Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gun confiscation - can it happen?

A while back the NRA suggested asking city police chiefs and county sheriffs to sign pledges that they would not confiscate lawfully-owned guns.

I laughed when I thought about asking the Woodstock Police Chief or the McHenry County Sheriff to sign such a pledge.

First of all, Chief Lowen would never sign it without the permission of the Woodstock Mayor and City Council. And they would never give that permission. Look at the composition of the city council. Mayor Sager would not stand up for gun owners' rights and the rest of the city council would not go against him. So, forget it in Woodstock.

And to go to Sheriff Nygren? First of all, you'd have to find it. He was never in favor of concealed carry, and fortunately the new law puts a "shall issue" power to issue a concealed-carry license in the hands of the Illinois State Police, rather than a "may issue" power in the hands of county sheriffs.

But what's really wrong with such a pledge is that the government can (easily?) change the law. Look what is happening in New York City. There is a five-round magazine capacity law there, and New York (the City) is notifying owners of some registered guns that they must turn in their guns.

What would happen if Illinois tried this stunt? Or Chicago? Or Woodstock?

What did Charleton Heston say? "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" (or something to that effect). Some people laughed. But here we are, folks. Government confiscation of firearms.

Are we going to let government turn us otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals? Wake up, folks. Stay awake!

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." (John Philpot Curran 1750-1817, Irish politician and judge (as I've said before, no relation)).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Spying on shoppers

Could you be spied on while shopping today (and any day)?

Read this article about "Smart" technology and how it is used to spy on you.

Do you plan to turn off your phone or remove the SIM card when entering stores? (Turning off your phone may not be good enough.)

Plan to get one of those special wallets to protect your credit cards' RFID technology? Maybe some tinfoil would work just as well. That's why your I-Pass comes wrapped in tinfoil. Do you even know if the credit cards in your wallet or purse have the RFID chip? Do you know what RFID is?

If a store can paste a sign on its door, such as "No shoes, No shirts, No service" or "Stay out if you are armed", should it have to put a placard on its doors to inform shoppers that it is spying on you?

When Jewel-Osco analyzes my purchase of jellybeans and offers me a coupon on gum drops, that's one thing. Using facial-recognition technology or snooping on my phone's presence? That's a different matter.

Call your favorite stores first and ask the manager what technology is in use. Then decide whether to shop there.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Whose body was found Nov. 6?

So far as I know, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and the McHenry County Coroner's Office have not yet released the identity of the woman whose body was found in a house at 518 N. Country Club Road, McHenry area, on November 6.

Charges (concealing a homicidal death) were filed on November 7 against William J. Ross. No attorney-of-record for Ross is shown yet.

Has the woman been identified? Has next-of-kin been notified? Are MCSD and the Coroner's Office withholding her identity? Both offices have been asked to let me know when a press conference is held to announce her identity. Will they?

Do they need help in identifying her?

Is there a reader here who can guess her identity and help out MCSD and the Coroner? Who know whether or not Ross was connected to a woman before his house was closed more than 18 months ago.

If you don't want to be in contact with officials, send me the information (email is best) and I'll forward it without your contact information.

How is the extradition process coming along? Have the complete papers gone to Gov. Quinn yet? How soon can Gov. Quinn be expected to make a decision whether to ask Utah to release William Ross to MCSD?

McHenry County Circuit Court records are "interesting" today.

A search for William J. Ross does not turn up this felony charge against Ross.
You have to search for William (NMI) Ross to find it, and then his name appears as William J. Ross for Case No. 13CF001037.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WTH - State's Attorney Office says "not a crime"

Late this afternoon (4:59PM) the Northwest Herald published an article online about the suspension of a Woodstock Police Department sergeant. Why are important matters held to the end of a business day? And the end of a business day preceding four days when government offices are closed?

Is City of Woodstock government open on Friday? When you look at the Community Calendar on the City's website, it doesn't even show Thanksgiving Day as a day when City offices are closed. I'll bet they are.

Sgt. Chip Amati was given a 30-day suspension by the Board of Fire & Police Commissioners on October 28th at its Special Meeting.

The Northwest Herald did not report this until today, November 27. How in the world could a month pass without this hitting the news?

The Northwest Herald's Kevin Craver's wrote, "The Chicago Tribune reported that Amati had texted the girl back in August asking her to send him "sexy pictures" – she did not reply." Does anyone at the Northwest Herald read the Tribune? Did the Northwest Herald print anything about this in August or September? Not according to its search engine. Doesn't the Northwest Herald have contacts within the Woodstock PD who could have told a reporter that something was up?

Amati supposedly sent "inappropriate" text messages to the 12-year-old daughter of his former girlfriend and also allegedly improperly used the LEADS system to look up the criminal record, if any, of the girlfriend.

The Chicago Tribune article is much more aggressive and says the girl's parents are irate at the light punishment. Read the Tribune article for a different take on what happened. Why did the Northwest Herald play softball with Woodstock PD?

These are crimes. But what did Mick Combs, Assistant State's Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division, have to say? "I felt, based upon character and attitude and his years of service that it wasn't appropriate to charge him. He's a human being, we all make mistakes and we're all fallible."

I don't generally use foul language on this blog. And so I'll try really hard this time not to do so.

I remember a case outside of Harvard in 2005 where a former police officer defended himself against a vicious, loose, attack dog and shot it to death, when it charged him in the officer's own back yard. Where was the State's Attorney's compassion then about "character" and "attitude" and "years of service"?

When the Board of Fire & Police Commissioners met on October 28, they would have met in Executive Session (i.e., in private; some would say, in "secret"). But they had to return to Open Session and make (and announce) their decision about the suspension in public. One problem is nobody goes to those meetings. I did, for a while, after I forced them out of the chief's conference room and into public view at City Hall for their meetings. 

I was out of town in August. Maybe I'd better start attending those meetings again, so that news reaches the public in a timely fashion. The Commission (or the Police Department or the City) should have issued a press release following that meeting. Did they just hope no one would find out?

How weak is the Woodstock Police Department (or how strong is the union?) and how weak is the Commission? Sgt. Amati gets to choose when he wants to serve his suspension. What kind of nonsense is that? The Department tries to soft-pedal it by saying that Amati "can take (his suspension) in pieces so as 'not to have a detrimental effect on police department operations'."

To quote Lily Tomlin, "Well, isn't that special?" It's B.S.; that's what it is.

Thanksgiving 2013

What will you be doing tomorrow, on Thanksgiving Day 2013?

One of my all-time best Thanksgivings was in Denver in 1984, when I volunteered at Daddy Bruce's barbecue joint in Five Points. Every year "Daddy Bruce" served thousands outside his rib joint. He fed all comers, whether or not they were homeless.

The majority of those who came to eat were homeless. They brought their belongings with them, as they moved through the line. Everyone was welcome.

Some families came and could afford to pay for their meals. They just wanted to be there, to join in. Their money was refused. They were welcome, too.

"Daddy Bruce" was born Bruce Randolph on February 15, 1900, in Arkansas, according to his history as it appears on the website of the Epworth Foundation. He died in 1994.

I knew two other men who were born in 1900. J. Nevin Carson lived his entire life in Denver, before he died at about age 78. He owned a restaurant supply house in Denver, when I met him in 1972. I was in the life insurance business, and he asked me why I wanted to be his agent, saying he had outlived all his other agents. Without thinking, I said, "Well, I hope that won't be true this time." We both laughed about that. It was a privilege to know him, and I often imagined what his early life in Denver must have been like.

And my dad was born in 1900 in the mountains of Virginia. Several years ago I went through Clifton Forge, his birthplace, to get an idea of what his early life might have been like. I visited the old railroad museum to see photographs of the town and the area.

As we give thanks tomorrow, let's remember our elders and try to imagine what their early lives were like.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gun Control? No way!!!

Is gun control a good idea? Take a few minutes and watch what happened in Australia.

When Obama and Biden and Feinstein and Emanuel and McCarthy and Quinn and all those Democrat idiots in the Illinois State legislature think they are going to take away our guns, I think they'd better think again.

Bill Prim - "the" official Republican candidate now

This morning the Republican candidate for McHenry County Sheriff, Bill Prim, files his petitions for the primary election in March 2014.

His campaign sent out the following press release:


"Republican candidate for Sheriff Bill Prim Monday filed his election petition documents with the McHenry County Clerk.  Although needing only 517 valid signatures for a spot on the party ballot, Prim filed more than 150 sheets containing more than 1,300 signatures.

“I want to thank the dozens of volunteers who spent many hours of their own time gathering signatures for my candidacy, enough so that we turned in roughly 2 ½ times the number required,” Prim said.

“My volunteers told me they encountered an enthusiastic spirit of reform throughout the entire county.  The people want reform and they’re tired of the same old creaky political organization just going through the motions when it comes to public office.  They want someone with a new outlook and new energy, and that’s what I intend to deliver."

Who is getting free gas?

Cal Skinner has an interesting short article on McHenry County Blog about who is getting gas at the McHenry County Sheriff's gas pump.

Somebody must have tipped Cal to fuel going into a private vehicle. I wonder if the person provided photos and license plate numbers.

All fuel that is dispensed should be recorded on a Fuel Log kept for each pump.

Cal had submitted a FOIA Request, which read, "Under the FOIA, I request a copy of your Department’s policy for allowing private vehicles to fill their tanks from the Department’s gasoline pumps.”

We know there are some pretty dumb things that go on at the Sheriff's Department, but I would think even they would not have a "policy" about dispensing fuel into unauthorized or private vehicles.

But could a differently-worded FOIA Request get the information that Cal is seeking?

What if he had requested copies of the fuel logs for the pumps for the past 90 days? A sharp analysis might spot a vehicle that shouldn't have been fueled. Could be that a strange license plate would show up or a fueling at an odd hour or day. Or a vehicle showing up too often or too seldom? Maybe only once?

Department vehicles are probably fueled at least once daily. Squad cars ought to be kept full, just in case one gets into a 100-mile chase. Excuse No. 163 might be "Pursuit was discontinued, after my squad car ran out of gas while chasing the violator."

CALEA might even have a "standard", developed at high cost no doubt, that directs how often a squad car should be fueled.

So, who knows of any unauthorized vehicles being fueled?

With Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays coming up, this might be a good time for Sheriff Nygren to leave his Tahoe in the Department parking lot and drive his own personal car, if he owns one, or a rental car to Minocqua, Wisconsin. There is a County policy about taxpayer-supported vehicle use in and out of McHenry County, and truckin' 300 miles to Minocqua isn't in it. Unfortunately, no one around 2200 N. Seminary Ave. is likely to challenge Nygren about abusing County Policy.

In November 2011 he fueled up just before leaving for Minocqua and then apparently right after he got back. He should have filled up upon arrival back in McHenry County and paid for that last tank of gas out of his $145,000/year salary. Did he?

What part of stupid doesn't apply?

Today's Northwest Herald reports the death of a 19-year-old woman in Johnsburg and the arrest of a 17-year-old man (boy?) from Round Lake Beach.

The 17-year-old allegedly gave the 19-year-old heroin in Antioch.

What is it going to take to knock some sense into kids' heads that heroin is dangerous?

Where are the McHenry County and Lake County Drug Task Forces? Were these kids known to them?

The Task Forces should be all over their friends, and they should squeeze information about the supplier(s) out of the 17-year-old.

The dead woman is Stephanie Habhab.
The alleged dealer is Justin Hurt.

Everyone who knows them and knows anything about their drug use or activity should contact the Johnsburg P.D. and probably should also contact the McHenry County Drug Task Force and the Lake County Drug Task Force. Provide information about purchases, sales, dealers, suppliers, locations.

One of your friends might be next.
One of your relatives might be next.
You might be next.

Get smart. If you are using and think you can't stop, think again. Get help. Stay alive.

It's too late to help Habhab.
Hurt, if convicted, faces many years in prison.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Virtual President on gun control

This one has been around for a while, but it's worth watching - even if you have already seen it once (or twice).

A MUST WATCH ! Powerful and well spoken.  WATCH !

"Guns are a lot like parachutes ~ If you need one and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again"

The best presentation on gun control yet. Even if you don't like guns, watch this! This should be required viewing by both sides of the issue of gun control/legislation.

Here is a man who knows the constitution. Watch the faces on some Senators in the audience. (We could only wish that he'd be able to address them.)

Play the above video or click here:

Why do I think these are words that we would never here from Obama? I mean, besides the natural flow of speech (with or without a teleprompter).

Beth Bentley - gone 183 weeks now

Beth Bentley has been missing 3½ years. There has been no word of or from her, and right away there was no reported use of her cell phone or credit cards after she was last seen on May 23, 2010.

Assuming that is the date when she was last seen.

What really happened, if Beth did spend that week-end in Mount Vernon with three of her friends? This is always been a Missing Person case, as originally classified by the Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department.

Often, in missing-person cases, a police department puts out a lot of information, trying to get help from the public. That didn't happen in this case, and a fair number of people are still wondering why not.

The story was:
Beth rented a car for the week-end.
Beth and her friend, Jenn Wyatt, drove to Mt. Vernon late on May 20, 2010.
They stayed with two male friends there. The two males are brothers.
Friday night they ate at the Frosty Mug.
They rented a boat on a local lake on Saturday.
On Sunday Beth got out of the rental car in Centralia, Ill.
On Monday, May 24, Jenn, who had no valid driver's license, drove the rental car back to Woodstock.

Jenn was to meet up with Beth and drive to Jenn's rental house in Woodstock, where Beth's car was parked in the garage.

Is all of that story true?
Is some of it true?
Is any of it true?

A starting point would be the number of miles on the odometer of the rental car. Were enough miles recorded to drive to Mt. Vernon. It's about 335 miles to Mt. Vernon - one-way. So, were 770-1,000 miles on the rental car's odometer, when it was returned? Did it have an I-Pass, and were any tolls recorded?

Woodstock's police chief was reported in the news to have said that there had been boat rental on Saturday and that all who went out, came back.

What route did Beth and Jenn take to Mt. Vernon, and what route did Jenn take back?

Is anybody trying to tear the story apart and determine whether or not it makes sense?

What were the "activities" of the two women and the two men during the week-end?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Who was found on Nov. 6?

Is no one else wondering the name of the woman whose body was found in William J. Ross' closed-up house at 518 N. County Club Drive, in McHenry on November 6?

Ross is apparently still fighting extradition from Las Vegas. The last local news article was on November 17.

The body was found in the house on November 6. Are the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and the Coroner's Office still be trying to identify the remains? The article said it is believed that no one lived in the house for at least 18 months.

McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs was quoted in the article as having said,
"The only issue is proving that he is the same William Ross that's wanted out of Illinois."

If extradition were that simple, he'd be here already; right?

"The Extradition of Fugitives Clause in the Constitution requires States, upon demand of another State, to deliver a fugitive from justice who has committed a 'treason, felony or other crime' to the State from which the fugitive has fled." (Wikipedia)  You may find it interesting to read the several steps that must be followed for a successful extradition.

If the legal process doesn't go fast enough, when will Las Vegas have to cut him loose?

As of today, the Clark County, Nev. Correctional Facility website shows he is still in custody there.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

SRO at MCR2CA meeting

It was standing room only at the Woodstock VFW tonight for the McHenry County Right To Carry Association meeting. I counted 108 in the audience, plus the five at the front of the room with the microphone.

The purpose of the meeting was to learn from the law-enforcement end of the business in McHenry County what to expect during a traffic stop and other contacts with deputies and police.

At the front of the room tonight were McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi, Assistant State's Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division of that office, Mick Combs, Sgt. Alex Embry and Deputy Hector Garza from the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, and MCR2CA President Mickey Schuch.

No representative from any of the many municipal police departments in McHenry County was present, although invitations had been extended to every department.

Tonight's meeting was fast-paced and free-wheeling. There were many good questions from the audience, and there were candid answers from the speakers. This was one of the best meetings the organization has had in four years.

Heartfelt thanks are extended to Lou, Mick, Alex and Hector for their openness and transparency.

The question they weren't able to answer, of course, was how will the police departments conduct business with law-abiding, armed, licensed citizens.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

OK, smarty pants

So you think you're pretty smart, eh?

"Interesting and simple test. It's astonishing that so many people got less than half correct.

These results say that 80% of the (voting) public doesn't have a clue - and that's pretty scary.

There are no tricks here - just a simple test to see if you are current on your information.

This is quite good and the results are shocking.

Test your knowledge, then be ready to shudder when you see how others did.

Click on the link for Test Your News IQ - Pew Research Center

Results will not be posted, in order to protect the innocent. If you are brave and want to post your result, please do so.

Kelly Shift Schedule - explained

The following explanation of the Kelly Shift Schedule was sent to me by somebody who obviously knows.. Thanks! (The Kelly Shift Schedule was bargained for in recent negotiations by the officers of the Woodstock Police Department and the City of Woodstock).

"That system involves the officers working 8.5 hours a day.  That means they work 2.5 hours extra a week, none of which is overtime to the city, or approx 10 hours each 28 days, not each month. It is a 28 day cycle.  To make that up, the officer gets to work 5 on and have 2 off, then work 5 on and have 3 days off, then 5 on 2 off, and 5 on 3 off and keep alternating, so that when the year is up, it is a wash that they only work 2080 hours a year, which is what their salary is based on - 2080 hours a year.  That gets the officer more days off and eventually they will have a Fri-Sat-Sun off; I think every 12 weeks or so, which is coveted, and their days off M-Su automatically change because of the 3 days off.

"The benefit for the city is that there is no dead time, there is always an officer on the street during shift change.  The way it is now, the last 15 minutes of your shift, you go to the station and switch cars out with the oncoming shift and pass on information during roll call.  So for 15 minutes, nobody is actively patrolling the streets but if an emergency happens, they would respond to the call from the station.  A lot of veteran drunks and bar owners know about this 15-minute window and scoot home.  The down side to the city is that you have to have a larger fleet of radios, vehicles, flashlights etc..., because for a half an hour a day, you have twice the amount of officers patrolling at one time.  
"The officers now work 8.25 hours and the 15 minutes that the officers showed up early now was non gratis in exchange for getting paid for lunch.  Now they still get paid for lunch and really only have to work an extra 15 minutes, but get credited for 30 and get the extra days off. 
"There are formulas for 10-hour shifts and 12-hour shifts for officers and 24-hour shifts for firemen that work in a similar fashion. My feeling was that if you have to be there for 8 hours, why not more; that way you get extra days off.  It is more advantageous for the officers, which is why they bargain for that in their contracts, they probably had to give up something else to get that. 
So they will work 7-3:30, 3-11:30 and 11-7:30 and get extra days off, rather than working 6:45-3, 2:45-11, 10:45-7 for 5 on, 2 off and being paid for a 40 hour work week.

Woodstock PD to Kelly shift schedule

This morning's Northwest Herald reports that the Woodstock Police officers have struck a deal with the City of Woodstock. I guess we citizens won't have to defend our town for the next three years.

The PD will go to the Kelly Shift Schedule (whatever that is).

According to the article, "Police Chief Robert Lowen – who was a part of the city’s negotiation team – said police staff had been looking for a change in schedule and are pleased with a move to a Kelly shift schedule, which extends the work day to 8.5 hours and allows for longer weekends by placing the schedule on a 9-day cycle."

What's the Kelly Shift Schedule?

According to Business Management Systems, "Very popular with fire departments and emergency services agencies, the Kelly shift schedule uses three teams (i.e. platoons) and three shifts to provide 24/7 coverage. It consists of a 9-day cycle where each team works one 24-hour shift, followed by 24 hours off duty, works another 24-hour shift, followed by 24 hours off duty, then works a final 24-hour shift, followed by 4 consecutive days off duty."

I don't know about you, but I'm confused. Will Woodstock officers work 8½-hour shifts or will they work 24-hour shifts?

Rotating shifts are energy-killers. Ask anybody who works one week of days, then one week of afternoon shifts, then a week of night shifts. The human body is not designed to function that way. Imagine working a 24-hour shift? Is there any way to be as effective, awake and alert - and safe! - during the last three hours of work as during the first three?

Just how will the Kelly Shift Schedule really work? And are the officers really pleased with this Schedule?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Call your PDs in the morning

Here's a request to McHenry County residents to call your police departments (non-emergency number, please) in the morning and ask the chief to be at, or have his department represented at, Thursday night's meeting of the McHenry County Right To Carry Association (MCR2CA).

This free meeting is open to the public and to MCR2CA members. Chiefs of McHenry County's police departments have been invited, as have the McHenry County State's Attorney and the McHenry County Undersheriff.

MCR2CA has planned this meeting to help inform persons who will begin legally carrying concealed firearms in 2014 about the new law and what to expect during a contact with a law-enforcement officer. For example, if you get stopped for a traffic violation and you are armed, must you inform the officer that you are armed? Or can you wait until he asks if you are armed?

What if you are in the Jewel-Osco or Walgreens or Walmart or (you name it), when a passerby informs an employee or manager that you are armed? What should you do? Stay calm. Listen. Understand.

If you have seen the video of a recent contact that Neenah (Wisc.) Police had with a man who was walking around their town with his shotgun, then you know how a police contact ought to go. In that case, the police handled the contact nearly perfectly.

The police respected the armed person's rights, and they protected themselves. Charles Branstrom believed he was making a statement. He was toting his shotgun because he had the "right" to. He wasn't carrying it for self-defense, as he told the cops. As one of the cops said, out of sight of the dashboard camera but not off-microphone, "There is no law against being stupid."

The cop even explained to Branstrom that he was exposing him to unnecessary risk. If he entered a convenience store with his shotgun, any customer might think he was there to rob the place.

We won't have that problem in Illinois, because we don't have "open" carry here. But someone might notice the "print" of your firearm through your jacket or shirt and sic the cops on you. Stay calm, and hope they stay calm, too.

Will there be some problems? You bet. Just be sure you are staying calm and that you are standing in front of the squad car that has its overhead, emergency lights on. The dashboard camera will be recording. Keep your brain in gear and your mouth shut.

Even if you think you haven't broken any law, remember that you probably don't know all the laws. Also, remember: "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

The Woodstock VFW is located at 240 N. Throop Street, and the meeting starts at 7:00PM.

Where's the national outrage?

Are Americans just a bunch of sheep, waiting to be slaughtered?

Why isn't there a louder outrage nationally about the failed Obamacare insurance scheme? Sure, it's in the news - sort of.

And then you can read this morning's Northwest Herald about McHenry residents Jim Cosgrove and his wife.

Before Obamacare:

$5,000 deductible
50/50 co-insurance on the next $10,000
Maximum out-of-pocket, $10,000
Annual premium: $4,351.56

Under Obamacare:

$6,350 deductible
100% coverage after the deductible
Annual premium: $15,858.96

And those subsidies that are supposed to make insurance affordable under the Affordable Care Act?

If the Cosgroves earn $62,000/year, they will qualify for a monthly subsidy of $1,030.83, or $12,369.96. That cuts their annual premium to $3,489.

But, if they earn $65,000, there is no subsidy. So, earning $3,000 more actually costs them $12,370.

How many pages were in the ACA? You know, that bill that Congress didn't have time to read and digest before they "had" to vote on it? Anybody else think all the bums should be thrown out?

It was obvious to me that you can't insure everybody for everything (kids to age 26 under parents' policies, get rid of pre-existing conditions, no caps on bills, cover mental illness like everything else, etc.) and think it will cost less.

I say, put Congress, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary, all the staffers and all the fat cats under Obamacare, right along with the rest of the herd. If it is going to be jammed down some throats, jam it down all the throats.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Feldkamp probates just keep rollin' along

Another court date in the estate probates of the late John Feldkamp and Audrey Feldkamp has come and gone. Actually, today's court was more than a little "interesting". Neither heir (Jackie Feldkamp or Scott Feldkamp) was present in court, but the Executor, Woodstock Attorney Carl Gilmore, was.

And Hampshire Attorney R. Duane Slayton was there, too, but it seemed unclear whether he was there to represent his client, Scott Feldkamp, or to represent himself - as Judge Chmiel expressed in his own words.

Judge Chmiel questioned Attorney Slayton closely on that point, because Slayton has lost contact, or so he said, with his client. At one point I thought I heard Slayton say that he didn't know where Scott Feldkamp was or how to reach him and that he hadn't been in contact with him for "over a year." Slayton said he had no phone number or address for Scott.

Attorney Slayton said that Scott Feldkamp is totally disabled and cannot respond to Discovery. Oh, really? When did that happen? Has Scott become disabled since June 7, 2011? So far as I know, any injuries that Scott claimed he suffered on June 7th would not have resulted in a total disability. Has something happened since? Like, maybe after he went to Florida in May 2012?

I thought I heard Slayton say in court that he had gotten responses (to Discovery) from Scott but had not given them to Attorney Gilmore. And that Scott knew he'd never get anything (i.e., money or other distribution) from the estates.

What Attorney Gilmore is attempting to learn through Discovery is what happened to all the assets that were in both estates during the time that Scott Feldkamp was the Executor. There were reportedly over $50,000 in cash assets, household furnishings, personal property, vehicles and investments.

Attorney Gilmore can't get answers out of Scott Feldkamp, who was the original Executor under both Wills, or from Jackie Feldkamp, who was the first Successor Executor. She only served a short time and, so far as I know, was not able to get any records from Scott, her brother. By that time Scott had left the State of Illinois and had taken the escrow books and checkbook from the real estate business, which were supposed to remain in Illinois and in the hands of the managing broker of Harmony Real Estate.

Early in these probates Judge Chmiel expressed "great concern" about Attorney Slayton's representing Scott in estate matters without having filed an Appearance. Today Judge Chmiel expressed concern that Slayton is representing Scott without direction from him. Judge Chmiel reminded Slayton of the statutory authority for an attorney to withdraw from representation, when he can no longer be of value to his client.

Slayton attempted to present to Judge Chmiel a sheet of "four concerns", and Judge Chmiel stopped him in his tracks, saying the only matter before the Court was Attorney Gilmore's Motion about Discovery.

Judge Chmiel told Slayton that he was concerned that Slayton was speaking for himself and not for his client. Judge Chmiel said Slayton is not a Party in the case. He is there only as Scott Feldkamp's attorney.

Judge Chmiel also told Slayton that he "just blew the attorney-client privilege."

Where is Scott Feldkamp? Slayton says he doesn't know. He told Judge Chmiel that he doesn't have an address or a phone number for Scott Feldkamp.

What if some assets of value to the Estates have been uncovered? Certain assets have been foreclosed on. But are there other assets still in the estates with potential value? Will Scott suddenly re-appear and provide his attorney with a means of contacting him? It would probably be a good idea for Scott to let the Probate Court know his whereabouts.

Judge Chmiel was ready to drop a $100/day fine on both Scott and Jackie, if they fail to respond to Discovery. Judge Chmiel praised Attorney Gilmore for diligently performing his duties, as they were imposed on his by the Court. He said that never once has Gilmore expressed concern about how, or whether, he is going to get paid for serving.

Does Slayton know how to reach Scott Feldkamp?
Is the squatter still in the residence on Somerset Drive? Does he know how to reach Scott?
Slayton said several times that Scott is disabled. Is he getting disability benefits? How and where is he receiving them? What's he living on, if he is totally disabled?
Doesn't Scott have relatives in the Chicago area? Don't they know how to reach him? Of course, they do.

Scott Feldkamp and Jackie Feldkamp are to respond to all outstanding Discovery questions by December 31. The next court date is January 7, 2014, at 9:30AM. Courtroom 202.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stupidity in the Ill. General Assembly

The General Assembly. You know what that is; right? That's Illinois State Government - the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate.

Take a look at this stupid legislation. How does something like this go through? Oh, I know. This is Illinois...

Senate Bill 1787 (SB 1787, if you visit was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Antonio Muñoz (D-1) (you'll remember him from the gunfight in the G.A.) and in the House by Reps. Frank Mautino, Dan Brady and Tom Cross. How was SB1787 introduced?

"Creates the Illinois Titanium Powdered Metals Development Act" What's that?

Well, it didn't matter what "that" was, because the shell was cleaned out by House Committee Amendment No. 1 and refilled with garbage for the funeral workers' union.

How have the Teamsters been trying to make their bargaining voices heard? Read this and see if it boils your oil.

"Among other things, strikers at Illinois funeral homes reportedly blocked mourners from leaving a funeral home parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at mourners and workers, and disrupted a child's funeral with laughter." Source: Illinois Policy Institute

On November 7 both Houses passed SB1787 and sent it to Gov. Quinn.

Our legislators can't solve the pension crisis or take action to protect the residents of Chicago from shootings, but they've got time to take care of the Teamsters.

How did our Representatives vote?
Franks - Yes
McSweeney - No
Tryon - No
Wheeler - No

And our Senators?
Althoff - No
Duffy - No
Among other things, strikers at Illinois funeral homes reportedly blocked mourners from leaving a funeral home parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at mourners and workers, and disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. - See more at:
Among other things, strikers at Illinois funeral homes reportedly blocked mourners from leaving a funeral home parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at mourners and workers, and disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. - See more at:
Among other things, strikers at Illinois funeral homes reportedly blocked mourners from leaving a funeral home parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at mourners and workers, and disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. - See more at:
Among other things, strikers at Illinois funeral homes reportedly blocked mourners from leaving a funeral home parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at mourners and workers, and disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. - See more at:
Among other things, strikers at Illinois funeral homes reportedly blocked mourners from leaving a funeral home parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at mourners and workers, and disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. - See more at:
Among other things, strikers at Illinois funeral homes reportedly blocked mourners from leaving a funeral home parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at mourners and workers, and disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. - See more at:

No parking - where?

When you see a no-parking sign that reads, "No Parking This Side of Street", how do you know where the parking restriction begins?

Recently, my attention was drawn to this sign at the corner of Julie Street and Russel Court, just east of the McHenry County Government Center. The sign is located right at the corner, at the beginning on the turn from one street to the other. It faces drivers northbound on Julie Street.

My first thought was that it meant that parking was prohibited at the curve, which would make sense, although most drivers ought to know to avoid parking in the curve of a street or at an intersection. But then I got to wondering. Could it mean no parking farther back?
An inspection of the City Code (Section 5.3.7) for Woodstock reveals that the no-parking zone actually begins 30 feet south of the centerline of Russel Court and runs to a point that is 170 feet south of the beginning point, or 200 feet south of the centerline of Russel Court.

And, if you think this sign is hard to read, that's because, when it's wet, it's nearly impossible to read, even standing right in front of it. Imagine parking 150 feet south of it, in what you believe is a legal parking area at the curb!

The City Code contains this direction at Section 5.3.18: "SIGNS POSTED Appropriate signs shall be posted in all aeas where parking is limited or prohibited, indicating such limitations or prohibitions."

Wouldn't it make more sense to place a sign at the beginning of a no-parking zone that read "No Parking Here to Corner"?

Beth Bentley - week 182

How quickly, for some, the weeks pass. One more week has rolled past in the missing person case of Beth Bentley, from Woodstock, Ill.

Calls and emails to me last week expressed wonder and outrage at the silence surrounding this case.

There was curiosity around the female body found on November 6 at 518 N. Country Club Drive, near McHenry. The identity has not yet been released by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department or the McHenry County Coroner's Office. Information varies as to whether the body hasn't yet been identified or if it has been identified, but next-of-kin hasn't been notified yet.

Tuesday's Northwest Herald reported that "Authorities could not verify her identity." Is it that, or is it the case that they "would" not verify it.

The owner of the vacant home is reported to be William J. Ross, 62, now residing in the Clark County (Nevada) Correctional Facility, in Las Vegas. A caretaker of the outside of the property apparently found reason to enter the structure and found the body. Supposedly, the house hasn't been lived in for more than 18 months.

Was there a relationship between the woman and Ross? Was the woman seen by anyone in the neighborhood before the house was closed down? Did she live there or visit? When was she last seen?

How difficult is extradition?

At this time, there is nothing to link that body to the Bentley missing person case.

So, what's the interest? Beth Bentley was reported missing on May 24, 2010. Woodstock Police took the report. Bentley's friend, Jenn Wyatt, said she dropped Beth off near the Amtrak Station in Centralia, Ill. about 6:00PM on May 23.

There is, however, a strong belief among some that Beth's cell phone "pinged" in McHenry County late on Sunday, May 23. And there was a rumor that the law office in which Beth had worked with and for her husband, Scott Bentley, was broken into on that same Sunday night and that computers or computer files were taken. McHenry Police have no report on file of any such break-in.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Looking for free college courses

How would you like to take college courses for free?

Not credit classes at NIU. Not tuition classes at MCC. No driving. No transportation. No parking fees.

You may have seen something in the Northwest Herald about online courses at MCC. One or twice; then gone... Have you tried to find them on the MCC website? It's like trying to find anything else on MCC's website. Next to impossible. Maybe MCC has a course (tuition?) on how to use its website...

So, check out this article and then inspect some Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Are your tax dollars, paid to MCC in your property taxes, supporting MCC teachers involved with MOOCs? If you are paying for them, why not take them?

Think, then act

A reader offered a excellent suggestion for avoiding the exorbitant court costs that are levied by the McHenry County Circuit Court. He wrote, "I've found a way to avoid the high court costs...don't violate the law. Just a suggestion"

He is, of course, right.

Each one of us can avoid those costs by obeying the laws, whether the traffic laws, civil laws or criminal laws. If we drivers re-read the Illinois Rules of the Road and pay attention to our driving, we are quite likely never to get stopped or ticketed. Watch the traffic signs. Don't speed. Stop (fully) at stop signs. Don't run red lights. Driving a car is not rocket science.

Keep your checkbook balanced. Look at the balance, before you write a check or use your debit card. Stay away from negative balances.

Don't steal or damage another's property and harm another person or animal.

Life really is pretty simple, isn't it?

The big problem is when we act without thinking. Try thinking, then acting. Think of the consequences. Is it worth $180 to violate a curfew? Is it worth $280 to blow that stop sign or drive "10 over". Remember that there is no "the cops give you 10 over". They don't. They shouldn't.

But they do; for example, on the Illinois Tollway. Thus they condone speeding. If you are just "going with the pack" and not lane-jumping or tail-gating, you'll probably get away with 10-15MPH (or even 20MPH) over the posted speed limit.

Years ago I went on a ride-along with the "Wolf Pack" on I-90. Five troopers worked speed-limit enforcement near Route 59 and ticketed many drivers for 88MPH and higher in the 55 zone. Then, when we went to lunch, the trooper with whom I was riding drove 70MPH (in the 55 zone) to the restaurant. I wondered, "What's wrong with this picture?"

I also know a trooper who was chastised by a supervisor for driving 55MPH in the right lane on the Edens. It seems that trooper was holding up traffic, and a number of motorists (or one bigwig) called to complain. And the supervisor didn't have the guts to stand up for the trooper.

So, think, then act. Consider the consequences of your actions. Are you willing to pay the price? Then, if you get a ticket, pay it and don't gripe about it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Party at the Moose on Sunday

This Sunday come and join the fun at the Woodstock Moose Lodge, when Jail Brakers will hold its annual Thanksgiving Dinner celebration and fundraiser.

Sunday, Nov. 17, 4:00-7:00PM
Moose Lodge
406 Clay Street

This, from their Facebook page (go to "Jail Brakers Annual Dinner"), where you can indicate that you'll be there: "Please join us for our annual dinner and fundraiser. A donation of $20.00 will enable us to continue our mission of helping families cope with the stigma associated with incarceration. Don't miss out on our famous Turkey Bingo, Silent Auction and music by the Beaumonts."

This year, I'll be doing some early Christmas shopping at the silent auction. There will many homemade crafts that you simply cannot find in stores. In other words, they are unique. And you won't end up parting with an arm or a leg for them (unless you want to).

Visit for more information and contact information.

Woodstock's baseball stadium - where are the stands?

Remember the rush, rush, rush to approve the gravel pit along U.S. 14 across from the hospital? Gotta do it now! We must act now! Can't afford to wait! Oh, the sense of urgency...

And remember all the other goodies that were to follow? A baseball stadium and a local baseball team. Play ball! A new home for the McHenry County Fairgrounds? A Metra station there, to serve all the spectators for the ballfield and students at MCC (even though there is a goodly distance between Lily Pond Road and the MCC campus.

Okay, so the economy dumped (and still is dumping) and the mining business didn't turn out (yet).

Is the baseball dream a burned-out bulb in someone's garage? Probably. But a lot of us thought that, when the City of Woodstock was being pitched a fast ball in the night game back then at 121 West Calhoun Street.

What's the deal on the ground where the baseball stadium was to go? Isn't that ground supposed to transfer to City ownership sometime soon?

Will it transfer with simple signatures on some deed(s) and minor legal expense? Or is the cash cow going to get another milking in the springtime?

Traffic & Misdemeanor Court today

This morning I accompanied a mother and her high school daughter to court for a date with the judge about a curfew ticket.

Although they were there a couple of years ago on the daughter's first curfew ticket, they seemed pretty much at a loss about how the court system really worked.

The citation had been issued by a Woodstock officer, and the girl had been cited into the McHenry County Circuit Court. I was curious about that, because I believe officers have discretion on ordinance (petty) violations to cite the offender into either the Circuit Court or into the Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court.

I explained to them in a general way what to expect in the court room, including that the prosecuting attorney represented the City and would probably talk with them before court to offer a deal. Because funds are not available for payment of fines, I suggested they inquire about a low fine and community service.

Although they arrived early and there was time for such a conference, the prosecutor from the office of the City Attorney for Woodstock (ZRFM) did not seek them out. They were second up when the general court session started, after the lawyers were dealt with.

Judge Robert A. Wilbrandt, Jr. was the presiding judge in Courtroom 102 today, which is normally Judge Mary Nader's domain.

The girl pled Guilty, and the prosecutor recommended a $100 fine. The judge stopped him in his tracks. Judge Wilbrandt asked the girl if she could pay a fine, and she said she couldn't. He said it was unfair to expect the mother to pay. You could have knocked me over with a feather!

He set the fine at $10.00 but warned them that the court costs would be high and that they were set by local and state bodies, meaning the McHenry County Board and the Illinois General Assembly. I had already warned the mother about the exorbitant level of court costs.

Then he imposed 50 hours of home community service and told the girl to expect to clean up after her dog outside and to keep the cat's litter box clean. He added four months of court supervision. He also told the girl that her driving privileges would be at risk, if her behavior didn't improve. The mother almost had a heart attack at the payment window when the clerk "pleasantly" informed her that the court courts would be $170.00.

A $10.00 Fine and $170.00 in court costs. Why isn't there a revolution at the courthouse?

Judge Wilbrandt is to be complimented for the compassionate way that he dealt with this case. He recognized the financial strain that a high fine would place on the family, and he gave them all the break that he could.

Unfortunately, the judges can do nothing about the shellacking that the public takes at the Payment Window.

What might have been the outcome in the Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court? Judge Eterno might have set the fine at $25-50, plus $50 court costs, plus home community service. $50 in court costs in Woodstock is a far cry from $170 at 2200 N. Seminary Ave.

Why wasn't the ticket written for the local court? Maybe this would be a good question from a reporter or posed to Chief Robert Lowen at the next Coffee with the Chief.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dealing with dealers...

When I lived in Denver nearly 30 years ago, one of the many jobs I had was selling new cars. It was the worst two months of my life. As soon as I escaped, I wrote a seminar and titled it "How to Deal with Car Dealers."

I was just about to present it for the first time, when I was offered, and accepted, a management position with a Chamber of Commerce in the Kansas City area. Within a week I moved.

Had I headed down the seminar trail, I probably would have created additional "How to Deal with ..." seminars. I was already thinking about topics like:

... Insurance Agents
... Real Estate Agents
... Lawyers
... Doctors
... Bankers
... Accountants

Recently, I learned that a Denver friend wrote How to Make Your Realtor Get You the Best Deal. The author, Ken Deshaies, was on the leading edge in Colorado of the movement for real estate agents to represent buyers. I think they were called Buyer's Brokers.

Prior to that, in Colorado, all real estate agents legally represented the seller. If you had an agent and were being shown a house that was for sale and was listed by a different agent, 'your" agent still represented the seller (not you, the buyer).

If you are going to be buying or selling a house, I recommend you purchase and read Ken's book. If you pick up just one idea and it saves you $1,-2,-3,000, it was worth it; right?

Roll-over crash

(Click to enlarge image)
It was Unit 586 of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department that rolled last Friday night near Route 31 and Pioneer Rd.

From the street the damage doesn't look at all that bad, but still the car was totaled. I couldn't tell from my point well off the turf of the sheriff's department whether the airbags deployed. Maybe there is more damage visible to the left front, left side and left rear.

The right rear tire is bent under the car. The roof, where the light bar is mounted, appears to be smashed down below the tops of the front door frames on both sides, so the car must have been on its roof. The hood is dented.

I thought about walking up to the garage office to ask permission to take pictures, but that would have put me on the property beyond the "Gus, keep out" sign at the driveway entrance. Would they have had me arrested for walking into the office?

You may have seen the picture in the Northwest Herald of the squad car that was rear-ended (and also totaled) in Crystal Lake on November 6. That picture and short article apparently got in the paper because the crash wasn't that deputy's fault.

The crash that claimed Unit 586 wasn't the other driver's fault (or, if it was, the driver didn't get a ticket). Is that why the Sheriff's Department did not promptly release any news?

I wonder when they will realize over at 2200 N. Seminary Ave. that, if they would just put out the news (good or bad), in a day or two it would be "old news".

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CALEA and crash reporting

What does CALEA have to say about transparency when a law-enforcement agency should be addressing the release of information to the public through media?

What's CALEA? It's the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department spent thousands of dollars (tens of thousands?) getting "accredited". And for what? So they could stone-wall the public, when it comes to reporting of crashes involving deputies?

Deputy-involved crashes may be considered of "great media interest", according to CALEA standards. Especially those crashes in which a deputy is at-fault.

Last week the squad car of a deputy in Crystal Lake was rear-ended. If the deputy was stopped in traffic at the time of the crash, that incident would be of "some" media interest. The public cares whether a deputy is injured in the line of duty, even if just sitting stopped in traffic. Not "great" media interest, but "some".

But the other crash last week? When a deputy is running "hot" to an alarm and rolls the squad car, that is an incident of "great media interest". It's unknown what effort the "media" made to obtain details. The crash occurred on Friday at 10:45PM. The Northwest Herald didn't report it until mid-day on Tuesday. Either MCSD withheld the information from the media, or the media had the crash information and withheld it from the public. Which way was it? Will the public ever know?

A squad-car rollover crash took deputies off the road, so that they weren't available for calls (or other calls). Often, deputies will want to just "ride by" to see what happened, even if they aren't involved in the crash handling or investigation. How far out of their assigned districts did some go, if at all?

Are there clearly-defined guidelines in the CALEA manuals and General Orders at the Sheriff's Department for handling vehicle crashes involving squad cars? Do these guidelines direct staff about media releases? How is adequate "Road Patrol Coverage" handled, so that the service to the public is not interrupted. Back-up squads have to be re-assigned.

Obviously, a deputy who crashes enroute to a call never arrives. Other deputies have to cover that call, often from farther distances. Do off-duty deputies have to be brought in? At over-time rates?

General Orders in place at MCSD probably dictate when lights and sirens can be used when responding to calls. When I lived in Lakewood, Colo., Police Chief Pierce Brooks allowed lights and sirens only under extreme circumstances. That was in 1971, and he knew that running "hot" greatly increased risks. It certainly does no good for an officer to hurry and never arrive.

What good did it do for MCSD to spend those thousands of dollars for the CALEA certification? It made for an expensive plaque to put on the wall. Once the Standards are adopted, they should be met.

In this crash, were they?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NWH finally reports on Friday's crash

Finally, the Northwest Herald has reported on last Friday night's crash that totaled a McHenry County Sheriff's Department squad car.

At 12:34PM the first article appeared, and then it was updated at 12:39PM. I'll give the Northwest Herald a break and assume that they didn't get the information from MCSD until today.

In another crash two days earlier, a squad car was rear-ended and totaled in Crystal Lake. MCSD reports that squad car was rear-ended by a van traveling 40MPH. From the picture that appeared in the paper last week, I seriously doubt that. There wasn't enough damage to the rear of the squad car for a 40MPH impact. To total the squad car, all that has to happen is that the repair cost exceeds the value of the vehicle.The van driver was cited, but he wasn't identified.

In Friday night's crash, no mention is made of any citations. Why did the deputy swerve to avoid another car? Was the other car in its lane or out of its lane? Obviously, if the other driver was at any fault, he or she would have been cited.

How fast was the female deputy traveling when she attempted to turn onto Pioneer Road? Too fast for a safe turn? Maybe? You think?

And isn't it amazing that the Northwest Herald is not providing a reader comment box? Why not?

No driver's are identified. Not even the deputies are identified. Why shouldn't they be? And why wasn't the 71-year-old van driver identified in the first crash?

When MCSD withholds information and identities, it just fuels suspicion that something is fishy. A dead fish smells after four days; so does this.

Chicago man shot 4 times

What do you have to do to someone, or to some gang, to get shot on four different days in the past year?

In an article in the Chicago Tribune about a different shooting, also there was reported this shooting.

Yesterday a 25-year-old man was shot, He had also been shot on October 10, June 4 and November 29, 2012.

Chicago Police, who haven't released the identity of the man yet, said he was shot in the stomach in the 4700 block of North Beacon Street (Uptown neighborhood) at about 3:45 p.m.

He is obviously on someone's hit list. If the police were following the procedures in suggested in Prof. David M. Kennedy's 2011 book, Don't Shoot - One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America, they would know who is after that victim. They'd pull in the gang leader and tell him, "Any more shooting that comes back on your gang, you're going down."

Kennedy gives an example in his book. After a shooting that followed a warning, a gang leader and a juvenile were walking down a street. The juvenile had a gun in his pocket. The gang leader had one bullet in his pocket - one; one bullet. And the gang leader went to a Federal prison for 19 years.

Why does Chicago lack the "intestinal fortitude" to use Kennedy's plan? Chicago PD Supt. Garry McCarthy endorsed Kennedy's book. Did he even read it?

Monday, November 11, 2013

When a deputy crashes ...

When a deputy is involved in a traffic crash, just how newsworthy is it? Let's say a deputy rolls a squad car, like maybe at high speed? Is that news?

On Friday evening, November 8, at about 10:45PM McHenry County Sheriff's Department (MCSD) Deputy Rachwalski crashed her squad car near Route 31 and Pioneer Road, which would be north of Johnsburg Road and north of the McHenry Township offices.

As of now, the Northwest Herald still has not published any news of that crash, but they know about it. You can totally believe that they know about it.

Word is that she was running "hot"; i.e, with lights and siren. In most, if not all, of the squad cars, when the lights and siren are activated, then the dashboard video recorder is running. In fact, it is always running. When the driver lights up, the recorder captures the previous 60 seconds and continues to record. This is important to save the evidence to be used against a reckless driver, speeder or DUI, so that the deputy will have proof of his reason to stop a traffic violator.

In this case, the dashcam ought to show her driving to the point of the crash and what, if anything, contributed to the crash. Dep. Rachwalski was responding to a call. Lights and siren were on. Thus, the in-car video should have been recording. What does it show?

Dep. Rachwalski is a fairly new deputy with MCSD. Sometimes, deputies like to "go fast". Is that true of her? Does she think that supervisors aren't watching? Are they? Were they?

MCSD has a valuable tool buried in the squad car. The "black box" enables MCSD to know exactly what was going on before the crash. For example, how fast was Dep. Kachwalski traveling at the time she crashed, and what were her speeds before then?

But the black box has to be pulled from the wrecked car and read. When might somebody in charge at MCSD not want that information available? Maybe, like, if it put the Department in a bad light? They could just stick their heads in the sand and say, "We didn't pull the box" (and we don't have to tell you why we didn't).

How badly was the car wrecked? If it was totaled, as it seems to have been, that'll cost, what, $25,-30,000 to replace. Is this her first wreck?

The data from the black box should be pulled right now. Today. MCSD can either be transparent and accountable, or it can continue to withhold information from the public. The longer they attempt to hide it, the worse it looks for them.

Why isn't the Northwest Herald reporting on this? Editors and reporters know about this crash. It happened Friday night. News should have been published on Saturday. This is Monday.

Will Dep. Rachwalski be cited for this crash? Driving too fast for conditions? Failure to maintain control? Just because you are a deputy, you cannot operate a squad car in a reckless or dangerous manner and get away with it. Or can you?

Which prompts me to wonder, who investigated this crash? Illinois State Police? Johnsburg Police or McHenry Police? Or MCSD itself?

Armed and stopped... what next?

Soon Illinois residents will begin applying for concealed carry licenses and, once the license is issued, many of them will start carrying.

If you aren't worried now about the criminals who are already "packing", there is little reason to worry about licensed, armed civilians who are carrying loaded, concealed firearms. I can't imagine that very many will want to play the Illinois version of the George Zimmerman Game.

Those who will be "carrying" will want to know what to expect during a "friendly" encounter with a law-enforcement officer. Let's say that you are the legally-armed driver and get stopped for a traffic violation. Or you are buying your burger at a local fast food joint, and somebody in line notices your firearm. And calls the cops.

You've already thought it through, right? No "furtive" moves. Keep your hands in sight. Don't reach for anything without the okay from the cop in charge for the response team, which might be 4-5-6 officers and squad cars. If your concealed carry license is in your wallet in your back pocket or in your purse on the floor, be sure the officer and you are in full agreement before you reach for it.

The McHenry County Right To Carry Association will hold an open meeting about law enforcement contact with armed civilians. Concealed carry licenses can be applied for in January, and the Illinois State Police will begin issuing licenses. Scheduled speakers will be from the State's Attorney office, the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and area police departments. Members and the general public are invited to this free meeting. Thursday, November 21, 7:00PM. Woodstock VFW, 240 N. Throop St., Woodstock. Visit for information.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Beth Bentley - gone 181 weeks

Beth Bentley, 41 in 2010 when she went missing, vanished on the next-to-last week-end in May, 2010.

Speculation continues to center on the location from which she disappeared and on the circumstances. Supposedly, she went to Mount Vernon, Ill. for the week-end. How carefully were her travels investigated?

The Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department (WPD) claimed the lead investigatory responsibility, because her disappearance was reported to WPD late on Monday, May 24, 2010. The case is classified as a Missing Person case. Beth is listed as Endangered Missing, although WPD has never explained what "Endangered" meant, specifically, in this case.

Had she been threatened?
Was she worried about disappearing?
Was she under any suspicion?
Was anything missing?
Was she in need of any medication?
Did she have a health condition that required attention or treatment?

WPD was working with police departments in Mount Vernon and Centralia, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois State Police.

For many months WPD reported the case status to the Woodstock City Manager and, through that office, to the Woodstock City Council. That stopped quite a while back, even though the monthly "report" was boiler-plate that seldom changed from one month to the next.

Basically, it feels to a lot of people that nobody is doing anything at this time to find Beth.

Beth's name popped up on McHenry County Blog recently, when a local attorney mentioned her in his comment posted to the article about him. That article and comment have since been removed.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Will Woodstock Chamber take position on concealed carry?

A Facebook article from a statewide concealed carry organization made a reference to a Chicago Tribune article about Richard Block, the president of the Morton Grove Chamber of Commerce and a businessman in that community with a promotional products company.

He is apparently a rabid anti-gunner, and his company mailed two No-Guns stickers to 500 businesses on the company's mailing list. While the article should have been about Block and his company, it was written to reference Block's position as the Chamber's president. Hence, it looks like this is the Chamber's position on guns (which it probably is, being that it's Morton Grove).

The problem? Any business putting up a sign that prohibits concealed carry might as well put up a "Robbers Invited" sign.

I tried to find Block's company name on the "new and improved Morton Grove Chamber of Commerce website". The site is worthless. But I did finally find it. Block's company is Creative Promotional Products, 7300 N. Monticello, Skokie, IL 60076. Phone: (847) 410-3815. Richard Block's email is and his direct phone is (847) 226-5179.

What will the position of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce be? Will they take a position? Will they even be able to legally take a position?

I was a member of the Woodstock Chamber - twice. I quit the first time and got kicked out the second time. Why did I get kicked out? I complained too much about the things that were broken. I could list them, but you'd get tired of reading them about midnight. Just one of my complaints was that the Chamber ignored a complaint from a Woodstock senior citizen who had attended the first Picklepalooza. They just totally ignored her by choosing not to even reply to her letter.

Why might it be that the Woodstock Chamber may not be able to take a position on concealed carry (or on anything else)? When you visit the Chamber's website, you'll find names two officers listed - a President and a Treasurer. There should be four officers. There is apparently no Secretary and no Vice-President.

These offices are important. Every business person understands the legal importance of those two offices. But there may be no legally-qualified Treasurer, either. Several years ago the By-Laws required that an officer must be a full business member; i.e., not an ex officio member. That's why the former Woodstock City Manager had to vacate the Chamber Treasurer's chair.

It's hard to understand why the Chamber can't follow its own rules, but therein lies one of the major problems.

New shooting gear store - Woodstock

Thanks to great weather today, I walked to the Woodstock Square. You certainly see a lot, when you walk, that you don't see when you drive.

As I walked down Calhoun Street from the area of City Hall, I spotted a store that I hadn't seen previously. I went in and learned that it had open six months ago!

When you are in the mood for new shooting gear, be sure to drop in at NiCA Shooting, located at 114 East Calhoun Street (between Dean Street and Jefferson Street). The store is the retail outlet for a 20-year-old business with a presence now at

NiCA Shooting offer a large assortment of reflectorized clothing to keep you safe in the fields during hunting season and a variety of cases for shotguns and rifles, as well as holsters and other accessories.

Want to let your fingers do the walking? Call 888.333.6422

County squad car wrecks - news?

Is it news when a squad car of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department (or of any police department or State Police) is heavily damaged in a crash?

Last week there was a picture in the news of a MCSD squad car that was rear-ended in Crystal Lake. Supposedly the deputy was transported to a hospital. And further news? Non-existent.

Early this morning a reader sent me a message that a MCSD squad car was involved in a rollover wreck near Highway 31. Was one? Where are the details?

There is nothing on the Northwest Herald website about it.

It is news, because the public has no idea how many police vehicles are involved in wrecks in McHenry County in a month or in a year. More than you'd think.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Training for concealed-carry license

Starting to think about getting trained for your concealed carry license?

The Illinois State Police will begin accepting applications for concealed carry licenses (as they will be called in Illinois; not "permits") in January. In order to apply, besides having a check for $150, you'll have to have a certificate that you have been trained.

For many applicants this will mean a 16-hour class and a range qualification with 30 rounds of your favorite ammunition. Many firearms instructors have already been approved by the Illinois State Police.

Among them is Mickey Schuch, who has established Illinois Carry Mickey has extensive firearms knowledge and training and is an NRA Certified Instructor for several courses. For more information about Mickey qualifications, visit and click on "About Our Trainer".

So far, one course has been posted, and it's the 16-hour course that most applicants will have to complete. Some applicants will be able to apply for their concealed carry licenses with fewer hours than 16. If the applicant has other training and/or a DD-214 for an honorable discharge from military service, fewer hours of training will meet the requirement.

Mickey has served as the president of the McHenry County Right To Carry Association (MCR2CA) since February. He has devoted many hours to this not-for-profit association as its volunteer president, steering the creation of its website and writing copy for the periodic e-newsletters. He has also organized many of the meetings this year, some of which have been training events for members.

Come to the November 21st meeting of MC42CA and hear from McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi and area law-enforcement officials about the privilege of carrying a concealed weapon and what to expect during a peaceful contact with a police officer or deputy; for example, if you are armed, when you get stopped for a traffic violation. The meeting will start at 7:00PM at the Woodstock VFW, 240 N. Throop St. There is no charge, and the meeting is open to members and any interested person.

What is a "hero"?

A reader has suggested that I ask readers of this blog what they think a "hero" is.

At first, I hesitated. It's too easy to get on the backside of a discussion and watch it convert into an argument and personal attacks. But let's give it a shot.

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines "hero" as
- a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability;
- an illustrious warrior
- a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
- one who shows great courage

- the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work

- the central figure in an event, period, or movement
- an object of extreme admiration and devotion; idol

OK, so what is a hero to you?

4:27PM What a coincidence that I'd write this article this morning and then receive an email from the Northwest Herald about its "Everyday Hero" contest. They think a hero is a softball coach or a Brownie leader or a volunteer or a helper.

No, a "hero" is a special person as defined above. A hero is the cop who dashes up to a burning car and extricates the driver before he burns to death. Don't allow "hero" to be trivialized.

How important is cursive writing?

Just how important, really, is cursive writing? Should young students be taught to write in the cursive style?

Are parents aware that this style of writing may not be taught in their childrens' elementary schools? Or may not be emphasized? And what about block printing? Can you even read your child's handwriting (or printing)?

Several years ago I had a huge argument with Woodstock District 200 school, after I was told in a meeting that 

1. students don't need to know how to write (cursive); they can use computers;
2. students don't need to know how to add or subtract; they can use calculators;
3. students don't need to know how to spell; they can use spellcheck.

I disagree. I strongly disagree!

And, if you disagree, where you need to be is at the school board meetings for your districts. Speak up. Tell your school boards that you want your children to know how to write, how to add and subtract, and how to spell.

SMACK! Take that...

Be sure to read Pete Gonigam's article on (FEN) about yesterday's round in the on-going slugfest in Judge Meyer's courtroom over the 100-page "investigatory" report into Undersheriff Zinke's leak of confidential DEA information to political friend Brian Goode. Goode is president of RITA Corporation in Crystal Lake.

According to FEN, Judge Meyer has told Sheriff's Department employee Don Leist to stop butting in. The article says that Judge Meyer told Assistant State's Attorney Brandy Quance that she is the sheriff's attorney, and she is in charge. Leist, an attorney by trade, will be allowed to stand at the bench, but he is to keep his mouth shut. He also is not to file any more motions, which have caused considerable delay in this case. I wonder if that extends to grimaces and gestures; only time will tell.

FEN filed its case in court on June 18, after his FOIA request to the Sheriff's Department was denied and the Sheriff's Department thumbed its nose at the order of the Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor to provide the report to FEN.

Some wonder whether the report in question has been leaked to the Northwest Herald. Such a leak at the Sheriff's Department would not be unknown. What Judge Meyer should do, if I may be so bold as to suggest to the good judge, is summon persons in charge at the Northwest Herald and top administrators at the sheriff's department before him and order them to disclose whether, who and when such report was provided to the paper.

The reporters and editors will claim journalistic privilege, but Judge Meyer could lock up the others until he gets the answer. Let's see, where do you lock up a sheriff and an undersheriff? Please; not Boone County Jail. Maybe Cook County Jail? In the general population? That would get them talking.

Come on, let's get serious and put a stop to the fooling around here. Gonigam has been trying to get the report for months!

The sheriff's department is making a political football out of denying the report to  I'm sure they'd like to bury it until after the General Election in November 2014.

Attorney Quance could be back in court as soon as November 14, if she feels she should not provide even the report Index to FEN attorney, Mary Gardner. Otherwise, Gardner is to have the Index by November 19.

The battle royale continues in Judge Meyer's courtroom on November 19. Go get 'em, Pete. If you set up a legal fund online, I'll be sure to promote it for you.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Neenah Police - courteous to shotgun-toting man

Last Sunday Charles A. Branstrom, of Appleton, Wisc., thought he'd exercise his Second Amendment rights and hoof around Neenah, Wisc. with a Mossberg 500 shotgun slung on his back and 20 shotgun shells.

He bragged later on the Facebook page of "Wisconsin Carry" that a Neenah Police officer had threatened to shoot him in the head.

When you watch this dashcam video from the officer's squad car, you'll see that it didn't happen quite that way. The primary officer had directed Branstrom to keep his hands in sight and not make any furtive moods. He told Branstrom that, if he did (make such furtive moves), his partner, who was covering Branstrom with her pistol drawn but held in a lowered position, would shoot him in the head. That's not how Branstrom wrote it on Facebook.

Throughout the 17-minute contact the officer was courteous and polite to Branstrom.

You can read the story in the Neenah Post-Crescent and watch the video here.

I loved the officer's comment to a fellow officer that Branstrom was "free to be stupid." While he would, in retrospect, probably wish he hadn't said that aloud, I do not fault him for it. He's right.

On Monday I followed a thread of comments on the Facebook page of Wisconsin Carry and added mine - that I believed Branstrom was wrong to walk around Neenah with his shotgun. Nik Clark, founder of Wisconsin Carry and Facebook page moderator, took exception to my comments, criticized me and then blocked me from the group. I've thought about throwing my First Amendment rights at him, and I certainly will not renew my membership in Wisconsin Carry.

The First and Second Amendment Rights, of course, don't have anything to do with expressions on Facebook. They are rights to protect the People from the Government. The only thing that protects me from Wisconsin Carry is my checkbook, and it is well guarded.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reserve officer killed in Oregon

Ofc. Robert Libke
Robert Libke, 41, a reserve police officer in Oregon City, Oregon, was killed on Sunday, November 3, when another (but full-time) officer and he rolled up to a house-fire call. It looks to me like it was probably an ambush.

Should you feel so inclined, donations can be made. A memorial fund for Libke has been set up, and donations may be made to the Officer Robert Libke Fund through

Clackamas Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 2020
Oregon City, OR 97045


Clackamas County Peace Officers' Benevolent Foundation
P.O. Box 426
Oregon City, OR 97045

Reserve officers face the same risks that full-time officers do, whether police officers or deputy sheriffs. I know. I was one. From about 1973 until 1981 I was a reserve deputy sheriff in the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department, then in Littleton, Colo. As Ofc. Libke did, we bought our own uniforms and weapons, paid our own dry-cleaning bills, spent our own money to go to meetings.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mental Health Board website? Terrible!!!

As I finished the article about the Mental Health Board and its "process" of hiring its next executive director, I looked for a picture of the MHB building at 620 Dakota Street, Crystal Lake. What better place to look than the MHB website; right? Wrong.

Go to, which is (was?) the URL for the MHB.

It used to be possible to find the services and information about the MHB. Stop, and go there now.

I'm unsure how good your eyes are. I can't even read most of the text buried against the blue-shaded background. Who in the world dreamed that up? And who approved it?

The MHB website content was migrated to the website of McHenry County Government. Oh, that explains it.

Anyone care to comment on the new website?

Grab your wallets - now...

Is anyone else sick about what has been happening at, and to, the McHenry County Mental Health Board (Board)?

Well, grab your wallets, folks, and lock up those checkbooks. (If only that would work...)

The Board can't even hire its new Executive Director by itself. According to the Northwest Herald this morning, the Board has passed the ball to The Meyers Group to negotiate a deal with its finalist for the top dog's (employee) position.

Whatever happened to the day when an employer said "This is the deal. These are the terms. Here's what we are paying. Want the job?"

Instead, this Board passes the buck (and the bucks) to a hired gun. Any smart candidate knows that's exactly what he's dealing with - a hired gun. He'll get the best offer out of them that he can, and then he (or she) will raise the ante while holding the pen, (almost) ready to sign.

If taxpayers are having apoplexy over the pay package of the McHenry County College president, wait until they get a dose of what's ahead at the Mental Health Board.

That's the organization that has been bashed to the ground time after time by the County Board, the Mental Health Board itself, and the daily newspaper in our county.

The paper continues to slam the former attorney for the Board, rather than directing its vengeance at the Board itself. I seriously doubt that Frank Gosser overbilled the Board. The Board had to know that their directions in legal matters were going to cost money. Did they think he would work for free? Did the Board just turn him loose on legal problems, such as defending itself against the lawsuit by The Advantage Group (TAG), and think he'd just give them his legal time? Then some got their panties in a wad, when Gosser recommended against paying the last $49,000 to TAG.

I hope Attorney Gosser gets every dollar owed to him.

We can only hope that the Board has learned its lesson and places strict limits on work and billing by its new legal representative.

But what's left at the Mental Health Board that they need to pay a consulting firm to negotiate the hiring of a new Executive Director. The Board had 40-50-60 employees, who did a great job organizing and providing mental health services to clients in McHenry County. The Board is down to about 17 employees now and heading lower, as several employees are being shown the door and are to be gone by November 30. The building at 620 Dakota Street in Crystal Lake will be a ghost town.