Friday, November 30, 2012

Career in nursing?

Do you know someone interested in advancing her (or his) career in nursing? Maybe someone who doesn't want to relocate or travel long distances for college studies?

Aurora University Woodstock Center will hold an open house on Thursday, December 6, from 6:00-8:00PM. Yes, right here in Woodstock. Here in McHenry County! Imagine that.

The programs? RN to BSN; MSN; MSN Bridge Option

Drop in on December 6 at 222 Church Street, Woodstock (same building as the Challenger Center).

For information, visit

Or you can email or telephone 815.337.6051

When business drops off...

Most employers, when business drops off, begin trimming expenses and, horrors of all horrors, commence with lay-offs, allowing attrition to cut number of employees, reduce hiring, slow down promotions, cut overtime ... "Down-sizing" becomes the order of the day.

But what if it's the "business" of a government entity that is slowing down; say, number of inmates in a jail...

The McHenry County Jail doesn't just house persons convicted of crimes or even just those accused of crimes. Our jail also serves as a "hotel" for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) and for federal prisoners of the U.S. Marshals Service.

There was a day when the McHenry County Jail housed 350-400 in that category; and at a nice daily rate, too. That "income" served the County well for a while. The old "If you build it, they will come" adage played out nicely for quite a while.

The Sheriff bought those big while "school buses" that are parked out front and put an addition on the building.

And now? Rumor has it that the number of contract inmates might be as low as 230. If that is correct, is the Jail (run by the Sheriff - without the help of the Undersheriff (if you believe that one)) cutting back on personnel and expenses?

Is unnecessary overtime schedule? Are certain shift corrections officers (CO) allowed to put in 3-4 hours of overtime when they really aren't needed? Is the over-time pay rate really $54.00/hour? That would certainly fatten up a paycheck. Who monitors that? The Sheriff is supposed to. (Let's say that a CO earns $80,000/year; that $40.00/hour (round numbers). OT is time-and-a-half. $40.00 x 1.5 = $60.00/hour. Four hours of sitting around after a shift would generate $240 "extra" pay!)

These are hard questions that the County Board should be asking. And it should be getting straight answers.

Since the Jail Chief doesn't report to the Undersheriff (you remember that silly news a few months ago), then to whom does he report? If the sheriff isn't around, does Corrections Chief Sedlock have no one to whom he is responsible?

You remember why Undersheriff Zinke is NOT in the chain-of-command from Sedlock to Nygren; right? A little thing called the (Federal) Hatch Act. It has to be with Zinke's already-announced candidacy for Nygren's job in the November 2014 election. In other words, since Zinke is running for Sheriff and the Hatch Act is flapping in the breeze, then Zinke can't do part of his job. Did he take a pay cut?

Or did he get a nice pay raise (same pay, less work) when the Hatch Act got waved in his face? Zinke's pay is $136,021. Doubt it? Check for yourself. (Nygren's payroll, before calculation of benefits, is $151,000+.)

The organizational chart of the sheriff's department used to be online. A search today does not result in locating it. If it's really there and I just didn't find it, where is it?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What does MCSD do?

Is the public interested in the activities and results of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Does it have time to go to the County Board meetings or wade through the ton of information generated for the County Board reports?

One would think he could read some of the press releases and get a pretty good idea of what the deputies are doing. It doesn't do much good to "think" that because, when you go to the Sheriff's Department website ( and look under "About Us" in the Media Releases, you won't find much.

For example, what's there right now?

11/21/2012 - Crime Prevention Tips for the Holiday Season 

11/21/2012 - Arrest for Animal Neglect

11/21/2012 - McHenry County Sheriff's Office Along With United States Marshal Service Conduct Sex Offender Compliance Check 
11/20/2012 - Two Men Arrested for Delivery of Cannabis
11/16/2012 - Wonder Lake Resident Arrested for Sex Offender Violations

If that all we got from 400+ employees, over 100 take-car homes, and what may be an absentee sheriff?

What does CALEA call for in terms of press releases? My guess is that there should be a standardized system of issuing statements to the press. The press releases ought to be posted online, where media reporters and county residents (and anyone else) can read them.

Instead, what seems to happen is that information is handed out to selected reporters and media, and it may or may not ever reach the public.

It would be an easy task to post the daily blotter on the Sheriff's Department website. Right now it collects dust in the Administration Office of the Sheriff's Department. You can go and read it, if you want to make a trip to the Courthouse, park, pass through security and go to the second floor during normal business hours.

A summary of statistics could also be easily published on the Sheriff's website. How about traffic activity? Accidents? Tickets? Warrants served? Jail numbers (in/out)?

Maybe add a special column to indicate the days when the Sheriff actually showed up in the o0ffice for a full day's work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ill. law enforcement - pro-concealed carry?

Recently I read a statement on the Facebook page of a new concealed-carry organization called Pass Conceal Carry. I think they started with great flourish and then found out that the road is uphill. They had a debut radio show with some good ideas, and then nothing further except t-shirt sales and words.

The statement that attracted my attention was that 101 Illinois county sheriffs (out of 102) were in favor of concealed carry and that "all" the police chiefs in Illinois (except Supt. Garry McCarthy of the Chicago PD) were in favor.

Pass Conceal Carry also stated that a legislator had addressed the General Assembly with those statistics. Being a "Doubting Thomas" I queried Pass Conceal Carry on Nov. 21. To date they have not replied.

On November 21 I emailed Mike Tryon about these statistics and asked if he knew of them or knew which legislator had addressed the G.A. - No reply.

Also on November 21 I emailed Crystal Lake Police Chief Dave Linder and Woodstock PD Chief Robert Lowen to ask whether they would support concealed carry; for example, a reasonable  concealed-carry bill like HB0148.

Neither replied.

Earlier this month I poised a question on the Facebook page of the Illinois State Rifle Assn., asking if there was a sub-committee working on concealed carry. Someone responded on behalf of ISRA and suggested I contact the Executive Director of ISRA. On November 13 I called and left a message for him. A period of two weeks seems like a long time to wait for a return call. My guess is they really don't want "us peons" messing around while the lobbyists are bullying the politicians.

Individual citizens can only be effective if they combine into large groups and focus their efforts with both intensity and timing. The Cook County Democrats who are stalling concealed carry for the entire state must hear from their own constituents, not just from lobbyists or out-of-towners.

Zig Ziglar leaves the earth today

Zig Ziglar died in Plano, Texas, today at age 86.

I met Zig in 1995 in Washington, D.C. at a big meeting of the National Speakers Association. I was living in Richmond, Va. at the time, and an NSA member invited me to the banquet and speeches. He made sure to introduce me to Zig.

Back in the 1970s I read and owned a copy of See You At the Top and to this day I remember the advice in the front of the book: "You can get everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want!”

Zig had a wonderful career and helped tens of thousands of people. He was a true giver.

There is a fine article in today's Washington Post about Zig. You'll have to create a free account there, if you have not read the Post online before.

The image here is from Zig's Facebook page and is used with permission.

How wrong was Zinke?

Is the possible investigation of Undersheriff Zinke falling off the radar in McHenry County?

In summary, Zinke is alleged (in a Petition filed in Court) to have revealed a confidential DEA investigation to Brian Goode, president of RITA Corp. in Crystal Lake. Illegal drugs were part of a shipment headed from Texas to RITA Corp.

Why should Zinke have not informed Goode?

At the McHenry County Sheriff's Department there are what are called General Orders. These tell employees (deputies, command officers, Undersheriff, Sheriff) what they can and cannot do.

"Item 8. Assisting Criminals.
"a. Except as authorized, employees shall not communicate information
which might assist persons suspected of or charged with criminal acts.
"b. Employees may communicate information to appropriate Departmental
employees or the Prosecuting Attorney's Office that would exculpate
individuals suspected or charged with a criminal act..."

What does 8a mean?

Exactly what it says. Zinke is an employee. Therefore, he "shall not" communicate information that might "assist" persons suspected...  If drugs were headed for RITA Corp. (and the Petition said they were (according to the DEA)), and if Brian Goode is the president of RITA Corp. (and he is), then he might be a person "suspected".

The complete evidence gathered would help the DEA determine whether or not Goode was involved in any criminal way. As president of the company he is responsible for everything that is going on in his company. It is also certainly possible that criminal acts could be taking place in the receiving or shipping department of which he had no knowledge.

It would be up to the DEA to determine if and when to reveal to Goode that his company was suspected of criminal activity. If the illegal drugs in the current shipment were removed from the truck at an intermediate stop and never reached RITA Corp. (and were not intended to reach RITA Corp.), then wouldn't RITA Corp. be off the hook?

Were there illegal drugs in other shipments bound for RITA Corp.? Were they delivered to RITA Corp. or were they removed before the truck(s) reached RITA Corp.? The DEA's investigation would be thorough.

It was not up to Zinke to contact Goode and reveal a confidential DEA investigation.

The political tie cannot be ignored. The address-of-record for Zinke's political campaign is at RITA Corp. Zinke's boss, Keith Nygren, and Brian Goode seem to be very good friends. Nygren's own political campaign benefited to the tune of $50,000 over ten years. And Goode has been a member of the Sheriff's Merit Commission since 2004. And had a marked MCSD squad car parked (stationed) at his residence for some yet-unknown reason. Zinke certainly wouldn't want to do anything to irritate Goode or his boss.

But revealing a confidential Federal investigation? One commenter to a previous article wrote that Zinke just did what any good cop would do.

I don't think so!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stand your ground?

What would you do, if you were confronted by force and threatened with bodily harm or death?

Watch this clip, if you wonder what you'd do? Could you retreat? Do you have to retreat? What if you can't retreat?

Confronted with overwhelming force? Disparity of force? Sit back and gather in this important information.

Many thanks to the out-of-town reader who sent this to me.

Feed people, but not the bears

I love this message that is makes the rounds:

"The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever, to 46 million people.

"Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us 'Please Do Not Feed the Animals.' Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

You'll love this. And you'll wish you had paid more attention in your German class!

When you go shopping for your next iPad, you'll definitely want this one.

Zinke's "cooperating" witness

This issue deserves a new article and not "just" a comment to previous articles.

One person (Curious1) keeps commenting that Zinke "...made a valid judgement call and in the open brought the leader of RITA corp in as a cooperating witness with all available records to share with the DEA."

Let's see, 1. confidential DEA investigation; 2. destination of illegal drugs: RITA Corp.; 3. president of RITA Corp. is long-time, high-dollar campaign supporter of Sheriff Nygren and long-time member of the sheriff's Merit Commission; 4. Zinke quickly reveals confidential information to Brian Goode; 5. Goode shows up in sheriff's dept. parking lot with what the public is led to believe are shipping documents.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that a "cooperating witness" should be kept away from the sheriff's department and should stay silent. You don't trash a DEA investigation pertaining to inbound drugs by "outing" a cooperating witness. What does Zinke do? Invite or allow Goode to come to the Sheriff's Department!

I wonder who dreamed up the "cooperating witness" angle. Who created that? Is it just "spin"? Anyone else getting dizzy?

The proper course of action here is an investigation by an impartial body - an organization not influenced by Nygren or Zinke or political or good-old-boy connections. Of course, that eliminates certain investigating bodies, because of their close ties to Nygren.

I would rule out the Illinois State Police, District 2 (unless things are different under the current commander), and the FBI (unless things are different after Robert Grant's departure). The FBI is having a hard time finding Zinke's December 3, 2010, to the Chicago office; that's the letter to which Assistant Special Agent in Charge Angela Byers replied on January 4, 2011. She replied under Grant's name (writing on his behalf, it is to be assumed) and specifically referenced Zinke's letter by date.

Zinke conveniently lost his copy of the December 3, 2010, letter, too. There is no record of it at MCSD. None. Even the Illinois Attorney General's office could not stimulate MCSD to look a little harder.

How an official letter (document) disappears at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department ought to be the topic of yet one more investigation. The Illinois Records Act should control how records are disposed of. Generally speaking, records cannot be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed, or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law. Perhaps MCSD thinks it is exempt from that.

Someone suggested to me that possibly the FBI's January 4, 2011 letter was "manufactured". I have asked the FBI to authenticate its letter; i.e., did it actually come out of the Chicago office on FBI stationery, complete with date and signature (but without a File Number)? Will the FBI authenticate that letter? If they can't or won't, what will that mean?

I have a copy of that letter, which I received from MCSD, thanks to FOIA. And Cal Skinner published a copy of that letter on McHenry County Blog. But are these really copies of an official document from the FBI Chicago office?

Monday, November 26, 2012

New organization lists kill zones

There is a new organization that has sprung up in Chicago that is asking Illinois citizens to sign its petition against concealed carry.

The organization is the Stop Conceal Carry Coalition. The online Chicago Tribune carries a photo of  Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and a comment in its article by 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Muñoz.

Muñoz said, "I can't fathom the idea of going to the mall and just thinking that under that coat over there, or in that purse, there might be a weapon. We cannot allow concealed carry to be the law of the land."

I wonder where Muñoz thinks he lives. Right now, every day, when he goes to the mall, he ought to be thinking that, because the criminals and the gangbangers are there and armed.

It's the law-abiding citizen who is unarmed. How dense is that guy?

Oh, and Fr. Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago's South Side, was right there to throw in his 2¢ worth, saying, "Thank God Illinois can be an example and not be pressured into following the rest of the country."
Yep, look at the example Illinois is. And especially Pfleger's hometown. Chicago is a great example of lawlessness, shootings, killings, etc. Right?

Don't follow the rest of the country into lower crime and increased safety. Is that what he is saying?

Now look at the petition they want people to sign:

"We, the undersigned, oppose any 'Concealed Carry' legislation in Illinois that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in public, on their persons, in cars, buses, and trains, in houses of worship, schools, libraries, stores, shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, offices, and businesses, or anywhere other than in their own homes.”

There are the "kill zones" that the Coalition wants to maintain. Better check those 6,900 signatures. I wonder how many of them can be found in Coroners' Reports and on cemetery headstones.

How interesting that the Illinois Secretary of State doesn't know about Stop Conceal Carry. As a Coalition, must they register with the State? Is it incorporated?

On its website is a long list of supporters. I wonder how many on the list are FOID cardholders.

The NRA and ISRA will want to take note of these:Representatives Karen May, Daniel Biss, Susan Garrett, Elaine Nekritz, Laura Fine and Robyn Gabel, and Senators Terry Link and Julie Morrison.

I wonder if Ald. Muñoz and Commissioners Debra Shore and Larry Suffredin routinely "pack". Do they?

BTW, if you want to see what a stand-up guy Muñoz is, read his Wikipedia entry.

Shooting at Chicago funeral

Just over the week-end I read an October article on Chicago's ABC TV-7 news about Pastor Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings Church, down in the war zone of Chicago. Brooks had walked more than 3,000 miles from New York to L.A. to raise money for a community center. He raised $500,000 toward a $15,000,000 goal.

In today's Chicago news two gang members were shot while attending a funeral at St. Columbanus Church in the 300 block of East 71th Street. Rev. Brooks had just conducted the funeral service, when shots were heard.

Well, Mr. Mayor? Supt. McCarthy? You're not keeping Chicago very safe, are you?

What if all the law-abiding citizens in Chicago were armed? If a dozen armed men and women, knowing the law and how to shoot straight, had stepped out of the church first, would the shooter (or shooters) have fired? If they had, maybe they would have been lying dead in 71st Street when the cops arrived.

But, thanks to Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy and a bunch of Cook County Democratic state representatives, Illinois does not have a concealed carry law. The blame for the continuing carnage should be directed right at them.

U.S. Supreme Court - okay to record cops

The Associated Press reports today on the U.S. Supreme Court and the constitutionality of Illinois law that prohibits records of cops while they are doing their jobs.

The Illinois law smelled like a dead rat, but it had to be dragged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The fact that it was stupid enough on its surface was not enough reason for state legislators to change the law.

The Supreme Court declined to take the case, according to the oral statement that can be heard on the Chicago Tribune website.

This causes me to think of the McHenry PD case filed against a local resident in 2010, which was tossed in 2011 by Judge Prather. My previous article about that can be read here.

My personal thoughts? Of course, it is okay to videotape an arrest or warrant service. Most cops are honest and conduct their business within the law; they won't object to being recorded. And then there are others.

Zinke mess - swept under the rug?

Think anything is happening with the complaint filed by Sgt. John Koziol about Undersheriff Andy Zinke? Where is it?

After Judge Meyer ruled that he was not going to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate why Zinke revealed a confidential DEA investigation to Brian Goode, president of Crystal Lake's RITA Corp., the cards fell to the Office of the McHenry County State's Attorney.

Lou Bianchi, the State's Attorney for McHenry County, already has a record of choosing not to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren because of a perceived conflict-of-interest. He has said that he endangers his law license by risking an ethics complaint, should he embark on investigating and prosecuting a person (the sheriff) he represents.

As the State's Attorney, the Office is the legal representative of the Sheriff (and the sheriff's department). So this probably means he won't sink his teeth into Undersheriff Zinke for breaching confidentiality and telling Goode that a shipment of illegal drugs was headed for RITA Corp.

Zinke was not part of the DEA Task Force out of Rockford. Sgt. Koziol was. Koziol was required by Department policy to inform Zinke. He did so and wisely took a witness with him, his superior in the Investigations Division.

But Goode is a strong (Strong) financial supporter of Nygren. Goode has been on the Merit Commission of the Sheriff's Department since 2004. Goode's company, RITA Corp., is the address-of-record for Zinke's campaign for sheriff for an election that is two years away.

Zinke should have kept his mouth shut. He is first a cop. Somewhere down the list he might consider Goode a friend. But Zinke didn't keep his mouth shut. Within a day he revealed to Goode that drugs were headed to RITA Corp.

The DEA would have figured out the extent, if any, to which RITA Corp. and any of its employees were involved in the inbound shipment of illegal drugs. The drugs might even have been taken out of the shipment before the truck arrived at RITA.

But Zinke let the cat out of the bag and, for that, he deserves to be investigated. If the State's Attorney isn't going to do it, then Bianchi should get the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor involved. Or go back to Judge Meyer.

Zinke should want this cleaned up. It will haunt him all the way to the election.

Have you noticed there hasn't be a word from Sheriff Nygren about this? He was in the courtroom when Judge Meyer ruled. Where is he now? Why hasn't he addressed this?

Prim for Sheriff holiday fundraiser planned

The Winter 2012 fundraiser for Bill Prim's campaign for Sheriff of McHenry County (2014 election cycle) has been announced.

The Friends of Bill Prim invite you to D.C. Cobbs on Wednesday, December 5, from 6:00-9:00PM. D.C. Cobbs is located just off the Woodstock Square at 226 Main Street (one way).

A $30.00 door charge covers wine, beer, soft drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Dining off the menu is available at your own expense.

There are three ways to indicate that you will attend:
- register via
- email to
- calling 847.787.7566 (leave message)

Registering in advance helps planners regarding preparations. The eventbrite method is a really cool procedure. Tickets will be available at the door.

You'll have to hunt for parking, because the Classic Cinemas-owned parking lot is gone for the construction of the expansion of the theater. You may want to park in the Metra lot by the train station and walk the half-block up (down?) Main Street.

Going to church? Take your gun

It won't happen around here, but if you are in Marengo (that would be Ohio, north of Columbus (not the first Marengo you think of, if you live in McHenry County, Ill.)), you might want to drop in at Faith Baptist Church. And here's another reason to head over there:

You can take a weapons training class there that includes two hours on a member's private shooting range and qualify for a Ohio concealed carry permit (maybe only if you are an Ohio resident).

You missed the July 17 training (do you suppose they pray before going to the range?), but I'll bet they have another one coming up. And you can be pretty sure that no robber is going to hit the church in the middle of the sermon and think he is going to make off with the offering.

The original story in The Daily seems to be gone, but you can read a story about the story here.

Many thanks to a reader in Florida who tipped me off to this story.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bakery robbers: "Give us da dough"

The Chicago Tribune reports that three masked robbers attempted to rob a commercial bakery in Chicago early this (Sunday) morning. As they rounded up employees and forced some into a cooler, others escaped and called the Chicago Police.

Should employees be allowed to carry guns at work? Loaded, I mean. Like, under their aprons, if they are bakers. Should employees allow themselves to be herded into a cooler?

Luckily, some employees fled and the robbers realized it and ran without harming employees. It could have turned out otherwise.

Once robbers begin to realize that their potential victims might be armed, these types of crimes will drop precipitously.

Recently I came across a clip on YouTube or an ad for some gun store or gun training operation, and the "robber" in the ad was complaining about concealed-carry laws. He complained that guns (in the hands of citizens) increased the chance of his being harmed while conducting his occupation as a "professional" robber. He complained that his workers compensation rates for his crew might go up, if his associates got hurt while robbing people. He said they were entitled to a safe "working environment", meaning they shouldn't have to worry about a citizen shooting back.

It was a very clever ad.

Appreciation important year-round

Today's Business Solutions column in the Northwest Herald hits the nail on the head. Be sure to read it.

Written by Catherine Jones, executive director of Workforce, Community and Business Programs at MCC's Shah Center in McHenry, the column addresses the importance of expressing appreciation and gratitude - and not just in November at Thanksgiving.

Read the column here. Print it. Frame it. Follow the suggestions and advice. Add her "thanks step" into your future projects and plans.

Where is Beth Bentley? Week 131

Little did I think, over two years ago, that I would still be asking every week where Beth Bentley is.

Bentley, then 41, disappeared in May 2010. If you like playing "Pin the Tail on the Story", by now you probably have concluded thinking about this "missing person" case and decided what you think happened.

Is it a "missing person" case? That's what the Woodstock Police Department (WPD) continues to call it.

Was it ever considered otherwise? Is there an officer at WPD who believes it is not? Some departments have officers who latch onto a case and keep the investigation going. WPD rotates its officers in and out of the Investigations Division "to get everyone a chance". After paying for expensive training and experience, they go back on the street. A good plan?

Earlier this year WPD tried to "nail Jello to the wall" and arrested Jennifer Wyatt-Paplham on two felony charges related to Beth's disappearance. Months later, a judge threw the case out. If you read the statute, it never should have been filed in the first place by WPD, and the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office never should have authorized the felony charges.

WPD says it is in charge of the "investigation". Yet they seem to be hanging onto a thread that Beth disappeared from Centralia, Ill. (or maybe from rural Mount Vernon, Ill.). Woodstock is over 300 miles from Mount Vernon.

A cold case in Colorado involved authorities who argued about jurisdiction - the sheriff's department where the girl disappeared or the sheriff's department where she lived. In that case, neither wanted it, so they just pointed fingers and said, "Not me."

Starting with the house where Beth's car was parked in the garage over the week-end, did WPD ever take that house apart? Any lab guys ever go over Beth's car? Or the rental car? Did WPD ever borrow a sniffer dog and take it through the car or the house? Of course, it would have picked up Beth's scent in the car. Anywhere else in the house? Downstairs living areas? Upstairs bedrooms? Basement?

Is the Illinois State Police, Zone 7 Investigations (Effingham, Ill., for Jefferson County), really involved? WPD Chief Lowen said at one point that the Illinois State Police were involved. In what way?

If it's a "missing person" case, why isn't there any information or ongoing appeal to the public? Some say, if the family wanted it, they'd be asking for it. Sorry; not good enough. Beth Bentley is a person - a person, a woman, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The town, the City of Woodstock, the People of Woodstock owe her the inquiry.

If you had been missing 2½ years, would you just want a file stuck in a filing cabinet at the P.D.? Would that be good enough?

2nd Amendment for Dummies

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”  Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1788

Why is the Second Amendment important? Because it guarantees all the others.

Read KrisAnne Hall's blog about the Second Amendment.

Why must gunowners stand firm and refuse encroachment? Because one little step leads to the next.

Take Illinois, for example. We have registration of gun owners, but not of guns. Suppose Gov. Quinn decided to confiscate all the guns in the State of Illinois and issued a proclamation that all police and military personnel should proceed to knock on doors and collect all the guns in the State owned by citizens.

Which doors do you think they will knock on (or knock down) first? Will they suit up and head for the War Zone in Chicago? Maybe down to 79th St. or 87th or 95th Street on both sides of the Dan Ryan? Think they'll raid houses there? Collect all the guns from the criminals?

No way. The criminals don't have FOID cards.

The idiots want to call a semi-automatic weapon an "assault" weapon. They mis-name it. So they  "declare" it so and call it "illegal". Maybe next, they'll say that driving a car stick-shift transmission is dangerous and therefore illegal. You have to drive a car with an automatic transmission. Or vice versa.

Wasn't there a Japanese commander who wisely recommended that they avoid attacking U.S. mainland? "They all have guns." Right. He understood. And we are going to keep our guns. In case we must defend the U.S. against all invaders, foreign or domestic.

Would our city officials in Woodstock, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Huntley stand and say, "No way!"

Would they pledge, now, never to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Flight attendant totes gun into ORD

This week's story about a long-time flight attendant with American Airlines who began to pass through security on Friday with a loaded handgun in her carry-on bag should turn out to be much ado about nothing.

Her attorney said that the woman's husband left the gun in the bag they share after his trip to Michigan.

To be guilty of the offenses with which she is charged, she had to knowingly do what she is charged with. If she didn't know the gun was there, then she didn't knowingly commit the violations.

The 65-year-old woman from Palatine has been an American Airlines employee for 44 years. I think it's safe to say she missed that flight to Shanghai.

Courthouse (Wdk. Sq.) news

Several years ago I viewed a wonderful DVD made about the courthouse rescue project in Farmland, Randolph County, Indiana.

It seems that the high-and-mighty wanted to tear down the old courthouse and put up a "modern" building, and some of the old-timers didn't think that was such a hot idea.

Somebody got an idea for a fundraiser, and the Courthouse Girls of Farmland was born. Seven "mature" women (ages 77-94) banded together, and their project raised enough money to kill the demolition and preserve the original building.

For a preview (or post-view), visit

I just ordered the DVD and will play a showing early in 2013 at the library. What if the People of Woodstock took an interest in the old courthouse building on the Square and made the City hear their 2¢ worth?

The People of Woodstock lost the battle over Grace Hall, but we don't have to sit back and watch hundreds of thousands of dollars get poured into the old courthouse building without a solid plan. It's "pie in the sky" to think some developer is going to come in with $5,000,000 and lose it on the Square.

The Woodstock Opera House was saved from becoming a packing structure by "concerned citizens". Or so I've been told, because I didn't live in Woodstock then. If you or your children will be staying in Woodstock, think about getting involved. Watch this site for the showing information for this amusing and pointed video. It's a winner!

Marengo trying; Woodstock? not

Be sure to see the article in this morning's Northwest Herald about Main Street Marengo and its new director, Adam Johnson.

Marengo just keeps on "keepin' on."

What is "Main Street"? It's a community-building effort organized by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Crystal Lake has a thriving Main Street program (see its Facebook site).

Business people in Woodstock began developing an interest in a Main Street Program several years ago. It died off thanks, in my opinion, to uninformed and near-slanderous back-biting by certain people then associated with the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce. It seemed to me that the folks at the Chamber considered the Main Street effort as "competition" for membership dollars, rather than as an important business-development partner.

A Main Street-related icon was displayed on the City's website for several years after it was awarded, but how long can you trade on a 2007 designation? It was finally removed from the City's website about two years after the Main Street effort in Woodstock came to an inglorious end.

The "opportunity" for Woodstock to claim one of the top spots for entertainment and attraction in McHenry County is being squandered. Just ride about the Square. Then take a ride to Crystal Lake or any number of other small downtown areas. Just what is it that is supposed to draw shoppers and visitors with money to spend?

When the Main Street Program and the Woodstock Downtown Business Association were trying to get off the ground, the City was stingy with its money, failing to realize that the expenditure of the motel/hotel sales tax revenue was an investment in Woodstock. The Opera House gets the lion's share of the money. Why?

The Opera House is owned by the City, so the City is merely shuffling money from one pocket to another. The hotel/motel tax is like a shell game, sucking money out of the pockets of hotel guests, most of whom do not come to Woodstock for its night life (what night life?) or even Opera House events. Wasn't it enacted to stimulate overnight stays in Woodstock that might generate sales for shops, restaurants, etc.?

Vinton tops pile again

First Assistant State's Attorney Norm Vinton once again came out on top of the pile of candidates for judgeships in McHenry County. Norm scored a 80.28% of "opinionated responses saying 'yes'," according to this morning's Northwest Herald. Congratulations, Norm.

Vinton joined the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office just last February from his position as partner in the Woodstock law firm of Michling Hofmann Vinton Plaza & Wick (now, Michling Hofmann Plaza & Wick, P.C.).

Chris Harmon copped second place with 76.4%. Good job, Chris!

 The opinions were from McHenry County attorneys. Now the judges get to decide who will really be annointed (errr, appointed) and awarded the two open spots in our court system.

The newspaper named the top five, the bottom-scoring five (why would the paper do that?), one who didn't draw enough "opinionated responses" to be ranked, and that one (unnamed) had withdrawn.

So that's 12 out of the 24 who had thrown their hats into the ring. Why do you suppose the paper didn't just print all the names and rankings? The 24 attorneys who applied were:

Neil O. Anderson, Anne K. Brophy, Tiffany E. Davis, Mark R. Facchini, Robert W. Fetzner, Raymond M. Flavin, Kristen N. Foley, Adrian M. Gosch, Robert T. Hanlon, Christopher M. Harmon, Richard H. Jackson, Denise M. Kuzniewski, Cynthia D. Lamb, Gerald P. Lenzen, James K. McBride, Mary E. McClellan, George A. Mueller, Mary H. Nader, Jeannie M. Ridings, Cynthia A. Schaupp, Demetrios P. Tsilimigras, Norman D. Vinton, Marjorie L. Worth, and Sally J. Zimmerman.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fr. Pfleger wants spotlight

Did you read where Deerfield resident Lidia Kuzniar was arrested for "stalking" Fr. Pfleger? Maybe she just walked to talk to him about supporting concealed carry in Chicago...

All that causes me to wonder what would happen if I went to talk to Fr. Pfleger about concealed carry. Would he have me arrested for stalking him?

Apparently, it's okay with him for so many men and women to be murdered in Chicago by illegal guns that he believes he must prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying concealed weapons. Why doesn't he "come out" and say, "No more killings (by punks with their illegally-owned and illegally-used guns)."

Front license plate - special place

Sometimes you just have to wonder how attentive the police are to license plates on cars in Illinois.

Illinois is a two-plate registration state. The State issues two license plates for cars. One of them is supposed to be fastened to the front bumper.

Look where this one is. Carefully tucked in tightly on the dashboard. Out-of-sight. Unreadable. This vehicle was in the McHenry County Government Center parking lot on November 9, parked near the east public entrance.

I found that drivers have various reasons for not displaying the front license plate.

Some feel it interferes with the aesthetic appearance of the front-end styling.
Some avoid the small cost of purchasing a bracket to mount on the front bumper.
Others don't want to drill holes in the front bumper.
Still others don't want their cars easily identified by PhotoRadar in Illinois reduced-speed work zones.
Some think Illinois should issue only one plate and so they will display only one.

What do you suppose this driver's reason (or excuse) is?

JJJr's 2nd District

Check out the 2010 and the 2012 maps for Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s Second Congressional District. Want a nice "job"? The primary will be February 26 and the general election for municipal offices and to fill Jackson's empty chair will be April 9, if Cook County Clerk David Orr gets his way.

Think anyone is doing an analysis of the timing of Jackson's resignation? Does anyone not think there was plenty of maneuvering going on before the November 6 General Election to keep Jackson from announcing his intention to resign? Gotta give the pols some time to get creative, and now you can see it starting. Just read the full AP article here.

But first look at the size of the district. See this map and compare the 2010 boundaries with the 2012 boundaries. Could Republicans get in there, work hard and pull a real upset?

Bobby Rush (D-1) is quoted as saying to anyone who is thinking of running for Jackson's seat, "Cool your jets."

In other words, they have got it under control. Who is "they"? The ones in control. Big Brother. The ones who know what is best for you. Yeah, sure.

Why are they worried? "Spread the field of candidates too thin, they say, and it becomes easier for a more conservative candidate - or anyone else party leaders don't want - to pull off a win."

What influence could a Congressman have on Chicago crime? Could a leader, rolling up his sleeves and getting on the ground in his District, begin to make a difference? Yes, I know ... Congressman is a Federal office. So make "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" a reality.

The first thing he'd have to do is build a high wall around his office. Put two doors in it. One for residents and registered in-District voters. Leave that door unlocked.

The second door? Make that one about a foot high. Mark it "Lobbyists, Influence Peddlers, Crooks". Put a big padlock on that one.

Run background checks and drug screens on anyone to be hired for a District job. Publish the results of your own random drug screens on the front window of the District offices.

If the person winning the office doesn't live in the District, move into the District. Right into the heart of it. Right into the War Zone. And no bodyguards, either. Your constituents don't have bodyguards. Why should you?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A day for thanks

Thanksgiving Day 2012. A day for thanks.

For what are you thankful?

A country in which we live freely?
Feeling safe?
Having what you need?

For me, it is certainly not about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday.

The first thing for which I was thankful today was that I don't pay for my daily newspaper by the pound. And that I'm not the newspaper delivery man. I'm thankful for my Northwest Herald carrier, because he delivers my paper to the door.

The desperation of retailers screamed by the pile of advertising as I headed for the recycling bag with it. Every last piece of it. Black Friday seems to start now on Thanksgiving Eve, continue through Thanksgiving Day and into the evening and resume earlier and earlier on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Will the American public ever come to its senses?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

License illegal drivers? You're kidding, right?

Look out for the steamroller coming your way.

See the paper today? Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-6 (Chicago! Where else?)) said yesterday that he believes he can ram this bill down the throats of law-abiding citizens of Illinois next week (well, he didn't say it quite that way).

Cullerton believes he can jam the bill to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants (no, John, they are NOT illegal "immigrants"; they are illegal aliens!) through the Illinois Senate this next week (Nov. 26-30). And Democratic Governor Pat Quinn says he'll sign it, if it passes the House.

Better get on the phone, folks. First thing Monday morning, since Illinois Representatives and Senators and their staffs have already taken off for the long Thanksgiving week-end. (Hmmmm, why is it that the Friday after Thanksgiving is a paid holiday for so many (government!) workers?)

Let's see; legal, law-abiding citizens of Illinois cannot get the right to carry concealed weapons, but lawmakers seem poised to give illegal people residing in Illinois the right to drive a car.

What part of "illegal" do the legislators not understand? The best way to make the roads safe is to allow only legal drivers to operate motor vehicles and to enforce the laws against driving without a license or registration or insurance! Hello? Just enforce the laws... the existing laws...

Land of idiocy!

Sheriff has a new "ride"?

Whose "ride" is parked in the 501 spot at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

A sign in the east reserved parking lot clearly identifies the parking spot for the County Sheriff. I think that's still Keith ("Seldom Seen") Nygren.

But there is a mysterious black Mercedes E350 four-door sedan parked in that spot. Did Nygren turn in his b-i-g white Chevrolet Tahoe for fancier wheels?

The 501 spot is Nygren's. That's the spot for the Sheriff. Who would dare park there? What if Nygren rolled in and couldn't get in "his" spot? Some know, though, he likes to park inside the sally port, where his car is out-of-sight and where it's much harder to keep tabs on whether McHenry County really has a sheriff hard at work and earning his $145,000/year pay.

Rumor has it that this Mercedes was confiscated in a drug deal. If so, aren't there specific rules for the use of confiscated or seized vehicles?

Don't they have to be used for stimulate arrests in more drug crimes? If it is now an "undercover law enforcement vehicle", what is it doing in the MCSD parking lot, especially parked right up front in the sheriff's reserved parking spot?

And, if it is an "undercover law enforcement vehicle", under the County Vehicle Policy it can only be driven by a law-enforcement officer.

Or maybe it's really the personally-owned car of an employee. If that's the case, what is it doing in the sheriff's 501 spot?

Who investigates waste or mis-use in the Sheriff's Department? The Auditor? The Law & Justice Committee of the County Board? Anybody? Nobody?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shane Lamb charged in two assaults

Earlier this month Shane Lamb was arrested by McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Urgo on two charges of Battery. Charges were filed on November 5, and the local paper carried no details, such as the time or location of the arrest or the names of the victims. The victims, of course, would become the witnesses in court when the case was tried.

Lamb may have been one of the last persons to see Brian Carrick, then 17, alive on December 20, 2002. Lamb was granted some degree of immunity as part of a deal to testify against Mario Casciaro, whose family owned the grocery store in Johnsburg where Carrick worked part-time.

Lamb was arrested in McHenry County this month after striking David Zaborowski and Patrick Ruskin in their faces with his closed fist, causing swelling and lacerations to the face of each.

Lamb was released on $1,500 bond. On November 19 his case in McHenry County Circuit Court was continued to December 10 for a plea. Lamb has no attorney-of-record yet.

It is interesting to me that Deputy Urgo charged Lamb in one Complaint for the two batteries. It seems to be that he should have separated the complaints, filing one involving the battery against Zaborowski and a second against Ruskin.

The Counts fail to state the location at which the batteries occurred. Let's hope that's not a fatal flaw or cause for early dismissal.

It was noted on the Complaint that Lamb's arrest was a "WARANTLESS [sic] ARREST". (How many years do you suppose "Warantless" has been misspelled on the form?

McHenry County Vehicle Policy

The McHenry County Board will vote tonight on the Vehicle Policy. It's not new, and it's impossible (for me) to tell whether any part of it is new. You can read it in the packet that goes to Board members. I seriously doubt that many of them will stay awake long enough to get to Page 319 in the semi-monthly pile. What in the world must that packet cost to assemble???

If you are interested, go to 15.2.G.1A and B. You'll find it online through the County website at

Click on McHenry County Meetings, then
Meeting Documents, then
"Agenda Packet" for Nov. 20, 2012 County Board Regular Meeting

Make some coffee, while you are waiting for the .pdf file to download.

What do I like about it?

Handheld cell phone use is prohibited. Period. (Think anyone follows that?)

All County-owned vehicles are to be titled in the County's name and are to bear Municipal license plates, except those specifically designated as undercover law enforcement activities. Then "undercover" activities are defined.

It would seem that routine commuting use and non-law enforcement use would not be permitted for unmarked cars (let's say, a black Mercedes sedan). If that vehicle was seized in a drug deal, it is supposed to be used "undercover" for drug investigation activities, not driven to and from work (commuting) and not driven to Rockford for a court hearing in a civil case.

"Law enforcement officer" is defined in the County Vehicle Policy. It does not include civilian employees.

Why would a civilian officer manager be given a take-home County-owned car, especially if she lives more than 20 miles from 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock? That's against the County policy. Was the exception approved by her Department Head, the Elected Official (Sheriff) and the County Administrator, Peter Austin?

Personal use is strictly prohibited.

Why would Sheriff Nygren drive his Chevrolet Tahoe to Minocqua, Wisconsin and put 1,200 miles on the odometer in Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012? What are the consequences of violation of the Vehicle Policy by the sheriff? Any? None?

And why would ranking officers in the Sheriff's Department be permitted to take their County-owned vehicles out-of-town on vacations such as to central Missouri for a Thanksgiving trip in 2011? That's 700-800 personal-use miles, plus having family members as passengers (against the Vehicle Policy). Who allowed that?

14) Not operate vehicle outside the County unless on official county business as assigned and approved"

Will it happen again this year?

Bakery union strikers get what they deserve

Check out the reporting on the court hearing yesterday about the Bakery Union strike and the planned liquidation of Hostess.

The Union's leadership didn't even think it was important enough to show in court with its lawyer. Judge Robert Drain noted that the union had skipped a critical step in the negotiations process when it failed to file an objection to the last offer by Hostess.

According to the Associated Press, Judge Drain said, "Many people, myself included, have serious questions as to the logic behind this strike. Not to have gone through that step leaves a huge question mark in this case."

I don't know, though. Maybe I helped with the demise of Hostess. I don't think I have ever purchased Twinkies, Ding Dongs or a Ho Ho.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is voting an "ordeal"? A felony, maybe?

An editorial from The Gadsden (Ala.) Times about voting was published in the Northwest Herald yesterday. It refers to voting by near 120,000,000 people in the U.S. and mentions early voting, which apparently Alabama doesn't have.

But Illinois does. And it works - for many people.

But, for others, it may not, and there may be a possibility of felony charges surfacing soon in McHenry County.

Let's say you show up at early voting, flash your driver's license at the election judge, sign your name and hop into the electronic voting station to cast your vote.

How could this possibly be a felony?

How many voters read the "small print" down by the signature line? Well, maybe next time you'll read it before signing...

Mystery deepens about Zinke/FBI letters

Efforts continue to discover a copy of a December 3, 2010, sent by Undersheriff Andy Zinke to the Chicago office of the FBI. The letter and all copies of it seem to have vanished into thin air.

Zinke apparently wrote to the Chicago FBI office (then headed by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge) about investigation of Sheriff Keith Nygren. On January 4, 2011, the Chicago FBI office replied to Zinke, opening its letter with "We have had the opportunity to carefully review your December 3, 2010, letter ..." That FBI letter was published on McHenry County Blog, and I have a copy of it.

You can read that letter here. Perhaps you will wonder, as I did, about the old-style typewriter font,. the lack of a File Number, and the disclosure of information that the FBI generally doesn't release.

Now, you would think that the McHenry County Sheriff's Department would have a copy of that December 3, 2010, letter; right? Of course, it should have a copy of the letter. Either Zinke wrote it himself or he had his secretary write it or perhaps one of the officers he directs.

There has to be a copy somewhere at MCSD!  Records/documents/letters cannot just be deleted on someone's whim or because it "could" look bad if found. There are records retention laws that are to be followed.

However, a FOIA request to the Sheriff's Department resulted in no letter, and a further follow-up with the Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Bureau could not pry the letter loose. The McHenry County State's Attorney's Office cooperated with the Public Access Bureau. What happened to that letter?

It is inconceivable that an important letter from MCSD to the FBI would vanish - unless someone wanted it to vanish - or unless it never existed in the first place.

But what about the FBI's January 4, 2011, response to the request from Zinke?

Now the FBI said it has no such letter as the Zinke December 3, 2010 letter. In response to my June 14, 2012, FOIA to the FBI, initial responses were that I could expect a 118-day delay in a final response. In September and October my request was "in progress". And then today I received information that a "No Record" had been sent to me on July 20.

Which, conveniently, wasn't delivered to me? Question for the FBI... If a "No Record" letter was sent to me on July 20, why was I told in August that typical response time was 118 days? And in September and October that my request was moving along through channels?

Is this just the tip of an iceberg? Was there really no "genuine" January 4, 2011 letter? I have asked the FBI to authenticate that letter; i.e., to confirm that it is genuine and was prepared by Angela Byers in her official capacity and was mailed from the Chicago FBI office.

And maybe the December 3, 2010, letter from Zinke to the FBI never existed at all? Then why would Asst. Special Agent in Charge Angela Byers write to Zinke and request to his "December 3, 2010, letter requesting reports"?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The paper sez ... about Workforce Network

Did you know there is a McHenry County agency that provides

career advising
résumé and job search seminars
mock interviews
résumé critiques
networking and support groups
internships/work experience
on-the-job-training opportunities and
grant funded vocational training

That list is according to a press release provided to the Northwest Herald by the McHenry County Workforce Network.

I found one figure amazing - that more than 250 residents found employment that " ... returned an estimated $7,502,730 in annual wages to the local economy." That's an average of $30,000 annual income per resident who found employment through Workforce Network assistance.

Is that assuming that those residents would work (or did work) a full year at their new jobs? No turnover? No one laid off or fired? No downsizing after the hires? What kind of jobs were filled?

The wording in the news article from the press release is that the newly-found employment returned ... estimated annual wages. Past tense; i.e., paid wages. Why do I wonder if that is correct?

Want to give Workforce Network a shot? Contact it at or go to 500 Russel Court, Woodstock.

Beth Bentley - gone 130 weeks

One hundred thirty (130) weeks. That's how long Beth Bentley has been missing. That's 910 days that those involved know what happened to her and have managed to keep quiet.

I find it preposterous that JennWyatt could give Beth a ride on Sunday, May 23, 2010, from Mt. Vernon, Ill. to Centralia, Ill. and not know what Beth was going to do or whom she was going to meet, after Beth supposedly dropped Beth off near the Amtrak Station about 6:00PM.

Did these two "best friends" chatter away during the 25-mile drive?

Or did something happen over the week-end that angered Beth (or Jenn) and the ride was in silence? But Beth had rented a car for the week-end, so we've been told. If Beth were mad, wouldn't she have taken the car and headed for home? Why would she leave the rental car with Jenn, who didn't have a valid driver's license at the time?

Or maybe there was no drive to Centralia. Then what?

What was the "red herring" all about that led people to believe that Beth had taken the 6:00PM train north toward Chicago? The first thing I did was look up the schedule and I saw that the train arrived in Chicago too late for her to catch any other train to Woodstock than the 12:30AM train, arriving in Woodstock at 2:01AM (Monday, May 24, 2010). How was Beth going to get home? Who would pick her up?

Supposedly the Friends of Beth went to the Chicago Loop and posted missing person fliers. Did they? Who went? Do they now feel they got suckered? Why isn't anyone speaking up?

Are the people who do know afraid? Who could be threatening them? They will live in fear forever, unless they step forward and tell the truth. Now would be a good time.

Why concealed carry is needed in Illinois now?

What is it going to take to wake up Cook County Democratic state legislators and City of Chicago politicians?

All you have to do is read this morning's Chicago Tribune. Read the front page article about the 67-year-old man who was stabbed in an apparent robbery attempt.

Did this happen late at night? In a "bad" neighborhood?

It happened inside the Westin Hotel men's room! About 6:30PM! His relatives and he were downtown for the Magnificient Mile Lights Festival.

After finding the Cheesecake Factory in the John Hancock Building overcrowded, they crossed the street to the Westin, planning to dine in the Grill there. The unnamed 67-year-old man was attacked in the restroom. The robber was not described in the Tribune article, other than he was dressed all in black.

Here is an excellent reason for concealed carry. The punk who attacked him would not have known whether he was armed. And he would not have known whether others nearby might be armed.

It'll take a few days after the passage of concealed carry for the word to get around town that it's no longer safe to attack. And, no, the streets of Chicago and of Illinois will not become the Wild Wild West. Responsible, armed citizens know they cannot shoot in restricted spaces where they might hit a bystander.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cop is no-show for trial; HE goes to jail

The next time a cop or deputy is thinking about not showing up for a court case, he might want to read (or re-read) this article about Florida Highway Patrol Trooper John Costa.

Trooper Costa got five days in the slammer for not showing up for the DUI trial of a motorist with a history of drunk driving.

The judge acquitted the man charged with DUI.

People think that a cop always shows up in court, but even in McHenry County Circuit Court cops have not shown up for trials.

Our system here actually works against the person accused, especially when it's a traffic charge. The first court date is a plea date, and the officer routinely doesn't show up for that. You either suck it up and plead Guilty and pay your fine, including huge court costs, or you plead Not Guilty. At this point, either way you are going to get stuck for court costs, which now will be close to or over $200, even if your fine is only $25.00.

A cop may mark your traffic ticket as Must Appear. When you see that, you'd better hit the ATM on the way to court.

Talk to a lawyer or to the cashier at the courthouse to find out if your court costs will be the same, whether you plead guilty or decide to "fight" it. Of course, if you "win" and are found not guilty in either a bench or jury trial, then you pay no fine and no court costs.

Is it worth it to fight? If you believe you can tell your story more persuasively than the prosecution can, you must just want to "Go for it".

The difference is when you get a ticket and have the option to pay it by mail or before your court date. Then you have to decide if you are a gambler. Are you willing to pay the fine and not risk the additional money for court costs? Or do you want to roll the dice?  If you lose in court, then it will cost you the fine PLUS the court costs.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Get Twinkies while they last

What happens when a union strikes? Does it get what it wants? Do its workers benefit? Unions are good. Right?

Or, when they push relentlessly for higher wages and benefits, can that just put a huge company out of business?

Hostess, maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread and a company with about $2.5 billion in sales, is going out of business. It has shut down production of food items at its 33 U.S. plants.

Union members ought to be thanking the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union for standing up for their rights. And they ought to be checking the wages and benefits of its union leaders.

I guess we will all have to find new ways to build strong bodies...

Overhaul Illinois Line-of-Duty death benefit law

It's way past time to overhaul the Illinois line-of-duty death definition.

Chicago firefighter Walter Patmon died after he had a heart attack in the firehouse while cleaning his equipment. That'll be good for $250,000 from the People of the Great State of Illinois.

When was his health condition first noted? Was he under treatment? Why was he on duty if he was having heart trouble?

Being a firefighter is a strenuous job. Should there be a mandatory age for firefighters? Should there be mandatory annual physical exams?

The definition of "line-of-duty death" should be overhauled.

If you die rescuing children (as did Capt. Herbert "Herbie" Johnson recently) or a roof falls on you (or, if you're a cop and get shot during an arrest), that's a line-of-duty death that can qualify for $250,000. If you are driving to work or driving home or cleaning your boots, that's not a line-of-duty death.

Just because you are at your workplace should not qualify an employee for a $250,000 payment from the State. It's time for the law to be changed.

Concealed carry effort in Illinois

Today I came across this posting on from back in July. How strange that I didn't receive this information from the Illinois State Rifle Association or the McHenry County Right to Carry Assn. or the NRA, all three of which I am a member.

"Jul 20, 2012 8:39 p.m.   (FEATURED STORY)
  Months before this massacre in Colorado, a legislative task force began studying whether Illinois should allow residents to carry loaded handguns. FOX Chicago News has exclusive details of the draft report prepared for the task force. Sources said it concludes that licensing some residents to carry loaded guns would not increase violence.  A poll done for the legislative task force found overwhelming support for concealed carry in suburban Cook County. In Chicago, 54 percent back the right to pack.
  State Rep. La Shawn Ford, who represents a west side neighborhood with more than its share of crime, is also chairman of a 13-member General Assembly task force that is studying what would happen in Chicago if concealed carry was legalized.  "The report shows it will not be a dramatic impact," Ford said. Still, Ford said he'd vote against a pending concealed carry proposal unless it's amended to ban the sort of high-capacity, rapid fire weapons used in the latest massacre in Colorado. 
Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Marion), the bill's chief sponsor told FOX Chicago News he may call it for a vote on August 17. "They've tried everything else there. I think that city officials in Chicago and in Cook County should try this," Phelps said.  The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups hope federal courts will soon force Illinois to let residents carry loaded firearms. It's the only state without any sort of concealed carry licensing procedure."

The effort to get a concealed-carry law in Illinois lacks grass-roots organization. The NRA has a lobbyist. ISRA has a lobbyist or two, one of whom might also be the NRA lobbyist.

But a lobbyist isn't going to persuade the Cook County Democrats who are blocking concealed-carry for the entire state.

What is needed is Voice from the neighborhoods of the Cook County Democratic legislators who are blocking concealed carry.

Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-118th District (Harrisburg, Ill.)) is doing a great job holding HB 0148 together and ready for a vote. Rep. Jack Franks (D-63rd District (Woodstock, Ill.) signed on as a co-sponsor of Phelps' bill and voted for passage in May 2011.

But about a dozen Cook County Democrats (maybe more, since the General Election earlier this month) need their arms twisted, and that twisting can come only from the constituents in their districts. But we, outside those districts, can help by educating those residents about concealed carry and getting them to contact their elected representatives.

Onesies and twosies won't do it. Effort and Organization are needed. Feet on the ground in those districts are needed. Even in the War Zone in Chicago. Is there a place where we can rent body armor to go and knock on some doors?

Pyle court date yesterday

A "routine" court date (if there is such a thing) was scheduled yesterday for Greg Pyle, former (?) Sergeant of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, who was arrested last January on ten counts of predatory criminal sexual assault (victim under 13). He was jailed (ever so briefly) in McHenry County Jail and released on bond.

Questions linger about his pay status and employment status. Sheriff Nygren placed Pyle on paid administrative leave. It must have been paid leave, because the sheriff has never taken Pyle disciplinary case to the Merit Commission, where matters involving discipline greater than 30 days are heard and become public record. No termination event has ever been heard by the Merit Commission. Even if Pyle resigns, the Merit Commission is to know about it.

Maybe that's something that the sheriff's EEO officer ought to be dragging across the street. Like, maybe at the December 13 regular monthly meeting of the Merit Commission.

Then Pyle was arrested by the Feds.

Nygren made some inane statement following Pyle's arrest by the Feds that he was going to "let" Pyle resign. I guess this is how you handle things when an employee who is in the in-crowd gets arrested. Supposedly, Pyle was receiving sick pay and vacation pay and, when that ran out, he was going to resign. The Feds, by the greatest of coincidences, just happened to arrest him on the day those benefits ran out.

In fifty years of working I had never once heard of an employee being able to claim sick and vacation pay while still employed. I thought you had to quit or retire to get that and, then, it was paid in a lump sum and subject to payroll taxes.

Pyle's current address is at the Boone County Jail in Belvidere (Ill.), because a Federal judge has refused to grant release on bond.

Pyle's next McHenry County appearance is scheduled for January 10, 2013, which is just one year after the local felony charges were filed against him.

Slow week at the sheriff's dept.

The past seven days must have been a slow week at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. There has not been even one new media release since November 8. when Ryan O'Keefe was arrested near Richmond.

Have there really been no crimes of note in the whole of McHenry County, or is it just the case of "Don't tell the public"?

Sheriff Nygren was spotted arriving at the McHenry County Government Center late Wednesday afternoon, so mark up (part of) another day at work for him in 2012. He avails himself of special parking in the sally port, rather than parking behind the building in the space reserved for "501".

If I were Sheriff? I'd park in the back parking lot, just like everybody else, and I wouldn't have the #1 spot closest to the building reserved for me. And I'd tell my command staff to park "out" a little way and allow the line employees to have first choice of parking spots. I'd also get rid of the special reserved parking for Corrections command staff in front of the jail and loosen up that parking for visitors of inmates.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Short sales - good or bad

What is a "short sale"?

From Wikipedia comes this simple explanation: "A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the proceeds from selling the property will fall short of the balance of debts secured by liens against the property and the property owner cannot afford to repay the liens' full amounts, whereby the lien holders agree to release their lien on the real estate and accept less than the amount owed on the debt. Any unpaid balance owed to the creditors is known as a deficiency. Short sale agreements do not necessarily release borrowers from their obligations to repay any deficiencies of the loans, unless specifically agreed to between the parties. However, in California legislation was passed to preclude deficiencies after a short sale is approved. The same is true of lenders on first loans and lenders on second loans - once the short sale is approved, no deficiencies are permitted after the short sale. (SB 931, SB 458 - Calif. Code of Civil Procedure §580e).

"A short sale is often used as an alternative to foreclosure because it mitigates additional fees and costs to both the creditor and borrower. Both often result in a negative credit report against the property owner."

What happens if the short sale is a rather friendly transaction because of a close family or other relationship between the borrower and the lender? Could a deal sort of slide under the table and result in privileges to one borrower that another might not (or most likely would not) get?

Note that the creditor doesn't necessarily get off the hook for the balance owed to the lender.

Let's sale the house was bought for $175,000, with a $150,000 mortgage. Now it's offered at $125,000. Assuming a full-price sale, where does the other $25,000 that's owed come from?

Does the mortgage holder (bank?) garnish wages of the homeowner who is selling? How is the bank protected? Can it require that the homeowner make the bank the beneficiary of the first $25,000 of life insurance proceeds, in the event of the homeowner's premature death?

Assuming the homeowner still has the job he had when he bought the house, why can't he afford to continue the mortgage payments? Was it a "good" loan when it was made?

Model RR display, Huntley

From the Sun City/Huntley (Ill.) online newsletter comes this announcement of the holiday schedule of the Kishwaukee Valley – Eakin Creek Model Railroad Club. This model and garden railroad display is outstanding.

"The Kishwaukee Valley-Eakin Creek Model Railroad Club of Sun City has announced the running dates for this year's Holiday Display. Trains will be running in the Prairie Lodge Social Lounge from Friday Nov. 23, 2012 (the day after Thanksgiving) through Friday Dec. 28, 2012. In general, weekday running times will be from 11 am until 3 pm. and weekend running times will be from 11 am until 5 pm and this includes the Friday after Thanksgiving. On some days we may have extended hours dependant on other activities in the Lodge.

"Once again we will sponsor a raffle for 3 Lionel trains. This year's model will be a Lionel Bluebird O gauge train set. The raffle will be held on Sunday Dec 23 at 3 PM. and winners need not be present. So bring your kids, grandkids and cameras and spend some time enjoying the season and our trains.

"The Railroad Club is proud to sponsor this Holiday tradition and we invite all Sun City residents, their family and friends, as well as residents of neighboring communities, to this annual tradition. The event is free but we do ask that all children be accompanied by an adult.

"Interested patrons can call the club's message center at 847-669-2392 to learn more details of the Holiday Display."

Mistrial leads to Not Guilty verdict

Remember the woman in Crystal Lake who was accused of being such a nasty neighbor that multiple charges of Disorderly Conduct were filed against her on several occasions. I mean, you'd have thought she was Al Capone's moll or something.

It started back in 2006, when the first of the first four cases was filed by angry neighbors. Matters dragged on for ages with continuances, and finally the first four cases were dismissed, when trial dates came and prosecution witnesses didn't show up.

Then a new round started in 2008, and more complaints were filed. Months passed with continuance and continuance. Then came trial day in March 2011. As I recall, she was found not guilty on two charges, got a directed verdict of not guilty on a third, and was found guilty by the jury on a fourth charge. But she quickly learned that a juror had communicated with a witness during the trial!!!

I urged her to talk to her attorney about a mistrial. She did and then changed public defenders and filed for a new trial.

I never thought the State would prosecute again, but it did. Several months ago I believed that the State didn't have a chance in this case because, in the previous jury trial, the prosecution had presented its evidence and the defense did not take the stand. Thus, the defense heard all the prosecution's evidence, and the prosecution heard nothing from the defense.

Her new special public defender was Bill Bligh. Her new trial went forward yesterday, even though one of the main prosecution witnesses was again a no-show. I was told that Judge Weech refused a request by the prosecution for yet another continuance. A bench trial was held.

After the prosecution testified, then the defendant took the stand in her own defense. Judge Weech found her Not Guilty.

How many court dates were there from start to finish? Ready? Sitting down? (Court dates for the 2006 and 2007 cases are not counted.)

In 2008: 11
In 2009: 15
In 2010: 13
In 2011: 19
In 2012:  9
Grand total: 67

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thief free on P.R.

One of the most astonishing things to me about the Dixon, Ill. $53,000,000 heist is that the former comptroller, Rita Crundwell, 59, is free on a personal recognizance bond.

Know what happens if you get arrested in Woodstock for sticky fingers at the Walmart? Say, maybe you try to get away with a $20 movie? You get carted over to the McHenry County Jail with maybe a $1,500 bond, and there you sit until you can come up with $150.

No matter that it costs the County $90/day to house you. You might sit there a week or two, or longer through multiple court hearings.

But, if your name is Rita and you stick it to Dixon, Ill. for $53,000,000, your name is good enough to get you out the door.

Rita pled guilty today and faces 17-19 in the pen and agreed that she owes Dixon $53,740,394. Like they'll ever see that; right? Think they'll take a check?

And where is she? Out, walking around, because her name is Rita.

She's 59. Think she'll go to the joint for 17 years? That would make her 76. Why wouldn't she take off? Now they probably grabbed her passport. How long do you think it would take her to get another one? You know the kind - from the alley off Maxwell Street...

Besides, do you need a passport to get out of the U.S.? Or just back in. Why would she want "back in"? Did she have some bucks tucked away for a rainy day that the Feds didn't find?

Was everybody asleep in Dixon for 20 years? Didn't anyone wonder how an $80,000/year employee could afford all the toys she had?

Maybe now that the FBI is done in Dixon, they can come over to little, ol' Woodstock and spend a few weeks here. They won't find a caper like that here (probably) but, if they stand downwind in certain places in town, the stink will tickle their noses.

About old "Give 'em hell, Harry"

I don't know who wrote this, and the person who sent it to me today might not even know that I'm from the Show-Me State. Even though Truman was from Kansas City, we in St. Louis knew of him. Truman is worth reading about. I suggest starting with David G. McCullough's Truman. Harry Truman was born in 1884 and died in 1972.

"Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 32 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

"The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri. His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

"When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

"After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.

"When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, 'You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale.'

"Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, 'I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.'

"As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

"Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale (cf. Illinois ).

"Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, 'My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!'

"I say dig him up and clone him!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Week delay in releasing Lamb arrest - why?

The Northwest Herald is reporting that Shane Lamb, 28, was arrested on two misdemeanor charges for an occurrence on November 4. The paper said, "According to the criminal complaint, he punched two men repeatedly in the face and head."

Lamb had testified in the trial of Mario Casciaro earlier this year after being granted immunity and, according to the paper, is on parole involving a six-year sentence in a drug case.

That's it. That's all?

From Circuit Court records, Lamb was charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery. Charges were filed on November 5 by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, meaning the offense occurred in the County, not in a municipality of the County.

There is no media release on the Sheriff's Department website. Why not? Was everybody on vacation last week?

It looks like Lamb's bond was $1,500 and that he posted 10% ($150) to be released. He is not listed as now in custody at the Jail.

The newspaper article contained no other details. The time and location of arrests were not given. The victims or other combatants were not named.

All in all, information was quite scarce for the report being published a full week after the arrest. There should be a Complaint on file for this case (12CM002386) at the courthouse, and it should include the names of other parties involved.

Don't shoot!

What a novel idea! Somebody gets involved, and crime drops.

Read this article about the work of David Kennedy. He got fed up with violence and took action. His memoir, Don't Shoot, describes his efforts and results.

You can hear his November 1st interview on NPR right here.

What if his ideas came to Chicago? Could the shootings and killings abruptly stop?

Want his book? Buy it on

Will they really secede?

Where to live next?

Look at all the petitions for states to secede from the United States of America:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

That certainly gives one a lot of choices, if he is considering a move. Better pick a state that is gun-friendly. Remember the last time some states tried to secede?

Let's see ... Colorado?

Guess I'm drawn to the West.

Why think about heading for a state that might secede? Well, take a look at this chin:

That's a chin that belongs in Texas, where bumper stickers read, "Don't Mess with Texas".

Woodstock Chamber saves building

Just in time .... the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce saved its building on the Square from a tax sale on November 19. It paid its 2011 Tax Bill. It paid late, but it paid.

McHenry County got its dough on October 31

Who knows? Maybe my October 25th article reminded them that the tax bill was collecting dust in some corner. Most people know that money is not saved by delaying payment of a tax bill; it is spent... increased ... wasted.

I wonder how many of the Board members knew the property tax bill was unpaid and that the Chamber was risking the loss of its building in a tax sale. Were they planning a last-minute rescue? Did one company step forward with a big cash infusion to save the Chamber's neck from the County Treasurer's noose? Did the Chamber borrow money to pay its property tax bill?

Members certainly won't learn from the Chamber's online newsletter. The most recent edition is still the September 2012 edition. That's the one that shows an October 10th All-Member Meeting scheduled at BMO Harris Bank - the infamous meeting that "wasn't scheduled", according to an announcement on the Chamber's website on October 10.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jail Brakers Dinner - this Sunday

The third annual dinner and silent auction of Jail Brakers will be held this Sunday, November 18, from 4:00-7:00 PM at the Woodstock Moose Lodge, 406 Clay Street, Woodstock.

Jail Brakers is a Illinois not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing support to families who are experiencing the separation of a loved one due to incarceration.

A donation of $20.00 will enable them to continue their mission to help families cope with the stigma associated with incarceration. In addition to offering hope, this support group aims to prevent inter-generational cycles of crime and reduce recidivism.

Donations for the silent auction can still be made. Come early and go away stuffed. Join in for a fun time. Don't miss out on their famous Turkey Bingo and door prizes.

Thinking about your holiday shopping. Bid on many of the silent-auction items. Do your early shopping that afternoon, have a good time and help a great cause.

Jail Brakers is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

For more information, contact via

"Seldom Seen" Nygren - ever seen?

Was Keith Nygren working on November 8, 7, 6, 5, 2, 1?

"Sheriff Keith Nygren announced ... (blah-blah-blah)" is how the media releases issued on those days read on the sheriff's website. They are unsigned, so who really knows who approved them? Obviously, he didn't write them. That's why the sheriff's department has a media relations deputy, which could really be a $35,000/year civilian job, freeing up a deputy for patrol duty.

Nygren should sign all media releases issued over his name or designate a subordinate to issue them. If they are issued in his name but on a subordinate's order, then that subordinate should sign Nygren's name and clearly initial doing so. Or issue the media release in his own name and sign it. Otherwise, no one is accountable for it. That's the case right now.

Where is Sheriff Nygren these days? Is he in town? Working? Strolling in about 10:30AM, leaving for lunch and not returning to the office? Doing anything to earn his $145,000/year salary and $75,000 take-home vehicle? And benefits.

Will he take his vehicle out-of-state for Thanksgiving this year? To Minocqua for the Christmas holiday again this year? That's only 300 miles outside McHenry County. Each way.

When he drives the County-owned, police-equipped, taxpayer-supported vehicle on pleasure purposes, will he obey all traffic laws? And will he pay for the fuel burned for the 600-1,200 miles on vacation?

I remember the day I sat across from him in his office and he told me that he "had to drive 20MPH over the limit in Wisconsin, just to keep up with traffic." I shouldn't have been so polite. Instead of just remembering the statement, I should have said, "What the hell? You're the top cop in the county. You ought to be obeying speed limits, not breaking them."

He proved last January that he was telling the truth (or almost). He was ticketed outside Minocqua for 70MPH in a 55MPH zone on January 5. I wonder if he "badged" the trooper and tried to talk his way out of the ticket.

Remember the story about the Wisconsin police chief a couple of years ago who realized he'd blown past a stopped school bus? He wrote himself a ticket and paid the fine. Now, that's integrity! Next summer I'm going for a motorcycle ride to meet that guy.

County offices closed today

McHenry County offices are closed today in observance of Veterans Day.

Was someone in a hurry to leave for the week-end? This message appears on the county's website

"McHenry County facilities will be CLOSED on Monday, November 12 is observance of Veterans Day."

Silent films - back to McHenry County?

Today's editorial in the Northwest Herald was titled "Courtroom transparency" and its topic was media recording in the courtroom. It's coming in Illinois.

Could this happen in McHenry County? Would it be interesting, if it did?

Certainly, MCC ought to begin offering courses in lip-reading. Unless the media employ use of super-secret, highly-sensitive microphones, the cameras will record only lips moving, heads nodding and arms waving. The 6:00PM news won't be very interesting without sound.

But perhaps the media will be able to persuade the judges to allow amplification of court proceedings inside the courtroom.

I've been in a courtroom when even the judge could not hear what an attorney was saying. I watched the judge lean farther and farther over his desk toward the attorney, and finally he said, "You are going to have to speak up."

On another day, a Woodstock attorney was seated at the attorney's table, and he suddenly said in a loud voice, "Can't hear!" He wasn't part of the case being heard, but he stepped forward to the bench and was allowed to remain there.

I suppose if I stood up and said, "Can't hear", I'd be quickly escorted from the courtroom, probably after being warned by the judge that I'd be held in contempt if I continued to be disruptive in his courtroom.

I believe it will take a court case (oh, there go the County dollars) to get McHenry County Circuit Court judges to order attorneys and other parties to speak up, and to speak up themselves. If all would just speak in normal tones of voice, court proceedings could be heard.

It would also help if bailiffs would quiet attorneys who stand by the tables and talk during court and those seated behind the railing who talk during court. It ought to be so quiet that, in the words of one woman who referred to the principal's control in a small elementary school in the South, "You could hear cotton drop."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beth Bentley - now 129 weeks

The accurate (revised and now accurate, I hope) count for the numbers of weeks that Beth Bentley has been missing is 129 weeks. That's 903 days. That's a lot of days for someone to be missing.

The Woodstock P.D. says Beth is missing. No reason to suspect foul play; right? Just "missing". Yeah, sure...

What would happen if someone started singing like a bird?

Would anyone listen to the melody? Would it be in tune? Would it be recorded? Analyzed? Researched?

Would anyone follow the notes back to their origins? Which note came first? Who wrote the song? Who was the producer? Who was the conductor? Who was the accompanist? Or who were the accompanists?

If somebody is going to start singing, let's hope they do it now.