Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And the Seipler beat (case) goes on ...

Deputy Zane Seipler's request for a Special Prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren remains alive and well in Judge Thomas Meyer's court. State's Attorney Lou Bianchi is to be disposed. Yes, but when? Is there a deadline?

Is it possible that Zane's attorney didn't ask Judge Meyer to set a do-or-die date? If he didn't, just plan on getting a lot of haircuts before you get trimmed for good.

Nothing happens without a deadline. Deputy Schlenkert waited and waited and waited for the check in settlement of his back pay and benefits.

Zane is going to have to wait and wait for his check, once the Illinois Supreme Court rules against Nygren and Nygren decides to head for Florida. Or will Nygren appeal to the United States Supreme Court, causing even more delay (and expense!!!) to McHenry County taxpayers?

Now, what's going to happen if, once Judge Meyer is satisfied with the evidence and statements, he (Judge Meyer) rules in Zane's favor and appoints a Special Prosecutor?

Will Nygren take it like a man and open his drawers for the Special Prosecutor? Or will he throw up yet another obstacle and tell his attorney (that would be his County attorney, Bill Caldwell) to hotfoot it down the road and appeal in Elgin. (and then, when tthe Appellate Court rules against Nygren, to pack his bags and get down to Springfield with his appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court?

That ought to make all of us throw up.

Hasn't Lou Bianchi already demonstrated that he is not available to investigate and prosecute Sheriff Keith Nygren? If he had been available, he would have done so by now. How could he "not be available" for two years and then, if Judge Meyer so rules, decide that he "is available"?

Except then he'll say that he "is available" but chooses not to investigate.

How much is all this delay costing? Too much. Far too much!

If Judge Meyer does appoint a Special Prosecutor, he should get to work immediately, even if Attorney Caldwell appeals. And don't not investigate if Nygren takes a hike and heads for Florida. Will Nygren try the old stunt of "You can't fire me; I quit"? Will he retire and then claim he is no longer in office and can't be prosecuted?

Sure, let him try it. And then order him back here for depositions and investigation.

Orson Welles' movie at Library - Sunday

On Sunday, December 4, the 1958 movie Welles's Touch of Evil (1958) will be shown at the Woodstock Public Library. This Orson Welles movie was recently restored to the director's cut. The film stars Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, and Akim Tamiroff.  Joseph Cotten and Zsa Zsa Gabor appear in cameo parts. 

Woodstock resident Kathy Spaltro included this in her press release: "Of her old friend Welles, who used to saw her in half during magic acts in the 1940s, Dietrich remarked, 'When I talk to him, I feel like a plant that has just been watered.' "
You are invited to attend the free showing of Touch of Evil at 1:00PM on Sunday, December 4, in the Library's meeting room on the lower level.

How will McHenry County get a new sheriff?

Getting a new sheriff in McHenry County is now (mostly) out of the hands of the voters until November 2014. If Keith Nygren bails now (for example, if the Illinois Supreme Court refuses to hear Nygren's appeal of the Seipler re-hiring deal), then the County Board gets to pick the successor to Nygren.

Had Nygren left office sooner (perhaps 28 months before the next General Election (November 2014)), then the voters would have chosen a new sheriff in November 2012.

What's going to happen if Nygren bails?

Will the undersheriff be a shoe-in? Undersheriff Andy Zinke has already announced his candidacy for election in November 2014.

Some think it quite strange that Zinke would announce so far ahead of time. And some of those think it even stranger that Zinke would use a mailing address of one of Nygren's strongest financial supporters and one of the five members of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission, Brian Goode.

Nygren is already putting Zinke out in front as far as MCSD announcements. Is this for name recognition? Who cares, since it's not the public that chooses the mid-term successor?

What qualities should the County Board look for in a successor? Should it just shut its eyes and choose Nygren's right-hand guy?

With all the attention on Herman Cain's campaign and the type of issues being raised, should the County Board demand a squeaky clean successor to Nygren? Should the County Board make an exceptionally close inspection and evaluation of all available candidates to replace Nygren, if he bails out before the end of his election term?

Should the County Board take into consideration the welfare of the Department and the employees? Is morale important? Should the employees' opinions count, when the County Board makes its decision? How can the County Board learn factual information critical to their selection of the next leader of the Sheriff's Department and sort out those who might dislike likely candidates just for personal reasons, but not for professional reasons? And what about any professional reasons to do some careful sorting before the selection?

Who would be on the "short list" for appointment as Sheriff to succeed Nygren?

Monday, November 28, 2011

You thought the Patriot Act was bad?

Remember when you thought the Patriot Act was bad. And when you learned that an FBI agent could write his own warrant and show up at your door - and you couldn't tell anyone, not even your own attorney, about that warrant?

Get a load of this?

From comes:

"Since Occupy Wall Street began, American police officers have arrested thousands of people for exercising their constitutionally protected right to protest. On Monday or Tuesday, the US Senate will vote on a bill that would give the President the ability to order the military to arrest and imprison American citizens anywhere in the world for an indefinite period of time.

"A provision of S. 1867, or the National Defense Authorization Act bill, written by Senators John McCain and Carl Levin, declares American soil a battlefield and allows the President and all future Chief Executives to order the military to arrest and detain American citizens, innocent or not, without charge or trial. In other words, if this bill passes and the President signs it, OWS protesters or any American could end up arrested and indefinitely locked up by the military without the guaranteed right to due process or a speedy trial."

It's time to get on your phone and call your U.S. Senators. It's too late for e-mail, letters, faxes. Call !!!

Remember what happened in the 1930s in Germany. The people slept through small, nibbling changes. When the big bites came, it was too late.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Aircraft parachute systems

The Cirrus SR-20 that crashed near McHenry County College yesterday was equipped with a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), which is a safety feature in every Cirrus aircraft.

At the CAPS is described as activated by a lever in the cockpit that deploys the parachute, which then lowers the plane to the ground.

Investigators will be concerned about determining the payload (weight of passengers and luggage), the remaining fuel in the tanks (and whether one tank might have run dry and then the position of any tank lever inside the cockpit), and estimating the speed of the plane when it hit the ground. For debris to be scattered for 100 yards, as estimated by the sheriff's deputies' report, the plane still had considerable forward momentum and would not have been drifting under the parachute.

Information about the CAPS can be read at  Click on the "Learn More" button for additional information about the System.

Small planes often are not equipped with "black boxes". Although the plane was reported to have been operating under VFR, there is probably some computerized tracking by the FAA, so that it's flight path could be determined.

The plane had obviously been flying more than 30 minutes, if it departed the Marion, Ind. airport about 10:00AM. Could it cover 200 miles in 90 minutes? Definitely. Its departure time may have been about 10:00AM. E.S.T., which was not noted in early stories.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Are we turning cops into soldiers?

Check out the Nov. 21st article in The Atlantic at about militarizing our police.

Right in the middle of it is a photo of MARV. No, wait; it's not our MARV. It's one in Tampa, Florida. The article mentions other MARVS, including one not so far away - in Neenah, Wisc.

The author of that article quotes Mike Lofgren, whom he identified as a former Republican Senate staffer: "One further similarity to the military that the police have achieved is something not often remarked on and that goes beyond the physical substance of the militarization: a psychological distancing and de-humanization vis-à-vis the population."

Does this happen right here in McHenry County, when deputies strut around in their "muscle" t-shirts and with their shaved heads? Are they approachable? Do kids and young adults look at them with respect? Do those deputies even care if they are respected?

Some don't, and their attitudes and feelings are transmitted to the public. Who is in charge of preserving the image of the deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? You got it. The Sheriff. Just look at what he allows.

Of course, he might not know about it, if he spends too much time in Cape Coral or Minocqua. But then his #1 knows about it. That would "Sheriff-elect" Andy Zinke, currently known as the Undersheriff. Why does he tolerate it?

Should the McHenry County Sheriff's Department get rid of MARV? Does the public know how many assault rifles (those fully-automatic ones) are available to deputies? Any grenade launchers? Any machine guns? Does the public know what training and qualifications a deputy must have, before he can be armed with an assault rifle?

I do not intend for a law-enforcement officer to be "under-armed." If there is an extreme situation, then extreme response is needed.

But I remember the day when a SWAT team went to a woman's Island Lake residence in combat gear and with weapons drawn. Why? She owed a couple of hundred dollars in unpaid court costs and fines. Those dollars could have been collected with a letter and a 44¢ stamp.

Resume update

Oh, if only I could have found the key...

There are some days when you just can't have enough fun. While I was searching for the key, I did notice how many levers there were, and I wondered which one did what.

I didn't have time for the training course, so I guess my "driving experience" will have to wait for another day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Who did your dishes?

Have you ever noticed how it is the grown-ups who slave away all day in a hot kitchen to prepare a terrific Thanksgiving Day meal, and then how it's the grown-ups who get stuck with cleaning up the mess?

How come the kids head for the living room and the videogames and the football on TV, while the adults clean up?

It's because they have been allowed to do it.

What's a better plan? Work out ahead of time that the "kids" (some of those kids are 30-40-50 years old) will be expected to help clean up - until the job is done. The older folks ought to be able to head for the living room and settle into the most comfortable seats, while the "kids" do a bang-up job (without too much "banging") in the kitchen - loading the dishwasher (carefully!), washing the "good" silverware by hand and drying it (and putting it away in the silver chest), scrubbing all the pots and pans (and actually getting them clean) and then putting them away. Emptying the dishwasher when the dishes are done, and carefully putting away the dishes and glasses. Emptying the trash and garbage. Wiping down the counters and cleaning the sinks.

Now THAT would give grandparents something to be really thankful about!

What was it like at your house? Who spent an hour in the kitchen cleaning up?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Big brother sez, No drinking

Today's NIXLE message from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department reads, in part: "Like always, do not drink alcoholic beverages and drive. If you host a holiday party, serve non-alcoholic beverages for those driving or provide alternative transportation."

What do you suppose they meant by "Like always, ..." Consuming an alcoholic drink and then driving is not illegal.

Driving while impaired or drunk is illegal.

Personally, I do not drink anything alcoholic and then drive. I can just imagine the gold star that a deputy or local police officer would get (and maybe $100 cash or a steak dinner) if he arrested me for suspected DUI.

Would I refuse the breathalyzer? I might. And then, of course, I'd have to deal with the court and the DMV over a summary suspension charge.

I know a 29-year-old man who was ticketed for DUI and who refused to blow. He was taken to a hospital and his blood was drawn. The BAC was 0.04%. His driver's license was suspended, because he refused to blow.

But he wasn't drunk, and the hospital lab result proved it. But the cop caused him to lose his license and to incur huge legal fees.

Annual Township government conference, Springfield

On November 6-8 the Township Officials of Illinois (TOI) held a conference at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield. Your tax dollars at work, folks..

One area township official wrote, "Speaker Rob Bell’s keynote address How to Deal with Change in a Positive Way offered clear-cut ways to improve service to township constituents and enhance officials’ leadership skills."

I wonder how much time was devoted to "Should townships in Illinois be abolished?"

TOI holds an annual conference to keep officials up to date with the latest developments in local government management, fiscal practices, and general assistance. Like, is there really much else that a township is supposed to do than provide "General Assistance" to a very few of its residents who are in desperate financial straits?

This year’s sessions addressed the Cemetery Oversight Act, grant writing, recordkeeping, pavement maintenance (separate Township entities maintain roadways), software programs, the Freedom of Information Act, parliamentary procedure, budgets/levies, etc. 

The 104-year-old Township Officials of Illinois ( organization is comprised of a whopping (nearly) 11,000 officials from 1,432 townships throughout 85 counties in Illinois. Some Illinois counties do not have townships. Does that mean it collects dues from nearly 11,000 officials? Do townships average eight "officials" who belong to TOI?

Isn't a township the smallest and least significant government in Illinois?

The public cries out when a non-profit organization spends too much money on "administration", screaming bloody murder when a not-for-profit organization incurs 50-60-70% administration costs. But what about townships? Doesn't the Supervisor and his/her staff expense often run 100-150% of money actually doled out as General Assistance?

For another viewpoint, visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stop U of I tuition waivers

Should tuition waivers at the University of Illinois for children of veterans be stopped?

Information from Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford today indicates that the Illinois legislature established this program in 1947. Of course, that was right after WW II. And how it has grown. The University of Illinois awards one scholarship per county for children of Illinois vets since 1947.

I wrote to Dan recently after reading that six scholarships are awarded from each County each year. Dan's message mentioned only one. A previous news article referred to children of veterans of several conflicts, starting with WW II.

Dan also wrote, "I agree with you that Illinois has no extra money lying around with a 3.5 billion dollar backlog of bills. Wasteful spending and costly, long term borrowing must stop."

Do scholarships only go to the needy, or does the U of I dole them on merit, regardless of financial need? Does it really matter, when the State is broke? 

The only way to stop these is to demand that the legislators tell the U of I to turn off the tap.

Book Release and special offers

US military vets are coming home. Their visible scars are evident; what you don't see is their Hidden Wounds. Our book is sounding a warning to act now before Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) explodes in America's families and communities.

Hidden Wounds: A Soldier's Burden shows how the inner trials of a US Serviceman can haunt a lifetime and impact an entire family.

Today is the Day! Support the release of the book Hidden Wounds: A Soldier's Burden on November 15 and receive valuable gifts from our partners.  The first 1000 will also receive the E-Book at no additional cost.
1) buy the book from and
2) Forward via email your amazon receipt to
You will immediately receive an email back with a link to a directory listing of all your gifts.

Our goal is to make the book a best seller in the first week.The Tuesday, November 15th launch counts BIG TIME.We are focusing media attention and using proceeds from the book to support the non-profit Hidden Wounds who provide a link to interim and emergency counseling for our Veterans and their Families.
Please forward this email to your contacts and ask for their assistance on our behalf. We have received a lot of positive feedback from Soldiers and their Families and the media attention is giving the non-profit a platform to discuss the impact of untreated Post Traumatic Stress.
See all the details at 
Yours Truly,
Team Hidden Wounds
Additional note from Gus: The Hidden Wounds website is at It is a 501(c)(3) organization in Columbia, S.C. that I support. I've already ordered my book. I invite you to order your copy right now from

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sheriff rapes inmates on fees

Is this a scorcher? You bet.

It used to be possible to deposit funds to the commissary account of an inmate or detainee at the McHenry County (Ill.) Jail and not pay a fee. For example, a friend or family member could put $20.00 in an inmate's account with a credit card and not pay a fee. It's a simple EFT. That's all. Two cents' worth of bandwidth or cyber whatcha-ma-call-it.

And now? Recently the McHenry County Sheriff's Dept. has changed providers, moving this service from ICSolutions to Access Corrections. (

And the fee now to put $20.00 in an inmate's account!!! $6.95  THAT'S $6.95. Six Dollars and 95 Cents to provide $20 to an inmate for soap, toothpaste, deodorant, snacks.

That service fee is 34.75% of the amount deposited for the inmate. Anyone else think this is highway robbery?

This is an outrageous fee of such a size that it should be illegal.

Who is the clown at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department who made that deal??? And how much commission does the McHenry County Sheriff's Department rake off on every electronic deposit? They already stick it to inmates with a high mark-up on the merchandise and food sold to inmates through the commissary. Now they want to suck up more money just to get funds to the inmates!

Since Keith Nygren's name is still on the front door at the Jail, he must have approved that deal. Corrections Chief Sedlock was not in today to answer that question!

Friday, November 18, 2011

House bill no help to Illinois gunowners

The U.S. House of Representatives is on the verge of passing a bill creating reciprocity of concealed carry as a national law. According to the Associated Press, "A state permit to carry a concealed firearm would be valid in almost every other state in the country..."

"... in every other state that gives people the right to carry concealed weapons." And that leaves out Illinois!

Illinois is the hold-out. Illinois still prohibits carrying of concealed weapons by law-abiding, responsible, licensed, trained individuals. Frankly, I cannot believe I am living in the one state that is the hold-out.

What if all the law-abiding citizens left Illinois? Now there's a thought. Who would be left? The lawless and those who could not afford to move. And guess who would take over? And that would mean the Feds would have to come in, because those who could not afford to flee the state would also not be able to afford to pay for the services (police) to protect them.

How much longer will law-abiding residents have to wait for a concealed-carry law?

I wish I had gotten the name of the McHenry County Sheriff's deputy who told me in 1996 that I would never get a permit to carry a gun in Illinois. That was shortly after I moved here in March 1996. Is "never" a word that should never be used?

Are "Occupy"-ers really terrorists?

An out-of-state reader offers this comment:

"Homeland Security was created to defend our country against terrorists. Osama Bin Laden wanted to destroy Wall Street. The Wall Street protestors have the same goal. Where is Homeland Security in all of this? Where is the FBI? Why aren't these people arrested and tried on the federal level? Why are all the expenses put on local police for enforcement? The cities and states are strapped for cash and Homeland Security keeps expanding with most of the officials (~2,000 in Washington D.C. ~1,000 TSA in airports.) Something is wrong with this picture."

Does McHenry County still have a Sheriff?

Taxpayers in McHenry County are footing the $145,000/year bill for a Sheriff of the County. His name is Keith Nygren, who was re-elected in November 2010.

This morning's paper carries a front-page article about the murder of a Pistakee Highlands woman yesterday. The name of Undersheriff Andy Zinke is mentioned a couple of times.

Where is Sheriff Keith Nygren? Why isn't the top elected law-enforcement official of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department out in front on this?

Is he even in McHenry County? Or is he closing up his Minocqua, Wisconsin home for the winter? Or is he checking the heating system in his Cape Ccral, Florida home, in preparation for the wintry months ahead?

What other county sheriff owns over $1,000,000 (at the time of purchase) in residential, owner-occupied homes?

Somebody told me a while back that an elected official has to work only one day a year. Whether or not that is correct, the taxpayers should be demanding a fair work schedule for $145,000/year. His vacation package should be about ten days, since he has only about 13-14 years of service as Sheriff. Nygren shouldn't get, take or claim "credit" for past years of work with other agencies.

How many days in a year is he really away from the office on personal time? Thirty days? Sixty? Ninety? More?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Joe Walsh loses it in Gurnee

U.S. Representative Joe Walsh must wish that he had never shown up at UNO Bar and Grill in Gurnee on November 6. Or that someone hadn't been there with a video camera. Or that he'd kept his cool.

A letter to the editor in the Northwest Herald today called my attention to that "Cup of Joe with Joe". The letter from Barbara Marian and Jerry Powers said that they were "shocked, embarrassed and, yes, saddened" by the videotape making the rounds on YouTube. You can watch it right here. Starting at about the eight-minute mark, it's not pretty.

Joe became almost violently argumentative, getting right in the face of a woman who had a point-of-view and was asking questions.

Joe said "the government demanded for years that everybody be in a home." Gee, I must have slept through those years. I don't remember the government demanding that I purchase a home.

Joe, come on. Get real.

He really went on a roll, and you can watch it from about the 8:00-minute mark in the video on YouTube.

At 10:00 he demanded repeatedly that somebody off-camera "be quiet for a minute." He absolutely played the role of the bully, the teacher in the classroom who could only restore order by out-yelling the kids. The kicker was when he said he was going to "ask you (the person off-camera) to leave."

Joe forgot he was in a public place and didn't have the right to ask anyone to leave. What was he going to do, call the police to the public business and tell the police to eject someone? If anyone should have been ejected, it was Joe. I wonder if UNO's will ever want him to schedule another "Cup of Joe with Joe" there.

I gave up at 11 minutes into the 50-minute clip on YouTube. Whew!!!

Joe loves to hear himself talk. I'll offer him some advice. Start listening. Watch him when someone else is talking. He's not listening. He's just waiting for them to take a breath, so he can jump back in.

And it wasn't the caffeine...  It's his core operating style.

Shooting in Woodstock?

Was there a shooting in Woodstock during the past few days, the news of which hasn't reached the public yet?

This afternoon I was asked whether I had heard of the shooting on Sheila Street. Sheila Street is on the north side of Woodstock and runs east from Route 47, just south of the McHenry County Government Center. Housing is mixed there - apartments and houses.

The word to me was the someone had tried to break in and was meet by gunfire. Possibly on Monday of this week. This is Thursday.

Does anyone know about this?

And where is the follow-up news on the armed robbery at Sunrise convenience store on McHenry Avenue (Route 120) in Woodstock? Was there a videotape or digital recording from a security camera? Isn't there a decent description of the perps by now?

Should the Woodstock Police Department maintain a daily blotter in the lobby at the police station, where anyone can walk in and read what has been happening in the City?

The Sheriff's Department has one for the County, but you have to enter the Government Center and know to go to the administrative office of the Sheriff's Department to read it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How many cops drive under the influence?

Just take a look at the articles on today...

Arkansas: troubled trooper quits after DUI arrest

Pennsylvania: why wasn’t this boneheaded state trooper fired after his 1st DUI arrest? Trooper arrested again!

North Carolina: Deputy quits after his arrest for DWI

Ohio: Trooper too happy on way home from Halloween party now quits after DUI arrest

Should law enforcement officers (troopers, deputies police officers) be subject to random testing for alcohol and drugs?

60MPH showboating on Lake Ave.

Every once in a while there is a motorcyclist who gives all bikers a bad name.

This one today was showing off for his female passenger, and he's lucky he didn't dump his bike and injure them both. At the red light on westbound Lake Avenue at Kilkenny Court/Catalpa Lane, he pulled up alongside me. He didn't "jump" the light but, when he took off, he nearly did "take off". He might have been trying for a wheelie, because the front tire was close to leaving the ground.

I estimated his speed at 60-65MPH westbound, and it's a 40MPH zone there. His passenger looked like she was enjoyed the ride, while the bike was stopped at the red light. After that I never saw her face.

Their destination? The Red Mill. Maybe for a couple of brews to warm them up. The bike is a red Kawasaki with a small black windscreen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Buckle up! - or else

The November Special Traffic Enforcement Initiative of the Woodstock Police Department is, once again, seat belt enforcement. Didn't they just have an enforcement campaign on seat belts?

The State of Illinois is pushing law enforcement agencies to hit a 93% compliance rate. Where are the numbers now? The State is at 92.6%. How much money is stupidly being spent on the last 0.4%? And how much money will be sucked out of driver's pockets?

The People should march on City Hall and demand that the City Council order the City Manager to direct the Police Chief to instruct his officers to b-a-c-k o-f-f.

If kids are climbing out the windows, sure, ticket Mom. If they are buckled in but just not in the "right" child seat or if they don't have their arms under the shoulder belt, a Warning is sufficient. Socking Mom or Dad with a $120 ticket just is not necessary to eke out that last 0.4% compliance.
Why not use the electronic trailer as a Notice board? Instead, it sits in a garage or in the parking lot in front of the Police Station announcing a used-drug drop-off. Why not put that trailer to good use and keep the police officers active fighting crime, arresting criminals, stopping the drug trade in Woodstock, recovering stolen property and a number of other good police-officer functions.

Many of the Woodstock cops earn $60,-70,-80,000/year. And these guys are assigned to stand behind bushes in front of the Challenger Center and look for someone not using a seat belt?

They aren't there because they want to be. They are there because they are told to be there. Care to voice your opinion? Email and and give 'em a piece of your mind.

Almost as an after-thought, the announcement of the seat belt campaign mentions that the cops will also be watching for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Good! Go after those drivers!

Mission: Hope Chicago supports troops

At last week's joint Woodstock and Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce mixer I met Ben Thompson and learned of Mission: Hope Chicago.

Ben is raising money for this 501(c)(3) organization that will send "care" packages to 1,500 U.S. soldiers who are serving overseas.

Words of a Marine staff sergeant headed to Afghanistan for his third tour there are included in the flyer that Ben was handing out. "Knowing there are people who care about us and support us, makes all the difference. You have no idea. It saves lives."

For more information, go to  Click on Outreach Programs for details on this specific effort. You might want to earmark any donations for this particular purpose. Or email Mission: Hope Chicago at or via

Or call Ben at 815.670.3873

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beth Bentley - Week 77

Beth Bentley has been missing for 77 weeks. Seventy-seven weeks! That's 539 days. (Click on the poster to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser to come back here.)

Wouldn't you think that, in 539 days, some kind of lead would show up? Is there anyone who really thinks this is still a missing person case? Or that it ever was?

The longer it takes to put some pressure on those who were last with her, the harder it's going to be to find Beth. She is NOT forgotten.

Who ought to be put under the hot lights?

You start with those with whom she is believed to have spent the last week-end. That would be May 20-23, 2010.

Supposedly, Beth and friend Jennifer Wyatt drove from Woodstock to Mount Vernon. That's where Jenn male friend was, and the way I heard the story was that Beth and Jenn stayed at the house in Mount Vernon that was being rehabbed by Ryan Ridge.
Supposedly, Beth parked her car in Jenn's garage.
Supposedly, they drove the 330 miles to Mount Vernon, leaving on Thursday night, May 20, after a baseball game in which Beth's youngest son had played.
What time did they leave Woodstock?
What route did they take? (They probably drove on the Illinois Tollway. What record was there for the rental car passing through toll booths?)
Who drove which leg of the trip?
Where did they make restroom, coffee or gas stops?
What time did they arrive in Mount Vernon?

Then you grill Ryan and Nathan for what they know about the car trip and arrival time. And you ask Ryan, Nathan and Jenn (separately!) exactly what happened during the week-end and create a time-line. That should have been done the first week. Was it?

The very first suspicious circumstance is Beth's parking her car in Jenn's garage. If they wanted to use a rental car for whatever purpose, why not leave your car at home? Or did Beth not want it known that they were renting a car? Or driving 700 miles?

Supposedly, her husband thought she was going to Wisconsin for the week-end with Jenn.

Beth was supposed to have dinner with her father on Sunday night. For a year I've wondered when that date was picked; the dinner was originally scheduled for the Sunday before. If it got changed, who changed it, and when? Why would Beth arrange a birthday dinner with her father and then blow it off?

So maybe she didn't. Did the Woodstock Police ever investigate that aspect of events before the date of her disappearance? Did Beth call her father and tell him she was out-of-town and wouldn't be back for his birthday dinner? Since Beth's disappearance wasn't reported to the police until late Monday night, May 24, how and when were the dinner plans changed? Who changed them?

Why has this case gone cold without a lot of noise from the family?

Jailbrakers benefit - Nov. 19

The 2nd Annual Community Dinner and Fundraiser for Jail Brakers will be held on Saturday, November 19, at the Woodstock Moose Lodge. The benefit starts at 4:00PM (ends at 7:00PM), and the Moose Lodge is located at 406 Clay Street, off the north end of the Woodstock Square.

Jail Brakers is grassroots organization that serves families of men and women who are in jail, whether a local county jail or state prison. Through support groups, activities and events Jail Brakers focuses on elevating family identity and cohesion, as well as on lessening isolation.

There will be door prizes, Turkey Bingo and an auction. Also, expect good entertainment from musicians, including Andy Andrick, Don Mumbertson and Patricia Caldwell.

A donation of $15.00 at the door will help support families who have a family member who is incarcerated.

See you there - at 4:00PM on Saturday, November 19. Want more information? Email

Just a matter of time...

Could this be happening at 2200 N. Seminary in Woodstock? A reader made a comment to me today about a sinking ship in Woodstock, after reading Cal Skinner's stories about the Pavlin case and recent federal court ruling involving the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and some of its deputies.
Read in today's McHenry County Blog about smear effoerts against Deputy Zane Seipler when he was running against Keith Nygren in the Republican Primary for Sheriff. A confidential Woodstock Police Department report was photocopied and widely disseminated within the offices of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. 

I heard about this right after it happened. I didn't report on it because it was an obvious smear tactic within the Republican campaign and the "powers" within the Sheriff's Department. I say this, because there is no deputy at the patrol level who would have dreamed up that one at the risk of his job. 

Even then, someone knew who had obtained the Woodstock PD report. Woodstock PD would have had a record of who requested it and to whom it was given.

From there it would have been an easy matter to trace it through the photo-copying process (were County-owned and taxpayer-supported photocopiers used for campaign purposes?). Whoever was involved should have been criminally charged and prosecuted.

Did that happen? Of course not.

Read the explosive information on Cal's blog. The Woodstock PD denied FOIA requests for the report, although it did not name the two requestors. Those names should be readily available through a Freedom of Information Act request. I wonder if Cal has requested them.

Then the law firm of James G. Sotos filed a subpoena for the police record from the Woodstock PD and obtained it. Let's see now. Maybe it gets complicated here. 

Q. Who does Jim Sotos represent?
A. Sheriff Keith Nygren, candidate in the Republican Primary for Sheriff of McHenry County.
The paper trail of the confidential police report shouldn't be hard to follow. Sotos knows to whom he gave it. That person knows what happened to it. Did "that person" give it to someone within the MCSD to photocopy and distribute within the Sheriff's Department?

Does the sun come up in the morning?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why does ICE waste huge amounts of money?

Is our federal government out of control? Of course...

I know a man who is stuck in ICE custody in the McHenry County Jail. He has been there since June.

Our County Sheriff has to love the deal he cut. The County added onto the jail, and Nygren cut a deal with ICE to house Federal "detainees" for approximately $90.00/day.

The man to whom I'm referring was arrested in Chicago, entered a negotiated plea on his charges and was sentenced to, and served, four months in Cook County Jail. Upon his eligibility for release, ICE grabbed him and transported him to McHenry County Jail.

He's in the U.S. illegally. No doubt about that. He overstayed his visa. He has settled his debt with society for the criminal charges. He can't come up with $5,000 bail, which has a 100% bond amount. No 10% and "out the door" for detainees.

Now, should he be held in custody at the $90.00/day rate? His next court date with an immigration judge is in mid-December. At that point he will have been in custody for six months. 180 days at $90.00/day = $16,200.

If ICE smartened up and had any interest in cutting costs, it could use electronic monitoring, which costs about $15.00/day. 180 days x $15.00 = $2,700.

Multiply these numbers by tens of thousands of detainees in the U.S. Most of them are not a risk to society. Some of these are people who may have just had a headlight out, got stopped and, the next thing they knew, they were behind bars.

What if they slip off the electronic device and disappear? If they leave the U.S., fine; they're gone. If they just take off, one of these days they'll get stopped for something.

At that point a condition of their release on electronic monitoring could be immediate deportation. Ship them home for $500 airfare. Still a lot cheaper than $16,200 for a six-month stay at Hotel Nygren.

Where do Representatives Manzullo, Walsh and Hultgren stand on this? Oh, and those two U.S. Senators, too.

Yes, there WILL be a Kohl's in Woodstock

Having heard nothing about the new Kohl's in Woodstock since the City's announcement some time back, today I drove over behind Mercy Woodstock and next to Menard's, and there it is.

The building is up, and a sign at the road announces that opening day will be March 4, and the Grand Opening will be March 7.

Just imagine what goes into opening a new store like this: site selection; lease or purchase of land; permits; site design (although they probably have building plans on the shelf); ordering of display counters, computers, lighting, furnishings; merchandise inventory; personnel (hiring, training, paying); advertising, etc. Kind of makes your head spin, doesn't it?

See you there on March 4.

Five Guys heading to Crystal Lake

How nice that Five Guys Burgers and Fries is heading to Crystal Lake for its first McHenry County restaurant. My grandson has been after me to take him there. It won't be in Crystal Lake, though.

After reading of the involvement this morning of the Crystal Lake Economic and Planning Development Department, I wondered what's cooking (no pun intended) with Woodstock. Was Woodstock in the running for that restaurant? Or any other?

There was a rumor floating around a while back of a Kohl's over by Menard's and of a new restaurant coming to town. Think there is anything to either rumor? Guess I'll have to drive by Menard's today and see if any ground is disturbed.

The City of Woodstock has a slot in its employee roster for a department director for economic development. I think that slot has been vacant for a couple of years. The director left and there was a deputy director who filled in, until he too left.

Without economic development, there is one very likely direction for a town. And it's not "up".

Where is the Chamber of Commerce in the planning for Woodstock's future? The business community should be all over City Hall and demanding to know just exactly what is being done to bring new business to Woodstock. The business community and the residents had better not sit back and wait for City Hall to do it. City Hall is in a preservation mode, struggling to meet budget, just like everybody else.

What is the real plan for the old courthouse building that the City now owns? Will this be converted to more government offices; let's hope not. Should the City be "in business" and in competition with local business? No. Absolutely not.

I did enjoy a good laugh at this week's article about the auction of the courthouse. Attorney in the deal Ryan Farrell was attributed with the comment that "the city didn't actually expend $110,000 on the (courthouse) property because it already was owed that money."

So now the City owns a building that will cost it (us) thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands of dollars?).

Was anyone else confused about the gyrations of ownership? In the space of a few words, the reporter explained that current tenants bought the courthouse in the 1970s, "but Centralia (Investors) holds the title." Isn't the titleholder the owner?

And then the article states that the current tenants have 30 days to redeem their rights. What rights?

Wouldn't you think that the City would be telling residents exactly what its plan is for the courthouse? Is there a plan?

The 800-Mile Wall

If you were going to attend the showing of The 800-Mile Wall at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Woodstock, you missed it.

Only ten people showed up last night. Pitiful!

It was a moving documentary of an outrageous decision by the U.S. Government. Have you see pictures of this atrocity? Go to and see it for yourself. Watch the trailer. Click on Photos.

I don't agree that the wall is a human rights violation and that anyone is forcing anyone to cross the U.S./Mexico border at "certain" points to force them into harsh desert conditions where many deaths have occurred. Many concerned persons who appear in the film are of that persuasion.

If the U.S. Government had any backbone, it would enforce the requirements that have existed for more than 20 years that you must be legally eligible to work in the U.S., if you are going to work. You must sign an I-9 and provide legal documentation of your right to employment. If you are in the U.S. illegally, you won't be able to do it. In 1989 I taught small-business employers how to complete the I-9 and explained to them that they must complete it, or else. By now, the "or else" is water under the bridge, thanks to Government non-enforcement.

Yes, I'm sorry that men, women and children die in the desert. Yes, I'm sorry they die in the All-American Canal.

At one point in the film the narrative included that, in the desert, the human body requires a quart of water every 15 minutes. Then the movie showed an adult Mexican woman prepared to start her journey north with one bottle of water! What part of "I'm going to die out there" did she not understand?

Do you think the wall has anything to do with the War on Terrorism? I don't, either.

Immigrants are welcome in the U.S. Legal immigrants, that is. I don't think there is another country in the world that tolerates what the U.S. is tolerating.

To thank or not to thank

Generally, gratitude is a good thing. It's important to feel. It's nice to be thanked. And it feels good to thank.

But I've reached a time now, when I am unsure whether to say "Thanks." I know that to one person I have already said this thanks, but I'm thinking about withdrawing it.

A couple of months ago a friend (shall I continue to call him that?) recommended a book. He even showed me the book. His recommendations have been good in the past. Seeing the size of the book and the number of pages, I immediately thought about blowing $5 on eBay and buying it. I realized I'd never get it read during a three-week library loan. Because of the age of the book, that $5 might even have included the shipping cost.

But, instead, I reserved the book at the Woodstock Public Library and checked it out. And started reading it. And reading it. And reading it. Just how many pages are there in this book? it wouldn't be far off the mark to guess 1,000.

Now to my complaint, about the book and the man who recommended it.

I find this book fascinating. It's taking me a long while to get through it, because there are other things I want to do. But I'll pick it up "to read just a few pages" and, before I know it, the time to start on other business has passed. So I read a little farther and put it down - temporarily. And then, instead of reading in the several other books vying for my attention (and covering my kitchen table), I'm back to this one. And other, more pressing matters are sometimes delayed.

The book? Truman, by David McCullough. Harry S. Truman was born May 8, 1884 (year-of-birth corrected). He served as FDR's vice-president and then inherited the hot seat when FDR died. Truman was elected President of the United States in his own right and served 1949-1953. As a kid in the 1940s in St. Louis I heard Truman's name often, but there was never much conversation about him around our family dinner table. Dad's political position was "I'll always vote for the best man, as long as he's a Republican."

Author McCullough does a masterful job of presenting Harry Truman. His book, Truman, is worth reading. And reading. And reading.

By the way, I do really appreciate R.G. for recommending this book. Thanks!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Punks kill guard in Chicago Aldi

On Thursday night two punks walked into a Chicago Aldi at 90th & Halsted. That's got to be in Chicago's "war zone."

One puke (errr, punk) began to rob the cashier, while the second confronted and then shot the guard.

This is precisely why Illinois must pass a concealed-carry law. If 3-4 law-abiding citizens shopping in that store had been armed, they could have dropped those two punks in their tracks. But, even better, the punks probably would not have been brave enough to walk in and try to rob the store in the first place.

If Illinois lawmakers will not give us the right to carry, then maybe we just ought to start carrying, anyway.

What's that old saying? "Better to be judged by 12 than to be carried by six?"

Read about this crime in the Chicago Tribune right here.

The Tribune and the Chicago Police District 2 did a good job of getting the security video posted fast. The two punks ought to be arrested promptly. The police probably recognized them immediately.

More about the Pavlin case. And what's an "arm bar"?

Read Judge Kapala's decision this week in the Pavlin case in U.S. District Court in Rockford. This is a civil rights lawsuit against the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

You can read Judge Kapala's decision here on Cal Skinner's second blog.

Read especially the part about the instructions to deputies to come back the next day to write their reports, when Deputy Zane Seipler was not around. And what Zane observed when he reported early for duty?

From Judge Kapala's decision:

"Under plaintiffs’ version of the facts, when Shepherd arrived at plaintiffs’ house, he gave Jones
instructions about how to write his report to justify how the officers got into plaintiffs’ house.

"At the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department, Jones told Mandernack to have Lambert put false information in his report.

"When Jones observed Deputy Sheriff Zane Seipler at the patrol office, he instructed the other defendants to finish their reports the next day when Seipler would not be present.

"The next day, on March 15, 2008, Seipler went to work early and observed Jones, Bruketta and Mandernack working on their reports together."

Who is Shepherd? David Shepherd, Star (Badge) 142

Who is Jones? Deputy Christopher Jones, Star 1877
Who is Mandernack? Deputy Kyle Mandernack, Star 1726
Who is Bruketta? Deputy Jeremy Bruketta, Star 1909

Here is why some deputies don't like using the MCSD police radio communications system and why they must use it, not their cell phones.

From Judge Kapala's decision: "They state that Bruketta kneed Jerome in the back and that Bruketta claimed in his deposition that he was outside the house at the time of the incident, but was recorded telling a dispatcher he was “on the ground cuffing people” at the time."

You cannot be in two places at the same time. You cannot be outside the house at the time and inside "cuffing people."  If an audio recording includes Bruketta's telling a dispatcher that's he's inside "cuffing people", then why would Bruketta give a sworn statement that he was outside at the time?

An interesting side-by-side picture would be Mr. Pavlin and Deputy Kyle Mandernack. If you knew the relative size of these two men (Mr. Pavlin is 80 years old), just picture Deputy Mandernack taking Mr. Pavlin down to the floor with an "arm bar."

Don't know what an "arm bar" is? Watch this 2009 YouTube video at  Notice in the video that that officer is slightly smaller than his demonstration subject, who knows what's coming. Now, again, picture a large, muscular deputy and a slight, senior citizen.

Mrs. Pavlin's description of seeing Mandernack "slam Jerome to the ground" sounds right to me.

Oh, yes, the MCSD report says the deputy "assisted" Mr. Pavlin to the ground. What do you think?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remember the Pavlins?

Remember the case of Jerome and Carla Pavlin, residents of McHenry County near Crystal Lake?

On March 14, 2008, deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department went to the Pavlin's residence to arrest their son on a warrant while he was visiting his parents. The son was taken into custody, and the deputies refused to leave the house. Mr. and Mrs. Pavlin were subsequently arrested (and injured in the process) and jailed.

About five-six months later I got a tip in this case and went to the neighborhood to find the Pavlin home. Mr. Pavlin welcomed me into their home.

It took about a year and a half for the criminal charges to be dropped, with prejudice. They should have been dropped much sooner, which would have saved the Pavlins considerable defense legal fees.

The Pavlins filed a Federal lawsuit against the County, the Sheriff's Dept., the Sheriff and numerous deputies, including Deputies Jeremy Bruketta, Kyle Mandernack, Trevor Vogel, Christopher Jones, Ryan Lambert, Greg Pyle and David Shepherd.

I recall Mr. Pavlin's comment when I first met him, in about September 2008. He was afraid that the deputies would return and further injure his wife and him. The Pavlins have since sold their home and moved out of state.

U.S. Federal District Court Judge Frederick J. Kapala has ruled in this case, and the sheriff's deputies did NOT come out lily clean. You can read the decision on "More McHenry County Blog" at

It's worth slugging through, perhaps because it confirms a number of the issues about which I had written in this case. The entry into the Palvin's home was illegal. A conspiracy claim was upheld, if I read the report correctly, related to the deputies having assembled on the following day to write their reports.

The sheriff says there is nothing wrong at his department. Baloney! I wonder what the Pavlin case is going to cost the Department. Big bucks, I hope. The Pavlins deserve it. If they clean $1,000,000 off the Department, it ought to come out of the pockets of the defendants and not out of the taxpayers' pockets.

Thanks to Cal Skinner for publishing the judge's decision!

Free State money for college

Today's email brought greetings from Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford and informaiton about money that is doled out to six students in each of Illniois' 102 counties, thanks to our generous legislators.

I wrote back to Dan and told him I thought the program ought to be scrapped. Why should six students per county scarf up thousands of dollars just because a parent served during a military conflict? (Do you think there are really any children of WW II vets going to college?)

Here is Treasurer Rutherford's email:

"There is a tuition waiver available for children of Veterans living in Illinois. The waiver may be used for any University of Illinois campus. Up to six waivers per Illinois county are awarded each year, one for each of the following conflicts: World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Conflict, Southwest Asia Conflict, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Applications will be available beginning December 1, 2011. Students need to apply before March 1, 2012. To learn more about this tuition waiver, go to: 

"Any questions can be directed to The Office of Student Financial Aid, Ph: 217-333-0100. Please let anyone who qualifies know about this opportunity. 

"Sincerely, Dan Rutherford Illinois State Treasurer"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meet the new Buick group in Crystal Lake

At two recent Chamber of Commerce events I've run into Rik Fregia, Vice-President of the new dealership in Crystal Lake for Buick and GMC. Both times I was reminded of my excellent car-buying experience in Denver with Deane Buick. Could that be 35 years ago???

I remember my shopping experience for a 1976 Buick Regal. I visited the dealership several times, and the salesman obviously knew I was interested. I had my sights set on a black Regal; the styling was just right. Fortunately, no one else bought it while I was deliberating.

One day the salesman and I sat down to complete the deal, and away I went. My car-buying experience was totally satisfactory, and I had found a salesman I liked and a dealership that treated me well as a customer. At the time I thought I'd be back every two-three years for a new Buick, and I looked forward to going back.

My first passenger was an attorney-client, and I picked him up for a luncheon meeting. After he got it, he said, "Nice car. I haven't ridden in a new Cadillac before." Man! Was I ever smiling!!!

I fell down on my end of the deal, though. I liked my car so well that I didn't get rid of it for 12 years and 210,000 miles. Do they still make cars to last like that?

Courtesy Auto Group's Buick/GMC dealership at 6305 Northwest Highway (U.S. Route 14) in Crystal Lake is having a Grand Opening this Friday and Saturday, November 11-12. Drop by for the festivities and to look at and test-drive a new Buick. Take one home with one. Better than that, take home two of them! Ask Rik to direct you to a salesman, or just greet the first handsome one who awaits your arrival.

Check out their website at for information about the vehicles they carry and the Grand Opening. Or for information call 815.477.8600

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

General aid - at what cost?

The Chicago Sun-Times weighed in today on township government, asking "How about if it (a township) spends $109,000 to give out $48,000 in temporary general assistance benefits?"

The Better Government Association (BGA) steps up to bat and hits a home run. Unfortunately, most of the fans were watching footballs.

Check out the Sun-Times editorial for yourself at

A second Sun-Times article, on October 27, calls for the elimination of township governments. You can read that editorial at

Start showing up at your local township monthly meetings. Look at the financials. Study and understand them. Ask questions. Decide for yourself. Should townships in Illinois be abolished?

Got questions about The Great Wall (U.S./Mexico)?

Have you been wondering about the wall (fence) that is to separate the United States and Mexico and "keeps us all safe"?

A free showing of a 90- minute film titled The 800 Mile Wall will be on Friday, November 11, 2011, at 7:00PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 221 Dean Street, in Woodstock (Ill.). An open discussion of the film will follow the screening.

The announcement for the film reads, "The 800 Mile Wall highlights the construction of the new border walls along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the effect on migrants trying to cross into the U.S.  'This powerful 90 minute film is an unflinching look at the failed U.S. border strategy that many believe violates fundamental human rights,' according to Sue Rekenthaler, chair of the congregation’s Social Justice Committee which is sponsoring the program."
The program is free and open to the public.
There ought to be lively discussion this Friday night. I'm looking forward to asking questions and understanding what is meant by wall's "effect on migrants trying to cross into the U.S."

There is one way to enter the United States, and that's legally." Crossing at any other point than a legal point of entry is illegal. Swimming the Rio Grande is illegal, or walking across where it is shallow enough to do so is illegal. Coming in at night with the coyotes is illegal.

Legal immigrants have almost always been welcome in the United States. The United States shouldn't even have to be pouring tens of millions of dollars into the boondoggle that is spreading across California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

When I was in Mexico in 1992, it was crystal clear to me that my papers needed to be in order. If my papers said 90 days or 180 days, then I'd better not be in Mexico beyond the legal period. I was sure I wouldn't like a jail in Mexico, and they certainly cannot be compared with Nygren Towers in Woodstock.

So, come and see what the wall is all about and what it's effect on illegal immigrants is.

Near worthless FCC radio announcement

Our government tax dollars at work.

I like to listen to classical radio in the background as I work. There was just another announcement on about the upcoming nationwide test of an alert system. I didn't pay attention at the beginning of the announcement but did catch the website, to which I could go for more information.

How about

What's there, in easy view, to learn about the test? Only an unremarkable line item that takes you to a headline, where you must click on a link to a document that will tell you about the nationwide test.

At any rate, there is an alert coming up. Stay calm when your radios and TV go nuts tomorrow, Nov. 9th, at 1:00PM CST, for 30 seconds.

(Original article edited and corrected at 9:40AM, thanks to information from a reader, MBlue. Thanks!)

No favors for Lohan. Yeah, sure

Lindsay Lohan didn't get any favors in L.A., after she was sentenced to 30 days in jail for violating her probation. She was booked into Century Regional Detention facility in Lynwood, Calif. to start serving her sentence on Monday.

Less than five hours later she was released, said L.A. County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore. But she didn't get any favors.

Yeah, right, Steve.

The estimate of time that she would serve, given last week, was six days. Apparently, the sheriff has the authority to subvert an order by a judge and can release prisoners early due to over-crowding in the jail. The jail must have really over-crowded, since Lohan walked at 1:35AM.

Kind of instills confidence in the penal system, doesn't it? There are people in jail for parking tickets longer than Lohan cooled her heels this week.A news article said this week's jailing was Lohan's fifth since her two DUIs in 2007.

The judge ought to be foaming at the mouth and figuring out a way to lock up the L.A. County Sheriff!

Interesting coincidence

Yesterday a reader sent me a link to a news article about the militarizing of police, and what should appear on the front page of this morning's Northwest Herald? A picture of MARV, the "mobile armored rescue vehicle" of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

Photo date: 8/24/05
MARV was pressed into action during a Cary stand-off, along with the S.W.A.T. team. The boys got to go and play yesterday. How was the stand-off resolved? A friend of Frank Vantrepotte, 35, was talking to him on the phone and asked him to step outside and surrender.

How did MARV get from Woodstock to Cary? Was it driven there?

When I viewed MARV last year at a publicity function at the Woodstock Harley-Davidson dealership, I noticed that there were no license plates on MARV. At the time I wondered how it got to the dealership, but I didn't ask. It didn't look "street legal" to me. I could not see any windshield wipers, and the lights didn't appear to meet the Illinois Vehicle Code.

So, can MARV be operated legally on streets and roads in Illinois? The answer is a simple Yes or No.

And, if the answer is No, then why is it being operated on streets and roads? Because no cop is brave enough to ticket the operator of MARV?

You may have read the news article about tickets placed on fire trucks n Pittsburgh while firefighters were getting flu shots. The firetrucks were parked illegally in permit-only spaces reserved for City Council members. The Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, was wrong when he said tickets should not have been issued.

Getting a flu shot is something that employees take care of on personal time. Yet Pittsburgh firefighters drove City fire trucks to City Hall to get their shots.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Militarizing the police: good or not?

An article in today's The Atlantic ( spotlights a problem that a reader right here in McHenry County identified a while back.

The deputies are becoming armed soldiers, no longer only on a peacetime mission. Are there machine guns and other fully-automatic rifles available to law enforcement in McHenry County?

We already know about MARV. (Is MARV driven "legally" on public roads? Are there license plates on MARV (now?)? Last year there weren't. I don't think MARV is street-legal. Is it hauled on a trailer, when needed somewhere? Is it really ever needed?

When S.W.A.T. teams go out on the prowl in full "battle" uniform and approach a house with drawn weapons, it ought to be pretty serious stuff; right? How about when they are "after" an employed single mom who didn't pay a couple of hundred dollars in court fines? Is this the proper use of S.W.A.T.?

As one deputy said to me, "I could have served that warrant by myself."

Does it take a multi-jurisdictional team of six S.W.A.T. deputies and officers to swoop down on a resident who could have been sent a letter for 44¢ to remind her of her unpaid fines?

And when you see pumped-up deputies with their shaved heads and their muscle t-shirts, biceps bulging from their work-outs at Cardinal Gym, what's the feeling you get? Are you glad that these guys are out serving and protecting you, or do you start thinking "bully"?

McHenry County is not Fallujah. And we don't want it to become Fallujah. I want our deputies properly armed (and fully trained and emotionally stable), but I don't want to see them strutting around like they own the place. They just work here, like the rest of us.

I know the jail is busy, but ...

I know the sergeants (there are "sergeants"?) at the McHenry County Jail are busy, but this is ridiculous.

How long should you have to wait for a phone call to be returned? it's a 24-hour operation, isn't it? Or do the sergeants work on Monday-Friday, daytime hours, and after that, nobody bothers to listen to voicemail messages?

On November 3, 2011 (that was a Thursday) at 1:18PM, I called the Jail and left a message on the shift sergeant's voicemail, asking about a certain inmate. I asked if the inmate was still in custody and if there was an immigration hold. All public information. And what the Alien Registration Number was, if there was an immigration hold. All information that I've gotten previously regarding others.

As of 7:50PM today, apparently no one has listened to the message. Of course, I'm being somewhat kind (and cynical). Certainly, no sergeant would listen to my message and then delete it or fail to respond. Would he?

What do you suppose is the reason for no return call? There must be something in the certification manual (not CALEA; that's for the guys at the other end of the building) that governs phone calls.

"Smile, you're on ..."

You know the rest; right? (If you are old enough) "Smile, you're on Candid Camera."

Except in Seattle and in other cities, it'll be "Smile, you're on Copper's Camera." and you won't have a choice about it. Police officers are starting to wear small videorecording devices on the shirts/jackets of their uniforms. If you tell the cop to turn it off, you might as well be barking in the wind.

Do you have a right not to be recorded? What should you do, if the cop walks up to your car window and begins asking you questions? Or walks up to the door of your home? You heard, "Anything you can and say will be used against you in a court of law.." Right?

Now, it'll be "Anything you can, say or do will be used against you in a court of law." And the cop won't have read you your Miranda Rights, either.

You'd better learn how to shut up and shut up fast. Sort it out after your lawyer shows up.

Want to read more?
This, from a friend in Colorado. He ought to be working for a Chamber of Commerce...

Holidays 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide us with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of our country's economy. This year could be different if we give the gift of genuine concern for our neighbors. 

Isn't it time to think outside the box? Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese-produced wrapping paper? Everyone gets his/her hair cut. How about giving gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who want to get or keep in shape.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed?  Small, locally owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Do you have a big gift budget?  Perhaps a gift recipient would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or some rounds at the local golf course.

There are so many owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your parents, kiddos, friends aren't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast place? This isn't about big national chains -- this is about supporting your home town neighbors with their financial lives which are on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by a local working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom might LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

Computers can always use tune-ups, it seems, and I KNOW there are young people majoring in computer sciences who need extra cash for tuitions or owners of small computer businesses where there's someone who's struggling to get his repair business up and running.

If you're looking for something more personal, how 'bout checking local craftspeople who spin their own wool and knit them into scarves or make jewelry, pottery, notecards with original photos?  These are just a few suggestions.  The list goes on and on.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?  Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house?  Why not use those bucks to tip the mailman, trash guy or babysitter?

Let's think about a new holiday tradition--a simpler one, less materialistic, that helps our neighbors and allows us to be a part of our country's recovery.

Happy Holidays!

Something I might add to this is to give of yourself. There are many lonely people who appreciate sitting down to a dinner with a family. A note in a Christmas card offering a meal a month with someone who lives alone can be the greatest present of all. An offer to give rides to appointments or for shopping trips can mean so much to someone who can drive but would love to have company when shopping at the grocery store or somewhere else. I can only tell you the rewards you get from doing these things are immense.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Victory or Death"

Thanks to the reader who included this link to a speech by Newt Gingrich in November 2009.

I encourage you to watch this again.

Missed a week, and WHAM!

There are some really nice people in the world, and I would like to thank all of you who have written and called me and thanked me for keeping Beth's name in the news for the past 19 months. You all are all the more appreciated after today. I realize I missed writing about Beth last week and also today, and I thought maybe no one had noticed (or cared).

And just now I found out that someone does care. She wrote:

"Dear Gus,
You don't need to know who I am but you are very sick individual for constantly having to get your nose into other people's business. It's disgusting to think that you have no relation to Beth and yet you write about her and her family every week. Drop it. It doesn't concern YOU or anyone YOU care about. Your over 50, go move to Del Webb and get a hobby. Your BS and slander is the fact that you have nothing better to do than to keep getting on Beths case and her family. Why don't you put yourself in the families shoes and then think about what you say. Josh is a very sweet, kind, caring, loving, respectable, and RESPONSIBLE individual. Stop thinking you are high and mighty because you sit behind a computer and talk about other people's lives like it's nothing. Seriously old man it's about time you find something better to do than waste all your time (the time you do have left) on other people's personal business. You have many enemies my friend and don't think that someone won't do something to you one day. Whether it be revealing one of YOUR secrets or YOUR families just be aware of your surroundings. One thing is for sure Gus, what goes around will come back around and I can tell by your cocky attitude that you will be bitten 10x harder and you will get what you deserve.

"PS. I don't know if you remember deputy but libel and slander is illegal and that's exactly what your doing because YOU have nothing to do but ASSUME things and spread it like wild fire"

Shall I provide the email address through which she wrote?

Give your opinion to the Northwest Herald today (Sunday)

There is a reader poll on the online version of the Northwest Herald today regarding a fund to provide services to developmentally-disabled persons in McHenry County. I believe this would be a 377 Board.

This would be similar to the 708 Board for provides funding for the McHenry County Mental Health Board.

Please go to right away (today, Sunday) and vote in the reader poll at the bottom right of the homepage. (I have suggested to the Northwest Herald that they move the poll up to top right, where readers would find it, but they must like it where it is.) As of 7:07PM only 249 readers have voted.

Here's their question today: "Would you support a local tax for the developmentally disabled?"

The property with a blanket question like that is this. How much of a local tax? Some people will say No to any tax. Others would be willing to pay a tax, but not over a certain amount.

How much is the current tax for the 708 Board for mental health services?

Advice for "Occupy" Protesters

Marybeth Hicks ( has some great advice for the protestors who are personally responsible for disrupting the economy with their stupid protests. Can you figure out where I stand on this?

Check out her website for her advice. She asks, "Who parented these kids?"

In summary, it's 

• Life isn’t fair. 
• Nothing is “free.” 
• Your word is your bond. 
• A protest is not a party. 
• There are reasons you haven’t found jobs. The truth? Your tattooed necks, gauged ears, facial piercings and dirty dreadlocks are off-putting.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The 99%-ers won't like this

Check out Bill Whittle on Afterburner about the "Occupy" protesters' problem. I think he gets pretty doggone close.

It's not long, but perhaps every American, young and old, should watch this. Especially the younger generation. And those who don't want to watch it. Make 'em watch it. Shut off their iPhones; take away the TV; make 'em sit still and watch it. And then discuss it.

Ticketing expired plates within 1-2 days

Is it any wonder that the public is beginning to hate cops? What is it that cops do to earn the dislike of the public?

One of the things is writing a ticket on the 1st or 2nd day of the month for expired license plates.

The driver gets a $120 ticket.

Now, why wouldn't a vehicle owner renew license plate registration in time? Could money be a reason? Maybe not having the $99 right away? Or at least not until the last payday of the registration period, when suddenly it's urgent, not just important?

The State of Illinois allows you to renew a license plate without financial penalty within 30 days after expiration. Some people mistakenly believe there is a grace period for tickets, too. There isn't.

An observant cop has the legal right to stop a vehicle with expired plates. No question about that. But to write a $120 ticket to the driver? On the first or second day of the month after the plate expiration?

When tickets were $25, that's one thing. For many people, $120 is a lot of money. For some people, it's a LOT of money. And, if you are unemployed or a person with low-income, it's an IMPOSSIBLE amount of money.

And, if you go to court to fight it - and lose, the court system is going to tack on $100-150 in court costs. So the pressure is on the person to cough up the $120 to avoid the gamble of losing.

What would be the harm in issuing a Warning? Some drivers don't realize that the plate has expired? Why not give them a penalty-free five days to go into the DMV and get the current tag? Is there really great harm to the public in doing this?

The only loss is the $120 revenue to the court, out of which a municipality (City of McHenry, I'm thinking of in this case) probably earns $20-40.

Of course, the cop could have required the driver to park the vehicle, or the cop could even have had the vehicle towed. So he did give a break to the driver and should be thanked for that.

Have you ever gotten a ticket for an expired license plate? How many days into the next month were you?

Thinking back over years of jobs

How many jobs have you had? I was going to add "in your lifetime", but what other time period could there be? Why be redundant?

Back in 2003 I wanted some advice about some issues and conferred with a wise therapist in Crystal Lake, Joe Canevello. When he asked me what my career had been, I told him that I didn't think I had had a career, only a lot of jobs. Joe said, "Maybe your career was getting jobs..."

How right he was.

This morning I was thinking back over some of the types of work I've enjoyed the most, and I'd have to say being a motorcycle cop was the best. Too bad I never pursued that as a "job".

In Denver in the mid-970s I was a reserve deputy sheriff with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department, which is located just south of Denver. The Sheriff's Posse had several divisions: Patrol, Communications, Mounted, Jail, Motorcycle. There may have been others.

The Posse was composed of volunteers who performed all the duties of the employed deputies. We were sworn peace officers and had all the police powers of arrest. We did everything except get a paycheck. If we made an arrest, we were expected to take time off from our jobs and appear in court.

When I started, there were no openings in Patrol, so I was assigned to Communications and worked in dispatch. Right away I raised the bar (and upset the women who were the full-time dispatchers). When a deputy made a traffic stop and called in a license plate number, I immediately ran the plate to learn if the vehicle was wanted. That upset the women dispatchers, because their habit was to wait for the deputy to request them to run it. From my viewpoint, it was important for the deputy to know ASAP if the car was wanted. That information could save his life.

Within a few weeks there was an opening in Patrol, and I transferred there. I was able to qualify for solo car privileges quickly and did so. I filled in for deputies who were sick or if they were out of service for an extended time due to a lengthy call.

The best "work" was motorcycle patrol. When one member of the Posse put his police-equipped Harley-Davidson up for sale, I bought it. I'd go on duty on a nice summer morning and work right through the afternoon and into the evening. I recall one Saturday night at shift-change when a fire was reported in the far end of the county. Although I was almost at the Department parking lot to turn in my portable radio, I volunteered to take the call, since I was the only one still out on the road. The fire was about 40 miles away, and it was a great ride on a nice summer night.

I never wrote a lot of tickets. If I thought a courteous roadside "conversation" about the violation an d a warning would solve the problem, I didn't write a ticket. About once a year a driver would "talk me into" a ticket.

It's too bad that philosophy is not followed today.