Sunday, September 30, 2012

Officer-involved shootings - how investigated?

When a law-enforcement officer is involved in a shooting, as happened yesterday afternoon north of Marengo, to what extent is the incident totally investigated by a different agency.

In the case of the warrant service/arrest of Edward P. Bolen, 49, of 2905 NW Road, Marengo-area of McHenry County, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has said that the Illinois State Police will investigate.

OK, so do they investigate the entire incident or only the portion that involved the shots fired? Are they interested only in the shots fired by deputies after Bolen allegedly pointed a gun at them, or will they also investigate the shooting of Bolen with the beanbag shotgun? The Northwest Herald is reporting that Bolen was shot after he brandished a knife at SWAT team members who were trying to arrest him in his basement.

Beanbag shotguns are often described as non-lethal weapons.

The last time a beanbag shotgun was used by a deputy, to my knowledge, involved the call to the home of David Maxson, of Wonder Lake. That shooting, which resulted in a fatal injury to Maxson as he rushed with a knife toward a deputy, was investigated by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. I read all the reports and I don't recall ever seeing one by the Illinois State Police or any other agency.

What's different about this time?

It will be interesting to learn what Bolen's movements were with his gun and how many shots were fired by deputies? Were there two deputies there to arrest him? Did both deputies fire at him? How many rounds were fired by the two deputies? What were the positions of Bolen and the deputies? Why didn't they hit him?

And when SWAT found Bolen in his basement, what were his movements when he "brandished" the knife? Did he move toward deputies with his knife? Or did he just refuse to drop the knife when ordered to do so?

7:23PM Still no media release on the MCSD website. Does this mean that Nygren and Zinke are out of town or that there won't be any media release because the Illinois State Police is investigating?

Concealed carry survey

Take this short 3-question survey at

The survey is on the Cheaper than Dirt ("America's Ultimate Shooting Sports Discounter") website.

Can motorcyclists demand right-of-way?

Early this afternoon a motorcycle club rode into Woodstock, heading for the Square. About 20-25 motorcycles were northbound on Route 47 and, when they got to Judd St. (the traffic light by Wendy's), the first bikes stopped in the left-turn lane to allow southbound traffic to pass.

When the southbound lane was clear, the first bikes turned left. Then one rider stopped in the roadway to block westbound Irving traffic, in case the light changed, and a second rider stopped across the southbound lane on 47, to provide a shield behind which all the other motorcyclists could make their left turns.

I saw this trick a couple of years ago on Route 47, when a club pulled out of Vaughan's Restaurant to go north on 47.

Naturally, there was no cop around (where are they when you need them?). The group rode to the Metra parking lot and many parked in the lot and some parked on the street across from the Moose Lodge. Then they walked up Main Street toward the Square.

Would a Woodstock officer or a County deputy have ticketed the two operators who stopped to block traffic?

My guess is that this is a trick they pull often and get away with. If a cop did ticket them, maybe they wouldn't do it in the future. Each motorcycle is a vehicle, and each driver is supposed to obey traffic laws.

I invite Woodstock officers and County deputies to watch groups of motorcyclists closely. When you see this violation, please ticket the violators.

Main Street Woodstock - possible?

Main St. Illinois logo
Why isn't Woodstock an Illinois Main Street community?

What is an Illinois Main Street community? Check out the state website now.

Some people attempted to get the ball rolling in Woodstock, but there were too many hurdles. Funding and interest were slow. The biggest hurdle that I recall was the bashing by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, which then had a different Executive Director and a previous Board of Directors.

Things are different now. The Chamber Board has new blood and able steerage from its President, Todd Kinker, and the Board members. Kinker, VP of Golden Eagle Community Bank, has played a big role in changing the financial position of the Chamber back toward solvency. The risk of loss of the Chamber-owned building on the Square has apparently been reduced.

But what about our downtown? Woodstock should have a vibrant downtown that lives up to its reputation. Sure, the Opera House is a focal point, but it is the commercial occupancy that makes or breaks the Square.

Go downtown and walk around. Do you feel excited and proud of the Square? Do you?

The City has spent tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars on the round-outs at the corners. In my opinion, that was money wasted. Some of the corners are now harder to negotiate. Was it really worth it? And that silly island on Cass at the stop sign at Main Street? It forces traffic closer to the rear of cars that might begin backing out of parking places.

Construction of the expanded movie theater is underway. When the new theaters open, there may be a chance to capitalize on the stadium seating and its attraction of large audiences. Parking is going to be a horrendous challenge, and movie-goers will soak up street parking badly needed by retail merchants and restaurants. That problem needs to be addressed now, before the new theaters open.

And movie-goers will be forced to depart after the movie ends, under current daytime parking restrictions. They will just about have time to buy tickets, refreshments and see the movie before it's time to rush to the car and move it to avoid a parking ticket. How will local merchants and restaurants capitalize on increased traffic to the Square?

Let's get a new Main Street Woodstock program started and begin planning into the future. This effort can collaborate with the Chamber, but it will need its own funding. Maybe the City should stop throwing $30,000 in hotel taxes at the Opera House, which is owned and operated by the City, and put that money to better use. The Opera House does not contribute to overnight stays in Woodstock. Theater-goers arrive, watch the show, and go home.

Interested in a Main Street Woodstock program? Comment below or email me. I'll be happy to help start a working group.

Bolen arrested on warrant; shots fired

First place: Chicago Tribune
Second place: Northwest Herald
Last place: McHenry County Sheriff's website

Yesterday there was a major incident just after noon near Marengo involving guns and shots fired. You'd think it would hit the news pretty fast.

The Chicago Tribune article was posted at 9:09PM and gave the time at which the incident started as 12:18PM.

The Northwest Herald reported the incident in the morning print edition and online at 5:30AM. That article included this statement: "It also was not clear how many deputies were involved or how many shots authorities fired."

Of course, they know. You count noses. That's how many.

And not knowing the number of shots fired by deputies? Of course, they know that, too. Deputies should know how many rounds are loaded in their weapons and carried on their belts. Count the number of live rounds left. Subtract. Bingo! The difference is the number of shots fired.

There is a place for media releases on Sheriff Nygren's website, but apparently no one is authorized to post it or available on the week-end to do so. It's too bad that shift personnel cannot be trusted to write up initial announcements and post them.

Because this incident of deputy-involved shooting is being investigated by the Illinois State Police, it may be that the Sheriff's Department will use that as an excuse and a cloud to avoid any public reporting at all.

Edward P. Bolen, 49, of 2905 NW Road, McHenry County (near Marengo), was arrested and jailed at 5:40PM after being treated at Centegra Hospital - Woodstock. Bolen is charged with Domestic Battery/Bodily Harm; Aggravated-Unlawful Use of Weapon on a Person; Aggravated Assault / Use Firearm on Peace Officer (5 counts); Possession of firearm without a FOID card; Possession of Ammunition without a FOID card.

Bolen's image can be viewed on the Sheriff's website under Corrections. Search by name or date (although you can't really search by Name - you have to scroll through all). Maybe someday they will get around to creating the online image of inmates so they can be copied for articles.

Circuit Court records, which do not yet reflect Bolen's arrest, indicate a court date on October 29, 9:00AM, with Judge Graham for a status of the warrant. He'll probably have an appearance in Rights Court on Monday at 8:00AM to be advised of his rights and hear about any bail amount.

So where did the Chicago Tribune and the Northwest Herald get their information?

126 weeks - solving Beth Bentley case

Beth Bentley, 41 when she vanished in May 2010, has now been missing 126 weeks. That's two years and four months.

Month after month, the Woodstock Police Department reports on this case to the City Manager, for relay to the City Council. Every month they submit the same boilerplate. Month after month. Meaning? No meaningful activity. Why does the City Manager accept the boilerplate? Why do the Mayor and City Council accept it? Why aren't they cracking the whip and demanding progress?

Want to find out what happened to Beth Bentley?

Let's look at the telephone records for Beth and her circle of friends and acquaintances. Say, going back a couple of months to March 2010 and then working forward. What happened in March? Is there at least one significant telephone call in the records? Maybe one that started the ball rolling downhill? Inspect and analyze the patterns. Look for variations. Ask questions.

And then start looking more carefully about a week before she disappeared. And then even more carefully at cell phone records for Thursday, May 20, which possibly could be the day that she vanished. And not just at Beth's cell phone records. All the records.

Why did communications start at 5:00AM on May 20? Why was Beth battered with incoming phone calls and text messages from members of the "posse", as one group of her so-called friends has been called? What was the content of those text messages and phone calls?

Did Beth ever really get out of Woodstock? Did she really make it to Mt. Vernon? Three people should know. Jenn Wyatt. Ryan Ridge. Nathan Ridge.

When you look at the pattern of text messages and phone calls on May 20 and then compare the cell phone activity for May 21-22, red flags fly all over the field.

Why would Jenn call Ryan many times on Sunday morning, May 22? She was supposed to be in Mt. Vernon with him. Weren't they dating then? Weren't Beth and Jenn staying at the house in Mt. Vernon with Ryan and Nathan? The succession of phone calls indicates, to me, a level of urgency or panic. Why didn't Ryan answer? More importantly, why was she calling him in the first place?

Then analyze the phone records for Monday, May 23, the day that Jenn says she was supposed to meet back up with Beth, in order to return to Woodstock in time for Beth to get home before her husband got home from work. The records tell an interesting story by the calls that are not there.  When did Jenn first begin to worry that Beth was not going to meet her?

Jenn's phone records show whom she called and at what time. The real story is between the lines.

Have the police asked all these questions? They are the ones who are supposed to be investigating Beth's disappearance! When will the Woodstock Police Department decide that this is not a missing-person case?

Which one of her "friends" will be first to come forward with "There's something you need to know"? If you don't trust the police, come to me. I'll help you get in touch with law enforcement officials whom you can trust.

Stupid is as stupid does

Chicago's Mayor and Police Superintendent must have watched Forrest Gump recently. They want Chicago residents to tweet them with ideas about how to stop gun violence in Chicago and how to cut off the flow of illegal guns into Chicago.
Notice the assumption? That there is an illegal flow of guns into Chicago that is resulting in gun violence? What? Has "Fast and Furious" come this way?

And they are so interested in solutions that they want residents to put them into as many words as can be written with 140 letters. Dumb! Stupid! Solve Chicago's violence and illegal gun problems with a tweet to "#whatifchicago"?

If Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy want to stop gun violence, maybe they should pay visits on the Cook County Democratic State Legislators who don't trust the law-abiding constituents in their districts to carry concealed weapons legally. When guys get out of the way and let law-abiding citizens carry concealed weapons, gun violence in Chicago will slow way down. It might not totally stop immediately, but it'll drop 50-75%.

I'll tell you what will stop gun violence. When the criminals start fearing that people are going to shoot back - that's what will stop it.

When the punks roll down the street and shoot kids and other people from their cars, just imagine if about 50 people started unloading shots into the car before it got to the end of the block. The shooters would be dead in the car on the fireplug at the corner. No police chases. No worries about response time. No investigations. Just carry the bodies away. Tow the car. Case closed.

Then put up a Safe Neighborhood sign. Oh, yes. A few medals for the residents, too.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A gift from your friendly POTUS

The Associated Press wrote last week about the program announced by President Obama to give away the store. Obama announced a program to allow illegal "young" people in the US to apply for two-year, renewable work permits.

How is "young" defined?

"Eligible applicants must have come to the U.S. before they turned 16, be 30 or younger, be high school graduates or in college, or have served in the military, and they cannot have serious criminal records. They also must have lived in the U.S. since June 2007." (Source: AP article by Elliot Spagat)

So, let's see. If they must have lived in the U.S. since 2007 and they had to come to the U.S. before they turned 16, what do you suppose the "must be younger than 30" requirement is all about? The oldest could only be about 21, since his 16th birthday would have had to be in or before a June 2007 date. What else did they get wrong?

How many people might benefit? The article says that up to 1,700,000 may qualify.

The program began August 15, and already 82,000+ applications have been received. The Feds anticipated the rush, of course, so they geared up and have approved the first 29 applications. Yep! That's what the article said. Twenty-nine (29).
Eighty-two thousand applications already. One million seven hundred thousand possible qualifiers. Twenty-nine applications approved.

This is our Federal Government at work...

Organizational leadership - smelly?

Lynn Mitchell, a Certified Coach in Woodstock, writes a weekly column in The Woodstock Independent. This week her column put the spotlight on leadership in a business or organzation, and she quotes some numbers from a survey conducted by Right Management.

Of 559 men and women in North America who were surveyed about what they would seek to avoid in a new position,
51% said, Incompetent Leadership
22%, Rigid work environment
16%, Greater work stress
7%, Flat compensation
4%, Pressure to take on greater responsibility

When you look for a job, or for a new job, do you have your "laundry list" prepared? In other words, do you know what you want and what you don't want? Are you prepared to take a pass, when the "wrong" job is offered? Job interviews ought to be two-way streets. Often, they are not.

A management consultant I've known since 1984 says, "The purpose of a job interview is not to get a job." Pretty shocking, eh?

The purpose of a job interview is to get a job offer! From the offer you begin to negotiate. Salary. Number of weeks' vacation. Hiring bonus, if any. Advancement. Location. Transfer obligations.

What's on your list?

How sharp are your job-finding skills? In what shape is your resume? Are you proud of it? If you received a call on Monday and the recruiter wanted you to email a resume, would you be prepared to make last-minute edits and get it out the door?

Just starting to read "The Case of ..."

A friend sent me a book to read titled The Case of the Indian Trader.

The book was published in 2011 and is by a retired National Parks Service (NPS) investigator, Paul D. Berkowitz. The Indian trader, Billy Malone, operated the Hubbell Trading Post on the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona.

In 2004 the NPS began an investigation of Malone, and in 2005 Berkowitz took over the case. From the back cover of the book comes this: "His investigation uncovered serious problems with the original allegations, raising questions about the integrity of his supervisors and colleagues as well as high-level NPS managers." He blew the whistle on the NPS and went directly to the Office of the Inspector General, skipping the NPS chain-of-command.

In a review of this book, the High Country News had this to say: "This case is a glaring example of what can happen when sloppy investigators, a cult-like federal agency and powerful people combine forces against a humble man."

The National Parks Traveler said, "Mr. Berkowitz peels back the luminous outer skin of the Park Service to reveal a dysfunctional culture, one that by his accounts has more than a few times placed itself above the law."

A reviewer on wrote: “Anybody who has ever run across government bureauocrazy (sic) needs to read this book. ” Click here to read the reviews on; they are worth reading!

The person who sent the book to me wrote that the description of the NPS's handling of this case "...closely parallels the MCSO. That unwillingness to back down, clannishness, and blatant dishonesty. Then, when the truth comes out, 'shoot the messenger'."

You have only to read the Foreword by Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist specializing in police ethics and crisis management, to know that you are about to lose a lot of sleep.

Purchase the book on or call University of New Mexico Press at 800.249.7737

Can deputies damage property?

This afternoon there was a significant event involving the McHenry County Sheriff's Department in the Marengo area. SWAT was called out, and MARV rolled. Had there been gunfire at the house in the vicinity of Route 23 and NW Road (south of Kishwaukee Valley Road)?

At one point it was observed that there appeared to be at least one security camera outside the residence, and an announcement was made that they intended to knock out the cameras. So just what does that mean?

Are deputies allowed to destroy, disable or tamper with property of a resident, as they attempt to take a person into custody? Did they think that a person (or persons) inside a house could monitor their activities outside the house, and so the deputies thought they could "knock out" cameras that they thought could be used to watch them?

How fully will this afternoon's activities be reported?

Vote "No" on County Executive

Many people seem to be confused about the issue on the November 6 ballot about the County Executive. Read the materials carefully. Understand exactly on what you are voting. (You're not voting on whether you get to select the chairman of the County Board.)

Currently, Peter Austin is the appointed County Administrator. He is appointed by the County Board. If he does a good job (and keeps 13 of the 24 County Board members happy), he keeps his job.

There is certainly the possibility that he could be doing a good, even great, job but rub 13 of the 24 the wrong way, and then he'd be out of a job.

So, what's the big deal on November 6? If I understand the question on the ballot (and don't take my word for it), voters will have a crack at changing the County Administrator position from appointed to elected. And then?

If you don't like the person in office or he's doing a lousy job or maybe not even showing up for work, he gets to keep his job until the end of his elected term; i.e., barring conviction on a very short list of criminal charges for which he could be thrown out of office. Remember, in Illinois, Land of Unquestioned Honesty and Ethics, elected officials cannot be recalled.

For example, one major elected office in McHenry County is currently filled by a lame-duck official; or should I say official, lame duck? The office holder collects his $12,000+ every month just like clockwork, no matter where he is or how few days he shows up at the office. Or if he even shows up at all. He can't be removed from office, even if he gets a speeding ticket in his County-supported vehicle 300 miles from home while vacationing. (That trip might have put 1,200 miles on his County-supported vehicle!)

Think he paid income tax on the value of his personal use of that County vehicle for 2011? If so, how much? For all personal use? How about over the past 12 years? How much personal use of County vehicles did he rack up? Is the County Auditor sniffing around? Is the IRS sniffing around?

Do we need a McHenry County Czar? (Cal Skinner reports on McHenry County Blog that Mike Walkup, contender for a County Board (District 3) seat in November, claims he was the first to coin the phrase "County Czar" for the elected County Executive position.

Concealed carry in Missouri

Get a load of this. Maybe I should move back to my birthplace, St. Louis, Mo. (OK, OK, don't everybody chime in at once or chip in with $1 for gas...)

I called the Missouri State Police this morning to inquire about concealed carry reciprocity in Missouri, since I'm planning a trip there to meet a friend from Seattle, who is on his way to Florida to teach sailing for the winter.

The website for the Missouri Attorney General explains, in easy-to-understand terms, that Missouri concealed carry law "provides recognition of concealed weapons endorsements from every state that issues them."

The site lists states that honor a Missouri permit (37) and states that do not (11). Illinois, its neighbor to the east, sticks out like a sore thumb as the state that does "not issue (any) endorsements to carry a concealed weapon".

Because the Missouri AG's webpage did not state that Missouri honors the permit from another state but, instead, lists states that honor Missouri permits, I called the Missouri State Police this morning and reached a trooper who was very helpful on the phone. She answered my questions in a thorough and friendly manner and was not at all suspicious as to why I was asking.

Her summary was that a concealed carry permitholder from any other state can carry concealed in Missouri. You can't carry in certain places or past a sign prohibiting concealed carry. A businessowner can say "No Guns Allowed" by posting signs at the entrance. (He won't get my business.) You can carry into a restaurant that serves alcohol.

I remember one of my first phone calls after moving to Woodstock in 1996. An officer at the Woodstock PD passed the buck, when I called to ask how to get a concealed-carry permit and suggested that I call the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

A deputy there actually laughed when I asked my question and said that I'd "never" get a concealed carry permit in Illinois. Sure wish I'd written down his name. He has been right so far, but he might not always be right.

Gun Safety - all the time

Don't you just have to love pictures like this?

Sure, she was probably pretty sure that the weapon was unloaded. Do you suppose she even has any idea what she is holding? Notice where her trigger finger is positioned! (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

This photograph is on the Facebook page of the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), which has jumped on the guns bandwagon and has mounted a huge campaign for new members.

If any interest, visit

I support the NRA and the Illinois State Rifle Association. I have supported the McHenry County Right-to-Carry Assn., but I'm having trouble deciding whether they are actually doing anything now. NAGR seems very active and looks like it is going to be worth $25 from me.

I believe absolutely that law-abiding citizens should have the right to carry a loaded and concealed weapon.

Can you imagine how fast shootings will stop in Chicago, if the criminals are afraid that some folks might shoot back? But, thanks to the Cook County Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives and to people like Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we can't carry.

How do we change their minds?

Headlines tell it all - really?

"Police have gunman who abducted, robbed man in custody"

So, when you read that, did you wonder why the police didn't defend the man who was in custody? Did the police stand by while the gunman abducted and robbed a man who was in their custody?

The reporter for the Chicago Tribune tells the story a little differently.

Once the Streamwood Police had identified a subject, why wouldn't it announce that so-and-so was wanted for investigation? What? They're afraid to spook him and let him know they are looking for him?

Of course, they are looking for him? Why not ask the public for help in locating him?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Got degree?

Do you know that you can get an education right here in Woodstock?

Check out Aurora University and its Woodstock Center, which is located at 222 Church Street (where the Challenger Center is located).

On Thursday, October 4, there will be an open house starting at 5:00PM. Go by and talk with Gary Elkins, who is a recruiter and advisor for the Woodstock Center. Gary was at the meeting yesterday of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and was inviting men and women to learn about the undergraduate and graduate degree programs of Aurora University.

For a preview, visit  Then click on Woodstock Center (on the left).

45MPH Work Zone Speed Limit - meaningless!

Have you driven on I-90 recently, east from Route 47 at Huntley?

I had the distinct displeasure this morning. I do just about anything to avoid the tollroad, because I object to the recent, exorbitant increase in tolls and the doubling of tolls for cash payers.

But this morning I rode with friends to O'Hare, so that their car could be safely housed in their own garage and not parked for a week in one of robber parking lots near the airport.

Want a look at airport parking rates? Click right here.

How about this summary?
City of Chicago ORD Parking Lots A, B, C: $33.00 per day
Lot D: $53.00/day
Lot E: $19.00/day
Lot G: $13.00/day
Lot F: $9.00/day

But back to the Tollway.

Inbound about 5:30AM in the 45MPH work zone, the "pack" was cruising about 62MPH. Where was the ISP van with the Photo Radar?

Outbound about 7:30AM in the 55MPH zone, speeds were about 70MPH with some faster. I estimated the speeds of some of those "some" at 80-90MPH. I did not see one Illinois State Police trooper.

And there I was, poking along in the right-hand lane at the posted speed limit, keeping a constant eye on the rearview mirror and ready to stomp on the gas to avoid being rear-ended.

And wondering why doesn't the State Police use trained spotters with moving-radar equipment in "ordinary" cars to clock speeders and radio ahead for a trooper in a marked car to grab the violator?

How did Woodstock lose $7,-12,000?

How did Woodstock lose $7,-12,000 in Impact Fees, when a builder constructed a two-bedroom house in west Woodstock in 2002?

The City's attorney has explained to me how builders are given a temporary break on payment of Impact Fees. There are always strings attached, when a City gives up something; right? In the case of Impact Fees, the builder chooses the route to delay payment of a portion of the Impact Fees, he gives up the option to argue later.

When a house plan for a two-bedroom house is submitted to the City, Impact Fees are calculated. On the current (2012) Impact Fee schedule, the Impact Fees for a two-bedroom house are 50% of those for a four-bedroom house. On the 2012 Schedule, Impact Fees for a two-bedroom house total $12,000; on a four-bedroom house, over $24,000. Not small change.

A builder would, of course, always want to pay lower Impact Fees than higher fees. And since these will be passed along directly to the buyer of that home as part of the sales price, the prospective home owner would naturally be similarly interested.

How does a two-bedroom house become a four-bedroom house? Hmmm, somebody adds two bedrooms? Maybe? You think?

So the question is, when did the home in question become a four-bedroom house?

A Certificate of Occupancy must be issued before the home can be occupied. For the CO to be issued, the house must be inspected.

The City of Woodstock should hire a building inspector who is alert to a builder who might be trying to slide under the wire on Impact Fees. When the house was inspected and the City was about to issue the CO, did the inspector actually go to the house? Did he go into the basement? Did he notice two rooms in the basement that could be used as bedrooms? Were there two rooms there that would have normally been classified as bedrooms?

The City's position is, if it could be used as a bedroom, then it is a bedroom. There doesn't have to have a sign on the door that reads "Bedroom". If it is framed in and wired and has walls or could be walled in, if a door is on the room or could be added, if there is a closet or room for one, then it's a bedroom, and the City is entitled to the Impact Fees on those basement bedrooms.

Now, consider the house that is built as a two-bedroom house and then two bedrooms are later added to the basement. For electrical and plumbing work to be done, permits must be obtained and permit fees must be paid. Plans need to be reviewed and fees paid. If a basement bedroom is added, there must be adequate ventilation and protection from furnace fumes. And a new CO must be issued.

But there are no such permits in the file.

Your City Council doesn't have a problem with what was done or how it was handled.

Are there people in Woodstock who submitted remodeling plans, were told there would be Impact Fees payable and who paid the fees? (The City attorney says that Impact Fees can be levied only on new construction, not on remodeling projects.) Contact me.

Are there people in Woodstock who submitted remodeling plans and who, when told they would have to pay Impact Fees, decided to abandon the project? Contact me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Loose cannons at MCSD?

What is going on at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? Don't they have enough work? Are they all caught up on all the unserved warrants?

Several months ago a McHenry County woman was arrested for operating an unlicensed daycare and for endangering the life of a child. In fact, she was arrested several times. DCFS was involved.

And then, wonder of all wonders, DCFS dropped all of its charges. And DCFS didn't even bother to inform her. She had to find out on her own three weeks after the charges were dropped. So, if DCFS drops its charges, what's left?

What's left is to get the criminal charges stopped. Unfortunately, the prosecutors and the lawyer(s) for the defendant don't put their heads together quickly and get the court action stopped.

And then along comes the Sheriff's Department with new charges, and the warrants team sweeps in in the early evening and again after midnight. You'd think that John Dillinger was holed up in McHenry County.

Does the person in charge of warrants sic his team on the most dangerous criminals first or do they go after the "low-hanging fruit"? Is it more important to get on the scoreboard and fill up Hotel Nygren?

Why do they give some guy like Greg Pyle the "opportunity" to turn himself in, but they go out after midnight to pick up somebody that they could reach by telephone? Does the MCSD know that DCFS dropped its charges?

Why doesn't someone in Warrants call the defendant's lawyer, inform her of new charges and ask if surrender can be arranged? We're not talking about Nygren's Top Ten here. Not even the Top Hundred. Not even the Top Two Hundred. How big is the unserved warrants backlog?

If a cop knocks on my door after midnight and asks if he can come in, the answer is "No." If he has a legal right to come in, he'll say so and he won't ask. Of course, I'll want to read his warrant to enter. So, why would I want to let him in? I might ask, "Do I have to let you in?" If he says I don't, then I'll tell him to have a good night, that I am going to close the door and turn out the light, and wish him a safe night.

Know your rights! If you don't know them, you don't have any.

National Coffee Day?

Like to save some money on Dunkin' Donuts coffee for your home coffeemaker?

My favorite cuppa Joe there is a medium with one cream and one sugar. It sure beats the bitter taste of another popular coffee served in Woodstock.

Last week I put the app for Dunkin' Donuts on my phone, and I'm looking forward to trying it out. The only inconvenient step was the purchase of a Dunkin' Donuts Giftcard, so that I'd have an account number. After that, I can reload/recharge my card from my computer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

UN Small Arms Treaty - a threat?

Is anyone else receiving the emails and warnings about the U.S. position on the U.N. Small Arms Treaty? The last one I received, from Sen. Rand Paul, reminds me that the Barack-and-Hillary team apparently support the U.N.'s movement to take away small arms.

Could it possibly be that the official position of the United States of America, voiced by the President of the United States and carried around in the handbag on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is to re-shape our country and eliminate the citizenry's right to defend itself?

What are we supposed to be? Sitting ducks for the terrorists and the criminals?

Ain't gonna happen, folks!

Remember the statement of Suzanna Gratia Hupp, author of From Luby's to the Legislature, when she addressed a legislative committee on the important of the Second Amendment. At the end of her statement, she said, "The point of the Second Amendment ... is about our rights, all of our rights, to protect ourselves from you guys up there".

She meant the legislators hearing her testimony about gun control. (If you don't know who Suzanna Gratia Hupp is, watch the video and Google her. And read her book!)

Are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton trying to subvert our Second Amendment rights?

We must declare to our elected (and candidates for) Senators and Members of the U.S. House of Representatives that We, the People, will not tolerate intrusion on the Second Amendment.


At 2:14PM today I telephoned Rep. Joe Walsh's office to ask where he stood on the U.N. Small Arms Treaty. I explained my question and hoped for a response within a couple of days. They did much better than that!

At 4:02PM Michelle Mathia, a Constituent Services Representative, sent me the following message:

"I presented your concern to our legislative aid in our DC office and below is his reply.

"Congressman Walsh introduced the Second Amendment Protection Act, which will cut off funding to the United Nations if it passes this Small Arms Treaty. The web page links provide more information.



"I hope this answers your question, and if our office can be of any other assistance, please feel free to contact us at the number(s) below."

The numbers are 847/973-9341 and 815/337-0328.

Now, that's what I call Constituent SERVICE! Many thanks to Michelle, to the legislative aide in Washington, and to Joe Walsh!

Press release - Joe Rosner

How often is there a write-in candidate for a State office? Joe Rosner wants to bounce Jack Franks from his seat in the Illinois House of Representatives.

How long should State Reps serve? After a while, is it time to send them back to work?

Here is Joe's press release:

September 25, 2012
Contact: Joe Rosner
Joe Rosner for 63rd District State Representative
P.O. Box 129 Hebron, IL 60034
815 648-4601

Joe Rosner, Hebron Township author and small business owner, announces candidacy for the Illinois General Assembly, 63rd District Representative.

Joe Rosner has announced he is a write-in candidate to represent the 63rd District of the Illinois House of Representatives.  Rosner, a political newcomer, small business owner, and humanitarian has lived in the 63rd Representative District since 1993 and in rural Hebron Township for the last 12 years.

Rosner believes that we are all called to serve our state and country in different ways and at different times in our lives and is prepared to serve the citizens of the 63rd District and the State of Illinois.  He includes, helping feed the homeless, regular blood platelet donations, fostering abused and abandoned dogs, service as a volunteer disaster worker, altruistic kidney donor, Vietnam-Era Army volunteer, and children’s safety instructor as evidence of his long commitment to public service.

He looks forward to people sharing their ideas and concerns regarding the issues facing Illinois.  Most notably, the mounting financial and ethics crisis that threatens to ruin our state as a place to raise a family or run a business.

“Jack Franks and his boss Michael Madigan are not the solution to our problems,” Rosner says.  “They are the problem.”  If elected, Rosner has promised his first vote will be to end Madigan’s 30-year reign as Speaker of the House.

Acknowledging an up hill fight, Rosner points out that he would not be the first write-in candidate elected to the General Assembly and that 11 members of Congress have won by write-in, including current Senator Lisa Murkowski.   He brushes off the cynical notion that “You get the government you deserve.”  “We deserve better and we can have it,” he claims. “Fill in the oval.  Write in my name and let Jack Franks and Michael Madigan know we’ve had enough.”

Find out more about Joe Rosner.  Visit his website, www.JoeRosner.Info

Accountability and cell phones

The following comment was received from a law-enforcement officer. It was posted as a comment to a recent article about the cell phone policy at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

This comment is too important to be missed, and so I am printing it within this article.

"In my bureau, the safety of employees as well as the public is taken so seriously that our policy states that not only are we not to use any cell phones when operating an agency vehicle while on duty, but we risk losing our job if caught doing so off duty.

"There is a loose provision to commissioned law enforcement officers that they may use their cell phones while in an emergency situation, but that is seriously frowned upon as well. Responding to any incident (whether a law enforcement incident, MVA or medical emergency) is not the best time to multi-task.

"Is it followed? You bet it is- after the first few employees were disciplined, most everyone fell right in line.

"The problem with MCSO (and this is across the board- not just as it applies to phones and vehicles) lies in accountability. If there are no consequences, what's the point of following the rules? And if leadership chooses not to hold anyone accountable, why even make the rules in the first place?"

Many thanks to that reader who sent the comment.

I've often said that cops should be the first to obey the laws, not the last. And that goes for employers' rules, too. 

Where does it start? Does Sheriff Nygren use his cell phone while driving? Does Undersheriff Zinke? Does Cmdr. Miller? Does EEO officer Leist?

And, if they do, why shouldn't every deputy thumb his nose at the cell phone rule that prohibits use while operating a MCSD vehicle?

McHenry (city) approves shooting range

Last night the McHenry City Council approved the building of a shooting range in the old Sullivan's Foods store. Is a shooting range coming soon to a corner near you?

One of the Councilmen, Andy Glab, was concerned about the owner's lack of experience in operating a shooting range. The response from owner Bertram Irslinger was that he had "been shooting at ranges for more than 40 years and intends to establish a 'five-star shooting range' in McHenry."

That's an answer to Councilman Glab's concern?

Did the Council probe further into experience and into plans to create a safe range? And what is a 'five-star shooting range'? Is that like a five-star restaurant or a five-star hotel?

No doubt that Irslinger hopes to establish a safe range. The penalties are too great for not doing do. But did he inform the City Council of his plan, if any, to hire experienced shooting range managers (is there such a person?) to be present during all hours of operation?

Presumably, Planning & Development will get a shot at approving building renovation plans and improvements to walls to stop .50 cal. slugs from penetrating walls and escaping into the neighborhood.

As long as all the bullets and the sounds of gunfire stay inside the building, does it really matter how close it is to schools (except for Illinois State law, which didn't get a mention in this morning's newspaper article) or the fact that the building is "close" to residential areas?

Speaking of schools, why doesn't someone propose a shooting range at schools and teach gun safety to all students?

I did have to chuckle at the description of the other recently-approved range at 5002 West Elm Street, just a short distance west of the Sullivan Foods' building and on the opposite side of the street. When I read "members-only" shooting range, I was reminded of Iowa liquor laws years ago, when much of the state was "dry".

To get a drink in a restaurant or tavern, the customer had to be a member. The "rigorous" annual membership requirement was met with a $10 bill; it didn't even have to be new.

NISRA unfairly slammed

The U.S. Attorney in Chicago is sinking his teeth into NISRA - the Northern Illinois Special Education Association, based in Crystal Lake, Ill.

Is his action correct? Fair? Reasonable?

And how about the reporting of this action?

McHenry County Blog carried the press release from the office of Gary Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He succeeded Patrick Fitzgerald during the summer. I was glad I read Cal Skinner's article first because, when I read the Northwest Herald's Cliff Notes version of the press release, I recognized that an important part of the story was missing.

The child, whose health condition is grand mal seizures, can and must be helped immediately by a drug prescribed by her physician. It needs to be administered without delay.

Now read the part that the Northwest Herald left out:

"Diastat works most effectively if administered within five minutes of the onset of the seizure, and the longer it takes to administer the medication, the less effective it is in stopping an ongoing seizure.

"Diastat is administered rectally (emphasis added) using a pre-filled plastic syringe with a flexible plastic tip, which allows the medication to act quickly and safely."

It seems to me that the request of NISRA for a family member or a caregiver to accompany the child to NISRA activities was not unreasonable.

Is the legal action by the Federal Government unreasonable?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vote early (and vote often)

Hurry and vote on the Northwest Herald homepage (bottom right) in its Reader Poll that asks this question today (9/24/12): "Should Illinois office-holders be allowed to hold more than one office at a time?"

At this moment, 461 readers have voted, and 95% have answered "No."

It would help if the Northwest Herald moved its polls up above the "fold", but it didn't like my suggestion to do that before and it probably won't like it now. (A few years ago I suggested several times that they create a link out of the newspaper name at the top of each page that would take the reader back to the homepage, and they did accept that suggestion.)

If they put the poll where people would see it, do you think more readers would vote?


What about MCSD Evidence Room?

Cal Skinner writes today about a Chicago Sun-Times article reporting results of an investigation into the operation of the Evidence Room of the Chicago Police Department. You can read his article by clicking right here.

This is not the first time that I have wondered how secure the evidence in the hands of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has been. If you remember, the McHenry (City) Police Department audited its own evidence room, after one of its officers was arrested. It happened to be the guy in charge of evidence.

As many know, the guy in charge of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department evidence room was arrested on ten felony charges last January, and more recently the Feds piled on with their own charges. And the MCSD sergeant is sitting in the Boone County Jail on a no-bond hold.

It would have been logical for the McHenry County Sheriff's Department to put everything ever touched by Sgt. Greg Pyle under a microscope. Is everything in the evidence room accounted for? Are any cases in jeopardy? Are all the computers accounted for?

But I haven't seen one word issued by the Sheriff's Dept. Not by Nygren. Not by Zinke.

And, speaking of Pyle. Where is the announcement that Pyle is no longer associated with the Sheriff's Dept.? Didn't Nygren say that Pyle was going to resign when his "benefits" ran out and that he (Nygren) was going to "let" him resign?

Nygren should not let Pyle resign. He should discipline him for all the infractions of the General Orders. Some say you can't get blood out of a turnip. You never know what might spill out when you squeeze a turnip.

Could there be anything that some would not want to spill out?

Freebies for deputies

Are there Favorite Places in Woodstock and throughout McHenry County for deputies and police officers? (I'm not talking about Bookmarks on your web browser.)

You know, those places (drive-through windows?) where a deputy can swing through in his squad car, in or out of uniform, and pick up a free coffee? Or pick up a free burger and fries? Or go inside for a free sit-down meal?

Those coffee places (even restaurants) will "comp" deputies.

In "olden" days when deputies were underpaid, the owners or managers might have thought they were helping out a cop who was there to help them out. A few might even thought about it more widely and thought the cops were really helping the whole town by being "out there". But now?

Deputies earn $70,-80,000/year (or more; maybe even $95,-100,000/year). Can't they afford their own coffee?

And what about department policies, often called General Orders? Often a department will have a policy that deputies are not to accept freebies.

The idea is that a deputy or cop won't be inclined to "give a break" to the restaurant or coffee shop's owner, manager or even employee, if he stops him (or her) for a traffic violation.

When I was a reserve deputy in Colorado, I knew where those places were. How did I find them? By riding with the full-time deputies. I remember more than one time when the deputy got his meal without paying, and I insisted on paying for mine. Sometimes it was awkward, like when the employee insisted that I not pay for my meal.

That didn't change anything. I explained that I intended to pay the full price for my meal, and I did. Every time.

What's the policy at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department? And how many times a day is it broken?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hit the DWI Hit Parade

Ken Rossignol
Have you ever seen the link on the right side of this blog to the DWI Hit Parade? Any idea what it's all about?

Check out this story on ABC's Channel 7 that ran in June 2011.

In 2000 Ken Rossignol and I got acquainted. It was maybe a year or so after I was a guest on ABC's The View about my traffic crusade. Ken and I exchanged many emails, and I looked forward to the day we'd meet. Ken was publishing St. Mary's Today, an internet newspaper with a weekly print edition.

About three years ago I was through southern Maryland, as I drove from Richmond, Va. to Annapolis. I called Ken after buying a copy of St. Mary's Today at a newsbox at the first Maryland Rest Area. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good time for us to meet on short notice.

In 2010 Ken sold St. Mary's Today. He told the new owner not to change the format, but he did. And it's gone now.

DUIs were always a hot button for Ken, and he began publishing

Well, this summer we did meet. Ken autographed a copy of St. Mary's Today - The Story of the Rag for me. Ken has authored numerous books on the Titanic and the Panama Canal and other topics. I invite you to visit and begin reading Ken's books. Charge up that Kindle!

3rd shooting range in McHenry?

The City Council of the City of McHenry will consider a request tomorrow night for a third indoor gun range in its City. And why not?

The growing interest in firearms and especially in places for practice and training is showing up in McHenry County. Although an outdoor range was shot down by the McHenry County Planning Commission, (and correctly so, because of the proposed location), a new indoor gun range opened in Crystal Lake.

There is already a gun shop and small range in McHenry - one that has been there for years. HP Shooting Center, at 2908 Route 120 (West Elm Street), is a friendly place. That's where I've been shooting.

An indoor range has been proposed at 5002 West Elm St. in McHenry.

The range under consideration Monday night is planned for 3705 West Elm Street, which is the site of the former Sullivan's Foods. The article in the Northwest Herald today mentions that Landmark School is about 300 feet from the proposed shooting-range building.

Will this location be a show-stopper?

Landmark Elementary School is a public school in McHenry School District 15.

Illinois Criminal Law (720 ILCS 5/24-1) might make a felon out of anyone going to this 3705 W. Elm St. gun range, because it is within 1,000 feet of a school.

(c) Violations in specific places.   
(1.5) A person who violates subsection 24-1(a)(4), 24-1(a)(9), or 24-1(a)(10) in any school, regardless of the time of day or the time of year, ... on the real property comprising any school, regardless of the time of day or the time of year, ... or on any public way within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising any school, ... commits a Class 3 felony.

When you read the law, which you had better do, be sure to read Section (a) 4 and the part about that Section's not applying in certain circumstances. Talk to your lawyer. Be sure your lawyer understands the law; you might have to explain it and then question him (or her) about what the law says. Be sure your firearm is being "transported".

Have you got a gun in the trunk of your car right now? Know where the schools are. How far is 1,000 feet? More than the length of three football fields. Just be sure you are "transporting" your weapon. Read the law. Know the law!

This way out, please

                Truck vs. pole....

Pole - 1
Truck - 0

This was the scene at the Woodstock Public Library this Sunday afternoon. How does something like this happen?

Of course, it's always possible that the steering broke or the brakes failed and that the driver drove into the pole on purpose to save other vehicles from damage or pedestrians from injury.

Or did books, just checked out, start to slide off the seat, distracting the driver? Or was she reaching to put on her seat belt? Or did the phone ring?

It was obviously a low-speed crash, but I'll bet there is $6,-10,000 worth of damage.

DQ Dipfest - not free, after all

Am I the only person in Woodstock who thought "ANY SIZE CONE DIPPED FREE" meant a free dipped cone at the Woodstock DQ this week?

The ad in last week's Woodstock Independent read

               ANY SIZE CONE DIPPED
                        Sept. 21-28

Maybe I should have tried to figure out sooner how FREE couldn't possibly mean free. I figured that DQ was coming to the end of another great season in Woodstock and had figured out a way to thank its loyal customers.

But why would Dairy Queen try to trick readers?

So not only did the (pleasant) refusal by the clerk leave a bad taste in my mouth, I didn't buy anything today; and it will probably stick with me for a while. Will I remember it each time I drive by DQ? Or each time I go there next year?

Somehow I think, if I were the owner of the DQ and customers started asking for something free because of the way I had written the ad, I'd try to salvage their business and their goodwill. (Didn't anyone at the Woodstock Independent see the problem with the ad and ask the owner or his ad agency if they really meant "free"?

Maybe the employees could have been trained to say something like, "We're really sorry about the ad and, to make it up to you, we'd like to give you a free cone. And could I interest you in a quart or half-gallon of ice cream to take home?"

Of course, now I can see that the ad means "any size cone" dipped free.

Beth Bentley - Week 125 - still missing

Beth Bentley, missing since May 23, 2010, has now been gone 125 weeks. Somebody knows what happened. Some people know what happened. When will the truth come out?

An unrelated article in this morning's Northwest Herald attracted my attention. On Page A3, under State Briefs, was a short article about a Vernon Hills attorney who has been accused of using clients' credit cards and then placing the credit card debt in the clients' bankruptcy filings.

Apparently, an employee was a witness and prosecutors followed a trail of text messages between the attorney and his employee to help build their case.

Early in the weeks following Beth's disappearance, she was described on Facebook as a "serial texter". Before someone scrubbed her Facebook account, there were many messages and comments and many entries in Farmville. Beth had been the office manager in her husband's law office and would have been in control of money coming into the office and of many disbursements. Her friend and traveling companion, Jenn Wyatt, worked in the office, and one would think that Wyatt had been compensated for working there.

In a California child-support case that has been the subject of hearings in McHenry County Circuit Court, any earnings by Wyatt, whether as an employee (IRS Form W-2) or in-kind or in cash (IRS Form 1099), should have been revealed to the judge. Beth, as office manager, would have known about them and would have documented them as tax-deductible expenses of the law practice.

When Beth bought a Volvo for Jenn to drive, was that an office transaction that resulted in taxable income to Jenn for the use of the car? In whose name was the Volvo purchased? What funds paid for it? When it was sold, who signed the title?

If Beth paid Jenn's rent on the house at 749 Tara Drive, Woodstock, was that taxable income to Jenn in exchange for her working in the office? Or did Beth earn the money, pay tax on it and then give the money to Jenn as a gift? For example, by writing a check each month to the landlord for the rent. The property owner was in California. Was there a local real estate agent who handled the rental?

Have police investigators attempted to follow the trail of money through Beth Bentley's desk at the office? If she handled income that came into the practice from clients with bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings, were all receipts duly recorded in full in the firm's financial ledger? Were there financial entries when new cases were opened or when billable activities occurred in existing cases? Was there a cash box or safe in the office for keeping track of checks and cash coming in? Were receipts issued for all payments to the office, especially if any were paid in cash? If clients paid in cash, where was the cash put?

Was there a petty cash box in the office for such small expenditures as Postage Due on mail or for quick trips to an office-supply store for small items? Every other business expenditure should have been paid by check or credit card, where a record would be available for income tax purposes.

Early reports were that no office money was unaccounted for. If Beth planned to disappear, from what source(s) could she have assembled money with which to run away?

If this is really not a missing person case, how much longer will it be before a new, exhaustive investigation begins?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wrong bumper sticker = terrorist?

Could this be true?

Could the "wrong" bumper sticker on your vehicle get you on the terrorist watch list of Big Brother?

Are the cops getting Federally-funded training in how to spot a terrorist? Suppose you have a "Defend the Constitution" bumper sticker on your car. Or one that says "Know Your Rights!" Are you more likely to get stopped by an aggressive cop and put through the ringer?

What if you believe that some of the policies of the United Nations are dangerous your civil liberties and rights as a U.S. citizen, such as its interest in a global gun ban? Will this get you labeled as a terrorist?

What will happen the next time you want to fly to Denver or New York? Or board a train for St. Louis? Or take a Greyhound bus to Springfield?

Think it can't happen? Read this:

And remember: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

What's up with amnesty for illegal aliens?

Is our government giving away the store? I received an email today with information from NumbersUSA.

Is this unsettling to anyone else?

"We're getting answers to some unanswered questions on DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memo that went out in June. And the answers to those questions, not surprisingly, aren't very good.

"One question addresses concerns from illegal aliens who have used fake, stolen, or borrowed Social Security numbers. Reports have indicated that some have been reluctant to apply for the temporary amnesty because the application form asks to list Social Security numbers they have used. But DHS has clarified the question by stating that applicants only need to list a Social Security number that has been issued to them by the Social Security Administration. So if they've mis-used, stolen, or lied about another Social Security number, they don't need to disclose that. They're simply instructed to write in N/A on the application.

"Another concern involves the employers of illegal aliens who apply for DACA. Some illegal aliens have wanted to use their employment history to help satisfy the length of residence and time of arrival requirements, but employers have been reluctant because it implicates them in the hiring of illegal workers.

"But DHS has told the employers not to worry. According to the DACA website, "[t]his information will not be shared with ICE for civil immigration enforcement purposes..." So not only are the illegal aliens getting an amnesty, but the employers who hire them get one as well!

Finally, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith expressed great concern over the issue of advanced parole in his questioning of Sec. Napolitano over the summer. When an illegal alien who receives deferred action also receives advanced parole, they're allowed to leave and re-enter the United States. This is a significant issue because it allows the alien to legally re-enter the United States freeing them from the 10-year bar they would face should they become eligible for a green card. Current law subjects illegal aliens who have lived in the U.S. for longer than a year to a 10-year bar before re-entering the country, but the granting of advanced parole would remove this penalty.

"After dodging the question since June, DHS finally has an answer for Chairman Smith. Illegal aliens who successfully receive deferred action CAN apply for advanced parole as long as they pay the $360 application fee that goes along with it and meet the other requirements.

"There you have it!

"As expected, DHS will be as generous as possible in granting this temporary amnesty to upwards of 1.8 million illegal aliens. The answers to all three of the above questions is another punch in the gut for the 23 million Americans who want a full-time job but can't find one."

Vehicle impound fees in Chicago

Gee, I've been carping about the $500 vehicle impound fees in Woodstock, and then today I read the fee schedule for the City of Chicago.

Chicago's 2012 Fee Schedule reads, "If a vehicle is impounded during an arrest, the fine jumped from $1,000 to $2,000 to get the car back. The fine is $3,000 if the crime happens within 500 feet of a school."

So, just one more reason to stay out of Chicago.

Let's say you were unlucky enough to get stopped for a burned-out turn signal light bulb, and the officer was going to give you a break with a written Warning. Hey, don't laugh. It could happen. Even in Chicago.

But then he sees that your birthday was earlier this month and you hadn't renewed your license. Now he's got a problem.

Let's say that he has to arrest you for driving on an expired license. And then he has to impound your car. And, worse, he stopped you right front of a school on a Sunday afternoon (no students in sight, of course). So you'll be out $3,000, plus the cost of a tow, storage at $40-50/day, bail, and a taxi home (or to the tow yard, if it's open).

Still thinking about driving into Chicago?

Is meter-"feeding" illegal in Chicago?

Earlier this week I had a telephone conversation with a friend who was driving into Chicago and planning to park at a meter. I was glad I was sitting down, when she told me how much she expected to pay at the meter. How about $3.50 per hour? How much???

And she planned to pay to park for two hours, so that she wouldn't get a $50.00 parking ticket. How much???

In other cities in which I've lived, it was illegal to "feed" the meter; i.e., to just go back to the meter and stuff in more coin of the realm and not move your car. That made me wonder about laws in Chicago.

Today I found information about meter "feeding".

"Q. Can I be ticketed even if there was time on the meter? How is that possible?
A. If you are parked at a two-hour meter, for example, you are not allowed to feed the meter after the two hours are over. You must move your car so that other motorists may park. Even if you put more quarters in the meter, if you have parked there over the stated limit, you can get a ticket."

Where is this information? It's on the City of Chicago website section on Finance, under the  FAQs.

Of course, in Chicago you need not even have the "coin of the realm" with you, but you'd better have a valid credit card. Don't get caught without money or credit to feed the meter when you park. If you leave your car to fetch change and the meter maid comes by, you will be out-of-luck and out a bunch of money for the parking ticket.

Part of Wisc. open carry law - wrong?

A part of Wisconsin's open-carry law may be seriously wrong. Illegal? Unconstitutional?

Wisconsin has had an open-carry law on its books for years. This means that a person, who is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a loaded handgun, can carry that gun "openly", such as in a holster on his belt unconcealed by a shirt or jacket. It has to be in the open.
When I read the law last year, before the new concealed-carry law went into effect in Wisconsin in November 2011, I was particularly concerned about a driver or occupant of a motor vehicle who might be wearing a gun openly. A close reading of the law revealed that it wouldn't be in the "open", after all. Carrying it "openly" in a motor vehicle was not permitted.

What about on a motorcycle, where it would be clearly visible? Probably illegal, because a motorcycle is a motor vehicle.

From the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom (October 2012 issue, Page 14), comes this information.

"In late July, a Milwaukee police officer testified in court that "her training told her that presence of NRA gear makes it more likely the person might have a gun," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The officer looking into a parked car and, seeing an NRA hat, investigated further and found the driver had a firearm in a holster. The officer claimed the gun was concealed, but a jury agreed the gun was being carried openly and found the owner not guilty." (Emphasis in the original.)

So, even though State law said it was illegal, the jury decided that it wasn't illegal.

Now, before you run off to Wisconsin and strap on the ol' Buntline special right after you cross the State line, keep in mind that this was the result in one case, in Milwaukee, with specific details and circumstances. It won't apply elsewhere in the State of Wisconsin or with a different type of weapon or holster or vehicle.

Know the law. You might not be lucky enough to get a jury that is similarly minded. I wonder just how much it cost the gun-owner to defend himself.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cell Phones and County Vehicles

McHenry County has a super-strict policy on the use of cellular telephones while an employee is operating a County-owned vehicle (or maybe any vehicle while using a County owned cell phone).

What's a County-owned vehicle? Marked squad car, unmarked squad car, seized vehicle, department-owned non-law enforcement vehicle, dog catcher trucks, prisoner-transport buses, etc.

Needless to say, deputies are County employees.

So, what does the policy say?

"... Unless absolutely avoidable, cell phones are not to be used while driving a moving vehicle or operating moving machinery, as such devices causes (sic) driver distraction. All employees shall use a hands-free device while driving. Employees shall not make or receive telephone calls while driving. Employees shall let incoming calls go to their voicemail and then find a safe place to pull over and park before initiating a call."

Think anyone follows these rules?
How about this rule? "County owned wireless phones are for business use only except for emergency purposes."

Limited personal use can be made of a County owned phone, and the employee gets nicked for a flat fee of $10.00 reportable as income.

How many phone calls and text messages did Det. Novak make to the C.I. in that case that is now under the microscope? Were they all for "business" purposes?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Great poster on Facebook

A great poster showed up on my Facebook wall today!

"Why are kids obese?"

"Because burgers are $0.49 and salads are $4.99."

July vehicle impounds - $10,000

July was another good month for the Woodstock Police Department, if you call generating $10,000 in vehicle impoundment fees "good". That's 20 vehicles impounded at the $500 hit per vehicle.

Back on January 3 Chief Robert Lowen estimated that his department might impound 50 vehicles in a year, for a total of $25,000 in fees. Through the end of July, the P.D. has gone way over that, creating $55,000 in fees. That equates to 110 vehicles impounded. Should we applaud or hiss?

Do you suppose a Performance Bonus will be paid to the Department or to the top-performing officers?

Several vehicle owners have lost their vehicles because they could not afford the impound fee, towing and storage charges. Is this what the City Fathers had in mind when they approved the new revenue-generation source back in January?

One man told this week that he had to borrow $500 to pay the bond to get his vehicle out of the tow yard. He put up his title as collateral, and now he can't pay off the title-loan company. Guess what? They will take his vehicle.

The City doesn't offer any payment plan for the bond. You don't get your vehicle unless you cough up the entire $500. Until you post the bond, your vehicle sits in the tow yard at, probably, $40.00/day storage fee.

This is a terrible law but, until enough residents protest loudly enough or four councilmen get voted out of office, this travesty of justice will continue.

Whose brainchild do you suppose this was - for Woodstock, I mean?

On top of this, Woodstock Police is now collecting a new Bail Processing Fee. Through the end of July the P.D. has collected $2,640 in this category.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) reportedly said, "Be thankful we are not getting all the government we are paying for."

Well, Will, maybe now we are... and there are plenty of people who are not thankful for it.

When does your D/L expire?

Do you know when that driver's license in your pocket expires?

On your birthday, right? Which birthday?

Take a look right now and read the expiration date. Actually get the license out of your wallet and purse and look at the date? OK, on your birthday in what year? 2012? 2013?

While you are at it, check the expiration date on your FOID card.

And then, next time you are in your car, root around in the glove compartment and find your Insurance Card for your car insurance. Make sure you have the right card - you know, the one for your current policy that expires sometime after today.

And look at the tag on your rear license plate.

You will not want a ticket for either an expired driver's license or expired registration or no insurance. At the very least, you'll be inconvenienced. And you'll be darned unhappy if you get a $25 fine (and $210 in court costs).

So... take two minutes and check now ...
1. Driver's License
2. Current Insurance Card in car
3. Current renewal tag on the license plate

I was wrong about Impact Fees

I hate to admit it (well, I really don't), but I was wrong when I wrote on September 18 that the City of Woodstock has beat you to the punch, if you are intending to avoid large Impact Fees when you build a new home in Woodstock.

In this article I wrote that Impact Fees are payable to the City, if you buy a two-bedroom home and then expand the house to four bedrooms. That was my belief when I wrote the article, and I based it on oral and written information from the City.

I wrote that Woodstock had not been asleep at the switch and, if you did improve and expand your home, you were going to have to cough up the difference in Impact Fees. How much could that difference be?

Here is the 2012 Schedule:

2 Bedrooms $12,083.00
3 Bedrooms $20,777.00
4 Bedrooms, $24,201.00
5 Bedrooms or more, $24,201.00

If you bought a two-bedroom home, you would pay $12,083 in Impact Fees. If you built a a four-bedroom house, you'd pay $24,201. The difference? $12,118. Do "you" pay these fees? Well, it's the builder who pays them, but it is really you who pays them. You surely don't think the builder is going to eat them. He just boosts the sales price to include them.

So I've been trying to figure out how a two-bedroom house in 2002 becomes a four-bedroom house in 2012, and no "difference" gets collected and no building permits (electrical, plumbing, etc.) are required.

One possible solution occurred to me this morning. If the electrical and plumbing and walls for the two additional bedrooms were roughed in during new construction, but the rooms weren't called "bedrooms", could that help a builder slide by on $12,000 of Impact Fees (or whatever the Fee Schedule was in 2002)?

How do you persuade the Building Inspector that two rooms with electricity in a basement are not bedrooms? And aren't going to be bedrooms? Do you leave off doors? Not close in a closet? Not plan to put down carpet?

Apparently, it's the State law that precludes collecting Impact Fees after the original house is built. How do communities avoid the "impact" that two extra bedrooms have on schools, police, fire, parks, etc.? Think maybe some little rug rats might end up in those new bedrooms, either then or later?

USMC - Never give up

Here's a feel-good story from this morning's meeting of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department's Merit Commission.

Testing for applicants for the 2012 Eligibility List was conducted on September 8 at Woodstock North High School.

The attorney for the Merit Commission, Susan Connor, was at the meeting and told this story about one applicant.

The applicant was coming from Chicago. To get here, he took a bus, then the "L", then Metra. Only he caught the wrong Metra train (easy to do) and had to go back to Ogilvie Station, where he caught the correct train.

When he got to Woodstock, he ran the three miles from the train station near the Square to Woodstock North High School. He arrived about one minute after the last physical agility test had been administered.

To the credit of the testing vendor, they administered the test to him.

The applicant? A Marine!

This is a guy that McHenry County Sheriff's Department needs. His name was not mentioned at the meeting. Good luck to him!

Winnebago County abandons concealed carry

Remember the glee with which concealed carry supporters praised Winnebago County for considering a resolution or ordinance to allow concealed carry?

Now the Rockford Tea Party is bashing Winnebago County State's Attorney Joseph Bruscato for the September 17, 2012, opinion from his office that a concealed carry ordinance in Winnebago County won't fly.

He's right.

Rockford Tea Party Coordinator David Hale is all upset and blasts that opinion. He's wrong.

Illinois State law controls whether a person can carry a concealed weapon, and Winnebago County cannot pass its own less-restrictive law. I wrote that months ago. The opinion explains why reciprocity won't fly; States that grant reciprocity require that a person hold a concealed carry permit in his own state, and that's impossible for Illinois residents.

Now, how do you carry a concealed weapon in Illinois? You carry it unloaded in a container. What's a "container", you ask? The State of Illinois doesn't specify. The exception to violating Illinois criminal law (720 ILCS 5/24-) by carrying (transporting) a weapon reads "......are unloaded and enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card;"

So, could your "other container" be a fanny pack, backpack, briefcase, purse, Jewel-Osco plastic sack or lunch box? Read the part about "transporting" the weapon. If you are moving it from one place to another, which you obviously would be, wouldn't you be "transporting" it?

Here is a case where you must know your Miranda rights, which start with "You have the right to remain silent." If you decide to carry your unloaded weapon in your "container", unfortunately you may have to expect that you will be arrested.

If I were stopped while carrying concealed in Illinois, I don't want the cop to be surprised if he pats me down. I'd tell him that I am legally carrying an unloaded firearm. I'd show him my FOID card. And I'd stop talking, except to affirm politely and in answer to any questions, that I am legally in possession of my firearm.

Exercise that right to remain silent. Talk only to your attorney. Yes, it might mean sitting in custody or jail until your attorney can get there and you can bond out. Keep your mouth s-h-u-t.

Remember the second warning? "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

If you need to defend yourself or someone else, would you rather be five seconds away from a loaded weapon or hours and miles away from it? Me? Five seconds (loading time) sounds a whole lot better and safer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

S.C. deputy - sex with informant

Back in October 2011 a Cherokee County, S.C. deputy was arrested for allegedly getting it on with a confidential informant. Cherokee County is located in what is locally called Upstate in South Carolina, an area off I-85 between Charlotte, N.C. and Spartanburg, S.C.

The matter there was handled a little differently than Sheriff Nygren handled it here in McHenry County, Ill. Quite differently, as a matter of fact. And Nygren said he didn't cut Deputy Jason ("Slick") Novak any slack.

There, the deputy was charged with Public Official Misconduct and arrested. He was even housed in his own county's jail. And the South Carolina's Attorney General's office was prosecuting him. The sexual act was reported to have happened in December 2008 or January 2009, more than 2 1/2 years before he was arrested.

How did this happen? According to the article on, "The arrest followed an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division at the request of the Sheriff’s Office."

How many people are wondering why Nygren and Zinke didn't call in the Illinois State Police?

Click here to view the article on

Video gaming - a good idea?

At last night's meeting of the Woodstock City Council, a discussion of video gaming was held.

After about ten minutes of Mayor Sager's introduction, which I thought might be the entire discussion, the microphone was opened to the public.

The first speakers were folks with a direct financial interest in approval of video gaming, because they handle the machines. Triple 7 owns the terminals and operates them. So, naturally, they would be in favor.

An attorney for the gaming group (it wasn't clear whether he is employed by Triple 7 or retained by them) presented his information, and then the Council heard from the Woodstock VFW and the Woodstock Moose Lodge, as well as from Mark Gummerson, who represents Coleman's.

In this morning's paper the Northwest Herald reporter wrote that Stephanie Drougas works for Triple 7. Indeed she does; she said so last night. And then an editor of the Northwest Herald elevated her status in a headline to "Advocate". She wasn't an advocate! She was there to pitch the interest of her employer!

When the question arose about whether a drunk would waste more of his family fortunes at the video gaming terminals, she said Drougas didn't think so by his placing one-cent bets. The terminals allow bets ranging from $0.01 to $2.00. (Could somebody blow through $100 (or more) pretty fast with $2 bets?)

Establishments could have up to five machines, and Drougas said that each machine (each machine) could take in from $45,000 to $60,000 a year. Of the take, 30% goes to the State of Illinois, of which 5% of the take would be returned to Woodstock. Of the other 70%, the bar gets a share (half?) and the terminal operator (Triple 7) gets a share (half?). And Woodstock stands to collect $3,000 ($60,000 x 5%) per machine. Five machines? $15,000. From each establishment.

The VFW and the Moose seem to believe that their cut ($60,000 x 35% = $21,000 per machine) will help them keep their doors open.

Will Moose and VFW members cough up $300,000, so that their service organizations can end up with $105,000? Why not just donate $105,000 and keep $195,000 in their pockets?

Isn't there something wrong with these numbers and the whole picture?

Merit Commission Minutes - incomplete

At the June 13th meeting of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Merit Commission, a significant event occurred but it is not reported in the Minutes of the meeting.

After I took one photograph during the meeting, Chairman Janelle Crowley ordered me not to take photographs. She said, "I don't like my picture taken."

I informed her that I was aware that the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) permits photography, but she was firm in her position.

No reference is made in the June 13th Minutes to this interaction.

Following the meeting I filed a Request for Review (complaint) with the Public Access Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. Attorney Susan Connor responded on behalf of the Merit Commission, acknowledging that she had not attended but had been informed of "facts" by her clients (plural; who?).

The Commission now understands that photography is permitted. (They understood that before, because they had to undergo OMA training after the last violation of the OMA.)

The "facts" in Attorney Connor's letter will be discussed tomorrow.

Renew your D/L early?

Have you ever thought about renewing your driver's license early? Did you know you can do that?

Even though my birthday is in February, I went to the Woodstock DMV today and renewed my driver's license. Maybe I'll be out-of-town in January-February (it's cold then; right?) - somewhere in a warmer climate. New Zealand sounds nice...

In my hand I took a report from my eye doctor, so that I would not have to take the eye exam at the DMV. When I presented it, the clerk asked if I wore my glasses all the time. I remembered the eye doctor had commented on improvement in my vision, and so I asked if I qualified for my driver's license without a glasses restriction. She said I did, and I walked out with a license unrestricted for vision.

Today reminded me of a day when I was 16 and taking my first physical for a pilot's license. The eye doctor filled out the form and noted I had to wear glasses when flying. When I received my FAA license, there was no glasses requirement. So, while I wore glasses to see, according to the FAA, I didn't have to.

I really liked the $5 renewal fee for my driver's license (plus another $5 for the motorcycle endorsement). Do they think I operate my car and my motorcycle at the same time? Is that why they charge a fee for each? Still, that was a lot easier on my checkbook than having to dole out $35 for the same privileges.

Can't wait until I'm 85. Then my driver's license will be free.

Who is Joe Rosner?

Cal Skinner has published news that Joe Rosner is running against Jack Franks in the November 6th election for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Want to know Joe? Go to  Note: it's not .com; it's

Something I read recently indicated that Joe is running on his own. He is not soliciting funds or seeking endorsements. He is running as a Write-In candidate. Learn his name. Spell it correctly on Nov. 6. If you don't, your vote for him will be challenged.

Probably his family won't kick in millions to help him win. Not because they don't like him. I don't even know if Joe has a family. Do they have millions?

Remember Tonya Franklin? She wanted to run against Jack Franks, but the Republicans of McHenry County wanted, instead, to give the seat to Jack. Why? No major office should go uncontested.

Should you vote for Joe? I say, find out about Joe. Go to his website. Invite him to a neighborhood coffee. Ask your family, friends, neighbors to find out about him. Make up your own mind.

Police update on Beth Bentley case

Let's take a look at the July report of the Woodstock Police Department in the Beth Bentley missing-person case. Each month the P.D. informs the City Manager (and through him, the Mayor and the City Council) of its activity in this case. The July Report, included in the September 4, 2012, packet to the City Council read:

"The Woodstock Police Department continues to investigate and follow up on all leads in the investigation of the Endangered Missing Person Benedetta "Beth" Bentley. The Investigations Division maintains contact with the family of Benedetta Bentley, the Illinois State Police and all other Police Agencies involved in this case for updates and the sharing of intelligence/information."

Sound familiar? It should. The same two sentences appear month and month with only the slightest change. For example, previous reports have included "aggressively follow up". The July report does not. The detail is called "boilerplate". Using it month after month reflects poorly on both the sender and the recipient. It basically says, "Ain't nothin' happenin', boss."

The only nibble on the investigatory hook earlier this year was the arrest of Jennifer Wyatt on felony charges that were dismissed by a judge, before ever getting anywhere near a trial. The felony charges were embarrassingly thin and never should have been approved by the State's Attorney's Office in the first place. The P.D. didn't have even the slightest chance of proving them because they didn't meet the statute.

What would happen is MIAT were pulled into this case, even now? What if trained investigators from several law-enforcement agencies in McHenry County were assembled and started a new investigation from Day One? What's MIAT? Major Incident Assistance Team?

Is not the sudden disappearance of a 41-year-old mother, wife and employee a "major incident"? Especially when so many conflicting stories arose so quickly?

Any suggestions from readers about subjects or people for MIAT to put under the microscope?

If you are afraid to associate your name, email address, or "poser" name with comments, then email or mail them to me. If you want to fax them, call first so I can switch the line to my low-tech fax machine. The phone line for the home phone/fax machine does not have CallerID. Honest! Sources will be held in the strictest confidence.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Marengo Neighborhood Watches to form

Take a look at what is happening in Marengo. Look at this! A pro-active police chief!

Marengo Police Department Chief Joseph Hallman has announced a meeting in October to help Marengo residents slow down crime. He writes:

"I have been working with several citizen groups to develop an effective neighborhood watch program for Marengo.  On October 23rd, at 7:00 p.m. in the City Hall Council chambers I am hosting a meeting for anyone interested in developing and or building a group for your neighborhood.
"I hope to have a couple of speakers besides me to also listen to concerns and develop workable strategies to 'push back' against some of these ongoing issues we are all experiencing.

"If you could pass this along to your group I would be appreciative. I hope you are able to attend what I believe will be a positive community development."

Mayor's comments way over the top

I was going to title this article "Mayor Spanks Resident", but I decided not to.

The Woodstock City Council met tonight. During the Public Comment period I addressed the Council about the City's failure to respond to what I considered a legitimate and polite inquiry. In my remarks I asked why applicable permit and Impact fees had not been paid, and why permits had not been issued, for a remodeling project on a house within the City Limits.

In my remarks I identified the address but not the name of the resident. I specifically stated that I had relied on information from the City about the applicability of Impact Fees.

I asked why no permits for electrical and plumbing work had been issued. Why there had been no inspections. Why no new Certificate of Occupancy had been issued. I asked whether new new owner of the property, which sold on July 12, would be responsible for the fees or if the property owner at the time of remodeling would be assessed.

I stated how I knew there had been no permits issued; I had examined the property file at City Hall. Whatever prompted my inquiry is not relevant.

I stated that I had sent an email on July 27, which had not been answered. I hand-delivered a letter on August 1, and I had received no response. I emailed again on September 4 and received no response. On September 9 I was told that my August 1st letter was "upstairs", meaning on the second floor where the Mayor's office is located.

At the conclusion of my remarks Mayor Sager launched in a public spanking and attacked me verbally, improperly using the authority of his office as Mayor in an attempt to humiliate me. Fortunately, I don't cower in the face of a bully's attack. The mayor had his response prepared and didn't like at all that I had asked questions about the home of a "highly-regarded public employee". He seemed to be reading from his notes as he attacked me.

Then he invited members of the City Council to pile on. Councilman Ahrens was first, and he said that he considered my questions about the issue to be slander. He accused me of making false statements.

Every one of my statements in my inquiry was fact-based. The information came right out of the City's property file, both what was in the file and what was conspicuous by its absence.

Then Councilman Turner piled on, accusing me of costing the City tens of thousands of dollars in time to handle my FOIA requests. He mentioned my requests had been "incredibly burdensome" to the staff.

At that point I got tired of being hammered and stated that I had gathered my information through a FOIA request. When the Mayor insisted that they would speak and I would not, I objected.

Mayor Sager appeared visibly upset and announced a recess (sort of like picking up your marbles and going home, if you can't get your own way), and he led most of the Council away from their seats into his office behind the chamber.

I wonder what they talked about back there. If they talked about any City business, such as my remarks, then they violated the Open Meetings Act, since five of the seven were in that office.

The lawyer from Rich Flood's office, Ruth (her last name was not given during the meeting), said that Impact Fees are not due on remodeling, only on new construction. The Mayor, members of the Council and she must have not heard my early statement that I had been told by staff at the Community Development Office that Impact Fees are collectable on remodels.

If they aren't, why didn't Mayor Sager respond to my emails of July 27 and September 4 and say so? Most of the issue could have been cleared up early in August through a prompt, business-like reply. Does he think that, since he is King (errr, Mayor), then he doesn't have to be concerned with responding to lowly subjects of the kingdom?

Nothing in the Roberts Rules of Order grants any privilege to a member of a public body to verbally berate a resident who questions their processes.

I, for one, refuse to accept insults tossed at me by people in power (in their own minds, at least).

I would like to thank Council members Saladin, Thompson, Larson and Dillon for not piling on. I wonder if they knew I was right. I hope you don't get spanked for not supporting the other three.

The Mayor announced that no further action would be taken. I guess that means that the City won't collect double the permit fees for remodeling, plan review, electrical, plumbing and HVAC; won't inspect electrical and plumbing work; and won't require the new Certificate of Occupancy called for in the City Code.

The City's own booklet, The Permit Process, warns residents about not getting permits. On Page 1 it reads, "Furthermore, if they were to suffer a loss due to fire or a structural incident, their insurance carrier may require documentation for the work that may have caused the loss was completed under a building permit and that the work was inspected by a qualified individual."

If I were the new owner at 1341 Winslow Circle, I think I'd be conferring with my insurance agent, real estate agent and attorney to confirm that everything is in order.