Is Keith Farnham getting special treatment?

That’s the question that seems to be hitting my inbox more than any other the last few days.  farnham2

Again, it behooves us to remember that every last American citizen innocent until proven guilty, but given the horrific nature of those online conversation transcripts, even I was surprised to learn the former 43rd District State Rep was given the leeway to turn himself in.

But after speaking with a number of defense attorneys, they unanimously assured me that, if the prosecutor and judge determine the accused is not likely to flee and he poses no threat to himself or others, then, under the auspices of an attorney, this kind of arrangement is not unusual. And it’s especially true when you’re talking about a higher profile suspect.

While we could certainly debate the merit of just how one might determine who is or isn’t a threat, but thankfully that latitude falls solely under the purview of the folks charged with seeking justice in our name.

And it’s a moot point anyway because Farnham turned himself in just as his attorney promised.

That said, considering the gravity of a child porn charge, I was equally surprised by the low $4,500 bond and the home confinement consideration. In addition to those caveats, Farnham can have no contact with minors and he must avoid all computers.

Again, the bail is directly related to the potential for flight and, though I can’t confirm this, I’d be willing to bet his health issues have something to do with the lack of incarceration. I know, I know – anyone can carry around a portable oxygen tank, but if you really look at those Daily Herald photos of Farnham entering the federal court building, it would appear that the bladder cancer has taken it’s toll.

Now, I’m sure some folks sincerely believe that putting a sick and alleged self-admitted child molester in with general prison population would bring the swiftest form of justice, but that’s not how this country rolls.

Please understand that, at least in this case, I’m not making any kind of judgment on the judge’s or prosecutor’s decision making process. All I’m saying is, given the questions that have come my way, I’m simply trying to fill in the blanks.

It’s no surprise there’s no change in the judicial vote count

Though it’s the simpler step in settling the in the Kostelny/Tegeler Third Subcircuit situation, yesterday’s two precinct Aurora discovery recount changed nothing. My prophetic track record may have taken a hit lately, but even a Fox News pundit could’ve predicted the Aurora vote would remain at 502 to 433 without breaking a a sweat.   kostelnytegeler

With that portion of the festivities out of the way and Teleger still up by 7 countywide votes, the two camps will move on to the Kane County Clerk’s office for a 16 precinct re-tally running from May 5 to May 7. And when that final absentee ballot is re-counted, nothing will have changed there either.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but since it’s been so difficult to disavow people of those paper ballot notions, please let me reiterate that today’s electronic voting machines are an all or nothing proposition. Either they work or they don’t

And if there was a problem, it would likely come with the Aurora Election Commission’s optical voting machines which can get “out of alignment.” But there’s no way eminently competent AEC Chief, Linda Fechner, would ever let that kind of thing happen.

And that proof is in their recount pudding.

As far as the odds of any Kane County E-Slate throwing a shoe go, you stand a far better chance of seeing the Illinois legislature solve its pension problem by tomorrow morning. Though I’m certainly no expert, having toiled in that general area, I know of what I speak.

Look, I can completely understand why a candidate, any candidate, who spent 20 grand of her own money to go down by seven votes, would want to leave no stone unturned. And the truth is, a 25 percent of the precincts discovery recount doesn’t cost the taxpayers very much and it costs the candidates even less.

But despite that boatload of wishful thinking, it’s not going to change a bloody thing. Mercifully, most election authorities have relegated the days of hanging chads to history’s dust bin.

That said, just because there’s no likelihood of a positive result for the Kostelny camp, that doesn’t mean there can’t be a negative outcome. To wit, during yesterday’s recount, Kostelny’s attorney objected to a ballot in which a voter employed a Tegeler check mark instead of darkening the appropriate oval.

First, that’s only one vote, and when you consider Illinois election law clearly states:

The designated area for casting a vote for a particular ballot position on the ballot sheet contains some other type of mark that indicates the clearly ascertainable intent of the voter to vote based on the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to any pattern or frequency of marks on other ballot positions from the same ballot sheet.

the objection suddenly seems rather petty. It’s one thing for those wacky politicians to spare nothing in their quest for public office, but it’s another thing entirely for a sitting judge to start down that road. And my fear is this is only the beginning of what will become a very contentious process.

The problem is, like the daunting prospect of unringing a bell, once you damage  your reputation, it’s almost impossible to get it back. And remember, Judgeships are just like those Solider Field game day shuttle buses – there’s always another one coming along.

We’ll see what happens.

I’m famous baby, like Monty Rock the third! (and why Kane County Democrats are worse than the Republicans)

The post title quotes, Nicholas Tremulis, one of my very favorite musicians.

But, I have to tell you, the Daily Herald’s nefarious plot to send me directly into cardiac arrest as I perused the local news at 5:30 a.m. this morning damn near succeeded. Because not only did they mention my name in an article that didn’t refer back to my colorful county clerk career, but they quoted me twice and provided a link to the blog post in question.

And thus the reason for my sudden fame! To quote them quoting me:

Kane County blogger Jeff Ward wrote on Sunday a post titled “Why I still believe Elgin needs a Hispanic councilman” that was shared on Facebook among Elgin residents.

“Democracy functions best when everyone participates,” Ward writes, later adding, “Since only a Hispanic citizen can truly understand what it means to be Hispanic in Elgin, only they can accurately represent that experience.”

To tell ya the truth, I’m kinda wondering what the catch is, but since one good turn deserves another, you can read Ms. Ferrarin’s piece right here.The general theme there is whether that impending Elgin City Council appointment should go to an Hispanic.

You’re already aware of my ruminations on that matter.

But as the Elgin City Council gets ready to cull the list of contenders later this evening, my esteemed former LR&Y radio co-host, Allen Skillicorn, wryly noted that it was actually Frank Imhoff and the local Democrats who once threw a Republican Latina (Ariana Flores) off that Elgin ballot.

And while there’s certainly a massive irony there, the implicit assumption on the part of many folks is that, because I tend to take the ruling GOP to task more often, I somehow favor Kane County Democrats. Rest assured, nothing could be further from the truth.

Though some of my best friends are democrats, the only thing worse than a Kane County Republican is a Kane County Democrat. For example, while the GOP just loves their little spats, you can’t put an Elgin and Aurora Democrat in the same room without the risk of of a spontaneous thermonuclear detonation.  tremulis

And, on far too many occasions, the candidates the Democratics come up with are four beers short of a twelve-pack. C’mon! Mike Noland, Bill Sarto, and Bill Foster? If it wasn’t for Sheriff Pat Perez bending the curve upward, I’d shudder to think what their collective IQ might be.

At least the Republicans had the good sense to put Tom Hartwell and Allen Skillicorn in their leadership roles. This means that those shifting demographics that tend to favor Democrats won’t be nearly enough to offset the fact that they have a long way to go to reach mediocre.

Please note that I’m also no fan of petition challenges, by either party, either because it’s just a way of eliminating rivals on a technicality and Ms. Flores’ Republican-ness proves one of my previous points.

So, with that issue resolved, and my thanks to the Daily Herald for spelling my name right, we’ll let the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra play us out of this post:

Wow! The NBA did the right thing!

I realize I’m, once again, allowing myself to be distracted by the national news, but I truly believed the NBA would buckle when it came down to dealing with uber-racist Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Don’t laugh! Remember when Major League Baseball hit Dodgers relief pitcher Steve Howe with seven separate lifetime drug bans?

Donald Sterling

Donald Sterling

But this wasn’t the case! Sterling:

  • Has earned a lifetime ban from the sport which means he can’t even attend a practice.
  • Was fined the maximum $2.5 million which is like a quarter to folks like you and I, but it is the maximum.
  • And a three-quarters NBA owner vote forcing him to sell the franchise is a slam dunk.

Please don’t feel too sorry for our beleaguered team owner, he stands to make a tidy $563 million profit on the team he bought way back in 1981.

Now, I’ve already read the conservative posts trying to somehow cast this incident in the shadow of the President’s vast racial shortcomings, but this isn’t a Cliven Bundy case where you can summarily dismiss hin as a run-of-the-mill racist nutcase. This is a guy who got hit with the largest housing discrimination sanction ever levied and, according to new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, not only did Sterling own up to the alleged comments, but he “expressed no remorse” for making them.

Didn’t Fox News just say racism was dead in America?

By the way, there is one real life lesson here that everyone seems to be missing in all this.

My long time readers like Erin Baker Platt will likely recall my Beacon-News column on the Tiger Woods saga in which I put forth the Ward-Kelley Postulate. And that postulate goes like  this;  “Since one woman in our lives brings so much “happiness,” we refuse to cheat on our wives because catering to the emotional needs of two women would compound that “happiness” to unbearable levels.

And the person who likely leaked the recorded racist rant was Sterling’s mistress, who seems to have an ongoing conflict with her beloved’s wife. This only goes to show you that, the failure to read my columns on a regular basis will bring you nothing but grief in life.

Consider yourself warned!


Senator Noland strikes again!

Of the plethora of politicians that regularly grace those hallowed Kane County hallways, none have provided the kind of entertainment bang for buck that Elgin State Senator Mike Noland has.

Sorry Senator Oberweis! Despite a truly amazing and consistent track record, you come in a distant second here because you’ve actually made legislative headway and you’re far too predictable. Ah, but when it comes to Senator Mike, it’s just like the proverbial box of political chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna git.

We won’t go into all of the Senator’s past peccadilloes because they’ve already been thoroughly covered and it would be disingenuous for me to go back there again.

Mike Noland

Mike Noland

Suffice it to say, until this most recent incident, Senator Noland has never enjoyed such a lengthy bout of good behavior. Personally, I didn’t think he had it in him. Perhaps going face to face against primary challenger Tim Elenz in 2012 put the fear of God into him.

But since all good things must come to and end, my favorite State Senator just made his notoriety comeback by casting the only “no” vote in Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s quest for a fifth term as Democratic State Chairman.

Noland told reporters he embarked upon this political kamikaze mission “respectfully” because he and the Chairman were mired in a “disagreement” that wasn’t “personal.” And I’m sure the Senator has nothing to fear. House Speaker Madigan has always been known for his amicable bearing and forgiving nature.

When pressed to declare exactly what the dispute was, Noland declined to define his position.  But that won’t stop me from elaborating on it

But before we go there, you all know I’m no fan of Mike Madigan, but if the raison de etre of a state party chairman is to get his compatriots elected, then to quote the great Carly Simon, “nobody does it better” than hizzoner.

(And, by theway, for the record, he’s also the individual she was crooning about in “You’re So Vain.”)

So despite the plethora of political improprieties that lie squarely at the Speaker’s feet, his record of running the Illinois Democratic Party ain’t one of ’em because you can’t argue with those results.

Were I a State Senator unhappy with the Speaker, I might start out by mentioning that, in using his massive influence to funnel business to his property tax fighting law firm, Michael Madigan has unjustly enriched himself at the expense of Illinois taxpayers.

But no! Noland has to make some sort of silly symbolic gesture because of a small spat which goes back to former Elgin city councilperson Anna Moeller being appointed to take over for indicted State Rep Keith Farnham.

You see, Senator Mike was heavily lobbying for Elgin County Board Member Cristina Castro to fill those shoes and, apparently, he believes Darth Madigan had something to do with the final result.

And while I’m sure the Speaker added his ample two cents, he’s generally got better things to do than wade into a local turf skirmish – like continue his determined and single-handed effort to drive the State directly into default, for example.

Now, before we adjourn, please, please, please don’t hold the Senator’s support of Cristina Castro against her because that would be eminently unfair. If she can manage to get along with him, the she can get along with anyone which bodes well for her future. Like that oft referred to busted clock, even Mike Noland has to be right at least twice per day.

I suppose we’ll see just how long the Speaker’s memory is around mid 2015. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking Tim might have a wee bit more party support if he runs again.

Meanwhile, why are those famous Pet Shop Boys lyrics going through my head? The ones that go, “Cause you were never being boring.”

Quick Hit: Farnham indicted

Though I got my hands on this story pretty quickly (thanks Kim!), I just couldn’t go with it right away.  farnham

C’mon! We all knew exactly what was coming. Homeland Security’s “he’s not a suspect” pronouncement and a health related resignation notwithstanding, the fact that 43rd District State Rep Keith Farnham immediately stepped down after his computers were seized, said it all.

Considering any other outcome than a child pornography charge was engaging the kind of wishful thinking that almost never works out.

And the fact that Farnham clearly courted his own political and personal demise doesn’t make it any easier to cover the sordid indictment details, so I won’t. Should you feel so moved, the full story is on the DH website.

But when all is said and done, here’s what I take away from this sad tale:

  1. In this ain’t nuthin’ private day and age, I cannot understand why anyone with half a brain would willingly indulge their sexual fantasies in an online conversation. Even if it’s your wife on the other end, we all know how easily email, or any other account, can be hacked. And unless you’re Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, that kind of thing getting out almost never works out too well.
  2. Despite the utterly distasteful nature of the charges, please remember that Farnham is innocent until proven otherwise. Our system of jurisprudence hinges on the fact that you always get your day in court.
  3. I’ve said it before. Why, like vultures hovering over an almost rotting corpse, does the press feel the need to seek statements from the defendant’s political friends?  What are they gonna say? “Yeah! I always thought there was something wrong with him, It’s about time he got his!” No! It will inevitably be something like, “I’m shocked. He’s always been such a standup guy. I hope he and his family come through this OK.”
  4. Conversely, why do the folks to whom the press turn, feel the need to wade in? This is one situation where a “I really have no comment” is the perfect response.

I don’t know. Though I’ve always had my doubts as to it’s efficacy, perhaps prayer is the best and only real course of action in this case.

Cliven Bundy? He’s just the symptom

I promise I won’t do this too often because you can easily obtain national news from a variety of sources. But if I happen to have an insight that everyone else has missed, then, rest assured, I’ll be more than happy to venture into that vast arena.

To wit, in Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker’s most recent syndicated effort (in today’s Trib), she tackles the whole Cliven Bundy kerfuffle, but her main point turned out to be a bit baffling. She claims the GOP’s affirmation of this rogue Nevada rancher does not make them racist, but that:

“Republicans should repent of associating with anyone espousing or endorsing such incendiary nastiness. And championing lawlessness does nothing to elevate discourse, civility or any of the other higher roads to which we might more enthusiastically aspire.”

Now, normally I’m quite fond of Ms. Parker because she’s a conservative with a conscience and I can certainly find no fault in her premise. While many conservatives may be bigots, not nearly all Republicans are racist, and it would behoove us all to remember that our associations always have a bearing on how people perceive us.

Just ask Rob Ford.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker

But this time Parker completely missed the mark because it isn’t the rotating conservative poster children that are the real problem – there are plenty like them to be found – it’s the zeal and yearning with which the mainstream GOP and their Fox News lackeys are willing to embrace them.

Joe the Plumber, Sarah Palin, the CBO’s two millions jobs lost to Obamacare, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, the Obamacare horror story players, Ted Cruz, the Tea Party, Ted Nugent, the Birthers, Rick Santorum, folks who think Neil deGrasse Tyson is the anti-Christ, and now, Cliven Bundy.

In fact, it’s happened so often that pundits like Sean Hannity and his ilk are actually starting to believe their own “give me liberty or give me death” narrative to the point where it’s become an addiction that’s almost impossible to feed.

Never mind that every single one of these dalliances has come around to bite the GOP in the butt, and by necessity, the next one will have to be even nuttier than the rest.

C’mon! What could possibly go wrong with championing an anti-government lunatic who compares himself to a welfare queen while threatening to use his wife as a human shield for some free grass? I don’t know…maybe he might just turn out to be a flaming racist who believes our black neighbors would be far better off picking cotton on the plantation.


This conservative capacity to, like a drowning man willing to grab anything that floats, cling to whatever bolsters their fragile and self righteous self-definition, belies a mindset that says, “it really is all about me and whatever I happen to be thinking right now!” And the truly frightening thing is, the potential to foresee the consequences of engaging in this kind of delusion seems to have completely passed them over.

It speaks to a bizarre inability to exist in anything beyond a permanent political present and I’m not sure that’s what those Zen monks had in mind. But no matter how sore their butts become, I can unequivocally guarantee they will repeat this “miscalculation” as soon as the next opportunity presents itself.

Whether they believe it or not, whenever you blindly support someone who turns out to be a raging racist, the stink might just stick to you too.

So, even though she’s right, Ms. Parker’s contention that conservatives need to avoid “espousing or endorsing such incendiary nastiness” is utterly pointless until those same conservatives somehow develop the capacity to think before they act and consider Newton’s position that, on frequent occasion, there may well be an equal and opposite reaction.

Because when someone like Rand Paul suddenly becomes the voice of Republican reason, that really says it all, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, what’s that loud sucking sound we all just heard? Oh yeah! It’s the GOP’s midterm chances going right down the toilet.

In praise of a local politician

Since I have no intention of making Illinois’ Second City jealous with my excessive doting on Elgin, it’s time to turn my attention back to the City of Lights. After all, my major newspaper kick start came in covering our southern Kane County neighbors.

To that end, in my ongoing effort to get back into the swing of things, last weekend I revisited some of the more recent Aurora news stories and spoke with some old friends. And one of the names that kept coming up in a positive light was former city councilman and current 84th District State Rep Stephanie Kifowit.

Stehphanie Kifowit

Stehphanie Kifowit

Because despite having to endure the kind of contentious campaign that might make some folks politically gun shy, Ms. Kifowit is making a point of putting herself out there. She certainly doesn’t seem to be content to simply sit around the state capitol drinking bourbon with Rich Miller.

Just this month, she’s hosted an informational community meeting with the Fox Valley Park District, a seminar to help senior citizen avoid identity theft at the Oswego Holiday Inn express, A spring cleaning recycling event at her Montgomery office, and a series of coffee shop stops to meet constituents.

Legislatively, the Oswego State Rep sponsored a bill to protect victims of domestic abuse by allowing GPS tracking of those charged with domestic violence or kidnapping related crimes. She also went to bat for disabled veterans by moving to provide them with property tax relief and her bill to ban “revenge porn” made it through the House.

That’s not too bad for a month’s work.

Given that she’s only been at the gig for a year, there something to be said for getting the basics right. I look forward to seeing where her political career might go.

Another mall view

Since we always encourage dissenting opinions here at the FirstWard, and even though I don’t agree with his basic mall premise, I thought this comment by reader Todd Martin was so well done that it deserved a more prominent posting.

So here goes:

A few points in favor of an indoor shopping mall. 1st, the Internet will never replace brick & mortar. People want to touch and try on things. 2nd, people prefer 1 stop shopping, which explains Super Walmart, Super Target, and an Indoor Mall is bigger with more choices than either. The success of Walmart & Target is due to pricing rather than convenience. I’d take an indoor mall shopping experience over a Walmart trip in a heartbeat! I also prefer an indoor mall to walking from store to store in someplace like the Arboretum (especially in Winter or bad weather). The trick to success & profit in competition is providing Value rather being the low cost provider. That value may be found in lots of ways. It could be vanity, the mall can be more prestigious than Walmart. After all, people buy luxury cars. It could be customer service. People will pay more if there is a sales clerk that is available, knows the product, and is nice to people. It could be convenience in bundling a movie theatre, fine dining, or other attractions to your shopping day. There are lots of ways to bring value.  

Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Randall Road is a success today because of traffic count & the lower cost of building out on former farm land. These factors may be fleeting. As each stoplight is installed, the time it takes to travel on Randall increases. Eventually, it is like a downtown and no one drives there anymore.

For an indoor shopping mall, that means making it a desirable destination. Woodfield Mall is a roaring success; the size, scale & diversity of stores appeals to a broad range. There’s a lot of niche stores you won’t find elsewhere. I love the Lego store. Spring Hill mall has a play area for kids. My kids love the mall because of that. The St. Charles mall is a beautiful structure and can have those same ingredients. The names of anchor stores may change, but big box isn’t dead. Maybe they get a Home Depot instead of a JC Penny’s.

St. Charles mall went through a negative feedback loop. Losing tenants begets losing more tenants. That’s a hard truth. Equally true is that positive feedback loops work as well. As you add value and content, you gain more and more shoppers. I wish the luck with the re-development and will give them a try once they have tenants again.

And Elgin Republicans could use an Hispanic candidate too!

During the course of a rather rousing Sunday afternoon conversation with a favorite political friend of mine, we covered my previous blog contention that Elgin and/or Kane County Republicans really oughtta field a worthy Hispanic candidate to take on State Rep Anna Moeller in that 43rd District November race.

Per my previous post, not only would reaching out to the Hispanic community encourage the kind of engagement that could only improve the sad state of the Illinois GOP, but it would send a message that they  really are a party of inclusion (even though we all know that’s not really true).  KCGOP

But in failing to elect even one State House Rep since  1983, the only message they’re sending is that the GOP prefers blonds.

We all know Moeller is going be a tough nut to crack no matter who’s slated, but instead of making an effort to be competitive, local Republicans are falling back on that tried and true tactic of going with the same old familiar faces, all of whom happen to be white and all of whom have no shot.

But when they were pressed on the very possibility we’re discussing, they immediately resorted to shrieking and howling something to the effect of, “we would, but we can’t find a reasonable Hispanic Republican candidate.”

Oh really?

Since people love to say I’m nothing but helpful, then please allow me to be of assistance one more time.

Because the last time I looked, four Hispanic candidates – with anything from reasonable to exceptional resumes – just threw their hat in the vacant Elgin city council seat ring. And the odds are they’re all not nearly Democrats (especially the veterans) and even if they are, switching parties has always been a favorite Kane County political pastime.

Beacause only one of these 21 already civic-minded contenders can be chosen, that means that either Alberto Lopez or Rosamaria Martinez will shortly become available. If you recall, It was Mr. Lopez’ impressive resume that caused me to nearly drop the F-bomb on the air.

So with the applications of these fine folks who long to be part of the process firmly in hand, all the Kane County GOP has to do to be competitive in the 43rd is take advantage of this amazing opportunity by allocating some campaign cash and giving me a buzz. I will happily pass those resumes along.

Who wants to place bets on whether they actually make the call?