Saturday, October 31, 2009

$200,000 fine for speeding

And he was only going 50MPH in a 25MPH zone. Speeding fines in Finland are a percentage of your annual income.

And how about the motorcyclist in Alberta, Canada, who was nabbed at 164 mph last year. He paid out $12,000 for speeding but got to keep his license!

For an education in the cost of speeding tickets around the world, check out

In some parts of the world, they really mean business about obeying speed limits. Here? They might as well skip putting up the speed limit signs on most roads.

Don't like the crime here? "Move out"

What would you think if you continually called the police about crime in your neighborhood, and the police told you to move out, if you didn't like the crime in your neighborhood?

You won't hear that in Woodstock or in any other part of McHenry County that I know of but, if you lived on the south side of Columbus, Ohio, in the Ganthers Place neighborhood, there seems to be a pretty good chance that you'll hear it. Enough of a chance that neighbors are uniting to let the Columbus Police officials know that is not the answer.

If I have anything to say about it, you'll never hear that in McHenry County. Knuckling under to lawbreakers is not the answer. The head of the cop's fraternal lodge in Columbus said, "It's like the OK Corral out there." And he's not talking about Chicago, either.

Citizens engaged in shoot-outs on the streets isn't the permanent answer, but occasionally it is going to happen. Isn't that how the wild, wild west got cleaned up? Citizens finally got sick and tired of the lawlessness and took matters into their own hands, when local law enforcement wasn't effective enough.

Illinois legislators refuse to give citizens the right to defend themselves outside their homes. How much longer will Illinois residents allow the legislators to keep their heads buried in the sand?

The fact is, when the criminal element doesn't know whether a citizen is armed, the criminal is more careful - and less likely to prey. As it is now in Illinois, the criminals know that the citizen on the street, at the gas station, in the convenience store, at the ATM is unarmed. And so crime soars.

What should the folks on the south side of Columbus do? Arm themselves. What else? Look out for one another, as they are in the Ganthers Place neighborhood.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Is your phone ringing?

You know those pesky calls from charities that often come in at dinner time?

And especially those that begin with "I'm calling on behalf of the McHenry County Police Charities."

Does your heart skip a beat, when you hear "McHenry County Police"? Do you hear the word "Charities" at the end of the sentence?

Currently, this organization is not in Good Standing with the Illinois Secretary of State, because it did not file its Annual Report that was due October 1st.

If you happen to receive a call soliciting funds for this charity, which is not officially affiliated with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, you'll want to postpone any decision on giving until you check out its status. To do that, go to, which goes to the official website of the Illinois Secretary of State. (If you like typing, type in

Then click on "Business Services/UCC Online Filings";
Then click on "Corporate/LLC Search / Certificate of Good Standing";
Then click on "Search the Real Time ..."
Enter "McHenry County Police";
Click on "Submit"

Inspect the "Status" box. Today it reads, "Not Good Standing".

If this organization files its Annual Report and pays the required fees, the Status box will indicate "Active", and a date will be shown in the "Annual Report Filing Date" field.

Remember Serpico?

Just today I heard about Serpico's website at

It's under construction, but there is interesting reading on the homepage and on the About us webpage. Check out "About us" under the "Ten 13 PI" link.

From that link comes the following: "Ten 13 is based upon the notion that there are a lot of good people in this world who want to "Do the Right Thing," but who do not receive encouragement towards that goal. To paraphrase a famous Serpico quote during the Knapp Commission: 10% of people are completely honest, 10% are unscrupulously corrupt, and the other 80% wish they were honest. Our audience is the 90%."

Drinking and Driving

An "enforcement blitz" is planned along Route 12 today, when the police departments along Route 12 try to curb violations called the Fatal Five, which the State Police identify as

1. Drunk driving
2. Speeding
3. Seatbelt use
4. Improper lane usage
5. Following too closely

Today's campaign stretches along Route 12 from the Wisconsin state line (north of Richmond) through McHenry, Lake and Cook Counties. On a Thursday. One-two days before all the Halloween parties. Is Thursday the best day for a blitz?

That was on Page 3B of the Northwest Herald.

Then I read the nice ad on Page 6D for the wine tasting in Crystal Lake on November 5. For $15 in advance/$20 at the door, you can slosh down 12 different wines at the Dole Mansion/ Lakeside Center. Take your own wine glass and save $1.

OK, so it's a "tasting." If you get there at 6:00PM and "taste" 12 wines, could you consume enough alcohol to hit the 0.08% blood-alcohol content threshold for a DUI from the Crystal Lake Police Department? If each "taste" is 2-3 ounces, that could be 24-36 ounces, and that's if you hit each sample only once.

Maybe the tasters will be wise enough to show up with designated drivers. I hope so!

By the way, this wine-tasting event is sponsored by the First Congregation Church of Crystal Lake. Is it some kind of fund-raiser? Might be, from the list of raffle prizes being offered.

Philpott files petitions for Sheriff

Gus Philpott (that's me; errrr, that is I) filed petitions today as a candidate for the office of Sheriff of McHenry County.

So that puts four hats in the ring, three of which will be on heads in the General Election.

But first, there is the Primary Election on February 2, 2010.

The first "race" will be in the Republican Party, where Zane Seipler will be working hard to oust the incumbent sheriff, Keith Nygren, from the November 2010 General Election ballot. He can do that by winning the Primary on February 2.

If you are ready for a change from the past 12 years, then you'll want to pull a Republican ballot on February 2 and vote for Zane. That's the first race. (We'll talk about the next race on February 3.)

And there may not even be the expected Republican choice in February, because even before the February 2nd Primary, there is a challenge period following the close of the filing period on November 2 (Monday).

This challenge period is going to be lively, and it already appears that a real challenge will develop against the forms submitted by one of the Republican candidates.

Hebron Homestead Exemption 2006-08

For some reason I had thought that the homestead exemption for the Nygrens' residence in Hebron had been established in 2007. Maybe it was the letter from Donna Mayberry, Assessor for McHenry County, that caused me to think that.

Look again at the careful construction of her letter to the Lee County, Fla. Assessor last March. You can read it on and on

That letter from the McHenry County Assessor reads, in part: "In our county, we do not have an application process to obtain the owner-occupied exemption. The local township assessor makes the determination of eligibility and certifies the information to the county. As a result, the Nygren property in Illinois received the exemption in 2007 and 2008, even though the property owner had not requested it and did not intend to have it."

How carefully that is worded. A casual reader might initially understand that the exemption was new in 2007. But the exemption was already in place in 2007. In fact, the exemption was in place in 2006! But the Mayberry letter didn't include that.

In a check today with the McHenry County Assessor's office, I learned that the homestead exemption was in place on the Nygrens' Hebron home in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but not in 2005.

For me, this sheds some additional light on the issue surrounding their homestead exemption on their Cape Coral, Florida home that they purchased in September 2006. (Photo, above, of Cape Coral, Fla. home purchased by the Nygrens in September 2006 for $620,000)

It wasn't just that the Illinois exemption slid through into McHenry County Assessor's records, where it went "unnoticed" by the Nygrens when the application for homestead exemption in Lee County, Florida was filed on January 29, 2007. When they received their 2006 property tax bill (in 2007), shouldn't they have noticed it?

Although the Florida homestead exemption application may have been signed only Mrs. Nygren on a home that they both purchased only four months earlier, it's hard to imagine that they didn't talk about it as they considered the value of the exemption in reduced taxes and the timing for the application.

Why January 2007? They bought the house in September 2006. Keith Nygren was re-elected Sheriff on November 7, 2006. Mrs. Nygren got her Florida driver's license on November 22, 2006, only two weeks after Keith was re-elected Sheriff AND nine days before his official Term of Office began on December 1, 2006.

So Keith Nygren was already in office on January 29, 2007, when Mrs. Nygren applied for the homestead exemption on their home in Cape Coral.


And check this out for a Penalty: "Any person who knowingly and willfully gives false information for the purpose of claiming homestead exemption is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. 196.131, F.S."

The 2006 homestead exemption on the Hebron property was in place, when the application was made for the Lee County, Fla. homestead exemption. Had the Nygrens been notified by the Hebron Township Assessor of the exemption? And, if so, when?
Although the application for homestead exemption in Cape Coral was filed on January 29, 2007 only by Florida resident Margarete Nygren on the home owned by Keith and Margarete Nygren in Cape Coral, Florida law does not presume or assume that Keith was a Florida resident. Florida allows one of the co-owners to apply for the exemption, but neither owner can take the residency-based exemption elsewhere, as the Nygrens did on their Hebron home for two years.

Until, that is, an anonymous caller phoned the Lee County, Fla. Assessor's office in March and tipped them off to the Hebron homestead exemption.

New eatery in Woodstock

The ad said "affordable dining" and it was right!

Try the new Town & Country II Restaurant at 1674 South Eastwood Drive, Woodstock. It's just north of U.S. 14, on the west side of IL Route 47.

The food is good, prices are reasonable and service is fast. And you can take the kids there. It's a family restaurant.

Say "Hello" to Irma, the owner, and tell her that you read about her restaurant here. And where did I read about it? On an insert in The Woodstock Independent earlier this month. Advertising pays; right?

Hours? 6AM-3PM daily. Phone 815-334-0486

89 y/o still driving 1964 Mercury

This one - you've got to watch!

Florida resident 89-year-old Rachel Veitch is still driving "Chariot", a 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente that she bought new for $3,289.30. Chariot has over 540,000 miles on the odometer - on the original engine, too. Rachel buys lifetime warranties on parts, like battery, shocks and the muffler.

Watch the video and you'll know why! Whatta gal!!!

The reporter asked her if she, at age 89 and an old car with 540,000 miles on it, is ever afraid to travel alone. You'll love her answer! (Sorry, no spoilers here...)

Ag use cuts Wisconsin taxes

"Creative" use of agriculural-use classification is cutting Wisconsin real estate taxes for some developers.

One Wisconsin developer rented out an undeveloped parcel to a farmer for a pumpkin patch and scarfed up a $34,000 property tax savings.

Another Wisconsin developer planted "a few rows of winter wheat along a roadway" and saved $100,000 in property taxes.

How much of this is going on McHenry County? Any? If it is, should the Office of the McHenry County Assessor be informing the public? Or would that just generate more attention to such a loophole and cause a further loss in real estate taxes?

The One Wisconsin Now executive director is unhappy that companies "can use creative tax laws to limit their obligations to taxpayers". I guess he has never owned a company. The fact is that no one - corporation, other business or individual - is required to pay more tax than it/he is legally required to pay. Taking advance of a law (or "loophole") is not illegal.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

NWH limits reporting on sheriff

Yesterday the Northwest Herald carried reporter Jill Duchnowski's article about the flap over the Nygrens' homestead exemption claimed on their Cape Coral, Florida home.

Why can't it be found online today? It was there yesterday, along with many comments. A search for "Nygren, "homestead" or "Duchnowski" doesn't find that article. The web is where you find information in the 21st century, especially after the fish bones get wrapped in the paper and tossed in the garbage.

As soon as the print edition is gone, where is the public going to find the news? You can find it here:

The first version of the story, which also appears in the print edition, included Sheriff Nygren's statement, "If I spend a couple of days there (Florida) a year, that's it."

Cal Skinner quotes the sheriff's comment about how much (little) time he spends in Florida in the McHenry County Blog ( and then reports on a revision to the sheriff's quote.

The revised article, carried in the online edition ( yesterday (10:38AM), read, "On Wednesday Nygren clarifiied (sic) a previous statement and said he spends a few days at a time in Florida, which amounts to a few weeks overall."

I'll go with his first statement. Reporters listen carefully. When they quote someone, what gets quoted is what that "someone" said.

Maybe Nygren can lose the word "few" and reveal exactly how many days he has spent in Florida each year since buying their Cape Coral house in September 2006 (and also how he happened to rack up substantial political campaign expenses dining and drinking in Florida).

The other item not mentioned online by the Northwest Herald was the backtracking by Sheriff Nygren in the Seipler reinstatement matter. An arbitrator decided that Seipler should not have been fired; a 3-day suspension would have been sufficient. At first, the sheriff rushed to say that he would appeal to McHenry County Circuit Court.

Then the word was out that he might not appeal. OK, so if he's not going to appeal, when does Zane Seipler, now Republican candidate for Sheriff in the February 2, 2010 Primary Election, go back to work.

And when does Seipler get his year's back pay that the arbitrator awarded?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

40 meet at Mental Health Board

Approximately 40 people assembled at the McHenry County Mental Health Board yesterday for a 3 1/2-hour retreat to plan the continuation of the Family CARE Project.

Several years ago the Mental Health Board was approved for a multi-million dollar, six-year grant from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and the Family Child/Adolescent Recovery Experience (C.A.R.E.) was established.

Yesterday's group of providers, parents, young adults and consumers devoted their time to discuss the sustainability of the services being provided under the grant. The topic was "Goverance" - the roles and responsibilities of what many of us have called a program, but what really is a "System of Care."

Keywords were used continually through yesterday's retreat: Philosophy, cross-functional, collaboration, family-driven, child-/youth-centered.

The retreat was expertly led by Chris Cressler. Chris is Development Director at the Home of the Sparrow, but she was facilitating yesterday at the request of the Project Director of Family CARE, not as an employee of the Home of the Sparrow. She was very well organized, kept the retreat moving along on schedule and kept participants involved. Thanks, Chris!!!

The next step will be to develop a draft written governance structure diagram and policies regarding roles and responsibilities of all goverance components. These will be circulated among all who attended yesterday and to anyone else who is interested. Feedback will be incorporated into the draft, and then the retreat participants will reconvene to continue working on plans.

You might wish to visit the following websites:

And, if you are interested in participating in the next step, contact Todd Schroll at

Attn. NWH. It's not "Woodstock"!!!

The lead article on right now (3:51PM) is a report of a drug deal gone bad, and the story carries the online headline, "Police seeking suspect in botched drug deal".

And then the next word you see is WOODSTOCK.

As you read the article, you learn that it didn't happen in Woodstock. The deal started, apparently, in Algonquin and carried over into Lake in the Hills.

Woodstock gets stuck with a bad rap on many stories, because the McHenry County Courthouse, Jail and Sheriff's Department are in Woodstock. So the reporters or the editors tag Woodstock for the (whatever-they-call-it) location-word at the beginning of the article.

The Mayor and the City Manager of Woodstock and the Executive Director and the President of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce need to have a little heart-to-heart with the editors of the Northwest Herald and persuade them to put the town or village (or city) where the crime occurred as the first word/location for the story.

How about it, folks? Are you willing to do this? And to tell us what luck you had?

The Onion Cure

I received an email from a friend out west over the week-end. What if this worked??? Many have heard that a bar of soap at the foot of a bed will prevent leg cramps. It's easy to discard such an idea, but people report that it worked! So you might try this one, too.

"A friend of mine told me a story about how when he was a kid he was in the hospital & near dying. His Italian/African grandmother came to the hospital & told a family member to go buy her a large onion & a new pair of white cotton socks. She sliced the onion open then put a slice on the bottom of each of his feet & put the white cotton socks on him. In the morning when he awoke they removed the socks. The slices of onion were black & his fever was gone. The following story that someone sent to me might have some truth in it & we are going to try this winter.

"In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu. Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it and many died.

"The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn't believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

"Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. (And no, she is not in the onion business.)

"The moral of the story is, buy some onions and place them in bowls around your home. If you work at a desk, place one or two in your office or under your desk or even on top somewhere. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

"If this helps you and your loved ones from getting sick, all the better. If you do get the flu, it just might be a mild case.

"Whatever, what have you to lose? Just a few bucks on onions!

"Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:
Weldon, thanks for the reminder. I don't know about the farmers story...but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia and needless to say I was very ill. I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put one end on a fork and then place the forked end into an empty jar....placing the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs...sure enough it happened just like that...the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

"Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties."

Listen carefully; read carefully

Be sure to read this morning's Northwest Herald article (Page 1C) about the Nygrens' homestead exemption in Florida. It sounds pretty good, if you don't know any more about it.

"On Tuesday he denied any wrongdoing..." wrote the NWH reporter after speaking to Sheriff Nygren.

Is he speaking only for himself or for his wife and him? She signed an affadavit on 1/29/07 that she knew that they could not have more than one residency-based homestead exemption and that they were responsible for removing any other homestead exemption. Did she read it? Did she forget to tell him? Is he saying that he didn't do any wrong, but she did?

"political mudslinging"? I don't think so.

In the same article (10/28/09) Nygren told the reporter that "he asked to have the homestead exemption for the house in Florida removed after his wife became a Florida resident and sought a homestead exemption for a house they own in Cape Coral, Fla."

Did his lawyer write out that statement for him? Just examine how carefully it is constructed.

Mrs. Nygren sought the homestead exemption on January 29, 2007, when she signed the affidavit for the Florida homestead exemption on that date. In March 2009 the Lee County (Fla.) Assessor's office contacted the McHenry County Assessor about the Hebron residence homestead exemption and wrote to the Nygrens.

So, it is true that Keith asked to have the Hebron house exemption removed "after" Marge filed her affidavit. But he asked 26 months "after" and apparently only after the Lee County Assessor wrote that it intended to cancel the Florida homestead exemption!

I loved this morning's headline on Page 3C: "Candidate questions tax exemption." Thank you, NWH, if you are referring to me, but I don't want to take credit where none is due.

It was the Lee County Assessor who questioned the Illinois homestead exemption, and after they got a tip that the Nygrens had the exemption here on their home in Hebron. And that was back in March. All I did was write about it and then only after I read about it elsewhere, where another sharp blogger had pulled the issue into public view.

Nygren told the reporter, "My wife spends probably seven months of the year there. If I spend a couple of days there a year, that's it."

If that's true, then who ate all the meals and drank all the booze purchased in Florida by Nygren's political campaign funds between January-June, 2009? Expenses were listed on this blog, after first being published on

How does Keith get to Florida and back? Commercial airline (tickets would verify how frequently he traveled and how long he stayed); private aircraft from political friends? drive the Tahoe?

What would the mileage log for the Tahoe show for 2009? It's only 9.8 miles from home to office, so that's 20 miles/day. Twenty-three days a month, and that's 460 miles, and those are all "commuting" miles and should be taxable to the employee. In six months? 2,760 miles, less "a couple of days there (in Florida) a year." How many miles were put on the Tahoe in the first six months of the year?

It's a County vehicle, so the records should be publicly available.

When I'm Sheriff, I plan to continue driving my "basic undercover car" and save the County some big bucks. And I won't even gas up at the County pump for my 4.4-mile commute.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nygrens to lose Florida homestead exemption

The Nygrens will lose two years of homestead exemption on their Cape Coral home, says the Office of the Lee County (Florida) Property Assessor.

In March that Assessor's office received an anonymous call that alerted them that the Nygrens might be receiving homestead exemptions in two states. The Lee County Assessor's Office contacted the McHenry County Assessor's Office to confirm the exempt status in McHenry County, and the Lee County Assessor's Office mailed an Intent to Cancel Notice to the Nygrens, informing them of the intention to cancel their homestead exemption on the Cape Coral home.

Keith Nygren contacted the Lee County Assessor's office on March 16 about the Intent to Cancel Notice he had received. And on that same date, March 16, Donna Mayberry wrote to the Lee County Property Assessor about the Nygrens' homestead exemption on their Hebron residence. (How's that for top-speed service out of the McHenry County Assessor's Office???)

That is what triggered Donna Mayberry's March 16th letter. You can read that letter on Notice that Assessor Mayberry's letter is careful not to reference the letter from the Lee County Assessor's Office, which prompted her reply!

The Lee County Property Appraiser today wrote, "The application process in Lee County requires that, in addition to the exemption application, the exemption applicant also complete an affidavit affirming their [emphasis added] Florida residence, and acknowledging they were informed that not more than one residency based exemption be allowed any individual, or family unit. They further acknowledge they are responsible for removing other residency based tax credits/exemptions. This affidavit was signed by Margarete Mygren [sic] on 1/29/2007 under penalty of perjury."

Because the Nygrens did not request removal of the Illinois homestead exemption from their Hebron home prior to March 2009, the Lee County Assessor considers that Mrs. Nygren did not verify the exempt status "of any properties owned by either her and/or her husband."

Today's letter from the Lee County Assessor's Office continues, "Because Mrs. Nygren was informed of her responsibility in this regard, but did not remove the other exemption, she did not qualify in Lee County for tax year 2007 and 2008. Lee County will take action to remove the 2007 and 2008 homestead exemption and back tax accordingly."

So, according to the Lee County Assessor's Office, Mrs. Nygren affirmed their Florida residence on January 29, 2007. Doesn't this make them Florida residents since that date?

If Keith Nygren is a Florida resident, by virtue of his wife's applying for the homestead exemption on their home, the deed for which is in both names, then can he file a valid petition to run for the elected office of Sheriff of McHenry County?

The Daily Herald carries a photo of Keith Nygren as he filed his papers on Monday morning at 8:00AM. Did he swear (or affirm) that he is a qualified voter in McHenry County (you must be a (legal) resident to be a qualified voter)? Did he swear (or affirm) that he is legally qualified to hold the office of Sheriff of McHenry County (you must have been a resident for 30 days).

To be elected to the office of Sheriff, you must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of McHenry County for at least one year, and not be a convicted felon. Two out of three isn't quite good enough.

Illegal alien impact in California

I received an email from Arizona, quoting the L.A. Times with this information. I have not verified that the L.A. Times published this information but, even if only a portion of it turned out to be true, it represents a huge concern for the entire U.S.A.

"This is only one State...............If this doesn't open eyes, nothing will!

"From the L. A. Times
1. 40% of all workers in L. A. County (L. A. County has 10.2 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants working without a green card.
2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
4. Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
5. Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
8 Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
9. 21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking.
10. In L. A. County 5.1 million people speak English, 3.9 million speak Spanish. (There are 10.2 million people in L. A. County.)

"(All 10 of the above facts were published in the Los Angeles Times)

"Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States' annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration. 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens .

"We are fools for letting this continue.


"Send copies of this letter to at least two other people. 100 would be even better.

"This is only one State...............

"If this doesn't open your eyes nothing will, and you wonder why Nancy Pelosi wants them to become voters!"

Will the real Keith Nygren please raise his hand?

Customer service at State offices in Wisconsin is a whole lot better than it is in Springfield! These folks actually answer the phone promptly. Plus they are friendly. And sure of the information they provide. (I have found State of Illinois employees at the Secretary of State's office also to be friendly and sure of the information; it's just that you have to wait a long time for them to answer.)

On a blog this morning (briefly) was a photo of one of the Wisconsin Athletic Clubs. A check with the Wisconsin Secretary of State reveals that the Registered Agent for the Wisconsin Athletic Club is a "Keith Nygren".

Now, of course, there may be more than one Keith Nygren in Wisconsin, and the Registered Agent form doesn't say Keith R. Nygren. So maybe Keith Nygren, Registered Agent in Wisconsin, is not Keith R. Nygren, Sheriff of McHenry County. But is he?

I was curious to learn whether a Registered Agent must be located at the address shown on the Registered Agent records of Wisconsin Secretary of State. Does the named Registered Agent really have to be there? Or can the Registered Agent use an address where he might only be seldom found?

The answer? According to the Wisconsin Secretary of State, Department of Financial Institutions, Corporations Bureau, in Madison, a "Registered Agent must be able to be served at that address."

And that makes sense. Suppose a vendor or a member of the Club or a State official (or, horrors of all horrors, an attorney) wished to make legal service on the Wisconsin Athletic Club, it would send its process server to 10840 West Rogers Street, West Allis, Wisconsin 53227. The process server would be looking for a "Keith Nygren".

What would the process server find there? For starters, not one of the six Wisconsin Athletic Clubs. Or would he? A Club address nearby is 1939 South 108th Street, West Allis (right around the corner from 10840 West Rogers Street).

What is at 10840 West Rogers Street in West Allis? According to Google Maps, there is a parking lot at that address. What does say? 53227-1135 is the ZIP Code, so there must be a building there for mail delivery.

This "Keith Nygren" (another Keith?) is the current Registered Agent. There was a change in Registered Agent on June 29, 2007, and again on May 11, 2009. Wisconsin records today indicate the "Keith Nygren" is the Registered Agent.

When would a process server find Keith Nygren at 10840 West Rogers Street? Well, if the Registered Agent is McHenry County's Sheriff Keith R. Nygren, he won't. He is Sheriff of McHenry County, so that Keith Nygren ought to be found in his office at 2200 North Seminary in Woodstock (or in Minocqua, Wisconsin or Cape Coral, Florida).

How many times would he have to return to make personal service on Keith Nygren? If this Keith Nygren, the Registered Agent, is the same as Sheriff Keith Nygren, would he have to jump in his white Tahoe ("Move over, Wilson!") and speed (errr, drive) to West Allis ("only" 65.4 miles) to accept legal service?

Would the County pay for those 131 miles? Would he wait until 5:00PM to leave? What if he were in Cape Coral or in Minocqua?

The Registered Agent "must be able to be served at that address." That's why many firms used an attorney as their Registered Agent.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nygrens reject Hebron homestead exemption

Cal Skinner reports today on that the Illinois Homestead Exemption is to be removed from the Nygren's home in Hebron. On his blog Cal reproduces the letter sent to Florida tax officials by Donna Mayberry, of the McHenry County Office of Assessments.

In her letter dated March 16, 2009, Mayberry explains that the homestead exemption on the Hebron property was not requested by the Nygrens and was placed in the tax records by the township assessor for Hebron.

Mayberry's letter reads, in part, "In our county, we do not have an application process to obtain the owner-occupied exemption.
“The local township assessor makes the determination of eligibility and certifies the information to the county."

On Cal's blog he reported that Mayberry told him, “We took it off” and “They did not want the exemption here.”

So, it appears the Nygrens did not want to claim the homestead exemption here. A logical reason? Because they were probably claiming it somewhere else; i.e., in Florida.

As property owners in Hebron and in consideration of Keith Nygren's being the sheriff elected in McHenry County, where a requirement to run for that office includes that the candidate "has been a resident of the county for at least one year" and is a "Registered voter in the county", wouldn't it seem proper (and ethical) for him to claim his town, county and State for his legal residence?

Presumably, he met the requirements "to run for office" in 2006/ Is it possible that he didn't?

If he purchased his Cape Coral, Florida property on September 15, 2006, when did he declare his Florida residency for the purpose of applying for the homestead exemption?

Did he know the rules for applying for Florida homestead exemption (Florida driver's license, registered voter in Florida, car tags in Florida), when he was running for re-election in November 2006? (But wait! Did he run for re-election, knowing that he would be declaring residency outside the jurisdiction of his office?)

To obtain the Florida homestead exemption, the property owner must be a Florida resident, have a Florida driver's license and be registered to vote. Did he become a registered voter in Florida? If so, why is he still a registered voter in Hebron? A search today on the website of the Illinois State Board of Elections for "Keith Nygren" results in voter registration information for him.

From what state is Nygren's driver's license?

From the Illinois Rules of the Road "To drive legally in Illinois, you must have a valid driver's license." A Florida driver's license would be valid in Illinois for a person visiting Illinois.

But what about a person who works in Illinois? From the Rules in the Road "Drivers moving to Illinois from out of state may use their valid driver's license from their home state for 90 days."

Could you avoid residency in the state of your employment by going back to your permanent residence (where you claim your homestead exemption) frequently? But what about your employment?

Are McHenry County taxpayers getting their money's worth, when an elected official telecommutes or works by cell phone from 1,360 miles away?

Don't rock the boat

A comment to the "Homestead Requirements..." article (below) mentioned something about not rocking the boat.

I was reminded of a movie I saw back in about 2002 (and have watched 2-3 times since) called Putney Swope. Putney Swope was a black man on an otherwise-white board of directors of an advertising agency.

When the Chairman of the Board died suddenly and collapsed on the boardroom table, a member of the Board pulled out the by-laws and explained how they were to go about electing a new chairman. No one liked Putney, and many of the other board members decided that Putney ought to get at least one vote, so each voted for him, believing he was the only one voting for Putney.

You can guess what happened. Putney Swope was elected!

Then one offered advice to Putney, saying, "Putney, don't rock the boat."

Putney responded, "I'm not going to rock the boat. I'm going to sink the boat."

I'd say there are a number of people intent on not (just) rocking the boat in McHenry County!

Loophole in Fla. homestead exemption law?

Could there be a loophole in Florida homestead exemption law big enough to drive a white Chevrolet Tahoe through?

Florida law can be read online for Cape Coral at the Lee County, Florida website:

"In addition to having legal title/ownership of the property and actually permanently occupying (residing) at the property as of January 1 ** you must meet Florida residency requirements such as Driver’s License, Voter registration, Tag, Domicile, etc. as of the filing deadline (but no later than April 1) or you may not qualify for the current tax year - Please review the following information carefully.
"Applicants must hold a valid Florida Driver’s License.
"Florida vehicle license plate (tag) number is required.
"If you ARE a U.S. Citizen – provide your Lee County Florida Voter’s Registration Number or – if you do not vote - you will be required to complete and record a Declaration of Domicile.
"Proof of U.S. Citizenship may be required.
"Social Security Number is required for all applicants and the spouse of all applicants.
"Date of birth for applicant(s).
"Proof of ownership – copy of Lee County tax bill or recorded Deed to prove ownership of the property on which you are making exemption application.
"Proof that you (or your spouse) do not receive a residency based exemption or tax credit in another jurisdiction –You cannot claim a residency based homestead exemption, tax credit or rollback in any other state or county while receiving the homestead exemption in Lee County. In addition, if you are married, your spouse cannot receive exemption, tax credit or rollback in any other jurisdiction. Section 6 (b) Article VII, Fl Constitution states that not more than one exemption shall be allowed any individual or family unit. You will be asked to sign an affidavit stating that you have been informed and that you are responsible for removing any other exemption in order to qualify in Lee County."

Farther down, in the section about eligibility to file, it reads, in part, "If the property is held in title by “Tenancies by the Entireties” (husband and wife) or Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship, only one person is required to file in order to receive 100% benefit *."

So, is it a loophole that even though the requirements are specific about driver's license, car tag and voter registration, only one person need file? Does that mean that only that one person has to meet the requirements?

Or do both people on the title have to meet the requirements, but the application for homestead exemption can be filed by just one of them?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Homestead requirements in Florida

According to a real estate broker and appraiser in Florida yesterday, there are certain requirements to qualify for the homestead exemption in Florida.

Among the requirements are that the homeowner may have to have a Florida Driver's License, register his vehicle in Florida and be registered to vote in Florida.

Now, if you claim Florida as your residence in order to gain a $50,000 homestead exemption on your real estate property tax bill, and if you have a Florida driver's license, register your car in Florida and are a registered voter in Florida, can you claim a $5,500 homestead exemption in Illinois, have an Illinois driver's license and be registered to vote in McHenry County?

When the Florida real estate appraiser mentioned "register your vehicle in Florida", I recalled September 17th, when a Woodstock police officer told me that the white Chevrolet Tahoe (Illinois passenger car registration (license plate) - 196 3705) driven by Sheriff Nygren was not owned by the County or by Nygren. This is the vehicle that Nygren was driving in the Jewel-Osco parking lot, when he pulled in alongside my car, when I was parked in the far end of the parking lot to make a telephone call. (See my articles on September 17 and since; just search for "Jewel" in the upper left corner search box on this blog.)

I wondered at the time who owned it and why the sheriff wasn't driving his own vehicle or a County-owned vehicle. If I recall correctly, the officer said that a party named Wilson owned the Tahoe, and I wondered by the sheriff would have been driving a vehicle owned by someone else. Who is Wilson? (OK, no wise cracks about Cast Away, with Tom Hanks. Remember? "Wilson!")

People have told me that the white Tahoe is the sheriff's vehicle. That's what he drives. Is maintenance (oil changes? washes? tires?) on it done at County expense or at the Sheriff's Garage on Russel Court? Is it gassed at a County pump or at County expense? Insured by the County or covered under the County's self-insurance? Where is the sheriff's personal vehicle?

You'll want to read for the reporting on the Nygrens' Cape Coral home and their homestead exemption claimed on that house in Florida - at the same time that they claim a homestead exemption on their home in Hebron. Are the Nygrens legal residents of Florida?

And read for additional comments on the reporting by the "Dirty Keith" blog.

If Keith Nygren is a legal resident in Florida (as claimed to gobble up a $50,000 homestead exemption and pay lower real estate taxes), how can he legally be Sheriff of McHenry County?

No wonder he is called the "cell phone sheriff"! Would his cell phone records tell an interesting story about how much time he really spends out of McHenry County during working hours?

If Nygren is a legal resident of Florida, a registered voter in Florida and if his Cape Coral home is his permanent residence, just how much time does he spend there - away from his elected and compensated duties as Sheriff of McHenry County?

Is he a registered voter in Florida? The Illinois State Board of Elections shows a Keith R. Nygren in ZIP Code 60034 (Hebron, Illinois) as a registered voter.

We've all heard "Vote Early & Vote Often." What's going on?

Cal Skinner reported on that Mrs. Nygren is a registered voter in Florida. Perhaps Cal can find out whether Keith Nygren is also a registered voter there. I couldn't find a website on the Florida Division of Elections for learning whether a person is a registered voter.

Will he abandon his re-election bid?
Will Nygren resign from office?
Will the State's Attorney's Office investigate what is going on?
Will a special prosecutor have to be called in, since the SAO is the legal advisor for the sheriff's department?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Algonquin's "elephant" in the room

The media continue to report on the unfortunate accident last week, when a 7-year-old Neubert Elementary School (Algonquin, Ill.) student was run over by a schoolbus.

According to this morning's newspaper (Page 6A) "District 300 officials said the cause of the accident ... might never be determined."

Maybe it is just that nobody wants to talk about the "elephant in the room." You don't even have to have been there to know that it was either the fault of the driver or the student.

I've never been a schoolbus driver, but I have driven large motorcoaches. As a driver, you are responsible to look for anyone close enough to be in danger. You know where the blind spots are and it's your obligation to be certain that no one is in them, especially as you start forward. If someone is close by the side of the bus, you wait.

Today's paper says the boy had gotten off the bus and fell under it "in the front wheel area." Was he run over by the right front tire or the rear tires? If by the front, why did he remain so close to the front of the bus after getting off? Was he about to cross in front of the bus? Was the safety arm of the bus out or had it been retracted when the door was closed? Why didn't he step away from the bus?

Maybe D300 needs to paint yellow lines on the sidewalks in the boarding areas and order drivers not to move the buses until all students are behind lines. Check out the warning lines on the Metra platforms.

Merit Commission OKs pocket folders

Yesterday the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission met.

What monumental business did they have before them, other than approving Minutes of the April meeting (finally!)?

They were requested to approve a $1,333 expenditure for 1,000 attractive pocket folders in which employment information would be sent to those inquiring about jobs (make that one job) as a deputy with the Sheriff's Department.

At the recent testing for patrol deputies, more than 300 applicants went through written and physical testing. All this, and there are no positions open! There might be three positions open, should present employees retire.

The question I had, but didn't ask since I'm not on the Commission, is why spend even $1,333 to buy pocket folders, when information could merely be stapled and stuffed into a flat 9x12 envelope and mailed to a candidate. Adding the shiny pocket folder must add at least one ounce to the mailing weight of a packet.

I don't know what percentage of inquiries result in applications? 75% maybe? Some will receive the information and never return it. So the money spent to send it is down the drain.

Better yet, put the forms into .pdf format and publish them online with instructions to a candidate to download the forms, if s/he wished to apply for a job.

How much did the written and physical testing cost MCSD for this round? Let's say it was just $50 each. $50 x 300 = $15,000, and that doesn't include the secretarial and administrative personnel at the department.

When you don't have any jobs open, there must be a better way!

Tch, tch. It's "principal"!

Money management guru Dave Ramsey blew it today in his syndicated column entitled "Make payment visits personal."

Anyone else read it? Catch the error?

In his answer to "Scotty", Dave wrote (about making extra payments on a mortgage or car loan) that you should indicate clearly on your separate check "principle only". And then he used the word "principle" two more times, for a total of three, when what he meant was "principal."

I learned a long time ago (in grade school? junior high school?) that you use principal when you are referring to money and principle when you are referring to a rule. Easy to remember ... principle/rule.

Sorry, Dave. It wasn't just a typo.

AEDs on planes, trains - next, automobiles?

This morning's Northwest Herald carries an article about State Rep. Jack Franks' (D-63rd) plan to require automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on Illinois mass transit systems. The article goes on to say that Jack "planned to work with mass transportation officials while drafting the legislation."

So, when they say, "Show me the money" to pay for them, how will Jack work with them? Will he draft a bill that requires the State to pay for them or to help pay for them through tax credits? Not according to that article!

"It's a bit of a burden." Give me a break.

Maybe Jack will donate his $1,100,000 election kitty to pay for them, and each one can have a little plaque above it, reading "Donated by the Franks Campaign Fund."

Look around you next time you're on the Metra or a PACE bus. Those employees are going to become AED technicians? Give me another break!

That's what the paramedics are for. Now, locked in a aluminum tube at 33,000 feet is another story. A plane cannot just pull over and stop. Even an Amtrak train could be many miles from a station.

But a PACE bus or a Metra train? The next stop is only minutes away.

What's next? Require them in cabs? In all cars? On bicycles? In backpacks?

An AED proponent (or manufacturer) will say "Yes, they belong everywhere." They don't.

Safety in downtown Woodstock

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Check out Nygren Florida property taxes

According to information posted on the Dirty Keith vs. Dirty Harry blog, there may be some "interesting" questions about property values and taxes going on in Cape Coral, Florida, where McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren and his wife own a home.

On that blog this afternoon there are posted property tax bills for several recent years. More importantly, questions are raised about exemptions that property owners can claim - exemptions that may be available only to those claiming to be residents of the State of Florida.

Check the following Property Values:

2008 $446,460 (less $50,000 claimed exemptions)
2007 $501,910 (less $25,000 claimed exemption)
2006 $555,670 (no exemption claimed)
2005 $377,720 (no exemption claimed)

How does a property's value jump almost $180,000 in one year, and then begin dropping?

I'll leave the interpretation of the proposed property tax bills to you, as I am knowledgeable about neither Florida nor Illinois property tax statements or exemptions.
We haven't been seeing a big decrease in property values around here, at least so far as property taxes go.
Visit that website and then click on the photos for the property tax information.

What does it all mean?

How smart are you?

Click on the link below and take the test. Some score only 5 or 7 out of 25.

Be careful and don't answer too quickly. And don't change your mind after you think you know the right answer.

You can forward this to friends by clicking on the white envelope below. Put your score in the message box and drive them crazy.

Care to post your score as a comment?

Good luck!

Where will M. Bean be?

Aren't those robocalls just wonderful?

Got a cheery greeting today from Melissa Bean to tell me she'll "be in my neighborhood" tomorrow morning and wants to know how I feel about health insurance, etc. She'll be at the Woodstock Jewel at 410 S. Eastwood Drive.

As everyone in Woodstock knows, Jewel isn't at 410 S. Eastwood Drive! How many years ago did it move to 145 S. Eastwood Drive? Three? Four?

A quick check of the address on the Jewel-Osco website would have clued in her scriptwriter. Where did they dig out that old address???

So check around. Down the street. Up the street. The robocaller said, "Around 9:00AM" tomorrow, Saturday, October 24. Right here in beautiful Woodstock.

C(p)IA for McHenry County?

Should there be a Civilian Police Investigatory Agency for the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Read the article published this week on

Under current policies serious incidents involving deputies of the Sheriff's Department can be kept from public view; e.g., if a deputy supervisor assaults and batters another deputy, it can be swept under the rug by handling it as an administrative disciplinary matter and imposing a penalty of up to 30 days' suspension.

The key is "up to" 30 days. So long as the discipline is not greater than 30 days, the matter doesn't go to the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission and can be kept out of public view as a "personnel" matter.

No big deal that a crime was committed; right?

Did an incident such as the above "example" really happen? It sure did!

Did the public hear about it through the media? No way!

Read the article on McHenry County Advocate and then come back here and vote.

Farmers' Market - #1 in Illinois

Following is an emailed message from Keith Johnson, Market Manager of the Woodstock Farmers' Market. If you would like to receive emails about the Farmers' Market directly from Keith, please let him know at

"Hello. Well, another season is winding down. The last day of our market will be on Saturday, October 31st, and as usual, our market is open from 8 until 1. The last day will be special as the market is giving away 25 pumpkins to the first 25 children who ask for them. The market will also have Halloween candy available for those trick or treaters who happen by. It is our way of saying thank you. We have encouraged vendors to wear costumes, but they are not mandatory, so we will see what we get.

"The market grew again this year, and as always, we have kept our growth to producers. We pride ourselves on that, and know it is appreciated from the many positive comments we have received. The Woodstock Farmers Market Board is exploring the possibility of a monthly winter market, and if it happens, I will be sending out information as soon as I have it. It is still just an idea, but one that the board feels may have merit.

"We also thank the city for its support of our market. Our market ended up being the number one market in Illinois in the “love your market survey.” So we also appreciate your support in that. It has been a very good year."

If you'd like to see a monthly winter market, let Keith know. Remember that it's a lot of work and time for the vendors and the producers. If you say you want a winter market, be sure to show up and buy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What should a DUI defense cost you?

Just how much should a DUI defense cost you?

Let's say you get stopped for speeding or a taillight out or any other traffic violation, and the officer decides that you are intoxicated and arrests you for DUI.

What should your defense cost you?

Let's also say that you first had a public defender, who didn't represent you very well (like, didn't show up in court for a pre-trial conference). The judge replaced that P/D with a second public defender. And that one also didn't represent you well, and so the judge appointed a third P/D - one who didn't want to talk to you and wasn't really interested in defending you, telling you, "Just plead guilty."

And then you borrowed some money and hired an attorney in private practice.

The attorney presented you with a Contract - an "employment agreement". (First question: do you "employ" an attorney? Or, rather, do you "retain" an attorney?) If you "employ", do you have to get a W-2 and I-9 from him, confirm he is eligible to work in the U.S., withhold federal and state income taxes and Social Security taxes, and match the Social Security contribution?

A contract offered by an attorney ("Here, sign there") is obviously a unilateral contract. Think it protects your interests? Should you have a different attorney look at it, before you sign it?

As a retainer, you cough up a $5,000 flat fee and you read (or don't read) that "this flat fee is the same regardless of whether the case goes to trial, is dismissed, or results in a negotiated plea".

And then the employment agreement states that the hourly fee is $250.00. Do you ask what that means? Or do you leave your attorney's office, believing that the total charge will be $5,000 for the case?

Among other charges before the trial, the attorney bills 1.3 hours ($325.00) for each of four pre-trial appearances in court.

On the days before your jury trial, your lawyer charges you

Two days before trial: 12 hours (12 x $250=$3,000) (to get ready).
One day before trial: 8 hours (8 x $250 = $2,000) (to get readier).

First day of trial (jury selection): 7 hours (7 x $250 = $1,750), plus second lawyer, 8 hours (8 x $250 = $2,000)

Second day - the trial: 2 hours ($250 x 2 = $500) for the first lawyer PLUS 5 hours (5 x $250 = $1,250) for Lawyer No. 2, who actually handled the trial.

The next day you get a call from the attorney that the jury found you "Not Guilty" of all charges and that you don't even have to go to court.

And then your attorney sends you a bill for $13,050! Taking out your $5,000 retainer, now you owe an additional $8,050.

Should your attorney have informed you in advance that charges would like run well over your retainer? And, after he'd blown through your retainer, should he have informed you of that and alerted you to expect to pay more?

And then you get a bill from the courthouse for $510.93 for "fines and court costs" and they won't return your driver's license without payment! When you call the courthouse, you find out that they are billing you for the third public defender!

OK, you've been waiting, I know, to learn where this happened. In Illinois, but not in McHenry County.

McHenry County Blog is (really) back

Cal Skinner is back - and back with a big bang. McHenry County Blog ( is back on line, after being bashed around by Google. Google is truly electronic - trying to reach a live person to solve his problem probably aged Cal a few years. But he's back now. So pass him a jug of spirits from the Fountain of Life and wish him many more years of blogging.

Check out his article on a Republican opponent for the upcoming election for State Rep.

As I've said before, no major elected office should go unchallenged in an election!!!

Dustin Goy - Guilty!!!

The McHenry County State's Attorney's Office issued the following press release today.



McHenry County State’s Attorney, Louis A. Bianchi, is pleased to announce that 32 year old defendant Dustin P. Goy of Crystal Lake was found guilty today of the offense of Involuntary Manslaughter by the Honorable Judge Sharon Prather. The charge stemmed from a September 9, 2007 incident that occurred outside of the The Cottage Restaurant and Pub in Crystal Lake. Anthony Carlsen of Crystal Lake, age 45, was struck by Goy as he walked to his car with his wife following a birthday party. The blow was described by an eye witness as a “knockout punch” which rendered Carlsen unconscious as he fell to the ground. Autopsy results revealed that Carlsen suffered blunt force trauma to the side of his head, behind the ear, as a result of the forceful blow. He died as a result of a second injury to his brain caused by Carlsen’s head striking the pavement immediately following Goy’s punch. The State called 10 witnesses during the three day trial. A video tape of the defendant’s interview with police was admitted into evidence as well as 911 calls made shortly after Carlsen was struck down. The case was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorneys Michael Combs and Phillip Hiscock, both assigned to the State’s Attorney’s Special Prosecutions Division. Both attorneys are capital litigation qualified by the Illinois Supreme Court. Goy faces a potential sentencing range of probation to 2 – 5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He will be sentenced on December 2, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.. At the hearing, the State will present testimony from the family of Anthony Carlsen and will recommend that Goy be sentenced to a term in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

FEN: Sheriff hints at no appeal

Sheriff Keith Nygren may be undecided about appealing the reinstatement of Zane Seipler that was ordered by the arbitrator. First Electric Newspaper ( is reporting that Nygren may not have decided on the appeal, although both daily newspapers in the County reported that he would appeal to a circuit court judge.

Things will become quite interesting from a political point of view, if Seipler returns now to his job as a McHenry County deputy sheriff.

If Seipler is reinstated, he should require payment of his back pay either in one check or on terms acceptable to him and clearly defined in writing.

There has been a lot of carping in comments to newspaper articles. All the whining should be over, because the arbitrator would have considered the whole case. And, in view of the whole case, three days off without pay was sufficient discipline.

How quickly will Nygren get his legal advice? Does he have it now?

NWH omits online story about sheriff's plan

On Wednesday, October 21, the Northwest Herald carried a story in its print edition (Page 3C) about the plans of McHenry County Sheriff Nygren to appeal an arbitrator's decision to a circuit court judge.

For some reason, the Northwest Herald omitted to carry that story online. Or perhaps I looked so hard for it that I just didn't see it. The last story online is about Zane Seipler and the positive decision by the arbitrator (i.e., that Seipler should have had a three-day suspension, not termination, and that he was awarded all back pay, except for three days).

A reader searching for information would conclude that Seipler was going back to work and would receive his back pay.

According to the print edition, however, Nygren plans to appeal the arbitrator's decision to a circuit court judge.

How long will this take and how much will it cost taxpayers?

My guess? Over a year and tens of thousands of dollars.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spire comes back home

There was a lot of activity at 344 Fremont Street today, when the spire reclaimed its rightful place atop a peak on the former Rachford family home, now the location of Royal Victorian Manor (under renovation). The spire was removed before the family home was sold in about 1988, and today Marty Rachford restored it at the top of the front of the house.

The Rachford family lived in the home from the early 1960s until about 1988, when Kelly Frank purchased it. The house attracted national prominence as the inn in the movie, Groundhog Day, and later more attention when it was offered for sale on

There was another owner after Kelly, and then the home was purchased by Marshall and Debra Smith. And then Everton and Karla Martin bought it with plans to remodel it into the Royal Victorian Manor, and that's exactly what they are doing.

Mr. Rachford told me today that the house was originally built for Judge Charles P. Barnes, who was a territorial judge. He also said there is a little mound on the floor of the widow's peak where a telephone pole had been cut off. Judge Barnes had had the pole installed inside the house and run up through the widow's peak, so that the flag on his flagpole would be higher than the flag on the courthouse on the Square. How's that for a little history?

Everton and Karla, innkeepers for the new bed-and-breakfast, hope to have enough of the interior work done by Groundhog Day 2010 that visitors can tour the house. And then they will open for business a little later in the year.
Photos - Marty Rachford with the newly-placed spire (center).
Marty Rachford with the spire before placing it; being interviewed and photographed for a Chicago Tribune article.

D200 Parent Handbook: "weapon"

On Page 25 of the Parent Handbook for Woodstock District 200 schools is found its definition of "weapon." Parents should read this and discuss it among themselves and with their children who are students in District 200.

"A 'weapon' means possession, use, control, or transfer of: (1) any gun, rifle, shotgun, a weapon as defined by Section 921 of Title 18, United States Code, firearm as defined in Section 1.1 of the (Illinois) Firearm Owners Identification Act, or use of any weapon as defined in Section 24-1 in the (Illinois) Criminal Code; (2) any other object if used or attempted to be used to cause bodily harm, including but not limited to, knives, brass knuckles, billy clubs; or (3) 'look-alikes' of any weapon as defined above. Any item, such as a baseball bat, pipe, bottle, lock, stick, pencil, and pen is considered to be a weapon if used or attempted to be used to cause bodily harm..."

It would seem, from this definition of "weapon", that a pocket knife, in the pocket (or even in the backpack or locker) would not be deemed to be a weapon. Of course, this is a black-and-white view. However, be sure to read Section 921 (U.S. Code), Section 1.1 of the FOID Act and Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code, too.

Other than firearm, "any other object" seems to become a "weapon" only if it is "used or attempted to be used" to cause bodily harm.

However, don't count on my interpretation. If you have a question about what would happen to your child if he or she took a knife to school (ex., to cut a sandwich in half in the lunch room), contact the principal at your child's school and, if high school, the school resource officer.

Have a nice, polite, kind, gentle, inquiring conversation about this. Then follow it up with an e-mail to confirm your understanding of the conversation. Ask for a response in writing, if your understanding is not correctly stated.

And then print and save the e-mail(s).

Another stupid Z-T case

Z-T? Zero Tolerance. You know - where a school district jumps up on its pedestal and takes a stand on an indefensible position on "weapons", when in fact, no "weapon" was involved.

Parents must get involved with their kids' school district before some insane position is taken and a "consequence" (penalty! discipline!) is needlessly inflicted on a student.

The problem with school discipline is that the discipline is administered immediately. If a student is going to be suspended for 3-5-10-20 days, he's out. Sure, he can appeal it. If he wins, how does he get that period of time, for which he was out of school, back? He doesn't!

In this case a Lansingburgh High School (Troy, N.Y. area) senior, Matthew Whalen (photo above), was suspended for 20 days because he had a two-inch pocket knife in the glove compartment his car. Whalen, an honor student, Eagle Scout and National Guardsman who returns to school today, is fighting to clear his name.

Lansingburgh Central School District Superintendent George Goodwin ruled it was a weapon that is forbidden on school property under Lansingburgh's "zero-tolerance" policy on weapons.

Okay, local parents. It's time to get involved with your school districts now. Do not wait for your child to get caught up in this type of insanity.

Contact your school administrator nows, and don't do it alone. Bring up the topic at school board meetings. Form parent groups at all the schools in your district. Understand exactly what is and what is not a weapon. If you have a knife in the trunk or glove compartment of your car, it only becomes a weapon if you take it out and brandish it at someone. An inanimate object in your car is not a weapon!

Daily Herald announces Sheriff's plan to appeal

Read the Daily Herald (the "other" McHenry County daily newspaper) at for the story on Nygren's plan to appeal the favorable decision given to Zane Seipler in his July arbitration hearing. The decision (three-days' suspension, not termination; and back pay) was released this week. (A story about the planned appeal appears on Page 3C of the print edition of this morning's Northwest Herald.)

When you get to the Daily Herald site, search for "Seipler".

More importantly, read the comments, especially by "choppedliver" at 8:24PM (10/20/09) "about someone's son caught DUI in woodstock one day... the sheriff suddenly took over for woodstock police and everything mysteriously VANISHED..." and by "GeneL" at 9:01PM (10/20/09) in which he comments about a DUI stop after which charges and reports disappeared.

Now, the "believing" citizen will be quick to say that things like that don't happen in police work. Let's say, they "shouldn't" happen.

A sheriff, anywhere, shouldn't be able to "take over" in a traffic case in a town/city/village. While he has general jurisdiction anywhere in the county, his authority over a town's police officer doesn't exist in a traffic stop in that town. It's the police chief of the town who tells his officers what to do. Would a patrol officer knuckle under to a sheriff? I would hope not.

What he'd do is call his supervisor, who would make the decision. Then either the supervisor or his supervisor (and on up the food chain) might acquiesce to a sheriff's request (or demand). And then the officer would go home and yell at his kids and kick his dog. Just kidding; but he'd be mad, frustrated, disappointed, etc., and his relationship with his department would have been stained (and strained).

A simple example of supervisory action - In Crystal Lake last year, a motorist was being threatened and intimidated by employees of Viking Dodge, who had parked three pick-up trucks to block in that motorist on the shoulder of U.S. 14. Two were parked inches in front of and behind the motorist's car; a third pick-up was parked alongside between the man's car and the roadway, blocking his car door.

I asked the Crystal Lake officer to ticket two of the pick-ups, which had no license plates. He could have done it. The shiny, new pick-ups were sitting right there on the public right-of-way without license plates! What did he do?

He called his sergeant, who called Viking Dodge. Within two minutes two salesman ran across the street with dealer plates and put them on the trucks.

Some law enforcement, eh?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sheriff to appeal Seipler arbitration decision

The Northwest Herald will have a story shortly that Sheriff Nygren didn't like the decision of the arbitrator in Zane Seipler's case and will be appealing that decision to Circuit Court.

Man! Talk about being a sore loser!

Nygren fired Seipler last November. Seipler went to arbitration in July. The decision this week was Seipler 1, Nygren 0. The arbitrator concluded that Nygren should not have fired Seipler and that a three-day unpaid suspension was appropriate and sufficient discipline. The arbitrator awarded Seipler all back pay, except for the three-day period.

On Friday the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission is to meet. So, is it the Sheriff who fires deputies, or does the Merit Commission fire them?

If the Merit Commission is the public body that decides whether to appeal, how can the Sheriff jump in ahead of time and say the matter is going to Circuit Court?

Unless the Merit Commission is a paid, rubber-stamp operation for the Sheriff. Is it? Surely, a $75.00 per diem can't gain an elected official that much influence over a public body.

But, then, how much of a public body is the Merit Commission, since its members are appointed by the Sheriff? Perhaps it's time for the County Board to assume authority over the Merit Commission and make independent appointments.

Zane already has 11 months' pay coming. How long will it take to get a decision in Circuit Court? A year? Let's see; that'll be November 2010. Bingo! Election time! And by then Zane will have two years' coming.

Today I emailed the Merit Commission to request that they put the Seipler reinstatement on the Agenda for Friday's meeting. I sent the request through the HR Department of the County, because the Chairperson of the Merit Commission told me previously that she didn't want me to email her at her Woodstock City government job.

I wonder if that means that she never conducts Merit Commission business during normal working hours for her Woodstock job. In a perfect world that would be true. Are we in a perfect world?

If the Sheriff is worried about having a guy "like Zane" in his department, let me ask you this.

Suppose you were Sheriff and a Captain with the State Police called you and told you that he had received information that deputies were going to have a big drinking party at a bar that night and that a DUI checkpoint had been requested to catch any drunk drivers. What would you do?

If I were Sheriff, I'd have asked that Captain why he was calling me! "You've got a complaint? Go out and do something about it. Need some extra help?" And I sure as heck would not have spread the name of the caller around roll call the next week!!!

Red Ribbon Week Ceremony

The McHenry County State's Attorney's Office (SAO) hosted a Red Ribbon Week ceremony at the McHenry County Government Center this morning. Approximately 23 students and about 17 teachers and school staff persons were there. In addition to staff of the SAO, State's Attorney Lou Bianchi, First Assistant State's Attorney Tom Carroll, Judge Gordon Graham, and the Superintendent of the Regional Office of Education, Gene Goeglein, were present.

Students made presentations that addressed the importance of not using drugs. Some stressed the dangers, and other addressed the opportunities to be lost because of drug use. Judge Graham mentioned the importance of keeping Facebook and MySpace pages clear of drug references, because prospective employers and college recruiters read the pages of applicants.

Students from the following schools were represented today:

Heineman Middle School, Algonquin
Emmanuel Lutheran School
Marengo Middle School
Nippersink Middle School
Johnsburg Junior High School
St. Thomas the Apostle School
Spring Grove
Richmond Grade School

Stew Cohen, from Star 105.5, was present and recorded today's ceremony. No doubt he'll broadcast portions of today's program, or perhaps he'll use it as a topic on Northwest Spectrum on a Sunday at 6:00AM. Stew was quite popular with the students from Richmond Grade School (photo) after the program concluded.

New Yard Sign

A reader sent me this photo of his favorite yard sign.

Would this qualify for Freedom of Speech (and so, not be regulated by yard sign rules in a community)? (To enlarge the image, click on the photo; then click on the Back button on your browser to return here.)

Merit Commission Members - who are they?

The Sheriff's Department Merit Commission is a five-member commission of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department charged with this purpose:

"To ensure the citizens of McHenry County that there is a fair and equal opportunity system for the employment, promotion, discipline and discharge of full-time Deputy Sheriffs."

Last week's Regular Meeting, which could not be held for lack of a quorum, has been re-scheduled to this Friday morning, October 23, 8:30AM. The Commission meets on the second floor of the Administration Building at 667 Ware Road. Meetings are open to the public.

Commission members include Janelle Crowley (Chair), Brian Goode, William Mack, Patrick McAndrews and Gloria Urch.

The terms of appointment (expiration dates of current terms) for the Commissioners are
Patrick McAndrews, 6-30-2010
Brian Goode, 4-01-2011
Gloria Urch, 4-01-2012
William Mack, 4-01-2014
Janelle Crowley, 4-30-2015

Backgrounds of three Commissioners (Crowley, Urch and McAndrews) are described on the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission website at These three are officers of the Commission: Chair, Secretary and Vice-Chairperson, respectively.

Backgrounds of the remaining two Commissioners (William Mack and Brian Goode) are not described on the webpage. Each has been a member of the Merit Commission since August 2002.

Perjury to get search warrant?

A reader commented on yesterday's story about Zane Seipler's arbitration win:

"What about the search of Zane's squad and confiscation of his personal property during the sheriffs investigation. Then 2 days later they actually swore under oath to a judge to get a search warrant for a search they had already done. If that's not perjury I don't know what is."

I have not talked with Zane about this, so all the information I have is from this comment, but it could provide plenty to worry about.

First, was a warrant even necessary to search a squad car that belongs to the sheriff's department? Was it merely a case of removing any of Zane's personal belongings from the squad car for safe-keeping?

Was that personal property immediately retrievable by Zane? In other words, could he just go to the sheriff's department and pick up his own possessions that might have been in the squad car after his last time on duty?

Were his possessions picked through? That is, did those clearing out the car inspect his personal property closely and make any record of what they found beyond a general description to identify it? Was it all accounted for and later turned over to Zane?

Now, assuming that a search warrant was needed to remove any of his property, and apparently someone decided it was, why was the search conducted before a warrant was applied for? Or did someone say, "Oops!" after the search and decided they'd better go get a warrant?

Did the petition to the judge for the search warrant indicate that the search had already been performed? How was it worded? Was it carefully ambiguous so that, upon a subsequent reading, you really couldn't tell what was being asked? Surely, no judge would authorize a vague search warrant, would he?

Does a search warrant that has been executed become public record? Is it subject to a FOIA Request?

What agency is responsible for investigating allegations of perjury by a law enforcement agency in a petition for a search warrant? Certainly, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department shouldn't investigate itself in this matter. But who should? The Illinois State Police?

Can the public be assured of an impartial and complete investigation, if the Illinois State Police is called in about a suspected crime within the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Service Tax - on the way?

Today I received the following email from Illinois Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-53rd District (Photo)). I met Dan a year ago when I was in Springfield for Illinois Gun Owners' Lobbying Day, and he was very gracious with his time to see me. I encourage you to support CLA financially and to express your opinion to your elected State representatives and senators now, before they create such a tax.
"In the Spring Legislative Session, the State Senate Democratic Majority passed the largest income tax increase in Illinois history, but that pales in comparison to what else was in the legislation. The bill also created the first in Illinois, tax on services. It now awaits action in the Democratic controlled House.
"The new tax on services would be on cable TV, dry cleaning, bowling, pet grooming, internet service, gym memberships, sports tickets and diaper service, to name a few. I believe now is not the time for your government to take any more money from your purse or wallet. I voted against the legislation. No Republican voted for it.
"I am chairman of the 'Committee for Legislative Action' (CLA), which has been bringing sunlight to tax and fee increase attempts since 1995. This Administration has definite plans to raise our taxes. We need your help to stop the momentum.
"CLA is funded by voluntary contributions and NOT taxpayer dollars. Will you donate a modest amount to help fight the Service Tax? Your gift of $44 for a roll of stamps will go a long way; larger amounts are welcome and any amount is appreciated. You may donate online at
"With your support we can rally even more opposition to the service tax increase proposed by the ruling majority in Springfield. Together, we can make a difference. Thank you!
"Please visit our website for current news articles, statistics and survey results. Thank you for your help!
Dan Rutherford
State Senator
Chairman CLA
220 W. Howard Street
Pontiac, IL 61764
"Paid for by the Committee For Legislative Action. A copy of our report, filed with the State Board of Elections, is available for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois. Contributions or gifts to the Committee For Legislative Action are not deductible for federal or state income tax purposes."

Seipler Wins Arbitration!!!

Zane Seipler has won his arbitration hearing!

In a decision released this morning, the arbitrator rendered his decision that Seipler should not have been fired almost a year ago by McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren. The arbitrator indicated that a three-day suspension would have been the appropriate discipline.

Seipler was awarded all back pay, except for three days.

Seipler, who was suspended on July 21, 2008 and fired on November 17, 2008, expects reinstatement to his position as Deputy Sheriff with the Department.

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission was unable to meet last Wednesday, because a quorum of its members did not show up for the regularly-scheduled meeting. According to the County Board Calendars, it has not re-scheduled that meeting, although one of the members present had indicated it would be re-scheduled.

No regular meeting is scheduled (yet) for November, because the Merit Commission's regular meeting day (second Wednesday of the month) falls on Veterans Day, November 11, a Federal and County holiday. Was it an oversight not to schedule its meeting on the first available business day after November 11?

If the Merit Commission does not meet before its regular meeting on December 9, will Seipler have to wait that long to be reinstated? Or will the Merit Commission hold a Special Meeting to handle its October Agenda business, approve its meeting schedule for 2010, and reinstate Seipler?

Or will the Sheriff try to get the Merit Commission to appeal the decision of the arbitrator, and incur additional legal costs to fight what was obviously a wrongful termination?

Will the appointees on the Merit Commission have the "intestinal fortitude" to stand against the Sheriff and order Seipler's reinstatement and immediate payment of all awarded back pay without delay or further waste of County taxpayer's monies for legal expense?

Drug Asset Forfeiture Training

The following press release has been issued by the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office.

"McHenry County State’s Attorney, Louis A. Bianchi, announces that law enforcement training on Search & Seizure and Drug Asset Forfeitures will be held on Friday, October 30, 2009, at the State’s Attorney’s Office in the Grand Jury Room at 1:30 p.m. This training is open to all police departments in McHenry County and the Illinois State Police. The training will be presented by Assistant State’s Attorneys David Johnston and Kirk Chrzanowski."


My opinion is that the public also needs to know the gist of this training.

Stories are rampant about what the public might consider illegal search and seizure and the opportunity for law enforcement to seize assets in which they "consider" drug-related offenses and crimes.

Let's say you are driving down the road and have $20,000 cash in a bag in your car. There is nothing illegal about this.

Now let's say you get stopped and the officer talks you into allowing your car to be searched. They have various ways of doing this, including, "You don't have to allow me to search your car but, if you don't, you must have something to hide and I'll issue a dozen traffic tickets to you."

Then the cop finds your $20,000 and tells you, "You must be involved in a drug crime, since you have so much cash here. So I'm confiscating your cash and am going to let you go now, while I investigate." Oh, by the way, the cop might confiscate your car, too, so you'll get to walk away from the location of the traffic stop. And if you object? Care to face a Disorderly Conduct charge?

Think you'll ever see your cash again? Can you afford an attorney to get your cash back? Guess how much it will cost you to do so...

A. Just about $20,000. What a coincidence!

Maybe the SAO will conduct a class for the press and the public and explain how it has trained McHenry County law enforcement officers.