Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beth Bentley gone 205 weeks - goodbye, Beth

Beth Bentley has been missing for 205 weeks, ever since the week-end trip with Jenn Wyatt to Mt. Vernon, Ill. on May 20-23, 2010 (assuming there ever was such a trip).

What might assure anyone that such a trip really happened? Perhaps corroborating statements from three people who ought to know, for sure. That would be Jenn Wyatt, Ryan Ridge and Nathan Ridge. Ryan and Nathan were supposedly at the house outside Mt. Vernon to which Jenn and Beth drove late on the night on May 20, 2010.

But there are probably 25 or more other people who could provide investigators with information and tips. Maybe they did... maybe not.

In a month Beth will be gone four years. I had hoped that weekly articles would result in useful information to locate Beth.

The Woodstock (Ill.) Police Department apparently remains the lead investigating agency, even though it is more than 300 miles from the location where they believe Beth vanished. Many think that the Jefferson County (Ill.) Sheriff's Office should have investigated her disappearance.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Goodbye, Woodstock; hello, South Carolina

The drive to Columbia, S.C. on Tuesday and Wednesday was great. Just imagine Life packed into about 20 Banker's boxes and jammed into a Toyota Highlander. Trimming and discarding junk that I have carried around for more than ten years was very freeing!

Yes, I've moved from Woodstock, from McHenry County, from Illinois...  When I've told people here about that stupid requirement in the concealed-carry application that an applicant must give up all his rights to confidentiality and privacy under ALL Federal and State laws, they say, "WHAT?"

What a joke! The legislators really put one over on the People of Illinois, and the NRA and the Illinois State Rifle Association rolled over and gave in, after huffing and puffing early in the Spring of 2013 about how they had the votes to block a "bad bill". They didn't. They lied. And they have done little to correct the error.

How easy is it to get a concealed-carry license in South Carolina? A first reading reveals that the applicant must have the intent to become a permanent resident. Apparently, you don't even have to be a resident. There are five training requirements: 1, 2, 3, 4 OR 5. One of them is a DD-214. So, for me, no training required (they think that being in the Air Force in 1959 is enough. Not too smart, but for me it works. And $50.

AND I don't have to give up all my rights to confidentiality and privacy. Thank you, South Carolina.

Good luck to all my friends in McHenry County. Somehow, I think you are going to need it.

There is a very important election coming up in November. Get involved! Don't sit on the sidelines. Your future, and that of your children and grandchildren, is at stake. Examine carefully what the candidates are saying. Meet them. Ask questions. Get answers. Straight answers. Then follow up and make sure you got the right answers and that you understand exactly where the candidate stands.

Thanks to each reader and to all who contributed comments, suggestions, information, tips. Best wishes.

Friendly Southern customer service

This afternoon I stopped at a small ACE Hardware in eastern Columbia, South Carolina. As I drove into the parking lot about 5:15PM, an ACE employee was leaving and watched me park. Then he came back into the store and offered to serve me, even though there were other employees who could have helped me.

His daily schedule was over at 5:00PM, but he stayed to cut four new keys for me. He was helpful and friendly. When I thanked him for his exceptional service, he explained that they believe that customer service is what sets them apart from other stores.

He has earned my permanent business. If you are in the vicinity of Columbia, be sure to drop by Falcon ACE Hardware at 2085 N. Beltline Blvd. Be sure to ask for Spence, and you'll be sure to receive excellent customer service.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Seipler's ethics complaint against Zinke

If you want to get really sick of McHenry County, read Cal Skinner's good article about the Ethics Commission hearing into Zane Seipler's ethics complaint against Andy Zinke.

Two of the five Commissioners, Cherie Rickert and John White, didn't even show up.

Chairman Thomas Spencer "struggled" with whether it was right for Zinke to have his campaign literature on display in his official government-supported office.

What in the world is wrong with Spencer? Can't understand the job of chairman of the ethics commission? Can't even understand ethics?

Somebody asked a lawyer once time if he had trouble making decisions. He answered, "Yes and no." Is that Spencer's problem?

The County Board should remove Rickert, White and Spencer.

Cal tried to take a picture of Zinke at the hearing. At least, Zinke had his middle finger under control (sort of) for this picture. Does he think he is too important to be photographed?

Photo credit: McHenry County Blog

Here's Cal's take on Spencer's inability to conclude that campaign literature on display in a candidate's government office : "What a stunning disconnect from reality!"

Cal did get a picture of Nygren in McHenry County on April 17. He was at Zinke's ethics hearing. Did Nygren charge the County for that time or did he take a personal day for that?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sen. Harry Reid vs. Bundy

I'd like to write what I really think of Sen. Harry Reid and his comment that the Cliven Bundy supporters are "domestic terrorists". If I did, I'd probably incur that wrath of the N.S.A. and the F.B.I. and the U.S. Marshals.

Bundy has been using the land for 100 years, but Reid & Son apparently want a Chinese solar plant in the desert scrub, not cattle.

Who are the real terrorists in this deal?

Jail numbers (and income) falling

Here's what the Sheriff and Undersheriff are NOT talking about. Heck, does McHenry County even still have a Sheriff?

Numbers of Federal prisoners and detainees may be falling.

Is it true that the U.S. Marshal's office removed its last eight prisoners from the McHenry County Jail yesterday?

And that the money-making $95/day deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is thawing - to the point that there are now fewer than 100 ICE detainees locked up in McHenry County?

You can imagine that the noses of the Feds are out-of-joint after reading that Richard Vanecko paid only $16.00/day for his behind-the-bars "celebrity vacation" that Judge McIntyre ordered.

Wasn't Zinke saying something about upping the ante for the Feds to $115/day? Yeah, sure. $115 x 0? That's not too hard to calculate.

The big question now is what will Zinke, Sedlock and Firman do with all the "special" teams and the high ratio of supervisors in the Jail? What would a responsible management do?

Will they maintain the status quo and leave the message for the new sheriff, when he takes office on December 1?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New short-form 1040

If you put off doing your Federal taxes until today, you may want to use the new short form.

Line 1 How much did you earn in 2013?

Line 2 Send it in.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Training in Texas???

What training in Texas could Undersheriff Zinke possibly consider as essential to his final six months in authority at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Special request to the County Administrator, to the County Auditor and to the County Board:

     please address Responsibility with the undersheriff and with the sheriff, if you can find him, so that they don't totally drain MCSD and leave an empty shell on November 30, 2014, when they head off into the wild, blue yonder.

Can the public do anything to halt waste on unessential training at the conclusion of Nygren's too long of a period in office? Zinke said a while back that he has been running the office for three years. What has Nygren been doing in all that time? Working on his tan?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mail officer at MCSD? What???

Is it true that the McHenry County Sheriff's Department has a "mail officer"?

Rumor has it that a woman fills the position and reports to a Lieutenant, who shields her from the sergeants. Could this be true?

Is it true that it takes her eight duty hours to complete her work, but that the work takes only four hours when she isn't there? Is there a training problem? Speed of work problem? Attitude problem? Where did she work before? USPS?

If she is slow, wouldn't it be a good idea to let duty sergeants supervise her work and let them speed up her productivity? What's the pay for that position?

Is she a civilian employee or a corrections officer?

How many pieces of mail actually come into the jail on a daily basis?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Overtime and Training - like an elevator, going up?

Will training and overtime at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department soar out of control between now and December 1, 2014, when a new sheriff will take office?

Is Nygren anywhere around; like, still running the ship? Or is he MIA and letting Undersheriff Zinke run the department? If that's the case, why is the County paying Nygren $150,000/year for his last vacation on the taxpayers' checkbook? Why isn't the County Board declaring the office abandoned and putting the Coroner in charge?

Is anyone keeping tabs on the hours and days put in by the Sheriff? I'd love to see that spreadsheet!

There are likely to be some big changes after December 1. The cliques will be broken up; some demotions will occur; there will be attrition as some just plain bail out before they get kicked out.

Will higher command and supervisors suck up all the advanced training they can get in, before the blade on the guillotine drops?

Does Zinke have the backbone to refuse to approve unnecessary training? Will he disband small unnecessary units and special uniforms?

And who will be allowed to suck up the bulk of the overtime? Those at the top of the food chain?

Hang onto your wallets, folks!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

MCSD Sgt. LD (as in, Light Duty)

What are the rules at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, when a deputy is placed on "light duty"?

Light-duty assignments might follow an injured-on-duty status, as the deputy's health improves and he can (and wants to) return to work, but can't get a medical clearance for return to full active duty.

Light-duty assignments might mean desk work.

But if a deputy, especially a supervisor, returns with a light-duty assignment, shouldn't he be in uniform? Even if he temporarily has administrative duties?

Or can he show up in casual clothing (it's not quite warm enough for beach clothes)? How presentable should he look, if he is authorized (in writing by a superior officer) to show up in civvies? Dress slacks? Long-sleeve dressed shirt, ironed? Shined dress shoes?

Are things already falling apart at the sheriff's office, with a lameduck sheriff and an undersheriff who lost the Republican primary election?

Rather than letting the Department fall apart, the undersheriff should run a tight ship until he turns over the keys on December 1 to a newly-elected sheriff.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thanks for the corroboration

I would like to thank those who are corroborating my recent stories about the MCSD and the Jail, and I offer my thanks, too, for the new and additional information.

How much does a lieutenant on the jail roster earn annually? Is he docked for the hours he sleeps on duty? I doubt it. Why do the Deputy Chief and the Chief of Corrections tolerate it? Maybe they should be fired first, before the sleeper gets the can.

The drugs found recently in the jail were found on Friday evening, March 28. They were prescription drugs. So, when an inmate is provided with prescription drugs, why doesn't the nurse confirm that he actually swallowed them? If he just mumbles "Thanks" and runs back to his call to pass them out to someone else, hasn't he then missed the dosage that was prescribed?

Here we are back with arrows aimed at Jail Administration. No wonder they would like to hush it up. And why would the undersheriff not direct that information be passed along to all corrections officers and deputies. Hasn't he figured out, even by now, that the information will get out?

The rumors about document shredding are not just outside the Department; they are circulating inside the Department. Who has access to sensitive documents? Probably not the line deputies. Office personnel have access. Detectives have access. Command personnel have access.

The State Open Records Act applies, in part, to County Government and to the entire Sheriff's Department. If you are an employee who is shredding important documents that have not been certified for destruction, you are committing a crime. Be careful. Saying "My boss told me to do it" won't fly, if you are standing before a judge with mud on your face and fingercuts.

Protecting County Assets

The loyalty and concern of employees of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department is amazing. There are many good workers there who are dedicated to protecting and serving (not deflecting and swerving).

Concern has been expressed to me that there could be considerable theft of County property over the next six months and also shredding of documents, so that a new sheriff will not have access to records. Gee, what might embarrass anyone connected with the current regime?  (How long would that list be?)

The Illinois Open Records Act has important words to say about preservation of records. Documents cannot be shredded "just because".

If anyone at the MCSD observes documents' growing legs and walking out the door or being shredded, he or she should immediately contact the Illinois State Police and the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.

Prim declared winner of Republican Primary

McHenry County Clerk Kathie Schultz has announced, according to McHenry County Blog, that Bill Prim is the winner in the March 18th Republican Primary Election for McHenry County Sheriff.

The final vote, after counting late absentee and provisional ballots?

Prim 14,520
Zinke 14,423

Ninety-seven (0.335%) votes out of nearly 29,000. That's 1/3 of 1%. It took a lot of hard work by Prim supporters to get 14,520 people out to the polls to vote for him.

Congratulations, Bill!

Drugs in the MCSD Jail? Again?

Rumor has it that drugs have shown up in the McHenry County Jail again. And it's being kept very quiet.

So quiet, in fact, that patrol wasn't even being informed of a previous day's search in the jail.

How do drugs get into a jail? There are several ways:

A prisoner being booked into the jail might have secreted them in a body cavity.

A Corrections Officer or civilian employee at the jail might bring them in. Horrors!

Big Bird might fly over and drop them.

Or maybe a drone delivery.

Prisoners are supposed to be searched when they are booked into the jail. Are search procedures the same for all prisoners? But if a driver in a wreck, who does not have a driver's license, is booked in, does he get a strip search and a search of body cavities? Probably not.

Or could jailers be taking the drugs in? Let's say a particular jailer happens to be "cozy" with an inmate. Maybe an inmate who had suspected or known drug-related activities on the "outside". Could the jailer bring in drugs and get them into the inmates' areas?

Is there any reason that they is not random drug testing for all MCSD employees, deputies and jailers and civilian employees? Do they collect hair samples from time-to-time? Or just urine specimens? Or not even those?

Why were detectives called recently about drugs in the jail, but no canine units were used? Surely, one or two departments in the County could have had their arms twisted to send an officer with his dog for an interior search of the jail.

This is not the first time that the full staff of corrections officers and deputies has not been notified of drug suspicions in the jail.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sleeping on the job

When is it okay to sleep on the job, if you are an employee of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department?

Is there a particular reason that the command staff, starting with Nygren and Zinke, don't discipline a deputy or corrections officer (supervisor) who sleeps on the midnight shift?

Hey, I know it's tough to stay awake all night. I've tried it. Staying on my feet helped. Sitting in a car, with the heat on full-blast (with the vehicle in Park), is not conducive to staying awake. Sitting in a chair at 2200 N. Seminary Ave. and nodding off? Take a lesson from the operator of that "L" that left the tracks when the operator dozed off.

When your subordinates know you are catching a few zzz's, do they dare say anything? Maybe they could just drop a stack of books and say, "Oops, sorry, Lieutenant".

Any chance that Nygren might drop in on the midnight shift and make the rounds of "his" department? Not likely... But where is the Undersheriff or the Deputy Chief of Corrections (or even the Chief) or a Captain?

Is it true that the maximum disciplinary duration for jail personnel is now ten days? If you get that for leaving a door open between the men's and the women's jail sections, what penalty will be dished out when they figure out how the drugs got into the jail?

Is sleeping on the job considered as bad as falsifying timesheets? In my opinion, if it's a supervisor, it's worse.