Wednesday, August 31, 2011

County should pay up now!

The McHenry County Board should pay up now! The Special Prosecutors completed the job they were hired to do. The fact that they did their job and didn't "win", doesn't matter.

The fact that the County entered into a blank-check arrangement does not excuse the County from paying. Attorneys Tonigan and McQueen should stop fooling around and submit the rest of their bills. Let the taxpayers know the bad news without further delay.

Why the attorneys have failed to submit bills since November is unknown. Any computer program can produce billings. They know how much they are going to bill. So bill it!

Let the County Board members squawk. Let the taxpayers scream. The fact is that the County Board must have given Judge Graham a green light with no speed limit; i.e., he is allowed to approve billings without review by the County, and that is what he has done.

Of course, voters can and will remember this on the next Election Day. Stop the run-around. The County Board should have demanded statements on a monthly basis from the special prosecutors from the beginning. Why didn't they?

Attorneys don't work for free. The special prosecutors knew the previous months' work costs by the 15th of the following month and could have printed and mailed statements, probably with 15 Days Net or 30 Days Net. Are they charging 18% interest on past-due amounts?

Joe Walsh town hall - Thursday, Woodstock

Rep. Joe Walsh will hold a town hall meeting tomorrow night. This will be on Thursday, September 1, at the Woodstock VFW, 240 N. Throop St., from 7:00-9:00PM.

I wondered why this event was not on his official House calendar, so I called his Fox Lake office. The Thursday night event at the VFW hall in Woodstock is on the "campaign side" of Joe's life, and so it is not displayed on his government calendar.

Should campaign events and official events be clearly identified in media releases and articles? Some residents might wish to attend an official town hall meeting to meet Joe, hear his official views and give him their 2¢ worth, but they might not wish to attend one of Joe's political campaign events.

The Northwest Herald gave a lot of attention this morning to an anti-Walsh rally planned for Thursday at 5:00PM, prior to Walsh's political meeting at the VFW. Democrat Terry Kappel is putting together a "Rally to Oppose Congressman Joe Walsh's Extreme Agenda". If you are interested in that side of things, show up at 5:00PM at the bandstand on the Woodstock Square. No doubt that demonstrators will gravitate to the VFW Hall and maybe even inside.

Joe Walsh & veterans - Woodstock Library TONIGHT

On Rep. Joe Walsh's official calendar ( is a link to Joe's Facebook page and information about a meeting for Rep. Walsh with veterans tonight a the Woodstock Public Library.

From 6:30-8:30PM "Join Congressman Walsh for a Veteran's Roundtable, where veterans will have the opportunity to share their concerns with the Congressman in a small group environment. Congressman also wants to learn if there are additional ways he may serve veterans in the 8th Congressional District."

For some strange reason, this event is not displayed on Joe's official calendar on his House page. A call to his Fox Lake office uncovered the reason. Tonight's meeting at the Woodstock Library is a "private meeting." Oops, sorry, Miss; wrong choice of words. The meeting is apparently not open to all veterans, but rather to invited veterans' groups. I'd say, if you are a veteran and want to attend, be there at 6:30PM.

Joe's cyber-team of staffers still has not figured out how to communicate with the public. I'm signed up for email alerts and don't receive information in advance of meetings. Anyone else having this problem? Call Joe's office and tell them about it.

Make sure that your concerns are heard. And make sure you find out what they intend to do about them.

Eavesdropping case dropped!!!

A reader has offered this link (which I have already inspected) in response to my story about yet one more continuance with the criminal case of eavesdropping against Alexander Henson (10CF000388):  Note that this is a Massachusetts case. The information is good, but it doesn't apply in Illinois.

This local case involves Henson's recording of McHenry Police in April 2010, while they were inside a home and performing their official duties.

Should citizens have the right to record police with videocameras or cell phones?

Police assert that privilege during traffic stops recorded on dashboard cameras and wireless microphones worn by officers. They don't ask drivers if it is okay to record them. Some departments even share those recordings with popular TV shows. (My opinion is that most police actions caught on those cameras are illegal and provide evidence usable in court against the police.)

But back to Henson's case. This case has been meandering its way through McHenry County Circuit Court since April 2010. On Monday, August 29, 2011, it was set for jury trial at 10:00AM in Judge Prather's court. As I wrote earlier this week, I was in her courtroom by 10:00AM and never heard the case called. Henson's attorney has not responded to my emailed inquiry about whether the matter was handled prior to the 10:00AM court call.

As a result of Monday's court action, I noticed on Monday that the case is now set for a plea on September 12.

And today? The eavesdropping charge is now shown as nolle prossed. So, after all the hoop-de-lah AND sixteen months of aggravation AND legal expense to defend himself, there only remains a charge of resisting arrest.

Well, friends, if Henson hadn't committed a crime (eavesdropping), then how can he be arrested, charged and, most importantly, convicted of resisting arrest? For what?

Law enforcement agencies (police and sheriff's departments) have an awesome power to wreak havoc in peoples' lives by charging them and then dragging cases on for months and months. Do some of those agencies and prosecutors hope to bankrupt a defendant into a guilty plea?

Why wasn't a plea entered in April 2010? Court records indicate only that a jury trial was demanded on May 6, 2010. No plea is noted.

Then seven (7) continuances followed on motion by Henson.

On January 6, 2011, a date for a jury trial was set.

Then "The People" (that's the prosecution) began asking for continuances. On the date for the jury trial (August 29), the prosecution dismissed the eavesdropping charge!

This is our criminal system at work, folks. This case should have been heard and settled over a year ago. One of these days the circuit court judges are going to gang up on the lawyers and shout, "Enough! Trial will be on a certain date! And you'd better be ready, or you'll be sitting in Hotel Nygren for five days!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stale info on NIXLE

When I searched around to find the website where interested persons can sign up for NIXLE alert messages from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, I had to find it first on Google:

And then the first thing I noticed was an Advisory message that the non-emergency number was not working. Well, it's probably working by now. That Advisory was seven months ago!

When smart people (smart enough for CALEA) figure things out, how come they don't figure out how to cancel or remove stale information?

Oh, it's also nice to know that the sheriff's department hosted snowmobile classes in February and March. That information ought to come in really handy, if there is a test somewhere soon.

Lake Villa motorcyclist killed Saturday

I was thinking today about the 29-year-old motorcyclist who was killed on Saturday in unincorporated Lake County near Ingleside. I looked at the intersection on Google Maps and saw it was a T-intersection.

Although the roadway of Highway 59 runs east-west there, the direction of travel is reported as north-side due to the highway numbering. The motorcycle operator was riding north (east); the car driver was driving south (west) and, according to an expanded version in the paper, turning left on a yellow onto Wilson Road

I had said to a friend, before reading the expanded version, that I wondered if the motorcycle was running a yellow light and got tangled up with a driver completing a left turn. It sounds like that's just what happened.

Just as important for a driver to see the motorcyclist is for the motorcyclist to ride so that he can be seen!

If the motorcycle operator is tailgating a vehicle, he cannot be easily seen by oncoming drivers. If he is riding by the right-rear corner of the vehicle in front of him, he cannot be easily seen by oncoming drivers.

I have wondered why some motorcyclists ride almost on top of the center lane-line, and a magazine article recently addressed the visibility issue.

So, motorcyclists, be seen! Drop back a little, allow a safe following distance from the car in front of you, ride to the left, and, of course, watch out for the idiot behind you when the light changes from green to yellow. He may guess that you are going on through. Don't get rear-ended.

Would a helmet have saved that 29-year-old man? At least his 9-year-old daughter had a helmet on. Even so, she was reported to have a fractured skull and internal injuries.

Sheriff's Dept. finally gets with it

Finally.... finally.... after how many days? the McHenry County Sheriff's Department is getting around to warning residents to watch out for gypsies and other burglars. Thanks to Kristin Ottolino of Marengo and County Board member Mary McCann for going to the sheriff's department, in person and unannounced, on Monday morning to raise (well, you know what ... rhymes with "bell").

The following is today's message from the sheriff's department. Hey, is it election time? Why is the sheriff claiming the spotlight? Is he even in town? It was the UNDER Sheriff who took the heat on Monday morning.

Sheriff Keith Nygren would like to advise residents of McHenry County of recent home repair scams that have been occurring in McHenry County. On August 19, 2011 in the 20700 Block of Ridgeview Lane in Marengo, Illinois the Sheriff’s Office responded to an incident where the elderly victims were distracted by the offenders who claimed that they were roofers. One offender distracted one victim outside of the property while another offender distracted the other victim inside the house pointing out things inside the house from room to room. After the offenders left, the victims realized money and personal checks had been taken.
McHenry County tends to have two common groups which are called “Self Proclaimed Criminal Travelers” and “Self Proclaimed Criminal Gypsies” work in our area. Both groups commonly will knock at your door, say that they were driving by, and noticed that your driveway or roof needs work. One person will commonly go to the door and distract the victim. While at the front door they may ask for more money, water, something inside the residence, or distract the victim to come outside. Once the victim is distracted, co-offenders will go into the residence and search for valuables or U.S. currency. Frequently this group targets residents who are elderly, or live alone.

“Self Proclaimed Criminal Travelers” are groups of people who scam through paving, rough repairs, barn painting, and lightening rod installations. “Self Proclaimed Criminal Travelers” usually drive impeccably clean pickup trucks with out of state plates, including the state of Wisconsin. Vehicles may have magnet signs attached with their company information with an out of state area code or 800 telephone number. Victims often describe the suspects as Caucasian or Irish. Victims also may enter into written contracts with the travelers and are promised life-time warranties.

“Self Proclaimed Criminal Gypsies” cons usually include seal coating, rough repairs, and replacement. Criminal Gypsies also use pickup trucks with seal coating equipment in the back. One price is often given at the estimate time, and when the job is complete you are told that you owe more money because they used more material than expected. Frequently the service is not professional in appearance and deteriorates over a short period of time or washes away. “Self Proclaimed Criminal Gypsies” often are described as Romanian, Yugoslavian, or may be described as Hispanic, and speak the English language with a heavy foreign accent.

Some suggestions to help protect yourself include: Do not have unsolicited work done on your residence. Implement the 1-2-3 rule. If someone wants to do work at your residence that was not solicited by you:
1. Wait one day to speak to family members
2. Wait a second day to speak to friends and neighbors about it
3. Wait a third day to see if they come back to push you to get the work performed

During the 3 day “waiting” period, contact a local reputable company to obtain a price comparison. Another rule to live by, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Finally, if you have any questions or concerns, contact your local police or sheriff’s office immediately to obtain further assistance.
For full details, view this message on the web.
Sent by McHenry County, IL Sheriff's Office, 2200 N Seminary Ave, Woodstock, IL 60098

Bad mom? Haul her into court

Don't miss this morning's AP article in the Northwest Herald about a $50,000 lawsuit by two adult children against their mother.

Oh, for shame. Just look at what that mother failed to do for her children:

She didn't send "care packages" to her son when he was in college;
She wouldn't buy her daughter a homecoming dress;
She didn't tuck money into birthday cards.

The AP article says, "Cook County judge Kathy Flanagan previously said the lawsuit amounts to the siblings 'suing their mother for bad mothering'." Judge Flanagan tossed the lawsuit by the kids, but they appealed to the Appellate Court. The Appellate Court tossed it, too.

The kids were obviously deprived, having been raised by their father in a $1,500,000 home (or was it just a "house"?). An ABC News article said that the mother, Kimberly Garrity, had threatened to call the police on her son, when he was 7 and refused to buckle up.

What did she do wrong at that time? She should have called the police!

What's your take on this? Think the kids, Steven Miner, now 23, and Kathryn Miner, 20, are spoiled? Just a little? A lot?

Give me a break! Suing your mom because she didn't put money in a birthday card? The judge should have gone down the throat of the lawyer who filed that lawsuit. The judge shouldn't have any trouble finding him; he is the kids' father.

All this reminded me of the kid who told his boss, "Why don't you pay me what I'm worth?" To which the boss replied, "I would, but they have minimum wage laws in this state!"

OK, Mom. On the next birthday, glue a shiny penny onto each birthday card.

Feldkamp lawyers allowed to withdraw

This morning Judge Michael J. Sullivan allowed the law firm of Schmitt and Filler to withdraw from representing Scott Feldkamp as executor in the estates of John G. and Audrey Feldkamp. And that law firm withdrew its petitions for fees already charged to both estates.

Mark Gummerson was in court and at the bench, when Judge Sullivan granted the requests of the law firm of Schmitt and Filler to withdraw. When Judge Sullivan inquired about any Appearance filed by Gummerson, he was told it had been filed but apparently was not yet "in the system".

No explanation was given for the withdrawal of the petitions for fees, so it's open to anyone's guess how Schmitt and Filler will be paid its $8,700 for work on the two estates.

Schmitt and Filler organized their Marengo law firm in 1995, according to their website. On that website is this sentence: "The firm has a reputation for competency and integrity."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Drugs ... if they don't kill you, they'll destroy your life

After making it two years without another ticket, a 19-year-old got very unlucky on August 21. He got busted for possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of an amount of a controlled substance, meaning a Class 4 Felony charge.

Caught by Wonder Lake Police was Joshua Velmont, middle son of a missing Woodstock woman, Beth Bentley. Of course, he is innocent until proven guilty. When you get caught with the goods, is it an uphill battle or downhill?

I had heard rumors of drug use, but who wants to malign someone based on a rumor?

With all the attention in the news about marijuana, cocaine and heroin, how do we get kids, young adults and adults to stop using? Using drugs has to be one of the most stupid moves ever. Do they think they aren't going to get caught?

But, even if they don't get caught, can't they figure out that snorting powder, downing pills, or shooting up just isn't a very smart thing to do?

When a person gets a public defender, it usually means he doesn't have any money. So where was he getting the money for drugs?

Judge Prather will hold a revocation hearing on September 14 at the 9:00AM call in Room 304. Bye-bye, driver's license.

Hopefully, this will be a strong wake-up call for young Velmont. He has a chance right now to turn his life around. Dump the drugs. Dump the drug-using and -peddling "friends." They aren't your friends, Josh. Turn your back on them right now. Period. All of them. If you know anyone who is using illegal drugs, get them out of your life. If you need to say something to them, just tell them you are taking back control of your life and choosing new friends and acquaintances who do not use illegal drugs (or use drugs illegally).

There is plenty of help around to help you succeed.

How's the shooting on Zimmerman Road?

Just wondering whether the shooting has died down on Zimmerman Road between McConnell Road and Country Club Road. I meant to hang out at Dufield Pond in the MCCD territory over the past week-end, but I didn't get to it.

How's the war zone over there? Did you all have to hide out in your bunkers over the week-end?

How has your contact with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department been? Has the situation improved? Are your calls being well-received and politely responded to?

Have any deputies been called to investigate reports of shooting? Anybody finding any stray slugs in the sides of your homes or in trees on your property?

If you are still having a problem, let me know. Please post general comments here, but without your names, addresses or phone numbers. Please email me at and let me know how to contact you. I'll build a confidential email distribution list for all who object to discharge of firearms in close proximity to residences, and I'll help you exchange ideas about how you can stop this nuisance.

FOID card renewal - super fast

I was a little worried about the speed with which my FOID card would be renewed. Now I'm reminded that "Worry is interest paid in advance on a loan that may never come due."

I mailed my renewal application in Woodstock on August 10. My new FOID card was delivered today. Now, that's what I call f-a-s-t service.

Many thanks to the Illinois State Police staff.

When is a robbery not a robbery?

If I come into your home while you are not home and steal your property, I have committed a burglary.

If I come into your home while you are there and steal your property, have I robbed you?

Not according to Undersheriff Zinke and Lt. Popovits of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. This morning McHenry County Board Member Mary McCann and Marengo-area resident Kristin Ottolino were told that it's not a "robbery", if the perps weren't armed.

Robbery is defined in the Illinois Compiled Statutes in Title III, Part C. Offenses directed against property.
Art. 18 Robbery.  "Sec. 18‑1. Robbery.
    (a) A person commits robbery when he or she takes property, except a motor vehicle covered by Section 18‑3 or 18‑4, from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force." (emphasis added)

So the Undersheriff was correct, legally. And that's what counts, "legally", when you are talking about laws and law enforcement. But what too many law enforcement officers don't understand is what the public understands when they hear terms such as "robbery". Would it have been better public relations to slow down and explain what the legal definition of Robbery was? See 720 ILCS 5/18-1(a)

If perps enter a home, even allowed in or invited, and then distract the homeowners so that one of them can ransack a dresser and find and steal jewelry, that it going to look and feel like a robbery to the victims. At that point it is essential to "educate" (gently, if necessary) and explain the law.

Now, is a "gypsy raid" something special in Illinois law? Apparently, some gypsies are roaming loose in McHenry County and committing numerous thefts. CAUTION: when someone comes to your door uninvited, do not let them in! Period!

Marengo residents - watch out for the gypsies!

Marengo and McHenry County residents should read the following message very carefully. It was written by a woman who is very concerned, very interested and who steps forward into the fray to get action. She didn't leave much space "between" the lines, but you'll read into it and ask the same questions that she did. How did she uncover so many burglaries that the sheriff's department didn't report? Because she talks to people.Read her letter carefully. Her name is used with permission. Her letter is published in its entirety.

Hi All,

I have received many emails from quite a few people wanting to know if I knew what was going on regarding the burglaries. I, too, was sickened by the lack of information put into the Northwest Herald after the article went to print on Saturday August 27th.

I wanted all of you to know that I went to the Undersheriff in the McHenry County Sheriff's office this morning, accompanied by McHenry County Board member Mary McCann. We spoke with both Undersheriff  Andrew Zinke, and also Lieutenant James Popovits. Of course, we asked why the other burglaries in the unincorporated area of McHenry County (Marengo Area) were not in the paper. They said and I quote, they have "only confirmed 3 in the unincorporated area". They said they have another board where the locations listed are not the same ring of people, but rather "Gypsies." Those victims of the "Gypsies" are the ones they didn't deem necessary to include in the newspaper.

Neither myself nor Mary were satisfied with that. We clearly let them know the public needs to be informed, no matter what the case. They took all the information (including police report numbers) that I had on the other burglaries not reported in the Northwest Herald, alongside of the information Mary McCann had, including the residences on Carmak Rd, Kishwaukee Valley Rd, Tomlin Ave, two locations on River Road, Constance Lane, and Koda Ridge. I think they were surprised we had this information. Just my opinion. They did say they will "check into them."

They did discuss there were two burglaries in the Blackstone subdivision on St. Andrews Drive on Friday August 26th.

I let them know that myself, and many citizens are looking at this 'lack of reported information' as a cover up. I told them that in Marengo alone, with over 7,000 citizens, they had 14,000 eyes to help them and asked why they wouldn't want to utilize us. They assured me it wasn't a cover up, and that they were "working on a better system to get information to the citizens."

The Officers believe these are two different rings of people. One ring, they believe, are Gypsies; they smooth talk elderly citizens into their homes with no forced entry, distract the elderly (like what happened on Ridgeview), and take things such as jewelry and other small items they can put in their pockets, without the victim ever being aware of having been burglarized. The other is a ring of people that are using forced entry when nobody is home, for example: breaking windows and forcing doors open, stealing things like guns, electronic equipment and jewelry.

I personally spoke to the victims on Ridgeview Ln. They are MY neighbors. That particular burglary happened on Friday, August 19th, and a police report WAS filed. I actually SAW the card handed to them by Officer Ralph Pucci and I gave Zinke the police report number. These victims actually SAW the burglars and their white or grey small truck (possibly a small pickup) with a creme colored stripe, horizontally down the side. On the day of the burglary, the victims were told by Officer Pucci that they would send someone back to their residence to look over photos. I asked Zinke why the victim's report on Ridgeview Ln. was never followed up by a visit from the Sheriff. I told him they haven't sent anyone back yet and it's been 8 days. Zinke said they would send someone out as soon as they "looked into it." Zinke considered that burglary a "Gypsy Raid."

I was curious as to why, if the victims on Ridgeview Ln. actually SAW the burglars, they didn't send out a sketch artist. Zinke said there is no available sketch artist for our county that he was aware of. I suggested Huntly because I "heard" they had one there but it wasn't confirmed. The Undersheriff again said that they would "look into it." WHY IN THE WORLD DO WE NOT HAVE A SKETCH ARTIST IN MCHENRY COUNTY??? I guess I'll never know. I also asked why they didn't take fingerprints. He said "all surfaces don't lend themselves to good fingerprints." I'm still not sure what that was supposed to mean.

We then discussed a potential "Crime Watch Organization" via social media (the internet/emails.) They said if we organized it, they would give us their full cooperation to report both completely and accurately. Mary McCann, the officers, and I, all discussed that it would be best if the information came from the Sheriff's department directly, to one of the County officials, THEN dispersed to someone, (I volunteered) to be the person to email as many citizens in McHenry county as we can. Mary McCann offered to find a broad contact list. Of course I will make sure I include each of you on my contact list that received THIS email firsthand.

In gathering email contacts, I may ask for your help in the near future with other email contacts in McHenry County (including Marengo).  We'll see. First, we'll have to wait and see what the Sheriffs office are willing to offer.  Wish us luck.

Don't hesitate to call me if you have any other questions: (815)568-1190....and no I don't mind if you pass this email on and include my name and phone number.

Stay safe, stay vigilant,
Kristin Ottolino

CC: Everyone on my contact list in the McHenry County area.

Editor's comment: McHenry County participates in MCAT - which stands for something like Major Crimes Action Taskforce. What this means to taxpayers is that each department doesn't have to staff every specialty. Specialists can be "borrowed" from their departments. So, if there is a sketch artist with one department, he could be borrowed. Is there one?

Ralph Pucci is a deputy with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.  When he told the victims that they would be contacted, I'm sure he believed they would be.

Feldkamp lawyers want out

Last Tuesday the lawyers for Scott Feldkamp, as executor of the estates of his late parents, John G. and Audrey J. Feldkamp, filed motions to withdraw as Feldkamp's attorney.

Scott had filed first as Executor for his mother's estate and then as Executor for his father's estate. The Wills of each appointed him as executor. The Law Office of Thomas W. Schmitt and Jay K. Filler, Jr. had initially represented Scott. In their motion, Schmitt and Filler give the reason that "lack of communication and cooperation on the part of Scott A. Feldkamp."

In capital letters they advised him to get another attorney or to file an Appearance with the court.

Schmitt and Filler also ask the court to award them legal fees for work done to date. They are asking for $3,484.60 for legal work on Jack Feldkamp's estate and $5,233.50 for work on Audrey Feldkamp's estate. One document carried a cc: to the Gummerson & Rausch firm. Will they assume representation of the estates?

The Motions of Schmitt and Filler will be heard tomorrow, August 30, at 9:00AM in Courtroom 365.

Hearing must be shot (or the case was not called)

I trotted over to the courthouse this morning for the jury trial of Alexander Henson at 10:00AM in Judge Prather's courtroom. I got to her courtroom before 10:00AM and sat through many short matters before the bench and one long recess. When the second recess was called, I approached the clerk to inquire when Henson's trial would start.

Imagine my surprise when she informed me that it was continued to September 12!

How did that happen? I was pretty sure I had heard every name called, because Judge Prather calls cases in a loud voice. Then, as in many courtrooms, voices drop precipitously to a barely audible level.

I would like to thank the bailiff for quieting the many attorneys who engaged in conversations while the court was in session. He even went to the vestibule to quiet down the loud voices of attorneys out there. Of course, their voices could be heard when the door opened, but some could be heard in the courtroom even with that door closed.

Henson's case is the eavesdropping one, where he is accused of illegally recording the McHenry Police with his cell phone. The Northwest Herald weighed in with "Our View" on September 4, 2010.

We're not talking about surreptitious recording in the case. The cops knew they were being recorded and told Henson to stop recording.

This felony law in Illinois is definitely against the public interest and should be repealed.

So, the question is ... In general, if I tell you I am recording you and you tell me to stop, do I have to stop recording you or should you stop talking to me? Note: I said, "in general".

When a cop tells you to do something, the time to argue about whether his instruction is legal is probably not right then. If you don't want a huge, expensive headache like Henson has, comply with the cop's direction. You can argue about it later with the police chief, the city administration, the city council or a judge.

I'm anxious to learn when this case was continued. Was it after the 10:00AM announced court time, or did he get continued prior to 10:00AM. If so, you can count on another article.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beth Bentley - Week 66 - why bother?

Beth Bentley, age 41 when she vanished on the week-end of May 20-23, 2010, has now been missing 66 weeks.

Ten days ago I spoke with the deputy chief of the McHenry Police Department about a request I had made to a McHenry business for permission to walk through (some might say "search:) its brushy property near a largest car dealership. That business denied my request and and had informed the police of my unusual (to them) request.

After the deputy chief and I spoke by phone, he asked me to inform the Woodstock Police Department Detective Division of my hunch and our conversation. I sent a detailed email on August 18th to the Woodstock PD and copied the deputy chief of the McHenry P.D.

Somewhere in the Emily Post book of manners and in professional training manners, there is probably a suggestion and recommendation that some acknowledgement of a hunch (tip?) should be made. Perhaps the Woodstock PD is so busy cleaning up murders, armed robberies, kidnappings and other heinous crimes that no one thought, or took time, to say Thanks. In fact, they don't even need to say "Thanks" (they can thank me if a body is found), but professional operations ought to dictate at least an acknowledgement.

Maybe it's just me. Is there anyone in town who has ever received a thank-you for anything from anyone at the Woodstock P.D.? (Not counting traffic tickets, which some officers might consider expressions of appreciation for the opportunity to serve the public, by reminding a person to drive more safely in the future, thereby saving his live.) I can think of one; several years ago a family gave some money for a bullet-proof vest for Brinx. I'll bet that family got a thank-you. At least, I hope so.

Even a nicely-worded form letter from a secretary, on behalf of a detective, might help to maintain good relations with the public. As I say, maybe it's just me that they don't thank. If that's the case, I can live with it.

If they thank no one, then that's something that needs to be fixed.

I wonder whether anyone went to take a look. It wasn't that they needed to form a search team to walk shoulder-to-shoulder through the weeds back there. But maybe one cop or one detective might spend an hour back there. Of course, it would have been better to do that a year ago, but better now than a year from now.

Former co-workers of the recently-downsized Bentley Law Firm will be scattering to the winds now. Were they all interviewed? In depth? Did their stories all make sense? Were discrepancies investigated and resolved?

I know of one person who likely has valuable information - that he doesn't even realize is valuable. And he doesn't want to talk. He says that he doesn't know anything. His information, though, would help complete the puzzle called "Where's Beth?"

Nobody has been "cleared", although one Facebook user stated unequivocally a year ago that that person had been cleared. Police are not going to stick their necks out and very early on say that they have cleared someone. They will not want mud on their faces later on, if that person becomes a suspect.

For now, police have not named anyone as a person-of-interest or a suspect. What that really means is that anyone could be. How many unnamed suspects will read this week's article? Three? Five? More?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sheriff Joe was in town

Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in town (well, sort of ... Kendall County) today to draw a crowd to the Kendall County GOP summer picnic. So I hopped on the motorcycle and headed south to Yorkville and the Kendall County Fairgrounds.

Joe's a pleasant man with a good sense of humor. In his hour-long talk he referred to the people to whom he is accountable, and it was clear that he meant it. Quite refreshing, I must say.

As I arrived, there was a large group of protesters near the entrance road to the Fairgrounds. I rode by and pulled on into the parking area. After settling the bike on the grass parking lot, a golf cart passed, and Joe was aboard. He had been out with the protesters!

I didn't get any sense that Joe picks on Mexican illegals. I think his deputies arrest all illegals. And he doesn't confine his raids on employers to the unincorporated parts of Maricopa County. He goes to all parts of Maricopa County, including the cities and towns because they are in his County.

Sheriff Joe signing a pair of famous pink shorts
He made some of the familiar comments about chain gangs and a women's chain gang, and about controlling the TV viewing menu and serving meals to inmates that cost the jail $0.50/day. Not $0.50/meal; that's $0.50 per day. And he's planning to start charging the inmates for those meals.

He took a poke at President Obama and the national plan of only going after illegal aliens who commit serious crimes. Sheriff Joe's opinion is that, as soon as a person crosses the border and enters the U.S. illegally, he is a criminal!

He gets sued every once in a while, he said. And every time he gets sued, his numbers in the polls go up!

I introduced myself to Joe and told him that, if I'd gotten 50,000 more votes last November, he would have been standing in McHenry County, not in Kendall County.. He told me I ought to run again. I didn't look up Joe's age until after getting home. He was born June 14, 1932, which makes him 79 years old. I never would have guessed it.

Keep up the good work, Joe.

Kendall County Sheriff Randall is very personable, and his deputies were in uniform and looked sharp.

Gas $3.49/gal. in Woodstock

Don't miss this week-end's gasoline sale at the Mobil Mart on Hwy.. 47, south of U.S. 14, across from the Harley-Davidson dealership.

The station has new ownership, and I think earlier today Star 105.5 was there.

The sale continues tomorrow (Sunday, August 28), and prices go back up on Monday morning. Stop inside, too. They invite your business.

I went by on the motorcycle about 7:30PM and filled up. Went home, got the car and went back. You'll save over 30¢/gal. The other stations in town are probably wondering why they have no business...

Wanted: hypnosis partner

As many of you know, I have been involved in hypnotherapy work since 1992, when I studied and worked with Dr. Irene Hickman of Kirksville, Mo.

I am looking for a partner to work with me in a certain type of hypnosis session. I get frequent requests for a type of hypnotherapy that requires a second person. This second person would serve as a hypnotized person and together we would do the work requested by a person who does not live here and who would not be present during the session. Recently, I received requests from a man in Georgia (USA) and from a man in Poland.

This is not pro bono work. Clients pay to have this work done by competent practitioners. I've been involved in this work for 18 years and am, frankly, good at it. I have trained others and have co-conducted workshops at professional conferences.

If you are interested in learning more about it, please email me at

Quinn waters down FOIA law

King Quinn has driven a spike right through the heart of FOIA laws in Illinois. But it's not all his fault. Don't forget the members of the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate who voted for the bill, so it could go to his desk in the first place.

The Northwest Herald reports online today that Quinn signed a bill (too bad the NWH didn't provide the number of the Bill) to give public bodies more time to response to requests from "recurrent requestors". What were they (we) called just a few weeks ago?

Government will now have 21 days to respond. More worrisome is the language in the bill that allows governments to charge for the actual costs in retrieving information.

Just imagine what will happen to a FOIA request and the bill for charges that will accompany a response. Let's say that you mail your FOIA request:

Cost to deliver envelope containing the request from the mailroom to the FOIA officer's desk?
Time for the FOIA officer's secretary to open it and unfold the pages?
Time for the secretary to scan the letter?
Time for the secretary to walk it to the FOIA officer's desk and place it in the in-box?
Time for the FOIA officer to read and comprehend the request?
Time for the FOIA officer to order the materials for the response?
Time for the delegated employee to hunt down the materials for the response?
Time for the FOIA officer to dictate the response?
Time for the secretary to type the response?
Time for the FOIA officer to review, edit, correct the secretary's typed draft?
Time for the secretary to make the changes?
Time for the FOIA officer to approve the final response?
Time for the secretary to type the final draft and print it?
Time to photocopy the documents to be included?
Time to count the pages and calculate the cost of the documents (are the first 50 still free?)?
Time for the FOIA officer to approve the final package and sign the cover letter?
Time for the secretary to get everything into an envelope and send it to the mailroom for postage?
Time for the mail clerk to carry it to the mailroom?
Time for the mailroom clerk to weigh and apply postage and put it in outgoing mail?

Who will be able to afford a bill for a FOIA request??? Good goin', guv...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Marengo "area" burglaries

According to the McHenry County Sheriff's Department (as of this afternoon),

Ø  "There have been three residential burglaries in the unincorporated Marengo area (Oleson, Coral and Pringle Rd.), during the past several weeks.  
Ø "Stolen has been personal property i.e.; jewelry, television, etc.
Ø "No one has seen or confronted the offenders. 
Ø "There is no information that anyone is carrying a weapon, during these crimes. 
Ø "All of the houses have been forcibly entered through a rear door or patio door. 
Ø "(MCSD) Patrol Bureau and Investigations Bureau are working on these cases. 
Ø "While researching the cases (it was) determined that there were several burglaries that occurred in Boone, Ogle, and DeKalb county. 
Ø "(MCSD is) sharing information and working together with their Offices to identify and arrest the offenders.
"There have not been any reports of anyone confronting these suspect(s) or any violence associated with these crimes.
"As always it is important for homeowners to lock your homes and vehicles when you are away, and report suspicious activities and/or people to the police.  We have been and will continue to be in the area conducting extra patrols with marked and unmarked squad cars.  Please feel free to contact our Office if you have any information.  Criminal Investigation Division:  Lt. James Popovits  815-334-4750."

Eavesdropping trial due to start Aug. 29

Remember way back on April 14, 2010, when the Northwest Herald carried an article about the arrest of Alexander Henson, then 25, for recording police and their conversation in a house in McHenry. The cops allegedly told him to stop recording with his cell phone and then arrested him.

Case No. 10CF000388 has been dragging its way through the court system and is set for a jury trial before Judge Prather on Monday, August 29 at 9:00AM. Will it go?

On recent court dates of April 11 and May 24, the State's Attorney's office made motions to continue the case. What will happen on August 29? Will the State's Attorney's Office, which is prosecutiing this case for the McHenry P.D., ask that charges be dismissed?

Will Henson roll the dice and proceed with a jury trial? Certainly, his attorney (at the law firm of Kililis Ridings & Vonau) and he have read the recent Cook County case in which a jury found a defendant not guilty of recording cops (eavesdropping (recording cops without their permission) is a felony in Illinois).

You can read the August 25th Chicago Tribune story here The story includes: "On Wednesday, though, a Criminal Court jury quickly repudiated the prosecution's case, taking less than an hour to acquit (Tiawanda) Moore on both eavesdropping counts."

Or will he not roll the dice and plead to some small, reduced, misdemeanor offense, pay a small fine and walk away from it?

Why does alleged killer still have public defender?

At an early court date (June 3) of Timothy S. Smith, charged with murdering Kurt Milliman, the judge asked Smith if he had an attorney. When he answered that he didn't, the judge appointed a public defender. At the time it seemed to me to be a stop-gap measure, so that Smith would not be unrepresented.

Now, two and one-months later, Smith still has a public defender. Yet he has never applied for one and has never filed a financial affidavit to indicate whether or not he is entitled to a public defender.


The State should challenge the continued participation of the Public Defender. Why hasn't it?

If Smith is indigent and has no income (it's hard to have an income when you're in jail on a first-degree murder charge and can't make a $900,000 bail) and no assets, then let him say so and get a public defender appointed in the proper manner. Is his wife working? Does she have assets?

Is the legal door being left wide open for Smith to say in the future that he was not property represented and get any future conviction thrown out?

NIXLE alert by Marengo P.D.

Activity and "noise" by residents may have contributed to the decision of the Marengo P.D. to issue the following NIXLE alert yesterday:

"To The Citizens of Marengo:

"Recently there has been some information being promulgated via various social media outlets regarding burglaries occurring in or around Marengo. I want to take this opportunity to dispel some misinformation and provide accurate facts for your perusal.

"The Marengo Police Department is actively investigating several (5) burglaries which occurred at residences within the City of Marengo. Three (3) of these acts occurred on East I West Grant Highway while two (2) took place in the avenues. The time frame for these incidents has been varied as well. There could be some connection between these events, but at this point we are looking at several possibilities. Some residences have been forced into, some have been unlocked, some have been empty and in foreclosure.

"Items being taken include property which is usually targeted by such criminals; electronics, weapons, tools and jewelry. There has not been any contact between the residents and the burglars reported to us.

"As always, we caution anyone to contact this department (9-1-1) if some situation or activity appears suspicious and is ongoing or to report information to us at 815-568-7231 if you have been victimized. We appreciate any and all assistance you can provide this department in solving these particular crimes.

"If you need further clarification I may be reached at 815-568-7231 or Please feel free to contact me any time.

Joseph M. Hallman
Acting Chief of Police
Marengo Police Department"

It's a little defense in nature, because the Marengo P.D. reports only burglaries within its jurisdiction. If the burglary occurs outside the town limits of Marengo (i.e., in McHenry County near (the town of) Marengo), then it will be generally reported as having occurred in Marengo, because media seems not to be always careful in distinguishing between "in" Marengo and "in the Marengo area."

I'm way behind the times. I had thought Martin Podosek was Chief of Police, but he left the Marengo Police Department on February 7, 2011.

When I telephoned the Marengo P.D. at 11:07AM, there was no answer. The phone rang 8-10 times; I hung up and dialed back. Same thing. Maybe they closed early for the week-end.

West Nile virus - Woodstock?

The following information was sent to members of a soccer club in the area, and forwarded to me, about the possibility of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the Woodstock area. The email included a reference to the finding of WNV in a pond in the Sweetwater area in northeast Woodstock. That information is actually may be  incorrect.

WNV was found in one mosquito found in one testing trap in this area and also in one in Crystal Lake. That's one mosquito that was caught in a trap and tested. Obviously, if there is one, there is probably more than one.

The description of WNV that follows was included in that email and purportedly came from the Mayo Clinic. That source has not been confirmed.

"West Nile virus is an infection transmitted by mosquitoes. If you become infected with West Nile virus, you may not experience any signs or symptoms or you may experience only minor ones, such as fever and mild headache. However, some people who become infected with West Nile virus develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain.
"Mild signs and symptoms of a West Nile virus infection generally go away on their own. But severe signs and symptoms - such as a severe headache, disorientation or sudden weakness - require immediate attention.
"Exposure to mosquitoes where West Nile virus exists increases your risk of getting West Nile virus. Protect yourself from mosquitoes by using mosquito repellent and wearing clothing that covers your skin to reduce your risk."
The email continued, "Please make sure you take the proper precautionary mesures (sic) to protect yourself and your family, this includes your players as well as the family and friends we have out to enjoy our games and practices. (recommended by Mayo Clinic) Apply mosquito repellent with DEET to your skin and clothing. Choose the concentration based on the hours of protection you need - the higher the percentage (concentration) of the active ingredient, the longer the repellent will work. Avoid using DEET on the hands of young children, in case they put their hands in their mouths, or on infants under 2 months of age. When outside, cover your infant's stroller or playpen with mosquito netting."  
Go to the website of the McHenry County Health Department
Click on "Environmental Health"
Scroll down to and click on "Nuisance Program"
Scroll down to and click on "Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus"
Click on link for "McHenry County WNV Data"
Within that section you can examine the "pool data" (mosquito pools). Click through to the last page, where you will find one Positive finding in 60098. That was on August 22, 2011.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lawsuit against Nygren goes forward

In a case that had fallen off the radar screen of many watchers, Judge Michael T. Caldwell held a hearing today in the case of Robert Schlenkert v. Sheriff Keith Nygren et al. Schlenkert is a deputy with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department who was forced to jump through a lot of hoops to get his job back. He did finally get his job back after beating Nygren in the Appellate Court in Elgin in a lightning-fast decision by the three judges. Then he had to fight and fight to get Nygren to cut the check for his back wages.

This case was filed on February 23, 2009. That's - let's see - 2 1/2 years ago. The defendant's in the case are Sheriff Keith Nygren, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, the County of McHenry, and the five members of the Sheriff's Department Merit Commission: Janelle Crowley, Gloria Urch, William Mack, Brian Goode, Patrick J. McAndrews. The Merit Commission, as a public body, was apparently discharged as a defendant. The law firm for the defendants is Ottesen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo, Ltd., of Naperville. (The Sheriff's Department sure likes mailing legal fees out of the County.)

Today was the 17th court date in this case. The next court date is September 22, 9:00AM in Courtroom 204.

If you'd like to know more about the five appointed members of the Merit Commission, go to and scroll down to Merit Commission. There you can read a long bio about Janelle Crowley, who is the HR Director for the City of Woodstock and chairperson of the Merit Commission. You can also read bios for Gloria Urch and Patrick McAndrews.

Like to know all about Brian Goode and William Mack? Nothing is disclosed about them, except that they were appointed to the Merit Commission on August 20, 2002. Now what could be the reason that Sheriff Nygren doesn't want voters or residents to know anything about Goode or Mack?

Who are Mr. Goode and Mr. Mack?

Calling all investors...

Hey, folks!

How about investing some of your money? OK? You know that puny return you get at the bank? What is the interest on savings accounts now? 1%? 2% 3%

How about 10-12% in the first year, with an 18-20% return by the fifth year and a five-year internal rate of return of 28-30%? Too good to be true?

More risk? How much more? A little? A lot? Can you handle it?

Read: what Mark Houser and EquityOne Sports have to say about what they can do with your money.

Who was it (Mark Twain? Will Rogers?) who said, "It's not return on my money that concerns me. It's the return of my money!" And I heard that one back in 1966!

Neighborhood watches are forming

Marengo, Union and Belvidere families are not waiting for the sheriff's department or their police departments to start protecting their properties.

Many residents are concerned about the lack of publicity about the burglaries that are occurring. Naturally, if the police agencies don't provide information to the media, then there won't be stories in the papers. But, if residents call reporters directly, then the stories ought to start appearing. One resident mentioned to me that the Huntley may carry a story.

A resident told me that her calls to the sheriff's department are not being returned. I told her to go up the ladder or, better yet, start at the top and let it filter down.

And, with all these burglaries, where is the wonderful NIXLE system???

Tollway rate hike decision?

I tuned in late to the webcast from the Tollway's website, just as a speaker was asking that Tollway employees ought to pay tolls when commuting. 

Well, duh.... Of course, they should! Why should they get free tolls?

The speaker then asked for the toll hike not to be approved, if tollway employees will not be required to pay tolls.

Then the meeting adjourned at 11:47AM. Did they approve the hike? The Chicago Tribune reports it did; "The vote was 7-1, with Bill Morris of Grayslake the lone no vote. The increase will go into effect Jan. 1." Thanks, Mr. Morris!

Just imagine... only eight people to decide on spending $12,000,000,000. Welcome to Illinois!

Bentley case - now more than Missing Person?

Is the Beth Bentley missing person case really more than a Missing Person case?

Recently I filed a FOIA request to inspect the files at the Woodstock Police Department. After all, if it's "just" a missing person case (and not a criminal case) and since over a year has passed, it seems logical and reasonable to me that the police files ought to be open to public inspection.

The City, on behalf of the police department, denied my request, claiming that making the records available would interfere with pending or contemplated law enforcement proceedings.

Upon that denial I filed a Request for Review with the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.

The result? The PAC upheld the City's denial.

The exemption claimed by the City of Woodstock (for the Woodstock Police Department) is that release of this information would "interfere with pending or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement enforcement proceedings conducted by any law enforcement or correctional agency that is the recipient of this request."

OK, so what are "law enforcement proceedings"? They are related to crimes.

The City of Woodstock states that it "...reasonably contemplates law enforcement proceedings arising from this matter." The City further stated that "its investigation of the matter is ongoing, and disclosure of the requested information would hamper the investigation and any resultant law enforcement proceedings."

So it seems to me that this is not "merely" a missing-person case.

The Public Access Counselor's opinion states, in part, "The City's contemplation of law enforcement proceedings is reasonable under the circumstances, where a person has been missing for more than 14 months, and the disappearance is unexplained. We also agree with the City that disclosure of the information would impair the investigation and any contemplated law enforcement proceedings. If a crime has been committed, disclosure could alert the perpetrator about the status of the investigation and whether the authorities are closing in. Furthermore, withholding details from the public about a crime can enable law enforcement to determine whether potential witnesses are telling the truth or whether they have valid information."

You be the judge. Is the Woodstock Police Department reasonably contemplating law enforcement proceedings? We all certainly hope so.

How soon will they announce persons-of-interest, suspects or an arrest (or arrests) in this case?

They should know that one key witness is now out-of-state. Will that person return for a September 2nd court date in a civil matter? Or will another state scoop up that person and deal with the issue on its home territory? It seems that the State's dealing with this civil case as an interstate case in Illinois hasn't worked very well, since the usual continuances month after month have resulted in no conclusion since late 2010.

Just call me "Mr. 411"

As a result of all the articles I have written on many subjects, my name shows up in many Google searches. And, as a result of that, I get many telephone calls and many e-mails.

Just this morning, a man called, thinking he was calling the Tollway. He was calling about a missed toll yesterday. He does not have a transponder and had found himself without change at an unattended toll booth on an exit. The only thing you can do is to go on through. Well, I suppose you could sit there for an hour or two until a trooper came along... I gave him the phone number for the Tollway and also told him how he could pay a missed toll online.

I am happy to help, when people call me.

I've gotten calls for Turning Point, DCFS, YSB, CAMHCO, and I don't know how many other organizations. And I've gotten emails regarding immigration detainees at the McHenry County Jail. My knowledge about immigration issues has gone way up in the past 18 months.

Sometimes I get more deeply involved and might go to court hearings month and month with someone who is being worked over by the legal system. I have seen cases dismissed as a result of my involvement. I'm not a lawyer, but I can certainly "educate" a person about the system. I can advocate for them, and I can teach them how to advocate for themselves.

Recently I was contacted by a German woman searching for a Nigerian friend with whom she had lost contact over a year ago.He has been a "guest" in Hotel Nygren at $90.00/day for the past three months. I helped her establish commissary funds for him, telephone contact and email communications. I even went over to the jail to visit him. He hadn't had any visitor since coming to Hotel Nygren in May. His criminal charges in Chicago have been resolved and his short sentence completed.

I won't go on a long rant right here about the huge waste of money by our Federal Government on housing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees who are awaiting court appearances and decisions and who are not flight risks. (Or, even if they are, so what, if there are no serious Federal criminal charges against them? If they flee the U.S., they are gone, and we don't have to spend $90/day to house and feed them.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Got sense? Tell the Tollway

Remember that Tollway board member last week who said something about cents? Well, you can tell him that you've got sense! Tell him (and the rest of the Board) what you think about the $12 Billion capital plan.

Thanks to a nudge from Cal Skinner, I'll tell you how to do it.

Go to the Illinois Tollway website by clicking right here and then scroll down a little to the box for "Capital Plan Comments". Put in your 2¢ worth and send it to them. But hurry; the decision will be made tomorrow morning at the 10:00AM board meeting.

Read Cal Skinner's articles on McHenry County Blog.

Warrants at MCSD

How many warrants are awaiting service at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? How old is the oldest?
There are (well, I'm really not sure of the exact number) 3,042. Read below why I'm unsure of the number.

The oldest unserved warrant is a Failure to Appear with a 1977 date.

These got my attention, when Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart recently began posting online the names of all the unserved warrants in his department. Remember when MCSD and a warrants team served a 13-year-old warrant on a woman hiding in plain sight in Bourbonnais, Ill.? A judge threw that one out, but only after she sat in jail.

Information in response to my FOIA request included these details:

"Felony warrants are processed within 24 hours of receiving – at which time they are turned over to the Apprehension Unit for service.

"All Misdemeanor warrants are also processed within 24 hours and the in county ones are turned over to the Patrol Division for service."

So the paperwork for incoming warrants gets taken care of right away. 
Now, here's why I question the number of outstanding warrants. Help me with the math here. From the August 1 MCSD report to Corrections Chief Sedlock:
Active Warrants as of: 07-05-2011                3141
Served: -250

 Active: +329

                                                       Quashed: -308


Active Warrants as of: 08-01-2011                  3042
I get a different total (actually, one more favorable to the Department).

3141 on 7/5/2011
-250 served in July
-308 quashed
+329 new warrants (if "Active" means new)
2912 outstanding as of 8/1/11 (corrected 8/25/11 Ed.)

What do you suppose the "Difference: +130" means in the report? Do you think anyone reads the monthly report?

Many burglaries in Marengo and area

The following message came from a friend in the Marengo area. If you are interested in contacting this person for more information, let me know your name and phone number, and I'll pass it along. Email it to

"To all my friends in Marengo:


"I wanted you to know to keep your doors locked even during the day when you're home. Preferably, load your guns and keep them near you. There have been a rash of burglaries ALL OVER Marengo. Apparently, the Northwest Herald doesn't deem this as newsworthy. These guys are armed. It's happening everywhere in Marengo: Locust Street, State Street (near the Avenues), Ridgeview Ln, River Road  in 2 places, (one successful even getting guns out, and one unsuccessful), Kishwaukee Valley Road, Tomlin Street, and according to the McHenry County Sheriff, they also hit really good up on Hawthorne and Koda Ridge, and these are the ones I KNOW of...I can only imagine how many I haven't heard of.

"Yep, Ridgeview, 5 doors down from my house. They're after guns and electronic equipment/computers.

"One of the people on Kish rd. was out mowing his lawn on his rider with his kids and dog in the backyard, he saw a Com Ed truck pulling out of his drive, went in his house and it was cleaned out. It's not a real Com Ed truck. It was a small white S-10 pickup with a sticker on the tailgate that said "Com Ed". Com Ed doesn't have stickers on their tailgates. Also, a friend of mine works with a guy who had a man in a Com Ed white outfit knock on his door and when he answered, the guy looked stunned and asked if "Bruce" was home. When he told him he wasn't, the guy left. He didn't know this was going on or he would have reported it. A day later, a house on his block (on Tomlin) was robbed. HE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS IF THE FRIGGIN' NORTHWEST HERALD would have reported it. But of course, not ONE of these burglaries are in the Northwest Herald. Go figure.

"One of my personal friends had her garage door lifted. She's on River Rd just west of Rt. 23. When the police came for the police report they told her she should keep her cell phone on her at all times, even in her pocket when she goes to the bathroom. They also told her that these 3 men will cut phone lines and break in through glass in the back of the locations or come in the front if the door is unlocked. They're opening garage doors with a frequency clicker so lock the doors of your houses between your garage and your house. She also said that they are not afraid of dogs. Dogs are NOT deterring them. The Sheriff was not specific as to how he knew that, but I can only imagine. YIKES.

"My other friend's mom had her house cleaned out and guns stolen out of her house. It was (name deleted)'s mom's house on Route 23 by the Avenues. (Identity deleted)

"I'm passing this on to you in hopes that you will pass this on to your Marengo friends. Call your neighbors and tell them to LOCK their doors!!

"I have heard of 9 robberies so far but I'm sure there were more we are not hearing about, all in the town of Marengo.

"I have contacted the Northwest Herald but they said the news would not come out until two days from now because if the info isn't in by 5:30 p.m., it won't go in until the next day. I  have also faxed ABC and NBC because I think the story inside the story is that the local paper isn't alerting their citizens. They say the police have to confirm the info. Since the police don't want this reported cause it would ruin their "Norman Rockwell town" reputation, this is like the fox guarding the hen house. It's up to us to spread the word. Please do so."

Huntley I-90 interchange - $64,000,000!

You're kidding; right? $64,000,000 to improve the Huntley interchange of I-90 and Route 47? This is part of the Illinois Tollway's $12 Billiion (that's BILLION - $12,000,000,000) fantasy that will probably get a green light on Thursday morning.

If construction workers and Tollway employees were taken out of the mix of people showing up at the series of hearings held by the Tollway folks, how many people want $12 Billion spent and how many were against it? We'll never hear those numbers. A handful of people, those on the Tollway Board, will decide on this huge capital program on Thursday. The last public hearings were held last night in Kane and Lake Counties.

If you want one final scream, go to Downers Grove.The Tollway Board meets ...  well, let's see; just how hard should it be to find the date, time and location of Thursday's Board meeting on the Illinois Tollway website  Go there and see if you can find it in less than five minutes!

Found it by going to the Site Map (top of homepage). Thursday's meeting will be August 25, 10:00AM, in the Tollway headquarters boardroom, 2700 Ogden Avenue, Downers Grove, Ill. The agenda indicates that "live feed Webcasting", but there is no information about where or how to access that.

Oh, back to Huntley. Of the $64,000,000 the Tollway, out of your $12,000,000,000 won't even be paying for 100% of the Huntley interchange. Where is the money coming from?

50% from the Tollway
25% from IDOT
10% from the Village of Huntley
8.5% from Kane County
6.5% from McHenry County

McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler got his 2¢'s worth in at Friday's night's hearing in Huntley. He said this interchange will create a "great economic engine for McHenry County now and when the economy picks up." That what McHenry County gets for its share of $4,160,000.

The Tollway's capital plan is like an avalanche sliding down a mountain. There is no way to stop it and no way to get out of the way.

When you drive on the Tollway, think of the Denver-Boulder (Colo.) Turnpike. Originally, it was a toll road. The promise there was that, when the bonds were paid, the tolls would go away. In 1952 the toll was $0.10. When the Turnpike was paid for, the toll booths were removed. Imagine that!

No further charges in Monday's fatality

Today's Northwest Herald reports that Woodstock Police now say that no further charges will be filed in Monday morning's fatal accident on U.S. 14 west of Route 47.

Looking back to yesterday's articles, perhaps different wording could have been used. Yesterday it was reported that further charges "are pending" on the results of blood work. That statement might reasonably have led readers to believe that it was just a matter of determining "what" charges. Better wording might have been "Investigation continues into the accident."

And today's article still doesn't carry any detail of the accident, not that exact details are needed. But surely the police could reveal whether the IDOT worker was in the roadway, whether traffic was light, moderate or heavy, whether traffic was start and stop. Other drivers learn by details and can possibly avoid becoming involved in accidents of their own by reading and understanding how other accidents have happened.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Drugs destroy two lives

From the Crystal Lake Police Department:

"On January 30, 2011, at approximately 1:00 am, Crystal Lake Police were summoned to 1353 Boxwood Drive for an unresponsive 24 year old male who was believed to be the victim of a drug overdose. Responding officers initiated lifesaving efforts by starting CPR until Fire/Rescue personnel arrived on scene.  The victim, Sean P. Hopman (M/W D.O.B. 3/17/1986), was transported to Woodstock Memorial Hospital where he expired later that day.

 "An investigation into the death of Mr. Hopman revealed a person of interest who allegedly supplied Mr. Hopman with heroin immediately prior to his death.  The subsequent investigation indicated that Philip D. Neumann (M/W D.O.B. 5/26/1988 of 106 Deer Path, Lake in the Hills), contributed to the death of Sean Hopman by facilitating a drug deal (heroin) on January 29, 2011, that ultimately led to Sean Hopman’s death.  

"The Neumann subject was paroled from the Illinois Department of Corrections on June 9, 2010 in regard to a burglary conviction. On August 23, 2011, police served Philp D. Neumann with a criminal complaint and warrant for one count of Drug Induced Homicide, Class X Felony at the Kane County Jail where he was already in custody on an unrelated Delivery of Controlled Substance (cocaine) charge.  Philip D. Neumann remains in custody at the Kane County Jail with bond set at $500,000.00. If convicted, Neumann could be sentenced to between 6 and 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections."

How bad is the drug problem in McHenry County? BAD

Know someone involved in drugs in McHenry County? Heroin? Cocaine? Mazrijuana? Dealing? Using? Turn 'em in.

There is only one way to stop this scourge. Don't just say "No". Say "NO MORE!"

Good laugh at United today

I enjoyed a good laugh on (at) United Air Lines today, when I read a promotional email for their MileagePlus Explorer VISA card. The promo read, "Get a free checked bag each time you fly".

Actually, what I'd really to get is my own bag back. Think that's possible? What if I fly and don't check any luggage? Does that new VISA card let me choose any bag I see on the carousel?

Thanks, United.

Woodstock's "Popular" Annual Financial Report

Did you pay attention to the insert this week with The Woodstock Independent (Aug. 17-23 issue)? Did you notice that it's Woodstock's report to residents on operations? And it's Woodstock's "Popular" Annual Financial Report (PAFR).

One almost has to be a CPA to understand financial statements, but the City does a pretty good job at presenting the number in a broadbrush fashion. But pay attention. Look at the words and the numbers, and don't get sidetracked by how "pretty" it is.

The first section that got my attention was "Allocating the Dollars". It's in the section "Where the Money Goes." Thanks for using plain English.

Of the $28,165,800 in expenditures of your money,

$10,236,800 goes for salaries; that's 36.3%
$  4,277,000 goes for benefits (for those getting salaries); that's 15.2%

Aye, and therein lies the first rub.

While the $4,277,000 is 15.2% of the total expenditures, look at it from the standpoint of its percent of salaries. When you look at it this way, the $4,277,000 is 41.8% of salaries.

Does anyone else think that a 41.8% benefit package is more than a little on the "rich" side?

And the total of salaries plus benefits? That's $14,513,800, which is 51.5% of the expenditures!

One would have to dig down into the 1,000 pages of financial information for this report and budget to find out what all is included in "benefits". For example, does that include the City's share of retirement and disability benefits, if employees are not covered under Social Security (where the employer's contribution would be 7.65%)?

Remember the day when government jobs and benefits weren't the best on the block? They weren't the highest paid with the sweetest benefits. Of course, this didn't change in just one year. But it changed. And the reason it changed, is that the public stopped paying attention.

So dig that PAFR out of the trash and get out your red marker. If the trash is already gone, drop by City Hall and pick up another copy. Then start showing up at City Hall on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 7:00PM. But only if you care about your wallets.

Woodstock Fatality - Work Zone or not?

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and police make a big deal of speeding in work zones and cell phone use in work zones, and with good reason. Neither is mentioned in reports of yesterday's fatal accident on U.S. 14, just west of Ill. Route 47 in Woodstock.

An IDOT worker was killed by a westbound car on Monday morning. That roadway was recently repaved, and there are no construction barrels or warning signs there.

According to press information provided to the Northwest Herald, but not posted on the police department's website, Woodstock Police said that the IDOT worker was not in a construction zone. He was measuring the width of the roadway.

That probably had to do with planned painting of new lane lines on the resurfaced roadway.

Later in this morning's article an IDOT spokesman is quoted as having said that the worker's "...death marked the first work zone fatality involving a worker this year."

Police have already cited the 67-year-old driver for failure to use due care with a pedestrian "and further charges are pending on the results of blood work." I note that the police did not say "may" be filed. The words were "are pending". That's rather ominous.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Merit Commission DID meet in June, but legally?

Recently, I wrote that the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission did not meet in June.

I was wrong.

Thanks to "Frmr Commisioner" (sic) who wrote a Comment on Cal Skinner's McHenry County Blog's article about the Scott Milliman firing, I learned that the Merit Commission actually did meet in June.

When I looked at the online June calendar of board and commission meetings (, I had looked only on the date of the Regular Meeting of the Merit Commission. It meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 10:30AM. Those are the Regular Meetings. The June 8th meeting is marked Cancelled, and there is no notation that it was re-scheduled.

However, if you look in the June 15th calendar box, you see the Merit Commission listed and, if you click on Agenda, you can see the agenda for that meeting. This must have been a Special Meeting, but it is not so marked. The Executive Session on the agenda does not mean that there was an Executive Session; it serves as a placeholder, in case they decide to have an Executive Session. Personally, I don't like that way of doing business, but some organizations get away with it.

Can a public body just move meetings around willy-nilly? No, I don't think so. The public would have a hard time keeping up with changes of this type. When you see that a monthly meeting is canceled and there is no note that it is re-scheduled, then it's off the calendar for that month, like so many other Merit Commission meetings.

Did the Merit Commission violate the Open Meetings Act by this action? There's a good way to find out.

Let's see; where's that coin? Heads, a letter about an Open Meetings Act violation goes to the McHenry County State's Attorney (which upheld a previous complaint I made about an OMA violation by the Merit Commission). Or Tails, a letter goes to the Public Access Counselor at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Who (what?) is the shooter?

Here's an unusual sign that I spotted today on McConnell Road at Oak Ridge Lane, right at the entrance to McConnell Hills community. This is just east of Route 47.

What do you suppose this sign means?

Beth Bentley - now gone 65 weeks

Beth Bentley - mother, wife, legal secretary, friend to many - vanished 65 weeks ago. Many think some people in Woodstock would know exactly where to look for her.

I wanted to do some looking around in McHenry County this past week, and I contacted the owner of a property that very likely could have a connection to Beth. Rather than just tramping around through that property, I thought the right way to handle it was to contact the property owner and request permission.

You've heard the phrase, "It's easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission"? Well, now I know where that phrase came from!

I started with the manager of the business that will be located on that property after the building renovations have been completed. From there I was referred to H.R. (which I knew was wrong). And then to the Property Management arm of that large organization. I got frequent and timely calls back, which was nice, as they kept me posted on their efforts to go up the chain-of-command for a decision.

Finally, somebody said "No." And they let their local police department know of the my unusual request to search on their property. What had I told them? Only that I had received a tip that their property might be a good place to look. It's wooded, weedy, off the beaten track.

First thing the next morning, that local police department contacted me. Professionally and courteously. I had no objection to the passing along of my name to the P.D. I stand behind everything I say and do. I wasn't looking for credit or reward. I'm trying to find out where Beth Bentley is.

Do you know? Do you have any hunches? Post them here as Comments and notify the appropriate police agency.

Earlier this summer I thought about setting up an office in a vacant storefront on the Woodstock Square. I envisioned  the walls filled with poster board and tips. Post all the leads, tips and lies. Put up the names of everyone who ought to be interviewed and questioned. Start putting the pieces of the puzzle together until a picture begins to form.

And then I got to thinking. What's that radio station that is a favorite of many? WII-FM are its call letters. They stand for What's In It For Me. I didn't know her. Why should I continue to expend energy and thought toward finding her?

Of course, anyone involved in Beth's disappearance is counting on the energy falling off. More people are needed to take action and keep the interest alive in finding her.

Think about it. What if your wife, mother, daughter, sister were missing and had disappeared under circumstances similar to Beth's disappearance? What would you want done? What would you be doing?

Does a person's signature change over the years?

How much does a person's signature change over the years? Now, I'm not talking about a lot of years, like from grade school to applying for Social Security retirement income. I'm talking, say, the last five years.

Take a look at Keith Nygren's signature on the termination letter he sent to Scott Milliman, dated August 17. You can see it on Cal Skinner's blog right here:

It resembles very closely the signature that sometimes appears on Media Releases on the sheriff's website (when he is in town to sign them, which isn't all that often).

Now, compare the 8/17/2011 signature with Nygren's signature on the Second Home Rider for his mortgage on his Florida home. Does that look like Nygren's signature to you? (To enlarge this image, click on it (you can click twice if you want to). Then, to come back here, click on the Back button on your browser.

Wouldn't be interesting to have a graphoanalyst examine both signatures and give an opinion? Not only could such an expert opine as to whether two different people signed those signatures, but s/he could tell us a lot about the person who signed each name. Open up a second window and pull up the McHenry County Blog article. Then toggle back and forth and look at both signatures.

Now the questions are: who signed Keith's name on the mortgage rider? If not Keith, what officer at Home State Bank watched someone sign that rider, knowing it wasn't Keith? Or was the Rider signed out of the presence of a bank officer, and then the reviewing officer just "assumed" that Keith had signed it.

No one can sign anyone else's name to anything without legal authority. That's why the Undersheriff now puts his "AZ" by Keith's name on the Media Releases. That little detail slipped by everyone (heh-heh), until I called them on it earlier this year. Picky, picky, picky. You bet! If someone happened to hold Keith's Power of Attorney for signing that Rider, then that person was required to sign it as the holder of the Power and so notate on the document.

So, what do you think? Did Keith sign both the Rider and Milliman's letter?