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June 23, 2017 / jeffnward

Quick Hits – June 23, 2017

Not even Republicans believe him anymore

One of my favorite Left, Right and You guests was former Obama Cabinet member Bill Daley. Not only does Bill have a reputation for telling the truth, but he has an amazing political prognostication track record.

So when bill recently said, “Bruce Rauner cannot win re-election if he does not get a budget right this year. I don’t care who’s running against him,” I thought perhaps Governor Rauner might take note.

Then I made the kind of leap of faith that made me believe he had, and I started foolishly thinking that Bruce’s latest budget offer was sincere.

But it’s not.

It’s just more window dressing to try and make the Democrats look worse than he already does. The truth is, if Speaker Madigan agreed to every last term in that proposal, the Governor would say it wasn’t enough and he’d roll out a completely new budget deal.

How do I know this? Because my Illinois Senate Republican sources told me so. They may toe the party line publicly, but privately, they’ve completely lost faith in Governor Rauner’s capacity to negotiate anything.

There will be no budget, schools will close and Bill Daley will be proven to be correct!


Can’t you take the lead for once, Jim?

The current Springfield special session may be descending into abject meaninglessness, but the pointless finger pointing is clearly on the rise. And my State Senator, Jim Oberweis, seems more than happy to join the it’s-not-us-it’s them fray, because doing the same thing over and over again will eventually produce a different result, right?

But here’s the thing. While the Democrats are politically beholden to the Speaker and the Republicans are terrified of Rauner primarying them, Jim Oberweis is in the unique position of at least attempting to bring an end this absurd budget proxy war.


He’s not running again so Rauner can’t threaten him with an opponent. Even if he changes his mind, Jim has the kind of cash that would beat back any challenger. I know Jim doesn’t like what Springfield has become and he’d much prefer to get something done.

And as a former businessman and successful asset manager, Jim knows that Governor Rauner is wrong and holding the budget hostage to unreasonable demands is bad for the State.

So Jim! You’ve never had a problem telling the truth before. How about calling a spade a spade, standing up for what’s right and doing whatever it takes to get a budget deal  done – even if it means insisting on a meeting with Michael Madigan.

I understand the impulse to stick with the Party, but at this point, what’s the point? Doing the right thing is always its own reward.

Please remember this isn’t a case of the pot and kettle. I’ve stuck my neck out hundreds of times and it can come around to bite you in the butt. But Illinois needs bold men and women right now, not more finger pointing.


David Orr retires?

After 40 long years in Chicago politics, famed Cook County Clerk, David Orr, 72, announced he will not seek an eighth term. Having grown up in south Evanston, I can’t remember a time when David Orr wasn’t part of the political landscape.

I can clearly remember listening to David’s aldermanic anti-Machine exploits on radio news shows in the early 80s. A few years later, I moved into Rogers Park, the heart of Orr’s 49th Ward and my apartment and David’s Ashland office were on the same block.

We had a total of just three conversations, but David always welcomed constituents, you never had to kiss a pinky ring and you could tell he truly enjoyed life. He was a happy guy. We’d discuss the abandoned cars that made parking on Farwell difficult, all the absentee landlords and Chicago politics in general.

Of course, David fully supported Harold Washington’s 1983 mayoral run, and it was when Washington squeaked by Republican Bernie Epton that I learned the true nature of politics.

Pundits said it was the “49th Ward Lake Front Liberals” who put Washington over the top, and soon after he took office, the new mayor made sure that all of those abandoned cars were towed and our streets were paved.

So in a way, I cut my political teeth on Alderman David Orr. With his city council reputation intact, Orr ran for County Clerk in 1990 and he’s served the County in that regard ever since.

And David Orr was so clean, he even rented an apartment near the Clerk’s office so he could “clock out” and discuss impending campaign strategy with his team without the slightest appearance of impropriety.

But my favorite David Orr story involved the late great Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Mike Royko.

David’s mother Lucille wrote Royko in 1988 decrying his propensity to call all Chicago aldermen “crooks.” “Isn’t it possible that there might be one or two who aren’t,” she implored.

In his inimitable style, Royko responded, “You`re right. There are three or four aldermen who are suspected of being honest and your son is one of them. But as much as I respect your maternal protectiveness, I have to raise this question: If you were a good mother, why did you permit your little boy to grow up to be a Chicago alderman?”

Orr’s name regularly came up as a possibility for mayor, secretary of state, Congress and even the Senate. And even though he could’ve won any of those races, he stuck with county clerk because he said he wanted to have a life, be there for his family and continue coaching.

When David walks away from the often difficult gig in early 2019, it truly will be the end of an era.

Good luck, sir! You were always one of the good guys.

June 22, 2017 / jeffnward

Quick Hits Supplemental – A humorous piece on women!

Women are strange and wondrous creatures whose sole purpose seems to be to drive a man – any man – completely crazy. Before you hit the “send” button ladies, it doesn’t work in reverse because there’s nothing mysterious about men.

In the words of that great philosopher Jeff Foxworthy, “You want to know what men are thinking? Here’s what we’re thinking, ‘I’d like a beer and I’d like to see something naked.’”

That’s it! It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make us happy. But women aren’t happy unless they’re making us unhappy, because the fact it’s so easy to make us happy, makes them unhappy.

I’m not sure if I followed all of that, but I know it’s true.

So, women convince themselves that men actually have much deeper thoughts and, since we won’t tap into them, they’ll do it for us. And with absolutely no evidence to support this hypothesis, they naturally extrapolate it out to the illogical conclusion that they know what’s best for us.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

If my lovely wife says she’s going to the grocery store, I might ask her to pick up some olive loaf, but she’ll come home with sliced turkey breast instead. And her response to my inevitable quizzical look is, “Well, I thought you’d like this better.”

But when I respond, “If I liked turkey breast better, I would’ve asked you for turkey breast. But I didn’t ask for turkey breast, I asked for olive loaf,” she gets mad at me for failing to understand that I should’ve asked for turkey breast in the first place.

It’s the same thing with clothes! She loves buying stuff for me, but being abundantly clear about what I will and won’t wear makes no difference. That conversation always goes something like this:

“I bought you some shorts! Please try them on,” as she hands them to me.

“Thank you dear,” as I grab them and suddenly stop. “You know I don’t like overly long shorts with lots of pockets?”

“Yes, I know, but I thought you’d like these.”

“But they’re below the knee and they have a lot of pockets.”

“That’s the style now.”

“But I don’t wear that style.”

“Fine! I’ll take them back!”

So now, despite the fact that I didn’t ask her to buy me shorts, and I’ve been very clear about the kind of shorts I like, I’m in trouble for not liking the shorts I never liked to begin with.

Now my wife is doing it to our two sons!

As a runner, I don’t eat much crap. It basically comes down to potato chips to stave off those annoying post-run foot cramps, and chocolate chip cookies, because no one’s perfect. And the best mass produced chocolate chip cookies right now are Meijer’s Chunky Chipsters.


In what can only be described as a happy coincidence, Chipsters also happen to be the least expensive. But every time we find ourselves in the cookie aisle, my wife starts poring over all of the possibilities. That conversation always goes something like this:

“Dearest, why are you going through all of the chocolate chip cookies? You know what we like.”

“I know you like those, but I thought the boys would like something different.”

“Why would you think the boys would like something different? They like Chipsters. If you buy anything else, they’ll eat all the Chipsters and leave the rest for me.”

“Well, I’m getting them something different.”

It’s at this point I realize that, saying anything other than “Yes dear” means celibacy is gonna be the only other option.

So today, I dutifully headed over to the cupboard only to find four packages of Keebler chocolate chip cookies with double fudge unicorn rainbows and all sorts of stuff no one really needs. That conversation went something like this:

“Dearest, the boys ate all the Chipsters and all that’s left is chocolate chip cookies I don’t really like.”

“Well…I thought they’d eat the other ones.”

“Why would you think they’d eat the other ones. I told you they like Chipsters?

“Fine! We’ll get Chipsters from now on,” while she stares at me as if she’s just been mortally wounded.

So ladies, stop it!

If we say we want olive loaf, we want olive loaf. I know what kind of shorts I like and give me Chunky Chipsters or give me death. I understand the fact that men are entirely uncomplicated bothers you, but you have to understand that isn’t our problem – until and unless you insist upon making it our problem.

I think I’ll have a beer!

June 21, 2017 / jeffnward

Quick Hits – June 21, 2017

It was kinda cool that some of you noticed there was no Monday Quick Hits. My 82 year-old father-in-law came in for a week-long visit and I wanted to be a really good host!

Ted Nugent is a bleep!

And by “bleep” I mean any word you care to apply. So suddenly our Motor City Mental Munchkin strikes a conciliatory tone?


“At the tender age of 69, my wife has convinced me that I just can’t use those harsh terms. I cannot, and I will not. And I encourage even my friends/enemies on the left in the Democrat and liberal world that we have got to be civil to each other, that the whole world is watching America, where you have the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we have got to be more respectful to the other side.”

This, of course comes from the man who:

  • Married an underage girl
  • Dodged the draft
  • Called President Obama a “sub-human mongrel,” which is code for the N-word
  • Told President Obama to “suck his machine gun”

While Kathy Griffin gets (rightfully) excoriated for the whole severed head thing, Ted gets an invitation to the White House.

But as you know, I’m fluent in almost all political languages. So, just in case you don’t understand Nugent-ese, please allow me to translate Ted’s quote:

“It was fun being a complete douchebag when there were no real consequences for being one, but then the left starting shooting back. So, being the consummate coward I’ve always been, I’m going to hide behind my wife’s skirt in the hope that she takes the bullet for me. I have been, and always will be, a piece of excrement.”

To be clear, I don’t agree with anyone shooting at anyone for almost any reason. But I couldn’t let his BS pass.


All my Judicial Center children

Before we get started in earnest, I want to thank all my avid KCSAO readers who not only regularly help put these posts over the 5,000 hit mark, but send me encouraging notes to keep these stories coming. Somebody’s gotta tell the truth, right?

In that vein:

1. No federal prosecutor position. Sadly, it looks as if Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon is stuck with little old us. Though I have to give him credit, because word is, the gig went to someone who showed a little more enthusiasm for a Trump presidency. Apparently, Joe wouldn’t drink the loyalty oath Kool-aid.

Good for him!

But all’s well that ends well, right? If there were ever two elected officials who truly deserve each other, it’s Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen and Joe McMahon. The Fat Lady ain’t nearly begun to sing that saga out!


2. But now Joe’s actually gotta do some work. Because the legal fallout from the utterly unnecessary Delnor hostage situation is but a mere blip on the incoming radar. And despite what will be a clear propensity to settle those suits (and those nurses deserve every penny), this morass is going to get much bigger and take years to untangle. It’s so big that it can’t be delegated to underlings without a real possibility of massive political damage, and Mr. McMahon still harbors higher aspirations.

3. Criminal Division boss Joe Cullen takes over the Laquan McDonald prosecution? I couldn’t believe it when I heard it, but it turns out, it’s true. What could possibly go wrong with the utterly tone-deaf Cullen handling the kind of  case that could set the already smoldering City of Chicago completely ablaze.

There are times when McMahon’s decisions are beyond baffling.

On the bright side, he could’ve handed it off to Civil Division head Joe Lulves! Though it would’ve been fascinating to see all those privileged emails get leaked to the public (read some previous posts!).

4. I’m the story? That kind of thing generally aggravates the shit out of me, but I’m OK with it this time. Since no victim of a Class-X felony should ever have to deal with the likes of KCSAO prosecutor Alex Bederka, yours truly will shortly sit down with State Rep Keith Wheeler to craft a real Illinois Victim’s Rights bill.

Keith may be a bit conservative at times, but I’ve always liked him, he’s a capable legislator and he’s on-board. If any duo can get this kind of bi-partisan effort done, it’s the conservative and the liberal!

If you recall, retiring State Rep Elaine Nekritz tried to pass a Victim’s Rights bill some years ago and I came out against it in two separate columns. The only explanation is, sometimes I can be a real fucking idiot – just ask my wife.

I still say my logic was sound! Most prosecutors are overworked and underpaid, and to bog that process down with people who think they’re the only crime victim on the planet would be problematic.

But this time it was Jeff Ward – a man with a voice in the victim seat. And, at the time, I was successfully advising Joe McMahon on how to handle Chris Lauzen – in writing! If that guy gets treated like a pain-in-the-ass afterthought on a charge that’s a millimeter short of murder, I can only imagine what the rest of you peasants have to go through.

It got so bad that I will no longer meet with, speak to or email Mr. Bederka on this still pending case. Personally, I’d rather have another pickup truck firebombed in my driveway and have to go through the system as a defendant, than deal with him. And Joe McMahon’s version of “help” was to make the situation exponentially worse on all levels.

So Illinois! We’re gonna get a Victim’s Rights law! Count on it!

5. But you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yes! I know I can get kinda bitchy at times (and we’re currently out of tequila, too), so it’s important to note there are some great people at Route 38 and Peck Road. At the risk of ending their careers, I’m gonna say that Lark Cowart and Judy Bland are two of them.

Judy is the KCSAO Victim’s Rights Advocate and she does an amazing job with a very small staff and an even smaller budget. She has the kind of patience that it takes to put up with her bosses and people like me.

Lark heads the Juvenile Division and she’s one of the finest people I’ve ever met. She is beyond intelligent, incredibly insightful, a terrifyingly competent attorney and she somehow stays sane while dealing with the kind of child abuse cases that would send most of us into a homicidal frenzy.

See! I can be nice!

6. A judge that’s gotta go! Not that I want to leave you all hanging, but even I don’t want to hear myself talk this much. So, next week! I will devote an entire Quick Hits, or perhaps even two, to a judge who must be removed from the 16th Circuit. Not only will I  cite specific examples of his malfeasance, but I’ll outline my plan to send him home. The donations are already rolling in!


As the Kane County Sheriff’s Office turns

It took multiple sources to convince me, but I do believe that Kane County Sheriff Don Kramer was set to announce his reelection bid – the week after the Delnor hostage situation unfolded.

As you might imagine, he’s having second thoughts.


Kane County Sheriff Don Kramer

The current theory is, Kramer has, or soon will, approach GOP Sheriff primary contender and Bomb Squad leader, Kevin Tindall, to offer to bow out of the race in return for certain considerations. Not the least of which would be to look after Don’s son, who will soon become a sworn deputy.

I’ve never met Kevin, but people tell me he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t make those kinds of deals. So here’s my prediction.

Kramer, who regularly moves between playing the victim and the bully, will not take kindly to his subordinate’s refusal to get on board. Then the rage the Sheriff is so well known for will build to the point where he runs just to teach Tindall a “lesson.”

I promise I’ll keep you posted.

June 16, 2017 / jeffnward

Quick Hits – June 16, 2017

Don’t go to North Korea!

I can’t believe it has to be said. With the exception of Dennis Rodman, any American that sets foot in that ashtray of a country is playing the equivalent of Russian roulette with five of the six chambers locked and loaded.

And any sentence that begins with “With the exception of Dennis Rodman,” means the sentiment is abundantly self-evident. It’s not as if that regime bothers with any pretense. Congress is talking about some sort of DPRK travel ban, but I really don’t need their input to come to that conclusion.

Before we proceed, let me clearly state that no 22 year-old college student should come back from any foreign county with irreversible brain damage after being detained for 17 months. But it’s not an eminently unpredictable outcome, either.

So, what gets me is the parents blaming everyone but themselves. Where did a 21 year-old college student get the kind of money it takes to go on a very expensive North Korean tour? I understand their anger and I mourn the loss of their son, but to point a finger at Barack Obama or the State Department is beyond the pale.

If you go swimming in a pond with gator warning signs clearly posted, I won’t be coming in after you. If either of my college sons told me they wanted to visit the DPRK, I’d explain the dire fiscal consequences in no uncertain terms.

Don’t go to North Korea! And if you do, be prepared to live with the consequences.


Elgin comes up with a public art plan

Before we get started, you all know I love Elgin. You also know that anything that starts with that kind of fond stipulation means I’m about to get kinda critical of the subject involved.

To wit, it looks like the Elgin City Council will approve the Cultural Arts Commission’s first public art plan, which includes:

  • A new two- and three-dimensional public piece of art each year.
  • A spontaneous summer art wall where anyone can add art (what could possibly go wrong with that?).
  • A donate-a-wall program where businesses can have murals painted on their buildings at their own expense.
  • Neighborhood 50/50 public art grants.
  • A utility box artwork program.
  • Residents and business owners can sponsor additional public art.

While it certainly looks good on the surface, I just can’t muster up the energy to get very excited about it. You see, this is supposed to be their answer to the ‘American Nocturne’ fiasco when there’s only one good answer.

American Nocturne

Until and unless the City Council and Commission takes responsibility for botching that scenario so badly by diving directly into censorship, it’s the equivalent of painting smiley faces on a train wreck and saying, “See! All better!”

For the uninitiated, ‘American Nocturne’ is a mural by Elgin artist David Powers depicting the bottom half of an infamous Indiana lynching photograph. The painting stood for a decade in a downtown Elgin plaza until someone finally noticed.

In what can only be referred to as a complete clusterbleep, the Arts Commission demonstrated they had all the backbone of Donald Trump by taking the painting down. Then white people tried to decide what was best for black folks, the pissant artist disowned the piece, the black community was understandably divided and the situation spiraled downward from there.

God, liberals are bleepin’ annoying!

Real art is supposed to make people think. Sadly, that means, in the era of knee-jerk reactions, someone is bound to be offended. And what the politicians and newspapers aren’t telling you is, neither the City Council nor the Arts Commission will permit any sponsored piece without their express written consent.

Art is uniquely human and truly amazing thing. I like to think my vast body of prose as a work of art. But the second government gets involved, it starts to suck, because anytime art is sanitized in this big brother manner, it becomes pointless.

So, paying heed to my more conservative side, it’s time for Elgin to get out of the art businesses and let the free market reign. Short of racist scenes of death and dismemberment, if a business or homeowner wants a mural or piece of art on their property, let ‘em do it. If the city wants to sponsor public pieces or have utility boxes painted, then get out of the way and let the artist do their thing.

Either that, or give up the art prospect altogether, because someone’s always going to choose to be offended, and if you don’t have the cohones to stand your ground…


A budget deal?

Word on the street is, today, Governor Rauner will settle the budget battle for a strawberry Popsicle. And the Dems better jump at this prospect, because tomorrow he might decide he wants the firstborn son of every General Assemblyman – for dinner.

God, conservatives are bleepin’ annoying!


June 14, 2017 / jeffnward

Quick Hits – June 14, 2017

What’s good for the State’s Attorney goose…

A couple of the very limited benefits of living in the Geneva Fisher Farms subdivision are some really nice running trails and quick access to the path that winds through that scenic west-of-Peck-Road farmland. And if I manage to make it to Route 38 with something left in the tank – and my poor black doggie isn’t about to pass out from heat prostration – I’ll make a quick loop through the Kane County Judicial Center to add a little mileage.

It’s in that very regard that I’ve noticed something a wee bit ironic over these past three weeks.


As the early bird state’s attorney staffers – and even some judges – arrive at work, they all have their cell phones firmly plastered to their right ear. C’mon! Of all the people on this vast third rock from the sun, they’re the ones who should know it’s patently illegal to do that!

But if they got stopped by St. Charles’ finest they’d simply whip out their ID and be on their way without ever getting off the phone.

How do I know they’re county employees, you ask? First, no one shows up at 7:30 for a 9 a.m. court call, attorneys are constitutionally incapable of showing up anywhere on time (except for my amazing lawyers, of course), and 11 long years of covering the State’s Attorney’s Office means I recognize almost all of ‘em.

We’re not talking Sheriff’s deputies and police officers here. They’re exempt from the hands-free mandate.

“But Jeff! Don’t you have something better to do? Jesus Christ! Quit bitching about stupid shit and cover something that actually matters.”

I hear you, and I’m actually inclined to agree.

But what really frosts my cookies is, the very folks charged with setting the example, not only break the law, but clearly believe they’re above it.

It’s the kind of thing that leads to a prosecutor “accidentally” obtaining privileged public defender emails, lying about it until she got caught, finally admitting it and then, after swearing she didn’t read them, they sat on her computer for months.

And State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s swift and sure response was to make a personal effort to intimidate the PD into silence.

At least we know to whom the law really applies. Meanwhile, it’s called a bluetooth people – buy one!


The power of goodbye

I’ve never been a big Madonna fan, but I will say that, borne of her more spiritual Kabballah phase, 1998’s “Ray of Light” is one of my favorite albums. And “The Power of Good-Bye” is one of my favorite songs.

In a what-will-soon-be related topic, media reporter Rob Feder has been a really nice addition to the Daily Herald. Of course, a Trump tweet would be a welcome change to a newspaper that’s a mile wide and a mere millimeter thick. I’m still waiting for DH reporter Harry Hitzeman to finally get a story right. Someday Harry!

But I digress!

To tie it all together, Rob has been covering Kathy Hart’s “mysterious” seven-week absence from The Mix’s immensely popular Eric and Kathy Radio Show she’s co-hosted for 20 years. Ms. Hart has neither offered an explanation nor noted if she plans on returning to the show. She even broke off the business relationship with her agent.

Kathy Hart

Though I generally like Mr. Feder – and he can actually write – I was dismayed that he couldn’t help but take the low road when issuing or reporting comments like:

  • “The show hasn’t skipped a beat without her.”
  • “It’s not clear who’s advising Hart these days.”
  • “There’s a palpable lessening of tension on the show with her away.”
  • “The show is much better without her.”

none of which would’ve been applied to a male co-host who’d made the same move.

Nope! Accomplished women are always “flighty,” while the men are “grounded.” Female co-hosts are “bitchy,” but the men are “assertive.” Women cause “tension,” while men “keep people on their toes.” And we all know that men perpetually have to carry their inept and pointless female co-workers.

Quite frankly, I think it’s quite impressive that Ms. Hart took this stand without resorting to the all too-typical celebrity mindset that makes them have to explain their every waking thought to a throng of faux-adoring reporters.

Though I never do it callously, I’ve walked away from more than one questionable situation in my life, while damning any possible consequences. Y’all oughtta try it sometime because I’ve never regretted it.

Good for you, Kathy Hart!


If it sounds too good to be true….

…it probably is!

You may have noticed that I haven’t taken a stand on the proposed U-46 Charter School, and a great deal of that reticence is due to the good people involved on both sides of the debate. Then there’s the journalistic notion that, if you’re not sure about something, give it a little time and the answer will become abundantly clear.

Just as it has in this case.

What has become obvious to me is, the charter group folks are making the kind of promises that simply can’t be kept. No one could!

Perhaps they’re just overly optimistic – it’s been known to happen. But my real fear is they’re providing these assurances because they know that, once the school goes live, it will be very difficult to subsequently shut it down.


To wit, they’ve promised that:

  • Funding won’t be a problem in a State where funding is always a problem.
  • They’ll be able to replace one-time grants with more consistent revenue sources.
  • They’ll be able to recruit and maintain a 60 percent at-risk/minority student population.
  • They will provide 100 percent of special education services.
  • The school will provide an alternative dynamic that truly benefits their students.

and I just don’t see it. I’m sure their intentions are good, but this isn’t a case of one or two of those issues dragging the whole thing down, it’s all of them. I don’t think they’ll be able to keep any of those promises.

And these guarantees get more fluid every day.

So, when you’re talking about diverting $4 million from the U-46 budget for what will very likely be a failed experiment, it’s time to pull the plug. The fact that’s it’s an overused business adage doesn’t make it less meaningful. My business life goes by the motto, “Under-promise and over-deliver.”

And all that over-promising should make everyone very nervous. I think it’s time to move on.


I got your soul mate right here!

After I departed Ward & Jones, I said I was going to occasionally get more philosophical, so here goes! A Facebook friend posted the following Marianne Williamson quote:

“Spiritual liberation isn’t a breaking out of anything; it’s a gentle melting in to the love inside our hearts. The only thing we’re breaking free of is the fear that holds us back.”

Now, before we continue, and in an effort to stave off yet more hate mail, if you find Ms. Williamson’s work to be meaningful and it brings some solace to this otherwise somewhat surly existence, you certainly don’t have to answer to me. And if her “philosophy” truly works for you, nothing I can say about her will make you angry.

Because I find Ms. Williamson to be just another pretentious new-age snake oil salesman, who recycles co-opted 2,000 year-old truths just to sell books. That Buddhist commandment, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him,” was written specifically with Ms. Williamson in mind.

On the other hand, there is an unattributed quote that actually gets it right:

“A soulmate is not someone that comes into your life peacefully. It is someone who comes to make you question things, who changes your reality, somebody that marks a before and after in your life. It is not the human being everyone has idealized, but an ordinary person, who manages to revolutionize your world in a second and then they move on.”

First, who the heck is this Anonymous guy, and why does he make all the good quotes? (I did add a little bit at the end.)

Second, neither spiritual awakening nor true soul mates are for sissies. That’s why so many folks turn to drugs, alcohol, workaholism, drama, blaming everyone else and all sorts of other diversions to stave it off.

“Gentle melting of love” my bony white ass! True spiritual growth only comes at the hands of someone who so completely shatters your self-definition that something new has to take its place.

I can tell you from recent personal experience that the best soul mates barrel into your life in no uncertain terms and they destroy your very notion of you. They make it very easy to respond on an unbridled emotional level. Since, you can’t deny the truth they present, you have no choice, but to grow (or regress). They make it impossible to go back to “the way things were” and then they generally move on because, in most cases, two people can’t live their lives at that intense level without fucking killing each other.

And I mean that in a good way, because true “soul mates” always open all sorts of doors that you never knew existed. And don’t ask me, because I’ll never tell!

But at least you now know how the process really works.



June 12, 2017 / jeffnward

A D304 Retrospective

The youngest of my two sons just completed his sojourn through the Geneva School system and, though I’m grateful for all those District folks’ time and effort, the predominant feeling is relief. I’m glad it’s over. And after this exercise, I don’t plan on looking back.

Geneva School District

But before we continue, please let me clearly state that D304 harbors some of the finest people I’ve ever met. Now that it won’t cause any problems, I’m gonna name ‘em in no particular order:

Pat Fordonski – Her too-rare capacity to tell the truth cost her a principal position.

Adam Law – He was such a good principal he never shoulda stopped being one.

Bill Fader – Bill may well be the best teacher I’ve ever met.

Jo Hogan – Now, that’s what I call a caseworker.

Shelly Rolf – One of the smartest and most perceptive people I’ve ever met.

Therese White – One of the best counselors I’ve ever met.

Judy Hart – I bow to the master!

Kristen McAvoy – The perfect elementary school teacher.

Rob Wicinski – A great teacher and a phenomenal football coach, he takes no crap.

Kari Friedman – Now that’s what I call a caseworker part two.

Not only that, but my lovely wife teaches in the East Aurora School District, so don’t try to tell me this is a case of playing out some sort of vendetta. It’s not! It’s simply a matter of telling the truth as I see it. I will also stipulate that most of the people who bitch about teachers and school administrators wouldn’t last two weeks at the job.

So why am I relieved? Here goes:

1. An IEP (Individual Education Plan) is a legally binding contract

But it seemed like my wife and I were the only ones who understood that. It was a constant battle to get the schools to stick to the plan. Their typical rationale was, “Well, we thought you’d want us to do it this way. Don’t you want your son to be a functioning adult?”

And my unwavering response was always, “Though I certainly appreciate the help, it’s my job to see that my son becomes a functioning adult – not yours! And rather than guess about how I’d respond to an IEP change, a simple phone call would remove all doubt!”

Some teachers completely ignored the IEP, because they thought it was better for him.

2. A rampant CYA modality

Look! I live in south Fisher Farms, so I utterly understand what it’s like to have to regularly deal with parents who not only won’t parent, but get incensed at the mere thought of their little darlings’ inherited imperfections.

But when the D304 motto is, “Placate, placate, and then let’s placate some more,” it only emboldens the worst parents and students, bringing everyone down to that least common denominator level.

My younger son was assaulted in a GHS hallway such that the attacker was arrested by the Geneva Police without any intervention on our part. Then the perp got a one-day suspension. Yep! That’ll teach him.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this fact, but when it comes down to crunch time, the majority of D304 staff are far more concerned about their own hides than the students’ well-being.

And I’ve always had a voice. I can’t imagine what it musta been like for you regular folks!

3. An entitlement mentality

Throughout my opinion columnist career, I’ve written a number of pieces supporting teachers, one of which made it into every D304 and Kaneville teacher mailbox. At the risk of sounding like a silly President, nobody has defended educators more than me. But when I wrote that our teachers were out of line regarding a potential strike during the Great Recession, suddenly, I was the devil incarnate.

I clearly remember GHS Principal Tom Rogers following my wife and me from room to room during parent-teacher conferences, and he wasn’t worried about me.

Though it’s certainly not as bad as the entitlement mentality that plagues the average Genevan, there is more than a bit of a “D304 is a cut above so there’s no point in questioning us,” attitude.

And let me let you in on a little secret. Geneva teachers may say they want more parental involvement, but they really don’t. Again, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with this gaggle of petty parents, either, but the larger truth is, teachers take pride in having to “raise” these kids. They also like the power that comes along with that abrogation of parental responsibility.

I’ll say it again! Teaching is not an easy job, but I firmly believe that many D304 teachers make it much more difficult than it has to be.

4. Amish propensities

Yes! Technology is moving at a pace that makes it very difficult to keep up, but D304 seems firmly rooted in the 80s. I’m not talking bleeding edge systems, but when you consider that STEM is the educational wave of the future, you’d think our classrooms would better reflect its importance.

For example, we bought our eldest son a graphing calculator that was released in 2012 and none of his math or science teachers knew how to use it, so he was on his own. Meanwhile, those teachers were recommending calculators that came out in the 90s.

5. Curriculum

Though this was the least of my worries, I’ve never been a big fan of the D304 curriculum. It’s antiquated, it’s not challenging enough, it’s too light on technology, it  doesn’t prepare students for the real world (not everyone goes to college) and it’s basically the bland white version of everything.

I’ve covered the U-46 School District for the Courier-News and the Ward & Jones Radio Show for years and they do so much more with less percentage-wise money. I wish D304 had more courage and foresight in this regard.


So while I certainly recognize and appreciate the effort required to propel a student from kindergarten through high school graduation, and there are people I’ll never forget, it’s a relief that this 15-year journey is over.

Now it’s time to move on.

June 9, 2017 / jeffnward

The Geneva Report – June 9, 2017

Those who ignore history…

…Are doomed to repeat it. As in, despite a 50 point primary loss to Chris Lauzen in 2012, multiple sources have informed me that, buoyed by his mayoral victory, Kevin Burns is planning on a second county chair run in 2020.

To put a 50 point loss in perspective, let’s go back to the great baseball manager Sparky Anderson who propitiously said:

“A baseball team will win one-third of their games and lose one-third of their games. It’s what they do with the third in the middle that makes the difference”

And local elections are no different. So it takes a special combination of ego, campaign incompetence and voter disgust to get just 20 percent of the vote.

Burns 2

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns

Not only that, but unless the mayor managed to pull off some sort of political miracle, it is statistically impossible to make up that kind of deficit, especially against someone like Lauzen, who still maintains a reasonable army of unquestioning supporters.

Perhaps Burns thinks his lopsided defeat of challenger Tom Simonian was that miracle, and to a degree it was. But the truth is, only the utterly underwhelming Joe Stanton could botch a campaign this badly, and Chris Lauzen ain’t no Joe Stanton – he knows how to win elections.

This is the point at which I’d generally advise Mayor Burns not to run. But just as it is with car crashes, it would be fascinating to watch him lose by an even greater margin.


And speaking of lost causes

That very same Tom Simonian is suddenly attending city council meetings as a non-alderman in an effort to rehabilitate his image for a run against Fifth Ward Alderman Craig Maladra.


Tom Simonian

Normally, this kind of news would make me quite giddy because, though I have no problem with Craig as a person (and he has great musical taste), he would, without question, make my list of the top 10 worst aldermen of all time.

But this is another one of those rare political cases where, like Lauzen, Alderman Maladra has nothing to worry about, because that debacle known as the 2017 Simonian mayoral campaign included, but was not nearly limited to:

  • The worst mailers I’ve ever seen
  • The worst message I’ve ever seen
  • The worst sign strategy I’ve ever seen
  • An ongoing pointless ethics lawsuit filed against a Geneva fire official
  • Scurrilous attacks against Delnor Hospital, City employees and the Library

So now, Tom Simonian couldn’t get elected to his homeowner’s association board, much less the Geneva city council. And for him to believe otherwise belies the kind of unbounded ego that makes Donald Trump look rational by comparison.

Please don’t construe this as any threat to work against the former alderman. With his particular brand of self-destructive proclivities, I won’t have to lift a finger.


Geneva can’t stop it part 2

Continuing with our doomed to repeat history gestalt, Geneva city councilmen are receiving a slew of emails demanding that they vote against the plan to turn the Campana Building into affordable apartments.

You’d a thunk these misguided folks would’ve learned something from the impending St. Charles Prairie Winds apartments being built behind the Randall Road Lowes. And that “something” is, no matter how hard they try, the Geneva City Council can’t vote on a Batavia development project.

Campana Building

Unlike Prairie Winds, where Mayor Burns expediently ignored the opportunity to have some serious say over the project, our intergovernmental agreement with Batavia offers no such leverage.

So, while I’d never discourage anyone from emailing their aldermen on any issue, Genevans should keep their powder dry, because there isn’t a damn thing the Geneva City Council can do about this one. If the Batavia City Council moves forward with the Campana project, it’s a done deal!