front of the car from the left rear tire. The diagram in the Crash Report shows the damage to the squad car correctly; however, the narrative report incorrectly reports the damage to the "driver's side rear quarter panel" without mentioning the major damage to the left rear door.

The Ford had damage to the front bumper, between the center of the bumper and the right headlight. However, the diagram shows the damage on the right side, including the fender and the right door, which did not have damage, according to photographs taken at the scene.

Now ask yourself this. How does a crash occur between oncoming vehicles that results in left rear door damage to one vehicle and right front bumper damage to the other vehicle? Am I the only one in the county who thinks the deputy's car was not "traveling s/b" on Route 47? I understand "traveling s/b" to mean that the vehicle was moving south in the southbound lane in a straight direction-of-travel, not sliding or turning. If that's true, there is no way that the damage shown could have occurred to the squad car.

Usually, the direction of North is indicated by an arrow pointing "up" or to the top of the page as you look at it. On this Crash Report, the "North" arrow points down. The diagram contains no drawing of the vehicles at the point of impact. The drawing is only of the vehicles where they came to rest. That final position is supported by one of the photographs taken at the scene.

The deputy's unmarked car is off the road on the west shoulder, facing south. The civilian's car is facing south in the southbound traffic lane. A MCSD squad car with emergency lights on is parked in the south lane with its emergency lights on, protecting the civilian's car in the traffic lane..

Skid marks in the snow indicate the deputy's car slid off the road in a southwest direction and quickly stopped. Was the deputy's car actually struck in the northbound lane and then went off the road sideways as it slid to a stop? Was the deputy making a U-turn on Route 47 at the time he was hit, as was told to me shortly after the crash? Did the deputy say over the police radio that his car had been hit while he was turning around?

This might account for the short distance that the deputy's vehicle traveled after being hit and for the almost-direct hit damage to the left rear door of the squad car and the front bumper damage to the Ford Escape.

Would this account for there being no ticket issued to Ms. Norton? If the crash wasn't her fault, you avoid a big mess in court by not giving her a ticket. But, if it wasn't her fault, whose fault was it?

The Crash Report has a section labeled Contributory Cause(s), primary and secondary. That section of the report was left blank. Why?

The squad car was towed from the scene.Yet the crash report box for "Towed (due to crash)" was left blank. An entry at the bottom of Page 2 indicates the squad car was towed by DeCraene's to the Sheriff's Dept.

Why was this report handwritten, rather than using the Mobile Crash Report ("MCR" (computerized reporting form))?

Don't MCSD crash-reporting guidelines require the reporting deputy (Lt. Miller, in this case) to include a diagram showing the vehicles in motion (direction before impact; position (or angle) of vehicles at the point-of-impact, movement of vehicle after impact to final resting place), since a Department vehicle was involved and towed from the scene?

Who was the more at-fault driver in this crash? By placing Ms. Norton as Unit #1, the majority of liability is assigned to her. Being #1 means that the County will not pay for the damage to her car, even if she was not at fault or not the major contributor to the crash.

Is there a well-known, but probably unwritten, rule at MCSD that, if you are called to investigate a crash involving a city, county or state vehicle, that you ticket the driver of Unit #1?

I don't mean to be picking on Lt. Lutz here; I don't know him. But if he did begin a U-turn on a slick highway during blowing snow and reduced visibility conditions, in a white car with no emergency lights visible to the side, and Ms. Norton came upon his car sideways in the road (with limited traction due to slick highway), was the crash really her fault?

The use of "in summary" in this Crash Report makes it impossible to know what happened on that highway. Did Ms. Norton state that she lost control? Did she say why, such as "I was traveling at 15-20MPH on a slick highway. Blowing snow sharply reduced visibility. When I saw a white car sideways in my lane, I slammed on my brakes and my car slid into the white car"?

When Lt. Lutz said "in summary" that he was "traveling s/b on Rt. 47", was he? For what distance? Was he actually completing a U-turn when his squad car was hit?

There is no way that he was driving straight ahead in the southbound lane and got hit while in the southbound lane. Just look at the damage to the unmarked squad car. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mar. 2 blizzard & MCSD squad crash

Remember the blizzard of March 2, only two weeks ago? I do. I headed for home at 3:30PM and canceled a trip to Marengo. It was almost impossible to see the roadway in daylight, and I decided it would be even harder at night.

Remember reading about the McHenry County Sheriff's Department squad car that was in a crash on Route 47 south of Hebron? Remember reading all the details in the paper, so that you could figure out what happened from the newspaper article? I don't, either.

I heard how it happened that Friday night, and I picked up the Crash Report on March 13.

Now I've read some sloppy crash reports, but this one gets the prize. And this one was written by the MCSD commander in charge of patrol. Of all people to write a crash report, wouldn't you think his would be a sterling example of careful report writing, if for no other reason that to set an example for the road deputies of the Department.

"Driver Unit 1 stated, in summary, that she was traveling n/b on Rt. 47 when she lost control of her vehicle and struck unit #2.
"Driver Unit #2 stated, in summary, that he was traveling s/b on Rt. 47 when he observed unit #1 loose (sic) control and enter the s/b lane of travel. Driver Unit #2 stated that unit #1 then struck his vehicle in the driver's side rear quarter pannel (sic)."

This crash report was written by Lt. John Miller #1431.

If any deputy wrote a crash report like that, he ought to get five days off and be sent to refresher crash investigation and report-writing school.

Unit 1 was the female civilian driver.
Unit 2 was the male deputy sheriff.

Watch for the article tomorrow, when I'll dissect the crash report and the photos. To whet your appetite, though, I'll tell you that the deputy's unmarked white Chevrolet took a direct hit in the left rear door and the quarter-panel above and to the front of the left rear tire. In other words, the deputy's car was nearly perpendicular to the oncoming northbound car.

The Ford Escape driven by the woman resident of Hebron had damage on the front bumper under and to the center of the right headlight, not on the right front side as drawn in the Crash Report diagram.

It occurs to me that the squad car may have been sideways across Rt. 47 when it was hit. How convenient that the Crash Report does not address that or show a diagram of the vehicles at the point of impact.

Writing the report as he did, Lt. Miller places the fault for the crash on Unit 1, the female civilian driver. Yet she was not ticketed.

How did this crash really happen?

No slack for Seipler

The Northwest Herald still won't cut Zane Seipler any slack on his going back to work as a deputy at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department on Monday, March 19.

The headline in today's paper? "Fired deputy returns to work on Monday".

Nope, sorry, folks. It's "Reinstated deputy returns to work..."

Why didn't the paper separate its stories and get them right, even at this late date?

Seipler beat Sheriff Nygren four times.
1. Before the Arbitrator
2. In Circuit Court
3. In the Appellate Court
4. At the Illinois Supreme Court

Rumor was that Nygren's attorney didn't want to drag the case to the Appellate or Supreme Courts. How much money did Nygren waste with his losing crusade?

Why was Zane fired? It wasn't over the warnings that he wrote. It was because Zane had complained about racial profiling by deputies.

Who says that was the reason? Zane does. Who else?

More importantly, the sheriff's own attorney said so in Federal Court on April 6, 2011. It's in the transcript. She said Zane was fired for complaining about racial profiling. What's not clear about that?

I haven't heard Nygren say that his attorney lied to the judge in Federal Court. I believe she was telling the truth. I was standing right next to her, when she said it. There was no hesitation, no mumbling.

Will Nygren have the check for 3 1/2 years' back pay ready for Zane on Monday morning? The very best thing he could do at this point is to have that check ready and to hand it to Zane himself, when Zane shows up for work.

Zane will have to be re-indoctrinated. There will be some hoops to jump through. Will there be any retaliation? Retribution? Will some supervisor say, "Raise your right foot. Now raise your left foot. Wait a minute! I didn't tell you to put your right foot down. Can't you follow instructions? Are we going to have trouble with your following orders?"

The sheriff and the undersheriff had better remind all deputies, including lieutenants and sergeants, to treat all deputies, including Zane, with respect and dignity.

The sheriff's department still needs a big cleaning up. Watch for more news in the next week about an example of poor leadership and false reporting earlier this month.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

U.S. Flag respect

The U.S. Flag Code calls for respect, dignity and honor to be shown to the U.S. Flag at all times.

Imagine my reaction when I saw the advertising photo for Gary Mullen and The Works in this week's Sidetracks magazine. Mullen will drag his Queen Tribune across the stage at the Raue Center in Crystal Lake on St. Patrick's Day.

I wonder if the Tea Party will show up to heckle him if he wears the U.S. Flag onto the stage.

If you wonder what the toothless Flag Code has to say about wearing the Flag or using it as Mullen does, Google it and you'll find explanations from various organizations.

I thought I might be able to snag an image off Mullen's website, but I can't. Nor could I find that image online, as it appears in the print version of today's paper.

But I did see another outrageous use of the Flag in advertising, and that's in the online banner ad for the June 30th Piano Concert at the Raue. See the piano keyboard painted as a U.S. Flag.

You can remind these performers of your patriotic feelings for the Flag by boycotting their performances. I certainly won't be forking out $59-65 to see Mullen wear the Flag.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Want to sell some gold?

There will be a two-day "Gold Party" at Woodstock's new Best Western Inn this Friday and Saturday. Come on by to sell your unwanted, broken or out-dated gold or silver. Walk out with immediate cash.

Friday, March 16, 11am-7:00pm
Saturday, March 17, 11am-7:00pm

The event will be held in the Best Western's conference room.

While you are there, pick up a brochure about Best Western's free-night plan and information on rates. This inn is brand new and sparkles. The pool is clean, and the morning breakfast for guests is first rate.

For inn reservation information, call 815.337.0065 or visit

Sheriff fails to halt Pyle's pay

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission met this morning in its regularly-scheduled March monthly meeting. On the Agenda was Item 6.0, "Executive Session."

There being no topic to be discussed during an Executive Session, the Commissioners proceeded to the end of the meeting.

Chairperson Janelle Crowley bagged the meeting and did not show up for the 10:30AM start. Not only that, she gave no notice to the other four commissioners that she would not attend, and she could not be reached. The commissioners waited ten minutes for her, and then Commissioner Patrick McAndrews called the meeting to order at 10:40AM. (Crowley recently left her position as HR Director for the City of Woodstock and is not HR Director for Elgin Community College. She could have taken a personal day today to fulfill her duty, but that might have cost her $400-500.)

Minutes and bills were approved. Applications were passed around from three persons for lateral consideration, including one from Maricopa County, Arizona. A motion was made to add those applications to the eligibility list. (Isn't the eligibility list a list of those ready to be hired?)

A file of letters was circulated without comment among the commissioners.

And then the meeting was adjourned at about 10:50AM

Out of respect for the agenda and protocol, when the Executive Session item passed, I did not ask for an opportunity to speak. The public comment portion of the meeting had been earlier.

After the meeting I expressed my outrage that Sheriff Keith Nygren had failed to bring the matter of Sgt. Greg Pyle's employment before the Merit Commission. What possible reason could Nygren have for delaying? Does he intend not to fire Pyle?

Pyle has been charged, arrested and indicted on felony charges. I was going to write "serious felony charges", but all felonies are serious. Nygren could have called a Special Meeting of the Merit Commission in January. he could have arranged for Pyle's termination to be considered at the February Regular Meeting but, instead, that meeting was canceled. And nothing happened at this meeting.

Why is Nygren waiting? How much longer will Nygren pay Pyle $9,000/month? How much longer, Keith?

Five Guys - now open

The new Five Guys restaurant in Crystal Lake has opened.

In the past couple of weeks, several readers have called me to ask when it would open. I emailed the home office and received its reply this morning. The restaurant opened yesterday!

So much for being one for the first customers! I had been in touch with them for two months, after I noticed that the restaurant address was wrong on the website. The address originally on the website was about 2 1/2 miles east of the actual location, and they weren't in a big hurry to correct it. But they finally did.

Five Guys is located in front of Best Buy. You know where that is...

The address is still wrong on the website. It's not 6000 N. Northwest Highway.

Wed. Sale - where are the cutomers?

Today was a Wednesday sale (8AM-1PM) at the new Kohl's in Woodstock.

Where was everybody? Come on, folks. We've got our own Kohl's here now. No more hauling over to Crystal Lake.

Have you been in the new store yet?

I knew about it from the insert in today's Northwest Herald. Of course, if you are not a subscriber, you wouldn't know about it from that source. You can sign up for email blasts from Kohls at

I remember talking with a newspaper publisher in Kansas City 25 years ago who was bemoaning the loss of subscribers. Yes, even then... I told him that every household in town was losing money, if they didn't subscribe to his paper. Most families can save more money every week with coupons than a subscription costs, so why not subscribe?

And those families who are serious couponers save even more.

You don't have to like the politics or the favoritism of the local paper to gain financially from having it dropped at your door every morning.

"If you build it, ..."

Is there anyone who can't finish that sentence?

The Associated Press reports that "An Illinois couple" hopes to buy the farmhouse and baseball field in Dyersville, Iowa that was the site in the movie, Field of Dreams.

For what? For 24 baseball and softball diamonds. Why, shades of McHenry County!

Do you know where Dyersville, Iowa is? I do. I've been there. Twice. It is literally out in the middle of nowhere.

My first thought was, "If you can't sell it in Illinois, peddle it in Iowa." Remember the failed attempt for a baseball field at MCC? And on Route 14 near Woodstock? And in Lake in the Hills along Route 47?

I wonder if the "Illinois couple" is putting up its own money in the venture or if they will seek investors. You know "investors"; right? People who actually want a return of their investment, not just on their investment.

Look on your map for Dyersville, a town of 4,000 people. How would it accommodate people, traffic, etc. associated with such a venture? And, if the project failed, who would be left with the mess?

Who is involved in the deal? Any familiar names?

DUI knocked down to highway damage

This morning's Northwest Herald reports that a driver, arrested in January for DUI and unlawful damage to highway, made a deal with the special prosecutor and look what happened. Only two months ago.

When is the last time that a DUI case was resolved within two months of arrest and without a defense attorney?

Joseph Salgado, 29, was arrested by a McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy on January 20. That's January 20, 2012.

The newspaper story didn't quite get it right, when it read, "...a DUI charge that was reduced to unlawful damage to a highway." The damage charge appears to have been filed in January, along with the DUI charge.

To avoid an appearance of impropriety since a relative of Salgado is employed in the State's Attorney's office, a special prosecutor handled the case on behalf of the State's Attorney's office.

Judge Gordon Graham imposed a fine, which with associated court costs and fees will total $1,628, one-year supervision, DUI school and victim impact panel.

So how did Salgado skate on the DUI charge?

The DUI charges were nolle prossed. Not quite the same as dismissed, but "not processed"; in other words, he got away without getting hung with a DUI conviction. What was his BAC? Was everything done "by the book" at the time of arrest, or was the prosecution's case so weak that they couldn't make the DUI charges stick?

Salgado didn't even have an attorney-of-record. No attorney for Salgado is listed in the Circuit Court online records. He probably saved $5,000 and a year of court dates by not having an attorney.

Frankly, I think the Northwest Herald's headline for its article was unfair. A 29-year-old driver stands on his own, and there was no valid reason for writing the headline as it was published.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Now who is disabled?

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,..."
~ William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Now enters a new claim for a non-duty permanent disability pension. You can probably figure out what this is, but take it apart if you are having trouble with it.

Pension - money you receive on a regular basis, possibly for life.
Disability - unable to work. Perhaps unable to perform the significant requirements of the occupation; sometimes all of the requirements.
Permanent - expected to last a lifetime, or maybe only more than one year.
Non-duty - Did not occur at work. Results from injury or illness away from work. Not a Workers' Compensation claim.

"Non-duty" is often thought of in the cases of police officers or firefighters who apply for disability pensions. Non-duty, as in "off-duty". Or in the cases of other law enforcement officers. Say, deputy sheriffs.

If a person were "under fire" (and I don't mean dodging real bullets) at his place of employment (perhaps serving out a paid administrative leave, for example) and was worried that the "paid" part of the leave might get changed to "unpaid" leave, thus leaving him with no income, might that employee conclude that he really was disabled and ought to apply for a pension?

Let's say he's not old enough to qualify for a retirement pension and as a person in good physical shape and able to function in his former employment without physical restriction, could he slip on a banana peel or some "black ice", feel a little back pain, and think, "Aha, I'm disabled. Feels permanent to me..."?

How disabled have some permanently-disabled people been in the past? Some of them have made long road trips without difficulty; others have been video-taped doing somersaults on trampolines. Those sneaky investigators with the cameras and the long lenses show up at the worst times, don't they?

Does Nygren know Holly?

In the Northwest Herald article about Monday night's single-vehicle crash on Route 176, Sheriff Keith Nygren is quoted as saying, "Front airbags deployed within the vehicle and Holly was found to have not been wearing her safety belt,"

He is referring to Holly Pfeil, 41, of Lake in the Hills. Usually, drivers are referred to by last name. How come Keith was on a familiar-name basis?

The press release referred to in the article is actually already on the sheriff's webpage and, indeed, it is phrased with "Holly" in the sentence about no safety belt.

2 answers = 2-day cruise?

How come I didn't believe "John" when he just called to tell me that I had been "carefully selected" to be called for answers to two political questions and, for that, I would receive a 2-day cruise to the Bahamas.

Maybe I should have at least listened to the two questions. But then there would have been the sales pitch that I just needed to provide my credit card number, bank account number, Social Security Number, and copies of my driver's license and Passport to receive the "free" cruise and probably purchase my airline on Scareways Unified immediately.

Sorry, John; no deal.

I wonder how many others in the 815 Area Code were "carefully selected".

What is "crazy"?

Check out Jeff Corliss and "flying" in Eric Worre's message to network marketers today. 

Do you agree with Jeff and his definition of "crazy"?

I recall a friend in Colorado who commented one day that I was involved in many "high risk" endeavors: motorcycle riding, flying, white-water rafting, walking on hot coals in my bare feet..."  Funny how I never thought of any of them as "high risk." 

Are you living or just existing? Do you have joy in your life? Passion? If you don't, what step will you take today to start living again?

Monday, March 12, 2012

MCSD sticks its nose out again...

... so why not take a swing at it?

Wouldn't you think by now that the McHenry County Sheriff's Department would have NIXLE figured out? I mean, for how many years has it been using NIXLE? Can't the Sheriff, Undersheriff or head of Patrol figure out things like this in advance of need? What if we have a catastrophe around here?

I can't reproduce the NIXLE message here about the crash on Route 176 between Route 47 and Haligus Road this evening, but take a look at before they update it.

The map is worthless. All it shows is Route 47 south from Woodstock. It doesn't show 176 or any alternate roads around the crash site.

The message reads:

AVOID ROUTE 176 BETWEEN ROUTE 47 AND HALIGUS RD for the next 3 HOURS due to traffic incident. Some roads closed.

Agency advises you to AVOID Location due to a current traffic issue.

A vehicle crash near Specific Location has closed Impacted Roads and will require a detour of traffic for the next Timeframe. "Timeframe" is obviously a fillable field in the announcement form, but no one has trained personnel on filling the information field.

Suggested alternate routes (if desired). Deputies at the scene could advise dispatchers where the roads are shut down and provide even general information about alternate routes.

Additional traffic information (if desired). Deputies could inform dispatchers of fire and paramedic teams at the scene or enroute from Woodstock or Crystal Lake (or both), large trucks standing in the roadway (waiting for the road to re-open), etc.

City forces residents into street

Pedestrians walking on the City sidewalk in front of the Woodstock Recreation Center need their hip-waders in rainy weather.

The water today wasn't so bad as it is after a heavy rain, but it was enough to force a man on a motorized scooter into busy Lake Avenue this afternoon. The man, a resident of nearby Walden Oaks, makes the trip several days a week to 3 Brothers Restaurant, on the corner of Lake Avenue and Route 47.

When water is standing on the sidewalk, as it was in this photo at 5:30PM, he must operate his scooter in the street rather than through the water.

An added danger to street operation is the crown of the roadway, which forces the scooter operator to venture further into the traffic lane, instead of being able to ride near the shoulder.

The City has known about this sidewalk problem for years. How much longer will it take to modify the sidewalk elevation? It's probably about a three-hour job for two men with a front-loader and a truck fulled of dirt and gravel. Of course, with Federal, State, County, Township, City and insurance requirements and regulations, it's probably a $10,000 job, instead of less than $500.

Who said, "Beware the Ides of March"?

If you are a fan of Y103.9 and you have heard lawyer Jeffrey Scholl's ad that's running now, then you might be inclined to think that Shakespeare said, "Beware the Ides of March."

How many teachers will ask that question this week, maybe even on March 15, and believe that Shakespeare said it. And how many students will answer "Shakespeare", when asked "Who said 'Beware the Ides of March'?"

Heck, how many kids today (and how many teachers) will even have a clue what "the Ides of March" means?

Who knows whether Shakespeare did say it? Probably, at one time or another, he might have, but he would have been quoting someone else.

The line occurs in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar and refers to the date of Caesar's assassination in 44 B.C. A little more homework on my part indicates that it was the soothsayer in the play who uttered the warning.

So, did Shakespeare "say" it? Well, he wrote it as a line in a play, to be spoken by an actor.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beth Bentley - gone 94 weeks

This week I was asked, "Why do you keep writing about Beth?"

The answer is easy. "It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it." And my favorite book title keeps me going. (Can't quite read the title? Click on the book to enlarge the image; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

Who else is keeping Beth's status out in front of everybody? Somebody else want to take over?

When will I stop writing?When Beth is found; that's when. And when the people responsible for her disappearance have been identified, caught, prosecuted and jailed. That's when.

To all of you "out there" who are concerned about Beth's disappearance and the "investigation" into her disappearance: "How about some help?"

Beth reportedly disappeared on Sunday, May 23, 2010, from Centralia, Ill. That's "reportedly", as in according to the report of one person.

Come on, folks. Isn't anyone else outraged at the lack of news about progress in this case? The police need your help. But, without any information ever from them, just how interested is the public in trying to help at this time?

More than one woman has told me she hopes she never disappears from Woodstock, if the so-called "investigation" by the Woodstock P.D. is any example of how seriously a disappearance from this town is taken. Of course, Beth "reportedly" didn't disappear from Woodstock. So why is the Woodstock P.D. the lead investigatory agency? Only because she was reported missing to the Woodstock P.D.

Beth's co-worker, friend, traveling companion and sometimes-alibi, Jennifer Wyatt, knows more than has reached the public. If this is "only" a missing person case, why isn't more information available?

What was the mood in the car on the long drive to Mount Vernon, Ill. late on Thursday, May 20, 2010? Were they in a good mood? Or was there strain? After working all day and not leaving Woodstock until mid-evening, the 330-mile driver drive to Mount Vernon should have taken six hours. What time did they leave? 9:00PM? 10:00PM? Did they both drive? They couldn't get there by 2:00AM, but isn't that the time they supposedly arrived?

The Woodstock P.D. works for the public. It's the Public that pays for police officers. They don't work for the Bentley family. They don't work for any one of them or for any of them. They ought to be working for Beth - the person who has been missing for 94 weeks.

No one has been "cleared", as was early announced by one friend of the family. The police don't "clear" anyone. But no one has been named as a suspect or even as a person-of-interest. Are there plenty of candidates in those categories?

Has anyone ever seen a "story board" of the leads in this "missing person" case? You know, a wall full of pinned notes with names, locations, events, times, leads. In cop school they probably call it something else. (And, no, I don't watch CSI. I don't watch any television.) Call the "dots", and then start connecting the dots. That's how this "missing person" case will be solved.