Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Get Murder in McHenry - free today.

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Author Paul Scharff wants you to read his book. And he'll make it easy for you. And free. All you have to do is click on the title (above). If you don't like links, go to and enter the title.

The free copy is available today. Paul has given his book away without charge on each of the last four Wednesdays. Today is the last Wednesday it will be free. If you miss it at the free price, buy it at Amazon's Kindle list price. It's worth it at that price.

Go to Paul's website here and read about the book and his offer. After you get his book, be sure to post a review on He'll appreciate that.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

L.W.V. - how embarrassing!

What happens when political-type women are in charge of something?

Tonight's "forum" was pitiful. Within minutes of starting, I realized that the Pledge of Allegiance was not going to be said. I popped out of my seat and went to the organization's representative who spoke right after Jason Schaumburg of the Northwest Herald made his brief remarks. Then I went down to the front row, right in front of the moderator and stewed for a minute or two about standing up and speaking out to ask that the Pledge be recited.

And then I didn't. I should have.

It seems to me that the McHenry County League of Women Voters blew it one other time. Does anyone remember which event?

The organizer said in her opening remarks that the League of Women Voters is open to women and men. Well, men, I think we'd better start joining up and, when they are planning a meeting/forum around such an important event as a contested race for the top county sworn law enforcement officer, we'd better give them some serious input.

I wonder if the agenda item for the Pledge was brought up to the candidates. Did they agree to skip it?

I wanted to hear Zinke and Prim recite the Pledge and mean it.  You know the part: "... with liberty and justice for all." Law enforcement has the power (and now, the equipment) to destroy the citizens. We have to know they will not.

Watch what Red Skelton had to say about the Pledge of Allegiance.

Sheriff's race debate - Tonight!

The forum/debate in the Republican Primary race for Sheriff of McHenry County is scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, February 25, at 7:00PM. The place? McHenry County College.

I haven't seen any announcement as to who the moderator will be. The forum is co-sponsored by the McHenry County League of Women Voters and the Northwest Herald.

The Northwest Herald, generally thought of as a pro-establishment, pro-Nygren and, now, pro-Zinke newspaper, has flooded its Letters to the Editor pages with letters from Zinke supporters. Anyone who reads them can skip the Comics page of the paper that day. Those folks are just not in touch.

I am shocked by the announced support by elected officials, including the recent Letter to the Editor by Sue Low, individually. She is the Mayor of the City of McHenry. Other support has been announced by Mike Tryon, Barb Wheeler, Tina Hill, Pam Althoff.

Zinke blew any chance to qualify as a candidate for Sheriff, when he revealed a confidential DEA investigation to Nygren political supporter and MCSD Merit Commission member Brian Goode, president of RITA Corporation. Two months later Goode contributed $5,000 to Zinke's campaign.

How thorough was MCSD Legal Affairs Officer Don Leist's "investigation"? Why, really, won't MCSD (Nygren) release the report? Or, since Zinke has been running MCSD since 2010 (as he wrote in one of his fundraising letters), . Really? During that time, morale at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has continued to decline. Why won't Zinke release Leist's report?

The chain-of-command has been blown apart. When certain line deputies know that they can skip supervisors and go right to their buddy at or near the top of the food chain, authority of supervisors is shot to pieces. And when command personnel skip the chain-of-command and issue instructions directly to line deputies? That's even worse, because MCSD has paid out the big bucks for some of those guys to go to places like the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and to FBI training academies.

Certainly, the NU School and FBI Academies must teach the importance of chain-of-command and how you destroy an organization when you allow it to fall apart.

Will questions about chain-of-command come up tonight?

Will questions about improprieties come up?

Will questions about the cost of rogue squads of deputies come up?

How much drinking and driving is there by deputies? Why are those incidents handled internally by administrative discipline, instead of by tickets? Preventing a person from calling police to report an assault is a criminal act. How could MCSD handle that "administratively"?

Will both candidates support creation of an Internal Affairs Division?

Monday, February 24, 2014

MCSD Jail - profit center or money pit?

Don't miss today's article in the McHenry County Blog about our county's favorite jail. OK, so it's the County's only jail...

It seems like for a long time all we heard was that the county was being enriched by about $12,000,000/year, thanks for the financial acumen and foresight of Sheriff Nygren. More recently, there have been questions about the dropping inmate numbers and the increasing staffing at the jail, along with the specialty teams and high supervisor-employee ratios.

And now Cal Skinner has done his homework, and we learn that the "profit center" actually is more like a bottomless pit.

In a comment to the February 21, 2014, Don Leist Letter to the Editor of the Northwest Herald, somebody hiding behind "I'mJustAsking" wrote, "...It may may [sic] all they have but can we really afford to continue to put people in office without real budget and fiscal experience into positions just because the are really good at running a campaign of slinging mud and personal attacks at good people?..."

Andy Zinke has said that he has been running MCSD since 2010.  (2010 is when Nygren was last re-elected as Sheriff, quickly left for 30 days through the Panama Canal, and has seldom been seen since.) So who is responsible for the financial mess revealed in the article on the McHenry County Blog? MCSD has a highly-paid Business Manager, who gets take-home car. What is the job description for that position?

The jail is not making money. It's sucking it up like a Hoover vacuum cleaner. (No disrespect meant to the Hoover name.)

Good job, Cal. Can't wait to see Part 2.

Ill. Sen. McCann - a man with a brain

Thanks to Illinois Senator William Sam McCann!!!
Sen. McCann

Sen. McCann, from Jacksonville, Ill., has introduced SB3362 with language for the concealed carry law (430 ILCS 66/ ) that removed the waiver of "privacy and confidential rights and privileges under ALL [emphasis added] federal and state laws..." His bill replaces the offensive language in Sec. 30(b)(3) with a sensible authorization and release for certain records.

Go to Then enter SB3362 in the field on the left to read the synopsis of the bill, and click further to read the entire proposed bill.

SB3362 provides "that the information provided by the authorization and release is limited to the sole purpose of determining whether the applicant is disqualified from obtaining a concealed carry license" (from the synopsis of the Bill).

This is the way that the original concealed carry bill should have been written, rather than requiring the forfeiture of all federal and state rights to privacy and confidentiality. The Illinois General Assembly (Senators and Representatives) should be ashamed of themselves for pulling the wool over the eyes of Illinois residents in the manner they did, and the NRA and the ISRA should not have rolled over on us, after claiming they had the votes to block a bad law. They didn't, and they failed to warn their members about Sec. 30(b)(3).

More than 40,000 Illinois residents have rushed to apply for concealed carry licenses and have signed away their rights and privileges to privacy and confidentiality under ALL federal and state laws. When they inserted their electronic signatures in that field on the electronic application for the concealed carry license, that's exactly what they did.

Those rights are gone. Will they be able to get them restored? How hard with that fight be?

Want to thank Sen. McCann? Email him at or call (217) 245-0050.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Beth Bentley - gone 196 weeks

On February 12th the Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department issued an updated press release related to Beth Bentley, who has now been missing for 196 weeks.

To view that press release, go to
Hover over City Departments
Hover over Police
Click on Press Releases/Crime Alerts

To see the new press release, click on Missing Person - Beth Bentley - 02-12-14
Then click on the link to the .pdf version

That press release had been published on February 12, a date that would have been Beth's 45th birthday. For whatever reason, it was buried behind a "See all items" link which, as I pointed out to the City, would be a place where one would expect to see older items, not new ones. Thanks to the P.D. to moving the current items to the front page of the press releases.

And now there are two press releases on this P.D. page, because an old one was re-published with a new date (probably so that they could force it to this page). The old 11/11/2010 press release, listing Beth as a "Missing Adult - Endangered" was re-dated to February 21, 2014. It contains the original wording, without any updating to remove erroneous or obsolete information. The original Missing Person press release has not been visible since November 2010.

Obsolete information? For example, there is no longer a "Woodstock CRIMESTOPPERS". That long-time organization (Woodstock Area Crime Stoppers, Inc.) was allowed to dissolve involuntarily on June 14, 2013, by the last batch of officers and board of directors/trustees. Because it is out of business, there is a question as to the second "up to $1,000" reward.

Somebody knows where Beth is. Now the information is worth only "up to $1,000". In actuality, the pay-out might only be the average Crime Stoppers of McHenry County pay-out of $300.00. And that's hardly enough for someone to spill the beans and tell investigators where to look. Would a person coming forward now, 3½ years after Beth vanished, have to be fearful for her own safety and that of family members?

Woodstock Police revealed in its February 12, 2014, press release that Beth's status as an Endangered Missing Person was because of "... the result of her purported prescription and illegal drug use while she was visiting the Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County area of southern Illinois."

Woodstock Police elevated Beth from a Missing Person to a Missing Adult - Endangered" on about 11/11/2010 but refused to say why at the time. Only now, 3+ years later, do they reveal "purported ... illegal drug use."

The statement is vague. Do Police mean on the week-end of May 20-23, 2010? Or on that and other times in southern Illinois? Or just on a previous trip(s)?

In what way, if at all, was such "purported" use of illegal drugs connected to her missing status? Was there some partying going on? Did Beth OD? Did those who were with her panic and dispose of her body?

The McHenry County State's Attorney Office is currently prosecuting a different case that involves Concealment of a Homicidal Death. Is there an Illinois statute for Concealment of an Accidental or Drug-Related Death? I can think of at least three people who might be sweating a little, now that police have admitted to the likelihood of illegal drugs in this case.

What if there was a $25,000 or $50,000 reward? Would that loosen some lips? Right now, the reward may be only $1,000, and who really knows if that is still valid? I believe I'll ask.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where are the Prim signs?

Read McHenry County Blog this morning about the stolen Prim-for-Sheriff signs.

Just yesterday a young man said to me, "I'm not seeing very many Prim signs."

Right! So what is happening to the signs? Surely, an opponent or his supporters wouldn't be stealing them. Would they?

I remember the 2010 election for Sheriff, when numerous signs of Democratic challenger Mike Mahon were vandalized. I passed one on Route 47 north of Huntley, stood it back up and called Mike to let him know to replace it.

I knew I hadn't damaged it, and I was sure that no one on Mike's campaign had damaged it. That left people in just one campaign...

Still want a Prim-for-Sheriff sign? Go to and click on "Get A Sign". Or show up Monday night at the Cary Public House, 208 W. Main St., Cary, between 6:30-8:30PM. $25.00 suggested donation covers "free" appetizers and soft drinks (no 1¢/oz. tax)

And remember the forum (debate! (I hope)) at MCC on Tuesday night, Feb. 25, at 7:00PM. You can probably pick up signs there, too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kohl's - Woodstock

Thursday evening I was in the Kohl's in Woodstock, and I received exceptional service.

The store is clean, organized and well-stocked. Employees are friendly, fast and accurate. Merchandise is attractively arranged and neatly displayed. There is a large variety.

Kohl's operates the way a department store should. I'm really glad that Kohl's came to Woodstock, and I encourage you to make it your first stop for shopping.

U.S. could learn from Zimbabwe

Former (disgraced) U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds is in Harare, Zimbabwe, having a little learning experience about international travel and rules in other countries.

Seems he got caught with some illegal pornographic materials in his possession. And violated his visa.

In a short article on Page A3 of today's print edition of the Northwest Herald, Reynolds' attorney told a magistrate there that Reynolds "needed more time to understand the 'essential elements' of the charges" related to violating immigration law. Reynolds was supposed to enter a plea. You know, like Guilty or Not Guilty.

We need Magistrate Tendai Mahwe right here in McHenry County. He questioned Reynolds' lawyer's request for more time on Thursday, asking, "Why is this taking long [sic]? Why don't you make a plea so we can finish this case?"

Sort of sounds like, "We'll give him a fair trial and string him up."

Would McHenry County judges dare to ask such outrageous questions of an attorney for a defendant? That might avoid two years of continuances and reduce attorneys' income by thousands of dollars!

Today's Chicago Tribune reports that Reynolds pled Guilty to over-staying his visa and has been ordered deported. How fast will they toss him out of Zimbabwe?

How do we handle illegal aliens in the U.S.? We coddle them for months, even years. Which is why we have 12,000,000 problems. Cases in the U.S. drag out for 12-18-24-36 months. Or longer. Those are Federal cases; not McHenry County cases.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Funston Elementary - no fun at all

Just how incredibly stupid are school officials? Read this story and, if you aren't incensed, then you just aren't awake!

Caden Cook, an 11-year-old 6th Grader at Frederick Funston Elementary School at 2010 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago (Yes! a Chicago Public Schools facility), is in hot water for taking a weapon to school.

Ahh, you say, but ...

But look at the "weapon". Apparently, Caden arrived at school with the "weapon", and he did the responsible thing - he turned it in. And that's when the fight began.

Reading the article on GunsSaveLives.Net reveals that Caden was subjected to " ... intimidation tactics, interrogation, and dire threats by school officials—all without his mother being present."

The Rutherford Institute is asking that the suspension be rescinded and that the incident be removed from Caden's permanent school record.

Can that "weapon" violate any school’s weapons policy against dangerous objects? It's not a weapon, and it's certainly not a dangerous object!

Care to express your opinion to the Principal at Funston? Write to

Mrs. Nilma Osiecki, Principal
Frederick Funston Elementary School
2010 N. Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Tel. 773.534.4125
 [No published email address]

The school can't even get the spelling of the Principal's name right on its website. On the homepage near her picture, her last name is spelled Osieck. In the Staff Directory dropdown menu, her last name is spelled Osiecki.

Check out the school's motto:
Plowing the Fields of KNOWLEDGE
Planting the Seeds of SUCCESS

Now they can add Destroying HONESTY and RESPONSIBILITY.

Order in the Court - Hear ye...

Yesterday I visited the 1:30PM traffic court of Judge Joel D. Berg at the McHenry County Government Center.

Court started on time and was preceded by thorough announcements by the bailiff regarding seating and preparation of requests for public defenders. All was in English, which was probably hard for a number of defendants.

Judge Berg took attorneys with cases first. On the one hand, I understand this. Their meters are running. They want to get back to their offices. On the other hand, why, in every courtroom, should Joe Common Citizen (or in some cases, Joe Not-the-Citizen) have to cool his heels for an hour.

Yes, "hour". Attorney cases took from 1:30PM to 2:30PM. Maybe courts should be set up so that those without attorneys don't have to show up until a 2:30PM call. Except that's when traffic-case trials seem to start. I didn't wait for them, but some Algonquin PD officers did.

As in many other courtrooms, it was nearly impossible to hear what was said between Judge Berg and the lawyers and defendants at the bench. And it's not because my ears don't work.

When Judge Berg spoke up in a normal tone of voice, which was rare, I didn't have any trouble hearing. In the rare moment when an attorney spoke up, I could hear him.

Except when clusters of attorneys between the railing and the bench were chatting away. Not once were they admonished to quiet down.

Except when attorneys stepped to the aisle and called names of their clients. Not once were they asked to do so more quietly.

Except when attorneys conversed with their clients, during court, in the general seating area. Not once were they interrupted.

I suppose it would be rude to stand up, wait for Judge Berg or his bailiff to recognize me, and then say, "Your honor, with all the attorneys talking in here, I'm not able to hear what you are saying." Would that get me ejected from the courtroom? Or maybe cited for contempt and tossed in the pokey?

Personally, I seem to hold the Court and the Judge in higher respect that many of the attorneys in court yesterday. There is the matter of courtroom decorum that many McHenry County lawyers ignore.

Court Security Chief Marvin Fell is probably the one to crack the whip for courtroom control. Each judge probably directs his own bailiff, but Chief Fell ought to be setting the standard and working with the Chief Judge, all the judges, and the Court Administrator.

One simple solution would be to amplify the conversations at the bench. Let the public hear what's going on. The judge expects the public to sit quietly and wait their turns. Why not let them hear what is being said? Right now it's like watching TV with the sound turned down!

Leadership and Chain-of-Command

What do you suppose is taught at the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command about leadership. Anything?

And how about in MBA programs at universities and other schools of higher learning?

It has been more than a few years since I was in the USAF or even with the Arapahoe County (Colo.) Sheriff's Department (ACSD). But, if I remember correctly, as an Airman I took my orders from an Airman of higher rank or from a Sergeant.

The sergeant got his orders from a 2nd Lt.
A 2nd Lt. got his orders from a 1st Lt.
The 1st Lt. got his orders from Capt., who got his from a Major, who got his from a Lt. Col., who got his from a Col., who got his from a Brig. Gen., who got his from a Major Gen., who got his from a Lt. Gen., who got his from a General. And the General got his orders from a General of the Air Force.

I can't imagine there ever would have been a day that a General would have called me and said, "Airman Philpott, do this or don't do that." Not even if I were about to follow standard operating procedures (SOP). And I can't imagine that a General would call me and order me NOT to follow SOP in a routine matter.

Would it have happened at ACSD? Would Sheriff Phil Baker have radioed me with an order not to follow SOP?

Or would he have called me on a cell phone, so that his improper order would not be broadcast over the police radio band for all to hear?

Well, we didn't have cell phones back in the 1970s.

And this is one of my main objections to official communications taking place on Department or personal cell phones; others can't hear them, and those conversations are not recorded.

What is taught today at Northwestern, where MCSD pays the big bucks in tuition, compensation and transportation for command deputies to hobnob with others and talk about how business ought to be conducted?

I'll bet that even CALEA has instructions, directives or orders about chain-of-command. And I'll bet that General Orders at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department lay out the rules.

What happens when they aren't followed?

If you're at the bottom of the woodpile, you're cinders. Toast.

If you're at the top of the pile, nothing happens. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Pop Tax - 1¢/oz.?

Sen. Hunter
Should Illinois tax soda pop at 1¢/oz.?

Don't legislators have something more important to do? Like, maybe, fix the pension crisis?

What the heck is wrong between their ears? Is there anything there but sawdust?

Sen. Mattie Hunter (Senate D-3) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (House D-18) are scheming to add a one-cent per ounce tax to your soda. Add 12¢ to each can of Pepsi you drink. Or that 2-liter bottle of Pepsi? Add 67¢!!!

HB5690 requires distributors to add the tax, so don't get mad at Jewel-Osco or Walgreens.
Rep. Gabel

Want to give them your 2¢- worth and tell them to earn their big bucks for their part-time jobs by doing something worthwhile?

Sen. Mattie Hunter
2929 S. Wabash Ave., Ste. 102
Chicago, IL 60616

Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18)
820 Davis St., Ste. 103
Evanston, IL 60201

And if you want to see something that will really make you sick, go to the General Assembly website ( and look up the bills sponsored by your elected senator or representative. Remember that this is our government at work. Forget all about less government. This is nuts!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Murder in McHenry - free today

Get your copy of Paul Scharff's book, Murder in McHenry (Kindle edition) free! That's absolutely free - no shipping charge; no tax; no delay. Instant delivery to your Kindle or other e-reader, including your SmartPhone or PC (or Mac).

Author Paul Scharff wants you to read his book. And he'll make it easy for you. And free. All you have to do is click on the title (above). If you don't like links, go to and enter the title.

The free copy is available today. If you go after it late tonight, Amazon may have changed the price back to the regular Kindle price. It's worth it at that price.

It will also be free on Wednesday, February 26.

Go to Paul's website here and read about the book and his offer. After you get his book, be sure to post a review on He'll appreciate that.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Huge problem at Woodstock Chamber of Commerce

Having the proper officers in place in a corporation is essential for doing business. The officers are President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. And having a Secretary is essential, because that officer is the keeper of the records of the organization and the Secretary also acts as the witness on official documents of the organization.

It has been a while since I've read the By-Laws of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I was a member twice, having joined in 2006 for one year and again in 2011.

I have noticed over the past several months that the Chamber has been operating without a Secretary and without a Vice-President. Both offices are critical and should not be left vacant. They are sometimes hard to fill, but you would think that, out of 200+ members, two people could be found to serve in those positions.

The Chamber's annual meeting is Thursday, February 20. That's this Thursday. An important function of the Annual Meeting is to elect Board members and Officers. Was a nominating committee formed? Did it present a slate of candidates for the Annual Meeting?

Years ago I read the By-Laws and, if I recall correctly, each officer must be a full business member of the Chamber. At the time I raised the issue with the Board then that Tim Clifton, who was Woodstock's City Manager and Chamber Treasurer, could not serve as Treasurer. There wasn't any doubt that Tim was doing a good job. The problem was that he, as an ex-officio chamber member, was not eligible to be Treasurer.

The same situation now exists with Tom Landers as Treasurer. He is Superintendent of Marian Central Catholic High School, Woodstock, and is an ex-officio Chamber member. As such, he is not eligible to be Treasurer, no matter how fine a job he does.

Why does the Woodstock Chamber turn a blind eye to these small, picky, legal requirements?

Knowing the Annual Report had recently been filed with the Illinois Secretary of State, I was curious about whom the Chamber named as officers. I was shocked, when I received the Annual Report, filed December 5, 2013, by Shari Gray as Executive Director. In the Report she named herself as Secretary of the Chamber. Did the Board ever vote her in or appoint her as Secretary? Are there Minutes supporting that?

What's wrong with that?

As an employee of the Chamber, she is not eligible, under the By-Laws, to serve as Secretary. She is not a business member of the Chamber.

The Chamber tried that when Quinn Keefe was the Executive Director. He was acting as Secretary. You never have an employee as Secretary! Why? Because the President of the Chamber could require the Secretary to attest to his or her signature on official documents that were not correct. Kind of a "Sign here, if you want to keep your job" catch-22 situation.

So far as I know, this Chamber has never had a dishonest President but, if it did, would the Secretary sign as ordered, to keep his or her job?

It's such a simple matter to operate with the legal constraints of By-Laws. Why doesn't the Chamber do it? Because no one is watching.

Electronics Recycling - this week!

Real estate agent Scott Milliman sent this email to me. Thanks, Scott!




Thurs., Fri., Sat.: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.


Accepted Items: Computers and Accessories, Monitors, Printers, Toner, Ink Cartridges, Phones, Microwaves & DVD Players.

Not Accepted: TVs & Alkaline Batteries

Baird & Warner Real Estate
Far Northwest Suburban Office
6330 Northwest Hwy.
Crystal Lake

Monday, February 17, 2014

Woodstock PD website - hard to use

Last week the Woodstock Police Department (WPD) published an updated flier about Beth Bentley, who has been missing since May 2010. They published it on February 12, which would have been Beth's 45th birthday. After hearing about the flier, I wrote about it and took the Woodstock PD to task for not publishing it on their website.

Today I found it. Now, tell me; would you have found it?

The PD's webpage of information useful to residents is buried well down in the City's website. Here's how you find it:

Go to
Hover over "City Departments"
Hover over "Police"
Click on "Press Releases / Crime Alerts"

Once you are there, you'll see five items:
1. the old Beth Bentley flier from 11/11/10
2. 1/14/14 announcement of an AARP Driver Safety class
3. 2/20/14 a sex offender arrest
4. 1/27/14 a Panera Bread crime arrest
5. 1/27/14 an arrest photo for Item 4

That's it ... unless you happen to look down to the lower right and spot "See all items".

What do you think, when you see "See all items"? Those would be older items; right? Surely, the newest items would be those on the main page. Right?

OK, so click on "See all items". What shows up?

The first five items PLUS four more:
6. 2/4/14 February Traffic Initiative (a fancy word for motorists to be targeted this month);
7. 2/10/14 a criminal sexual assault arrest
8. 2/10/14 an announcement about WPD Deputy CHief [sic] Lieb
9. 2/12/14 the new Beth Bentley flier

Why aren't the newest and most important items on the first page you see?

Never ask a question in court ...

... to which you don't already know the answer."

While I was writing about FirstElectricNewspaper's (FEN) case against Sheriff Nygren and the McHenry County Sheriff's Department on Sunday, I thought of a case in Richmond, Va. in about 1995. It was a classic case, when a lawyer did a question of his client to which he did not already know the answer, and the judge waited ... and waited ... and waited.

I had been tailgated one day on a four-lane, divided highway while I was traveling 55MPH - in a 55MPH zone. The tailgater was about 4-6" behind my car, and she couldn't pass because there was a car alongside of me that wouldn't speed up. That driver had the tailgater boxed in, and she got madder and madder.

She finally did get around and took off. I was fed up with her dangerous driving, and I drove back to Chesterfield County, found a magistrate and filed a complaint.

In court she (an attorney) was represented by an attorney, who happened to work for the City of Richmond. The judge listened to the "he said/she said" stories and found her guilty. He fined her $25 and sentenced her to traffic school.

Her attorney told her not to go to traffic school and to appeal, which they did. A month later we were back in court.

Her attorney puffed out his chest and got in my face with his questions. He was pretty disrespectful with his words, facial expressions and deep sighs of exasperation as he questioned me. Having some experience in court, I just sat there calmly and let him play his role.

Then he put his client on the stand.

"Now tell the Court, Ms. ____, is it true that you were only four-to-six inches behind Mr. Philpott for half a mile at 55MPH?"

She answered, "No."

And right there is where he should have stopped. At that point the judge might just have decided that it's the word of one driver against the other, and he could have tossed it in her favor.

But, instead, her attorney said, "Please tell the Court how far behind him you were."

You could have heard a pin drop in that courtroom. She didn't answer. Some time passed, and she still didn't answer. As an attorney, she knew she had to answer. Finally, the judge began drumming his fingers on the bench as he looked at her.

Eventually, she answered. "About 12 inches."

The judge glared at her and said, "He's going 55MPH and you're only 12" behind him? That is reckless driving! Guilty!

I'll bet she was ready to kill her own attorney!

On the way out of the courtroom, the bailiff said to me, "Nice job."

When Judge Meyer asked Assistant State's Attorney Brandi Quance (in FEN's case) last Friday why he should stop the whole case (during her appeal), FEN wrote that "Her answer was an extended silence." How would she have answered, had Judge Meyer waited her out?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It ain't over 'til it's over

This case really is a big deal! Every voter in McHenry County should be aware of it and should be reading all about it. What case is that?

The case of FirstElectricNewspaper (FEN) against Sheriff Nygren and the McHenry County Sheriff's Department over the 100-page "investigation" about whether Undersheriff Andy Zinke did anything wrong, when he blew a confidential DEA investigation by telling Brian Goode, President of RITA Corporation in Crystal Lake, that a truckload of illegal drugs was headed to RITA from Texas.

Sgt. John Koziol (MCSD) was so mad about Zinke's disclosure that he filed a complaint in McHenry County Circuit Court. The reaction of the DEA Agent-in-Charge was priceless. And candid. And believable.

FEN filed a FOIA Request with the MCSD for the report, which Nygren claims exonerates Zinke. Duhhh... what else would it say? Nygren put MCSD Legal Affairs Officer (a newly created and unnecessary position at MCSD) Don Leist in charge. Leist interviewed two people on tape and may never have had those interviews transcribed. No doubt he talked to some other people. Maybe he even interviewed Zinke.

If Leist interviewed Zinke the way that some MCSD detectives interview people (I have a specific case in mind), it probably went something like this:

Leist: "Come on in, Andy. Want some coffee?"
Zinke: "Thanks, Don. How have you been?"
Leist: "You didn't do anything wrong, did you, Andy?"
Zinke: "No."
Leist: "OK, thanks. You can take your coffee with you."

MCSD denied FEN's FOIA request. FEN filed a Request for Review (appeal) with the Public Access Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. The Bureau told MCSD to release the report. Nygren jumped on his soapbox and probably uttered something like, "Make me!"

So FEN filed the court action. And on and on it goes. Nygren must be desperate to keep the report hidden at least until after the March 18th Primary. But, if Zinke is squeaky clean, why not say so?

Pete Gonigam, publisher of FEN, was back in court last Friday. Read his story about Friday's court here. But here's a teaser to get you to the whole story:

(You may recall, if you have been following the story, that Judge Meyer admonished Don Leist a while back that he was not the sheriff's attorney (the McHenry County State's Attorney office is) and that he (Leist) was not to speak at the bench, although he could stand there.)

From the FEN article on February 15: "Sheriff's Office Legal Affairs Officer Don Leist, apparent Svengali to (Assistant State's Attorney Brandi) Quance's evident Trilby, was frustrated.  While Meyer was momentarily in chambers, Leist sputtered at Gardner, "You're the one trying to influence the election.  You and your client."

"Meyer's security officer threatened to throw him out of the courtroom if he didn't behave. 'You can't bait people here, Mr. Leist,' he said."

FEN believes that the sheriff's department gave a copy of the report to the Northwest Herald, and FEN's attorney, Mary Gardner, is out to prove it.

There is one way to find out: Put Nygren, Zinke, Leist and MCSD Public Information Officer Aimee Knop (and maybe some other MCSD employees) on the stand - all out of hearing of one another. Ask each one, and don't let the others hear the answers. Put several Northwest Herald employees on the stand, and ask them - separately.

Somebody will tell truth. Someone will be afraid to get caught lying. Perjury is worse than leaking a sensitive document to a newspaper.

One problem, of course, is the amount of time that will take. There are rules, right? And one of them, most lawyers (but not all) know is, "You never ask a question in court to which you don't already know the answer."

Another priceless exchange occurred in court. Gonigam wrote, "Meyer asked Quance why he should stop the whole case.  Her answer was an extended silence."

How long should Judge Meyer have waited? Until she answered.

My favorite court case in Richmond, Va. included both of these issues: a question asked in court to which the attorney did not know the answer, and a judge who did wait for an answer. I'll write about this on another day.

Beth Bentley - now gone 195 weeks

"Big Daddy" asked some very good questions in his comment on my article about the new flier in the Beth Bentley case.

In today's article I'll write about his comments and dissect the new flier from the Woodstock Police Department.

In the new flier the Woodstock Police say that Beth was reported missing by "her friend" and a family member. Jennifer Wyatt's is not mentioned at all in the flier. Jenn was Beth's "friend" who reportedly traveled with Beth to southern Illinois on the fateful week-end.

Why would the police not state which family member reported Beth missing? Does it matter? Yes, it might well matter. Why are the police being vague and less transparent about this? The assumption could be that Beth's husband reported her missing, but did he? Or did a different family member call the Woodstock Police?

For the first time the Woodstock Police explain the escalation of Beth's status from Missing to Missing Endangered. The new flier may erroneously state that Beth was "originally entered" in LEADS as "Missing Endangered". The first Woodstock PD flier read Missing; Endangered was added later, but it was never explained.

"Big Daddy" asked, "Is there any evidence of foul play?" Now, for the first time, the Woodstock Police reveal that Missing Endangered in the LEADS system was the "...result of her purported prescription and illegal drug use while she was visiting the Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County area of southern Illinois."

Were valuable investigative opportunities lost by withholding that information for over 3½ years? What can happen during "illegal drug use"? Emotions can get out of control. Behavior can become erratic. Blame and criticism can escalate. A person could OD. Anyone around the person who OD'ed could panic and make a very bad choice to hide (dispose of) a body.

There is no certainty that Beth herself was in southern Illinois. Her phone was; but was she? If a family member talked to her, they would have no way of knowing where she was or even where her phone was. One story is that she had said Jenn and she were going to Wisconsin. Supposedly she telephoned her husband on Sunday shortly after 4:00PM and informed him she was in southern Illinois and would return on Monday. But that call was shown as a 2-minute call in cell phone records, so it could have been anywhere from 61 seconds to 120 seconds. Not very long to explain where she was and why she was there and when she'd be home.

Did Jenn tell the Woodstock Police that Beth intended to take the northbound train shortly after 6:00PM on Sunday, May 23, 2010? Or did she say only that she dropped Beth off "near" the Centralia (Ill.) Amtrak Station. And then many assumed she was going to take a train to Chicago. On June 10, 2010, Jenn told me that Beth never intended to take a train.

Some in this area doubt that Beth was ever really in southern Illinois. What proof is there? That her cell phone was there is not proof enough. What do Ryan Ridge and Nathan Ridge have to say? Did they give statements to Woodstock officers who went to Mt. Vernon? Or statements to any other law enforcement agency?

Why have I been hard on the Woodstock PD? Because they claimed the lead investigatory role, even though they are more than 300 miles from the location of her reported disappearance. And Mt. Vernon PD and the Illinois State Police have deferred to Woodstock. I too wonder why the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office wasn't the lead agency. The Ridge house, which was reportedly the Thursday night destination of Beth and Jenn, is in Jefferson County, Ill., well outside Mt. Vernon.

Did Beth ever really talk to any person after Thursday evening, May 20? Phone records indicate many short calls. Were they all answered electronically, rather than live?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vote today (in NWH reader poll)

Be sure to vote today in the Reader Poll on today's online edition of the Northwest Herald.  You'll find the survey on the right sidebar; scroll down.

The question is "Who [sic] do you support in the Republican primary for county sheriff?"
[ ] Bill Prim
[ ] Andrew Zinke
[ ] Neither

I keep suggesting to the NWH that they would increase participation in the polls, if they moved them up to the top of the right sidebar or at least above the fold. If you agree, send an e-mail to

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vanecko now jailed in McHenry County

The McHenry County Jail online register now shows that Richard J. Vanecko is now a guest at Hotel Nygren. He was booked in at 5:20PM.

When will he be released? April 15, 2014 at 5:00PM - just in time to file his income tax return.

You know who Vanecko is; right? He's the Daley nephew who got sentenced by McHenry County Judge Maureen McIntyre, on loan to Cook County for the trial. She sentenced him to 60 days in the clink for his role in the 2004 death of David Koschman. And then he has to stay home for 60 days on home monitoring. Big deal!

Let's see; there are people in prison for 5-10-15 years because they got caught with a couple of ounces of pot.

McHenry County Jail is going to seem like a country club, compared to what Cook County Jail and a state prison must be like.

TWI reports solidly on Amati case

The Woodstock Independent reporter Katelyn Stanek has done an excellent job in informing Woodstock residents on the case involving Woodstock Police Sgt. Chip Amati.

See her article this week right here:

Better yet, pick up your own copy of Woodstock's weekly paper at a neighborhood retail outlet or at the newspaper's offices and read it (and save it).

Katelyn points out where the City's protection of its residents, voters and property owners fell apart. The City Manager and the Police Chief made, in effect, a decision that threw up a barrier to any harsher discipline by the City.

The chief certainly would have informed the city manager, when the scandal began brewing. The city manager should have informed the mayor. I have no doubt that he did, but I don't know that he did. Why would he not have?

When the police chief put the problem in front of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners on October 28, the police chief recommended a 30-day suspension. That's all. He could have recommended termination, and then the Board could have accepted that recommendation or decided on something less harsh.

But, when he recommended the 30-day suspension, that apparently put the brakes on anything more severe.

Could the City now terminate Sgt. Amati? The City says it can't. I don't accept that. I think they could. I think they don't want to.

The question about whether Amati should be terminated is getting lost in the argument about whether the City could terminate him. Maybe they shouldn't. But it looks like they are running scared, and that's a weak position to be in, when the next problem arises.

Five years and no baseball stadium

Have five years really passed so quickly?

It was back in 2009 when Merryman Aggregate pitched (no pun intended) the Woodstock City Council on its desire to create a gravel pit along U.S. Highway 14 across from the Centegra Hospital-Woodstock, with an entrance on Lily Pond Road.

As I recall, part of the deal was ground for a baseball stadium and for the fairgrounds to move from Country Club Road.

Merryman got the gravel pit. It happened in a big hurry. Some thought, too much of a hurry.

I suspect the City of Woodstock never thought it would really receive a gift (transfer) of the baseball stadium ground. But wasn't that the deal? If a stadium wasn't built, the City would get the ground. Right?

It's about time for the City of Woodstock to knock the dust of those old Agreements, Contracts and Minutes of City Council meetings and get ready to collect.

It should be a smooth transfer; right? Small legal fees. No big bill from the City Attorney's office? That was all worked out ahead of time, while everybody's attention was focused on making the deal. right?


Thursday, February 13, 2014

39,549 x $150

As of Tuesday, 39,549 Illinoisans have forked over $150 each for the privilege of giving up ALL of their federal and state rights and privileges to privacy and confidentiality.

The State of Illinois has been enriched by $5,932,350, as these 39,549 have rushed to apply for the new concealed carry license.

That number of applications is from the Illinois State Rifle Association.

Of each $150, here's where the pieces go:

$120 (80%) State Police Firearms Service Fund [$4,745,880]
$  20 (13.3%) Mental Health Reporting Fund [$789,003]
$  10 (6.7%) State Crime Laboratory [$397,467]

I hope Director Hiram Grau of the Illinois State Police has his guns out, when the legislators start licking their lips and drooling over all that money just sitting there. Will he have the backbone to stand up to Gov. Quinn and the other gun-grabbers who will be trying to transfer that money into some other honey pot?

New Beth Bentley flier from Woodstock PD

The Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department has published a new flier about the missing Beth Bentley, a Woodstock woman who vanished on or about May 23, 2010. The flier was published on February 12, 2014, which would be Beth's 45th birthday, if she is alive.

The text of the new flier reads,

"On May 24, 2010, Benedetta "Beth" Bentley was reported missing by her friend and a family member to the Woodstock Police Department. Beth was originally entered into the Law Enforcement Agencies Database System (LEADS) as "Missing Endangered" as the result of her purported prescription and illegal drug use while she was visiting the Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County area of southern Illinois.

"Beth and her friend traveled to Mt. Vernon to visit friends and rented a car to make the approximate 6 hour journey. Beth was last known to be in the aforementioned geographical locations during the evening hours of May 23, 2010. This was substantiated through information with more than one family member and geographical positioning details from Beth's cellular telephone. Beth's cellular telephone usage showed conversations took place between her spouse and son during this time period, which indicated Beth's cellular telephone was in the south Illinois area at the time of their conversations. During their conversations, Beth did not indicate or act in an unusual manner and relayed she would return home on the following day. Records showed that the last GPS location of Beth's cellular telephone occurred in the southern Illinois area. A friend of Beth's, originally reported that she dropped Beth off at the train station in Centralia, IL, in order for Beth to return home, via train. Woodstock Police detectives were unable to verify that Beth ever purchased a train ticket, got onto a train or was ever dropped off in Centralia, IL.

"The Woodstock Police Department has worked with the Mt. Vernon and Centralia Police Departments, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and has received extensive cooperation and assistance from the Illinois State Police, All leads and information received have been investigated to the fullest extent.

"Beth's disappearance is quickly approaching 4 years and on today's date she turns 45 years old. Beth was last seen in the southern Illinois area wearing a black tank top, blue jean mini skirt, flip-flops and was in possession of a large white purse and an orange Vera Bradley overnight bag.

"The Woodstock Police Department is requesting that if anyone has any information related to this missing person investigation, to please contact the Woodstock Police Department Investigations Division at 815-338-2131."

The old flier, dated 11/11/2010, is still on the Woodstock PD website.

Wm. Ross in MCSD jail - bond (bail?) is $10,000

Finally.... William J. Ross was delivered to the McHenry County Jail and booked in at 12:01AM today. He must have really smelled ripe, if he spent 7-9 days on a prisoner transportation bus from Las Vegas.

His bond is $10,000, according to the Jail's website. He'll post that in a heartbeat. Is he likely to be a little unhappy with McHenry County law enforcement authorities, starting with the State's Attorney Office and including the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

He was arrested and confined to the Clark County (Nev.) Correctional Facility in Las Vegas on about November 7. He refused extradition, and he was returned to McHenry County after Gov. Quinn and Nevada Gov. Sandoval approved his extradition. On January 22 a court in Las Vegas took the final step to send him to Illinois.

Then he sat in jail there from January 22 to about February 4, while McHenry County arranged transportation. If he was brought here on a prisoner transportation bus, he was enroute for over a week. Do prisoners stay on the bus the entire time or are they housed in jails at night along the way?

His "bond" is posted as $10,000. There is some confusion on the jail's website between the words "bond" and "bail". Will it take $10,000 for Ross to be released, or will he be able to bail out on $1,000 (10%)? Or is his "bail" set at $10,000, which would be 10% of a $100,000 Bond?

I intended to attend his Rights Court appearance but, because he was booked in at 12:01AM, I did not learn of his 8:00AM court date until after 8:00AM.

Ross is charged with Concealment of a Homicidal Death. The body of Jacqueline Schaefer was found in Ross' unoccupied house in McHenry County on November 7. Will the Sheriff's Department and the State's Attorney Office succeed in prosecuting him? There is no doubt that her death was a homicide, although MCSD and the Coroner have yet to announce how she died. She didn't do herself in.

But will prosecutors be able to prove Ross concealed her death? And no one has yet been charged with murdering her.

Ross is presumed innocent. Remember that part of our laws?

Could Ross have posted bail in Las Vegas on November 7-8? What was magical about confining him there for three months and hauling him back here, so that he could post bail here?

5:05PM Ross is being represented by Crystal Lake attorney Henry Sugden.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Debt ceiling and You

Headline on

"$17,211,558,177,668.77 That's your new debt ceiling"

How many people are the in the U.S.?  *

* The U.S. Census Bureau population clock is broken. Hmmmm.....

Another site says the U.S. population is 317,524,528

That makes the average debt for each person $54,205

How's that Change workin' for you?

FREE today - Murder in McHenry

If you hurry today, you can still pick up a copy of Paul Scharff's book, Murder in McHenry (Kindle edition), free! That's absolutely free - no shipping charge; no tax; no delay. Instant delivery to your Kindle or other e-reader, including your SmartPhone or PC (or Mac).

Author Paul Scharff wants you to read his book. And he'll make it easy for you. And free. All you have to do is click on the title (above). If you don't like links, go to and enter the title.

The free copy is available today. If you go after it late tonight, Amazon may have changed the price back to the regular Kindle price. It's worth it at that price. I bought it for that shortly after it was published, and I'm glad I did.

Or you can wait until Wednesday, February 19, and get it free. Or you wait until Wednesday, February 26, and get it free then. I'll remind you on February 19 and February 26.

Go to Paul's website here and read about the book and his offer. After you get his book, be sure to post a review on He'll appreciate that.

WFRD misses local fire call

1165 Greenwood Circle
At 9:43am (updated at 9:54am) the Northwest Herald published an online story about a residential fire yesterday at 2:43pm, right in the middle of funeral services for the late Michael Wurtz, who had been a firefighter with the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District.

"While the fire took place in Woodstock, none of the Woodstock firefighters could respond to the incident as they were attending fellow firefighter Mike Wurtz's funeral Tuesday," reported the Northwest Herald. (Woodstock Deputy Fire Chief Terry) Menzel said that other departments had agreed to handle calls for service. Other departments handled 16 calls for service from 8:00AM-6:30PM.

"Crews from Huntley, Hebron, Wonder Lake, Richmond, Cary, Union, McHenry, Nunda rural, Fox River Grove, and Marengo assisted on the call" at 1165 Greenwood Circle in Woodstock.

I may have missed a print article about yesterday's fire in this morning's Northwest Herald.

Bus it to IGOLD, March 5

Such a deal! Where else could you arrange to leave Woodstock (free parking) and four hours later be in Springfield, Ill.? Enjoy conversation with like-minded people, have coffee and donuts, snooze for an hour, and arrive, rested and relaxed at the Prairie State Convention Center.

Then spend a day at the State Capitol and wind up with a relaxing, comfortable ride back to Woodstock, with liquid refreshments aboard, pizza (small extra charge; maybe $5), and see your car come into sight at 9:30-10:00PM. And all without having to put a pedal to the metal. For just $40.

Join up with the McHenry County Right to Carry Association ( and the McHenry County Sportsmen's Association ( for this year's IGOLD - Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day.

Do you think IGOLD this year is not important? After all, Illinois has its concealed carry law (430 ILCS 66/ ) now; right?

Now it's time to fight off the anti-gunners and Chicago Democratic liberals who are still trying to grab your gun rights. Like Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, from the north side of Chicago, who filed a bill (HB 4715) recently to require registration of your guns. Guess what, folks. That's a big step toward confiscation!

Just as importantly, if you value your Rights and still want to carry a concealed, loaded (or even unloaded) firearm, you had better take an interest in rescinding Section 30(b)(3) of the new law.

This is the section that requires you, merely upon application for a concealed carry license, to waive your "... privacy and confidentiality rights and privileges under all federal and state laws..." Read that again!

Not just your rights so that the Illinois State Police can get at any psychological, psychiatric or other mental health or institutionalization records, or criminal records. Your privacy and confidentiality rights and privileges under ALL federal and state laws...

Whether you are pro-gun, anti-gun, or "I-don't-give-a-shot" person, you should demand of your elected State Representatives and Senators why they put that one over on the public.

I understand that Illinois Sen. Kwame Raoul may have had something to do with it. Perhaps that's why his office has not returned my January 27th call yet. I called again yesterday. I imagine they are enjoying a paid day off today (Lincoln's Birthday) and looking forward to another paid day off on Monday (President's Day). I'm trying to find out exactly who is responsible for the wording in Section 30. And I'll keep trying to find out.

Make your reservation to ride an IGOLD bus from the Woodstock VFW on March 5th by going now to  Reserve your seat and pay your $40 via PayPal right on that webpage. Then be on time for the 6:00AM bus.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Zinke campaign lies continue

In a campaign press release dated today, February 11, at 12:47PM, an Andrew Zinke e-mail to a select list (which does not include me) starts off with "Five weeks from yesterday, the next Sheriff of McHenry County will be decided."

The first "oops" is, does he think that election day is Monday, March 17?

But the big (the HUGE) "oops" is, once again, that Zinke claims that the race for Sheriff of McHenry County will be decided in March. What part of "Republican Primary Election" does Zinke not understtand?

Zinke is running against Bill Prim in the Republican Primary, which will be held on Tuesday, March 18. The only decision in the Sheriff's race in the March election will be who is to be the Republican candidate for Sheriff on the November ballot.

What part of the ostrich approach ("head in the sand") about the March 18 election date does Andy think is going to benefit him ? Why would he repeat the error made in a previous announcement that the Sheriff's race will be decided in March? Does he know something about a change in the Election law that no one else in Illinois knows?

You'd think that maybe somebody in the Republican Party who is supporting him (Althoff, Tryon, Hill, Wheeler, etc.) would be able to get through his head that the race for Sheriff will not be "decided" in March. Frankly, I'm concerned about each of them and am wondering how they can support Zinke in view of his major blunder in July 2012, when he revealed a confidential DEA investigation to a strong financial supporter of his boss, Sheriff Nygren. Why did Zinke inform Brian Goode, President of RITA Corporation, that the DEA was tracking a truckload of illegal drugs bound for Goode's company?

WFRD flags at half-staff

WFRD Station 1
The Woodstock Fire/Rescue District lowered its United States flags today in memory of one of its employees who passed away on Friday, February 7. Michael Wurtz had been an employee since 2002, and he was also a police officer with the McCullom Lake Police Department.

Wurtz was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. The Northwest Herald carried an article with details of the visitation and funeral services and the route that a funeral procession with follow through Woodstock this afternoon.

Dean St., in front of Woodstock Assembly of God Church, was shut down, requiring north- and southbound traffic to detour on narrow, snow-covered, side streets. Official Fire Department vehicles were lined up from the church to Hickory Street for the procession that is to follow the funeral service. Among vehicles at the curb were those from Huntley, Orland Park, Kenosha, Evanston, Wheaton, Oak Brook, Oswego, DeKalb, Lisle-Woodridge, as well as numerous unmarked vehicles with emergency lights.

What's a bribe?

Yesterday morning I was thinking about bribes.

No, not offering one; but what constitutes a bribe?

And then yesterday afternoon I read about a Chicago doctor who was "... sentenced today to two years in prison for paying bribes to doctors to send patients to surgery centers he owns," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sometimes, a bribe is thought of as a payment for a favor. For example, you get stopped for speeding and, when you hand the officer your driver's license, there "just happens" to be a folded $100 bill "stuck" under the license. If the cop becomes irate and demands, "What's this???", you just say, "Oh, I wondered where that had gone to."

On the other hand, if the cop smiles and says, "Slow it down, buddy" and sends you on your way, is that a bribe? Or is it a payment for being protected and served?

How did it work for that doctor, who had also been a Blagojevich fundraiser? Prosecutors said that the doctor "... has proved that he believes money buys influence.” Does it?

In fundraising for politicians, if a donor kicks a substantial amount of money into a campaign of a person running for office - and then later asks and receives a favor, was that money a "bribe"?

If the favor were never asked for or if the candidate rejected a request for the favor, the money would remain a political contribution. But how does it change, when a favor is called in?

And what is the legal position of the person who granted the favor, after having received a sizable contribution?

Monday, February 10, 2014

When a driver seeks a favor ...

What happens when a deputy (or cop) stops a driver who has no driver's license; as in, no valid driver's license. Not an expired Illinois license. Not suspended or revoked. As in, never had an Illinois driver's license.

What might be the circumstances?

Maybe the driver slid off an icy road. Or just had car trouble and coasted off the highway. Or maybe was in a fender-bender. Maybe the driver had an expired out-of-state license. Is that the same as No Valid Illinois Driver's License?

Or maybe the deputy ran the plate through his in-car computer and found there was no driver's license associated with the registration and so he "suspected" the driver had no license. (Did he really have probably cause, then for the traffic stop itself?) What cause did he have to believe that the owner of the vehicle was actually the driver?

A driver obviously cannot present his driver's license to the deputy for bond; he doesn't have one! Would an Insurance Card work for bond on the charge of No Driver's License?

The McHenry County Jail has a number of inmates who had no driver's license when the deputy came in contact with them. Driving a motor vehicle on a public roadway and no driver's license? Simple. Cuff 'em, stuff 'em in the back of the squad car, have their vehicle towed (for safe-keeping, don't you know?) and take 'em to jail. What's so hard about that?

There may be an pre-established bond, which they can post and then be released (if they have the money or a credit card). Or they may have to cool their heels until the next Rights Court at 8:00AM on a business day. Although the Rights Court is a public court, it is conducted in a secure area of the McHenry County Jail, and you must present ID and store all your "stuff" (phone, keys, metal, pocket knife, etc.) in a locker, before passing through the metal detector and proceeding 35 feet to the courtroom. A judge sets the bail, and then the driver bonds out, if and when he can.

How might a driver with no valid driver's license "persuade" a deputy not to take him to jail?

Transparency in government - an oxymoron?

Thanks to Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog, I learned of a public meeting in Huntley that should be of interest to McHenry County taxpayers.


“Transparency, Exposure, and the squeezing out of Corruptive Practices”
A national leader in bringing transparency to government spending, Adam Andrzejewski (Angie-f-ski), born in Herscher, IL. comes from a hardworking family farm community; he is an NIU graduate, successful businessman, and a respected government watchdog.

Adam Andrzejewski
In 2010, Adam ran for Governor of Illinois in the Republican primary. Despite a close loss on Election Day, Adam founded to help fulfill his campaign pledge; he promised to post “every dime online in real time.”

Today, contains over 300 million lines of government spending with the goal of acquiring 1 billion lines within the year. Currently posted is nearly all disclosed federal checkbook vendor spending since 2000.

Recently Adam filed a lawsuit vs. Republican Comptroller Judy Baar-Topinka to successfully force open the last 17 years of line-by-line State of Illinois checkbook spending. In 2013, the Edgar County Watchdogs & allies are credited with firings/resignations of 38 public officials or elected officials from their positions.

This is a special opportunity to hear about and look at our Illinois with the transparent vision Adam has in his focus on a life of public service.
* * * * *
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Gather in 6:30pm; Program begins at 7:00pm
Willow Room
Huntley Park District
12015 Mill Street (off Rt 47)
Huntley, IL 60142

Lost in space? Where are they?

Example, prisoner transportation
Where is William J. Ross? Where is Michael J. Romano?

Ross and Romano are supposedly on their way to the McHenry County Jail from Las Vegas, where custody of them was transferred on or about February 3 on Extradition Orders.

Romano waived extradition. That was the easy one.

Ross refused to waive extradition after he was arrested as a person wanted by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. He entered the Clark County (Nev.) Correctional Facility, Las Vegas, on about November 7.

On January 22 a court in Las Vegas ordered his extradition to Illinois, after Governors' warrants in Illinois and Nevada were recognized and approved.

Let's take a close look at the legal process here. Ross is presumed innocent until found guilty. He sat in jail in Las Vegas from November 7 until January 22, because he refused extradition. What caused the delay from January 22 until now? Why didn't the McHenry County authorities pick him up on, or shortly after, January 22? What caused the delay (from January 22 to February 3) in getting him started this way

Are vans used only on short trips?
Are Ross and Romano being transported by bus or van from Las Vegas to McHenry County? It's 1,730 miles from there to here. What does prisoner transportation cost? Would $1,00/mile be unreasonable?

For $1,700, couldn't two deputies have gone to get them and gotten them back here by now?

Doesn't the Sheriff's Dept. or the State's Attorney Office have some obligation to get them back here as quickly as possible? Ross has been in custody for over three months? He has been charged with Concealment of a Homicidal Death. Will there be more charges, once he is back in Illinois? Will he be eligible for bond? Will he bail himself out, as soon as bond is set?

Remember when Mick Combs, McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney, said that it was only a matter to proving that the William Ross in custody in Las Vegas was the same William Ross who was wanted in McHenry County?

N.Y. LEO gets it right

Law enforcement officer Aaron Weiss put his head on the chopping block, when he addressed the Dutchess County legislature in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. on March 11, 2013. It had apparently just passed a Safe Act, and he took them to task over it.

Listen to what he has to say.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beth Bentley - gone 194 weeks

Beth Bentley vanished sometime between May 20-May 23, 2010. Or was it on Sunday, May 23, 2010?

Friend, co-worker, pal, traveling companion, sometimes-alibi Jenn Wyatt told the Woodstock Police that she dropped Beth off near the Amtrak Station in Centralia, Ill. just before 6:00PM that day. On  June 10, 2010, she told me that Beth never intended to take a train that Sunday evening. No one else has been identified as having seen Beth in Centralia that afternoon.

Who saw Beth in or near Mt. Vernon, Ill. on that Sunday? Or on Saturday, May 22? Or on Friday, May 21? Did a waitress at The Frosty Mug (Mt. Vernon) really serve dinner to Beth, Jenn, Ryan Ridge and Nathan Ridge? Did police investigating Beth's disappearance locate that waitress and take a statement from her?

Which police department found and interviewed her? Mt. Vernon PD? Woodstock PD?

Lately, on one of the Facebook pages identified with Beth's disappearance, posters have been carping about the failure of Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch to grant permission for searches on rural property. This is nothing but a "deflect and swerve" (versus "protect and serve") effort by posters. I seriously doubt that Sheriff Mulch ever told anyone not to search. No one needed his permission to search for Beth.

If they want (or wanted) to search the countryside in Jefferson County (the supposed destination of Beth and Jenn on Thursday night, May 20, 2010, was a house in Jefferson County, well outside the city limits of Mt. Vernon), they might want to seek permission of the landowner, but they wouldn't need the Sheriff's permission. Of course, it would be a good idea to have a plan, should they happen to find anything that would be of interest to law enforcement.

On-going review of telephone records continues to reveal questions about the activities leading up to that fateful week-end and on the week-end itself. Listed calls tell one story, and the absence of calls one would expect to see tells another story.

Questions revolve around who knew what (pertaining to Beth's whereabouts), and when did they know it?

I have no doubt that an inspection of the charges on Beth's credit card account, written off by the bank credit card issuer and sold to a collection agency, would tell a story. Unfortunately, the collection agency filed only a statement of the $15,000 balance it was trying to collect from Beth. The collection effort was abandoned after they were unable to serve Beth with a Notice about the court dates.

A private investigator or police investigator would probably be able to inspect monthly charges and payments for 6-12 months before Beth disappeared. Was there a pattern to charges and/or cash advances?

My thanks to those who contacted me during the last week to discuss this case. Beth Bentley will be found.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

MCSD policy on no-driver's license stops

What is the policy at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department on traffic stops when the driver has no driver's license?

I don't mean, when he just doesn't have it in his pocket. I mean, what if he doesn't have a driver's license? What happens then? Does the deputy just issue him a ticket? Or is the driver taken to jail?

I recall some arrests near Richmond a few years ago, when numerous drivers were stopped for No Valid Driver's License after a big party off Route 12. They were arrested and transported to jail.

A neighbor was stopped in Ridgefield a couple of months ago. She had no license. The deputy transported her to jail. She was released as posting bond.
Is the MCSD policy to arrest the driver and transport him to jail?

When might an unlicensed driver just be ticketed and allowed to go on his way? How many times has it happened in 2014? What could he have provided as bond on the side of the road, if he had no driver's license?

Erratum: this article was revised 2/9/14 9:22AM. The person named as a guest in Hotel Nygren was not recently arrested. He may be in jail as a result of a January sentence.

Chicago Tribune - best reporting on Amati story

Chicago Tribune reporter Dan Hinkel has posted yet another story on the Saga of Chip Amati. In a story published online today but date-lined tomorrow, Hinkel follows up on the "decision" by the City of Woodstock to rest on "We can't do anything."

His story reveals more about the timing, while not mentioning the exact dates when he sought information from Woodstock about this problem. You'll want to read the article carefully and perhaps even print it (or clip it, if you get the print edition of the Chicago Tribune tomorrow).

Chief Lowen learned of the problem in August. A Woodstock PD sergeant took the complainant to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department (MCSD), which refused to accept the complaint. I'll have to dig out old copy to remind myself who at MCSD blinked. They absolutely could have taken the case; they didn't want to.

So the Illinois State Police ended up with it. That shouldn't have been so bad. They have good investigators. They apparently took their case to the McHenry County State's Attorney Office, where it refused to accept a felony charge for the alleged LEADS crime. Assistant State's Attorney Mick Combs offered a novel reason: Amati will be disciplined by his employer.

Everybody about to be charged with a felony should be so lucky.

Hinkel contacted Chief Lowen in mid-October.

The Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners met on October 28. Chief Lowen recommended a 30-day suspension. The Board accepted his recommendation and made its decision. That was that.

Think there was a press release? Why wasn't the Northwest Herald at that public-body meeting? Why wasn't The Woodstock Independent at that public-body meeting? Both should have received Notices of the Special Meeting. Did they?

Hinkel followed up with Chief Lowen in mid-November.

Chief Lowen didn't even remove Amati from his LEADS duties! At least, not until there was a public outcry.

Then, the day before Thanksgiving (November 27), the Chicago Tribune broke the story. That's a full month after the BOFPC made its decision in a 2-0 vote in public session. Did the City hope that no one would find out?

The City's explanation on timing is insufficient. Read the Tribune article. Write down a timeline.

Personally, I don't believe the City cannot do anything further. I believe the City doesn't want to do anything further. Is it worried about legal expense, if it fires Amati and then he sues? The City certainly would have known about the problem or risk of making a new or different decision after a BOFPC ruling. It's not like they don't have any experience with firing officers.

The public has lost faith in the current seven-member City Council. It's too bad that there is not a local election next month.

Gun confiscation coming to Illinois?

If you wonder why the gun-owning public in Illinois is worried, especially after the concealed-carry law (ripping your privacy and confidentiality rights) was passed last July 9, just take a look at this new piece of legislation filled as House Bill 4715 by Illinois State Representative Kelly M. Cassidy (D-14).

If you want to pay her a visit, here's her contact information:
Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy
5533 North Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 784-2002

Cassidy's Bill is a "Registration" bill. Who thinks it is a pre-cursor to Confiscation? All together now, say, "I do."
    Creates the Firearms Registration Act. Provides that every person in the State must register each firearm he or she owns or possesses in accordance with the Act. Provides that a person shall not purchase or possess ammunition within this State without having first obtained a registration certificate identifying a firearm that is suitable for use with that ammunition, or a receipt demonstrating that the person has applied to register a suitable firearm under the Act and that the application is pending. Provides that the Department of State Police must complete a background check of any person who applies for: (1) a registration certificate for a firearm that was lawfully owned or possessed on the effective date of the Act, was brought into the State by a new resident, or was acquired by operation of law upon the death of the former owner; or (2) a renewal of a registration certificate unless, within 12 months of the date the renewal application is submitted, the applicant passed a background check conducted by the Department in connection with the applicant's acquisition of another firearm. Provides exceptions. Amends the Criminal Code of 2012. Provides that it is a Class 2 felony to sell or transfer ownership of a firearm to another person without complying with the registration requirement of the Firearms Registration Act.

Now I could make a lot of snide comments about Cassidy after reading his legislative bio on the State website, but I won't. She is obviously a gun-hater. Is she anti-Second Amendment? Is she trying to destroy the Constitution and the United States from within? Does that make her an "enemy from within"?

She is an elected officeholder who should be dumped at the next election. The only way to dump her is for people in her district to get busy now and rally around a strong candidate to run against her.

You know? Maybe she's a nice person. Maybe she's just ignorant and unaware. She is obviously not "stupid". If she took the time to think through "Registration", she'd realize that when the Gestapo comes for guns, they know which houses to go to first.

If Illinois passes her Bill, there won't be anything left in my residence but the dust!

Prim/Zinke debate scheduled in sheriff's race

Thursday, February 25
McHenry County College

The debate between Bill Prim and Andy Zinke before the March 18th Republican Primary for McHenry County Sheriff will be held on Tuesday, February 25, at 7:00PM at McHenry County College.

Set your recording devices and plan to skip TV that night. Not a problem for me, since I haven't had a TV signal to my set for four years! Does anyone else live without TV?

The Northwest Herald will sponsor the debate in conjunction with the McHenry County League of Women Voters. The announcement in today's Northwest Herald did not include mention of any details about how questions from the audience will be answered.

I know some of questions that I'll want to ask:

If elected, will you reduce the number of days of suspension required to go before the Merit Commission? Currently, the sheriff can suspend a deputy for up to 30 days without the public's learning about it - even more than once.

Have you ever violated the LEADS system (used it to obtain personal information) or asked a subordinate to search LEADS for you?

Will you enforce, and personally observe, the County's take-home car policy and require any out-of-county-residence employee with a take-home car to turn in the car?

Will you enforce, and personally observe, the County's take-home car policy and not drive the take-home car on vacations and other personal-use trips?

Will you take away the take-home cars of employees (ex., jail personnel and MCSD office employees) who use them mainly to commute to/from work?

How many days of vacation will you take each year, and will you be at work on all the other work days? Andy, if you are elected, you will be a first-term sheriff. Will you count your prior years-of-service as an non-elected employee toward vacation time for which you consider yourself eligible?

Will you eliminate the positions of Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, Legal Affairs Officer, Undersheriff, Deputy Chief of Corrections, Deputy Chief of Courthouse Security and Business Manager?
* * * * * * * * * *
Do readers have questions you would like asked? If you wish to preserve your anonymity, please email your questions to  Your identity and/or email address will not be used.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Voting Information

You're registered to vote. Right?

March 18th is the Republican Primary. Plan now to cast your vote in this important election. You'll be able to vote early or by absentee or on Primary Election Day. Unlike in Chicago, you can only vote once.

What did Clem Kadiddlehopper say? "Mah friends (and you are mah friends). Don't say you're not mah friends, 'cuz nobody tells me who mah friends are.."  Now, git out there and vote!

Early voting starts March 3.

If you want to vote by absentee ballot, contact the McHenry County Clerk's office (815.334.4242) for an application for an absentee ballot. You can view and print the application online. (The ballots themselves haven't been printed yet.)

Click here and scroll down to "Frequently Used Election Information"
Click on the link for Application for Absentee Ballot (.PDF)
Print it and mail it to the County Clerk's office.

N.B. Be sure to indicate your preference of party for the ballot!

Or go to 
Hover over County Government, then
Hover over "DEPARTMENTS A-I", then
Click on County Clerk
On the left side click on Elections
Scroll down to "Frequently Used Election Information"
Click on the link for Application for Absentee Ballot (.PDF)
Print it and mail it to the County Clerk's office.

If you plan to vote by absentee ballot, order your ballot now.
Expect your ballot by mail.
Don't mail it back less than five days prior to, March 18 

If you order an absentee ballot and your plans change and you want to vote in person, take the absentee ballot to the polling place and turn it in. After you turn it in, you can vote at the early voting place or on election day.