Thursday, June 30, 2011

State Rep town hall in Carpentersville

Illinois State Representative Keith Farnham (D-43rd District) conducted a town hall meeting last night in the Village of Carpentersville Board Room. The room was packed, including standees. Of the more than 80 persons there (men and women), only about a dozen were from Rep. Farnham's own district.

The town hall meeting was not an anti-concealed-carry meeting. Rep. Farnham wanted to know what the people in his district want him to do in the next session. But word had gotten out through the gun groups that the

Rep. Farnham conducted a good meeting. It got off to a rocky start, when the first speaker was brash and belligerent in his remarks. He was seated in the first row and he almost shouted that it was his RIGHT to carry a gun. There were other remarks that followed his that demonstrated, to me, that the person speaking had closed his mind and had no ability to or interest in considering any other point of view.

I recall a remark by a mediator in Colorado who was giving a talk about negotiation. One member of the audience argued with her, and he had only one point - nothing else mattered. When she said, "So, in a negotiation, you lose," he repeated his one point. "See?" she asked. She said she would cut him up in little pieces, figuratively, and beat him because she had many arguing points, not just one.

Rep. Farnham explained that he had walked his district many times, and the majority of residents in his district did not want a concealed carry law in Illinois. He himself is not anti-gun; he mentioned he grew up with guns in Maine, but he is not a gun-owner now.

It's clear that what we, being law-abiding citizens who want the right to defend ourselves outside our homes with loaded handguns (and that's what this law is all about), must do is educate those who do not want such a law. They must be shown that they are safer, when law-abiding citizens have the right to carry a concealed gun.

Rep. Farnham acknowledged the passion of the audience last night. But there were people in that audience last night, about whom I would worry, if they were "packing". It is an awesome responsibility to carry a concealed weapon. One must know, absolutely, that he will never brandish it or ever threaten anyone with words that he is "packing." A concealed weapon is for self-defense and, under extremely limited circumstances, protection of another person.

Police officers know the rules. Non-police persons who will carry must know the laws. Considerable time in training classes for concealed-carry permits is devoted to those situations where you might lawfully use a weapon and the situations when you must not.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Regrets of 16-year-old gangbanger too late

"Dear Abby" contains a two-column letter today from a 16-year-old gangbanger who faces life in prison. He asks, "Was it really worth throwing my life away?" Abby (Jeanne Phillips) gave the name "Homesick Homeboy" to the author.

You can read his letter at

This letter should be required reading for all teenagers and young adults.

Some schools teach, "Stop. Think. Act." Some schools just talk about it but don't teach it; that is, they don't see that the students learn it.

Billions are spent annually in America's penal system. The only way to reduce these expenditures is to start solving the problem in the early ages. This will cost money. Our choice? Spend it now, or spend it later.

Read that kid's letter. Print it out. Share it with the kids you know. Talk about it with them. Do something today to help them change their paths.

McQueen wants out; Tonigan wants out. Who's left?

On April 26th Attorney Henry "Skip" Tonigan filed a motion to withdraw as Special Prosecutor in the case against sitting McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi. At that time, just two months ago, Tonigan claimed that his duties in caring for his 86-year-old father had "dramatically increased", as the Northwest Herald published.

He said that he wanted Attorney Thomas McQueen to replace him as Special Prosecutor and referred to McQueen as an investigator who had been appointed to assist him. Has a judge ever ruled on that motion? Has McQueen's role ever been elevated to that of Special Prosecutor?

Isn't Tonigan still "the" Special Prosecutor in the Bianchi case?

Yesterday McQueen filed a motion to withdraw, feeling threatened by Bianchi's attorney, Terry Ekl, who may be planning a lawsuit against McQueen for alleged misconduct in the Bianchi case.

How will the judge in the Bianchi case react when he reads yesterday's Daily Herald article that "Retired Lake County Circuit Judge Henry Tonigan III has been selected to lead an internal investigation about ethics complaints filed against officials at Grayslake Elementary District 46." (Read more:

How is the senior Mr. Tonigan's health and need for increased care now?

Making matters worse is the pile of bills from the Special Prosecutor that still have not been paid. Did Tonigan have to pay Quest Consultants, Ltd., the investigations firm of ex-FBI agents that he hired, out of his own pocket, or is Quest willing to wait for Tonigan to get paid?

Tonigan should get paid for the work he has done and for that work which he contracted.. I seriously doubt that Tonigan is billing for any work that he did not do. If Judge Graham gave him, in effect, a blank check when he put him to work, then he should fill in the numbers now and order payment. Even if the County Board doesn't like it. Even if the taxpayers don't like it.

Maybe next time the County Board and the judge will figure out how not to issue blank checks.

Nobody else works for free in McHenry County. If you are going to order work and you don't intend to pay for it, then you need to say so, right up front!

Gun info released?

A story on the Crystal Lake Patch reveals that a ".38 caliber handgun" was used in the shooting death of Kurt Milliman on May 28, 2011, in unincorporated McHenry County just outside Woodstock. How did the Patch reporter learn that?

The reporter read the Complaint filed in the cases against Timothy Smith. In that Complaint, Det. Quick says, on oath, that Timothy Smith "without lawful justification, shot Kurt Milliman in the torso with a .38 caliber revolver..."

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department has not held one press conference related to this murder. Not one. The Sheriff has not appeared before the press. The Undersheriff has not. And certainly no detective has.

The names of two detectives and one deputy are stated in the Complaint on file with the McHenry County Circuit Clerk that is the basis for charges against Kimberly A. Smith. The detectives are Det. Quick and Det. McDonald. Are the detectives highly experienced detectives, with proficiency in murder cases? Perhaps the sheriff will step forward and explain the assignment of this case to them. Were they just "next up"?

The deputy who may have been the first deputy on the scene is Deputy Singer, as it appears from the Complaint that the false home invasion story was told to him. That formed the basis for one of the charges.

Certainly, some very basic facts could be released to the public, even to the sheriff's favorite daily newspaper in the county, without jeopardizing this case.
Questions continue to persist among the public as to why Kimberly Smith's bond was reduced from $50,000 to $15,000 and why she hasn't been charged as an accomplice or accessory.

The whole story being put out by the Sheriff's Department that this started as a prostitution act just doesn't make any sense, when you take it apart. Is there anyone in McHenry County who believes, even for a moment, that the going rate for an act of sexual intercourse is $40.00? Will a jury believe it? And if a jury doesn't believe it, what happens to the whole case against her?

Reading the Complaint against Timothy Smith more carefully this morning brought me to another conclusion about the $40.00. More about that later.

How did the Sheriff's Department and the State's Attorney's Office decide so quickly that this was a First-Degree Murder case? Isn't "first degree murder" a premeditated act? Did Timothy or Kimberly confess to planning to kill Kurt? For $40.00? When Kimberly had $600 in her purse in her vehicle (according to her affidavit when requesting a public defender)?

I like my Swiss Cheese between two slices of bread, please, not in a murder case.

(Edited at 11:40AM)

Did new hospital board violate OMA?

Did members of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board (HFSRB) violate the Illinois Open Meetngs Act in its Joliet meeting yesterday?

The HFSRB met to ponder the weighty applications of Mercy and Centegra for new hospitals in McHenry County. It did not approve either.

The evidence of the OMA violation is right on the front page of the Northwest Herald. The photo also appears in the online edition.

Board members Frank Urso and Robert Hilgenbrink are shown in the photo, and it certainly appears to me that one is speaking to the other and that their conversation probably could not be heard by the audience, or even by the other Board members.

In meetings of public bodies, conversations like this should not occur. If a member has something to say, he says it into his microphone or loudly enough that the other members and the audience can hear and understand him. In similar fashion, public body members should not telephone, text-message, e-mail, IM or Tweet other members.

Open Meetings Act training is probably needed immediately for the full HFSRB. If I recall correctly, Gov. Quinn recently appointed quite a few new members to the Board, so that the Board would be fully staffed before yesterday's meeting.

I wonder whether attorneys from Centegra or Mercy will ask the Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor for a review of these apparent private comments. Probably not; that might guarantee a second rejection. But will an audience member ask for such a review? Or will the press?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talk up concealed carry Wed. night 6/29

Look! It's close by!

Rep. Keith Farnham (D-43rd District) will hold a town hall meeting in Carpentersville tomorrow night, (June 29) and invites the public to show up and tell him what they want from him in the next session.

We gunowners can tell him what we want, whether we live in the 43rd District or not. Farnham is one of the "No" votes on May 5, when HB 0148 (concealed carry) came up for a vote. Fifty-two State Representatives either voted against the bill or did not vote; one Rep voted Present. Only six (6) of those needed to vote "Yes" for the bill to pass. [Sixty-five Representatives voted for passage. (Seventy-one (71) votes were needed to prevent home-rule city watering down of the bill and to get it past Gov. Quinn's anticipated veto.)]

Wisconsin's concealed-carry bill has either been passed or is awaiting Gov. Walker's signature. This makes Illinois the only State that renders its law-abiding citizens defenseless outside their homes. Can 49 States be wrong and Illinois be the only state that is right. I don't think so!

Show up tomorrow night and tell Rep. Farnham that you want a concealed carry law to pass in the next session. Ask him what it will take for him to vote "Yes" this time. Will a call from Jack Franks help?

When? Wed., June 29, 7:00PM
Where? Carpentersville Village Hall, 1200 L.W.  Besinger Drive (that's just west of IL 25)

Send 118 to jail with Rod?

Well, it looks like ex-Gov. Ram Rod will be using a new cell shortly, and I don't mean cell phone. Will he tip his new barber? Will his $10,000 worth of suits go on the auction block? What size are they? Who would want to wear them, anyway? Peddle 'em on Maxwell Street.

Should Rod take 118 "friends" with him to the Big House?

What's it called when an employer agrees to provide health insurance for his employees, lets the policy lapse, and doesn't tell his employees?

What's it called when that employer withholds money from employees' pay for their share of group health insurance premiums and lets the policy lapse, but keeps withholding the money?

What's it called with an employer withholds payroll taxes (Social security and Medicare contributions) from employees' pay but doesn't remit the taxes to IRS?

OK, here's one for you.

What's it called when the State of Illinois collects money from income tax filers who checked off designation of funds for charitable use and then doesn't pay the money over to the charities?

That's just what is happening in Illinois to $1,170,000 that was headed to charities. According to an Associated Press article on June 27, "Lawmakers signed off on the plan to help deal with a multibillion-dollar state budget deficit."

That's our General Assembly at work for you, folks.

Will the State repay the money in a few months? OK, start laughing now... The money has to be "returned" within 18 months, with interest, said Kelly Kraft, of the Illinois Office of Management and Budget. What if the charity is out of business by then?

The General Assembly has stolen the money from charities. Who thought up that scheme? Pack 'em up and ship them off to Joliet or Dixon (or, better yet, farther away) with Rod.

Compare crash reports

This is Tuesday morning. Read the following press release by the Crystal Lake Police Department of a crash that occurred 12 hours ago. It's clear and complete. The release explains what happened. The officer completed initial steps of the crash investigation, determined fault and issued a ticket.

Compare this press release to the delay in the release of any information for a week by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department in a June 8th two-car crash involving two squad cars of on-duty deputies. And then another week followed before further details and names came into public view. I wonder if that crash would have stayed fully under the radar (out of the news), unless someone "leaked" information to the Northwest Herald. At least, the Sheriff knows nobody called me about it - it would have been publicized the next day!

My compliments to the Crystal Lake Police Department!

Crystal Lake Traffic Crash June 27th, 2011
   On Monday, June 27th, 2011 at 7:32 PM, Crystal Lake Police and the Crystal Lake Fire Department responded to the intersection of Route 31 at
Three Oaks Road
for a report of a traffic crash. Responding units located the crash, which involved three vehicles. Fire Rescue personnel tended to the occupants of the vehicles, subsequently transporting two subjects for injuries sustained, although none were believed to have been life-threatening.
   Police personnel investigated the crash, and determined that a 2004 Toyota Camry, driven by Rosemarie Van Horn, (47) of 422 Ash Fork Trail, Cary, IL had been travelling southbound on Route 31 at Three Oaks Road. Travelling northbound Route 31 at
Three Oaks Road
was a 1997 Nissan Maxima, driven by a seventeen year old juvenile from Crystal Lake, IL along with a juvenile passenger. Stopped westbound on
Three Oaks Road
at Route 31 was a 2006 Dodge Durango, driven by Nancy Herbster (45) of 433 Conestoga, Cary, IL with an adult passenger.  As the Toyota Camry and Nissan Maxima approached the intersection, the southbound Toyota Camry turned left, and collided with the northbound Nissan Maxima. The initial impact of the collision caused the Nissan Maxima to make contact with the Dodge Durango.  
   Rosemarie Van Horn was transported to Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry IL for evaluation and treatment.  The juvenile passenger of the Nissan Maxima was transported to Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington IL.  The seventeen year old driver of the Nissan Maxima was not injured.  Nancy Herbster and her passenger were not injured.
   The roadway was returned to an unrestricted status by 8:20 P.M. Rosemarie Van Horn was issued a traffic citation for Failure to Yield, vehicle turning left. This incident remains a pending investigation.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Open Letter to Judge Sullivan

The following is an open letter to Hon. Michael J. Sulllivan, Chief Judge, McHenry County Circuit Court.

Dear Judge Sullivan,

I would like to ask your attention to decorum in many of the courtrooms at the McHenry County Government Center. As the result of the following conditions, it is often impossible to hear the proceedings in open court.

This morning I was visiting Judge Prather's courtroom.

As in many of the courtrooms, cases are called by judges in a loud, strong voice. Once attorneys and their clients approach the bench, however, voices drop to much lower tones, and it is impossible to hear most of the proceedings. The attorneys, whose backs are to the spectators and other courtroom visitors, speak in low tones to a judge. The judges too often speak in low tones to the attorneys.

Compounding the low voices at the bench are the disruptions in the courtrooms. Today groups of three attorneys and four attorneys stood between the railing and the bench, conversing about numerous matters. Because of the smiles and laughter, I suspected the conversations were not about cases coming up. Their voices and standing positions interfered with hearing and seeing the proceedings.

Then there was the noisy infant in the courtroom today.

Further disruption was caused by loud voices in the vestibule. Attorneys and clients spoke in loud tones which could be heard through the closed doors and interfered with hearing in the courtroom. The noise from the vestibule was louder as persons entered and left the courtroom.

The bailiff did nothing to quiet anyone in the courtroom or vestibule, attorneys included.

These conditions are not particular to Judge Prather's courtroom this morning. They occur regularly throughout the building.

I wonder if you might be open to discussing with the judges and with the chief of courtroom security what can be done to reduce noise and disruptions. I wonder too whether the judges might require all at the bench to speak up in normal conversational tones, so that they can heard throughout the courtroom.

Several years ago I believe it was an attorney at the courthouse who told me that the public has no right to hear what is said at the bench in open court. I do not agree.

I was told this morning in the Court Administration office that, if I couldn't hear, I could purchase a transcript. I don't want to purchase a transcript. I'd like to hear what is said. Many people have told me that they too cannot hear in our courtrooms. Perhaps it might be reasonable to amplify the proceedings in the courtroom, not just record them.

Gus Philpott

That June 8th crash? (2 deputies')

If you don't want to know what happened in the June 8th crash near Wonder Lake involving two on-duty deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, be sure to read the Crash Report. Yes, that's right. Only if you don't want to know what happened... If you DO want to know what happened, you are going to have to get the information somewhere else.

The driver of Unit 1 (usually the at-fault driver) was Deputy Jon Heideman. Unit 2's driver was Deputy Nicole Laskowski. Here's what the report said:

"Driver, Unit 1, stated that he had been travelling N/B E. Wonder Lake Road, south of Chipawa (sic) Drive, behind Driver, Unit 2, when he thought Driver, Unit 2, was pulling to the east shoulder of E. Wonder Lake Road at Chipawa Drive. Driver, Unit 1, explained that he drove towards the center of the roadway to pass and a collision occurred.

"Driver, Unit 2, stated that she was travelling N/B E. Wonder Lake Road by Chipawa Drive. Driver, Unit 2, stated that she was attempting to make a left turn onto Chipawa Drive. Driver, Unit 2, said that she was halfway making her turn when she was struck by Driver, Unit 1.

"Both units were towed by DeCraene's Service to the sheriff's garage lot. Accident location is E. Wonder Lake Road at Chipawa Drive, but GPS location did not plot location correctly."

Who wrote the report? Deputy #1579. According to a clerk at the Records Department, that's Sgt. Campos-Cruz.

Man alive.... where to start???

First of all, no wonder that the GPS location wouldn't plot. It's not Chipawa. It's Chippewa!

If any rookie deputy had written that report, his supervisor would have torn it up right in front of him and told him to go, sit in the corner, and do it over. OK, I know; reports are prepared electronically. Kind of hard to tear up and start over.

The phrase "when a collision occurred" is used when a driver wants to avoid admitting that he caused the crash. If the crash was your fault, you never want to say so. Keep it general. Don't admit fault.

Only in a report involving two deputies and written by a supervisor would you find such a load of B.S. This was a classic case where you call the Illinois State Police to investigate; yet Sgt. Campos-Cruz investigated the crash and wrote the report. At least, his name is on it. Why didn't he call the Illinois State Police?

One of the drivers was at fault. Can you tell which one? Which driver should have been ticketed? Was either driver ticketed? No!

Would a non-law-enforcement driver have been ticketed? Absolutely!

Notice what's missing from the report. Speeds of both vehicles as they approached Chippewa Drive. Driving pattern as they drove north on E. Wonder Lake Road. Were they "playing"? Was Driver-Unit 1 tailgating Unit 2? Did the driver of Unit 2 signal her intention to turn left? What did Driver Unit 2 say about her approach to her left turn? Did she pull to the right, as if to let Unit 1 pass? Did she slow sharply before turning left? What was the angle of the vehicles at the point-of-impact, rather than where the vehicles came to rest?

What about the traffic law prohibiting passing through an intersection? Driver-Unit 1 certainly violated that law.

How did Heideman's car "strike" Laskowski's car, as she says? The report says the damage to Laskowski's car was across the front, with the center of the vehicle being the point of first contact. That's impossible, unless she was at a right angle to Heideman's car. The fact that her car hit his car does not necessary make her at fault.

No wonder there is an internal investigation, but I wonder what it's really about. And how much damage is "More than $1,500"?

There is no reason to pick on deputies and insist that they be ticketed if they cause a crash, just because they are deputies. But they should not be excused from ticketing, just because they are deputies. And that's what happened here.

Contributory causes of the crash were 1) improper overtaking/passing (that would be Heideman) and 2) "failure to yield right-of-way". Now who would that be? The report fails to address or explain this.

When a deputy causes a crash, then fairness demands that a ticket be issued.

Parent Empowerment Call - July 7

If you are the parent or caregiver of a child (or other person) with emotional or behavioral challenges, you may wish to participate in a Parent Empowerment Call on July 7th at 12:00PM for tips and idea how to deal with the problems.

Full details will be published on June 29th on, with the tollfree call-in number and access code. This call is sponsored by the State of Illinois.

An eight-page hand-out is available, too. I am unable to insert a link to it, but I can forward it to you. If you'd like a copy of Creating a Family Crisis Management Plan, send an email to

Why is Sheriff so quiet?

Why is Sheriff Nygren silent about the Kurt Milliman shooting death on May 28? Has he said even one word in public about the case? To my knowledge there has been no press conference. Pretty strange....

Was Deputy Singer the first McHenry County Sheriff's Department deputy to arrive at 4320 Doty Road on May 28?

The four-count Complaint includes a Disorderly Conduct charge against Kimberly A. (Holian) Smith for reporting a home invasion to Deputy Singer, knowing that none had occurred.

The 9-1-1 recording has not yet been released, so the public doesn't know what Kimberly Smith told a dispatcher that night. Kimberly Smith supposedly reported an unwanted person in her house. That doesn't seem like the way you would describe a "home invasion."

Did her story become a "home invasion" when the first deputy arrived? Was Deputy Singer first on the scene? Was he the one who "secured" Kimberly and Timothy "for their safety"? Did he know, before he went into the house, that Kurt had been shot? Did he know where the gun was?

Where was the third resident of the house? Was Dominic Trujillo in the house that night? He is listed as a resident on Kimberly's request for a public defender.

Could prostitution charge collapse?

Kimberly A. (Holian) Smith, 28, is charged with four crimes related to the death of Kurt Milliman on May 28, in unincorporated McHenry County just outside Woodstock. The charges are Prostitution, Disorderly Conduct and Obstruction of Justice (2 Counts).

McHenry County Sheriff's Department Detective Quick is the complainant. In Count One, Smith is alleged to have falsely stated that she had made a telephone call to her husband at a time when he was not home. If Timothy Smith wasn't "not" home, then he was home.

In Count Two (a Disorderly Conduct charge), Smith is alleged to have falsely reported a home invasion, knowing that none had occurred, when she summoned the sheriff's department to the residence of her husband, Timothy Smith, and her at 4320 Doty Road. That's just south of Centegra Hospital-Woodstock and on the east side of the road. What is "Disorderly Conduct" about that?

So far, the sheriff's department has been silent on the time when Milliman was shot. Had he already been shot, when Kimberly Smith dialed 9-1-1? Or was Milliman shot after the 9-1-1 call and before the first deputy arrived? Who was the first deputy?

In Count Three Smith is alleged to have falsely informed Det. McDonald by stating that her husband was not at home when Milliman arrived.

Count Four seems to contain a huge problem; at least, for me. It reads,

"In the name and by the authority of the People of the State of Illinois, Det. Quick, hereinafter called the complainant, on oath charges that on or about the 29th (sic) day of May, 2011, in McHenry County, Illinois, Kimberly Smith, hereinafter called the defendant committed the offense of Prostitution in violation of Chapter 720 Act 5 Paragraph 11-14 of he Illinois Compiled Statutes in that said Defendant

"Knowingly agreed with Kurt Milliman to perform (a sex act described in detail, with) Kimberly Smith in exchange for $40.00 United State's (sic) Currency."

When a prostitution charge is the basis for everything that follows and that happened on the night of Saturday, May 28, isn't it important to state the date of the sexual act correctly, when there is little or no question about the date?

Is saying "on or about the 29th day of May", knowing that it didn't happen on the 29th, but on the 28th, important? Is there some reason why that error wasn't caught and fixed before the Complaint was filed?

The sex act certainly did not occur on Sunday, May 29. That's when Kurt Milliman was in the hospital, where he died in the early morning hours.

Kimberly Smith case - getting squirrelly?

This case is getting stranger and stranger by the day. When Kimberly Smith's case was called this morning in Judge Prather's courtroom, a woman I thought was Kimberly did not approach the bench. Usually, you would expect to hear the attorney say something like, "Mrs. Smith is present in the courtroom and approaching, your honor" or, if the defendant has already reached the bench and was standing alongside her attorney, "Mrs. Smith is present, your honor." I didn't hear either.

Nor did the woman in the front row stand and move forward. Nor was she summoned.

According to VINELink records (, Smith was released from custody on Friday. She was supposed to be in court today. I think she was. But why didn't Judge Prather haul her up to the front of the courtroom?

When Smith filled out the financial forms for a public defender, she recorded that she had $20 in the bank and $600 in cash. Where did the other $900 come from, so she could bond out last Friday?

An order was entered last Friday allowing release of her wallet and any money in her vehicle (in the Sheriff's custody) to her sister, Kristine Holian. But a later order, also last Friday, stayed that order "until further order of the Court." Did the sister get the money before the Sheriff heard about the stay?

Did the money in her vehicle get inventoried and inspected for fingerprints before it was turned over to Kristine, if it was?

Smith is under a May 30th Firearms Surrender and No Contact Order. If she was released on Friday, did she surrender her firearms before Sunday to the Sheriff? And she is not allowed contact with her husband, Timothy Smith, who is still in custody.

Does Smith have a FOID card? Does Timothy Smith have a FOID card? Whose gun was used on May 29 to shoot Kurt Milliman?

So that this article doesn't get too long, see the next article for a reason the case against Kimberly Smith might start to fall apart.

An open letter to Sheriff Nygren

Sheriff Nygren,

I am writing to call your attention to an improper and disrespectful, and possibly unlawful, action taking place at certain times inside the west entrance to the McHenry County Government Center - the courthouse, where your office and the court are located.

Your court security officers are subjecting certain individuals to a non-random search. On Friday morning I observed the brother and mother of the late Kurt Milliman enter the courthouse and pass through security. They passed through the scanners without setting off alarms. I know how sensitive the scanners are, because often my own belt buckle will trigger the alarm.

I observed one court security officer take note of Scott Milliman as soon as he stepped through the doorway and before he approached the security barrier. The guard stepped forward and then addressed Milliman as soon as he had passed through the metal detection screening device - without setting it off.

Milliman was then scanned by wand, including having to remove ballpoint pens from his shirt pocket.

His mother, a senior citizen also of good reputation, was wanded-searched extensively by a differnt court security officer, although she too had passed through the metal detection device without triggering any alarm.

I doubt that the courthouse security officers at the entrance are acting without orders to do so. These orders would come from your chief of security, Howie Parth. He gets his orders from Undersheriff Zinke or you.

The only other arrivals who were wand-searched were those who had triggered alarms of the metal detection devices.

Will you please explain to the Public why the Milliman family, who are relatives of the victim of murder, are being subjected to this intense attention upon their arrival for court hearings?


Gus Philpott

Eliminate "him"? "her"?

Be sure to read this morning's Associated Press (AP) article about a pre-school in Sweden that is trying to eliminate the use of "him" and "her". They think that will stop gender bias.

I recall a day in about 1974 when I was about ready to ... (OK, I won't say it here; I'd hate for the Department of Homeland Security to be knocking on my door in 15 minutes). I was engaged in conversation with a neighbor in Denver who worked for the U.S. Government. She had just told me that she was earning $34,000/year (remember; that was 1974) and her job was to go through government manuals and change "him" to "him or her" and "he" to "he or she".

At that time I was busting my tail trying to earn a decent living in sales, and here was this government worker earning a lot of money doing stupid, senseless and unnecessary work.

There is at least one smart person in Sweden. Said Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger who is described in the AP article as "a leading voice against what she (Bergkvist) calls 'gender madness' in Sweden", "Different gender roles aren't problematic as long as they are equally valued."

What does the pre-school staff use, instead of "him" and "her"? "Friends."

And people wonder why my Facebook Friends aren't my "friends". I have friends; they know who they are. Just because someone (perhaps someone I don't even know) wants to be a "Friend" on Facebook, doesn't make him (oops, him or her) my friend. Nahhhh, "him" includes her.

Go on; accuse me of gender bias. I double-dog dare you.

The elephant in the room

With all the stink being raised about the probably-illegal "pre-meeting" of the McHenry County Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on May 26, no one is talking about the elephant in the room.

Certainly, someone has noticed the elephant, but no one is talking about it.

Plenty has already been written about it elsewhere. The Office of the McHenry County State's Attorney has weighed in, offering that it might not have been illegal but was contrary to the spirit of the Open Meetings Act.

The Attorney General's Public Access Counselor will examine the meeting for the possibility of violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Five County Board members were involved: Chairman Ken Koehler, Vice Chairman John Jung, Jr., and board members Marc Munaretto, Nick Provenzano and Tina Hill.

So who was the elephant? The big question is - who should have exercised control? Who should have said, "We can't do this."

The Board Chair, Ken Koehler? Absolutely.
The Vice Chair, John Jung, Jr.? If Ken didn't, John should have.
Marc, Nick or Tina? You bet. They are all experienced public officials.

Playing "You come out; I'll go in" deserves more than a "Naughty, naughty" from the State's Attorney's Office. It deserves more than a slap on the wrist, if that's what comes from the AG's office, with a "You shouldn't have done that."

Should there be sanctions? Fines? And not paid by the taxpayers, either!

Whoever came up with that lame-brained idea should admit it. Whose idea was it???

What response would come from a direct question to each of the five? What if I asked, "Was it your idea to pull that rotation scheme?" What answers might I hear?

No. No. No. No. I don't remember.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

K. Smith bonds out

Kimberly Smith, 28, bonded out of McHenry County Jail on Friday, June 24, according to VineLink records reviewed today. Smith is the wife of accused murderer, Timothy Smith, who remains in jail.

K. Smith had a hearing on Friday morning while she was still is custody. She appeared in jail garb before Judge Prather, who was hearing Judge Condon's call, Her bail had been reduced from $50,000 to $15,000, and she came up with the $1,500 needed to be 10% of the $15,000 bond.

K. Smith has a court date on Monday, June 27, at 9:00AM. Room 302 at the McHenry County Courthouse. Will she be there?

People are already wondering why she wasn't charged as an accomplice or accessory, since the initial story is that she was engaged in prostitution and her husband was her pimp. As a friend said today, had this been a bank robbery and somebody got shot and died, everybody would be charged with murder.

Where did K. Smith get $1,500 that she didn't have sooner? Did she happen to have a wad of money in her vehicle? If so, where did it come from? Was she employed?

K. Smith is charged with False Report of an Offense, Prostitution, and two counts of Obstructing Justice. Her husband is charged with first-degree murder of Kurt Milliman, who was shot in the Smith home at 4320 Doty Road, Woodstock mailing address (unincorporated McHenry County), and some other charges.

K. Smith apparently first claimed that her husband wasn't home and that Milliman was an "unwanted person" in the residence when she telephoned 9-1-1. The McHenry County Sheriff's Department has not released information on whether it knew a man had been shot before the first deputy arrived on the night of Saturday, May 29, or whether K. Smith informed the 9-1-1 dispatcher after Milliman was shot.

Reportedly Timothy Smith and Kimberly Smith were waiting outside the house, when the first deputy arrived. The Sheriff's Department also has not revealed the identity of the first deputy on the scene.

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department has been silent on many facts in this case that could safely be released to the public without endangering the prosecution of this case. Instead, not even one press conference has been held.

Was Sheriff Nygren out of town on the night Milliman was shot and for days afterwards? With a fatal shooting in the County and suspects in custody, wouldn't you think the sheriff would return immediately to his jurisdiction and take the lead in the investigation and release of information to the press?

The sheriff's department quickly removes those few press releases that it does publish on its website and it doesn't archive them online for later review by the public.

Crime Stoppers - fiction and fact

Crime Stoppers for McHenry County ... does it exist?

In a year of asking questions, here's what I've learned. You shouldn't ask questions.

A year ago, Crime Stoppers for McHenry County (CSMC) was a member of CrimeStoppers USA, a national organization. One of he national association's requirements is that member organizations be tax-exempt organizations, properly registered with IRS.

There's a question on the application about that. The question is, "501(c)3 (sic) and state non-profit status valid and current? Yes? No?" CSMC must have answered it "Yes" or its membership wouldn't have been approved. There is no option for "Maybe?" or "Pending?"

The problem? IRS didn't have any record of CSMC. CSMC was not on the IRS Publication 78 list.

And today? CSMC is no longer listed as a member of CrimeStoppers USA. Want to check? Go to Wait for the site to load fully; then click on the "Programs" tab in the top row.

Crime Stoppers could still accept donations as a non-profit corporation in Illinois, but the donations would not be tax-deductible. Or could it? To receive donations, a charity in Illinois must be registered with the Charitable Trust Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. CSMC is not. Previously, the AG's office told me an application had been started 24 years ago but never completed.

A letter to me from the national association indicated that the corporate books of CSMC may be in some state of disarray. How did that happen? Even in a volunteer organization, somebody has the duty, the obligation, the responsibility of being Secretary. The Secretary is in charge of the Corporate documents, such as the Articles of Incorporation, the By-Laws, the Minute Book, the Annual Report. And it is the President's obligation to run it in a business-like fashion and to seek legal advice as needed. CSMC has a lawyer, but CSMC must ask him to advise and to perform legal work, and pay him for it.

CSMC gets a lot of money from the McHenry County Circuit Court. Orders of a judge get signed, requiring those guilty of crimes to pay certain amounts to Crime Stoppers, of which there are several groups in McHenry County. Then the Court distributes the money CSMC gets the lion's share of dollars paid to Crime Stoppers groups in the county. And it refuses to say what it does with the money received.

How much is paid out in confidential tip rewards? Not much. In 2009 only about $3,400 was paid out. In three years CSMC received over $50,000 from the Circuit Court. What does it do with the rest of the money?

Tax-exempt organizations in McHenry County lose it

The Northwest Herald reports in an article in today's paper that more than 200 non-profit organizations in McHenry County have lost their tax-exempt status at IRS. Why? They didn't file returns for three years.

Probably, a lot of them are out of business. But who really knows? Should anyone care?

You bet. Because those tax-exempt, non-profit organizations are supposed to follow specific rules for final distribution of remaining assets, when they go out of business. And a donor will no longer get a tax-deduction for any donation made.

The print edition of the Northwest Herald directs readers to for a link to the list of losers. But, when you get there, all you see is the same article that was printed in the Northwest Herald. What can you do next? The only link goes to

If you get there before they change it, you'll see "Tax Exemptions Revoked" Click on that link for a June 9th article. Scroll down and click on the "list of organizations" link at the beginning of the seventh paragraph..

While the IRS list is searchable, it cannot be sorted. Nor is the County shown. So it's basically worthless for research about the numbers of tax-exempt organizations in county or city.

Beth Bentley - now gone 57 weeks

Where is the outcry for support for finding Beth Bentley, the Woodstock woman who has been missing since May 2010?

Was there only one plea for help during the past week? On Tuesday I addressed the Woodstock City Council one more time, asking why there has not been one press conference by the Woodstock Police Department to discuss its efforts to find this "endangered missing woman". Not one. In a year.

I pointed out to the City Council that the small entry in the monthly report by the Woodstock Police Department for May 2011, which now includes one year of investigation, contains only the same line that appeared in the April 2011 report. If I didn't learn anything for working in the corporate world, it's that, when a word isn't changed in a report from month to month, that usually means that nothing has happened.

There will be no meeting of the Woodstock City Council on July 5 (traditionally, none is held on the first Tuesday in July). The next meeting will be July 19, 7:00PM. Will any member of Beth's family be there to plead with the City Council? A family member's plea will carry much more weight than that of an unrelated party.

Listen to that online interview again with Jon Leiberman. Keep in mind that it wasn't "live"; it was pre-recorded on May 10th and then broadcast online on June 2. Listen to it carefully. Did you have questions, as you listened to it? Those are the questions that need answers.

There are people who have been following this case for almost a year who believe Beth Bentley was never in Centralia. Not ever on that Sunday of May 23, 2010.

There are people who question whether she was ever in the Frosty Mug on Friday night, May 21.

There are people who question whether she ever went to Mount Vernon that week-end.

There are people who question whether she ever left Woodstock on Thursday night, May 20.

Remember this year's case of the woman missing from Round Lake Park? Melissa Best was her name. How did Round Lake Park PD (a really small department) solve that case so fast and find her body? What was involved? Drug use by the woman who was missing. Drug use by family relatives. Drugs provided by relatives.

Did Beth Bentley use any recreational drugs? Did she hang out with anyone who used drugs recreationally? Did she have friends who dealt drugs? Did she know people who dealt drugs?

What will it take for the police to reclassify this case as a crime and move it out of the missing-person classification? Isn't "vanished without a trace" more evidence of a crime than it is for just taking off, when there is knowledge of extravagant use of money and suspicion of drug knowledge or involvement?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Start Seeing Motorcycles - Please!

Have you seen the IDOT signs and banners that read "Start Seeing Motorcycles"? This banner is on the front of the Woodstock Harley-Davidson dealership. Read the following press release from the Crystal Lake Police Department and ask yourself: "Why didn't the driver of the minivan see this motorcycle?"

Crystal Lake Traffic Crash June 25th, 2011
On Saturday, June 25th, 2011, at approximately 1:00pm, emergency crews from the Crystal Lake Fire/Rescue and Police Departments responded to a report of a traffic crash on Route 176 at the intersection with
Briarwood Road
involving a motorcyclist.  Upon arrival crews determined a motorcyclist, operating a 2007 Yamaha, was struck by a motorist, operating a 2007 Honda Odyssey, in the intersection.   The motorcyclist, identified as Kevin Franzen (41) of Channahon, IL, was treated by Crystal Lake Fire/Rescue for head and shoulder injuries sustained as a result of the collision.  Franzen, who was not wearing a helmet, was transported to Memorial Hospital in Woodstock for further treatment.  His injuries are not life-threatening. 
 The subsequent traffic crash investigation revealed James Golnik (71), a resident of McHenry, IL, was traveling westbound on Route 176 while operating the Honda Odyssey.  Franzen was traveling eastbound on Route 176.  Both men entered the intersection with
Briarwood Road
in opposing directions.  Franzen intended on proceeding through the intersection.  Golnik turned left toward southbound
Briarwood Road
and struck Franzen’s motorcycle.   Golnik reported he did not see the motorcycle and believed he was struck from behind by another vehicle.  However, witnesses on scene reported Golnik turned into the motorcycle and he was not struck by any other vehicle. 
Golnik was cited with Improper Left Turn at an Intersection and Operating an Uninsured Motor Vehicle, Illinois Complied Statutes 625ILCS 5.0/11-902 and 5.0/3-707.   He is scheduled to appear in court on July 21st, 2011 at the McHenry County Courthouse.
Traffic on Route 176 between
Briarwood Road
and Route 14 was closed for approximately 25 minutes.   

Why didn't the driver see the motorcycle? It's not like the motorcycle came out of nowhere. Was it inattention or might the minivan driver have a vision impairment that created a "blind spot"?

Out of the shadows

If you haven't been reading the new blog in town, Shadow's MCSD, very often, you might want to begin doing so. You can read it at

Shadow definitely has the attention of Sheriff Keith Nygren and, therefore, of Nygren's attorney, Jim Sotos. I don't have any idea of his identity. Maybe our paths have crossed in the past. Maybe they will in the future. I hope so.

Shadow's help is much needed to inform the public what is really going on in the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

I understand why deputies are reluctant to speak out about the problems there. They look around see what happens to whistleblowers. And not just to whistleblowers. They see what happens if a loyal employee, who doesn't like what he sees, tries to bring problems to the attention of a supervisor.

Would an internal affairs division (IAD) help? Only if it had a deputy of the highest integrity leading it. And if he had authority to go outside the department for help, if the Sheriff did not correct problems brought to his attention.

Would that break up the cliques and the in-crowd? It certainly would, if the leader of an IAD had complete independence.

The price of the toys

What's that old saying? "The only difference between men and boys is the price of the toys."

How does this apply to law enforcement in McHenry County?

The Northwest Herald reported on last Thursday's combined "sweep" by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, the Illinois State Police, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, McHenry, Crystal Lake, Cary, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Huntley and Fox River Grove police departments, and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

In addition to collaring six persons with felony warrants, here's what they accomplished:

Traffic 11
Theft 4
Disorderly conduct 2
Domestic battery 1
Battery 3
Drugs 2
Trespass to land 1
Contempt 2

Compare the "awesome" manpower used to collar these dangerous individuals. How many of these wanted persons could have been picked up by a single patrol officer's going to the door and arresting the person?

When a person doesn't show up in court, a judge frequently issues a warrant for the no-show. On simple traffic no-shows, the court might first send a letter. I wonder, in how many cases would a letter and a 44¢ stamp result in the person's appearance at his next court date?

Sometimes there is a mix-up by the court. A person is told to appearance in one place or on a certain date, but the court expects him on a different date or in different courtroom; sometimes, even a different court location. When he's not there, the judge issues a warrant. Often the warrants are soon quashed. Are causes of no-shows ever evaluated?

Could an effective employee on the telephone and with a computer eliminate the costly overhead of a sweeps team like the one last week?

How many hundreds (thousands?) of unserved warrants are there in McHenry County? What is the cost of a "sweeps" team? What is the cost-benefit ratio? Does anyone bother to calculate that? Or is it "Hey, it's just taxpayer money. Who cares what the cost is?"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gov't Take-over of Private Industry?

Don't miss the big 1/2-page ad on Page 8A of today's Northwest Herald. by the Illinois Electronic Security Association. Dig into that bag; get out the paper; unwrap the fish and read the ad!

Should "gummit" interfere with the private and free-enterprise system? If adequate, even excellent, services are provided to the public by private companies, should government set up operations to compete with them?

The first lines read, "The private-alarm industry is being replaced by local governments in McHenry County.

"The City of McHenry, like Woodstock, Crystal Lake and Algonquin, contracted to purchase alarm-monitoring equipment that duplicates existing private-sector infrastructure.

"These communities then passed ordinances that stripped away the free-market choice of business owners by requiring that fire-alarm systems must be monitored by each community's government monitoring station."

Read the information in key sections, such as "The Problem with Monopolies"; "Questions McHenry County Residents Should Ask..."; "Fundamental Errors in Judgment"; and "What the Business Community Is Saying".

For more information, visit or call 630.305.8800

In case you missed the ad, you can see it here;

Coroner chops website

I was surprised to find only very limited information today on the website of the McHenry County Coroner. I had gone there for the spelling of the first of the Deputy Coroner who conducted yesterday's inquest. I had spelled his name Kurt in my article, and later I had read it as Curt in the Northwest Herald.

Wanting to correct it, if I had spelled it incorrectly, I recalled visiting the Coroner's website not too long ago and seeing the names of the deputy coroners. Well, not today.

All that is there is a one-page .pdf file of yearly statistics for 2008, 2009 and 2010 and FOIA information. A Contact Us page provides general contact information (address, telephone, fax and generic e-mail address).

More tax dollars up in smoke? or, is it "down the drain"?

Or are they chasing shadows? or one Shadow?

Thanks to Shadow's MCSD ( this afternoon I learned on the Crystal Lake Patch ( that Sheriff Keith Nygren hasn't yet reached the bottom of the very deep pockets of taxpayers in McHenry County. Now he has sicced his legal beagle, Jim Sotos, on Google to try to uncover the identify of the author of The Real MCSO Exposed that vanished from a few days ago.

The sheriff is blaming his antagonist, Zane Seipler, for internal documents (very revealing ones, too) from the sheriff's department to give readers a new understanding about leadership at MCSD.

I don't know if I have a long-enough FOIA Request form to ask how many dollars have flowed from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department to the Itasca (Ill.) law firm of James G. Sotos & Associates, LTD. Or maybe I just don't want to pay for all those pages of print-outs at $0.15/page that would explain a total that is in six digits, for sure, and possibly seven.

Actually, I don't want to know. I'm worried that my faithful, old ticker might just give out if I learned the number.

The sheriff has an attorney (the State's Attorney) just downstairs under his second-floor office at 2200 N. Seminary Ave. in Woodstock. But the taxpayers support that attorney, who is independently elected by registered voters in McHenry County.

Meet Chicago Police Supt. McCarthy

Like to meet the new Chicago Police Superintendent? Recently, Gerry McCarthy pandered to the congregation of Fr. Pfleger at St. Sabina's Church on Chicago's south side.

What a disgrace! That church ought to lose its tax-exemption.

I give McCarthy about six months before the law-abiding, worried people of Chicago run him out of town on a rail.

McCarthy told a hokey story about two crime scenes in Newark n December 23 and how he was walking through a pile of gun casings from the shootings. Huh? Plodding through evidence? He should have stayed in his office and let his detectives sort out the crime scene. Then he went home to watch Sarah Palin and something about hunting in Alaska. As if that has anything to do with murders in Newark and Chicago.

Surely, McCarthy must be sharper than that. But maybe not...  Well, just keep an eye on the right sleeve of Rahm Emanuel's jacket. You'll see McCarthy hanging out there.

Harassment at courthouse must stop!

This morning I witnessed overt harassment at the McHenry County Courthouse (Government Center) and had to wonder why the courthouse security officers didn't stop it. (Psst... I'll tell you why they didn't stop it - they were the ones doing it!)

When Scott Milliman and his mother (and other family members) entered this courthouse for today's hearings that pertain to his brother's killing on May 29, Scott and his mother were stopped and given special scanning - even though they passed through the scanner without triggering an alarm.

A court security guard was waiting for them. When he saw them come through the doors, he got ready. As Scott walked through the scanner, he was stopped for the extra search. The guard was polite, and I'm sure he was only doing what he had been ordered to do.

Scott's mother was also searched with the wand.

What are we dealing with here? Since when do the relatives of a victim of a heinous crime get specially selected for a wand search - and each time they enter the courthouse, since this happened last week, too.

Who would give the orders? Chief of Security Howard Parth. But would he do it on his own? Not likely. Would Undersheriff Zinke give the orders? who would tell Zinke to treat the Milliman relatives in this fashion? Where does Zinke get his marching orders?

Contrast this with what happened in the courtroom today, when Timothy Smith, charged with first-degree murder, was brought into the courtroom - not even in handcuffs! Or when Kimberly Smith, his wife, was brought in for her hearing. No handcuffs. Of course, she is not charged with being an accomplice or a co-conspirator with her husband on the murder charge. Some wonder why not!

Judge Prather read the charges to Timothy Smith and informed him that he is at risk of 45-Years-to-Life for a sentence, because a deadly weapon was used in the crime. Let's say it takes a year to convict him; he'll be 28. Add 45. He'll be 73 when he gets out, assuming no reduction in sentence or allowance for good behavior. Do you think he might be thinking pretty hard right now about everything that happened that night?

I myself don't think the whole story has been told yet - and maybe not even the true story yet.

Artistic talent - wish I had it

I wish I had the creative talent of Shadow Deputy and could design this blog in something other than its narrative form. Can an old dog learn new tricks? Maybe...

In the meantime be sure to visit  and scroll down to enjoy all the captions.

Who knows? "Da Shadow do." Well, that was the word as I was growing up in St. Louis. And today? Da Shadow still does. It's just that no one knows who Shadow Deputy is. At least, no one who is talking. And, for sure, I don't. I can't even hazard a good guess.

But I like the photos (even the one of me), and I like the captions.

Good work, Shadow! And keep up the good work!

2 deputies who crashed near Wonder Lake

On June 8 two McHenry County Sheriff's Department deputies crashed their squad cars in unincorporated Wonder Lake. Each was on duty.

I knew the names of the deputies, Jon Heideman and Nicole Laskowski, pretty quickly. This morning they were finally printed in the Northwest Herald, even though the paper's first article about the crash was on June 16, well after the crash itself.

The Public Information Officer gave little information to the reporter for that previous article. I filed a FOIA Request electronically on June 16. Responses to previous FOIA requests have always been received by email from the MCSD FOIA Officer on the fifth business day after filing, which would have been yesterday. In this case, though, perhaps the FOIA Officer was ordered by a superior to mail the response to me yesterday, which means I'll receive it late today or even Saturday. Then, by the time I get to her office to pay the $5 crash report fee, her office will be closed for the week-end and I'll wait until Monday.

"Mail" can be played with. If you put an envelope in the mailbox, you have "mailed" it. But if you put it in the mailbox after the pick-up from that box, it won't be processed until the following day, and then delivered on yet another day after that.

The FOIA Officer at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department follows the law of the State of Illinois. I absolutely trust her integrity. I wish I could say the same for those above her in the chain-of-command.

I surely wouldn't want to try and convict anyone on the "evidence" in the newspaper article.

The article says the report (it doesn't say the official Illinois Vehicle Crash Report) "cites" improper passing" and "failing to yield to (sic) right of way" as contributory causes. OK, so which driver was ticketed? It doesn't say. Were tickets issued? (Between 1998-2008 eight traffic tickets were issued to Jon Heideman. In 2001 Nicole Laskowski got a seat-belt ticket.)

Both deputies were on duty (which the Public Information Officer didn't know for the June 16th article (yeah, sure...)) and were northbound on E. Wonder Lake Ave. approaching Chippewa Drive. Laskowski says she was "trying to make a left turn". What does "trying" mean? She was either turning left or she wasn't. Laskowski says she was halfway through her left turn when her car was struck.

Heideman apparently thought Laskowski was pulling onto the east (right-hand) shoulder and began to pass Laskowski.

Now picture this: Heideman's car is reportedly damaged on the right front and middle. Laskowski's car was damaged "across the front". Huh?

An internal investigation is underway. Was this crash investigated by an outside agency?

Why would an "internal" still be underway? Isn't a traffic crash between two deputies, resulting in no injuries, both vehicles towed and "more than $1,500 damage (OK, how much more???) a pretty straight forward incident? Where's the hang-up?

By the way, in violation of the Sheriff's Department's own Public Information and Media Relations Policy, there is still NO press release on the Sheriff's website at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crystal Lake attack report was false

The Crystal Lake Police Department issued the following press release today:

"On June 6th, 2011 shortly after 4:00 pm, a 38 year old female reported to police that she had been attacked while walking alone in the alley, on the east side of N. Williams Street between Woodstock Street and Brink Street. 

"On June 22nd, 2011, Investigators working the case re-interviewed the victim and were able to determine that the original complaint was false. During the course of the follow-up investigation, the victim was re-interviewed at which time she admitted that she had fabricated the story.   

"The investigation was ongoing for a period of just over two weeks in which police followed-up on numerous leads, repeatedly canvassed the area for witnesses to the alleged incident, and sought the assistance of outside agencies in an effort to identify the suspect as described by the victim. 

"All reports pertaining to this investigation will be forwarded to McHenry County State’s Attorney Office and reviewed for possible criminal charges against the victim concerning this matter.  The Crystal Lake Police Department would like to reassure the community that this matter was thoroughly investigated and determined to be fabricated.  We would also thank the members of the community that came forward to provide information or cooperate in any manner with the investigation."

Who, me? Too sensitive?

I get to pass through security often at the McHenry County Government Center. Usually, no alarms are set off, unless I 'm wearing my favorite, solid brass, "Colorado" belt buckle. I put my cell phone, pen and keys in the little bucket and stroll right through. The courthouse security staff is courteous to me, or they ignore me. Either way is fine; I still greet them courteously.

One day during the race for Sheriff, one of the guards looked around, saw that he would not be overheard, and said, "Good morning, Sheriff." He cracked me up! I laugh every time I remember him.

I take a few shots from time to time at the courthouse security staff, but not usually at those who staff the entrances. Sometimes I wonder about over-staffing, but that's a management problem, not the fault of the guards. They just go where they are told.

Today it was a little different. A guard was standing by the exit end of the scanner, leaning on the top of the scanner and he had his left foot up on the railing of the conveyor belt, which was causing his body to lean over the conveyor a little. You would think that any guard on duty would straighten up when a visitor arrived and present a professional appearance and reception, wouldn't you?

As I leaned down to retrieve my possessions from the plastic container, you can guess the view I had. No, thank you!

But I don't run the courthouse, so I didn't say anything - then...

O'Dell inquest held today

A Coroner's inquest was held today into the death of Tommy O'Dell in the McHenry County Jail on April 26.

The inquest was conducted by Deputy Coroner (DC) Kurt Bradshaw. What differed between today's inquest and one I attended on April 15 was that the family and observers were asked to go to the hallway while the jurors were instructed about the inquest. Afterwards, I was told that each deputy coroner can decide how to conduct the instructions for any inquest.

After the room was re-opened to family and visitors, the inquest started. There were seven jurors present, and no one was identified as an alternate. The Coroner should establish a protocol to be followed by all on her staff; I prefer to hear the instructions given to the jurors, and I suspect that O'Dell's mother might have preferred that.

DC Bradshaw ran through the toxicology results the first time without explaining standards, safe levels or relevance. I wondered whether it seems overwhelming to the jurors. Later he referred to the drugs as non-prescribed medications for anti-anxiety and drug withdrawal.

MCSD Detective Ed Maldonado had conducted the death investigation and gave a concise, oral report without the use of notes. He covered all the details clearly and explained what was known about O'Dell's movements at the courthouse and before he came to court from Harvard.

The jurors asked only a few questions before reaching their decision that the manner of death was suicide. O'Dell, expecting to be taken into custody at the courthouse, had apparently ingested a large quantity of drugs either before coming into the courthouse or before going to the courtroom.

Feldkamp estate clean-up

Marengo-area residents Jack and Audrey Feldkamp were killed on the night of June 7 in their home in unincorporated McHenry County. Their son, Scott Feldkamp, 53, was injured and shot and killed Doran Bloom, who is reported as having stabbed all three Feldkamps. John died first; then Audrey died.

Both John and Audrey have Wills dated January 26, 2006, and they have been filed with the Circuit Court. Each is a simple Will and makes no reference to testamentary trusts. There is no pour-over provision in either will. They are "mirror" wills, leaving everything outright to a surviving spouse or, if none, then in equal shares to surviving children.

Two children survive their parents, Scott Feldkamp and Jaclynn Feldkamp. (Don't stop reading yet; it gets better.)

Scott is named the Executor in each. Scott has filed petitions in the matter of the Estate of his mother. The petitions are for Letters of Administration (for Independent Administration under Article 28) and to establish heirship (perhaps this is done to inform the court that the two children named in the Will are living).

Here's the possible kicker, and the answer won't be clear until more is known about the assets in each estate. Did Mrs. Feldkamp have substantial assets in her own name? Did Mr. Feldkamp have any assets?

SECTION 5 of the Wills reads, "No person named in this Will shall be deemed to have survived me unless living on the thirtieth day after the day of my death."

Since Mr. Feldkamp died first and Mrs. Feldkamp died shortly after him, she would not inherit from him. His assets go to their two children. But no petitions have been filed regarding Mr. Feldkamp's Will. Likewise, her assets would not go to her husband, but to the two children.

One charge of the Executor is pay all debts of the Estate, along with funeral and administrative expenses and taxes.

John and Audrey Feldkamp are named defendants in a mortgage foreclosure concerning Liberty Arbour LLC, that involves $1,068,000. Will all the Feldkamp assets end up with Resource Bank?

Murder-for-hire plot revealed by Carolyn Cox

In her civil case filed this week in McHenry County Circuit Court, Carolyn Cox Mahoney disclosed a murder-for-hire plot reported to her by officials of the Illinois Department of Corrections. It seems that ex-husband Billy J. Cox hasn't been idle at Dixon Correctional Facility and allegedly has been looking for someone interested in a little side job. Or maybe someone with connections outside the walls.

Case No. 11CH001498 is titled "Complaint for Civil Conspiracy to Commit Murder". The defendants are R. Marc (sic) Gummerson, Billy J. Cox and known and unknown co-conspirators. Gummerson, a Woodstock attorney, is identified as the person handling Billy Cox's money and assets, while he is away on his 20-year holiday in Dixon. The Complaint asserts that Billy Cox chatted up fellow inmates to murder Carolyn Cox Mahoney "for pecuniary gain." IDOC officials apparently found an inmate who had agreed to accept payment from Gummerson.

Nothing inferred that Gummerson was any part of the plan or knew anything about it.

Carolyn Cox Mahoney wants the Court to restrain Billy J. Cox from conveying any monetary amount to any other individual without court approval. She also asks for a preliminary injunction against Gummerson from taking any action to convey or dispose of any of Billy Cox's property without prior court approval.

She also seeks at least $50,000 for the distress caused her by the plot.

Stopping heroin use in its tracks

Be sure to read the Chicago Tribune article about one family's efforts to stop heroin use. A Burr Ridge family has put up $340,000 to start an intervention program, the Reed Hruby Heroin Prevention Project, following their 24-year-old son's death in 2008.

According to the article, "...the face of the heroin user has changed. Most research on the drug is based on users from the 1970s, who were predominantly African-American.

"Now, heroin users tend to be primarily white suburbanites who snort and inject the drug..."

McHenry County has had its experience with heroin-related deaths. The education must be in the homes, in the schools and on the streets.

Also, from the Tribune article, "It's no accident that the hotline approach was established in the Chicago area, where heroin abuse is more extreme than anywhere else in the country, according to Roosevelt University researchers. The Chicago area led the nation in heroin-related emergency room visits from 2004 to 2008, according to the university's study released last year.",0,5175099.story

See information about the Project on the website of the Robert Crown Center for Health Education  at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Injunction sought by Carolyn Cox

A case has been filed in McHenry County Circuit Court involving a Woodstock attorney, R. Marc (sic) Gummerson. The case number is 11CH001498.

The Plaintiff in the case is Carolyn Cox Mahoney, whose case attracted a lot of attention in McHenry County after her then-husband was charged with, and later convicted of, attempted murder. Her attorney in this case is Robert T. Hanlon.

The Defendants are, according to the Circuit Clerk's online records, R. Marc (sic) Gummerson, who was Billy Cox's attorney during that murder case, and her former husband, Billy J. Cox, who is now in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (Inmate #R66584). Billy Cox, 70, is confined at the Dixon Correctional Center and currently has a parole date of February 26, 2022. Gummerson's middle name is spelled "Mark" on his firm's website at

A conference date for scheduling is set for October 26, 2011, in the courtroom of Judge Michael T. Caldwell.

Numerous legal moves will probably be played out in the next four months, and I won't be surprised if Judge Caldwell either recuses himself or if a motion is made for a substitute judge, or even a move to take the case out of McHenry County.

What if the sheriff spots a traffic violation?

What ought to be the protocol if the sheriff of a county spots a traffic violator?

Should he make a traffic stop? Would the seriousness of the violation be a factor in determining whether to make the stop?

In McHenry County the sheriff doesn't drive a vehicle with easily-recognized markings that it is a Sheriff's Department vehicle. These days, drivers are cautious about stopping for an unmarked vehicle.

If the Sheriff observed a traffic violation, what should he do?

If it's a minor violation, he should let it go. He's the top dog in the County's law enforcement scheme, and he is supposed to be running a department of over 400 employees; he doesn't have time to go to court over a $100 ticket. Besides, if he looks at his own driving habits, would he write himself tickets for his own violations?

What if it's a major traffic violation?

Then he should call for a marked unit and have the deputy (or police officer) make the stop and write the ticket. The sheriff could serve as the complaining witness.

And if it's a really major violation, he might pull over the violator. But what if the violator runs? (drives off, I mean) Is the sheriff ready to give chase in his white unmarked Tahoe? Should he? Absolutely not!

When was the last time Sheriff Nygren successfully passed a high-speed pursuit driving training class?

I remember a past time when the Sheriff encountered a "suspicious" vehicle. It happened to be parked in a parking space in the Woodstock Jewel-Osco parking lot, out at the end of a row of empty parking spaces. Way out.

As I recall, he did not radio in that he had such a vehicle under observation or request a back-up. He just pulled in, fully exposing himself (well, not fully "exposing" himself, thank goodness) to the driver and placing himself directly in a line of danger, had he stopped alongside a dangerous criminal, perhaps one fleeing the scene of a violent crime and prepared to use all means to avoid capture.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case. He knew whose car it was. He had just pulled in alongside the car of a harmless (well, maybe not totally "harmless" (there is always my keyboard)) and unarmed blogger in Woodstock.

You know the saying, "When you need the police in seconds, they are only minutes away"?

It's true! Woodstock Police responded to my call within minutes. And I'm glad to this day that I insisted that the officer give me the Report Number for the incident I was reporting. That put it in the official records of the Woodstock Police Department.

More than a year later, that very date became all the more important for what had happened just before the parking lot incident.

Two-squad-car crash near Wonder Lake

Only one more day, and then I should have the crash report about the two squad cars of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department that crashed on June 8th about 9:30PM. This is the one that stayed out-of-sight and out of the news, until the Northwest Herald published a short clip on June 16. It happened in unincorporated McHenry County, near Wonder Lake.

At that time the Public Information Officer (presumably the MCSD employee with whom the reporter dealt) didn't know the names of the deputies who were involved, whether either was on duty, whether either was injured, whether any tickets were issued (not reported in the article).

Now, if you believe that one, call me without delay about the bridge in New York that I'd like to sell you!

An "internal" investigation is underway. Now, why would that be? What about the crash report and the on-the-scene decision about the at-fault driver? Was it investigated by an outside agency? I mean, by an impartial one?

Sometimes those involved are identified by Unit 1 (at-fault) driver, Unit 2, Witness 1, etc. Sometimes, the initial report might refer to Person A or Person B. When will MCSD tell us whether Deputy H or Deputy L was involved and which one was at fault?

MCSD has taken two weeks, so far, to figure out what any accident investigator should have been able to figure out in 20 minutes. Did the first story from the at-fault driver hold water? Did the story change? Several times?

The longer MCSD takes to reveal what really happened on June 8th, the worse it looks for them. Was it a "simple" accident? What would be the reason for an "internal" investigation? Unless ...

Anyone in McHenry County caught in PLM Title Co. scheme?

Did anyone in McHenry County have business dealings with PLM Title Company, of Wheaton, Ill.?

That company would work out refi deals, and it was supposed to pay off a customer's first mortgage. Instead, some customers ended up owing on two mortgages.

Two women, Pamela Williams, 58, and Patricia Johnson, 57, will enjoy rent-free accommodations, courtesy of the Illinois Department of Corrections, for ten years, and they are supposed to pay back $1,800,000 to former customers. They will have to make a lot of license plates or bookcases to do that!

Were you steered to that company or those women by anyone in McHenry County?

If you know those names or had any dealings with PLM Title Company, or got cheated on any refi deal, contact

Read the whole story at,0,6543361.story?track=rss

Illinois wins the race for last place

I'll admit it. I'm a poor loser.

With Wisconsin's very likely passage of a concealed carry bill, Illinois now becomes the single state to prohibit law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves outside their homes. (And in Chicago, thanks to former Mayor Daley, "home" does not include the yard or garage. You have to be "in" your home, if you want to carry.)

The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisc.) reports the passage of a concealed carry bill by the Wisconsin State Assembly (68-27) (or what we in Illinois would call a House of Representatives).

The bill heads to Gov. Walker's office for expected approval.

From that newspaper, "Wisconsin would become the 49th state to legalize the carrying of concealed guns.

"The legislation would require those who want to carry concealed firearms to obtain permits. It would allow people to carry concealed weapons in the state Capitol and other public buildings but not places like police stations and courthouses. Weapons also would be prohibited in buildings where posted notices bar them, and in places like Summerfest music festival at Milwaukee's lakefront.

"Backers say it will help people protect themselves; detractors worry that it could escalate tense situations in public."

Yep, I agree about the possibility of "tense situations". When some scumbag attempts to rob a person and suddenly finds himself facing a loaded firearm, yes, indeed; the situation will be tense.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TSP strikes out at City Council

Town Square Players (TSP), the oldest active community theater group in McHenry County and the oldest resident community theatre company operating out of the Woodstock Opera House, presented a good case at the City Council meeting tonight for why it ought to receive a share of the $41,000 kitty being distributed by the City from the Hotel/Motel Use Tax fund. Unfortunately, its case wasn't good enough.

Admittedly, times are tough for many, and that includes TSP, but it is working hard to make the current season happen and to stay in business.

Go buy that Lottery ticket this week and then tithe your winnings to TSP. Wouldn't it be cool if someone in Woodstock won $1,000,000 and gave $100,000 to TSP?

Tonight I couldn't even "sell" the City Council on $1,000, and that was more than Paul Lockwood, TSP's President, was trying to get out of them. I suggested the City Council carve out $1,000 from the ten grand it'll give to the Chamber of Commerce.

Paul raised an interesting question about First Time Recipients of the tax fund. The language of the Hotel/Motel Use Tax program seems to favor those recipients who are already in the "club", as Paul called it. After they get their "share", if there is anything left over, it gets doled out to newcomers. If the newcomer doesn't get anything this year, then next year he is still a newcomer, and it's likely he won't get anything then, either. And this year there is nothing left over. And there won't be next year, either.

Councilman Mike Turner seemed worried about getting criticized for giving TSP some money, should the stage go dark for them. Not a worry, Mike, when the City would have been giving so little.

I shared with the City Council the image I had, when Paul was there with his hat in his hand. I thought of settler dragging himself across the hot desert floor to a well pump. By it was a tin cup of water, and the settler was very thirsty. Then he saw the sign, "Prime the pump!"

Heck, I thought it was a good closer for the sale. But the City Council didn't prime the pump.

Visit and get your tickets early for this year's plays. Fill the Opera House. It beats spending your money in some other town.

Crimes in Woodstock - May 2011

From the monthly report of the Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department for May 2011 comes the report of the following crimes in Woodstock. You can read the report at City Hall or at the Woodstock Public Library. Ask for the packet for the City Council meeting for June 21, 2011.

The following cases were assigned to and investigated by the Detective Division of the Woodstock Police Department:

1 theft of motor vehicle
1 unlawful restraint
1 armed robbery (Three Star Pizza)
1 child abuse investigation
1 solicitation for murder investigation
2 residential burglaries
2 aggravated batteries
2 identity thefts
2 felony damage to property
2 drug investigations
3 sex crime investigations
3 missing juveniles
4 felony thefts
4 unlawful use of credit cards
6 burglaries to motor vehicles
25 incidents at local schools (14 of which were truancy)

Pot fine ... $500. HOW MUCH???

The Woodstock City Council is poised tonight to establish new, higher fines for possession of cannabis or drug paraphernalia. Apparently, some whiners have complained about the unfairness of sticking it to some kid for $500 (minimum fine) for under-age possession or consumption of alcohol, but only slamming a kid with a minimum fine of $100 (maximum of $750) for a drug charge.

So tonight the City Council will very likely vote to raise the minimum $100 fine on a drug charge to $500.

Frankly, I think such a fine is abusive and that the amended ordinance should not be passed. In fact, lower the under-age alcohol fine from $500 to $100. When a first offender shows up, sentence him to $100 fine, court costs, community service and an alcohol education or treatment program. And make sure the kid has to pay the fine or work it off. It's totally unfair, in many cases, to stick it to a parent who can't control his or her kid.

If the violation recurs, increase the fine and sentence if the kid is found guilty.

Many of these charges are likely to end up in Woodstock's Administrative Adjudication Court, so that Woodstock can cut the Circuit Court out of its piece of the action. Woodstock keeps all the money.

Personally, I've always wondered about any criminal charge for possession of drug paraphernalia. If I walk around with a bong or a pipe and have nothing to smoke in it, why should I be breaking the law?

Because of the way that laws are made in Woodstock, residents will not learn about this until after the fact. Was a public hearing held on the merits or wisdom of this amendment? I didn't read anything about it.

It's not too late to show up at tonight's City Council meeting. It will be at the Woodstock City Hall, 7:00PM.

Woodstock PD and the Beth Bentley case

In the May 2011 monthly report of the Woodstock Police Department to the City Manager and the City Council, a few words (and I do mean, a few words) were devoted to the year-old case of missing person Beth Bentley.

What did the PD have to say?

"The Investigations Division and the Illinois State Police have continued to aggressively follow up on all leads and investigate the Endangered Missing Person Benedetta 'Beth' Bentley case."

Twenty-seven words. That's all. And the strange part to me is that these are the same words that appeared in the April 2011 Police Department monthly report. So it's boilerplate that is being used and re-used. And that makes the words worthless.

What does "Investigations Division and the Illinois State Police" mean? Are the State Police involved? In what way? What leads (how many, if any?) were received in May? Any tips from Crime Stoppers? How many interviews? Why no press conference?

Do you realize there has not been even one press conference since Beth was reported missing?

A lot of people think Beth isn't "missing" and that she never was "missing". What is the Woodstock Police Department doing to move this case from a missing-person case to a crime? Anything? Are there motives? Some think so. Are there persons-of-interest? Oh, yes... But has the Woodstock P.D. ever named a person-of-interest? No, not ever.

The Woodstock P.D. has a chance right now to zero on someone close to Beth. Will they take advantage of the opportunity or miss it again?

Is there any crime in Woodstock?

Within the past week or so (I don't recall the date) the Northwest Herald published its latest "Police Reports" for Woodstock. When were those reports for? February 25 - March 14!!!

Every month the Woodstock Police Department submits a report to the City Manager, and it goes into the packet that each member of the City Council receives. They receive their "packet" electronically. It saves printing, paper, binding, etc. Of course, I wonder what part of the whole packet get careful scrutiny.

If a resident wants to know what's happening, he has to go to City Hall or to the Woodstock Public Library to read the packet, either before or after the meeting for which it is prepared. For example, the packet for tonight's City Council meeting was probably available to a resident's review after noon last Friday.

What's in the May 2011 report?

Total crimes are approximately 15% higher, year-to-date, than in 2010.
Criminal arrests were higher for May 2011 (129 to 118) than in May 2010. And year-to-date arrests are higher (519 to 462).
Several complaints of criminal damage were investigated - broken residential windows during late-night hours of Saturdays and Sundays.

The armed robbery at Three Star Pizza on May 18 got 16 words out of four paragraphs. No reported arrests.

Take a look at Stolen Property.
May 2011 - $68,657 (vs. May 2010, $13,922)
YTD 2011 - $141,240 (vs. YTD 2010, $72,999) - an increase of 93.5%!

Maybe instead of wasting time on tobacco sting operations, we ought to be concentrating on preventing thefts of property?

How about if the City published the monthly Police Department report on the PD's webpages? This would make it easily accessible to most residents. It wouldn't remain "invisible" to the community or be hard to find. It would be an easy and inexpensive step to put the report online .pdf format.