Saturday, May 31, 2008

Surprise Visit

Today in Columbia, S.C. I decided to surprise the owner of a metaphysical bookstore here with a visit. I met her in about 1993 and have stayed in touch through several moves of her store. When I was here in December, I visited her and bought a book that she recommended.

When I entered today, two customers were in the store. She stopped what she was doing and said, "I was just looking at your business card this morning and was going to email you and ask how you are!"

I replied that I "had gotten her message."

She has an absolutely wonderful, small store. If you are ever in Columbia, contact me and I'll provide her name, address and phone number. She is also a massage therapist and conducts individual meditation sessions.

Don't you just love coincidences like this? How many times has something like this happened to you? Care to post an interesting event of serendipity?

Deputy Cited in Crash

On Friday, May 16, a traffic crash occurred in Huntley involving a McHenry County Sheriff’s Department patrol car driven by Deputy Ed Sanderson and a Saturn Ion driven by Donald Eberlein.

According to Huntley Police Sgt. Michael Hewitt today, the crash happened at about 4:51 PM on Illinois Route 47, just north of Main Street, in Huntley.

Deputy Sanderson was charged with failure to reduce speed and has a court date of June 23 at 1:30PM in McHenry County Traffic Court. Mr. Eberlein was not issued a citation.

No injuries were reported at the time of the accident. Emergency equipment on the patrol vehicle was not in use at the time of the accident.

Accidents involving law enforcement personnel on- or off-duty may not deserve any special reporting, but the only noteworthy aspect of this crash is that it apparently has not yet been reported in local media. It seems to me that any crash involving a county vehicle or a county law enforcement vehicle (or any law enforcement vehicle) deserves a routine news report at the minimum.


Traffic Light Out? Full Stop!

One reader tipped me yesterday to the number of cars running through the signalized intersection by Wal-Mart yesterday, when the traffic lights at Lake Avenue and Kilkenny Court were out. While he was stopping, one car ran through the "dark" intersection at 30-35MPH.

When traffic lights are out, the intersection is to be treated as a four-way stop. If you look ahead and see that the traffic lights are out, you might try slowing down well in advance, because the driver behind you may not be paying attention. You will not want the back bumper of your car re-styled by a driver who is on his cell phone, text-messaging, eating, drinking, etc.

And, of course, after you make your full stop and are ready to proceed, watch for those other drivers who are not stopping before entering the intersection.

The same tipster suggested that this corner needs those popular fold-down Stop signs that can be opened when the lights are out. Great idea! Of course, they should have been installed when the lights were installed. A message has been sent to the Woodstock Streets Department to urge its installation of these fold-down signs.

Is it "too expensive" for Woodstock to install these Stop signs that get only infrequent use? Then portable stop signs on saw horses, stored in the Community Service Officer's vehicle or at the Streets Department, might be a solution. Yes, there's a cost to every solution. The choice is how to minimize it.

It will be quite expensive for the City to defend itself, if a driver stops as legally required and then is hit by another driver who claims there was no stop sign. It's easy (and cheaper) just to install the stop signs.

Officers or other City employees will need to close the temporary Stop signs as soon as the lights are back in service. If you see a folding stop sign open while a light is in operation, be sure to call the local P.D. to request that the sign(s) be closed, so that there is no contradiction in signals to drivers approaching the intersection.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Squad Car in Accident?

A McHenry County deputy sheriff was reportedly involved in a crash in Huntley while operating his squad car, and he was issued a ticket in the accident. A call to the Huntley Police Department non-emergency number was connected to an answering machine, where a message was left. More details will be provided, as soon as they are available. The tip included the deputy's name, but it will not be published until confirmation by the Huntley P.D.


Screening of Comments

Consideration is being given to a change in the process for allowing comments by readers. Based on recent comments by certain individuals who need more bran in their diets, it may be necessary to begin screening comments before they are released on this online journal.

Such screening shouldn't really be necessary in a civilized society. Certain individuals are attempting to affect the author of this journal. One solution will be to screen all comments. Those that are not threatening, profane or abusive in tone will be allowed through. The others? They will just end up in the trash.

Politely-worded comments and opinions, pro and con, are welcome. Freedom of speech will continue here.


License Plate Still There?

I received the following in an email today. Makes sense to me, with gas over $4.00/gallon and many gas tanks holding 25+ gallons.

A woman said her son found his license plate missing, so he called the police to file a report. They told him people are stealing license plates and then stealing gas.

Given the rise in gas prices, people have taken to stealing license plates, putting them on their cars, then pumping gas and running. The gas station will have "your" license plate number, and you could be in trouble for "pump and run".

Check your car periodically to be sure you still have your plates. If you should find one missing, file a police report immediately! Keep an eye on your license plates! Make sure you always know they are there!

When the license plate is reported as the "drive-off vehicle", it's YOU they contact! Be aware of your license plates; most of us never look to see if the plates are there or not.


Marine's First Day in Court - June 2

Remember Greg Kachka of Island Lake, the disabled ex-Marine who has been charged with Disorderly Conduct for allegedly pointing his (.38 cal.) finger at a Village trustee who had (allegedly) been making faces at him.

Greg’s day in court starts on June 2 in Waukegan. And a protest rally is planned for 8:00AM in front of the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan.

You can join the caravan in Island Lake and depart from Karl Court in Waukegan at 6:45AM (sharp!). For details, email

As I write this from Columbia, S.C., I am wearing my own “Don’t Move” t-shirt. You can support Greg by contributing to his legal defense fund. For $20 you get your own “Don’t Move. If you run, you’ll only die tired. USMC” t-shirt.

Greg’s attorney is going to eat the lunch of the trustee and the Village clerk, both of whom have charged Greg with pointing his finger at them. Isn’t this absurd? Since when can you not call attention to someone’s face-making by pointing at her? And will the Village be included in legal action, since this (allegedly) happened on Village time at a Village Board meeting?

I have provided Greg with two published examples of prominent people who were not “alarmed or disturbed” when someone pointed a finger at them, including a candidate in the Presidential race. Now, if that person did not become “alarmed or disturbed” and sic the Secret Service on the person alongside, how is it that two trustees, so distraught at being under (alleged) attack, didn’t dive under their desks at the Village Board meeting and dial 9-1-1 for the Island Lake P.D. and the County’s SWAT Team???

To stay up-to-date on the drama in Island Lake and for other interesting goings-on “over there”, read There are many other interesting articles there, too.

June 2 is Monday – this Monday. Support Greg and the First Amendment Freedom of Speech by joining the caravan or just meeting them in Waukegan at the Lake County Courthouse. Look for the "Don't Move" t-shirts. And remember... be polite, respectful, courteous. Don't block the path of a pedestrian.

Expect the Waukegan Police Department to be polite and courteous and to conduct themselves within the law. If they don't? Well, that's for another story.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Class Votes Florida Student Out

Did you read the news about the kindergarten class that voted a five-year-old classmate out? Find the story and read it. You can search on Google for Morningside Elementary School.

A student being tested for disability and special education services in Port St. Lucie, Florida, was voted out by his classmates. The teacher allowed the students to vote, and 12 of 14 voted to boot him out of class.

Can you imagine the impact on a five-year-old at being ostracized by his classmates? The student has the right to be in school. The teacher should have been educating the students to a viewpoint of understanding and acceptance.

Care to express your opinion? Go to and email the principal.

Does it happen elsewhere? You bet.

Do it happen in District 200? Well, not the voting, but the bullying does.

No one - that's NO ONE - should tolerate bullying of anyone. Not of a student. Not of a peer. Not of a teacher or parent or friend or sibling. When you witness bullying, step forward immediately and stop it.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On the Road - Day 8

My visit to Richmond, Virginia included a visit with friends of 12 years and a visit to the new Celebration Center of Universal Truth, which was just organized about a month ago. I had hoped to surprise a couple, both of whom are Science of Mind ministers, but I had to call on Saturday night for location and time and found they would be at the new Center on Sunday. It was wonderful to see them again.

The friends with whom I stayed in Richmond have a seven-year-old daughter with a severe diabetic condition. She had recently gotten a service dog - a dog trained to detect highs and lows in blood-sugar levels. Believe you me, it was very hard not to pet the dog, but a cardinal rule is that you don't pet a service dog; it is a working animal.

Sunday afternoon I rode to the Raleigh area and on Monday did a very interesting hypnotherapy session with a client who lives there now. Doing sessions like that one is every bit as interesting as writing this online journal.

Yesterday I rode to Columbia, S.C. in 91ยบ heat. Again I took local roads, not the interstate. How do people live in this heat???

Today was my granddaughter's "bridging ceremony" at her elementary school, where she moves up from 3rd Grade to 4th Grade. She attends a Columbia public school that operates on the Montessori style. If every school in the country had teachers who greeted students at the door in the morning in a friendly, happy manner, we would not have the problems in schools that we face all over the country now. These teachers are genuinely delighted to see the students arrive in the morning, and they are just as happy when the students are leaving at the end of the school day.

Teachers and administrators in all our local schools could learn a lot by visiting the Brockman Elementary School in Columbia.

No local (Woodstock) news to report today. Is anything happening in Woodstock or McHenry County?


Saturday, May 24, 2008

On the Road - Days 1-2

Traveling across the eastern USA mid-week on State roads was a delight. I left Woodstock last Wednesday morning and headed east on I-90, right through the Loop. There was a massive traffic jam on the outbound Kennedy, thanks to a tractor-trailer and two cars that tangled about 6:15AM. For once, drivers were pretty sane on I-90 and the Kennedy and even on the Dan Ryan.

At Schererville, Ind., I headed east on U.S. 30 and found traffic quite light. Continuing southeast in Ohio on State highways was also enjoyable, and again traffic was light. I stop about every 100 miles for gas for the motorcycle, and getting 45-50MPH at cruising speed certainly helped at the gas pump.

Night 1 was in Parkersburg, West Virginia, just across the Ohio-West Virginia state line. On Thursday morning I headed due east through the mountains. Route planning on my 1996 AAA Southeastern USA map, except all those roads that looked straight actually were full of 20-30MPH curves. Curve-warning signs were adequate in West Virginia and almost non-existent in Virginia. At Staunton I picked up I-64 and made good time to Richmond.

I lived in Richmond in 1993-1996 and it almost felt like coming home. Philpott is a pretty well-known name in Virginia politics, but that's a different branch of the family. This trip I probably won't visit the town of Philpott, which is northwest of Martinsville and near Philpott Dam & Lake. Last time I was through there was in 1992, and a retired professor of French and Spanish literature filled me in on considerable Philpott family history in Henry County.

Perhaps the light traffic on highways had something to do with the price of gas hovering around the $4.00 mark. I passed up one gas station in the mountains with regular gas at $4.19/gal. Ten miles up the road I paid $3.89/gal. Haven't had to pay $4.00 yet, but the day can't be far off.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Woodstock Property Taxes

A letter to the editor in this morning's Northwest Herald calls attention to the outrageous level of property taxes in McHenry County and Woodstock. When you receive your tax bill, look at it carefully. Analyze it.

The author of the letter stated that his wife and he moved from Arlington Heights and downsized to a smaller three-bedroom home. He wrote that last year's property taxes were $5,099. Now, right away, that's enough to scare a lot of people away, but that amount was $2,000 less than they had been paying on their large home in Lake County.

But this year's taxes? Their property taxes increased from $5,099 to $7,259, which is an increase of 42.3%! How could property taxes go up 42% in one year?

When you receive your assessment and tax bill, set up a spreadsheet. List the many different entities that get a cut of your taxes. Dig out last year's tax bill and the one for the year before that. Then create a "picture" of your taxes, comparing the numbers side-by-side.

If your blood pressure hasn't gone through the roof by that time, then calculate the percentage of increase from one year to the next. While the dollar amount of the increase is significant, the real story will be in the percent by which your taxes increased.

Make a telephone call to the Township (Dorr Township is 815.338.0125) in which you live and ask what the procedure is to challenge your assessment and the corresponding property taxes.

The combination of a recession and last year's August flooding have resulted in a decline in property values. Listen carefully to the words of the assessors. Are they telling you that your property value hasn't gone down?

When there is a housing glut and people cannot sell their homes without reducing the price several times and forfeiting equity that had built up, then they might decide not to sell. So that "non-sale" does not show up in calculations to determine lower valuations. But what is the Fair Market Value of the house? FMV is the price at which a willing buyer meets a willing seller. That's what Fair Market Value is. If you can't sell your home at $300,000 or $280,000 or $240,000 because there is no willing buyer, then the FMV is lower.

If you believe your property is assessed too high, then get in line and fight it. Do your homework. Just walking in and asking for a lower assessed valuation won't work. You are going to have to "sell" the Assessor. So do your homework. Get your "sales talk" ready. But don't delay on making the phone call, because you have limited amount of time to challenge the assessment.

If you live in Dorr Township, go to and read the brief information carefully. There you'll read that a formal appeal must be made to the (McHenry) County Board of Review.

For information on County assessments, you can start with

Most importantly, get your pad and pencil and telephone 815.334.4290 Find out when the short time period (only 30 days for the entire county?) is within which you can appeal your property assessment. Put the date on your calendar. Learn what your rights are.

Some wise person said, "If you don't know your rights, you don't have any." Well, you have them, so learn them.


Minister's Sign

Reverend Ole was the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church, and Pastor Sven was the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road.

One day they were standing by the road, pounding a sign into the ground that read: "Da End iss Near! Turn Yourself Aroundt Now! Before It's Too Late!"

As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled, "Leave us alone, you religious nuts!'

From around the curve there was the sound of screeching tires and a big splash.

Rev. Ole turned to Pastor Sven and asked, "Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say 'Bridge Out'?"

And This Sign Means ...

There must be more amusing signs in Woodstock, but this one caught my eye this morning.

First of all, I'm glad to see that SuperStarz is surviving; at least, I hope it is. And maybe their new menu will include some of those delicious mini-sandwiches of former days.

But the hours? "Open at 4:30 everyday. Closed Sunday & Monday."
It's a joke; right?

Sidewalk by Angelo's

A Sunday on the Square. Fair Diddley. Hundreds (thousands?) of visitors to the Square. Sidewalks neat and clean?

Why were three Marengo Disposal wheeled trash containers (with no lids) on the sidewalk alongside Angelo's before 9:00AM? In all fairness to Angelo, I did not go into the restaurant to ask if the containers were his. One reader commented a while back that the trash in containers had come from offices on the second floor of the building. Did they this time?

How is it that the City does not anticipate that the restaurant or the businesses upstairs will put their trash out on Sunday morning (complying with the law to put it out no more than 24 hours before pick-up) and "trash up" the sidewalks during a popular and high-volume visitor day? Or should the Chamber of Commerce or the Woodstock Downtown Business Association have a little "sit-down" with Angelo and figure out a permanent solution to this problem?

Parking Violations at Fair Diddley

Why do you suppose this truck was allowed to park on Jackson at Throop this morning, as Fair Diddley got underway?

Apparently, it belonged to the vendor who had the first sales stall behind the truck. Even though Jackson Street was closed into the Square, the driver should have been required to re-locate the truck to a legal parking spot.

Pedestrians on Throop were forced into the street to walk around the front of the truck, placing them at unnecessary risk. Certainly, the City wants to be cooperative with merchants bringing their wares to Fair Diddley. But should the City close its eyes to violations like this? The vendors must be cooperative with the City, too.

Next year's instructions to merchants should include a message that they are expected to comply with all traffic laws and to park their vehicles in legal parking places only.

Train Ride

Take a few moments and visit this website:

Is your life like this?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rolling Hummer Tribute

This morning I received an email that has been circulating even now, more than two years later, about a Hummer that was custom-painted to memorialize the owner's son and nine other Marines who died in Iraq in December, 2005.

Take time to go to and spend some time reading the information and pondering just what is the reason that these men died.

And then take whatever action you believe is called for. McCain says he can "win" the war in four years. Hogwash. Bush said it was over - when was that? How many years ago? "Mission Accomplished"? May 1, 2003. FIVE years ago!

We invaded a country for no valid reason. First time ever, some say. We are mired in a no-win situation. Do the people of the Iraq want us there? What will happen if we stay? What will happen if we leave? We'll never hear the truth from Washington.

Should we support our troops? Absolutely. But remember...they are there because they were ordered there.
The photo is from the website listed above.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seeing Motorcycles

It may be, it could be, it might just be motorcycle riding weather soon. For the hardest of the hard core, it already is. But many riders still have their bikes in the garages and are waiting for warmer days.

You can help prevent car-motorcycle accidents and near-misses by following the alert by IDOT in the form of a large, yellow banner reading, "Start Seeing Motorcycles."

Many motorcycle operators ride responsibly; after all, they get hurt the most in event of a collision with a car or truck. Yes, there are some out there who think they are Evel Knievel, but most ride on the careful side.

So, please don't just "watch" them; see them. Many of them ride defensively. It's a good idea to do the same thing.

Absentee Voting

Did you hear on the radio this week how "touched" Hillary was to learn that an elderly woman in West Virginia wanted to vote for her, even though she was terminally ill? And how that woman did vote absentee for Hillary but died before the day of the primary vote?

Does that vote count?

In McHenry County that vote would not count, if the Election Commission knew of the death before election day.

Would it have mattered in West Virginia? Not at all. Everyone knew that Mrs. Clinton would sweep that state. So what?

I still wonder why Senators Clinton, Obama and McCain are sucking up their Senatorial paychecks when they have abandoned their obligations to their constituents. I read nothing in the national press about this. Why is it tolerated?

They should resign their seats and forfeit their pay, when they are spending nearly 100% of their time away from their elected offices.


National Peace Officers' Memorial Day

When you see the U.S. and Illinois flags lowered today, be aware that they are lowered in memory of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. May 15th is National Peace Officers' Memorial Day.

According to this website (, "Public Law 87-726, signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, was amended by the 103rd Congress as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. President Bill Clinton signed Public Law 103-322 which directs that the flag of the United States on all Government buildings be displayed at half-staff on May 15, National Peace Officers' Memorial Day."

The work of police officers has become more dangerous over the years. Respect for cops has dropped, and greater numbers of people are willing to violate laws, whether traffic, crimes against property, or crimes against persons. The criminals often (illegally) have high-powered weapons. There is no longer any such thing as a "routine" traffic stop.

When you see the flags lowered to half-staff on Thursday, May 15, pause and remember those who died in the line of duty. And think of those today who live the motto, "To Protect and To Serve."


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Muscle Needed in Ordinance

Woodstock must need more muscle in its ordinance that prohibits the discarding of junk at the curb in front of the house. Check out this discard. It's in front of 336 Lake Avenue, on the way from the Square to 3 Brothers Restaurant.

I first saw it on Tuesday and reported it to Woodstock's Code Enforcement Officer.

If he follows the rules, I guess he'll have to stop by, greet the property owner or tenant, explain the ordinance, issue a Warning, and then wait ten (10) days before he can take further action, such as a citation.

So, do the hundreds of drivers passing this ugly commode have to endure it for ten more days?

The City should be able to issue a warning and tell the owner he has 24 hours to get the junk off the parkway. And then issue the citation the next day, if it hasn't been moved. If he put it out for some trash hauler to collect, it should be put out only on the day scheduled for the pick-up.

Maybe some good-hearted soul will stop by with some dirt, stand it up, fill the bowl with dirt, and pop in a few petunias.


Order in the Court

I thought I might get kicked out of the courtroom in Carpentersville this morning, because I objected to the distraction, interruption and noise being made by the police officer who was summoning defendants to stand in the waiting line, while the first case was being heard before Judge Susan Clancy Boles.

Before court began, a female police officer took control of the courtroom and ordered everyone to turn off his cell phone, winding up with an admonishment that, if your phone or pager rang, it would be confiscated and taken to Elgin, where it could be retrieved after 4:00PM. That's kind of Draconian, in my opinion. Then she announced the rules of the courtroom and finished off with "No Talking!"

The judge entered and gave her opening announcements clearly, loudly and distinctly, so that all could hear and understand her. As she spoke, a man translated her announcements into Spanish. And then court got underway.

Luckily, the case I was there to observe was called first. However, as soon as it started, the female police officer began calling defendants for the cases that would follow, and she called them in a loud voice. It was impossible to hear the judge or the two attorneys at the bench for the case. After missing portions of the legal parlaying taking place, I motioned silently to the female police officer, indicating that I could not hear.

She looked directly at me and said, "I have to do my job", and she continued to call names loudly, although there were already 6-7 defendants standing in line.

She glanced at me a couple of times and, after the line of waiting defendants was long enough to suit her and create considerable waiting time for them, she went to speak with the court clerk. Several times she turned toward me, and I was clearly the subject of her conversation with the court clerk.

I fully expected to be escorted from the courtroom or detained when I left. I have great respect for the court, and I have no respect for bullies. Had I been detained, I was fully prepared to ask if I were being detained as a suspect in any crime; if not, I was prepared to walk away from her.

Incidentally, I watched this female officer go through purses of women arriving for court. I presumed she was looking only for weapons; you know, guns, knives, box cutters, hand grenades, bombs, but she was looking closely at everything in purses. She was looking in places where no weapons could possibly have been secreted, because most of the purses seemed to be tightly packed. So what was her real purpose in searching the purses so closely?

My suggestion to Judge Boles is that she observe the noise and distraction caused by this officer in her courtroom and that she ask that officer to call defendants in a lower voice and not to interfere as she did this morning.

It was nice to be able to hear in Judge Boles' courtroom (after the police officer finished her "job"). I've been in several courtrooms in McHenry County where the lawyers and judges speak in tones so low that they cannot be heard even from the front row.


Keep the Rubber Side Down

Early this afternoon a motorcycle bit the dust (well, asphalt) in Woodstock in the 400 block of Lake Avenue. Lake Avenue is, as you might know, the road on the south side of the Metra tracks, whereas Lake Street is the road on the north side of the tracks.

At the time of this picture, about 12:05PM, the motorcycle was down in the lane headed toward the Square, and the operator was sitting on the curb. Two Woodstock officers were on the scene, and the paramedics and wrecker had not yet arrived.

Short skid marks in the lane indicated the operator had tried to stop. It is unknown (to me) whether the automobile in the picture was involved or if the driver just stopped to render aid.

Let's hope all are okay.

IDOT has begun displaying large yellow banners with the letters, START SEEING MOTORCYCLES. Do watch for them, as one might just be behind the vehicle coming toward you that you do see.

Generally, in the car vs. motorcycle contest, the motorcyclist comes in second.


OK to Block Road?

This morning this City Public Works truck (#47) was blocking the westbound lane on McConnell Road, just east of Greenview Drive, at The Ponds of Bull Valley. The truck and large utility trailer were parked squarely in the traffic lane. There is no shoulder there.

The reason? City employees were mowing the grass in the parkway and the huge open area on the northwest corner.

What would have been better? The truck and trailer could have easily been parked on Greenview Drive, not in the roadway on McConnell Road. There is considerably less traffic on Greenview, and it should be moving at a much slower speed.

I also wondered why City workers were mowing this large expanse of grass. Did The Ponds deed that grass to the City? Will there be a City Park there in the future? Should the City have ducked if and when The Ponds offered it to the City, in view of the cost of maintaining it?

C'ville Monkey Case - Round 1

The court process began this morning in Carpentersville in the case of Carpentersville vs. Linda Ramirez Sliwinski, who is accused of Disorderly Conduct. This case started when Ms. Sliwinski allegedly told children of a neighbor to stop climbing in a tree and to stop acting like monkeys. The problem? According to other reports, the children are black.

Because Ms. Sliwinski is an elected Trustee of the Village of Carpentersville, the Village retained special counsel to handle the case.

Fortunately for all involved, the case was the first called this morning by Judge Susan Clancy Boles. Ms. Sliwinski, Gabe Fuentes (her attorney from the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block), and the special prosecutor approached the bench.

Due to noise in the courtroom, which will be addressed later in a separate article, it was difficult to hear the proceedings. Mr. Fuentes informed Judge Bowles that he will file a motion to dismiss the case, and the judge assigned the due date of May 28, by which the motion is to be filed. The attorney for the Village has thirty (30) days to respond, and then the judge will consider the Motion.

The next court date is July 23, 10:00AM, at which Judge Bowles will announce her decision on the Motion to Dismiss. If she dismisses the case, then it's all over. If she doesn't, then a new court date will be set.

The issue in this case is the First Amendment right to free speech. Protected speech cannot be criminally prosecuted. So, if I call you a jerk, you might be offended; you might be upset; you might get mad. But I have not committed a criminal act.

Ms. Sliwinski has taken the high road (and also the smart road) by remaining silent. This case will play out in court. You may have heard these words before: "You have the right to remain silent."

If you ever do hear these words (for example, from a police officer speaking directly to you), then you had better zip your lips - no matter what. Because what will follow is, "Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." And so it will. Nobody is kidding about that.

So, if you don't want something used against you in a court of law, then shut up! Yes, you have to identify yourself. If you were in the military, you know the "name, rank and serial number" bit. And that's all. Name, address and date-of-birth, and then shut up! Assert your right to an attorney, and then be guided by the legal advice you receive from your own attorney.

The Complainant in this case could not be identified in the courtroom this morning. Was she there? She certainly had no obligation to be there; however, if I had charged someone with Disorderly Conduct, you could be your bottom dollar that I would be at every court appearance involving my case.

What should happen in this case? The Village of Carpentersville should "see the light", recognize that Carpentersville, Illinois, is in the United States of America and that freedom of speech is still a right in the U.S.A., and drop the case. Can it do that? Of course.

Will it do that? Well, I suspect it gets sticky for them, because someone will raise his head and scream "favoritism", since the accused happens to be a Trustee of the Village. Can Carpentersville make an appropriate decision without wasting the valuable resources of its community? Only time will tell.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Expired License Plate

When you get your notice to renew your vehicle's registration, what do you do with it? Many thanks to a local reader of the Woodstock Advocate who submitted this photo.

Do you renew it right away? In-person or by mail? Do you put aside and place to do it "some day"? Any day? Before expiration? Do you even pay any attention to it?

There can be many reasons not to renew your registration on-time. One might be that $78.00 (or $103.00) that it takes to get the little piece of sticky tag with the new year on it. Or it might be the requirement to prove that there is valid insurance in force.

In some communities the police sit at stop signs on the first day of the month and just check every tag for a valid expiration date. In others, they notice the tags on every car, because an expired tag is a good reason to make a traffic stop. And, of course, they can't spot every expired registration.

This one expired March 31, 2007, almost FOURTEEN (14) months ago. How is it that this vehicle has not been stopped? The vehicle is being driven on the streets of Woodstock and is parked at times on the street. Perhaps when this driver gets stopped, the officer will also ask where the front plate is.

Should there be some arrangement available to the person who has too much month left at the end of the paycheck and who desperately needs his car for work and shopping? Absolutely! And I don't mean the payday loan outfits!

Have we forgotten so soon just how much the cost of license plates increased? Is it time to demand that the cost of that little sticky tag be reduced, since it is FAR in excess of its cost?

It does no good to call legislators one at a time. They get no sense of how their constituents feel. What is needed is organization, planning, creating steps that lead to change, and then communicating that loudly and clearly to legislators in such numbers that they get the message and take quick action.

What do you think? Is the annual cost of a license plate in Illinois too high?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Scott's Law - Know It?

A recent email (one of those "broadcast" emails that have been forwarded and forwarded ad nauseum and are usually hoaxes) reminded me of Scott's Law in the Illinois motor vehicle code. It seems that the driver in the emailed story came upon a police car stopped on the shoulder of the roadway with its emergency lights flashing. The driver did not slow in time and was unable to move over, and he passed the police car (which was stopped on the shoulder with no other vehicle present). To his surprise and dismay (and expense), he was pulled over and ticketed for violating 625 ILCS 5/11-907(c).

You can read the Illinois State Police brochure at and even print it out for a dinner table discussion with your family.

This 2007 law requires you to move over, if possible, or slow down (how much you need to slow down is not defined), in order to reduce the potential hazard to the emergency vehicle on the shoulder. Note that it doesn't have to be a police officer. It could be a highway service vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle, private tow truck or auto rescue vehicle, or any other vehicle authorized to use emergency lights.

What's tricky is when that vehicle is stopped on the shoulder (let's say a police vehicle) and the violator has already been released and has driven away. The police officer might remain parked on the shoulder of the roadway while he finishes his paperwork. Is this a legitimate use for emergency lights?

A wise course of action for the police officer on a busy roadway would be to move off the shoulder and drive to an exit or Rest Area, where he can park safely to finish his report. Obviously, this takes him away from his patrol work and reduces the time he has available to get the next violator. But, should he park on the shoulder, emergency lights flashing away, and use his patrol car for "bait" to catch a driver who can't move over due to heavy traffic and too late realizes that he must slow down?

It'll probably depend how good of a defensive attorney a driver can afford to get him off in a case like this.

This emailed story also included a story about a woman who pled guilty because she didn't know the law. She paid her $100 fine and went on her merry way, only to be surprised a few days later when her driver's license was suspended for 90 days by the Secretary of State. That part of the emailed story seems to be in error. If you are involved in an accident for failing to move over or slow down, then you are subject to losing your license for 90 days. The penalties are more severe for injury accidents and for accidents involving a fatality.

The new Rules of the Road are to include reference to Scott's Law.


Could It Happen Here?

Take a look at this sign. Take a good look. Notice how it's a lot different than the handicap parking signs in Woodstock.

This sign, posted in front of the Jewel-Osco in Algonquin, reflects how serious Algonquin is about the handicap parking laws. Violate this handicap parking zone and be ready to part with $500, and maybe court costs on top of that! You'd certainly think more than twice about parking there "just for a minute" to run in for that pizza, loaf of bread or bottle of wine; right?

The fine for violations in Woodstock is $250, although there are still some $100 signs around town. The fine print in the law says that, regardless of the (old) sign, the fine is $250. The handicap parking space is for those who are handicapped. It's for those drivers who are handicapped.

If you drive your handicapped friend to the store, drop him or her off at the curb and then pull into the handicap parking space, you are violating the law. You, the driver, are not handicapped, so you are not entitled to park there. Take a regular parking space and leave the handicap space for the handicapped driver.

Isn't it strange how it's different, if you and your passenger park in the handicap space, and then you both walk from the parking space to the store. That's okay.

The size of the fine indicates how serious this violation is in the eyes of the State of Illinois. Let's hope that the police monitor handicap parking spaces and take a moment to verify that the car parked there is entitled to be there. And, if it's not? Write the ticket.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Red-Light Runners Beware

Yesterday I passed through one of the intersections with the new red-light cameras in Algonquin. This one is on northbound Randall Road at Acorn Lane, between Algonquin Road and Miller Road. You can't miss it.

The warning signs are clear. "RED LIGHT PHOTO ENFORCED." There are signs before and at the intersection. Two sets of cameras are ready to record violations.

One camera will photograph the rear license plate, and another camera will photograph the front of the vehicle, catching the front license plate (you do have a front plate, don't you?) and the driver's face.

Just imagine all the good tickets that can be written off one set of cameras.

Let's say you run the red light, don't have a front plate, and have an illegally darkened windshield. 1-2-3, bingo! $100 for the light; how much for the other two? $75 each? Plus court costs? $400-500?

It's a lot easier and cheaper to stop. Safer, too.

Just imagine somebody in a hurry and having a bad day, after most of the towns get their red-light cameras installed. He runs red lights in Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Cary and Fox River Grove. Next stop? A PayDay Loan office!

Introducing Greg Kachka

You read about the dangerous man who so terrorized two on the Board of Trustees of Island Lake that he ended up being charged under the state law for Disorderly Conduct? What was his dangerous crime?

Wearing a t-shirt to a Village Board meeting and allegedly pointing his finger at a Trustee!

Meet Greg Kachka. Looks like a pretty mean guy; right? Somebody you'd really worry about, if he pointed a finger at you? If you saw him coming toward you, you'd run; right? And if he really did point a finger at you, you'd cower in fear and dive for cover. Right? WRONG!

Well, Greg's a nice guy. A guy you would be pleased to call your friend. I don't know that there are any railroad tracks in Island Lake but, whether or not there are, you can hear that train whistle blowin' and know that Greg is getting run over.

Elsewhere I've written about Greg's legal defense fund. It will cost him of lot of money to defend himself against this charge. Anyone reading this who would appreciate help if you found yourself in similar circumstances - please kick in a few bucks; every $5, $10, $20, $50 will help.

When Greg's number was up, the Island Lake Police Department called him and asked him to turn himself in and post a $75 bond. Since Greg did not commit any crime, he didn't do it. So the police arrived at his door, handcuffed him and took him to the station, where his bail had miraculously increased to $5,000! That's FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

What do you suppose happened to the $75.00 offer???

Ten percent ($500) bail bond of the $5,000 was posted and Greg went home. Stay tuned for more details. And send some money.

What the &%#^@???

This is what a few drivers will be saying on Monday, when they are driving on U.S. 14 between Woodstock and Crystal Lake. And when they find out more about it, they'll be saying it more loudly and more often.

As I drove west out of Crystal Lake this afternoon, I saw a new sign on U.S. 14, just west of IL Route 176, that warns of construction starting on (Monday) May 12 and another that warns of one-lane traffic. I thought of all the potholes on state roads and was glad that McHenry County would get some early attention to our roads. For that I'll put up with some delays and not grumble.

Upon arriving back in Woodstock I called IDOT in Schaumburg for information about the roadwork. OK, are you sitting down? What will IDOT be doing on Monday? Guess....

1. Fixing potholes
2. Installing a rumble strip on the shoulder of U.S. 14 - a project that is designed for U.S. 14 from Crystal Lake to Harvard!

If you guessed (1), go to the rear of the class.

Rumble strips? This is just plain stupid. With Illinois bankrupt and our roads falling into disrepair [how many people do YOU know who have destroyed wheels and tires in potholes? how many wheels on your car have been damaged? (you won't know until the tire is taken off the rim!)], they are going to install rumble strips on U.S. 14 from IL Route 176 to IL Route 23? What in the world is that going to cost???

It will be little consolation to delayed motorists that flaggers will be out there. Roadwork is scheduled from 7:00AM until 3:30PM; at least, they will miss the evening rush-hour. But what about the mornings? How long will delays be? How far will traffic back up?

A sign that construction starts on May 12 is inadequate notice for drivers who will be heading for work or school on Monday morning. No sign urged alternate routes. No sign announced work times. No sign advised to expect lengthy delays. Oh, yes; there is no warning sign between Woodstock and Crystal Lake on eastbound U.S. 14 to warn drivers of the new construction zone, lane closure and delays. Nice, huh? Where do you suppose the sign for eastbound drivers is - Harvard?

My guess is that you will want to avoid U.S. 14 between Crystal Lake and Woodstock for about a month. The project is scheduled in two sections, with the second section to start in mid-June.

If you want to complain to someone, call IDOT headquarters in Schaumburg. The project apparently has something to do with spending Federal funds. You know that theory; right? "Use 'em or lose 'em." Next week I'll call the IDOT Design Department for more information.

If you insist on using U.S. 14, you might just want to allow extra travel time. A LOT of extra travel time.

Be sure to exercise extreme caution in Work Zones. Hitting a Work Zone worker in Illinois is not a good idea. What do those signs (in other places) say about that? Isn't the fine $10,000 and possible prison time?

Post your horror stories here next week.


Cindy McCain's Money

I sent the following message to Howard Dean this morning, after reading his attempted smear of Presidential candidate John McCain and his wife.

" 'Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Cindy McCain's refusal to release her tax returns gives the appearance of a double standard on the part of her husband.' I intend to vote for Barack Obama. Don't trust Hillary or McCain. Your attack on Mrs. McCain's finances is unwarranted. The standard for them was established when they married 28 years ago. It's HER money. Careful, or you'll drive me away from Obama."

I voted Republican for many years, until George Bush began wrecking this country. What Dean doesn't "get" (or wish to get) is that it's not John McCain's money. News articles indicate they signed a pre-nup 28 years ago - before they married. It's not his money. They have apparently filed separate income tax returns (and paid a tax penalty for doing so) for many years. It's not like they just decided to file separately last year to avoid disclosure.

The DNC had better do everything it can to avoid shooting itself in its feet and get busy promoting Barack Obama. McCain will be tough to beat in November, but it can be done.

Hillary will go through her posturing over the next few weeks to avoid looking like a loser. And she'll need to raise whatever money might be thrown her way to stem the drain on her own finances. Did you read what Bill and she have pumped into her campaign out of their own money? Of course, when they made $100,000,000 last year, why not throw a pile at your own campaign? At least, she is putting her foot where her mouth is.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Doggie in the Window - $35.00

Remember the song, "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" Well, if you are in California, the cost is about to be $35.00.

This photo, first posted March 31, 2008, showed two mutts behind the wheel of a SUV in Crystal Lake. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.) I couldn't see the driver. Was there really a human being in the car?

Well, California is about to pass a law prohibiting motorists from holding their mutts in their laps while operating a moving vehicle. Makes sense to me. But should a law even be necessary?

How many times do you see a driver, holding his or her dog so that the little (or sometimes not so little) mutt can look out the left, front window? Certainly more than once a month around Woodstock and Crystal Lake!

Do the police ever stop a driver who is holding his mutt in the front seat? I've always thought that a careless driving charge would be appropriate.

California plans to let drivers slide by with a $35.00 ticket. Would this driver get two tickets in California?

If the airbag deploys, the little dog is dead meat. I saw a demonstration of airbag deployment at a Crystal Lake Fire Department several years ago. The sound is like a 12-gauge shotgun being fired in a closet. The force of the airbag will throw an object 10-15 feet. If the airbag deploys and the dog is between the steering wheel and the driver, the dog is going to get squished, and the driver isn't going to enjoy the feeling, either.

Be smart. Put your dog where it will be safe when you wreck your car.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Gas - $4.05 in Schaumburg

At 3:00PM gas was $3.859/gallon at the Marathon station at Route 47 and Lake Ave. Whew! And just up the road at the Clark station? $3.759

So, does it pay to shop around? If you were filling a Hummer, I'd say it does.

Gas hit $4.05 in Schaumburg at Higgins and Plum Grove today. Bummer! Time for car pools, fewer trips, eliminating unnecessary trips to the store, shorter vacation travel.

Think there is anyone except that guy in the White House who thinks we are not in a recession? Just what does he think happens when increasing gas prices eat up discretionary income? Other spending slows or stops! Duh...


WANTED - Used Printer

Recently I gave away a used barbecue grill and full propane bottle on and this got me to thinking more about free-cycling; not "recycling", but free-cycling.

I'm looking for a used deskjet printer in decent condition (no repairs needed; maybe just an ink cartridge) for a friend, and the thought occurred to me that there is probably one sitting in a basement in Woodstock or nearby, just because its owner doesn't know how to get rid of it.

Here's what I can offer it. A good home. Light use. No electric surges or shocks. Clean paper through it. New toner cartridges (refilled) when needed. Occasional dusting.

Looking for one with the cords, cables, whatever they are called these days. USB preferred. Soooo, if you'd like to part with that dinosaur taking up space at your place, just let me know. Send your email to


For Low-Flying Stunt Planes?

How long should it take IDOT to repair a speed limit sign, when all they have to do is stop and put in a new bolt and nut?

This sign is on eastbound U.S. 14 between Ridgefield Road (West) and Lucas Road and has been like this for well over a month. Three weeks ago I emailed IDOT and the repair was put "on the list." How many times a day do IDOT trucks run up and down U.S. 14 between Woodstock and Crystal Lake? How many IDOT employees have seen it (or maybe they don't look at speed limit signs, like most other drivers)?

How many others have noticed it and reported it, perhaps even (erroneously) to McHenry County or to Crystal Lake? But those agencies should have relayed the request to IDOT.

What else in the world is upside-down?

Com Ed Hacks Away

When you see the ComEd crew coming down your block with the cherrypicker and the chain saws, you'd better get out there and hug your trees.

It's that time of year, and ComEd is in town.

The pruning policies of ComEd are atrocious and should be stopped by the City, rather than being permitted by the City. Take a look at these trees on South Jefferson Street. I'm sure there are more extreme examples, but these happen to be on property with which I'm familiar - at the corner of Jefferson and Lawrence Avenue, just south of West South Street.

Can you challenge the crews? You betcha. Should you? You betcha. Tell them to clear out. If you have to, call the police and demand their assistance to help you protect your valuable trees.

ComEd would like to conduct its own form of "clear-cutting", so that it doesn't have to come back every couple of years to trim branches away from its lines. Well, bully for them. They hack away and go away, leaving unsightly trees for the rest of us to endure for years.

What will happen as these trees age and begin to lean from being unbalanced? Will they fall toward houses (away from the power lines, of course)? Where will ComEd be then? Will it show up promptly to remove the dead, fallen trees and to pay you adequately for the damage caused when the trees fell? Maybe in your dreams...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

NWH Redeems Itself

The Northwest Herald redeemed itself on the Island Lake drama this morning, when it carried a headline on the editorial page (Page 6A) that read, "Charges are unwarranted."

Not that the officials in Island Lake are likely to heed the advice of a newspaper, but who knows?

The only real issue for the editorial was the Greg Kachka drama, although they took a few good shots at other Island Lake matters. Read below for the full story. Why are the charges unwarranted? Because Greg did NOT violate any law. That one of the Village Trustees and the Village Clerk decided later that they were "alarmed and disturbed" is one thing. Just when did they become alarmed? Disturbed? That night? Not likely, since they apparently sat there through the rest of the meeting without breaking down in tears or the shakes. So, if not then and there, just when and where?

Just what is the date of their formal complaint to the Island Lake Police Department. Time for a FOIA Request, I'd guess.

A critical element to a Disorderly Conduct charge is commission of some act that breaches the peace. In what manner did Greg breach the peace? He could not have since, so far as I know and in the absence of any other reporting by the media, the Mayor and no Trustee summoned the Island Lake Police to the meeting to demand Greg's arrest on the spot.

At the very least, they are costing Greg some sleep, some money and some peace of mind. Perhaps he should file charges against them. And maybe he will. It certainly seems to me that they have "alarmed and disturbed" him, and his peace has certainly been breached by their having him arrested and carted off in handcuffs.

You know? When you haven't done anything wrong, then you don't go down to the police station and turn yourself in. Greg was right to make them come and get him. Sending three cops and two cars to arrest one peaceful, 60-year-old, disabled veteran kind of reminded me of Alice's Restaurant and the biggest crime of the last 50 years.

The best thing the Village could do is ask its attorney for a legal opinion as to whether charges should be pursued. Because a critical element in the ordinance was not met, the charge will not hold water, not even in Island Lake. He'll read the charge to them and point out that the peace was not breached; therefore, no case!

It is not unknown for a community's attorney to drop a charge, after the accused has been cited, if they realize they were wrong. Crystal Lake's attorney stepped up to the plate on a Code violation and agreed that an accused was merely asserting his First Amendment rights to free speech. Read elsewhere in The Woodstock Advocate about Viking Dodge and Wayne Beto.

Island Lake owes Greg Kachka a formal apology, in addition to the dropping of the charge. Because a Trustee filed the charge for something that allegedly happened in an official meeting - something no other Trustee complained about, this makes it Village business and opens the Village of Island Lake to substantial financial risk.

Was it false arrest? Could be. If a person knowingly files a complaint against another and has no real basis for it, then that person has committed a crime and is subject to prosection. Because the person, in this case, is a Village Trustee, the Village will end up on the hook. It will get stuck for costs of defense AND for the financial award payable, if they are sued successfully.

Wouldn't dropping the charge and apologizing be the right way out?


Monday, May 5, 2008

Legal Defense Fund

Island Lake resident Greg Kachka has been charged with Disorderly Conduct for wearing this t-shirt to an Island Lake government meeting and allegedly waggling his finger at a Village trustee. Please read other recent stories just below.

Greg is a veteran, 60 years old, and he refuses to pay the $75.00 fine. Apparently, the village trustee was making faces at him, and she says he pointed his finger at her and moved his thumb as if cocking a pistol. Don't you just have to wonder what caliber finger Greg has?

If you would like to contribute to Greg's legal defense fund, send your check, cash or money order (payable to Greg Kachka Legal Defense Fund) to Gus Philpott, P.O. Box 1222, Woodstock, IL 60098. I'll deliver 100% of the money received to Greg.

If you contribute $20.00 or more and want a t-shirt, include a note with the size you want.

If you send $20.00 or more and want a t-shirt but want to remain anonymous, please be sure to include a separate note with your name, email address and phone number and desired shirt size. I'll pick up the shirts and bring them to Woodstock. If you want your shirt mailed, add $4.00 ($20 + $4 = $24) for Priority Mail and include your mailing address. Or you can donate on eBay and get a shirt for $20 + $5 shipping.

Donations/Contributions are not tax-deductible.

The People cannot allow the power of government to be abused in this manner. Had this incident occurred away from a government meeting, I cannot imagine that the Complaint would ever have made it past the filing cabinet. When I picked up my t-shirt this afternoon, I learned that the date of the incident was March 13, not last week.

Just imagine yourself caught up in a mess like this. Every $5, $10, $20, $50 helps. While you are reading this, if you are inclined to contribute, please do so now.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Cheap Shot?

Sunday's editorial page in the Northwest Herald carried a cheap shot at the veteran who is under fire in Island Lake for wearing a military warzone-oriented t-shirt to an Island Lake government meeting last week and for calling attention to one of the Trustees who was apparently making faces at him or another member of the audience. The Trustee filed a Disorderly Conduct charge against the veteran, alleging that he "pointed" his finger at her and moved his thumb (like he was cocking a pistol).

There was a photo of the t-shirt in the Chicago Tribune. As I recall, the picture was of a soldier aiming a rifle and the words "DON'T MOVE. IF YOU RUN, YOU WILL ONLY DIE TIRED!" The photo here is of Greg Kachka, from the eBay website at which a t-shirt can be purchased (fundraiser for defense).

Northwest Herald General Manager and Executive Editor Chris Krug wrote as part of his "Views" editorial on Page 2A today: "... you might want to limit the places where you wear a shirt like that to avoid the kind of criticism that follows people who suggest that killing someone is in the realm of possibilities."

Is the inference here that Greg Kachka was suggesting the killing of the Trustee? Talk about blowing things out of proportion!!!

Mr. Krug continues, "... if you do find yourself out in a shirt like this, do your best not to make repeated hand gestures simulating the pulling of a trigger." Wow! I could hardly believe my eyes!

I'll remember this the next time I am robbed at gunpoint. (I remember the last time like it was yesterday, but it was 1974.) I'll just point my finger at the robber and say, "Bang! You're dead." Yeah, sure...

Well, I will find myself out in public with a "shirt like this", because I'll be purchasing one to help raise money for Greg Kachka's defense. And I'll be at the Island Lake Board meeting on Thursday night, with camera, ready to photograph the Trustee if she makes faces at the audience. I hope the room is full of men and women wearing these t-shirts!

I'll probably wear mittens that night, so that the Trustee in question won't be "alarmed and disturbed" and be in fear for her life, if she happens to see one of my fingers. I hope my nose doesn't itch! Maybe I'll want to ask a question. Then I'll have to raise my finger - - err, hand...


Should Police Ticket?

There is a problem all over Woodstock that some feel needs attention. The problem? Drivers who park cars and trucks across sidewalks and leave them there.

This truck with an Illinois temporary license was blocking the sidewalk on Sunday morning on Tryon Street across from St. Mary's Catholic Church. Could it be that it was there just a few minutes - or maybe it was there all night?

Woodstock residents have gotten away for years with parking across sidewalks and not receiving tickets. This could be why the problem is so widespread.

My suggestion to the Police Department is a 30-day warming-up period with plenty of publicity and some one-page warning notices placed under windshield wipers of illegally parked vehicles blocking sidewalks. Not even a formal Warning - just a polite warning and information about Woodstock's prohibition of blocking sidewalks. Because of the lack of enforcement it's fair to provide some warning in town that the police will start enforcing the law. Pick a date. Any date. Say, July 1st.

Then enforce the law. All the officer has to do after the warming-up period is pause, write the ticket, hang in on the car and move on.

But adequate publicity is needed. Newspaper, radio, posters at the local markets and big box stores, plus warnings, will get the word out. After that? Neighbors will likely help out neighbors with information and reminders, and the problem will disappear.

Think there is any chance that this might happen?


Square Beautification Program

You may have noticed the construction project on the Square - the new curbs on the corners, the recent filling with dirt and new trees. Soon to follow will be the plantings and whatever else will further beautify the Square. The cost?

Recently I was told that the cost was $205,000, at which I gasped. A search on the Northwest Herald website indicates that the $205,000 cost, however, is for Crystal Lake's downtown improvement project. It will be interesting to learn what Woodstock's cost is for the current improvement project.

But, to the point of today's musings - the sidewalk on Dean Street by Angelo's Restaurant. One business owner has told me that this problem has persisted for more than 20 years. As recently as 2 1/2 years ago I was told that a deal had been struck with Angelo to provide lidded, wheeled containers for the restaurant's trash. And here they are...

A number of questions, if you please - - -

Why is trash put out on Sunday before 6:00PM?

Why are trash containers and boxes placed three deep, blocking two-thirds of the sidewalk?

Why don't containers have lids?

Why are containers filled to overflowing?

Why isn't trash put out early in the morning, shortly before Marengo Disposal shows up? Or at least late in the evening, perhaps just before the last employees leave?

It's time for Woodstock government to bring negotiations to a conclusion and to act on behalf of 20,000+ Woodstock residents and protect the investment being made by the City (the People!) on the Square and by all the merchants to bring business to Woodstock and keep the downtown alive.

The Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and the Woodstock Downtown Business Association should form ranks with the City to eliminate this problem, once and for all.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blogs of Note

For some good reading, check out

Cal Skinner's

Carpentersville Action Network

Islake Lake:

Know of any others?

Arrested for Pointing Finger

Did you read about the Island Lake man who was arrested for pointing his finger at a Village Trustee?

The popularity of Disorderly Orderly charges circulating in McHenry, Lake and Kane Counties is outrageous. It seems that you’d better not even look cross-eyed at someone or you are likely to get slapped with a Disorderly Conduct charge. What does it take to get someone charged with Disorderly Conduct? All you have to do is complain that you were alarmed or disturbed by another.

When you visit Island Lake’s website, you are immediately greeting by “Welcome to the village of Island Lake – a Community of Friendly People.” Yeah, sure, unless you question the Village Trustees and their agents about governance. Apparently, it’s okay for a Trustee to make faces at a community member in the audience but, when he attempts to point this out, then she has him arrested for Disorder Conduct.

Come on, children.

Here’s what Island Lakers have to worry about.

The Island Lake Village Code at Section 6-5-2-7 reads, “A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly: A. Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provide a breach of the peace…”

If you read the articles about this incident in the Chicago Tribune and in the Northwest Herald and assumed that the reporters accurately described what happened at the Village meeting, then the defendant is not guilty and never should have been charged in the first place. Obviously, he didn’t “knowingly” point a weapon at a trustee (is a pointed finger a “gun”? is moving your thumb “cocking” it?). He didn’t point any weapon! He didn’t “alarm or disturb” the trustee at the meeting or the police would have been immediately summoned, instead of showing up at his door a few days later and, after that, calling on the phone to tell him to come down to the station. What? The Island Lake P.D. is conserving gas by telling accused persons to report to the police station? There’s an idea that might spread like wild fire! And, further, the peace was not breached or the cops would have been called immediately. Heck, maybe even the Lake County SWAT Team might have responded.

How does a person attend a public meeting, “alarm or disturb” another AND breach the peace and not get arrested on the spot? He doesn’t!

Why did the acting police chief accept the case and arrest the man on a complaint by a Village Trustee? Not hard to figure that one out.

Like to help out here? Go to and buy a $20 t-shirt on eBay. The money goes to the defense.

And visit This one may be where you get the real skinny on what is going on in Island Lake!

Could this happen in Woodstock? If you are worried about committing Disorderly Conduct in Woodstock, you might want to read information in the Woodstock City Code at Section 4.6.1: “A person commits Disorderly Conduct when he or she knowingly A. Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.” There is more, so read the entire section of the Code online at Click on City Code and enter “disorderly” in the search box.

I guess all the towns got together and went to the same seminar – or hired the same attorneys who went to same seminar. Or bought the same City Code software.


Still No Tickets - Haligus Rd. Accident

An Open Letter to Sheriff Nygren -

On October 26, 2007, a fatal crash occurred on Haligus Road. Two students died, and the driver and another passenger were injured. The crash investigation was handled by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

No charges have ever been filed in this accident.

Presumably, the sheriff's department initially waited for the results of toxicology testing. The Illinois State Police was running about 90 days behind on reports. Your department would have received the results about the end of January.

Now another three months have passed. What's the delay?

This seems to be a straight-forward accident. The driver, for reasons undisclosed to-date, ran off the right side of the road into a ditch, over-corrected (narrow shoulder with steep grading down to fence and tree line), came back up on the road and into the path of an oncoming truck.

Is it not past time for the deputy-in-charge to complete the investigation and issue the appropriate tickets?


Yankee or Reb

This will REALLY test your American English!!! This is one of the most interesting things I have run across, enjoy it! Enter your % in the subject line before passing this on!!! This is fun, give it a try! Click on link below:
The Yankee or Dixie quiz

Friday, May 2, 2008

Lasik – Fail-safe?

There was an interesting program on NPR this week about problems with Lasik surgery – the highly-advertised cure for vision problems. The ads on the radio and TV will have you believe there is absolutely no risk and there are no failures.

About ten years ago I met a young woman in Atlanta who had had Lasik on both eyes. She had not only one failure, but failure in both eyes. At age 28 she was nearly blind, had given up her teaching career and was in pain every day. Real pain. Her parents and she told me that they believed the failure rate at that time was about 15%, but you never would have known it from the advertising.

Problems can be reported on the FDA website. Go to You can read about Lasik Eye Surgery and get the pros and the cons.

Do you have a problem yourself (or know someone with a problem)? Look on the right side for “Report a Problem.” You’ll have to be rocket scientist to figure out where to go from there!


Garage Sale Season Is Here

How can you tell it's spring in Woodstock?

All the tacky (and illegal) garage sale signs are starting to spring up faster than May flowers. This sign -at Route 47 and Country Club Road - is more than three miles away from the site of the sale. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

What's the rule on garage sale signs in Woodstock? Try - at the end of the block where the sale is. Not blocks away; not miles away. One block!

And it's tough as nails to enforce. The existence of a sign on a telephone pole more than a block away should be prima facie evidence of a violation, but it seems not to be.

And don't even think about taking down an illegal sign from a tree or utility pole in the right-of-way that is off your own property. That would seem to be something that would help out the City; right? You know - save sending a $30.00/hour City worker (maybe two) in a City truck to take down the signs. But no! You risk getting charged with a crime for removing someone else's sign from someone else's property.

Tired of looking at signs a few weeks after a sale? Send an email to and ask for the signs to be removed.

Planning to have a garage sale? Be sure to get your Garage Sale Kit at City Hall.

Hellooooo, Carpentersville...

Remember the woman Carpentersville who yelled at her neighbor's kids while they were shinnying up a little tree. Seems that she yelled at them to stop acting like monkeys, or something like that.

The neighbor took offense, whether any was intended or not, and had the woman charged with Disorder Conduct under a local ordinance of the Village of Carpentersville. Not the State law, mind you; "just" a Village ordinance with a $75.00 fine. In fact, when releasing information, the police department said she "was fined $75.00"; but that was not the case. The charge carried a $75.00 fine.

Today I called Carpentersville to find out when the woman's court date is. You'd think I was trying to get the combination to the lock on the front door at Fort Knox! Somebody ought to know; right? Like, maybe, the police department? Or the Village administrator's office? Or the Clerk of the Village, who also is connected with the local court of the Village?

Ha! It must be the one of the best-kept secrets in town. I left two messages for a police commander who, I was told, would be the contact person. And the Village Clerk forwarded my request to him. How long would it take him to call me back? Sixty seconds?

What's the big deal? The big deal is that the woman charged with Disorderly Conduct is a Village Trustee which, by the way, probably never should have made it into the paper. She didn't yell at the kids because she was Trustee; she allegedly yelled at them because they risked injury if they fell or because they might damage the slight tree they were climbing.

So much for "it takes a village to raise a kid"; right? Maybe she should have just kept her mouth shut, turned her back and, when she heard a thud and screams of pain, just turned up the TV volume a little. But, no; instead, she yelled at the kids. The problem? The kids are black. You'd better not call black kids "monkeys", even if they are acting like monkeys.

I grew up reading Little Black Sambo. Never for a minute did I think of race. It was a story about a little black boy who ate pancakes. Lots of pancakes. Now? You can hardly find a copy of that book. And, if you can, you'd better hide it.

The court date will be revealed. (Or maybe the Village was smart enough to drop the charges.) Court dates are public record. What a waste of everybody's time to have to file a FOIA Request for a court date! But, if they want to play the game that way, I'm in.


Vehicle Sales Events

Today I went by Bull Valley Ford to meet the owner and introduce myself. My intention, formed as I drove toward the dealership, was to gather information to write an article suggesting that the car dealerships in Woodstock ought to band together and approach the City Council for a special-use ordinance allowing them to conduct large sales events like the one held at the Farm & Fleet lot last Saturday.

The owner was out; the co-owner was out; the sales manager was working a deal, and I had no desire to interrupt him. Deals (sales) are what keep dealerships alive and in business.

While I was waiting, I chatted with a salesman and explained why I was there. I heard the same question that I heard last week-end. How can Gary Lang have a sales event at the Fairgrounds? The answer is that the Fairgrounds are located in McHenry County, not in Woodstock. Sure, surrounded by Woodstock, but the property is not in Woodstock. (How'd that happen???)

As luck would have it, I had to leave before the sales manager was available, but I'll stop back. Towns need car dealerships. Towns need successful car dealerships - ones that trade fairly and that stay in business. You'd think that a town/city would take an interest in the success of a car dealership, because they benefit - big time! - from the presence of car dealerships - in the form of large annual sales tax income.

One idea would be for the Woodstock City Council to allow each dealership to host an off-premises sales event each year. Maybe even two. We've got space around here - the Farm & Fleet lot, the empty lot on the southwest corner of U.S. 14 and Route 47. The empty lot next to the old Jewel (now Aldi's and Office Depot, in addition to the DMV and other businesses).

Why not utilize that space and allow the dealerships to generate sales and income, and income for Woodstock?

I did have to laugh while I was there, though. One of my pet peeves is cars parked in front of handicapped parking signs without handicap placards. Parked right in front of the front door, right in front of the handicap parking sign, was a car for sale. Let's hope someone passes along the word that that's a $250 parking space. That space is there for a handicapped driver.


Update on House Raffle

Is the Realtor who is raffling off her soon-to-be-foreclosed-upon spec house violating State raffle laws? An initial telephone call to the Secretary of State's office resulted in erroneous information that only lotteries and bingo games are controlled by the State of Illinois. In spite of direct and repeated questions about raffles, I was assured that Illinois had no state law related to raffles.

Later I learned from a very helpful person at the McHenry County Government Center that Illinois does, indeed, have a State law related to raffles. If you are interested in reading it, visit the Illinois government website at; click on Government on the left side; find Illinois Compiled Statutes under Services & Information and click on that. Scroll down to Chapter 230 Gaming, and then click on 230 ILCS 15/ for Raffles. It’s all there.

Raffles can be conducted by specific types of organizations (individuals are not "organizations"), including charities. It would be a great stretch of the imagination to see how an individual could raffle off a house to pay off construction costs. The real estate broker's website,, early on Friday morning displayed an ad for the raffle and included wording that the "net proceeds" would be distributed to a school. At mid-day the ad was gone from its website. At 5:10PM it’s back.

The website ad states that the raffle is for the benefit of Harrison School Parent Teacher Oganization. The seller hopes that the net proceeds will be sufficient to build a track at the school. From reading the ad, one would believe that the “net proceeds” from the sale of a $245,000 house (October 2007 appraisal value) would certainly pay for a track.

The state law defines "net proceeds" as “the gross receipts … less reasonable sums expended for prizes, local license fees and other reasonable operating expenses incurred as a result of operating a raffle.” It does not state that construction costs of a home or mortgage loans would be a “reasonable sum”.

Far down in the fine print is a very brief reference that the Grand Prize Winner gets the house "subject only to the claims, if any, relating to the state of title to the parcel". And how much are the "claims"? A bundle. That's why the house is almost in foreclosure.

At the McHenry County level, the request for a permit was turned down, because a charity was not involved. The raffle is being deemed held in McHenry, because the City of McHenry does not control raffles. However, McHenry does expect any raffle to comply with State laws.

Is this really a raffle for the benefit of a school? Or is it a raffle to bail out the owners and, if anything is left over, the school gets it. Creativity is certainly involved and, if it’s legal, it’s commendable.

But – is it legal?


Thursday, May 1, 2008

House Raffle - Legal?

Did you read this week that $100 raffle ticket might get you a $230,000 house? Pretty good deal; right?

It might not be as good a deal as it seems, in spite of front-page promotion in Wednesday's Northwest Herald. It seems to me that no one questioned whether this raffle is legal under Illinois law.

Raffles are generally limited to promotions by only certain categories of sponsors. These categories might include
1. Business (a voluntary organization composed of individuals and businesses who have joined together to advance the commercial, financial, industrial and civil interests of a community);
2. Charitable;
3. Educational;
4. Fraternal; and
5. Labor.

But a raffle by an individual (or couple) trying to unload a house? I think I read of a lawful raffle in another state - possibly, Oregon. But is a raffle of a house legal in Illinois?

Now, maybe it is. If it is, I wish the couple well. And the real estate company which is promoting the raffle on its website.

On the real estate company's website it states "...Tammie (the owner) is hoping the net proceeds will be enough to build a track for the school; if not, the PTO will use the money in any area they see fit." The kicker here is "net proceeds." If she sells 3,000 tickets at $100, that's $300,000. After she pays off her debt on the house, which the newspaper article reported is near foreclosure, a local school might get $25,000.

Therein lies the problem. The purpose of the raffle is to bail out the owner of the property. Maybe the school gets some money, if there is anything left over. This is not how raffles are supposed to work. I can't find the state law on raffles, but I'll bet that it does more than "imply" that raffles should provide a public betterment. Raffles can be run only under certain rules designed to safeguard the public.

If it's not legal, then the sheriff's department needs to act as quickly as it did when it suspected a woman of running an illegal raffle to aid a non-profit organization in McHenry County.