Friday, December 31, 2010

SAO could prosecute Nygren? Oh, really?

From the December 30th Northwest Herald:

"State's Attorney [Louis] Bianchi is not personally interested in this matter and a special prosecutor should not be appointed," (Assistant State's Attorney Don) Leist said. "Should there be charges against Nygren from a police agency, Bianchi's office could objectively prosecute Nygren."


"A main argument made by Horowitz for the appointment of a special prosecutor has been that there is a conflict of interest between Bianchi's office and the sheriff, who is the State's Attorney's Office's client in other cases."

How could the State's Attorney (SAO) prosecute Nygren? The SAO represents the Sheriff's Department; thus, it prosecutes persons charged by the sheriff's department and defends the sheriff (and the Department) against charges and lawsuits. Yet, in so many cases, it is the law office of James Sotos that defends the Sheriff's Department and Nygren and represents the Sheriff in other cases.

A lawyer (or a law firm) can't wear both hats. And isn't the law pretty clear that the SAO is the Sheriff's legal counsel?

So how could it prosecute him?

This seems cut and dried to me, which means it should be in court for only 4-5 years before a decision is reached.

Inmate visits - where and by whom?

When you visit an inmate at the McHenry County Jail, what's the procedure?

For most of us, you go in the front door on the north end of the west wall of the building. You approach a safety-glass window (probably bullet-proof) and state your business. You present ID. You'd better not be wanted, even unknowingly.

You are told to sit down and wait, and to put your valuables in a locker. (Remember, take the key.)

You don't get to talk to the inmate in person. When your visiting time comes, you pass through an electronic screener (No, it's not like TSA uses; it's not a full-body scan (yet)). You proceed into a room and find a booth with your assigned number. Pick up the phone and wait for your inmate to be directed to the phone from which he will talk with you.

No chance to shake hands or hug your family member or kiss your spouse (or child or parent). Certainly no chance to pass contraband. No cakes can be delivered... with or without sawblades.

If you are an attorney, I suspect it's different. My guess is that you enter through a different door, and you get to sit down in a room with your client. You know; like on TV.

Now, disregarding medical calls and court-ordered contact visits, is there any other way to meet with a prisoner?

Is it possible to go in "the back way" and to be able to meet face-to-face with a prisoner? Is there a way to do that which might be "off the books"? Could someone with special privileges (not an attorney) be allowed to meet with inmates? Could someone "with connections" be allowed into the jail for a face-to-face meeting with an inmate?

I began hearing about this well before December 15.

There should be written records of every contact with an inmate by anyone, but would such a visit be entirely off the records, and therefore not FOIA-able?

Dec. 15 Hearing - Part 8

Be sure to read today for Part 8 in the publication of the December 15th hearing transcript in Seipler v. Cundiff et al.

Capt. Anton Cundiff? Where is he in all this? How did his name end of first in line? Who are the defendants in this lawsuit? Sure wish the Federal Court records were as easily accessible as those in McHenry County (at least, part of them). The case is No. 08 C 50257 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division.

Who is mentioned in Part 8?

Depositions of Jose Rivera and Gary Pack were apparently scheduled for December 16. The deposition of Jill Tutt was still to be completed, after it was interrupted on July 15. There was a little jousting about just who deposed Jill on July 15, with Sotos claiming that Horwitz did, and Horwitz saying that one of Sotos' associates took up 3 1/2 of the 4 hours, at which point Jill left.

When the judge asked who Jose Rivera was, this exchange took place in court:

"THE COURT: Who’s Jose Rivera?

"MR. HORWITZ: He’s a business partner of Sheriff Nygren.

"MR. SOTOS: The criminal coconspirator."

Sotos is really helping out his client (Sheriff Nygren), right? Which causes me now to wonder, does James Sotos represent all of the defendants? Will some of them decide at some point that they'd better have their own counsel? Will some of them decide they'd better distance themselves from some of the others?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

MCSD employees praise bloggers

I received a nice email tonight, expressing appreciation for the blogs that Cal Skinner, Dave Bachmann and I write.

The sender commented that Nygren supporters are desperate and they then must resort to attacking the bloggers and authors of Letters to the Editor.

I have reason to believe that employees throughout the Sheriff's Department and, in fact, the McHenry County Government Center are watching what is taking place in the court in Rockford. Employees are concerned about the allegations being made and want the truth revealed. Most know that they'd better keep their thoughts to themselves, for fear of retaliation and retribution from command personnel.

The command personnel would obviously be fearful for their own positions and incomes. Had a change in the name on the door of the big office on the second floor taken place on December 1st, a fair number of them might found themselves demoted or kicked out the door, or they might have taken an early retirement to avoid reduced rank or termination. And, worse if they have been involved in any way with the actions that are alleged.

And when a change does take place before the next election in November, 2014, the County Board may have a difficult time finding a squeaky-clean Republican successor for the Office of Sheriff. It may have to go outside the Department and maybe even outside the County for the right man to clean house.

Being fearful to comment is an untenable position for an employee.

What's coming out in court has nothing to do with the election just past. I don't know one candidate who is angry about the sheriff's race. Zane Seipler got 1/3 of the vote in the Republican Primary; that's very commendable. Mike Mahon got 36.5% of the vote in the General Election; that's an excellent showing. I'm certainly not "angry" at my showing of 4,644 votes (5.04%).

It is a very sad sign that employees are afraid to comment. It is obvious to me that the Sheriff will want to see heads roll as additional court dates draw near.

If anyone should be angry, it's the People of McHenry County. There have every right to be angry that the sheriff since 1997 has conducted himself as he has.

Will Nygren now try to smear and discredit Deputy Milliman? The minions at the Department have already started. Deputy Milliman will do well to make no comments whatsoever and to save them for court.

Nygren made an idiotic statement to the Northwest Herald reporter, when he said, "Allegations are just allegations..." No, they aren't "just" allegations. Will all the perps in the County now be saying, "Oh, they're just allegations. No big deal."

New Year's Eve dinner at The Other Place

Come one, come all. In November a friend told me about The Other Place ... at the Elks, a new restaurant that opened in Woodstock in September. It's located at 140 Cass Street, just west of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce.

Friday night will be your last night to eat there .... in 2010!

Check them out on Facebook at!/pages/The-Other-Place/155957557762012

So, don't be like that L.A. food critic who was outed and then ousted. Check out the menu on Facebook, and start your partying right on the Square.

They are open on Friday nights (including this Friday, New Year's Eve) and, I think, on some game Sundays from the Bar Menu also posted on Facebook. Eating there may break your beltline, but it won't break your bank book.

(If you are going to bring all those relatives coming in by the busload, find their phone number and call ahead.)

Mr. Doctor or Dr. Doctor?

Look at the trouble Judge Mahoney had in getting an answer to a simple question. The exchange is published in Part 7 of the transcript for the December 15 hearing in Federal Court in Rockford, in Seipler v. Cundiff et al. To read it, go to

"THE COURT: All right. Now, number one, you still have the right to do any discovery that you want. Number two, things have popped up in this case. That’s why I’ve tried to talk to you before. Who is Dr. Meyer and in your opinion how does he fit into this case?

MR. SOTOS: Dr. Meyer is a doctor who examined plaintiff after he was in a shooting incident.

THE COURT: Psychologist?

MR. SOTOS: He shot somebody, and then he was –

THE COURT: Ph.D. doctor or medical?


THE COURT: Ph.D. doctor.

MR. SOTOS: Psychologist.

THE COURT: All right. ..."

All Judge Mahoney wanted to know whether Meyer was Mr. Doctor or Dr. Doctor. He wanted to know if Meyer is a psychologist or a psychiatrist. And he finally found out.

For years I have resisted the claim to "Dr." for non-medical doctorates. If a person was awarded a Ph.D. in Music or Nuclear Science, should he called "Dr." So-and-so? For me, the answer is "No." For me (old school), "Dr." is reserved for medical doctors, osteopaths and dentists.

Did "Mr. Dr." Meyer examine Seipler or did he "interview" him? Do psychologists "examine" people? They aren't "patients". Doctors see patients. Psychologists see clients.

Now, Doctor, Mr. M.D. ... look what I found... from 1966 on the Ed Sullivan Show:

Horse-trading in court

You gotta love Judge Mahoney over in Rockford. He's the judge who is hearing the Federal case of Seipler v. Cundiff et al., the December 15th transcript of which has finally attracted the attention of the Northwest Herald.

Cal Skinner has been publishing portions of it for almost a week.

If you don't chuckle at the back-and-forth that is going on that courtroom, you'll need to take more "silly" pills.

The need to complete depositions is obvious. For example, in Part 7 today on the incomplete deposition of Dr. Meyer, a psychologist who does many evaluations for McHenry County court cases and who is a friend of and contributor to Sheriff Keith Nygren was taken several months ago, comes to light. The judge had apparently assigned four hours for that deposition, and the associate from the office of the sheriff's lawyer, James Sotos, used up 3 1/2 hours of the four.

Zane's lawyer wanted 1 1/2 hours with Dr. Meyer, and the judge gave him an hour.

That's a recurring theme through the hearing. The lawyers ask for more time; the judge gives less. This is, of course, a lesson that we should all learn. You always ask for more and expect to bargain (i.e., "negotiate" or, as with a judge, accept what you are handed). But ask for more...

You'll see frequent references to the "Monell theory". What's that? For a lot of information, go to It looks to me like "failure (of government) to train (properly) as a theory for establishing governmental entity liability".

It wasn't long ago that I was told that deputies in rollcall were told to "just mark everybody down as White." Now there's a novel way to avoid racial profiling. And now it looks like that's exactly what was happening. Is it Deputy Bruketta who is said to have written at least 140 tickets to Hispanic drivers who miraculously became White (Caucasian) on their tickets?

And what about all those tickets that were not prosecuted? The Sheriff's Department "found" a second list, after the first one was produced during discovery. Should every ticket written in the last four years be audited and accounted for?

At what point should a sitting Sheriff be removed from office? Nygren is the one who said he investigated racial profiling and it wasn't occurring. The problem with removing him is that then he gets to sit in Florida in the sun and still draw his paycheck while the fight goes on. Maybe a starting punishment is to force him to hang around McHenry County during the dead (oops; Freudian slip?) of winter.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't text and drive - here's why

AT&T has produced a powerful, 10-minute, anti-texting-and-driving documentary that everyone should watch. Sit down with your young drivers, your spouse, your siblings and watch this dramatic video:

Don't just tell your kids to watch it. Sit down with them and watch it together. Then talk about it. Wearing your seatbelt isn't enough. Put down the phone!

It never fails...

Have you ever noticed how, as soon as you buy something, the price goes down? How does that happen? Cars, cameras, suits (does anyone buy suits, anymore?), TVs....

Now it's stamps. The USPS has announced that all First Class stamps will be Forever stamps. OK, the price didn't go down, but the value did go up.

And who just bought First Class stamps today?

Yes, all First Class stamps issued in 2011 will be Forever stamps. Not the ones issued in 2010. So what will the Post Office do with all the old stamps? You know, the ones already in the stamp drawers that the clerks will try to sell to customers at the counters?

Come on, Postmaster General. Just make it all First Class stamps, not just the ones issued in 2011.

From an article today in the Daily Herald, "The initial first-class stamp under the new policy will be the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit stamp, to be issued Jan. 22. It will be followed by stamps commemorating Kansas statehood on Jan. 29 and, in February, the centennial of President Ronald Reagan's birth."

So, when you step up to the window in January, don't let the stamp clerk palm off "old" stamps on you. Insist on the new ones.

Street parking and snow

Have you been wondering about parking in downtown Woodstock during periods of heavy snow? If you park on the street or in a City parking lot and snow is falling, read the signs on the street and in the parking lot carefully.

What are the rules about snow, streets and Woodstock? Visit and click on the link in the section on the right with the headline, "Questions about Snow Removal?" Read especially about adopting a fire hydrant during the winter...
From the City's Public Work's webpage comes the following:

"Calling Service for Downtown Snow Removal Parking Ban

"As a service to our residents and late-night businesses downtown, the City does strive to provide as much information and advance notice as possible regarding the need to impose a snow parking ban. The Department of Public Works maintains an after-hours recorded message (815.338.6118) for up-to-date information about snowfalls and parking bans.

"Downtown residents may also be included on a calling list to receive direct notification once a parking ban has been imposed (if they have requested this service in advance). Call the Department of Public Works during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) to be placed on this direct call list."

Letter to the Editor - Waco-style

This was forwarded to me, reportedly published in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco, Texas, on November 18th.

“Put me in charge...”

"Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

"Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings, then get a job.

"Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

"In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good.”

"Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules.. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

"If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

"Alfred W. Evans, Gatesville"

Whether there is really an Alfred Evans or not, I don't care. There was a town in New Jersey years ago that refused State welfare assistance and put its disadvantaged residents to work with brooms and cleaning tools, as a condition to receiving welfare assistance. Maybe we ought to do that around here.

Of course, the unions might not be too happy that cities were putting people to work for $8.00/hour, instead of union wage of $30.00.

I recall being angry in Colorado, when prisoners were demanding steak and color TVs in the late 1970s. Heck, I wasn't eating steak or watching color TV; why should they???

The court record is gone!

Recently, a commenter to an article mentioned that he hadn't been able to find a court record related to a lawsuit being settled that involved the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

When I was at the courthouse this morning, I picked up a brochure entitled, "How to Clear Your Illinois Criminal Record." This helpful information is published by the Office of the State Appellate Defender.

Many "non-convictions" can be expunged or sealed; i.e., arrest records can be removed from court records. Any arrest record is easily searchable by prospective employers, admissions departments of college, universities and other schools, neighbors, friends, relatives; you name it.

A "non-conviction" will have a disposition such as acquittal, dismissal, supervision. SOL could be there; it doesn't mean what you think. SOL means stricken off with leave to reinstate. NP is nolle prosequi. FNPC is Finding of No Probable Cause.

Even some felony convictions might be eligible for court sealing of records after four years after a sentence is completed.

Most DUIs, convictions for violent offenses, most sex offenses and nearly all felonies cannot be expunged or sealed.

For information, visit Telephone, fax and mailing addresses for Chicago and Springfield offices will be found on the website.

If a record doesn't qualify to be expunged or sealed, a person might still be eligible for consideration for clemency. Contact the Prisoner Review Board at 217.782.7273 or visit

Snowplow vs. Car

Did you see the video of the Brooklyn, N.Y. snowplow that bashed two parked cars while it was being pulled out of deep snow by a tow truck? Both cars belonged to the same family! Pure carelessness by the tow truck driver (and the snowplow operator), if you look at the home-grown video by a neighbor.

As I watched the video clip, I was reminded of a prank phone call by Wally Phillips (1925-2008) back in the late 1960s. He called a man whose car had been hit by a snowplow in a commuter parking lot, in Milwaukee as I recall. The man's car had been damaged in the parking lot and repaired, and on the morning of the call it had snowed heavily again.

Wally called the man and asked if he owned the car that been hit, damaged and repaired.

The man said he was the guy.

Wally said something like, "You know how it snowed heavily this morning? Our snowplow operator saw your car and knew he had hit it before, so he was being really careful. Well, I have some bad news for you. He hit it again."

The man figured out really fast that Wally was pranking him. It was a great call.

I always enjoyed commuting on the "L" into the Chicago Loop in the morning. As the "L" passed rows and rows of stopped cars on the Eisenhower, you could see drivers laughing at the same time, so I guessed they were all listening to Wally Phillips!

Wally died in 2008, but he will be long remembered!

Special Prosecutor sought regarding Sheriff Nygren

On Monday, December 27, 2010, a Motion for Leave was filed in McHenry County Circuit Court involving Keith Nygren as Sheriff of McHenry County (Ill.). The Motion by Blake Horwitz, Esq., attorney for Zane Seipler, requests a Special Prosecutor be appointed to investigate "allegations of criminal wrongdoing by Sheriff Nygren". (Click on the images to enlarge them; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

Statements of Deputy Scott Milliman, until recently an on-duty Deputy Sheriff of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, who is referred to in a hearing in U.S. Federal Court in Rockford on December 15, are the basis for the motion. The Motion includes the following:

"The transcript also reveals that Sheriff Nygren was observed to have committed and/or participated in the following:

"Engaged in 'Solicitation of Murder,' in violation of 720 ILCS 5/8-1;

"Facilitated and promoted the trafficking of illegal aliens from Mexico to McHenry County, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/8-2 and the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii));

"Covered up racial profiling in the McHenry County Sheriff's Department where at least one member in 2008 falsified the race of Hispanics drivers on at least 140 occasions, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/8-2.1; and

"Participated prior to 2007 in a pay-off scheme with a member of the McHenry County State's Attorney office, whereby pending criminal prosecutions were dropped as nolle prosequi in exchange for money, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/33-1 and 720 ILCS 5/33-2."

Also, stated on Page 2 of the Motion is the following:

"There is one other item of information that is in the public domain regarding Sheriff Nygren's alleged criminal participation in a conspiracy to murder: Deputy Milliman testified that one victim of attempted murder was a political adversary of Sheriff Nygren."

The next court date in this case is January 6, 2011, at 10:00AM in Room 201 of the McHenry County Government Center. The Case Number is 10MR000011.

Six-car fender bender in Woodstock

Reason #1 for allowing a safe distance between you and the car in front of you when stopping was clearly demonstrated again this morning in Woodstock.

A six-car pile-up occurred in front of the Citgo station just north of Burger King about 9:30AM. Car #2 (pictured), numbered from the back of the crash, appeared to be the most heavily damaged. It appeared to have been rear-ended and pushed into the car ahead of it, which then must have been pushed into the car ahead of it, etc. Air bags, including side airbags, deployed. (Click on the image to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

The two Woodstock PD officers were busy, but I overheard one asking a driver if she wanted to be transported for medical care. Within a few minutes a paramedic vehicle and a fire truck responded, along with wreckers. Firemen were helping out with brooms to sweep up debris from the street, which would have been re-opening of the northbound lane sooner, since the tow truck operators were busy loading cars.

Why would the driver of car No. 1 fail to stop in a 35MPH zone and hit Car No. 2 so hard, pushing it into the car in front of it and involving three more vehicles in front of that one? Did Car No. 6 stopped abruptly to allow a driver to enter or leave the Citgo station? Did other rear-enders happen before Car No. 1 hit No. 2?

No doubt the police will get it all figured out. Perhaps a Northwest Herald reporter will be able to get the full story for an online story later today or a print-edition story on Thursday morning.

The $25,000 Idea

Sometime between 25-40 years ago I first heard this story. It might have been when I was a fledgling life insurance salesman in the Chicago Loop or it might have been after I moved to Denver in 1970. Or maybe it was during Win/Win Forum days in the early 1980s.

"There once was an efficiency consultant named Ivy Lee, who had a meeting with the president of a small steel US steel company. During this meeting the president explained to him that he felt that his company had the knowledge and skills it needed to move forward, but he thought they were lacking when it came to "getting things done". The reason he had requested to meet with Mr. Lee was because he hoped that he could provide him with a solution to this problem.

"After listening to the presidents thoughts, Ivy Lee said that in less than 15 minutes he could show him how to accomplish his goal if he agreed to try the solution for at least a couple of weeks and then to pay him what he thought the idea was worth. The president happily agreed and Ivy Lee gave the following advice:

"Each day, at the end of the day, take out a sheet of paper. Write down the six most important things you have to do the next day. Then rank those items in the order of importance. When you come in the next morning, take out the paper and start with item 1. When you have finished that item, move on to number 2 (and so on down the list). If you can not complete an item because of external factors, skip it and move on to the next one. At the end of the day make another list of the six most important items you have to do the next day....

"After the meeting, which hadn't lasted more than 30 minutes, the president started using this system on a daily basis. After a short period of time he saw a dramatic increase in the efficiency at which he was able to get things done, so he passed this idea along to his department managers and asked them to pass it on to others within the company.

"A few weeks later, Ivy Lee received a letter from the steel company president thanking him for his advice that included a check for $25,000. Thus this simple idea has become known as 'The $25,000 Idea'.

"It is said that years later the company president commented that this was the best investment he had ever made, and that this single idea had a serious contribution to the companies growth from a small firm to an industry leader."

Thanks to for today's copy of this story. Put it to work today for you.

Judge unhappy with false race entries

Read today's excerpt of the December 15th hearing in U.S. Federal Court in Rockford in the Seipler v. Cundiff et al. case on

In the excerpt published today Judge Mahoney asks Nygren's attorney, James Sotos, whether he is supposed to be happy with a large number of tickets on which drivers were recorded as Caucasian, when they apparently were not.

"THE COURT: What am I supposed to with somebody that misidentifies 140 individuals as Caucasian?

"MR. SOTOS: Judge, I got –

"THE COURT: Am I supposed to be happy with that?

"MR. SOTOS: Well, Judge, you know what? I’m not happy with that, but that’s not — "

Who was the McHenry County Sheriff's Department deputy being referred to as "somebody"? Is he Deputy Bruketta, who is mentioned moments later?

Judge Mahoney is trying to push this two-year-old case to trial. He shortened the leash on the attorneys by restricting time for completion of depositions, some of which were started but not finished. After you read the excerpts, you may wish to allow an hour and go back and start at the beginning to get the full picture of what went on in court that day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Adventurers - know any?

How many true adventurers are there locally? Do you know any?

I'm re-reading River-Horse, a story by William Least Heat-Moon. It's a story about a voyage the author undertook in Nikawa, a 22-foot dory that was built in 1995. Heat-Moon's goal was to sail (motor) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific in one season. You can buy it used for $0.01 (plus $3.99 mailing) on

Heat-Moon's first book, Blue Highways, was about a three-month trip he took in an old van through the southeastern U.S. He has a marvelous command of the English language. As I've said to others, he could drive from here (Woodstock) to Chicago and write a book about all the things he saw and the people he met. Almost every page contains words I've never seen; ex., "scaphoid, epigynous, decalescence, monophthong" (Page 336 in the paperback edition of River-Horse); I wish I could say that I looked up every unfamiliar word.

He is a true adventurer and a gifted author.

Adventurers I've known? My brother, Jim, is one. Five men from Chicago and he sailed on the Columbus 500th anniversary from Portugal to the U.S. Theirs was the only ship to sail on the morning tide; the others waited for the King to come and bless the voyage, but they knew from their research that Columbus had sailed on the morning tide.

Jim and a mutual friend, Howard, sailed from Annapolis last month around Key West to north of Tampa in Jim's 38' sailboat, Little Star.

And Howard sailed solo (with his dog, Chubby) from Connecticut to Florida three years ago in his 32' sailboat, Dust in the Wind, fulfilling a dream in his life. Can you imagine sailing solo from Connecticut to Florida? And back?

A few years ago I read about a retired Utah dentist who owns three motorcycles; one had 400,000 miles on it; the other two, smaller, had about 80,000 miles each on them. He rides 'til he's tired, throws down his sleeping bag, and rides some more the next day. I wonder if I saved his name...
I envision a motorcycle adventure in 2011 of just heading down the "blue highways" - the country roads (no interstates), say, for some place like Seattle (or maybe Salem and Coos Bay, Oregon). No timetable; no agenda; no itinerary. Just ride 'til I'm tired; camp out; hit a hot shower at a campground or truck stop every once in a while. Eat in diners and country cafes; no fast food or fancy restaurants.

Monday, December 27, 2010

World Healing Day Meditation, Friday 6AM

Ever attend a World Healing Day Meditation Service on a December 31st?

If you plan now, you can. Right here in McHenry County. What is it?

A Program of Inter-faith & Multi-cultural Peace Prayers, including Singing Bowls, Prayers, Meditation, Chanting.

Friday, December 31, 2010, 6:00-7:00 A.M., C.S.T. Please arrive early, as the program begins at 6:00 AM on an open-microphone format.

The Center for Spiritual Evolution, 204 Spring St., Cary, Ill.

Feel free to bring something to share with the coffee and tea provided. If you are going from Woodstock or Crystal Lake, Country Donuts is right on the way. Or bring cut-up fruit, perhaps?

You, your family, and friends are invited to join in with millions of like-minded souls all over the planet in a global mind-link, a tradition since 1986.

For the past 24 years - this being the 25th anniversary - on December 31 men, women and children around the world have gathered at the exact same hour to participate in the most comprehensive prayer activity in history - a planetary affirmation of peace, love, forgiveness and understanding.

This year's program follows an open mic format. We welcome prayers of peace or a short reading from other faith traditions. Patricia Caldwell will be there with her singing bowls, and there will be Buddhist chanting, prayers and silent meditation as well as well as the reading of the World Peace Meditation written by John Randolph Price. Because this service is multi-cultural, ethnic attire is appropriate.

To learn more go to

For local information, visit or call 847-516-1950

Every LE officer should watch this

Every police officer, deputy sheriff, state trooper and other law enforcement and security officer should watch this video about the dangers of the "sovereign citizens" movement.

It is narrated by Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF agent, and West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, whose son was murdered during a traffic stop last May 20, along with a fellow officer.

Subscribers to the law enforcement edition of the Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center received a DVD in their Winter 2010 issue. Many departments will play it during rollcall or trainings; others will not. The magazine goes, of course, to one person in the department, creating a bottleneck, and it's always possible that he or she will never even open the magazine to find the DVD.

Forward this to every law enforcement officer you know. It could save his or her life. (If you are a law enforcement officer, ask if your Department subscribes to the Intelligence Report; if not, urge them to do so.)

400,000+ views

Many thanks to all the readers of the Woodstock Advocate since its inception almost four years ago on April 15, 2007.

On January 3, 2009, I put a counter on the blog, after I was denied access to crime reports in Woodstock because my blog didn't have many readers. The assertion was that there had been only 2,000 hits in a year and that my blog wasn't "media". The statute refers to "electronic media" but doesn't specifically mention "blogs". A weak claim by the City but not worth court action.

In just less than two years the counter has recorded 400,000 page views. I understand that these are not "unique" views. Whenever any reader views a page on this blog, it constitutes a click.

When you see an article you'd like to share with someone, just use the little white envelope below the article to forward it. I don't ever see the email address to which it is sent (or even that it has been forwarded), so your privacy (and that of the recipient) is assured.

Comments are invited. The great majority of comments are posted, regardless of opinion. A few are screened out.

I thank each and every reader, and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Reason to ban certain tows

An article on, out of South Carolina, shows clearly why certain towing companies should be reined in. In Bluffton, S.C., a tow-truck operator shot and killed a man whose car the operator had booted and was intending to tow on Christmas Eve.

The owner of the car made a fatal mistake, which the police are still trying to sort out. He apparently displayed a gun carried in his belt. Carrying it concealed may have been legal; the article didn't mention whether the man had a permit. "Flashing" the gun was wrong. The tow truck operator reportedly got his own gun from his truck, and the car owner ended up dead. See more on

According to the Island Packet, the car was parked on the street. If it was a public roadway, why would a private tow company boot and plan to haul it away?

Locally, there are warning signs in shopping centers and private apartment complexes in Woodstock, warning drivers in no certain terms about towing. The signs, however, fail to inform drivers what they must do to avoid towing. At the west end of the Jewel-Osco parking lot (which is off Jewel property) the signs should be clear that parking is prohibited after a certain hour (10:00PM?), not just signs advising that cars will be towed.

You may remember the story of the woman who parked in the parking lot of a Crystal Lake flower business (after shopping in the flower business) just long enough to run into McDonald's to use a bathroom. Her car was gone when she came back about five minutes later.

And the story about the tractor-trailer unit that was towed from the parking lot next to Wisted's (not Wisted's lot) and held for a $5,-6,000 "ransom".

The City of Woodstock should prohibit towing from private property without a signed order by the manager or owner of the property in the specific instance. A tow truck operator should not be allowed to roam and then grab cars or trucks on his own, even with a contract between the manager/owner and the tow company.

If you find yourself in a predicament where your car is about to be towed by a private company, call the police immediately. If the cop tells you that it's a civil matter (towing off private property), protest that opinion and tell him that the tow truck driver is about to steal your car. Demand a report for the filing of felony theft charges against the tow truck driver.

That ought to at least get the tow stopped. Be sure to obtain a Report Number from the responding police officer at the time and ask his badge number, so that you (or your lawyer) can follow up with the P.D., if the cop allows your vehicle to be towed.

While the cop is there, remove everything of value from your car and ask for an inventory of anything left in it, such as the radio, GPS, spare tire, jack, operator's manual. Also, visually inspect your car and ask the officer to record any body or glass damage or to state in his report that the vehicle has no damage. If you give the key to the tow truck operator, give only the vehicle key(s), not your house keys.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Learning experiences - 2010 style

Sheriff Nygren, of the McHenry County (Ill.) Sheriff's Department (is there another?), has had many opportunities to learn in the past year or so. I wonder what advantage he has taken of them - if any.

He picked battles with a couple of deputies. One he has already completely lost, but he hasn't coughed up the spoils of victory yet.

Another he is very likely to lose in February, and that one will cost him (well, actually, "us") about $200,000.

And now there is another. You can see it coming in the transcript of a Federal Court hearing in Rockford on December 15. Read the transcript at

And he certainly picked the wrong battle in September 2009 in the Jewel-Osco parking lot. And now that date is about to become infamous for another reason.

Most likely, Sheriff Nygren has never read The Art of War or any other writings by Sun-tzu, Chinese general and military strategist (c. 400BC). One of the more famous quotes of Sun-Tzu is "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

A new antagonist of Sheriff Nygren has been put on administrative leave. The next step for the sheriff may be the Merit Commission meeting on January 12 when, I would guess, he will ask the Merit Commission to approve the firing of that deputy. Unless, of course, a Special Meeting is called sooner.

Oh, and recently settled? I heard that Susan O'Grady got $90,000. Case No. 32009CV50012 in Federal Court involved two MCSD deputies and a warrant service that "went south." She was arrested for resisting a peace officer (McHenry County Case No. 08CM000972) in April 2008, and it was thrown out in December 2008. My notes indicate that Deputies Miller and Pena failed to appear in court, and the State (the prosecutors) asked the judge to nolle prosequi the case; i.e., drop it. The defendant objected - did not want the case dropped. But the judge dropped it, anyway.

(I recall a case on the civil side in McHenry County, where the defendant did not want a case dropped. He wanted his day in court to prove he was not guilty. He didn't get it.)

When two deputies are notified by the State's Attorney's office of a court date and they don't show up, what should happen to them? Why wouldn't they show up? After all, they wouldn't arrest someone if they didn't have good reason. And handle the arrest properly. Right? Right? So two years and $90,000 later (not counting the legal costs to the Sheriff's Department and County), it's over.

Where was the Sheriff in all this? Why wasn't he yelling at the deputies and demanding to know why they didn't show up in court? And why didn't the judge tell the parties to "have a seat" and make them wait while he sent the bailiff to get the deputies??? (I know, I know... I like the term "bailiff" better than "courtroom security officer".)

Oh, did I mention promotions and advancement?

A good question at MCSD is, "What do I have to do around here to get promoted?"

A lot of the deputies could tell you. Wreck enough patrol cars. Write enough tickets to Hispanics and call them Caucasian. Do what you are told, whether you like it or not (and whether it's right or not).

Remember the couple of seniors near Crystal Lake who were arrested in their home, after a warrant was served on their adult son? It took over a year for criminal charges against them to be dropped. And then they turned around and sued the Sheriff's Department, using a Chicago Loop law firm (smart move). I haven't spoken with them since the day in court when the charges were dropped, and now I hear the Sheriff's Department is about to settle with them. Of course, the Sheriff maintains that his deputies didn't do anything wrong.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see the scorecard of legal costs and settlements run up by MCSD in the past 3-4 years? If we had an investigative newspaper in the County, you'd think they'd sic a reporter on that story. But they should have done that last September, before the election.

$72/hour – a county employee?

Here's a little something to spoil your Sunday...

Where can you earn $72.00/hour in McHenry County?

What accredited County agency would be running so smoothly and efficiently that it would end up paying employees $72.00 per hour? Keep in mind; these are your tax dollars at work.

First of all, I’m happy for the employees that they get to scrape by on $72.00/hour. I’m not so happy about the inept supervisors who can’t figure out schedules and avoid paying such an outrageous overtime rate.

It seems to me that, if I were a boss and owned a company, I’d be figuring out how to juggle schedules around to avoid paying $72.00/hour for anyone! And a supervisor is a boss. At least, he is supposed to be. In many places the work load is lighter on holidays. Some operations are 24/7, but even on holidays there are functions that are not happening, and so you can get by with lighter staffing.

Safety is paramount – no question about that. But what if safety could be maintained and slightly-reduced staffing could handle the responsibilities fully, competently and safely. Shouldn’t supervisors be able to figure that out?

But they are spending OPM – Other Peoples’ Money. Your money. Our money. Even their money! After all, they pay taxes, too.

But what about the administrators; remember, we’re talking about a McHenry County operation here. The Administrators – you know, the guys with the take-home cars or the $350/month car allowances. Why aren’t they shaking a stick at their subordinates, the supervisors, and asking them why they cannot plan schedules and avoid paying $72.00/hour?

Remember – OPM!

Where is the Sheriff, who was so recently re-elected? Why isn’t he minding the shop? Is he at work? Or is he in Minocqua or Cape Coral? Is his cell phone bill paid up? Why is he allowing over-time that costs the taxpayers $72.00/hour?

Did I forget to mention the job and agency? Don't you wish you were a corrections officer in the McHenry County Jail?

31 weeks - Beth Bentley missing

Well, now it has been 31 weeks that Beth Bentley has been missing.

Is she really "missing" or do some people, including some in Woodstock, know exactly what happened to her?

Sometimes the conscience of a person involved in a crime or a cover-up will start to bother him (or her). They might begin to stutter. They might develop a facial tic. Memory might begin to play tricks on them. The tongue might begin to slip.

Notice anything peculiar going on with anybody close to this case?

If so, notify the Woodstock Police Department, Detective Division. Call 815/338-2131. No matter how insignificant it might seem to you, it could just be the tip that breaks this case wide open.

And, if you want in on a slice of the Reward pie, call Crime Stoppers first at 800/762-STOP

Another lawsuit looming against MCSD

Could a blockbuster lawsuit be looming against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

The sheriff's own attorney told a judge in Rockford that a deputy had said (in deposition) that Sheriff Nygren had told the deputy to "murder someone", "to push a guy in front of a train who was a political opponent" and "to hang another guy and make it look like a suicide."

I thought about throwing in "allegedly", but then I re-read the transcript.

James Sotos, legal counsel for Sheriff Nygren, said in court on December 15, 2010, according to the court reporter's transcript:

"MR. SOTOS: He said the sheriff told him to murder somebody, too. He said a lot. He said the things that Mr. Horwitz said he said, and he said the sheriff told him to push a guy in front of a train who was a political opponent and that he told him to hang another guy and make it look like a suicide. And he said some of the stuff that Mr. Horwitz said, too. And I guess — I don’t know if counsel wasn’t done. So, I’ll –"

If you want to read the reaction of the "hangee", go to today and read about the very real possibility of a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and McHenry County.

Unfortunately, the Board may be nearly powerless to rein in the sheriff; they control only the purse-strings and may have little real authority over the sheriff himself, since the Sheriff is an elected official.

Explosive Court Transcript - Part 3

I wish I had the software to re-post the full transcript of the Dec. 15 hearing in U.S. Federal Court in Rockford in the case of Seipler v. Cundiff et al. I mean, I enjoyed reading all 48 pages at one sitting, but some say I am a glutton for punishment. Thanks to Cal Skinner for breaking it up into digestible pieces on

Part 3 is there now.

Who said, "The best defense is a good offense"? Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian soldier and German military theorist (1780-1831). This is also attributed to the heavyweight prizefighter Jack Dempsey (1895-1983).

What does this have to do with the Dec. 15 hearing?

See the statement by Sheriff Nygren's own legal counsel, James Sotos. The following is from the transcript:

"He (Deputy Milliman) said the sheriff (Keith Nygren) told him to murder somebody, too. He said a lot. He said the things that Mr. Horwitz said he said, and he said the sheriff told him to push a guy in front of a train who was a political opponent and that he told him to hang another guy and make it look like a suicide. And he said some of the stuff that Mr. Horwitz said, too. ..."

Nice of the sheriff's own lawyer to put something like that into the record, isn't it?

Go and read the transcript at, Part 3.

When the judge asked if Milliman was still working for the sheriff, Sotos answered, "Today he is." That was December 15.

Then the judge asked Sotos whether any proceedings had been started against Milliman.

Sotos answered: "I don’t have — I can’t really comment on what’s going on internally, but we did provide the sheriff with the deposition, Judge, and – "

It seems to me that Sotos caught himself just in time. It appears to me that he was about to say, "I don't have any knowledge of proceedings" and then he realized that he'd better not say that. It's a really, really good idea not to lie to a judge. And he didn't.

No one should doubt that Nygren and Sotos had conferred about what to do about Milliman, in view of his deposition on about November 23.

On what date was Deputy Milliman suspended?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

BBQ in Woodstock? It's coming soon

Today I drove by 125 East Calhoun in Woodstock and spotted this new sign for King Smokehouse & Catering, coming soon in Woodstock. Window coverings don't mention when it will open, but the website gives a clue to the food offerings.

Check out for their fare. It looks mostly like a catering business, but it might be possible to grab a side of ribs to go. If they are a catering business, they probably won't prepare food daily.

On their website is a photo of their fancy cooker on wheels for on-site barbecues. The phone number is there, too, if you are in a hurry to plan your spring and summer events.
Good luck to this new business in Woodstock!

Merry Christmas to all

On this day remember to give from the heart.

What can you do today to help another human being, perhaps someone you keep at a distance or even someone you don't know?

It's about giving, not receiving.

Pay it forward.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What happened in Rockford Fed. Court on Dec. 15?

OK, get out your reading glasses, polish 'em up, and move on over to, where you can start reading the transcript of a hearing in Judge P. Michael Mahoney's court in Rockford on December 15 in the case of Seipler v. Cundiff et al. Cal will be posting the 48-page transcript in parts, due to its length.

You do know what et al. means, right? It's sort of like "etc."; in this case, it means all the other defendants, not just Anton Cundiff by himself.

This is Zane Seipler's civil rights case against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department that was filed in 2008. (This is not his employment case, which has been upheld in Zane's favor twice (by the arbitrator and then by Judge Meyer) and is now to be dragged further through the courts with an appeal by Sheriff Nygren.)

It is my belief that Zane was tossed out of the Sheriff's Department because he was a whistleblower. If he hadn't been a whistleblower, he probably would have initially gotten a three-day suspension, and we never would have heard a word about it.

So now it's on the Court record about racial profiling and "mis-coding" of traffic tickets by two deputies. What's mis-coding? That's when you put down White or Caucasian as the race for a driver whose name is Sanchez or Mendez or Villalobos. And not just once. Maybe 10-20-100-200 or more times.

Remember when I wrote a while back that I was told that deputies were instructed in rollcall that they could solve the Department's racial profiling complaints by just "marking everybody down as White"?

As will be shown on further pages of the hearing transcript to be published, there were two spreadsheets for tickets. And they weren't identical.

But wait until you see the rest of the transcript, which names names. Somehow, I think the attorney who stands up in Court and tells a judge that so-and-so did such-and-such is not going to make any baseless accusations.

Now, if you are a boss, what do you do with a whistleblower? Just wait until you hear the latest, which has occurred since the transcript became public.

Appoint 2 more Special Prosecutors?

Santa got a wish list from "Skip" Tonigan's law firm in the form of another $113,000 of billings as Special Prosecutor, bringing total billings up to $221,000. Read all about it at

The McHenry County Board has approved throwing $200,000 on the pile - so far.

FEN reveals that an existing agency, the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (SAAP), could have been used, saving McHenry County taxpayers $200,000 (or more, as additional billings are sure to arise). Tonigan has yet to bill for September, October, November and December.

Maybe two more Special Prosecutors are needed:

1. Investigate why Judge Graham threw the bone to "Skip" Tonigan, instead of using the SAAP.

2. Investigate why the Illinois State Police investigator who interviewed MCSD employee Cooper didn't march him right over to his safe deposit box and get the flash drive that day. You may recall that the flash drive got "lost" during the period (30 days?) that the investigator gave Cooper to produce it.

If the County Board hadn't approved $200,000 for the Special Prosector, maybe they wouldn't be so stingy with the money that the State's Attorney has requested to hire an attorney to oversee the numerous serious criminal cases being prepared for trial.

Another deputy on the outs

Deputy Scott Milliman has, according to several sources, been placed on administrative leave by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. For details, read Scroll down past the part about a Federal Court hearing in Rockford this week, although you'll want to read that, too.

I don't know Scott. He and I have not spoken. However, I have been listening to rumors, and I don't like what I am hearing. A 15-year deputy, Scott was apparently on what I will call the "A-Team". He was among the favored few (not so few?) at MCSD.

What I do like to hear is that Scott may have had enough.

I'd like to meet Scott. It can be privately and confidentially. It has been attributed to him that he met with Sheriff Nygren shortly before Nygren pulled in alongside my car in the Jewel-Osco parking lot in Woodstock. If that's true and for the purpose I've heard, then my prompt report to the Woodstock Police Department was even more important that day.

If you know Scott, please pass this along to him.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Traits of a good supervisor

What would you guess to be traits of a good supervisor, whether in private enterprise or public service?

Some folks in Woodstock are wondering about this, in view of a recent promotion announcement at the McHenry County Jail.

I'll start the list, and you can add to it.

Leadership skills
Being prepared for each day's work
Clean work record
No 30-day work suspensions
Highly qualified

Wouldn't you promote the person who scored the highest on such a list of attributes?

Gimme your pay...

Recently a plea was made in the McHenry County Jail on behalf of the top dog - the one that gets to go home every night, not one of the inmates. Actually, on behalf of the top dog's wife.

The chief of the jail, Dan Sedlock, suffered a serious illness and was hospitalized. His wife, another McHenry County Sheriff's Department employee (and there is an interesting story about that), had to take considerable time off from work to attend to her husband, making almost daily trips to the hospital where he was - about 50 miles from their home near Chemung.

Earlier this month a memorandum at the jail "invited" employees to donate their comp time, vacation pay and/or personal days to Mrs. Sedlock, who was about to reach the end of her paid time off.

I suppose there is little inherently wrong with asking employees to cough up some time (money) for the boss's wife. Or is there?

If a notice had just been put up in the lunch room, that would be one thing. To send an email on the County system to the employees is another. And for the Deputy Chief of Corrections to ask them to inform two employees of their donated time is preposterous. This enables the Department to create a list of who did (and who did not) donate.

Think those names might reach the boss somehow? If a donation from an employee to a supervisor were made, it should be confidential between the employee and the HR division at the sheriff's department. Such a donation should not be revealed to other supervisors or to the Jail Chief's wife. No favors could be granted (or withheld) because of any generosity of a subordinate.

At the sheriff's department there are rules, and then there are Rules. One Rule is that, when you have a take-home car and will be away from work more than three days, you turn in the car. That Rule apparently didn't (doesn't?) apply to the jail's chief's car. Not only was his take-home car left at home, his wife reportedly used it to drive to the hospital (100 mile roundtrip) to visit her husband and carried family members in it. My understanding of MCSD take-home car rules is that family members are not to be transported.

It should not even be necessary to say that a family member, even the employee's wife, should not be driving the take-home car.

Why would a Jail chief even have a take-home car? His drive to work is commuting, and the sheriff's department (taxpayers) should not pay for the commuting expense of an employee. This is just another perk hidden away and out of taxpayers' sight.

Before the County Board doles out money for new cars, maybe it should count the number of cars in that type of service. Let all non-patrol deputies turn in their cars. Maybe the sheriff's department has enough cars already, without buying new ones.

Grafton Township - Tinkering with Levy

Didn't Grafton Township just meet last Monday, December 20, and set a record for a short meeting, when it voted 3-1 (one Trustee MIA) on the levy and cleared out by 7:45PM? Is this a case of haste-makes-waste?

Do the trustees get paid for this second Township meeting on the same topic? If it's $100 for a meeting, then they are earning at the rate of $400/hour! Will they waive their pay for this second meeting?

Now a Special Meeting has been announced for Monday, December 27, at 7:30PM at the Grafton Township Office, 10109 Vine Street, Huntley, for ... (ready for this?)

"Discussion and potential action to revise and adopt the Township Levy fund."

It takes two trustees to call a special meeting, and Trustees Betty Zirk and Barbara Murphy are the two.

What's up in Grafton Township? If you are a resident of Grafton Township, you might just want to put your checkbook in your safe deposit box and head over to the meeting on Monday night. Note the location. At the Township Offices!

WikiLeaks - CIA names task force


Wait, before you go away... The CIA has created a task force to investigate the damage done by WikiLeaks.

What did they call it? WikiLeaks Task Force. Hence, W.T.F.

Think somebody at the CIA might have a little egg on his tie this morning?


What is a "Parent Trigger"?

The following letter was published in THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER (, a Springfield, Ill. newspaper, early this morning (Dec 23, 2010, 12:03 AM). Should Illinois adopt a "parent trigger"?

First, it's important to know what a "parent trigger" is, so that you don't get arrested if you march into a Woodstock District 200 school and get accused of violating its zero-tolerance rule on weapons. This "trigger" is not part of a gun! Well, okay; not part of a metal or look-alike gun. But it could be a powerful weapon in the hands of parents! Read down into Mr. Holland's Letter to the Editor for his explanation of a "parent trigger".

"In expressing grave concern that an ad hoc, bipartisan House committee somehow might put a package of Illinois school reforms on a fast track to legislative approval, you argue that teachers ought to be heard as part of a “careful, deliberate consideration” of any proposal (“School reform shouldn’t be quick process,” Dec. 19).

"Given that you quote a teacher union flack as decrying the possibility of something being “slammed through” over the holidays, it appears you are supporting the union anti-reform strategy of delay and kill.

"Be that as it may, what’s most remarkable is that you don’t mention parents as having any right to be heard. Perhaps that is because parents don’t have a union. However, if Illinois should join other states in adopting an innovation called the Parent Trigger, parents at last will have real power to effect change in education.

"As rolled out first in California, the Trigger means that when more than half of a failing school’s parents sign a petition of no confidence in their school’s management, local school authorities are obliged to convert the facility to an independently managed charter school or otherwise make changes in staff leadership. Another possibility would be to offer parents scholarships to send their children to better schools.

"It is encouraging that lawmakers of both parties are jointly analyzing possible reforms such as linking teacher pay to performance. They would do well to add the Parent Trigger to their agenda — and, of course, to welcome parents as well as teachers to say what they think about such a bold move to change the dynamics of school accountability."

Robert Holland, Senior fellow for education policy
The Heartland Institute, Chicago

Merryman is right to resist City

Much as I hate siding with Merryman Aggregate in its resistance to (or rejection of) the desires of the City of Woodstock to fiddle with the Ordinance by which the City approved a gravel pit two years ago, after reading the December 2nd Plan Commission Minutes and today's article in the Northwest Herald (, I'm going to have to take up with Merryman.

First though, Merryman should abide by the conditions in the Special Use Permit. That would mean no early hours' movement of noisy trucks on its site, ensuring that loads are tarped before leaving the property (state law, may not be a Condition), no dumping of outside fill without permission, keeping Lily Pond Road clean, etc.) and resolving other reasonable complaints from the neighbors, who seem to be keeping a closer eye on activity than City employees.

In October, as I recall, the City Council told the City staff to report on what's going on. That report was prepared and submitted to the City. The Plan Commission met on December 2. Minutes of that long meeting can be read at the Woodstock Public Library or City Hall in the packet for the December 21st City Council meeting.

When two parties make a deal, it is only fair for each to rely on the terms of the deal, unless they can agree to change it. The City is trying to jam changes down the throat of Merryman Aggregate. Merryman is right to object and resist.

The Plan Commission Minutes report the Mayor's words to calm tempers and soothe feelings. I may have to make another trip to the Library to read again what he said. As I recall, it was along the lines of "Play nice, everyone."

According to the Northwest Herald this morning, “'I think it’s incumbent upon municipalities to constantly be reviewing various agreements that are made with individuals or developers that are aggressively pursuing projects in the city,' Mayor Brian Sager said.

"He said the review was part of protocol and planning to ensure that projects were proceeding on time and that all terms of the agreement were met.

“'It was part of the normal review process that we did that in the first place,'” Sager said.

No, municipalities cannot "constantly be reviewing various agreements", if they think they can just try to change them and add restrictions. Also, the review done in October was not part of the "normal review" that the City did before it rushed through Ordinance 08-O-79. October's review was caused by neighboring residents' complaints.

There are many problems with that whole deal. The Plan Commission thinks that Merryman is trying to distance itself from the stadium deal. Financing for the baseball stadium isn't showing up. The U.S. Corps of Engineers is protecting the wetlands, which must have been identified before the deal even went to the table. The veterans' treatment/care center talk seems to have evaporated. There are mountains of dirt to rival the Rockies. Is the groundwater at risk? Is Merryman extracting below the top of the water table, whereas it was not to encroach within two feet of the water table (as I recall)?

Some chatter about a Metra station is included now; where did that come from? The possible Metra station is at Ridgefield, isn't it? Does the City now think there might be a second Metra stop between Crystal Lake and Woodstock? Metra needs riders to consider a stop. No riders; no stop.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dealing with holiday stress

For many the holidays result in stress. Lots to do; too much to do. Too little time. Too much to buy; too little money.

Here's a little advice that I hope will help you enjoy the holidays more.

First, anticipate the stress. If you expect it and if it does show up, you were right. Fore-warned is fore-armed. Think ahead of time as to how you will deal with it. There should be plenty of online articles, easily found, if you don't already know what to do to deal with stress.

Learn the signs and signals of stress and depression. Catch it early.

Do something differently. Sleep in. Or get up earlier. Just stop and take a little extra time for yourself. If you think that will result in more stress (because less will get done), just recognize that and let it go. Stop, anyway.

Stop and enjoy your family, friends, neighbors. Bake some cookies (one batch will do).

Ask for help. If you don't get it, then whatever you needed help with or for, won't get done. And when "they" ask why it didn't get done, tell them - nicely, with a smile on your face. They'll either "get" it or they won't.

Put the "happy" back in Happy Holidays.

And Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merit Commission terms - sometimes short

My attention was drawn to the webpage for the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission recently. Five members of the community serve, and the current Commission has not had a fresh face in eight years.

The current members are:

Janelle Crowley, Chair (since 05/17/94)
Patrick McAndrews (since 8/3/99)
Gloria Urch (since 4/1/01)
Bill Mack (since 8/20/02)
Brian Goode (since 8/20/02)

Profiles for three of the commissioners can be viewed at

Profiles for Bill Mack and Brian Goode are noticeably absent from the webpage. One would think that in eight years somebody at the Sheriff's Department ought to be able to collect a few details and post them. Wouldn't you think?

Oh, yes; the shortest term? Alvin Querhammer served from "18 May 1993" to "1 May 1993." How did he do that? (He must have been well-liked, because he served again from "1 Apr 1994"to "1 Apr 2000".)

Will Sheriff reinstate Seipler?

Yesterday in McHenry County Circuit Court a judge ruled* that Zane Seipler should be reinstated immediately by McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren.

Will it happen?

Doesn't Nygren have an appeal pending in the Appellate Court in Elgin? If so, for what date is that case scheduled?

No information other than the decision appears on Zane's blog at If Nygren obeys the judge's ruling, then Zane will go back to work and receive all his back pay. I hope the judge's ruling included a short deadline for payment of all back pay.

If Zane's lawyer didn't get a "pay-by" date from the judge, the sheriff will pull the same nonsense he has with another deputy; i.e., contesting the calculations and amount due and paying nothing until the new batteries for the calculator are delivered. Unfortunately, the calculator has been on the shelf so long that it is obsolete, and no store carries replacement batteries. (Hint: BestBuy sells a nice electronic, printing calculator, new, for about $60.00.)

The other deputy is owed about $200,000, and the tab to square up with Zane could come close to that. So that's a half-million dollars, by the time you add in other obligated payments, that MCSD has wasted through the stalling tactics of the recently-reelected incumbent.

* Oh, wait; I just read the "fine print" at the bottom of Zane's homepage. It reads, "No, not really, the hearing is scheduled for January 20, 2011."

And, in a message clearly intended for Sheriff Nygren and his staunch supporters, Zane added, "I just wanted some of you to experience that sinking feeling in your stomach, so you know what to expect in the near future."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel?

Will Rahm Emanuel survive (politically) the challenges to this petitions to run for Mayor of Chicago?

Is there anyone (except Rahm) who thinks he is eligible to run for the office of mayor?

A challenge to Keith Nygren's residency was made. Was he really a resident of McHenry County, as required, when he filed to run for re-election or when he held office in 2007-2010 or when he took office (again) on December 1?

Probably he was on December 1, 2010. Having challengers in a General Election for the first time since he was appointed Sheriff by the County Board (1997?) kept him mostly in town for the year leading up to Election Day.

Take a look at what the McHenry County State's Attorney considered, in determining whether Nygren met the residency requirements to run for re-election and to hold office:

His wife and he own a home in Cape Coral, Florida, on which they claimed the homestead exemption.
They gave up the homestead exemption on their house in Hebron, Ill.
Whether Keith was "domiciled" in McHenry County; i.e., was he physically present in McHenry County and did he intend to remain in the district as a permanent resident?

How is that decided?
A declaration of intent;
Voter registration;
Motor vehicle registration;
place of employment;
homestead exemption;
property ownership;
driver's license address;
community involvement;
location of family members.

Does Nygren "intend" to remain a permanent resident of McHenry County?

What do you think he'll say? No? And shoot himself in the foot?

Perhaps someone should begin counting the number of days he is away from the office at his homes in Minocqua, Wisc. and Cape Coral, Fla. Now that the race for re-election is behind him, will he return to old habits and become known again as the "cell phone sheriff"?

Will U.S. Federal Court activity in Rockford motivate him to retire? If so, did he "intend" to retire after election, which would allow the County Board to appoint a Republican successor?

Or will he have to keep working ("work", as in "be at work") to meet mortgage payments on the Cape Coral house, which is worth about one-half of what he paid for it in 2006 and worth only 44% of the amount of the original mortgage?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Funny place to park a squad car

I wonder who you have to be in McHenry County to gain the privilege of having a marked Sheriff's Department squad car parked in your driveway for days at a time. I'm not talking about a take-home squad car driven by a deputy.

If you drive by 7002 Foxfire Dr., in unincorporated McHenry County just outside the city limits of Crystal Lake, you can see this squad car. For a better view of the squad car, click on the image; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.

Is the parking lot at the sheriff's department full? Is this squad car parked out of sight of anyone on the County Board who might wish to count bumpers before approving the purchase of 10-16 new squad cars?

The owner of this property, according to the website of the County Treasurer, is Kathleen M. Goode. Now, I don't know Ms. Goode, but I wonder if she might be related to the Brian Goode who is a member of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission. Mr. Goode was appointed to the Commission in August 2002. He is one of two of the five members of the Commission who has no profile on the Merit Commission's webpage at
Another blog in McHenry County reported a few months ago that donations to Sheriff Nygren's political campaign from persons named Goode (or businesses connected to the Goode name) have exceeded $50,000 in the past ten years.
Would anyone else in McHenry County like a squad car to park in your driveway? I don't know if you have to fill out an application or just call in your order.

NJ Gov. releases Bryan Aitken

Today New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (photo) ordered the release as soon as possible of Bryan Aitken, who was imprisoned after being convicted of having guns in the trunk of his car during a move in New Jersey.

Aitken was sentenced to seven years in prison, in spite of an exemption in New Jersey law that should have been applied during a residential move.

Hats off to Gov. Christie!

Funny business with tonight's Grafton meeting

An important question should be raised at tonight's Grafton Township meeting, but the roads look too bad for me to try to get there.

There is some "funny business" going on with the location of tonight's meeting.

My recollection of the location for tonight's meeting is that it was first announced for the Township Office on Vine Street, and that's how I wrote my first article this morning.

Supervisor Linda Moore was nice enough to call me this morning and inform me that the meeting location was actually to be at the Huntley Park District on Mill Street. I checked the Agenda and, as I recall, it stated the meeting location was at the Park District on Mill Street; so I changed my article.

The notice on the homepage did not carry the location first thing this morning, but the homepage was to be updated.

About 6:30PM Supervisor Moore called me, when she realized that the meeting would be at the Park District. And, sure enough, both the announcement on the homepage at and on the Agenda now show the location as at the Township office.

But.... BUT.... (and this is a huge "BUT") the map linked to the announcement on the homepage still shows the Park District and its address at 12015 Mill Street, Huntley.

So whoever was fooling around with a last-minute swap in location neglected to change the link to the map. Who has the sticky fingers in Grafton Township and has access to the website? Is this more tomfoolery in the squabble between the Trustees and the Supervisor?

Judge Caldwell ruled that, while both the Supervisor and the Trustees might prepare agendas for a meeting, they ought to vote at the meeting on what business was to be conducted.

I understand that the roads are treacherous and going to tonight's meeting in Huntley is just not essential for me. Read and later tonight or on Tuesday for articles about tonight's Grafton Township Special Meeting.

Grafton Township - Special Meeting tonight

LAST MINUTE CORRECTION: Tonight's meeting is at the Township office at 10109 Vine Street, Huntley, not at the Park District. I made a correction this morning, and I just received a call that the meeting is at the Township office. I am almost certain that I read the Agenda this morning before making the morning change; however, now it reads that the meeting is at the Township Office. (Editor, 6:38PM)

Tonight Grafton Township trustees and Supervisor will meet in a Special Meeting at the Huntley Park District building at 7:30PM. I recall from a previous notice that appeared somewhere that this meeting is about the property tax levy. No one will be surprised if the battle doesn't continue, in spite of Judge Caldwell's recent rulings.

When a public body (Grafton Township) has a website (it does), the Illinois Open Meetings Act requires it to post meeting notices at least 48 hours before meetings.

To view the Agenda, go to the homepage at and then you must scroll down below the "fold" to find tonight's meeting. Earlier I missed the announcement of the Special Meeting, because it was listed near the bottom of the page, not at the top. Also, the date and time were initially not listed, but as of 9:45AM I understand that the homepage announcement is to be edited to show the date and time.

Wouldn't it be preferable to show the first upcoming meeting clearly in view at the top of the page of meeting notices?

If you have been reading the local papers and blogs, you know that the Supervisor and the Trustees are battling a never-ending war, and it has probably cost Township residents about $200,000 so far. Who is the winner? The law firm of Ancel Glink, which has been representing the trustees (not the Supervisor or, apparently, the Township).

Judge Caldwell called a third strike on Ancel Glink and its attorney, Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, recently. Not just a called third strike; he threw them out of the game.

Will tonight's meeting be better than Saturday Night Live? Be there to find out. The meeting is to be held at the Huntley Park District, 12015 Mill Street, Huntley. Turn west on Mill Street from Route 47 and go to the end; it's on the left.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Plan Commission dusts off mining project

On December 2 the Woodstock Plan Commission made a heroic effort to protect the citizens of Woodstock. How they endured the meeting, I have no idea. Had I been in town, I would have been there to watch the squabbling.

After a short Public Hearing on a matter involving a autism treatment facility, the Commission moved on to the heavy part of the agenda. Before opening the Public Hearing on the mining project, the Commission heard from Mayor Sager. First, according to the Minutes, he told them he was not speaking for the City Council and that he did not want his appearance there to influence or exert pressure on their actions. And then, the Minutes reflect, he proceeded to provide them "guidance".

(Listen up, Plan Commission members; be good boys and girls. Remember who appointed you.)

I got bleary-eyed, just reading the lengthy Minutes of the meeting. The Mayor wants consensus, agreement, let's-all-be-friends-here (my words). Well, I'll tell you - it's nice to do business in a friendly way.

Now, go out and talk to the neighbors of the gravel pit. Ask them about noisy trucks early in the day, cracked windshields, uncovered gravel haulers, mud on Lily Pond Road, speeding trucks (because there are no speed limit signs on Lily Pond Road), concerns about groundwater, bringing in dirt, etc., from outside the pit and dumping it there.

Why is it that residents have been complaining to various departments of the City?

When the Special Use Permit for the gravel pit was approved, the City Council put 50 conditions on it. Residents and some city stafff believe some of the conditions have not been met. The lawyering was evident, per the Minutes. Ultimately, the Plan Commission approved expansion (clarificiation) of some of the conditions, and I guess now it will be up to the City Council to jam them down the throat of the pit operator.

Will there ever be a baseball stadium, which was a key part of the original plan? That "gimme" was the way that the pit operator greased the proposal to sail through.

Maybe next time the City Council won't succumb to a developer's "rush job".

Read the good article in The Woodstock Independent about the Plan Commission meeting. You can view it at

Be at this week's City Council meeting - Tuesday, December 21, 7:00PM. Bring your NoDoze; you might need it.

October 2010 - huge jump in stolen property

Did you know that stolen property in Woodstock took a huge jump in October 2010? You didn't?

I suspect few outside the police department, and possibly including even our City Council members and Mayor, knew about this.

Just how much of a jump? The October 2010 report of the Police Department to the City Manager (and Council) states that $67,939 was reported in stolen property.

It is important to relate this to other months - something I recommended to the City Council months ago. The response was that the Council was not going to micro-manage the P.D. by examining the "numbers".

Prior to October, in the first nine months of 2010, a total of $144,448 was reported stolen; that's an average of $16,050/month.

The low month was $4,084 (February).
The high month (prior to October) was $37,656 (April).
October's stolen property was $67,939.

Woodstock residents ought to find it interesting, and helpful, to know about crime in Woodstock. Was there a crime spree? Or was one $50,000 vehicle stolen? What parts of town were hit? Commercial or residential? Buildings (houses? offices?) or vehicles?

Vandalized property also hit a high in October, with $8,450 for the month. The total for the previous nine months was $35,981, or a monthly average of $3,998.

All of these numbers are neatly tucked away in the PD's report to the City Manager. What is not there is a spreadsheet for the City Manager and the City Council to see quickly exactly what is going on in Woodstock. My opinion is that a little more micro-management is needed.
Care to read the PD's report for yourself? Go to the Woodstock Public Library, where the City Council packets are open for public inspection.

Beth Bentley - now missing 30 weeks

It was 30 weeks ago that Beth Bentley was last seen in Mt. Vernon, Ill. Somebody (or some people) know where she is or what happened to her.

Thirty weeks is a long time to keep a mouth shut. It's a long time, if more than one person knows what happened, for them to keep their stories straight.

Police investigators are pretty good about spotting inconsistencies in stories, when they are re-told.

Pictured is the house where Beth may have stayed in rural Mt. Vernon, Ill. after she arrived there early on Friday morning, May 21, after Jennifer Wyatt and she drove from Woodstock, reportedly in a rental car. Did she go back there after drinks and food at the Frosty Mug?

This may have been the last place where she was seen. If only houses could talk.
So far as I know, there are two Crime Stoppers rewards, each "up to $1,000", and a separate $3,000 reward fund, although the person(s) offering it has never been identified, nor have the terms of that reward ever been made public. Is it for information that leads to the arrest of anyone involved in her disappearance, or is it for information that leads to finding her?
And is that $3,000 reward still available or in effect? Does anyone know?

Message to reader in New York

To the reader who phoned this morning about the motorcycle seat holster, it was designed by Wicked Cactus Leather in El Paso, Texas. Visit Then click on "Seats", then go to Page 2 of seats.

I must have written your email address incorrectly, because my email to you was returned. I tried variations of the address you gave me but couldn't guess the right combination.

Thanks for your call. Good luck riding in Arizona. Send me a picture of the seat on your bike, if you get one made.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bull Valley: #1 ticketing agency

The Chicago Tribune today awarded the Village of Bull Valley Police Department top honors in ticket writing in Chicagoland. Described as a town with 1,000 residents with no schools, no commercial district and no major highways, Bull Valley P.D. officers averaged over 400 tickets each last year.

Drivers complain about getting caught right where a speed limit changes; ex., where the 50MPH (or is it 55?) speed limit drops to 45MPH for westbound Country Club Road traffic. Although my habit is to be at the new speed limit when I reach the sign, I have been surprised on occasion to find a Bull Valley PD car pulled off into the grass, hiding on the north side of the road behind some trees. Just as the article describes.

One former Bull Valley officer told me several months ago that the chief would call him 30 minutes after the start of his shift and ask how many tickets he had already written.

Chief Norbert Sauers told me that his officers don't write tickets for less than 10MPH over the posted limit, but I have heard from drivers that they have been stopped when traveling only 5MPH over the limit.

Several years ago I heard about a part-time Bull Valley PD officer who would stop Hispanic pizza delivery drivers for speeding and tell them they could avoid a ticket by paying the fine in cash on the spot. Complaints were made to the Department, and that officer was allowed to resign. He should have been arrested!

It might be helpful for you to know that radar cannot be used within 500 feet of a speed limit sign in the direction of travel. Keep Section 625 ILCS 5/11-602 in mind, if you get nailed right after a speed sign, except in school zones. On Country Club Road west of Fleming is a popular poaching zone for BVPD officers.

Maybe if all departments tightly enforced speed limits, there would not be the speeding problem that exists in Illinois and McHenry County.

Just last night, after a 3,000-mile road trip, two crazies past me as I returned to Woodstock. One sped past me on the right on Route 47, just north of US 14. The other passed me on Lake Avenue in front of the police station. After driving 1,300 miles in two days, I just didn't have it in me to sic the cops on either one.

CrimeStoppers for McHenry County - AWOL?

I can't help wondering what's up with CrimeStoppers for McHenry County, or if there is even anything to be "up".

Is it some kind of secret organization? Do you have to have a membership card? Do you have to be a bigwig and a heavy political contributor to get any answers to questions?

Back in September I had some questions about its operations. I wanted to report that the tip line wasn't working smoothly, in the opinion of three callers. I wanted to ask about the conditions of the $1,000 Reward in the Beth Bentley case; actually, it's not $1,000; it's "up to $1,000".

And why, on the average, only about 30% of the advertised $1,000 reward is paid out.

It took a month for the Secretary of the organization to reply to my first letter, and then she chastised me for asking questions.

About my second letter, dated October 18? No acknowledgement. No reply.

I wonder what the Illinois Attorney General or the Illinois Charitable Organizations agency would have to say about its unwillingness to communicate.

The liaison at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department says she doesn't know who the board members are or how to contact them, except for a P.O. Box in Woodstock. (I find that very hard to believe.)

No one at the Sheriff's Department will admit to supervising the dispatchers who answer the Tip Line. Undersheriff Zinke has never replied to my September 16 email requesting a name and contact information for the CrimeStoppers for McHenry County.

Why do you suppose they are so secretive?

If you know a Board member, will you please let me know?

Remember the pets

The Pet Food Pantry at On Angels' Wings Thrift Store (Crystal Lake) is very much in need of cat food and kitty litter right now, so I'm trying to help get the word out for them. I'm hoping you have a soft spot in your heart and might be willing to help.

The Pantry invites your donations of new and even opened bags of cat food and kitty litter. Open bags go to any shelters or rescue groups that can use it - unopened bags go to needy families for their pets. Angels' Wings doesn't need supplies like collars, leashes, etc., as they have plenty right now. Their biggest need at this time is dry cat food and kitty litter - any brand, any type. Please keep in mind - animals that are kept with their families don't end up at a shelter or at McHenry County Animal Control.

In this economy many families in our area have been hit hard with pay cuts, layoffs, even foreclosures; some are having a difficult time finding room in their budgets to buy pet food. These families do not want to relinquish their pets to an animal shelter, but they have few options if they can't feed them.

During this holiday season, will you pitch in, even a little, in making sure these pets can stay in their home?

They will happily accept dry cat food and kitty litter (any type), and they need it right now. They also welcome donations of dog & puppy food, pet store gift cards, and cash donations, too. Your donations are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law, and they will issue a receipt.

Donations can be dropped off at On Angels' Wings Thrift Store (
between 10AM and 5PM daily; they are located at 5186 Northwest Highway (Rt 14) in Crystal Lake; that's behind Exceed Flooring and next to Honey-Baked Ham.

Mars Insurance Agency, located at 9 Virginia Road (Crystal Lake), is partnering with them to accept donations; they are open 9AM-5PM, Monday through Friday.