Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Terms limits for Illinois?

The Illinois legislature will never vote for term limits, but what about if the People called for a referendum and put a limit of five two-year terms on Illinois State Representatives and Senators, with at least four years' waiting if they decide they want back on the gravy train.

Is there a chart somewhere that lists the names of Representatives and Senators in the order of years served (and I used that term loosely) in Springfield?

Speaker Mike Madigan (D-22 (6500 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago)) has had his mitts on his seat since January 1971. That's 42 years. FORTY-TWO YEARS. And how long has he been Speaker? 27 years? From his bio on his state website: "House Majority Leader, 80th and 81st General Assemblies; House Minority Leader, 82nd and 89th General Assemblies; Speaker of the House, 83rd, 84th, 85th, 86th, 87th, 88th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, 93rd, 94th, 95th, 96th, 97th and 98th General Assemblies"

How much responsibility should be laid at his doorstep for the financial mess that Illinois is in today? Near bankruptcy. The pension crisis. The state government crisis. The schools. The crime. Concealed carry.

It would take a huge effort to send him packing into retirement. But it could happen. It would take a lot of people (Republicans and Democrats) to walk his 22nd District and knock on every door to tell residents and voters just what has happened to Illinois under the Madigan Reign. And a credible candidate has to run against him, but maybe you don't even have to live in that district.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Stand your ground" laws & Trayvon Martin has jumped on the bandwagon and is fronting Trayvon Martin's parents to promote arguments against the "stand your ground" laws. doesn't mean "review" these laws; it means change them, rescind them.

It's wrong. They are wrong.

The "stand your ground" laws don't need to be reviewed, and certainly not because of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida. In my opinion, that never was a "stand your ground" case.

George Zimmerman should have stayed in his car. He never should have confronted Trayvon Martin. You can't pick a fight and then shoot someone because you are standing your ground.

The "stand your ground" petition for review should grind to a fast halt.

Illinois should enact a "stand your ground" law. It won't.

Jobs or start a business?

"Get a job."

You're kidding; right? In this economy, there aren't any jobs.

In the early 1980 friends in Denver wrote How to Get the Job You Really Want and Get Employers to Call You. At that time there were more jobs than people hunting for them, or so it seemed.

Today, employers get hundreds of resumes. What will make yours stand out? It won't be your superlative skills or your use of all the buzz words to get through the electronic screening filters.

Yes, you should do all the traditional things. And you should do take non-traditional steps.

And maybe you should think about starting a business. The nice thing about having your own business is you'll be the last one laid off.

Pick the right business. It won't have to cost you an arm and a leg to get started.

It is worthwhile to check out the business opportunities available with a large number of companies which do business in the multi-level marketing (MLM) method. I recommend looking until you find the right product or the right service and the right people with whom to associate.

Too many people fail to understand that an MLM business is a business and it is an opportunity.

I'd be glad to show you the one I'm involved in. If you are interested, fine; if you're not, that's fine, too.

If you are interested in a coaching arrangement to find or build a different one, we could talk about that, too. I can tell you what I have to offer as a coach and we can come to some satisfactory financial arrangement, if you are interested. My contact information is to the right.

Tired yet of being unemployed or under-employed?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stand by me - video

You know the song. Check out this video. Over 52,000,000 views in the past four years. Worth watching.

Then check out

Did McH Co Ethics Commission violate Open Meetings Act?

When the McHenry County Ethics Commission quickly ducked into Executive (Closed) Session before even officially convening the hearing into Cal Skinner's complaint against Undersheriff Andy Zinke on Thursday, July 25, did it violate the Illinois Open Meetings Act?

After listening to Mark Gummerson and Rebecca Lee, representing Zinke, warm up the air in the room for about 20 minutes, one Commissioner made a motion to go into Closed Session. The Commission voted 3-1 to do so. After the vote, the Chairman named two sections of the OMA as the exclusions for which they would meet privately. Oops.

The problem? The Commission voted without knowing what the exclusions were. Would it have been rude for me to interrupt when their voting began?

The Chairman named Sections 1 and 4 as the authority for meeting in private. Let's see if those hold water here:

5 ILCS 120/2, Sec. 2 contains

   (c) Exceptions. A public body may hold closed meetings to consider the following subjects:
        (1) The appointment, employment, compensation,
discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee of the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity.


(4) Evidence or testimony presented in open hearing,
or in closed hearing where specifically authorized by law, to a quasi-adjudicative body, as defined in this Act, provided that the body prepares and makes available for public inspection a written decision setting forth its determinative reasoning.

The public body in this case is the McHenry County Ethics Commission. Clearly, Undersheriff Andy Zinke is not an employee of the "public body" (the Ethics Commission). So, strike down Exception (c) (1).

Now, on to Subsection (4). The Commission could go into a Closed Meeting to "consider ... Evidence or testimony presented in open hearing..."

Because the Commission never formally opened a hearing on Thursday, July 25, it could not go into a Closed Meeting under Subsection (4). There should have been an open hearing with "evidence or testimony presented", and that never happened. Cal Skinner never got in a word, and anything said by Gummerson and Lee during the Public Comment period should have had no bearing in the hearing.

The next step? File a Request for Review with the Public Access Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General? What would they say about this Closed Meeting?

Will the Ethics Commission be forced to re-convene and hold a proper hearing?

And another next step? Watch carefully for the written decision of the Ethics Commission setting forth its determinative reasoning and inspect it publicly before it can be destroyed (legally).

Who said, "It ain't over 'til it's over"? Yogi Berra (1925 - ) (Hey, he's still with us!)

As a fun aside, check out this webpage with Yogi-isms. Does anyone own The Yogi Book.

Week 166 - Beth Bentley still gone

One of these days there is going to be a break in the case of Beth Bentley, missing from Woodstock, Ill. since May 2010.

Much has been written on this blog about her disappearance. She was reported as having gone to Mt. Vernon, Ill. on Thursday night, May 20, 2010, with friend Jennifer Wyatt. They were to stay with two brothers there. Jenn says that on Sunday afternoon she drove Beth to Centralia, Ill. and let her out near the Amtrak station.

Beth hasn't been seen since Jenn says she let her out of the car. The car was a rental car, used while Beth's car remained parked in Jenn's garage in Woodstock.

In response to last week's article, one person wrote a strongly-worded comment that said Beth never left Woodstock on Thursday night.

The Woodstock Police continue to hold the missing-person file confidentially and have denied FOIA requests, citing interference with an on-going investigation. I don't know anyone in Woodstock who thinks there is any on-going investigation. In fact, months ago the Woodstock Police stopped updating the City Manager and the City Council in the monthly reports from the police department.

Those "updates" were boiler-plate, anyway, and told the City Manager nothing. And apparently no member of the City Council or the Mayor ever asked for more information.

Some think it is inexcusable that a 41-year-old woman could vanish and no police agency continues to publicize her disappearance.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How are Arrest Warrants handled?

What happens in McHenry County when a judge issues an arrest warrant?

Whatever does happen, it didn't happen quickly enough for Jackie Flores, 17, who died early Thursday morning in Harvard. By all reports, she was gunned down by Miguel Andrade, 19, the father of their 9-month-old daughter. Jackie was a senior at Harvard High School.

What happened after Judge Beaderstadt approved the Arrest Warrant on May 8?

How fast was it processed by the Court and given to the Warrants Division of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department (MCSD)?

Does a new warrant go to the bottom of the list? Are warrants prioritized? A warrant for an FTA on a speeding ticket ought to be a lot lower than one for a threat to kill someone.

How many unserved warrants are there at MCSD? How old is the oldest one?

On what date did the MCSD notify Harvard PD?

On what date did MCSD notify Belvidere (Ill.) PD and the Boone County Sheriff's Department, in whose jurisdiction Andrade may have lived?

Did Flores have any reason to believe that Andrade had a gun, or access to one? As a 19-year-old, he could not legally own a pistol.

Why isn't there an Order of Protection on file at the courthouse?

How many more girls in Harvard (and in McHenry County) are at a similar risk?

Handicapped parking - more than a privilege

When I arrived at the County's Administration Building for the Ethics Commission hearing on Thursday, I noticed this car in the handicapped parking space - without display of a handicap placard or special license plate.

While I was taking the picture, the front desk security guard came out to ask what I was doing. "Taking a picture of this car illegally parked." I asked him to have the vehicle ticketed. Handicap parking violations in Illinois are serious business. Aren't they?

A few minutes later an announcement was made over the public address system, calling the owner to move the car. Interesting response. How is that the same as having the vehicle ticketed?

Quite quickly a woman walked out to the car and placed a handicap placard on display. Was she a County employee? Or a visitor? Whichever, the P.A. announcement saved her between $250-500.

As I thought about this today, I wondered if she herself was the disabled driver for whom the placard was issued.

Or is it possible that she frequently drives a person with a disability or that the vehicle is owned by a person with a disability? The rules are clear and specific about who is entitled to drive the car into a handicap parking space and park it there.

Does the contract front-desk security officer provide the same courtesy for all drivers who park in the handicap parking without displaying authorization? If a Woodstock Police officer had driven through the parking lot, would he have just written the ticket? Or would he have gone inside to have the errant driver paged?

Ethics Investigations: Zinke-style vs. Madigan

This morning's Northwest Herald contains an Associated Press article about an investigation by the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission of long-time Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. The question? Did Madigan (and Reps. Luis Arroyo and Elizabeth Hernandez) interfere in Metra personnel matters?

The Commission voted to give Legislative Inspector General Tom Homer the authority to investigate. The article said that Madigan requested the Commission to investigate.

In other words, "Bring it on."

Contrast this with the response of Undersheriff Andy Zinke, supported by his boss, da Sheriff, when the McHenry County Ethics Commission met last Thursday to consider whether to investigate Zinke.

Zinke showed up with one of McHenry County's most expensive lawyers who, in effect, wrested control of the meeting from the Commission Chairman and the Commission. Mark Gummerson launched into a defense of Zinke during the Public Comment period, challenging the Commission's own operating rules and authority.

Although the Public Comment period was to be limited to five minutes per person, Gummerson went on and on. And the Chairman allowed it, almost as if he didn't dare to interrupt Gummerson.

Gummerson even suggested that his comments might be more appropriate during a hearing than during the Public Comment period. And then, without breaking to take a breath, he continued. And the Chairman didn't cut him off.

Then Rebecca Lee, co-defense attorney of Zinke and a partner of Gummerson, took her own shots at the Commission. Again the Chairman should have cut her off.

What they did was blow enough smoke in the eyes of the Commission that it blinked. A Commissioner quickly suggested an Executive Session, before the hearing was even opened. Then, about 30 minutes later, the Commission returned to open session (without the required rollcall vote of those in attendance (only a voice vote)) and voted down the Motion.

In other words, Zinke skated on the alleged violation made in the Complaint by Cal Skinner, publisher of the McHenry County Blog. They never even listened to Cal's side of it. The Commission never questioned Zinke.

In particular, the Commission never placed Zinke or Nygren under oath to question them about whether Nygren had really granted authorization for Zinke to communicate directly with the County Board. That element of the defense didn't even hit daylight until Thursday afternoon at the hearing. And the Commission never should have heard that until it was part of the hearing (which never got opened).

Does this mean the Complaint should be re-filed? In order to get a fair hearing?

The FirstElectricNewspaper reported with the headline, "County Ethics Commission Exonerates Zinke". My feeling is that is not what happened, because the Commission never heard any testimony in the Complaint.

Doesn't Mike Madigan read the Northwest Herald? He could have called Mark Gummerson and retained him to try to confuse and scare the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission. Instead, Madigan said, in effect, "You guys don't scare me. Bring it on."

Words seldom heard in McHenry County.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Did court system fail Jackie Flores?

Earlier Thursday morning an apparent murder-suicide occurred in Harvard. Read the some of the details in the Northwest Herald.

Did the McHenry County court system fail Jackie Flores, 17? From the media reports, it appears that Miguel Andrade, 19, shot her and then killed himself.

Court records indicate that on January 13 Andrade allegedly committed crimes of assault, battery, electronic harassment, and endangered the life of their child. Charges were filed on January 18.

On February 6 his case was continued.
On February 23 his case was continued.
On March 27 his case was continued.
On April 24 his case was continued.
On May 8 his case was continued and a warrant issued.
On June 19 his case was continued.
On July 16 there was a status date on his warrant. That date continues to be shown on the court calendar, but without action.

No defense attorney is shown in court records for Case No. 13CM000144.

Here's what should have happened. On February 6, at his very first court date, Judge Beaderstadt should have told him to plead. If Andrade didn't, Beaderstadt should have entered a Not Guilty plea and told Andrade to get an attorney.

On February 23 Judge Beaderstadt should have asked Andrade who his attorney was. If he didn't have one, the judge should have appointed a public defender and told Andrade to get his own attorney, if he didn't want the public defender to represent him. The judge should have set the case for trial on March 27.

Why didn't Harvard Police or the McHenry County Sheriff's Department pick up Andrade after a warrant was issue on May 8?

How many more cases are there in McHenry County courtrooms with the high possibility for violence?

Dilbert on Ethics - don't miss it

Perfect. You've got to read Dilbert today. Scott Adams' timing was perfect.

Clip it from your morning (July 26) paper, or view it here. How could he know?

The Northwest Herald article on yesterday's attempt at a hearing by the McHenry County Ethics Commission can be read here. Kevin Craver, the author of the Northwest Herald article, nailed it when he wrote about the Commission - "which often appeared during the hourlong meeting to be struggling with how to proceed."

The Commission was lost and stumbled through the meeting. What was the purpose of the County Board member liaison at the Commissioner's table? Observer only? Advisor?

The Commission headed into Closed Session after allowing Gummerson to launch into a lengthy defense of Zinke during the Public Comment period and without ever formally convening the hearing.

Cal Skinner should claim a foul that the Commission issued a decision without opening the hearing, without swearing in Skinner and Zinke and without controlling the questioning themselves. The Commission got stone-walled by "lawyering" and rolled over. It was a disgraceful example of public-service government at its worst.

During the Public Comment period I asked the Commission to identify whether Gummerson represented Zinke as Undersheriff or as political candidate. They didn't. Craver wrote that "Gummerson and Lee would not comment on who paid for their services, citing professional regulations forbidding them from disclosing that information." He asked them the wrong question.

Craver should have asked who their client was: Zinke the undersheriff or Zinke the candidate.

Oh, well. There is always FOIA. We'll have to wait 2-3 months for Gummerson to submit his bill to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and then find out how much he charged MCSD for yesterday's dog-and-pony show.

And, if Zinke files a frivolous lawsuit against Skinner, Cal should be ready with his own against Zinke - for filing a frivolous lawsuit against Skinner. Cal had a valid complaint, and the Commission should have respected it and conducted a proper hearing.

Did anyone else notice the nod, when the Commission returned to open session? Gee, maybe it was just a nervous tic. Yeah, sure. Did the Commission vote in closed session and then just go through the formality after returning to open session? Did they all indicate how they were going to vote, or did they merely discuss the written complaint and Gummerson's and Lee's statements?

Before the Minutes of that closed session get destroyed, the public should get a look at them. And/or hear the recording of the closed session. It was recorded, wasn't it?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ethics Commission blinks

When the Ethics Commission convened this afternoon, four of the five members were present. When the Public Comment period opened, the Chairman stated that speakers would have five minutes.

First up was Mark Gummerson, attorney for Undersheriff Andy Zinke. He launched into a long explanation and analysis of the rules and scope of the Commission, occasionally pausing to inquire (sort of) whether he was speaking at the right time or should wait for the Hearing to start. And then he continued. After about ten minutes, he took a breath and the Chairman told him his time was up.

Mark asked for an extension, and the Chairman allowed it.

Then Rebecca Lee spoke, also representing Zinke. And also out of order, but the Chairman didn't stop her.

When the Chairman indicated he was about to move on, I spoke up and asked to address the Commission, pointing out that the clipboard with the sign-in roster had been under Rebecca Lee's binder. The sign-in clipboard was passed to me, and I was allowed to speak. Mark Gummerson quickly said that it was unintentional that the clipboard ended up underneath Lee's three-ring binder.

I complimented the Commission on its patience in allowing Gummerson and Lee to take up considerable time arguing their points about how the Commission was to conduct itself.

I also asked if the Commission members would speak up as loudly and clearly as Gummerson and Lee had. (Later they didn't.) I also asked for the Commission to ask Gummerson to state whether he was representing Zinke and the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, or if he was representing Zinke as a political candidate. In other words, who was footing the bill for today's appearance by Gummerson and Lee? (The Commission did not ask.)

Then one Commissioner asked if they could go into Executive Session, and they did. No exemption was stated before the rollcall vote was taken, but the Chairman identified two exemptions before they left the room. Just a little procedural error.

After about 25 minutes, the Open Session resumed. A voice vote was taken, although a roll call vote is required. Just a little procedural error.

The Chairman asked for a motion to proceed with the matter. (Silence.) Then the Chairman made the Motion himself. When he asked for a Second, no one spoke up immediately. Finally, Commissioner John White indicated that he would second the motion.

The vote was 0-4. Without discussion. Did Gummerson scare them off?

During the Public Comment period, Gummerson said he was going to ask for a $5,000 sanction against Cal Skinner for filing a frivolous action. And he threw in, during the Public Comment period, that the sheriff had approved Zinke's email to the County Board.

Talk about creativity! Afterwards, one member of the audience overheard Nygren telling a Northwest Herald reporter that he had okayed Zinke's contacting the Board. Did that really happen? If so, how come Zinke's email to the County Board made no reference to it?

I happen to believe it never happened. I believe they thought of it later. Rebecca Lee spoke about Zinke's relationship with the Board. He doesn't have any relationship with the County Board. His relationship is only representing the Sheriff before the Board.

If Nygren had approved Zinke's email, Zinke would have said so in his email. It's called CYA. As I recall, he didn't mention it. He did not write that he had discussed the matter with the sheriff or that Nygren had approved his email.

We should be able to rely on Nygren and Zinke to be truthful. And their lawyer should be telling them to be truthful.

ID these young kids in Cary, Ill.

Help Cary Crime Stoppers catch these young punks.

Watch this video from June and earlier this month, and then call the Cary (Ill.) P.D. at 847.639.2341

11:50AM The video was removed from YouTube. I called the Cary PD, and an operator told me that a sergeant said that "it" is still under investigation and no further information is available.

I suspect it has something to do with juveniles being investigated. The bracelet and red OSIRIS athletic shoes worn by one of the male miscreants ought to make him readily identifiable. Also, faces of several were shown clearly.

M.I.A.T. - always important?

In this morning's Northwest Herald is a story about a double homicide (possible murder-suicide?) in Harvard. One line in the story reads, "The McHenry County Major Investigation Assistance Team is assisting with the investigation."

I was immediately reminded of a triple homicide near Marengo in June 2011. M.I.A.T. was not called out, and less than 24 hours later Sheriff Nygren proclaimed, in effect, "case closed". After that, it was just a matter of writing up reports.

Jack Feldkamp, Audrey Feldkamp and Doran Bloom died that night. Scott Feldkamp was transported to a hospital with knife wounds. The investigation of that triple homicide, although abandoned by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, is being kept alive.

In that case M.I.A.T. (Major Investigations Assistance Team) was not called out. Was the pride of the MCSD too great to accept that perhaps eyes and minds with specialized talents should have been called in without delay? Both Sheriff Nygren and Undersheriff Zinke went to the scene between 11:00PM-Midnight and apparently stayed only 15 minutes, according to the crime-scene log.

Far too many deputies trampled through that crime scene. Records indicate approximately 50 different MCSD deputies were recorded on the log. It seems to me that, once the house was safe to enter and the two injured persons were removed, then there should have been very limited access.

Didn't anyone at MCSD raise the serious questions that have since been asked? Apparently not. After all, who would be brave enough to ask career-ending questions, after the sheriff had announced to the media what had happened (based on very early and preliminary information)?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How do employers handle theft?

How do employers handle theft by employees? Most people could answer that question. You fire the employee who is stealing from you.

If an employee gets paid for overtime he never worked, is that theft? Is it a crime to claim unworked overtime from a government employer and collect pay for it?

How does the McHenry County Sheriff's Department handle it, when a deputy claims overtime that he never worked?

The first time, they might say, "Bad boy. Don't do that."

Then they might discipline an employee with "up to 30 days" off without pay. Ouch. Then with 30 days off. But they might soften the blow to the paycheck by hiring him to do some construction work inside the Sheriff's Department.

If it happened again, another 30 days off? But doesn't discipline escalate for repeated infractions? What's after 30 days? Isn't it a trip to the Merit Commission for a termination hearing?

How many chances should an employee get? I'll give you the lawyer's answer: "It depends."

It depends whether you are in the in-crowd (or not). If you're not, the door will probably hit you in the backside as you leave.

But if you are in the in-crowd, you'll get more chances. Your discipline will be "30 days or less", so that your case does not go to the Merit Commission. What's the benefit of its not going to the Merit Commission? It stays "inside", private and out of the public view. It does not become public record. In fact, it probably does not become known outside the department.

Payroll cheating through false overtime claims should never happen. When a deputy turns in his overtime sheet, his sergeant ought to be saying, "What's this? What do you mean, two hours O.T.? Where were you? Who authorized that?" and then the Commander ought to be questioning it. And that gets done before you leave the building.

And since theft by payroll cheating is most likely a crime, why shouldn't the employee be criminally charged? Well, it looks bad for the employee. It looks bad for the supervisor(s). It looks bad for the employer - MCSD.

But, after 2-3-4 occurrences, what if "Management" at the Sheriff's Department decides that counseling is in order?

What kind of counseling? Maybe a class in "How to Cheat on Payroll Reporting and Not Get Caught"?

When monitoring and discipline are consistent, fair and transparent, morale and overall working conditions at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department will improve. Until there are major changes (that's plural) at the top of the food chain there, these problems will continue.

Stop it; just stop it!

"Why's everybody always pickin' on me?"

The new theme song for the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has been announced. Starting tonight, all deputies will have to stand up at rollcall, facing one another in a circle, and listen attentively. And no smiling! This is serious stuff...

Dispatchers will air the song three times a day, and four times on week-ends.

Respect and attention by all in this matter will continue until the "Andrew Zinke Undersheriff" magnetic sign no longer appears on McHenry County Sheriff's Department vehicles in parades or elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Zinke sign galls taxpayers

Photo Credit: McHenry County Blog
An open letter to

Sheriff Keith Nygren and
the McHenry County Board

At McHenry's Fiesta Days Parade, Undersheriff Andy Zinke again displayed his name on the side of a tax-supported, County-owned, McHenry County Sheriff's Department marked vehicle.

Zinke's magnetic sign reads "Andrew Zinke Undersheriff". Zinke is Nygren's handpicked, preferred successor to the Office of McHenry County Sheriff, with the race to be decided in November 2014.

I have called McHenry County Government to inquire whether there is an Inspector General for the County with authority to investigate, charge and prosecute Zinke for any offenses or crimes related to his application of a magnetic sticker to a County patrol vehicle.

If it is proper for him to display such a sign, then it ought to be on his vehicle 24/7 and not merely added before a parade and removed after. Of course, it's not proper. The newest additions to the MCSD fleet no longer even carry Nygren's name. Did he feel the heat and cease ordering his own name on Department vehicles?

My opinion is that this is a flagrant abuse of County, tax-supported property and that Zinke should be disciplined without further delay. His practice must stop.

When is the next parade? I'll be there to photograph the "proof" and file my own Ethics complaint.

Remember, the Ethics Commission meets Thursday, July 25, at 3:00PM at 667 Ware Road. Arrival early for the best seating. The Commission is to hear the complaint about Zinke's improper use of the County email system.

I have now learned that the correct public body for such complaints is the Ethics Commission. The media has reported that only three complaints have been filed since 2004, with one of them being Cal Skinner's recent complaint about Zinke's email use. If Zinke's use of County vehicles with his magnetic name sign continues, the Ethic Commission will soon get its fourth complaint.

No other MCSD employee operates a MCSD vehicle with his name on it.

New stores on the Square

Stop in soon and visit two new stores on the Woodstock Square.

Material Things Artisan Market has opened at 103 E. VanBuren Street. Check them out on Facebook but, more importantly, go by in person. MTAM opened last Saturday.

Within feet of MTAM is the new location of Ethereal Confections, which had been located near the Woodstock Theater on Main Street. Now in a new, larger setting and more offerings.

These are the types of stores needed on the Square. Be sure to stop in soon.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Canadians warn U.S. gun owners


Watch this story.

Think that gun registration won't lead to confiscation? Is there any doubt in your mind, even if you don't watch this video?

Around the U.S.A. sheriffs and police officers are saying they will refuse to confiscate weapons from law-abiding citizens. They will not honor an order to seize weapons.

Watch the video. Prepare. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

Beth Bentley - "missing" 165 weeks

Beth Bentley, 41 when she vanished, has been missing for 165 weeks now. Ever since about May 23, 2010.

Picture her now, standing near the Amtrak Station in Centralia, Ill. Looking first one way, then another. Where is her ride? Where is the person she is meeting?

Was she ever there? Really ever there?

What was her week-end in Mt. Vernon like? Was she even really there?

Were the three people in Mt. Vernon who would know, ever grilled separately by police? Were their stories compared? Were they ever re-interviewed? Were the subsequent recitals of activities closely compared with the original stories? Were they interviewed by different people, who might "read" them differently?

At one point Woodstock Police detectives thought Jenn Wyatt had lied about contact with Beth on the day after she was reported missing. What were the facts with which they got the McHenry County State's Attorney to approve felony charges?

I'm not a cop nor an attorney, but I immediately believed that the charges could not be proven. And a judge later threw out the charges. I felt the only way that those charges could be proven would have been for Beth to walk into the courtroom and say, "Hi, guys. I did talk to Jenn the next day." Nobody thought that was going to happen.

The Woodstock Police have denied two FOIA requests for the reports in this case, claiming an exemption that release of information would jeopardize an active investigation.

But according to police this has never been more than a Missing Person case.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Do you notice little things?

Today my motorcycle rolled past 77,777.7 miles, and I know right where I was.

I bought the bike in January 1999. On the day I looked at it in St. Charles, the owner had blocked his driveway with a little step stool. As I parked in front of his house, I wondered why. When I stepped onto the slight slope of his driveway, I found out why. His driveway was a sheet of ice.

Needless to say, I didn't test-ride the bike that day. But I did buy it, and I returned three weeks later to ride it back to Woodstock. It had 2,000 miles on the odometer, so it's easy to calculate how many miles I have traveled on it since then.

I've been as far west as Boulder, Colo., as far south as Arcadia, Fla., and as far north as Cushing, Maine. I'm planning a ride next year to North Dakota, Montana, Washington and Oregon, and then I shall have set foot in all states of the Lower 48.

Do you watch your odometer and take note of special times when mileage reaches certain points?

ALPRs and concealed carry code on driver's licenses

With the popularity of new "toys" like the Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR), will this create a problem for licensed concealed-carry drivers?

How likely is it (probably somewhere between "very likely" and "it's a done deal") that the State of Illinois will encode driver's license records with concealed-carry information?

Personally, I don't have any problem with an officer having advance knowledge that I might have a concealed-carry license and might be armed at the time of a traffic stop. Cops must be assuming already that every driver and even passenger is armed. They must be vigilant for their own safety.

But with ALPR will there be some cops who go hunting? Would there be a way to program the ALPR to alert whenever a car registered to a concealed-carry licensee came within range?

Then an aggressive cop might wait for the car to weave a ½-inch in the traffic lane and pull over the driver. Maybe he'd find that the driver was armed but his CC License might not be in his immediate possession. The cop decides that the wallet in the suit jacket on the back seat is not in the driver's immediate possession, so he arrests the driver and impounds his vehicle.

The cop gets brownie points at the station for the bust. The driver gets the case thrown out of court after spending a few thousand dollars on lawyer's fees and towing and administrative tow fine.

And then he sues the police department and the officer, along with the supervisors.

Would law-enforcement agencies in Illinois stoop so low? My guess is that, if I can think of it, they have already thought of it.

Zinke, the County Board and MCC

Undersheriff Andy Zinke was a featured student in a recent full-page advertisement by McHenry County College. Wish I had saved the page and framed it.

In Zinke's email to County Board members, using the McHenry County Sheriff's Department e-mail system and paid employee time, he complained about the hazards of running for office and how they compared to his 25 years in cop work. He told a Northwest Herald reporter that there was "nothing political" in his email and "County Board members oversee all county officers."

No, they don't. Just like McHenry County College trustees don't oversee all MCC officers. (They might like to think they do, but they don't.) The trustees are elected; then they hire a President. The President runs the College. At least, that's the way it is supposed to be.

Voters elect the County Board. The County Board hires an administrator. He runs the County.

Voters elect a Sheriff. The Sheriff runs the Sheriff's Department. The Undersheriff is an employee of the Sheriff's Department. His supervisor is the Sheriff. The Undersheriff has no official authority to go to the County Board, unless he is acting for the Sheriff.

The Sheriff was even in town on Friday. He was in Judge Meyer's courtroom for the case of Gonigam v. Nygren et al. Score one day in the IN column for Nygren.

In Pete's article about Friday's hearing, he mentioned that Nygren stood next to his EEO officer, Don Leist, who were both there pro se.

From my position, it appeared that Nygren stood behind and slightly to the side of Pete's attorney, Mary Gardner, and toward the two Assistant State's Attorneys, as if they were representing him. Maybe they were, for his official capacity.

CPA - in Woodstock?

CPA - you know what that means, don't you?

Cleaning, Pressing and Alterations...

Or Citizens Police Academy (CPA), brought to you by your friendly sheriff's department who, by the way, isn't the "police".

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department will offer the 11-week CPA, starting September 11th. For details, visit

In addition to the Academy schedule, I recommend including Special High-Intensity Training in

A) How to avoid mixing politics and government
B) Knowing where deer are, if you run off the road at night
C) How to spoil a confidential DEA investigation
D) How to identify yourself if in a County squad car and running for office
E) How to avoid MCSD rules on take-home cars if you live or travel outside McHenry County
F) What to tell the media about dangerous work conditions if you are running for office
G) Understanding chain-of-command and how it might possibly include your boss

McHenry County Ethics Commission - who?

Photo credit: McHenry County Blog
Yes, Virginia, there is a McHenry County Ethics Commission.

According to the County's website, there are five members. They are
Thomas B. Spencer, Chairman
Scott Hartman
Melissa M. Hernandez
Cherie R. Rickert
John White

These are the five who are to show up on Thursday at 3:00PM at the County Administration Building (667 Ware Rd.) to hear Cal Skinner's complaint against Undersheriff Andy Zinke.

Someone once said, "The best defense is a good offense." Did that account for Zinke's email, using a County email system during working hours, to the County Board, using office and personal email addresses?

Zinke took to his computer to whine about people taking shots at him for alleged misdeeds and claimed that nothing in his 25 years in the cops-and-robbers game "has ever been so dangerous as my run for office." Honest injun. That's what he said! I guess his 25 years have been pretty boring.

Nah, that's not political or about his campaign to succeed Nygren. You can read Zinke's email to the County Board here. Read it and decide for yourself. Do you think this is politically based?

Spencer was, according to a 2011 article on McHenry County Blog, a Woodstock attorney. Maybe he still is. Rickert was an HR director for a school district. Maybe she still is.

Where did John White's name appear recently, like within the last week?

The Ethics Commission has, according to a Northwest Herald article, only received three complaints, including Skinner's, since 2005. That must be because hardly anyone knew it existed. Maybe it will become more active now.

Friday, July 19, 2013

State Rep. Monique Davis should be arrested!

This morning on WBBM 780-AM, State Rep. Monique Davis (D-27; whose district office is at 1234 West 95th St., Chicago 60643 (phone: (773) 445-9700)) said that she thought Chicago Police "...might be the ones responsible for the unsolved murders of black youths in Chicago."

Davis was being interviewed in Detroit on WCHB-AM.Don't believe it? Listen for yourself.

Ever hear anything so stupid? And that woman is an Illinois State Representative???

This woman is stupid! On national radio she says, "“There’s some suspicion – and I don’t want to spread this ..." and proceeds to spread it.

Monique, I'll tell you who is killing all your black children. It's your black brothers. It's the gang-bangers. It's the drug addicts. It's the punks. It's the criminals. That's who. Your black brothers, not the white cops!

No one has seen anyone? How about the shooters who pop out of the gangways and out of dark automobiles and fire off a bunch of rounds? Sure, people have seen the shooters. They probably even know who they are. But do they help the police?

That woman is creating a race war, right in there with Obama.

Time to buy some more guns, folks.

What's wrong with this picture?

7580 Somerset Dr., Marengo, Ill.

That's the address of the family home of the late Jack and the late Audrey Feldkamp, who died on June 7, 2011.

The house was occupied for a time by Scott Feldkamp, son of Mr. and Mrs. Feldkamp. Along about May 2012 Scott took off for Florida, even though he was the executor of the estates of his father and mother. There is some indication that the escrow checkbook for Harmony Real Estate went with him, to the chagrin of what is, effectively, the Illinois Real Estate Commission.

On September 6, 2012, Woodstock Attorney Carl Gilmore was appointed as executor of the estates, after Scott was removed and his sister, Jackie, was appointed. Less than a month later, the appointment of Jackie was vacated and a Woodstock attorney was appointed. Then Attorney Gilmore was appointed in September.

Today my attention was called to a company using the Feldkamp family home as a business address.

There is no record that Scott Feldkamp paid rent or any money for use of the family home as his residence from June 2011 until May 2012. Then a person referred to in court documents as a "squatter" moved in. Apparently, that person has lived rent-free in the large, upscale Feldkamp family home.

Jack Feldkamp had an interest in Liberty Arbour, LLC, believed to be a real estate developer. The Registered Agent, according to Illinois Secretary of State records, was changed on July 16, 2012, to Wayne L. Brown, who has listed 1700 S. Eastwood Ave., (P.O. Box 728) as his address.

But get this? The physical address for Liberty Arbour, LLC is now 7580 Somerset Drive, Marengo.

Does the executor of the estate of Audrey Feldkamp, who is the listed owner of the home, know about this? Is there a business operating out of that address now? Is it paying rent? How does that work out for the squatter?

On May 6 the executor told Judge Chmiel there weren't any assets or income. Has that changed?

Gonigam v. Nygren

Fun and games continued in Judge Meyer's court this morning, when Pete Gonigam's legal case against Sheriff Keith Nygren (and others) resumed. Pete, who is publisher of the First Electric Newspaper, has asked the court to help him get a 100-page investigative report about Undersheriff Zinke's informed Crystal Lake businessman and Nygren (and Zinke) supporter, Brian Goode, of a confidential DEA investigation.

It was quite a party, when Judge Meyer called the case at 9:13AM. Pete's attorney, Mary Gardner, stepped up. Nygren was there and stepped forward, although he took a position somewhat behind Attorney Gardner. Two Assistant State's Attorneys were there. And Donald Leist, MCSD EEO officer (and now Legal Affairs Officer) was there.

Gonigam remained in his seat and did not join the party in front of Judge Meyer. Leist may be having some back or leg trouble, because he leaned against the bench the whole time.

Pete explained to me after court that Nygren and Leist were there pro se. It certainly sounded to me like Leist was representing the Sheriff's Department and Nygren, but Pete said he wasn't. Leist presented a couple of court cases to Judge Meyer claiming some position of the Cook County Sheriff's Department. Nygren and Leist are defendants in this case.

MCSD Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer Jan Weech was let off the hook today as a defendant in this case. It was her name on the first denial of Pete's FOIA request. MCSD claimed an exemption under FOIA, stating the the investigation and report about Zinke was an "adjudication of an employee grievance or discipline".

The State's Attorney's Office was there this morning to represent the defendants (Nygren, Leist and the Sheriff's Department), but Nygren, the Sheriff's Dept. and Leist are asking for appointment of a  Special Assistant State's Attorney to present them (or each of them?). Wording in today's Order indicates that the State's Attorney's Office will submit a Memorandum in support of its position for a Special Assistant State's Attorney to represent the County Board.

For Judge Meyer the first question, before ever getting to the FOIA request, denial and appeal and the guts of this court case, is who will represent the defendants. Nygren claims he can't get fair representation from the State's Attorney's office. The State's Attorney's office will submit a brief. I guess it will state whether they can or cannot represent MCSD or Nygren or Leist.

If you start coughing from the smoke this week-end, you'll know where it came from.

Let's all thank Sheriff Nygren for his willingness to cause the expenditure of thousands of dollars of County money to prevent telling us what happened when he investigated Zinke. Zinke could, of course, just say "Release it" and end this whole mess.

So what does the 100-page report really say? And what do the two deputies say during the audio interviews? (Let me guess...  "Put double pepperoni on my pizza.")

Judge Meyer set August 20 for the next episode in Case No. 13MR309.

Feldkamp estate adm'n. now 2 years old

Oftentimes, estates can be cleared pretty quickly, when executors get to work and pay attention to details. The longer they are open, the more expensive administration becomes for the estate(s), and therefore for the heirs.

That's assuming, of course, that there is any money there in the first place.

Jack Feldkamp and Audrey Feldkamp, of Marengo area, both died on June 7, 2011. Audrey's estate was opened on June 15, 2011, and Jack's probate was opened on July 15, 2011.

The fourth executor of these estates is Woodstock Attorney Carl Gilmore, who was appointed 0n September 6, 2012. I suspect he wishes he'd never heard of these estates and had been on vacation when Judge Chmiel wanted to drop these estates in his lap last year.

On May 6 Gilmore filed a Motion, wherein ¶4 read, "Since my appointment, I have performed services including investigating assets and claims. To date, each asset I have identified has been liquidated, including the loss of all personal property with an estimated value of $45,000."

The son of the Feldkamps, Scott Feldkamp, was the original executor. Did the $45,000 vanish when the house was cleared out and a garage sale was held? Some people familiar with the estates believe there was approximately $52,000 is stocks, bonds and cash accounts, but Gilmore doesn't mention those.

The family home on Somerset Drive outside Marengo is in foreclosure, because no executor has made mortgage payments. Gilmore stated that he had not been able to pay the mortgage since "September 6, 2013" [sic], but he meant to write 2012. PNC Bank has apparently agreed to a Summary Judgment, but would that mean they'd keep the excess of the equity above the mortgage amount?

There has been a non-paying tenant in the house for many months. He may have originally been allowed to live there as a caretaker, but the house is probably capable of generating $1,500-2,000/month in rent, but apparently no movement in that direction has been considered or presented to the Court. That would have covered mortgage payments.

It appears that Scott Feldkamp, executor in 2011-12, never filed tax returns for his parents or for the estates or for Harmony Real Estate, a real estate partnership. Hello, IRS? Attorney Gilmore is probably saddled with the responsibility for 2012 tax returns and has filed for extensions. There are no funds in the estates to pay for adequately skilled accountants to prepare and file those returns.

Gilmore told the Court on May 6 that he could pursue collection of assets resulting from breach of fiduciary duty. That would be directed at Scott Feldkamp, who was the first executor and was in the legal position until July 20, 2012.

The first successor executor (Scott's sister, Jackie) was in the position only until August 7. A second successor executor, a Woodstock attorney, was appointed and withdrew on September 6, 2012, when Attorney Gilmore was appointed by Judge Chmiel.

Harmony Real Estate may not be operating any longer.

IDOT was interested in the corner of U.S. 20 and Harmony Road for a round-about. The deal fell through but may have been resurrected.

There is a partnership of Liberty Arbour LLC, in which Jack Feldkamp had a business interest. Has it sold lots? Are assets of Liberty Arbour LLC included in the estate inventory?

A new rumor circulating is that the house on Somerset is being used as the mailing address for a business? Really? I hope the executor knows about this.

Attorney Gilmore also told the Court on May 6 that "The condition of the estate is due to the actions of the heirs, and results from no other reason."

Judge Chmiel set the next court date date for November 18, 2013, at 9:30AM. Gilmore states that his work has been performed for the benefit of the Court. And that heirs are receiving free legal advice. Will the Court be paying Gilmore, if no money can be found in the estates?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Administrative tow law - even more unfair

An article earlier this week addressed the consideration by "booming" Holiday Hills, Ill. to turn its officers loose with an administrative tow law. While they have not acted to finalize it, you can bet that they will join the other municipalities that have jumped on this bandwagon.

I've been writing about the unfairness of the fee-return policy. If the charges in McHenry County Circuit Court are tossed or if the State fails to proceed, the owner of the impounded vehicle cannot get his $500 back. He must have a trial ($$$) and be found Not Guilty.

Who charges an administrative tow fine of $500? Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Fox River Grove, Harvard, Hebron, Johnsburg, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Richmond and Woodstock.

Barrington Hills, Huntley and Marengo tell me that they don't have this type of ordinance.
Spring Grove goes a little easier on folks; just $350.

The provision that allows municipalities to avoid refunding the fine, in the event of a dismissal of charges, does not seem to be in the law. Cities have added that on their own.

Now, what's another unfair part of this law?

625 ILCS 5/11-208.7(h) provides that a vehicle will be deemed abandoned, if it is not retrieved within 35 days after the administrative hearing officer issues Illinois Vehicle Code. Sound a little like confiscation to you?

This is a terrible State law. Does anyone care? Who do you suppose was responsible for this state law that opened the doors for municipalities to go into action this way? Some organization must have proposed it to a handful of legislators and then lobbied hard for it.

Does anyone the organization's name or the legislators who supported the bill? The bill was passed and became Public Act 97-109. A while back I heard that the Illinois Municipal League had pushed for it. Does anyone know? Does anyone know the Bill number that became law?

While searching for it, I came across the index page for the 97th General Assembly 2011 Spring Session Legislative Update, prepared (apparently) by the Illinois State Police, under the direction of Director Hiram Grau. On the index page, toward the bottom, is printed EMPOYMENT [sic] CHAPTER 820 ... (Page) 34.

I kid you not. How many highly-paid people do you think proofread that report? Apparently, not enough.

Empire building continues

Here it comes, folks. The Illinois Tollway is about to reach further into your pockets.

In a message from the Tollway today I read, "A new, all-electronic interchange on I-90 at Illinois Route 47 in Huntley is scheduled to open this fall."

Maybe this was announced in the past and I missed it. Since the Tollway boosted its tolls, I have been willing to spend a little more time on surface roads and skip the tolls. Out of principle. Anyone else doing to same?

The Tollway is driving Illinois, all right. To ruin... There are some people who remember the promises that roads would be free after bonds were paid off.

It worked in Colorado. The Boulder Turnpike was built as a toll road. Promises were made that the road would be free after bonds were paid. Promises were kept. But that's Colorado. Not Illinois.

Gov. Quinn wanted 1 gun per person

Mostly concealed
Remember "way back when" (only 1-2 weeks ago), when Gov. Quinn was worried about concealed carry licensees carrying more than one gun? He wanted Illinois licensees to be restricted to one gun and one magazine of not more than 10 bullets.

And he wanted all concealed weapons to be "completely concealed".

Well, thank goodness his amendatory veto was sunk by the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate.

Today I found out just how hard it would have been to comply with "completely concealed". I mean, they all would not just fit under my trench coat!

With a little help from a friend, I got in some practice at dressing for concealed carry. For a better look at the artillery, click on the image to enlarge it.

On the way back to Woodstock, I got to thinking why I couldn't (or whether I could) transport an unloaded firearm, concealed, in a "container" on my belt (called a holster by some). The state law is pretty clear. The firearm would have to be unloaded; it would have to be in a container (not defined in the law); and it would have to be "being transported.." Keyword "transported"; not "carried".

Has any education of law-enforcement officers in McHenry County started yet?

How many firearms can you see?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crash investigation - MCSD Unit 560 - black box? video cam?

The crash on Dean Street involving squad car 560 of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department earlier this week was investigated by the Woodstock Police Department, since it was in their jurisdiction.

What will it conclude was the cause? Deer avoidance?

If so, does the evidence at the scene support that conclusion?

Normally, at a crash scene spray paint is used to mark where a vehicle left the roadway and where it ended up. That was done on Davis Road, when MCSD investigated the crash on July 1, 2012, that claimed two lives.

But it wasn't done in this investigation involving a County police vehicle. Did the squad car drift off the roadway about 39 yards south of the 35MPH speed limit sign? Did it travel up the shoulder and then take out the speed limit sign and post? Or did it leave the roadway suddenly (to avoid a deer) but then continue up the shoulder after running over the sign? How did parts end up so far north of the sign?

Does the squad car have a "black box"? Will it reveal speed and any turning movements? Brake application? Impact? What does a "black box" in a squad car record?

Did the driver activate the emergency lights immediately after impact? If so, any in-car video camera might have saved the previous 30-60 seconds of the car's movement. Can a deer be seen in the headlights of the car? Will Woodstock PD view that video, or will the accident investigation team at MCSD study it?

The combination of point/time-of-impact, in-car video, black box and then Department radio traffic or cell phone usage ought to tell the whole story.

How thorough will the Woodstock PD and the MCSD crash investigations be?

What's the purpose of a thorough investigation? To get at not only the cause of this crash but to use the information as a training tool for all deputies.

Holiday Hills set to impound vehicles

How many McHenry County residents have ever heard of Holiday Hills?

It's a wide spot in the road - River Road. On the east side of the Fox River, north of Route 176. Watch your speed there.

The population was 831 in 2000. Why is it even a town? In 2011 the population was 611 (down 26.5% from 2000). How can it even afford to be a town? The Village website says the population is 802.

Ahhh, they have spotted the cash trough. Vehicle Impoundment Fees!

The Northwest Herald says the town hasn't yet decided on a tow fee. That's only because they haven't had a formal meeting yet. You can bet your bottom dollar that they are thinking in the $500 range, just like all the other communities in McHenry County that are ripping off drivers and vehicle owners.

Why is Police Chief Larry Mason even in the mix? It is the job of the police to enforce laws, not make them. Last time I checked, we were a civilian-led government, not police-led government. Did I oversleep?

Impoundment fees are nothing but a cash cow for cities, villages and towns,. Every town ought to be required to put up signs that warn drivers of Impoundment laws. They are not a deterrent to crime, because people don't know about them until it's too late.

Toss judges' "4 week" rubber stamp

The public should demand that judges throw away their rubber stamps that read "Continued for 4 weeks".

Greg Pyle's court date yesterday didn't even make the Northwest Herald.

Pyle was in the in-crowd at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department until his January 2012 arrest by the Illinois State Police on ten predatory criminal sexual assault charges involving a victim under 13 (family member). Then the Feds grabbed him, and a Federal Court stuck him in Boone County Jail in August on a no-bond hold.

There has got to be a story about the no-bond part, but no one is writing it.

Pyle had a court date in McHenry County yesterday. Now the next court day is August 13.

In 5-6 years of observing court appearances of different defendants I have never once heard a judge grill a lawyer and ask "why", when a continuance is requested. I seldom hear a judge state any expectations for actions in a case by a future court date, so the rubber stamp stays in use - week after week after week.

Pyle's trial on the state charges probably could have been held within 60 days of his arrest. You gather the evidence, collect statements and go to trial.

Did the Feds need a little longer? OK. Give them 90 days, since somebody would have to drive to Wisconsin to collect evidence.

When judges allow lawyers to slide with continuance after continuance, no legal work gets done until the trial date is almost upon them. Then they scurry around and finally put together their case. And hope the other side will cave in.

When a person is arrested, a trial date should be set. The choice of bench or jury trial should have to be declared 60 days ahead. Require that any plea deal must be worked out a certain number of days before the trial date. In other words, stop fooling around.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Prevent fires ...

This is why everyone should be vigilant about fires on the Square. Prophetstown, Ill. is about 100 miles southwest of Woodstock. If you are like I am, you have never heard of it.

Look what fire did to the downtown area.

Woodstock has had its history of fires on the Square. Each and every person should be alert to causes of fires and act to prevent them. As I have driven past some of the wooden landings and stairs of some of the old buildings, I have wondered whether any apartment dwellers barbecue in charcoal or gas grills outside their doors.

Hopefully, the City inspectors and the Fire Rescue personnel keep a sharp eye out. But so should residents and passersby.

If you see a dangerous condition, report it. Call the City or the Fire Department or even the Police Department.

City Hall 815.338.4300
Fire 815.338.2621
Police 815.338.2131
Emergency 9-1-1

Deputy wrecks car. Avoiding deer?

Two nights ago a sheriff's deputy managed to run off northbound Dean Street, just south of U.S. 14 in Woodstock, taking out a 35MPH speed limit sign and post and causing significant damage to the right front of Unit 560. One of McHenry County's deer apparently surprised the driver.

What would you think the normal reaction of a driver would be to a deer suddenly appearing in front of him, whether walking or leaping across a road? What would you do? Would you slam on the brakes? Would you swerve to avoid the deer?

Or would you just drift off the road onto the shoulder? Would you just lift your foot off the accelerator and NOT stomp on the brakes? If you were going the speed limit of 45MPH and approaching a 35MPH zone, you'd probably get stopped pretty quickly - like in less than 39 yards before you hit and mangled a speed limit sign. Wouldn't you?

One deputy has told me that training is to stand on the brakes hard. If you have a choice of hitting a deer or running off the road, hit the deer. Of course, this will leave evidence of the deer on the patrol car.

There are no skid marks on the pavement or in the gravel on the shoulder.

This patrol vehicle is one of two with the not-too-popular (in some circles) ALPRs - Automated License Plate Readers. These are the devices that can read thousands of license plates per day, supposedly only looking for wanted plates. There is some degree of controversy about ALPRs, because some of them store information and thus can be used to track movements of the vehicles.

The vehicle apparently didn't stop where it ran over the speed limit sign. Debris is on the shoulder about 100 yards north of the downed sign.

Obama to Chicago on Thursday

Another waste of millions of dollars will happen this week when Obama comes to Chicago to hang with Mayor Ram-it. WLS reports that Obama will be in Chicago to visit a school.

Is there anyone powerful to put the brakes on Obama and his waste? I doubt it. He is following the Golden Rule - the one with the gold, rules.

What is he going to learn? Absolutely nothing.

Will he go to the worst school in the war zone and hang out with his 'bros'? Ha-ha-ha...

Will he witness a drive-by shooting from his safe bullet-proof limo and declare a "national tragedy"? Not likely. Will he open the sunroof and stand up, exposed, to greet all the friendly faces on the South Side? Not likely.

What do you suppose the trip costs? $25,000,000?

Greg Pyle - court, 9:00AM

The Illinois State Police complaint (case) against former McHenry County Sheriff's Dept. Sgt. Greg Pyle will be back in McHenry County Court today at 9:00AM.

There are motions, including one to replace Judge Gordon Graham, and a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

Pyle has been an inmate of the Boone County Jail on federal no-bond charges since about August 2012, which - by no strange coincidence (although Sheriff Nygren says it was only a coincidence) - was when his vacation and sick-time pay from MCSD ran out.

I find it incredibly unusual that Nygren and Undersheriff Zinke have never mentioned the termination of Pyle from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. Is that because Pyle was on the "A-Team" at MCSD; i.e.,  part of the "in-group"?

Was he ever charged regarding the computers or computer parts that "went swimming" in the pond near the Sheriff's Department in January 2012? Were those computers government property? Could they possibly have been evidence in a different case?

Woodstock Fire Rescue participated in the "rescue", but I have never read any statement from MCSD about it.

Who was Pyle's supervisor at the time of his arrest? Wasn't he in charge of the evidence room at MCSD? Did he report to the Chief of Detectives?

When an evidence technician at the McHenry Police Department was arrested, the McHenry PD was properly concerned about the possible compromise of evidence being held. Did MCSD ever express similar concern or undertake an inventory of evidence and confirm that everything was in order in the MCSD evidence room?

Calling all Titanic fans

Want to see the violin of Wallace Hartley, band leader on the Titanic? And meet Ken Rossignol, author of Titanic 1912?

Catch up with Ken in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., when he'll be at the Titanic Museum.

Now through Monday, July 29th, 2013
Monday, October 21st through Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Friday, November 1st through Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
10:00am – 5:00pm
Where: Titanic Museum Attraction, Pigeon Forge, TN.

If Branson, Missouri, is closer for you, check out Ken's tour schedule at the Titanic Museum there and catch up with him there.

Ken's books (on the Titanic and others) can be found on, and a number of them are being converted to audio books.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why I dislike Obama

I'm not sure why I read the newspapers or the news online.

I have my personal opinion about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case and verdict, but I am incensed at what reports this morning, "President Barack Obama ...  called the incident a national tragedy over the weekend --..."

I remember when my dislike for Obama started. He was to visit the Woodstock (Ill.) Opera House and 400 people had gathered. He was late, very late. There was no explanation. Everyone was told to stay in their seats, except the politicians were walking around and glad-handing others. After about 20 minutes, I walked out.

If Obama had so little respect for the public as a U.S. Senator, I didn't care to hear a word from him.

The death of Trayvon Martin was not a "national tragedy". It is Obama who is a national tragedy!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beth Bentley - gone 164 weeks

One hundred sixty-four weeks ago Beth Bentley vanished. Very likely, she disappeared (maybe with a little help?) on May 23, 2010, from Centralia, Ill. Or from Mt. Vernon, Ill. Or maybe not even from either. Or on that date...

It's all murky. Only one person says that Jenn Wyatt drove Beth from Mt. Vernon to Centralia on Sunday, May 23, 2010. That person is Jenn Wyatt.

What did Ryan Ridge and Nathan Ridge tell Jefferson County (Ill.) sheriff's deputies (the house where Beth reportedly stayed from May 21-23 is in Jefferson County, outside city limits), Mt. Vernon Police or Woodstock Police? Did any law enforcement officers ever interview them? More than once?

When Beth's husband, Scott Bentley, and friends went to Mt. Vernon soon after Beth didn't return, with whom did they talk and what did they learn?

Wyatt says she doesn't know what Beth was going to do after she was dropped off in Centralia. Wyatt has said that she doesn't know whether Beth was going to meet someone. Wyatt did tell me on June 10, 2010, that Beth never intended to take a train that evening. And that they were to meet up on Monday afternoon in northern Illinois, so that Beth and she could return to Woodstock in time for Beth to get home before Scott got home from work.

Phone records don't seem to indicate any urgent, frequent or repeated attempts to reach Beth. Assuming that a good time back in Woodstock would have been 5:00PM, you'd expect to find calls during the day to confirm meet-up plans and, when there was no contact, you'd expect to find more attempts and more frequently. And you'd expect the police to get called earlier than about 10:50PM.

What smells here?

Did Beth really make it to Mt. Vernon? What were her activities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? What happened on Sunday?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stella's - coming to the Depot

A new coffee joint will be taking over the property at the Woodstock Depot in August.

Stella's off the Square expects to open in August, with hours from the early morning train to 1:00PM. The business is being put together by Danielle Delatorre, who was previous associated with Java Planet.

Danielle will be at the Woodstock City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 16, to do the requisite begging for approval. Plans call for the City to upgrade the restrooms.

Be sure to watch for the opening.

The business may expect a boost in customers at the Woodstock Depot, if Metra comes through with its plans to relocate the Crystal Lake rail deadheads to the west side of Woodstock. Let's hope that the City Fathers carefully evaluate the noise from the parking of rail cars in or just outside Woodstock. The cars themselves won't be a nuisance but, if engines run all night, the neighbors may go on the warpath.

Having all trains come to Woodstock will be a great convenience for many.

Sidewalks are for ...

Have you ever scraped your leg on a trailer hitch of a vehicle parked over a sidewalk? It hurts!

Wouldn't it be nice if drivers of vehicles with long overhangs on the front or rear parked so as not to encroach on the sidewalk? This vehicle was parked in the east parking lot of the courthouse last week.

Sure, I saw it and avoided it. Imagine a person in a wheelchair or wearing dark glasses and using a cane? Would an unsighted person take a nasty spill? Who would he sue for injuries? Just the truck owner? Or would he also sue the County?

It was nice that the driver didn't back all the way until the rear tires hit the sidewalk. But removing the trailer hitch and parking not quite so far back would have been even better.

Obama - 923 Executive Orders in 3½ years

Executive Orders are issued by the President of the United States.

Read what has to say about them. "United States Presidents issue executive orders to help officers and agencies of the executive branch manage the operations within the federal government itself. Executive orders have the full force of law,[1] since issuances are typically made in pursuance of certain Acts of Congress, some of which specifically delegate to the President some degree of discretionary power (delegated legislation), or are believed to take authority from a power granted directly to the Executive by the Constitution. However, these perceived justifications cited by Presidents when authoring Executive Orders have come under criticism for exceeding executive authority; at various times throughout U.S. history, challenges to the legal validity or justification for an order have resulted in legal proceedings."

How many have been issued across the years since Teddy Roosevelt was President? (These numbers come from an e-mail I received today and have not been verified).

Teddy Roosevelt 3FDR 11 in 16 years
Truman 5 in 7 years
Ike 2 in 8 years
Kennedy 4 in 3 years
LBJ 4 in 5 years
Nixon 1 in 6 years
Ford 3 in 2 years
Carter 3 in 4 years
Reagan 5 in 8 years
Bush 3 in 4 years
Clinton 15 in 8 years
George W. Bush 62 in 8 years
Obama 923 in 3½ years


Anybody else worried about the U.S.A. under Obama's rule?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Order of Protection - worthless

You think an Order of Protection (OP) will save your life?

Here's my advice. If you need one, get it. Then go to the range and use a copy of it for target practice.

Read this story.

Robert Vann Marshall, of McMinn County, Tennessee (between Knoxville and Chattanooga), was thrown in jail on Saturday morning and served with an OP. At 1:27PM he was released from jail.

At 1:38PM his wife dialed 9-1-1 and reported that Marshall was trying to break into their home. She retreated to a bedroom and subsequently shot and killed Marshall.

She is alive, because she was prepared.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, be prepared. Get yourself a FOID card, buy a firearm and ammo, and learn how to use it. And then keep it where you can get at it.

Review the rules about safe gun storage. Unloaded? In a locked box? Keyed lock or combination? Gun and ammo separate?

If she had followed those rules, she'd be dead. The best place is loaded, in a holster on your belt. Got kids in the house? Put them through a firearms safety course as soon as they are old enough to understand. Teach them to shoot. And to shoot straight.

Harrison challenges Prim in D.P. PD abuse case

The following press release was received from Jim Harrison, who will be running as an Independent candidate for Sheriff of McHenry County in the November 2014 General Election. Bill Prim will be a Republican candidate for Sheriff in the March 2014 Primary Election and expects to face current Undersheriff Andy Zinke in that contest.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                               July 11, 2013
Citizens to Elect Jim Harrison Sheriff of McHenry County                                 
Post Office Box 10
Ringwood, IL 60072

PHONE: 815-575-4001
Contact: Jim Harrison


Dear Bill,

On July 8, 2013, I disclosed an arbitration ruling that ties you to the police beatings in the Des Plaines police department.  I have stated and I maintain that your record of failed supervision over use of force incidents in the Des Plaines police department renders you unfit for the Office of Sheriff.  You have claimed that I “concocted an entire ‘fairy tale’ based on arbitrator’s ruling in a union grievance.”  You called the contents of these disclosures “frivolous” and “utterly baseless.”  Apparently, you and I define these terms very differently.

I can assure you that I do not consider abuses of power by the police, excessive force used against arrestees, and the beating of a handcuffed citizen to be “frivolous?”  Moreover, I consider a supervisor’s failure to take action to remedy these constitutional violations to be even worse! 
The People of McHenry County have a right to know what information you knew concerning these matters, when you knew it, and what you did or failed to do about it.  The statement that you released on Monday failed to address several important facts pertaining to your knowledge and involvement in the John Bueno matters.  Therefore, I invite you to join me and to present your documentation, if any, and your side of the story in a suitable public forum.  I too will bring my investigation file so as to avoid allegations of making “utterly baseless” claims.  My committee has reached out to the Joe Walsh Show on W.I.N.D. radio as a possible forum for such a discussion; we are awaiting a reply.  I know that Joe Walsh is a declared supporter of yours, so having this type of open public discussion on his radio show would certainly offer you a friendly forum in which to present your position.

I believe these revelations concerning the excessive use of force incidents in Des Plaines and your personal involvement in these matters, are important matters of public concern, and I offer the opportunity to publicly discuss these matters with you.  Let’s help the People of McHenry County become informed on this issue; after all, they are the ones who have to elect a new Sheriff.  I await your response.

Jim Harrison
Independent Candidate for McHenry County Sheriff

Citizens to Elect James T. (Jim) Harrison Sheriff of McHenry County
P.O. Box 10
Ringwood, IL 60072

A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website ( or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.  (Paid for by Citizens to Elect James T. (Jim) Harrison Sheriff of McHenry County).