Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lowery - still Undersheriff?

According to websites today of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and the Crystal Lake Police Department, Gene Lowery is still the Undersheriff at the sheriff's department.

Gene's resignation/retirement from the sheriff's department was announced, and a big bash in planned for April 9th at Donley's Wild West Town, Union, Ill. The Crystal Lake Police Department was believed to have offered him a position as Deputy Chief, following the January retirement of Dennis Harris.

But you would never know that any shift has occurred by the websites of the two departments. Further, so far as I know, the sheriff's department has not announced any replacement for Gene.
Media carried an announcement that Gene would move to the Crystal Lake Police Department on March 29; that was Monday. Did he?


E. Hall challenges letter-writer

Former Woodstock resident Esther Hall Gordon has offered this rebuttal to the author of a Letter to the Editor of The Woodstock Independent that was published on February 24:

"To the reader who questioned the accuracy of my perceptions regarding specific incidents of exploitative and improper care by nonprofessional staff employed by the now defunct Woodstock Children's Home, as alluded to in my "Private Experiences" Letter to the Editor of 02.24.10, and who, purportedly "felt an enormous sense of compassion for a woman [me] who was clearly in pain recounting her childhood experiences:"

"I take great exception to these patronizing and insulting comments - obviously made out of ignorance rather than compassion - and intended to minimize my crystal-clear recollections of the mistreatment and exploitation inflicted on me, as well as other previous children's home residents during our residency. My request for personal privacy, made on behalf of several other former child residents whose images appeared in the 02.07.10 "Picture This" Feature of the Woodstock Children's Home Choir of 1963 was - and remains - an entirely appropriate one, particularly since two of these individuals are deceased.

"Whenever genuine empathy is demonstrated, individuals are invited to share their painful memories, as a means by which anger and shame may be properly vented, and subsequent healing found, followed by an invitation to "move on" beyond the pain. Unless they choose to remain there, most people would not define themselves totally by their past.

"The reader might wish to explore her own limitations with regard to accepting the harsh realities of life, one of which has to do with "no safe place." Recently, countless incidences of wrongful treatment on the part of those who hide behind a cloak of “reli-gianity” or under the umbrella of "the church" have come to public’s attention. A prime example of this is the longstanding and sordid sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests on parish boys, many of whom are now adults and have decided to tell their stories. Unfortunately, for many of these victims, much of the outrage over what happened to them as children has been further heightened by the preference of church officials to smooth everything over, withhold the issuance of any appropriate reprimand from the offending priests who repeatedly committed a “spiritual rape.”

"Over the past thirteen years, I have become acquainted with two pastors who - in order to find healing and forgiveness toward those who wronged them - have spoken out about their own similar experiences. One of the pastors was sexually molested in his father's church by his own Sunday school teacher, while, the other minister became aware of and reported a separate incident of sexual abuse involving a child and an adult from his own congregation to his denomination headquarters, only to be admonished to "keep it quiet." He reported the abuse anyway and left the denomination.

"Similarly, not too many years ago in 2005, the Woodstock Christian Life Services enterprise settled their own sexual abuse case involving a sixteen-year-old employee of the Belvidere Branch of the Early Learning Center and a little girl entrusted to their care.

"The reader's cognitive dissonance regarding the "accuracy" of my "perceptions" is a very good example of why all of us should quit pretending that bad things never happen to good people, accept the universal truth that evil co-exists with good in this world, but that, above all, we must always embrace the victim, while hating the evil they may have experienced.

"In remembrance of The Passover (freedom from the bondage of self) and in celebration of the spirit of Easter (victory over spiritual and physical death)."

Esther Hall Gordon, Battle Creek, Mich.

Louisville FBI office bites jailer

Department of Justice Press Release

For Immediate Release
March 4, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Kentucky
Contact: (859) 233-2661

Deputy Jailer Indicted for Sexual Acts with Inmates

ASHLAND, KY—Keith D. Hollingsworth, a deputy jailer and maintance man at the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky., was indicted today on one count of sexual abuse of ward and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

The indictment alleges that in December of 2005, Hollingsworth, 43, of Olive Hill, Ky. engaged in sexual acts with an inmate who was in official detention and under his supervision and disciplinary authority.

Also, in June of 2007, Hollingsworth allegedly subjected a different inmate to sexual acts. According to the indictment, the acts deprived the inmate of a constitutional right not to be deprived of liberty which includes bodily integrity.

James A. Zerhusen, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Timothy D. Cox, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, jointly made the announcement today after a federal grand jury in Ashland, Ky. returned the indictment.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The indictment was presented to the grand jury by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick H. Molloy.

Hollingsworth’s appearance before the United States District Court has not yet been set by the court in Ashland. If convicted, Hollingsworth faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of sentences.

The indictment of a person by a grand jury is an accusation only, and that person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Woods' shooting injury further questioned

Be sure to check out today for an experienced SWAT team member's review of the initial reports written following the shooting incident on March 15 that injured Deputy Eric Woods of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

For example, how close should shooters be to steel targets? Three yards, no closer.

How close were they on March 15? One report indicated the steel target-dog was four feet inside the room. A shot was made on that target by a deputy in the room; that's "in" the room. If a target is four feet inside a room and you are in the room with it, how close are you? Two feet? Three feet?

No wonder Woods got hit.

The reports failed to explain the first-aid treatment at the scene. Woods' leg injury was described to me two days after the shooting (March 17) as a "gusher". Sheriff Nygren calls Woods' injuries similar to "road rash". Reports of the several deputies (three?) attending to Woods should have described carefully how they treated his leg wound. Did they remove his trousers to get an unobstructed view of the wound? Did they cut off the trousers to access to the wound? Or did they merely apply pressure without inspecting the wound itself?

Where is Woods' statement? And Embry's statement? And Lt. Miller's?

Maybe Deputy Woods won't be writing a statement. Maybe he'll keep his mouth shut and talk to his lawyer about an injury claim against MCSD. Not just a worker's compensation claim, but an injury lawsuit because of carelessness on the range.

One report filtering out of the department, and referred to on MCSDExposed, is that Woods was being "hazed"; i.e., he was sent in to the room and positioned so that other deputies could gather around him and shoot, giving him the experience first-hand of the sounds and action of weapons being discharged at close range around him.

Why didn't Woods shoot on the dog target that he would have encountered as first into the room? If you don't take out a snarling, vicious dog that is four feet from you, you just might not get a second chance.

There is much more to be explained about what really happened on March 15.

I recall being on the range one day in Colorado. As the rangemaster called "Ready on the right, ready on the left," I noticed that the deputy to my left was wearing a crossdraw holster on his right side. This meant that he would draw across me. I yelled "Not ready" and the rangemaster stopped the exercise. Then he moved that shooter to the far right end of the line, where he would not draw across another person.

Did anyone on that Monday's SWAT team element question what was being set up? Did any think of the danger of close-in shooting on metal targets? I'd say that Woods is really lucky he did not suffer greater injuries.

I.C.E. Detainees - why orange Jail suits

Here's a question for you...

Why do Immigration detainees wear orange McHenry County Jail suits, while they are held in custody in the immigration wing at the jail?

They are not awaiting trial in criminal court. They have not been convicted on any criminal charge in court. Could they be allowed to wear civilian clothes during their detention?

OK, I can understand the orange suits for ready identification, if they are being transported between detention facilities.

Some court appearances are conducted by video-conferences, so they don't even leave the jail to "appear" in court. At court time, do they wear the bright orange jail uniforms?

Is a detainee allowed a speedy resolution to his detention?

Compare what happens when a suspect in a crime is jailed. In most cases he goes to bond court the very next morning. The judge sets his bail and often allows release upon posting a 10% bond.

When a detainee is taken into custody? He sits in custody until somebody in the ICE system, somewhere, sets up a court date for him.

Let's say he can meet the requirements for bond. Shouldn't he be allowed an early court date to get a decision from a judge and be released upon meeting the conditions?

I have in mind an African student who violated his student visa status. He can quickly get back to "in-status", except for the "wheels of justice" that are grinding slowly.

How many other detainees are cooling their heels at $90.00/day cost to the Feds (and income to the McHenry County Jail)? I can certainly understand that the sheriff's department wouldn't be in any hurry to see any of them leave.

When Thomson Prison gets sold to the Feds, will all the detainees be moved 130 miles west?

National Doctors' Day - R U Kidding?

There is a large, 2/3-page ad in the morning's Northwest Herald, proclaiming today as National Doctors' Day. Mark your calendars, boys and girls. The ad, sponsored (paid for) by Mercy Health System, invites patients to praise their doctors by sending an email to them via the Mercy website.

Your premium dollars at work; right?

When Administrative Assistants' Day rolls around every year, I always wonder why they get a week, when Moms, Dads, the Easter bunny and various religious leaders get only one day. The Pope doesn't get a day, does he? Presidents do, but it's hard to keep track of it.

Honest Abe is even about to lose his day in Illinois. At the last District 200 school board meeting, they voted to have school on Lincoln's birthday next year.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jailer conduct - what's right?

What conduct of corrections officers is expected in the McHenry County Jail?

Are jailers permitted to fraternize with inmates or detainees? In the past year, the conduct of certain jailers has been brought into question. Yet the public never hears the outcome of any "internal" investigations.

Discipline of jailers is not subject to review by the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission and, even if it were, only disciplinary actions over 30 days would become public record.

So the public has to depend on the internal house-cleaning to be carried out thoroughly. Is it?

What if a jailer was having a hard time with a particular prisoner? Is it possible for the jailer to move that prisoner to a different section, where that prisoner might be intimidated by those in the new section who were "friendly" with the jailer?

How "friendly" should a jailer be with any inmate?

One jailer last year was taken off duty following an alleged inappropriate sexual contact between the jailer and an inmate of the opposite sex. Would a jailer ever be permitted to kiss a prisoner?

Hey, I know you are laughing. Well, if not "permitted", allowed? Or would a jailer ever, speaking plainly, kiss an inmate?

Think that might compromise the jailer/inmate relationship? Would the inmate then have some control over the jailer that should not exist?

You hear in other penal institutions that the inmates get their hands on drugs. How could drugs get into a jail or prison? Frankly, I can think of only one way. Do the K-9 units ever sweep through the entire jail and administrative offices?

Should such a jail officer remain on duty? Shouldn't that employee be summarily fired?

And, if that employee weren't fired, should an investigation be launched into the investigation? Are there ever inappropriate relationships between employees and supervisors?

What's the remedy here? Maybe call in an outside agency to take an impartial look at the facts?

Mail to Detainees - only 4 days/wk.

Why is it that mail can be delivered to inmates and detainees only on weekdays and not on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays at the McHenry County Jail?

I gave away the e-mail instructions about the Inmate Secure Email Service, but I recall that it said email would only be delivered four days/week and not on Saturdays, Sundays or Mondays.

Why do you suppose that is?

Is $90.00/day per detainee not enough to staff a detention center and include reviewing and distributing incoming email (when there is nothing else more important to do)?

Jails (and detention centers) are obviously operated 24/7. What's the difference between a weekday and a week-end day, other than perhaps an increase in the number of visitors?

Particularly in the case of detainees, contact with the outside world is important. They have families, often overseas, who want to know about their welfare and how to help. Will depression and worse be exacerbated by isolation from the "real" world?

The wheels at Immigration move slowly. Trust me, I have found that to be the case. When a detainee can be assisted to regain his in-status registration, few seem to care except those working on his case. Justice would be better served by facilitating a quick release and return to normal living conditions for those eligible to return to "in-status."

Of course, getting detainees out fast would cut into the income at the McHenry County Jail. At the same time, it would cut the expense of the Immigration Service.

A few months ago there was some "noise" about the low cost of using electronic monitoring. That cost would be about $13/day and would not create nearly the disruption in a person's life that "detention" does.

Don't think I'm going "soft" on immigration laws. Just imagine what it would be like for you, if you were sitting in a jail in Mexico and being held virtually incommunicado. Really. Sit down; close your eyes; think what it would be like for you, and your family, if you (or a family member) were sitting in a jail in a foreign country with very little means of communication allowed, either in or out.

County Clerk's office - flush with cash

What up with the full-page, multi-color ad from the McHenry County Clerk's office on Page 7A of this morning's Northwest Herald?

Just how much does a full-page color ad cost? Plus the ad lay-out? The County probably gets an advertising discount from the Northwest Herald, but was this ad really necessary?

It wasn't entirely worthless, because I learned that the population of McHenry County in 1850 was 14,971, and the number of votes cast in the 1855 election was 3,143. (There will be a test later.)

And now? The 2007 population of McHenry County was 315,943.

Looking for the McHenry County Clerk online? Go to

Dep. Woods' injury at range - due to carelessness?

Two weeks ago Deputy Eric Woods was injured at the shooting range of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. How did it happen?

Eight deputies in one SWAT team "element" (squad) entered a room, took positions and some fired.

After reading the reports of 12 of those present (not all reports were included and no diagram was provided), this is how the shooting injury may have resulted. There were at least six range officers observing the SWAT team. There were eight SWAT team members.

A room was set up for the exercise, and Woods entered first and moved left. Embry entered second and moved right. Manes entered third and moved to Woods' left, engaging a target eight feet away.

Manes saw a dog target that was approximately four feet into the room. This will turn out to be a key statement in the shooting investigation. It was one of the few reports that indicated distances in the room.

Few of the reports indicated the order of entry into the room or position of the shooters in the room. This would seem essential to figuring out who was where and what happened

Reports seemed incomplete as to all who fired rounds inside the training room. References were made to "engaging targets" but not to who fired how many rounds.

Ellis, Croner and Pyle did not enter the room.

Dep. Hart entered the room and moved to a center left position, about two feet to the right of Woods. He shot the steel-plate target of the dog and immediately heard Woods "grunt in pain."

Recall above that Manes saw a dog target about four feet into the room. If Hart was in the room, then he was less than four feet from a steel target when he fired.

I understand that there is a minimum safe distance at which rounds are to be fired against steel targets. That distance is greater than 3-4 feet.

This problem is not Manes' fault but the fault of those setting up the exercise in the room and placing a steel target representing a "lethal obstacle" within close proximity of the entrance to the room.

Realistic training scenarios are valid. Unsafe scenarios are not. What happened?

Dep. Croner was directed to get his tape measure and to photograph the shooting scene. However, his report makes no reference to measurements obtained or any description of the photographs taken.

Initial reports were made by (rank?) Morrow, Officers Acevedo, Carlson, Christensen, Knezevic and Grisolia, by Deputies Croner, Hart, Manes and McKenzie, and Sgts. Ellis and Pyle.

Those who rendered first aid to Woods at the range did not describe his wounds in detail or elaborate on their first-aid treatment. No reference is made to Flight-for-Life.

Reports of two officers (Grisolia and Carlson) contained identical statements, which read, "Once all of the targets were engaged, and all SWAT team members were clear I heard Woods say that he got hit by some pieces of the frangible rounds. He was taken to the table and Lt. Miller stated that emergency needed to be called."

Now, what are the odds that two officers would use exactly the same wording and the same punctuation in their reports??? Were these officers coached in their report writing?

Officers' reports were addressed to Lt. Cedergren. Deputies' reports were addressed to Sgt. Kalenick. What's the difference between Officer and Deputy? Are Officers corrections officers participating in SWAT training? Why?

McHenry County Radio rocks on

The gang from the radio station was in full force at the Harvard Expo on Saturday.

We tried to get Dave to volunteer to be Hunter's "victim" and then he was offered as a sacrifice (errrr, I mean participant), but he wouldn't have anything to do with it.

I was going to volunteer (Jim), when he was AWOL for the first picture, but Hunter said "No" to that. We whispered "Sideburns" toward Hunter, and he immediately started looking for his toy in Ofc. Dixon's back pocket.

Then we were going to send April and Cory over to the wrestling room, but that didn't fly, either.

The "personalities" (and that they are!) from the station announced door prizes and played some great music. Thanks to each of them for spending their day at the Harvard Expo. You can hear more of their great music throughout the days and evenings at

Don't forget - Harvard Milk Days, coming up June 4-6. It's right around the corner!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eric Woods MIA from NWH?

The article in the print edition of this morning's Northwest Herald about Deputy Eric Woods is nowhere to be found on Several people have contacted me to ask about it. What can I say? Call the Northwest Herald.

Why would the Northwest Herald not put that article up online, where readers can read Keith Nygren's explanation that Eric Woods had an injury like "road rash"?

Or did they publish it, and then pull it down for a re-write?

For the time-being, I'm glad that I still fork out the $13/month for the print edition of the Northwest Herald. Once that paper hits my doorstep, it's too late for them to edit an article and remove embarrassing explanations of serious injuries.

When a bullet fragment hits a leg and causes a "gusher", it's not "road rash."

Graffiti at Woodstock store

A tagger was busy last night at Woodstock Food & Liquor last night, costing the owner inconvenience and money to repaint an outside wall.

If you have any knowledge of the person who did this, call the Woodstock Police at 815.338.2131

If you ever see someone tagging a building, car, street sign or anything, call the police immediately. They might just be able to catch him in the act.

Students and concealed carry

How do students on college campuses feel about guns on campus?

Check out

"Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising over 42,000 college students, professors, college employees, parents of college students, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that they enjoy virtually everywhere else."

Schools are gun-free zones; right? So just where do you think some kook with a death-wish is going? Into a police headquarters? No, into a school!

Universities and other schools in some states do not prohibit weapons on campus. The responsible, law-abiding, trained, licensed students with their concealed carry permits are not the problem. In fact, they'll be part of the solution, if danger arises.

Notice above that it's not just students who support this right.

Buy American?

Last week after the Dorr Township Special Meeting, Supervisor Bob Pierce was handing out t-shirts sent to him by the U.S. Census Bureau. Not one to ever pass up a free t-shirt, I accepted Bob's offer.

As I sat at my computer this morning, proudly wearing my new t-shirt, I got to wondering where it had been made.

Hopefully, in the U.S. In a factory employing Americans. Contributing to the economic recovery. Maybe even through jobs funded by the stimulus bill.

Yeah, hopefully.

Where was it manufactured? The label reads, "Made in Haiti"

One day to Undersheriff

Did I miss an announcement about the new Undersheriff of McHenry County?

Won't anyone accept the job? Tomorrow is supposed to be Gene Lowery's first day on his new job as Deputy Chief at the Crystal Lake Police Department. This should mean that the Undersheriff's position at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department will be vacant?

Maybe he's not leaving the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. Will he hold both jobs? Not likely. Each is apparently a full-time job, with similar business hours. Monday-Friday. 8AM-5PM. Standard hour for lunch. Easy commute from Woodstock.

So who will be the new Undersheriff?

Or, with the economy as it is, will the position go unfilled?

That's not likely, since the sheriff's hotel rakes in $10,000,000/year and is a huge profit center. Plenty of bucks to pay $130,000 for a Number Two.

Is the new man to be congratulated (or offered sympathy)? He won't be yelled at for recommending approval any FOIA appeals, will he?

MCSD will need an Undersheriff. When Nygren is in Minocqua or Cape Coral, who will run the place?

Eric Woods' injury - just "road rash"

Well, finally. This morning's Northwest Herald finally carries a story about the shooting injury of McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Woods on March 15th. Hello? The date of the newspaper article is March 28, right above the story.

And Sheriff Nygren's description of Woods' injury in the first paragraph? "road rash".

Gee, that's strange. Someone at the range described his leg injury as a "gusher". As in maybe an artery? Is Flight-for-Life called for "road rash"? Is even an ambulance called for "road rash"?

I am having a really hard time containing myself as I write this. I want to describe Nygren's comments with some much-stronger words. It's a clear effort to white-wash a serious matter.

The delay in releasing any information to the press should in itself draw strong criticism to Nygren. But then "sanitizing" the story and minimizing the injuries is even worse.

What does this do to morale within the sheriff's department?

"Range officers, leades and Nygren will review what happened...", the article continues.

Who cares about a "review"? What somebody had better be doing is analyzing and ripping apart what happened! They'll never be able to understand what happened from the deputies' reports that were first obtained under a FOIA request by McHenry County Blog and reported on Go to Cal Skinner's blog and read his article.

Take this one, for example, right from today's paper. "Deputy Eric Woods entered the room first" and then he was struck by a shot that was fired and fragmented after Deputy Michael Hart "entered the room a few minutes later."

"a few minutes later"??? How many minutes is "a few minutes later"? Three? Five? Eight? I'll bet the review will reveal a few seconds later, maybe 5-10-20 seconds.

As for the delay in "reviewing" what happened? Why wasn't this done in the days right after the injury occurred, before Sgt. Jim Wagner left for a conference? Surely, the sheriff knew he'd be gone. Was he hoping the whole mess at the range would just blow over?

There can be no excuse for not conducting an immediate analysis and critique of a shooting injury at the department's range. Did they even shut the range down?

There are working telephones at the sheriff's department and the location of the conference where Wagner was. Maybe even video-conferencing. If he couldn't be present in person, he certainly could have by phone. Business is conducted worldwide by telephone, but not at our own sheriff's department.

Unless you are in the I.C.E. unit, where detainees "go to court in Chicago" by teleconference.

Man, what a way to start a Sunday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Best Question I've ever been asked

At the Harvard Expo today I paused at the Walmart booth.

For many reasons I was pleased to see Walmart's booth. Perhaps because, when I was a membership sales rep for a large chamber of commerce 20 years ago, I called on the local Walmart store and tried to persuade the general manager to join the chamber.

I got bumped to the corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., where I got a cool reception (and no membership). Things have changed at Walmart. Now they are very active community members.

Saturday is a busy day at Walmart, and Walmart has a new store in Harvard. And, yet, the Store Manager, Greg Bontz, thought the Harvard Expo was important enough to be there.

When I stopped at the Walmart booth, he introduced himself and asked, "What could we do better to serve you?"

Man! I was stopped in my tracks! He was interested in what I thought!

We chatted a few minutes, and I told him that I am running for Sheriff of McHenry County. I also told him that his question is the one I am planning to ask the citizens of McHenry County.

"What can we do better to serve you?"

And I told him that I intend to ask all the employees of the Sheriff's Department that same question.

Some of the things I'll be able to do. Perhaps many of them I'll be able to do. Some, I won't. But the communication will be open.

And no one is going to get yelled at.

Cool Laser Gifts

At today's Harvard Expo there was a booth with some really cool gifts.

If you ever want a clever, very personalized gift for someone, a prize or donation to make, or an award to present, be sure to contact D&K Laser Enterprises, Ltd., in Crystal Lake.
Click on the image to enlarge it and see samples of their work; then click on the Back button on your browser to return here.
It's hard to see the engraving on the wine glasses, but it's there.
D&K's website is at You'll see their line-up and find more information about their products.

Grrrr, look out

At today's expo in Harvard, a canine officer and his partner were there for two demonstrations. Ofc. Steve Dixon and his four-legged partner, Hunter, gave very convincing demos of why, if you are told to do something by Dixon, you really ought to think very seriously about doing it.

This video shows Ofc. Dixon and Hunter in action at the Harvard Expo:

Trainer Sobecki from the TOPS dog training facility in Grayslake was the emcee and explained why police departments choose male German shepherds, age 12-18 months, from Germany. Untrained dogs cost $2,500-6,500 and undergo a three-month pre-training before assignment to an officer. The officer and the dog then go through an eight-month training program.

These animals are not pets and should never be approached. Also, it's not wise to tease or taunt them at any time; State law allows you to be cited for doing no.

The dogs work with different collars, depending on the situation. Collars include tracker collars, drug collars and bite collars. Officers will call out warnings and attempt to get a suspect to surrender. If the dog is turned loose, it will find the suspect and will bite him.

Uh, OK to park here?

If you were driving through a parking lot and saw this sign, would you park in front of it if bingo were not on the schedule or in progress?

Would you take a $250 chance?

Come to think of it, is this sign valid without the "fine" posted below it?

This sign is in front of the VFW Hall in McHenry, where the McHenry County Right to Carry Association met last Thursday night.

No bingo. No cars parked in the parking spaces marked this way, either.

Does State law permit "restricted" (or, in this case, less restricted) handicapped parking? I doubt it.
My guess is no one will take the chance. If you get a $250 ticket (plus court costs), you won't be a happy camper. It'll cost you $300-400 to fight it. If you win, you're just out the legal fees, although your lawyer will be smiling and thanking you. If you fight it and lose, you're out the fine, court costs AND legal fees.
Feeling lucky? Take a chance? Don't ask a cop. He won't give you any legal advice.

Grace Hall on Mar. 27

This is how the grand, old lady on N. Seminary Ave. looked this morning. Isn't she a fine building? One hundred years old ... could have been saved.
What was needed was for people to come out of the woodwork and to stir up a clamor to save this building. The few who did were not enough.
Just wait 'til you see what replaces her.

Immigration Woes

In our country, where we are free to travel without "papers" or documentation or permission or visas, few probably understand the difficulties that a legal visitor to our country will face if his immigration status gets out of order, at which point he becomes an illegal visitor.

I traveled in Mexico in 1992 and got just a quick taste myself, when a young Federali at a rest stop did not understand the date on my bus ticket. His machine gun and he were between me and the door to the bus, and it was really clear that I should not attempt to pass him. I spoke no Spanish. No one on the bus or on the ground spoke English. If a passenger hadn't come to my rescue, I might still be in a small town in eastern Mexico, instead of here in Woodstock.

A young African student went "out of status", when he did not re-enroll in a Chicago-area community college in January. He had mis-managed his money for college and could not re-enroll. His landlord urged the College to contact his parents, but they never did. Then they reported him to I.C.E., as laws required them to do. And very quickly I.C.E. scooped him up.

He was delivered to the McHenry County Jail, and early on March 16th he was able to phone his landlord. When she did an internet search for information about the McHenry County Jail, she found the Woodstock Advocate and emailed me.

I happened to be up at 3:00AM, read her email and quickly replied. Since then I have visited him twice, found an attorney for him, for a second attorney for him, communicated with his aunt and the College and basically facilitated steps that will lead to his bonding out, getting his student visa reinstated and getting back in college.

If you know any international students, be-friend them and make sure that they understand the conditions of their status as students. They must be aware of every condition and of the importance of remaining in compliance with their status.

Was this young man "low-hanging fruit"? He was easy to pick up; they knew right where he was.

For me, it raised the question of why I.C.E. isn't picking up the tens of thousands of others who are in this county illegally.

This young man will ultimately spend four-eight weeks in detention at the McHenry County Jail. I.C.E. had gotten him to sign a voluntary deportation agreement without the opportunity to have legal counsel, and that agreement has now been rescinded.

Watch for future articles about communication difficulties that detainees at the McHenry County Jail face.

How badly hurt was Deputy Woods? Really!

Some at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department are minimizing the injuries that Deputy Eric Woods incurred at the Department's shooting range. March 15th, wasn't it? Almost two weeks ago? To hear them tell it, it was just a few nicks.

Then the word was that Woods was back at work.

While he may have returned to work for one day, then he didn't go back. Was he told to go in, for a little show-and-tell or to get him off the injured list? A little "face" time at the office?

And today Cal Skinner reports on that Deputy Woods returned to the hospital this past week. McHenry County Blog reports "... the latter part of this week he was back at Centegra’s McHenry hospital."

Was he back as an in-patient or out-patient? Is he still there?

Best wishes to Deputy Woods for a complete recovery and return to duty, without any impairment whatsoever.

It's too bad that Sheriff Nygren has chosen the low road here and to stiff the public on information.

What would have been better? An early press release and a follow-up to the public to explain what happened and what steps would be taken to avoid a recurrence. You'd think he might have learned from the Deputy Anderson off-duty DUI crash in his take-home squad car; that one was only covered up for about four days.

Maybe they'd better hurry with that CALEA manual. It probably covers such matters! Or common sense would do just as well, without spending thousands of dollars on CALEA certification. A big department like MCSD should have had all the written policies in place long before now. What has been going on the past 12 years?

Schlenkert wins job back!!!

In a court decision released yesterday, Deputy Bob Schlenkert has won his job back at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Schlenkert was fired on December 21, 2007, by Sheriff Keith Nygren and had not been paid since September 2007. After much legal wrangling and maneuvering, his case ended up before the 2nd District Appeals Court in Elgin. Oral arguments were heard on Tuesday, and the judges issued their decision on Friday!

They sure didn't need to waste a lot of time on that case. Decisions often are made several months after oral arguments, but not in this case. It took the judges only hours to kick the decision out the door and get on to important matters.

Schlenkert not only gets his job as Deputy Sheriff back, but he'll get all his back pay to September 2007.

What did it cost taxpayers?

Thousands and thousands of dollars in legal fees, because the sheriff could blow county taxpayer dollars on virtually defenseless actions, PLUS back pay and, probably, interest on the back pay. In addition to back pay, the County will probably have to cough up payroll taxes on the back pay, such as Social Security employer portion (7.65%), unemployment insurance, workers' compensation insurance. Health insurance premiums?

Like to hear the oral arguments from last Tuesday? Go to and scroll down a little to "Take a Listen." You'll find a link there to audio of the court proceedings. I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I can't wait to hear what "thin ice" the sheriff's legal counsel was skating on.

Good going, Bob.

What's next? Will the sheriff try another maneuver to keep Bob away from the car keys? Will he be a gracious loser and welcome Bob back? Fat chance of that one. live at Harvard Expo

Be sure to tune into today for its live broadcast from the Harvard Expo. You can count on the "personalities" to keep you entertained.

Dave, Henry and Jim from the weekday Morning Buzz will be there after 9:00AM. Once they get fired up, broadcasting will continue until 4:00PM.

Cory Lockwood will be there from 2:00-4:00PM with The Time Machine.

Not sure if they will have call-in guests today. Be sure to say Hello to them at the Expo! And remember - take a canned good and get $0.50 off your $1.00 admission!

Inmate Email Glitch continues

The problem with the website function for adding funds with which to send email to inmates and detainees at the McHenry County Jail continues. And it's not the fault of the jail.

On Wednesday I reported a website error to IC Solutions, which operates the Secure Inmate Email Service for "our" jail. Through this system friends and family can send email to inmates and detainees. The primary portal for this is

To send e-mail you first must have some money in your account on that site. The way you add money is with your credit card. First you open your account; then you add funds. E-mail costs $0.50/page.

When your account runs out of money, you add more. Starting last Wednesday, the "Add Funds" button didn't work. I reported it to the jail and to the I.T. department at IC Solutions, and they haven't been able to fix it. They know what the problem is; they had changed computer servers, but they can't seem to get it fixed. (Also, the email address to "support" does not work.)

When I called Thursday, they told me they were still working on it. "The (repair) ticket is still open."

Friday they couldn't find a repair ticket. So they opened another one!

It turns out there is a "back door" for making deposits. Here it is.

Go to
Under "How do I get started", click on here. (Not here; there)
If you already have your account, log into it. (My compliments to their sharp I.T. guy who programmed the cursor to move automatically to the next field after the required entries are made!)
Click on "Make Payment"
Choose the correct agency (ex., McHenry County Jail)
Click on "Continue "
Choose "ICS Letters (Inmate Email)"
Select your Payment Method and enter the amount you wish to deposit
(There is no fee associated with credit/debit card deposits)
Continue on through the menu. You'll get a receipt for your transaction.

Keep in mind that email to detainees and inmates is read by jail personnel before it is delivered to them. Read the rules for communication on the jail's webpage at

And inmates and detainees receive email only on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays, holidays excluded. Later I'll address this limited email delivery service.

Wrestling coaches resign (from coaching)

Remember the scandal at Crystal Lake's Prairie Ridge High School, when a bunch of wrestlers grabbed other wrestlers, held them down, "slapped" their stomachs and, reportedly, touched their "private parts"?

Cal Skinner's carried an article yesterday about this, and I commented on his article, wondering aloud whether the coaches had resigned completely or only from their coaching duties.

This morning's Northwest Herald clarified that by reporting that two wrestling coaches resigned - from their coaching duties.

But let's go back to what happened. As if anyone knows yet, because court cases of the five students charged with "battery" are hidden away behind locked doors in juvenile court.

Are we back in the Puritan Age? "Private" parts? Did students grope other students, touching their genitalia in some way? Let's call it what it is. Weren't the victims molested? Are the five going to sex offenders and be required to register for life?

Or is that too severe? Was it simply (word used cautiously) a matter of battery? You've heard of "assault and battery". Is assault, contrary to popular belief, only where you threaten to do something? Battery is when you do it.

Back to the coaches. First, should they be the fall guys here? Their resignations from the coaching staff were accepted at the March 16 Crystal Lake School District 155 Board meeting "without comment or discussion."

Close. Almost under the radar. But not quite. The questions are still open as to what happened. The public is entitled to know, but probably the school board is hoping the issue will just go away, confident that the juvie court records will not reach the public.

The coaches' decision? Oh, just personal decisions. Personal lives getting busier. More family responsibilities. Both will continue in their employment with D-155. One is an I.T. person; the other is a teacher.

If they didn't know what was taking place, didn't encourage it, didn't condone it, and acted swiftly to stop it and fully report it, why should they be scapegoats and even give up their wrestling jobs (and extra pay)? Did the District coerce them into resigning their coaching jobs? Was a "deal" cut somewhere along the way?

Let's hope not. If the "boys" just ganged up on others and acted "while the cat was away", then why even let the coaches resign their wrestling jobs? Why not thank them for offering and tell them to continue?

What else is going on here? It may not be just smelly clothes in a gym locker!

Why many Expos on same week-end?

Why is it that so many Expos occur on the same week-end?

This week-end (today and tomorrow) there are at least three in and within 15 miles of Woodstock.

The Woodstock Morning Rotary Club is holding its event at Woodstock North High School. For those new to the area or unfamiliar with its location, iWNHS is at 3000 Raffel Road (north of Route 120 and south of Charles Road). Information can be viewed at What? Great Outdoor Sex Po Net? Will this be a police sting? Oh, wait; that's Great Outdoors Expo!

Then there is the Harvard Chamber of Commerce Business, Home and Garden Expo at Harvard High School. Today, 9:00AM-4:00PM. Admission $1.00. Take a canned good and get in for $0.50. Information at (scroll down and look on the right side).

And then there is also the Crystal Lake Chamber Home & Business Expo. Today and Sunday at Crystal Lake South High School. For information, go to or call the Expo hotline at 888.624.3976

Dorr Township stays in the news

If you live in Dorr Township, be sure to read Jane Collins' Letter to the Editor in this morning's Northwest Herald.

Active electors (voters, residents) in Dorr Township are beginning to pay closer attention to the goings-on in Dorr Township government. A citizens' committee has recommended a $1,000,000 refund to Dorr Township taxpayers and has pushed to get that refund on the agenda for the April 13th Township Meeting.

This meeting will be held in the auditorium of Woodstock High School on Tuesday, April 13, at 7:00PM.

The Trustees would like to spend that money on a new building and have, perhaps, only slowed down because of active involvement (and resistance) of voters. However, behind-the-scenes work (and money spent) continues. Concerned citizens want access to the soil borings report purchased with township funds, and they want to know what Legat Architects is doing.

Collins' letter says that Supervisor Bob Pierce has told the concerned citizens that they will be surprised. "Surprise" is probably something that voters don't want to hear, and perhaps it was a word-choice that didn't reflect what Bob meant.

Put April 13 on your calendar and be at the Dorr Township meeting. In fact, go to the township meeting of your township this year. I'll venture a guess that electors (voters, residents) never attend township meetings. Grafton and Dorr are exceptions this year.

Show up. Get involved. Speak out. Find out how your money is being spent (and will be spent).

Phone Card rip-off in McHenry County Jail

On January 12, 2010, I wrote an article about the telephone charges rip-off at the McHenry County Jail. You can read that article by searching on this site for "commissary".

The Jail has cut a real deal with ICSolutions to provide telephone service at exorbitant rates to inmates. The rates themselves were discussed in that article.

Last week I became aware of a website for families of Illinois prisoners at And guess what that organization is complaining about?

Exorbitant telephone rates charged to prisoners who make telephone calls!

Go to that website and click on the "Illinois campaign for telephone justice" button at the bottom of the homepage.

You, of course, have a choice when you want to make a telephone call, but prisoners (and inmates at the McHenry County Jail) have one choice. Either make the phone call or don't make the phone call.

If an inmate or detainee at the McHenry County Jail wants to call Woodstock, the cost is "only" $2.50. It's a flat-rate call. An inmate is not charged per-minute after the call is accepted. But if a child answers, accepts the call and says, "Mommy's not home" and hangs up? Ka-ching. Beyond Woodstock? There is a Connect Fee AND a per-minute fee. The farther away he calls, the higher the charges. Both of them.

Inmates must purchase a Phone Card to make out-going calls. A Phone Card costs $20.00. Is there a kickback to the Sheriff's Department/County? You betcha! How much? $10.00!!!

That's 50%. When the prisoner "buy"s a $20.00 Phone Card, the Jail gets $10.00. Where does the $10 go? To the Inmates Profit Account. Nice name, eh? You can read what that Account does with the money in the other article, found by searching for "commissary". It's the second article down.

What does the Illinois Prison Talk website have to say about the State's inmate telephone system?

"The Illinois Campaign for Telephone Justice is seeking relief from the high cost of prison telephone calls from the Illinois Department of Corrections. Inmate families and others are charged exhorbitant (sic) phone rates and connection fees many times that of ordinary public rates. IDOC receives millions of dollars in commission kickbacks from Consolidated Public Services for an exclusive contract with Illinois. ICTJ wants the state to STOP this extortion NOW and abolish the outrageous connection fees and kickback commissions."

There are printable petitions on its website. Get one today and circulate it.

While you are at it, write to Sheriff Keith Nygren ( and complain about the obscene Phone Card profit right here in the McHenry County Jail. Try that email address; if it doesn't work, call 815.338.2144 for his correct email address. No e-mail address can easily be found on the sheriff's website.

When I am elected Sheriff on November 2, 2010, I will form a citizens' committee for jail reform, which will include families and friends of inmates/detainees, inmates themselves, and corrections officers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Legal meter still running?

Reading the article on about the cutting of Grafton Township phone and internet lines reminded me that Township Attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer has never called me back.

Administrator Pam Fender had ducked a fairly simple question to which she should have known the answer and, instead, directed me to call Krafthefer (and gave me the number). I did, reached what sounded like her personal cell phone, and left a clear message for her.

Of course, it could have been a case of "Pass the buck" and previous advice already to the attorney not to return any calls...

Or is Krafthefer's meter still running, while she ponders the answer to my question? Let's see, $185/hour for, hmmmm, how many hours?

By the way, what was the question?

Does McHenry County need ISP troopers?

Cal Skinner has written a long article on about the Illinois State Police and its work in northern Illinois over the years.

Will troopers be missed north of I-90, if cuts affect 600 trooper jobs statewide?

I predict we'll see little change in McHenry County.

Here's what we'll miss...

Four-five State Police cars parked, while troopers run a seatbelt detail.

Seatbelt compliance is already at a record high in the State. I suppose you could put a trooper, deputy or cop at the end of every driveway and parking lot exit and raise compliance to 99.9%. We can't afford that; we don't want that.

How about a few billboards? Maybe even the mobile billboard trucks, like the one in Woodstock yesterday. They cost a lot less than a $90,000 trooper.

How about using the electronic signs on the Tollway? Throw a few switches, figure out the spelling of "Use seatbelts!" and hit "Send".

Or just publicize the names of the stupid drivers who crashed their cars while they were sitting on their seatbelts?

Back in 1997 and 1998, when I was commuting from Woodstock to Hoffman Estates, I used to ask the State Police to target no-passing-zone violators on County roads and drivers on Route 47 south of Woodstock who passed on the shoulders to avoid left-turning vehicles.

The sheriff's department was never available to patrol on 47 at Ballard Road, and the State Police told me that they didn't patrol in McHenry County.

Local police chiefs fear the State Police won't be able to cooperate with them on sobriety checkpoints. Well, I for one learned how they do that. They save manpower and gas by just calling up and telling a boss not to let his employees get liquored up at a tavern that night. Of course, it's not the individual trooper who makes that decision. An individual trooper would write a DUI ticket to anyone, even another cop or deputy.

Several years ago I was in a restaurant where a State Police detail was having a meal. I stopped at their table to inquire what their assignment had been - a seatbelt detail. They were cautious with their words, but their facial expressions showed their disgust at having wasted their time on such a detail. I was sure they wanted to be out doing what they were trained to do - catching serious traffic violators and not blowing their time on a stupid seatbelt detail.

So I think we won't miss the State Police very much in McHenry County. Let them be free to chase down 80MPH speeders, tailgaters, lane-weavers and other reckless drivers. You know, the ones that cause and have the serious accidents.

Readers shunned Obamacare vote

Following the bone-wearying debate on Sunday about Obamacare, the following question was asked, “Did you watch the Congressional debate and the vote on the healthcare bill?”

The results from 40 readers were
Yes – 7 (18%)
No – 33 (82%)

Many thanks to the readers who participated in this survey, which was open for a shorter time than previous surveys.

Is Sunday night a good TV night?

Readers like NWH changes

In a recent survey of readers the question was asked, “Do you like or dislike recent changes at the NWH regarding archiving and comments?”

The results?

Like – 55 (63%)
Dislike – 33 (37%)

Many thanks to the 88 readers who participated in this survey!

Building plans approved

The building plans for the first duplex in the south phase of the Woodstock Christian Life Services expansion have been approved by the City of Woodstock.

This approval is widely expected to trigger the request by WCLS for a permit to demolish Grace Hall. Last year the Woodstock City Council approved demolition of Grace Hall, on condition that WCLS secure approval of building plans for the first duplex in the south phase.

A request from the Woodstock Historic Preservation Commission for Landmark designation of Grace Hall was on a City Council agenda, but it was tabled upon motion by Mayor Sager. The Council has been requested several times to "un-table" the request for landmark status, but it has been unwilling to place it back on the Agenda.

This unwillingness of the Mayor or any member of the Council dooms Grace Hall, and only an administrative action is necessary now for the City staff to issue a demolish permit upon approval.

The only thing now that could halt demolition would be a legal action filed in McHenry County Circuit Court.

Approval of a demolition permit will likely be a rubber-stamp action, probably taking about three minutes of City staff time.

I suspect you can watch for a wrecking ball to soon move into position at 318 Christian Way, just off North Seminary Avenue north of McHenry Avenue (Route 120).

It will be a sad day in Woodstock when Grace Hall bites the dust, and this City Council will be remembered as the Council that let its inaction doom a 100-year-old building of architectural and historic significance. Let's hope the previous contractor got all the asbestos out of the building last year.

On the tombstone of Grace Hall, let the following names appear:
Brian Sager, Mayor
Dick Ahrens
Julie Dillon

Maureen Larson
RB Thompson
Mike Turner
Ralph Webster

Nonsense? Gun sense!

The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either... The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.

1. Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.

2.. If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

3. I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

4. When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

5. A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him "Why do you carry a 45?" The Ranger responded, "Because they don't make a 46."

6. The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm. "Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?" "No, Ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my shotgun."

7. Beware the man who only carries one gun. HE PROBABLY KNOWS HOW TO USE IT!!!

But wait, there's more!

I was once asked by a lady visiting if I had a gun in the house. I said I did. She said, "Well, I certainly hope it isn't loaded!" To which I said, "Of course it is loaded, it can't work without bullets!" She then asked, "Are you that afraid of someone evil coming into your house?" My reply was, “No, not at all. I am not afraid of the house catching fire either, but I have fire extinguishers around, and they are all loaded too”.

A woman told a judge she had shot an intruder six times. When the judge asked her why she had shot him six times, she said, "When I pulled the trigger the seventh time, it went "Click".

Mystery theater dinner - date changed

The date for the "mystery" dinner at Woodstock North High School that was scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, March 27) has been changed to May 8, 5:30PM. An article below, titled "Dying to Dine", described the mystery theater/dinner.

The MCC Culinary Management Department and the MCC forensics team will offer the four-course, dinner-theater experience on May 8. For more information, see

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dorr Township has a Deputy Clerk

Door Township now has a Deputy Clerk.

The Trustees met this morning and followed the agenda to pass a resolution for the Township Clerk, Kathleen Schlapp, to appoint a Deputy Clerk. They did, and she did.

The agenda also called for the Trustees to have the Town Clerk appoint Quinn Keefe as Deputy Clerk by resolution. The Town Clerk is to swear in Quinn as Deputy Clerk.

Several electors were present this morning to observe and question the Trustees about the qualifications necessary for the job. The Agenda for the meeting was designed without a Public Comment period, and the Township Attorney explained that State law allows for the Clerk to appoint a Deputy Clerk.

Like, so what is there to talk about?

In response to inquiry from the audience, it was explained that the Deputy Clerk's position carries no compensation.

Town Clerk Schlapp is resigning March 31, 2010, at midnight. When 12:00AM was mentioned, I asked whether that meant before the beginning of the workday on (Wednesday) March 31 or at the end. (That's the same question I asked the Woodstock City Council a while back, although now I don't recall the issue. It might have been liquor license suspension.)

Supervisor Bob Pierce said it meant at the end of the day.

But does it? Really? There would be no question about when 12:01AM on March 31 is. It's a minute into the day of March 31. Isn't 12:00AM just one minute before 12:01AM?

It seems to me that Town Clerk Schlapp should have resigned as of 11:59PM on March 31 (or even 5:00PM).

Now what happens when the Town Clerk's resignation is effective? Will Dorr Township have a Deputy Clerk and no Clerk?

Will the Trustees have to meet again and formally authorize Quinn Keefe to become the Town Clerk, when Ms. Schlapp departs? Or do the statutes provide for that, in the event the Township find itself with no Clerk, which is what is going to happen at midnight on March 31.

Is the Town Clerk's compensation set by statute or by the Trustees? The Town(ship) is to advertise the position and accept applications. Will it form a committee to oversee the recruiting process and the selection of the new Town Clerk?

Or is it a "done deal"?

Right-to-Carry Assn. hold monthly meeting

The McHenry County Right to Carry Association held its March meeting this evening at the VFW in McHenry. About 30 men and women (yes! there were women there) attended and participated in the meeting.

A summary of participation in the IGOLD event of the Illinois State Rifle Association was presented. Following its formation, the R2C Assn. considered chartering a tourbus for the trip to Springfield on March 10. Concern centered around the financial obligation to do, but it turned out the 48 riders went on this bus to Springfield (and back, too!). Congratulations to Lou and Cheryl Rofrano for making this happen.

Tom Riordan mentioned that Executive Director Richard Pearson has been invited to a Patriots United event planned for May at a Cabela's store. Details are still being worked out. Watch for news on the Patriots United site and elsewhere.

R2C Assn. President Lou Rofrano mentioned that county-wide right-to-carry groups are starting in Kane, Will and southern Cook Counties.

Plans are developing with the Association for expansion and promotion of right-to-carry.

The next meeting is planned for April 15th at 7:00PM. Watch the Association's website for details.

New alert program of WFRD

When the Woodstock Fire/Rescue District responds to your residence (for example, for a fire in the middle of the night), it could be vital for them to know before arrival that there is a disabled or special-needs person (adult or child) in the residence.

To inform them now, well in advance of any emergency, you can enroll in the Premise Alert Program.

Go to and locate the "Premise Alert Program" link in the left side-bar. Print the Premise Alert Program Enrollment Form. Complete the form. Read the fine print. And get the form to WFRD.

Do this now. Don't procrastinate. (Don't put it off, either.)

And print some extra copies to give to your neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers who might not hear of this Program.

Thanks to WFRD for providing the information to the Woodstock Advocate.

Deputies worried about range safety?

Just how worried about range safety are deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Feedback from some deputies is that they are concerned about participating in the current training shoot and fear for their safety.

Despite the "accident", is it a topic that is not to be discussed at the Sheriff's office? Word is that the training that was to commence immediately after the SWAT training was not delayed in any way.

So, how was the "scene" protected after the deputy was injured?

One would think that the range would have been shut down and training suspended, pending a thorough investigation to ensure all is safe.

Last year I began meeting neighbors of the range who are very upset to have a shooting gallery in their back yards (or front yards, as the case may be). They are concerned about their safety and also about the ground and ground water pollution from the amount of lead left on the ground. You'd think that the Illinois EPA would be out there taking sample and kicking butts, but apparently it isn't.

Those pollution concerns have fallen on deaf ears at the County level, as far as the neighbors are concerned.

Will some of the deputies complain to OSHA or other workplace safety organizations?

Isn't it a shame that deputies would feel that they must risk going "outside" to have their safety concerns addressed? It should be enough to raise the flag inside the Department and to have confidence that every safety concern would be adequately addressed.

State Police to lose 30%

The Illinois State Police is poised to lose 600 troopers, or about 30% of its 2,000 force.

The headline associated with the AP article in this morning's Northwest Herald was "State police to lay off 460." Yes, right... so what's this about 600?

Add in "attrition" (retirements, resignations, rats fleeing a sinking ship, etc.), and the total reduction in force is estimated at 600.

"There will be significant consequences in public safety," State Police Director Jonathan Monken told the AP.

What consequences?

- increase in traffic fatalities;
- increased exposure to terrorist threats;
- increase in gun and drug trafficking;
- $12,000,000 loss in citation revenue

Why not just leave the troopers on the road and put them on a commission basis? Pay them 25% of the fines and court courts for each ticket, but tell them, "No tickets for less than 12MPH over the posted speed limit."

I rode with the Special Enforcement Team on I-90 a few years ago. Five troopers and an aircraft were after speeders on westbound I-90 near Hwy. 59. In four hours they didn't write one ticket for less than 88MPH in the 55MPH zone!

Whenever a trooper was ready after citing a driver at 88-95MPH, the bear-in-the-air had another violator coming up right behind that trooper.

The same conditions exist today.

Keep these troopers. Just figure out a different way to pay them.

The AP article referred to "Acting" Director Monken; I thought he was finally confirmed a year ago, but a call to his office this morning revealed that he is still Acting Director.

Dems - Heroes? Pass the barf bag

I have no idea how I ended up on the Democratic Party's email distribution list, but the Subject Line in an email this morning almost made me throw up.

"Heroes under attack"

Who? What heroes?

They meant the 219 Dems who rolled over on Sunday night and passed Obamacare.

Heroes? They've got to be kidding.

The term "hero" has been diminished over the years by its casual use.

Maybe the "heroes" were the Dems who voted against Obamacare. But even they weren't "heroes". They were merely members of the House of Representatives who voted against it. And the Republican House members weren't "heroes", either.

There aren't any heroes in government. They are just people elected, appointed or hired. Nothing about government employment would get any of them anywhere close to Hero status.

Perhaps I ought to opt out of their mailings, but then I would miss the stupidity of their mailings.

Lt. Gov. pick?

I’m a little behind on e-mail and just read the following. Your support could be meaningful. From one email comes the following:

In just a few days the Democratic Central Committee will choose its candidate for Lt. Governor.

Art Turner received the second-highest vote count in the primary. Following Cohen's withdrawal Turner should have been given the nomination for Lt. Governor. Instead, Gov. Pat Quinn, Mike Madigan and other members of the Committee have been soliciting for a Lt. Governor candidate. The sender of the email wrote that there is no one more qualified, honest and deserving than Rep. Art Turner.

Illinois Prison Team (IPT) members were asked to call Gov. Quinn's offices in Springfield and Chicago yesterday and also to call House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. IPT members and others can also call their elected representatives on the Democratic Central Committee.

The sender of the e-mail continued, “Art Turner has been a true friend to inmates and their families. We need him in this office. He's always backed all our initiatives for prison reform and now it's our turn to pay him back for the legislation he's introduced, the prison reform he's supported and the events he's attended. Do this for Art and our brothers/sisters behind the wall.”

The IPT group’s interests include –

- prison reform including the review of and reinstatement of good time credits which can help reduce a person’s sentence;
- robbing families of millions of dollars by charging obscene rates for phone conversations;
- advocacy around improving prison programs, medical treatment and healthy food. People in prison don't eat meat - they are fed soy products, causing many to develop serious illness due to the regimented diet.
- advocacy against long-term segregation in the TAMS program (long-term isolation).

For more information about the Illinois Prison Talk Team, visit

It was Deputy Woods who was injured

Be sure Cal Skinner's good, but confusing, article on about the shooting injury at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department shooting range that occurred on Monday, March 15.

Anything confusing in Cal's article is not due to Cal's writing. He read the reports provided in response to his FOIA request. Read the quotes from the reports. You'll be confused, too.

Cal obtained reports of numerous deputies and tried to re-construct the scene.

First reported here on March 17, I figured that the Northwest Herald and the Daily Herald would jump on the story and get an official Department "story" about the shooting. The Department must not have been able to figure it out, either.

According to the reports obtained by the McHenry County Blog, Deputy Eric Woods was injured in the leg, face, right hand and left arm.

Be sure to read Cal's long article.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Email? SnailMail? JailMail...

The Jail Mail system is partially broken and, if you are trying to add money to your account so that you can send e-mail to a detainee or inmate at the McHenry County Jail (or probably elsewhere), you'll just have to wait.

When I tried to add funds this morning to pay for the $0.50/page cost of email to detainees and inmates, I got an error page a few times and then tried to notify the support team at the out-sourced email system. The email to the email address on their website was undeliverable, and I emailed the McHenry County Jail and requested assistance. They responded, providing a number for a Help Desk at the out-sourced business and also offering to place the call.

It was easier and faster for me to call, which I did at 2:30pm. A customer service rep re-directed me to I.T. and gave me the number. They confirmed the problem after following the steps I had used and opened a service ticket. It's still not fixed, and they said just now that it will be a while longer. Apparently, they migrated to a new server and have major headaches now.

So be patient... they are working on it.

Too drunk to drive? Just take the ATV


March 24, 2010



Louis A. Bianchi, McHenry County State’s Attorney, reports that Defendant David S. Prescott was sentenced to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections today following a conviction for his 7th DUI offense. Prescott was found guilty of the Class X Felony DUI following a 3 day jury trial prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorneys Jeffrey Bora and Ryan Blackney. On the day of his arrest, Deputy Thomas Jones of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office witnessed the defendant operating an ATV on a public roadway after leaving a liquor store with a case of beer attached to the rear. The defendant failed a battery of field sobriety tests and refused to submit to chemical testing. He was subsequently arrested.

The offense was punishable by a sentence of between 6 and 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Noting the defendant to have over 8 prior sentences to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Blackney asked the Court to sentence the defendant to a prison term of 15 years.

Woodstock Water - ugly, but safe

The following notice appears on the website of the City of Woodstock, Ill. at

"The City of Woodstock has been rehabilitating one of the city's water treatment facilities. The treatment plant that is being rehabilitated has been shut down since October 2009. This plant is being put back on line as of March 23, 2010. With this plant coming back into service there will be times when discolored water occurs. These disturbances should be limited to the first few days of the start up. The discoloration in the water is caused by the water in the pipes changing direction in the flow, this causes sediments in the pipe to be stirred up. The appearance of the water is not indicative of the safety of the water. This discoloration is primarily due to iron sediments. The water in the distribution system is chlorinated and poses no health threat.

"It is recommended not to wash white chothes (sic) until the discoloration is no longer present."

Publisher's comment: Wouldn't this condition have been a justifiable use of the new One-Step Notification system that the City bought and installed to provide notice to resident of importance issues?

I for one would not have felt secure in drinking the water while it was the ugly brown color. I don't know what's in the water - "primarily iron sediments". Stuff that was sitting in the pipes of the water system that got knocked loose when the water pressure increased.

Well, I don't want that in my body!

Did commercial businesses (restaurants, laundromats, daycare centers) get a warning that the water quality would change before the First Street pumping station went back online?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quinn Keefe to Dorr Township Clerk?

Quinn Keefe is about to slide into the position as Dorr Township Clerk, with the first step to be on Thursday, March 25, when the Trustees gather at a Special Meeting called at 10:30AM.

How many residents and electors will be able to attend this mid-morning meeting called on such short notice and during normal working hours for most people?

The Dorr Township website carries a mention of this meeting, but no easily-found agenda. To see the Agenda, go to From the homepage of the website, you have to know to click through to the Clerk's webpage and then to click on Agenda. A link on the homepage would have been much better (if you wanted viewers to know right where the Agenda is).

What is to happen on Thursday?

The Trustees are expected to authorize the Town Clerk, Kathleen Schlapp, to appoint a Deputy Clerk by resolution and to have Schlapp appoint Quinn Keefe as Deputy Clerk by resolution. Schlapp is then to swear in Keefe.

The next order of business for the Trustees is to accept the (sudden) resignation of Town Clerk Schlapp, effective March 31, 2010, at midnight.

And the Trustees will get out of Dodge.

If I were the Town Clerk, I think I'd have a little migraine on Thursday morning and call in sick.

The buzz has already started about this. Keefe is the former Executive Director of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce. His departure came last summer, after extreme financial difficulties of the Chamber surfaced. Of course, the Board of Directors had known about them for years. According to the media, he resigned and was given a couple of months to pack up. Apparently, the Chamber hasn't lost its headquarters building on the Square yet, but it's certainly quiet about whatever is going on.

A recession and dead real estate market probably have something to do with the Chamber's name still being on the deed.

What are the qualifications, skills, traits, and abilities that should be sought in a Deputy Clerk? I'll suggest a few; you can add more in comments. How about

Attention to detail
Careful, accurate understanding of complex matters
Prompt recording of business matters
Fast shorthand or stenotype skills
Fast, accurate, careful typing skills
Excellent grammar, spelling and word-smithing for construction of accurate Minutes of meetings
Knowledge of corporate responsibilities and duties

I learned today that when the Clerk leaves next week, on March 31, Quinn's duties might be only as Interim or Acting Town Clerk. Will they have another meeting to decide that? And then the job will have to be advertised and applications and resumes accepted. And then the Trustees will have to select someone from the same political party as Schlapp.

Now why is the Town Clerk departing on sudden and short notice? Why does an elected official bail with a week's notice?

I have attended only one Township meeting, and that one started off with a bang. A resident asked why the January Minutes reflected a matter that had not been discussed at the January meeting. That resulted in a, let's say, "vigorous" verbal response by a Trustee and the Township Attorney. (I'll let you read between the lines on that one.)

What I assumed from the resident's complaint was that the current Minutes do not truthfully reflect the business actually conducted in the January 2010 Township meeting. In other words, the Minutes are false. Is this true? True or false? Or, how about "Truth or Consequences"?

I'll tell you this. If I were the Township Clerk and had reported accurate Minutes of a meeting, they'd be changed over my dead body. Is Clerk Schlapp stopping just short of that line? (I don't blame her.) When people say that Woodstock is a "place to die for," this isn't what they had in mind.

If you think State Government is bad, and that County government is a little worse, and city or village is a little worse than that, then turn off the TV and visit Grafton Township or Dorr Township government for even more insight.

The Dorr Township government is about to get a good shaking, because some believe there should be more reported to the public. All last week-end we heard about "backroom deals" on Obamacare. Let's hear about all deals in the townships, out loud and in public meetings.

Nasty water in Woodstock

You may have noticed brown water in your sinks and toilets in Woodstock. It's there!

The First Street Water Treatment Plant is the culprit. Minerals are being stirred up in the pipes and the water is rusty looking.

You can call 815-338-6118 to report nasty water in your home, and Public Works will put your house on the list to run a hydrant near your home to try and clean the water.

A phone call to City Hall has been placed, with the suggestion to post a notice on the City's website at

I didn't ask whether the water was safe to drink. I didn't want to know. I'm not drinking it!

Case thrown out!

The Daily Herald reports that a woman arrested by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department fugitive apprehension unit in Bourbonnais, on a 1996 warrant, was sent away a free woman by Judge Sharon Prather.

I questioned this arrest, when it first hit the news. The Sheriff's Department was apparently trying to improve stats and sent a flying squad 100 miles to grab somebody who had been right in plain sight the whole time. Did they talk to the State's Attorney first about what was likely to happen in court, in view of no action since 1996?

Judge Sharon Prather dismissed charges against Michelle Abbeduto, 33, today, according to the paper.

Also, according to the paper, "Assistant McHenry County State's Attorney David Johnston said authorities were unable to determine for certain whether police actively looked for Abbeduto before her arrest last year."

What's that mean? Of course, they could have determined whether "authorities" had looked for her. There would be notes, records, documents. Methinks he was just trying to be kind to the "authorities" who, in this case, wear badges from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

This is one of the messes that I intend to clean up, if I am elected Sheriff of McHenry County. How many thousands of unserved warrants are there? There should be a spreadsheet or a grid or a chart on the wall. If they have some others that are 13 years old, somebody had better be finding out if the wanted person is prosecutable, if arrested. If not, a whole box, cart or wagon of them will go to a judge for cancellation.

How do I intend to clean up this mess? I intend to ask the deputies and clerks who work there for their ideas. Usually, no one knows better how to clean up a mess than the people standing in it. Unfortunately, too often the good ideas come from the new members of the department or a team, and they get squashed by the more-senior employees - the bosses.

Starting December 1st, good ideas will be rewarded!

Recommendation for Congress

If you watched the voting in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday night, when the House passed Obamacare, there was a 15-minute period of voting. Of course, that was after the muscle at the front of the room tried to declare that a voice vote had carried it - when it clearly had not.

The scorecard on showed that the vote could have gone either way almost right to the end. Some of the Dems were holding out - obviously, waiting to see which way the vote was going before sticking their necks out. Or, more likely, not wanting to put their necks on the chopping block for the November 2nd ax too soon.

Here's my idea. Allow a 15-minute vote for them to flip coins (best two out of three? No, wait; three out of five? Wait! four out of seven?) or get muscled at the last minute, BUT do not reveal the voting by any member until all members have voted.

This would force each member to stand on his own two feet and vote as he believed (or had been persuaded). Each and every member would have to stick his neck out, without knowing, for sure, how anyone else voted.

My, my, my. What a novel idea!

Would Obamacare have passed Sunday night? I doubt it.

Dangerous anti-gun bill in Ill. House

Call your Illinois State Representative today and ask him or her to vote against HB 5751. This is an extremely dangerous piece of legislation that is a step toward firearms confiscation. Not only does the bill address an unconstitutionally-broad category of firearm, it could require most firearms owners to register their weapons with the State Police.

A FOID card is bad enough. The State Police know who "could" own a gun. Under this Bill, the State Police would know who "does" own a gun.

The next step is for them to be ordered to show up and collect the guns. I for one will not answer that knock on the door. Think it couldn't happen? Well, it happened in New Orleans in 2005! And many law-abiding gun owners have never seen their guns since.

"Synopsis As Introduced
"Amends the Criminal Code of 1961. Provides that 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a semi-automatic assault weapon, an assault weapon attachment, any .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge. Provides that beginning 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, purchase, or possess or cause to be manufactured, delivered, sold, purchased, or possessed a large capacity ammunition feeding device. Provides that these provisions do not apply to a person who possessed a prohibited weapon, device, or attachment before the effective date of this amendatory Act if the person has provided proof of ownership to the Department of State Police within 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act. Provides that on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act, such person may transfer such device only to an heir, an individual residing in another state maintaining that device in another state, or a dealer licensed as a federal firearms dealer. Specifies penalties for violations. Provides exemptions. Provides that the provisions of the Act are severable. Effective immediately."

Emphasis has been added to highlight the dangerous wording in this Bill. Illinois has already decided that an "assault" weapon is anything that looks like an assault weapon. It used to be that assault weapon meant a weapon that could be fired on automatic; i.e., one pull of the trigger would fire all rounds. Now it includes semi-automatic.

What is a large capacity magazine? Will some legislator or judge decide that a 10-round or a 6-round magazine is "large"?

I'll tell you this! That Acevedo guy, who introduced this bill, is a dangerous piece of work. Maybe the law-abiding folks in Illinois should just pack up and leave. And leave the state to the Chicago gun-control crowd and the criminals. Daley, Acevedo and friends will quickly find out what it means to be defenseless.

Long-distance phone savings

Want to save money on your long-distance phone bill? Sign up before April 1 and get a $20 credit! (The credit drops to $10 on April 1.)

How about a $0.03/minute plan with no monthly fees?

Check out Pioneer Telephone, recommended by the Illinois Citizens' Utility Board (CUB).

Read about it here: Then look for and go to the special CUB webpage.

Look for the "Sign up here" link on the CUB page.

Illegal search?

Elgin (Ill.) PD canine Keiser and his handler, Elgin Officer John Slocum, assisted Algonquin PD in a search for drugs during a traffic stop in Algonquin Monday.

What's the problem here?

Is it legal to use a drug dog to search the interior of a vehicle or can the dog only be walked around the outside of the vehicle?

If the dog alerts, do officers then have to get consent of the vehicle's driver or owner before searching the interior? Or, absent permission, must they get a warrant before searching?

According to the article, Algonquin PD Officer Steve Stachura thought he smelled marijuana, so he called for Keiser. No drugs were found, although the officer reported the driver was stuffing something into his mouth while trying to jump out the window.
Check out the full article and this photo on The First Electric Newspaper (

(Photo used with permission from FirstElectricNewspaper.)

National Census Day - April Fool

What kind of administrator picked April Fool's Day for National Census Day? A well-paid one; right? Why didn't he make a real joke out of it and pick April 15? Or February 2?

Apparently, you don't have to wait until April 1 to mail in your census form. That day is "merely" the day-of-record for answering the questions on the form.

So, don't worry about being picked up by Census agents or I.C.E., if you have already mailed in your form.

Yesterday brought a postcard to my door, reminding me to respond. That's three pieces of mail - so far.

1. A letter telling me to expect the census form;
2. the form; and now
3. the postcard.

How many more mailings will there be?