All my Kane County Judicial Center children

Now, I will admit I’ve had a couple of shots of tequila this evening, but that’s the only way anyone can cover the Kane County justice system and make any sense of it whatsoever.

Of course, I wrote the words “Kane County Justice system” with the full understanding that the word “oxymoron” doesn’t begin to do it justice. The only thing more incestuous than this group of judges, prosecutors and attorneys would be a Trump family reunion.

“But Jeff! Aren’t you about to embark upon the kind of boring insider baseball BS that makes the average ADHD reader immediately descend into a three-day sugar and video gaming binge just to compensate? Perhaps! But that’s never stopped me before.

Kane County Judicial Center

There comes a time when regular folks need to know how the sausage is made.

So when we last left off, I’d already covered the various iterations of the Daniel Rak murder trial, which included a lengthy hearing on a slew of ill-gotten public defender emails at the hands of an out-of-control Kane County States Attorney’s office.

Public Defender Kelli Childress was doing her damndest to get the charges tossed based on the proposition that prosecutorial overreach is never a good thing. But the hitch in her legal giddyup is, the standards the KCSAO regularly applies to us, never seem to apply to them. That’s why there’s no bathroom mirrors at Route 38 and Peck Road.

Since this is clearly a tale told by an idiot (me, if you had any doubt), full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, and all the world really is a stage, I thought the best way to proceed would be to cover all the players. Though this certainly ain’t no Midsummer’s Night Dream, the word I’m really looking for does rhyme with Puck.

1. Judge D. J. Tegeler

When he wasn’t busy treating female public defenders with the utmost contempt – one of the many perks the black dress confers – he ruled that the state’s attorney’s email conduct wasn’t “egregious” enough to change anything. Apparently, a prosecutor has to kill a defense attorney in open court before they cross that line.

And there’s no one I’d rather play poker against either, because a scant two minutes into that first hearing, I knew exactly how the Judge was gonna rule. I also know those humorless Second District appellate court judges will slap him upside the legal head if the case ever gets that far.

Not to worry Your Honor! Judge John Dalton always seems willing to go out of his way to make his peers look good by comparison.

2. Public Defender Kelli Childress

Is one of the most brilliant and perceptive attorneys I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in action. But when it comes to applying that considerable skillset to herself or her own cases, she has all the vision of Stevie Wonder.

Being a purist barely pays when you’re a bleepin’ columnist, much less a PD who serves at the behest of the all-male 16th Circuit judicial chorus. The only thing more painful than watching those hearings was having to sit my bony white butt on those unforgiving gallery benches.

It’s why I gave up Catholicism for Lent.

It’s not that Childress did a bad job. No! Her grasp of databases truly impressed this former 20-year programming consultant. It’s that, instead of reading the judge and simply moving on to a murder trial that has more holes than the Circuit Clerk’s new computer system, she bet too much on this illicit email longshot and went down in the kind of inevitable flames that make North Korean missile launches so much fun.

So after Tegeler stopped berating her long enough to issue his ruling, she had to ask for a continuance to prepare that defense, which failed to amuse the judge, which will make her client’s life that much more difficult.

On a side note, though we desperately need more people like you in that PD position Ms. Childress, we’re I in your heels, I’d start considering other options. With some notable exceptions, Kane County judges love a zealous defense until it comes from a PD with a uterus.

3. Rak Prosecutor Alex Bederka

How does one sum up my favorite assistant state’s attorney? Again; what’s the difference between God and Alex? God doesn’t think he’s Alex Berderka! But at least Alex can take solace in the fact that his marginal courtroom capacities are light years ahead of his failed attempts at becoming a real boy.

To wit, the KCSAO probably spent as much as six figures on Hinshaw & Culberston, Joe McMahon’s old law firm, to defend an email motion that was doomed from the Judge Tegeler start. Even Alex couldn’t have screwed that one up. To hell with the Kane County taxpayers, right!

So now Bederka and the SAO are going forward with charges that should never have been filed in the first place. Even someone with my minimal intelligence, surly manner and lack of bar accreditation could instill enough reasonable doubt.

4. Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

Whose chances of being appointed to that coveted Northern Illinois Federal Prosecutor position are dwindling day by day, in great part, because he’s letting the inmates run the asylum.

If any defense attorney, public defender or police officer “accidentally” obtained similar privileged information, the fat lady wouldn’t even bother warming up. But in McMahon’s magic kingdom, all prosecutor Deb Lang had to do is wave her I-didn’t-read-those-emails sworn statement magic wand, and it’s all good!

She certainly knew which emails needed to be deleted from the subpoena response, didn’t she?

And McMahon’s insistence on setting up that errant email aggregation system in the first place seems to have no bearing on anything. One can only hope those federal prosecutors have been paying attention.

But the real Peter Principle irony here is, most of the applicable Kane County politicians are so fed up with Joe and his office, they want to help him move up just to get rid of him.

 

As for me, after navigating the Kane County justice system as the victim of a Class X felony and paying particular attention this case, in the words of that great philosopher Billy Joel, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun – and more honest too.”

(OK! So I paraphrased!)

This is Kane County justice folks! Daniel Rak would have a better shot on The People’s Court or by simply rolling the dice. And that’s the only part of this story that doesn’t make me laugh. At least with sausage, I get to enjoy the end product.

You can’t touch this!

You know what I’m talking about people! We all have that friend who has to top every story we tell.

If you had a great vacation, they met Nelson Mandela on their 1978 South African tour. If you found a sawbuck on the street, they’ll regale you with the tale of the time they found a bag of C-notes. If you got a great deal on that Marchesa Notte evening gown, they could’ve gotten it for you wholesale.

These “you can’t touch this” folks exhibit a relentless and inexorable drive to assuage their vast insecurities by making you feel small.

So, despite her incredible accomplishments – not the least of which is earning this writer’s undying respect and admiration – it is with great sadness that I must report that Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman is one of those you-can’t-top-me kind of people.

And y’all know I always tell the truth!

It all started with me making the Channel 7 news as I was getting my picture taken with new Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin at his Paramount Theatre inauguration. It was a fun thing. Being a sex symbol may be difficult, but it does have its moments!

But Kristen just had to top it!

And sure enough! Just two days later, my favorite police chief’s photograph graced the WGN evening news with the caption “Kristen Kiefer.”

Not Kristen!

Of course, Kristen Kiefer is the Fox Lake resident who set off a massive manhunt by falsely claiming to have encountered the Gliniewicz “killers” early on in that investigation. WGN was covering Ms. Kiefer’s two-year probation and $20,000 restitution sentence.

One could ask the question, “How the bleep could WGN possibly confuse a Fox Lake civilian with the police chief of the second largest city in Illinois?”

Perhaps the woman wearing a police uniform shoulda tipped someone off. Did no producer consider the possibility that a police officer probably wouldn’t make a false report just to get national attention? Perhaps it’s something as simple as WGN thinks all white women named Kristen look alike.

But I’m convinced there’s something far more nefarious to this! In an effort to steal my Richard Irvin coverage thunder, Ms. Ziman conspired with WGN to get her picture on the nightly news by any means possible. C’mon! No news editor could possibly be this incompetent.

It’s the only logical explanation.

So yes, Kristen Ziman! Apparently the fact that you’re one of just two female police chiefs in Illinois; the fact that your law-enforcement track record is as about good as it gets; the fact that you’ve gained the respect and admiration of your peers in a male dominated profession without sacrificing anything you stand for; the fact that “Calm” is your middle name; the fact that I never hear anyone say a bad thing about you; and the fact that you can out-write me, isn’t nearly enough for you.

You just had to beat my, “Look Ma! I was on the news!” story, so you did just that. All I can say is, I truly hope you get the help you so desperately need soon!

Quick Hits – The May 12, 2017 Geneva Report

Ya gotta love Genevans part one

Unless you’ve served on a city council or covered as many board meetings as I have, most folks have no idea just how powerless local governing bodies can be!

One alderman gets one vote. If they can’t consistently form a consensus among their peers, they get nothing done. And I bet you didn’t know the vast majority of Illinois mayors only get to vote in the case of a tie.

Yes! These boards can dictate zoning, enact ordinances and set all sorts of village standards, but if they go a scant millimeter over the line, they will be sued and they will lose. Worse yet, non-Home Rule communities like Geneva cannot be stricter or looser than State statute in many cases.

So when I found this flyer attached to my mailbox this morning, all I could say to myself was, “This is why I’ll never run for alderman!” Trust me, Monday’s city council meeting is gonna be one for the ages.

No Prairie Wind

You see, despite this anonymous missive’s dire declaration; “Don’t let St. Charles dictate your day,” St. Charles can do exactly that and there’s not a damn thing Geneva can do about it. The Prairie Winds apartment complex is a done deal!

For the uninitiated, Prairie Winds is a 250 plus apartment development which will be built behind the Meijer – Loew’s mall at Randall Road and Rt. 38. And the only way in and out of the complex will be via Bricher Road.

So, of course, my the-sky-is-always-falling Fisher Farms compatriots are up in arms about having to leave for work two minutes early to avoid the imminent Dan Ryan-esque traffic jams. And they’re directing their ire at Fourth Ward Aldermen Jim Radecki and Jeanne McGowan as well as Mayor Kevin Burns.

Welcome to municipal government Alderman McGowan!

As long as St. Charles follows all the applicable laws – and they have – the apartment complex is coming in. But even Ms. McGowan seemed kinda perplexed by this very basic concept at Monday’s (5/8) city council meeting.

It would require a St. Charles rebellion of vast proportion to derail this project and that isn’t about to happen because that location doesn’t affect any of ‘em. Don’t even think a about a lawsuit because either, because it would go down in flames. Lastly, those businesses will be thrilled to have the extra customers.

So while I would never dissuade anyone from showing up at City Hall to wail and rend their garments, it will accomplish absolutely nothing. Much like Geneva has the right to develop within their borders as they see fit, so does St. Charles.

 

Ya gotta love Genevans part two

Because everything we already discussed also applies to the potential redevelopment of the old Campana building which, at Rt. 31 and Fabyan Road, lies squarely within Batavia’s boundaries.

Campana Building

To fill in those blanks, Evergreen Real Estate Group has petitioned the City to redevelop that building into 80 apartment units, 64 of which would designated as “affordable.” In real estate parlance, that means “low income.”

And I haven’t heard Genevans shriek and howl this much since the East Side CVS ran out of Spanx!

Facebook has been literally littered comments like, “the trash this will bring in,” “those people,” “freeloaders” and “blight.” And we all know the term “those people” doesn’t refer to Swedes!

If Aurora is The City of Lights, can Geneva be “The City of Whites?”

There’s nothing quite like good Christian Republicans, is there? As least they’ll have something to talk about in the St. Peter confessional.

Once again, Batavia has all the power and, since there aren’t any nearby Batavians to protest. So, unless the requested parking variance does it in, the development’s coming in.

Your family may have to listen to your unfounded and semi-bigoted rants, but the Batavia City Council does not!

You’re famous baby!

As the great Nicholas Tremulus once intoned!

Of the 1,500 Aurora City Council inauguration attendees, guess who made the Channel 7 news as he was getting his picture taken with new Mayor Richard Irvin?

 

 

That’s right! The old, bald, white guy from Geneva! Apparently, being gorgeous has it’s upside and I do want to thank Gilberts Mayor Rick Zirk for capturing this moment for posterity.

Autographs start at $100 a pop and if the women would refrain from ripping my clothes off, it would be appreciated!

Quick Hits – May 8, 2017

Calm down liberals!

Trust me! I understand why the Congressional Obamacare repeal vote has all of your knickers in a twist. After all, killing people off in the name of billionaire tax cuts ain’t exactly the most Christian endeavor. But what my liberal compatriots don’t seem to pick up on is the concept of two steps forward and one step back.

Considering the level of national bigotry and his capacity to be ineffectual when it really mattered, what made you think there wasn’t going to be some sort equal and opposite reaction to our first black president?

Trumpcare

Here’s what you’re missing.

The fascinating Trump presidency has finally fired up liberals to the point where they’re getting involved in a rational manner. We’re already seeing how difficult it is for Republicans to hold their seats. The chickens of pandering to their base are finally coming home to roost.

So unless something really strange happens, the inevitable 2018 mid-term backlash is gonna be one for the ages. And every time Trump does something stupid, it’s gets that much worse for Republicans.

Of course, the Senate, fearing for their political lives, stopped the ACA repeal dead in its tracks and it will be fascinating to see what alternative they manage to come up with. But if Trumpcare does survive, it will destroy any and all 2018 GOP hopes. Why? Because the states with the highest ACA enrollment are the ones who went for Trump!

We’ve all learned that no one can convince Trump supporters with the facts, but when the President’s policies start causing them pain, the shrieking, howling and mind changing will commence.

To make matters much worse for our red state brothers and sisters, they’re the biggest consumers of food stamps, they have more preexisting conditions and the Trump tax cuts will kill the massive subsidies they get from the richer blue states. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Yes! You are correct! Trump could end it all with the mere press of a button, but then we wouldn’t have worry about him anymore, would we?

So liberals! Please take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of pinot noir, put on some Chain Smokers and apply some badly needed perspective. If there’s one thing you can count on in this existence, it’s the pendulum swinging back.

I’m not saying you should let go of your newfound momentum. By all means, keep calling your Congressmen to tell them how you feel. It’s just that you don’t want to let your outrage mobilize the other side. There are times when the best course of action is to let some folks hang themselves.

 

It would be easier to list the things the Daily Herald gets right

I know I keep picking on that insipid paper, but they make it so easy it’s hard to stop! To wit, reporter Harry Hitzeman either got something completely wrong or he outright lied.

Not that one is necessarily better than the other.

Harry Hitzeman

Harry Hitzeman

Getting back to the Daniel Rak murder prosecution! When a Kane County judge wasn’t too busy bullying female public defenders, he was considering whether the State’s Attorney’s “accidental” acquisition of privileged PD emails meant that case should be tossed.

In his already stilted coverage of the case, Hitzeman wrote, “A forensic computer expert corroborated Lang’s [an assistant prosecutor] testimony that the emails were never shared.”

NO HE DIDN’T! And you know it, dear readers, because you read it right here!

What the forensic expert actually said was, “Although this does not conclusively rule out that the PD emails had been reviewed…” That isn’t corroboration, that’s a bleepin’ guess. The expert went on to say. “If those files had been reviewed, saved and/or printed, there is a reasonable likelihood that the process of doing so would have left forensic residue…”

And my initial blog response was, “Yeah! And there’s a reasonable likelihood that my wife is gonna kick my sorry ass out any day now, but it never seems to happen!”

Silly me! I thought the murder trial standard was “beyond any reasonable doubt,” not, “What the heck? I think we’re good!”

Harry, everyone knows you’re just a shill for State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, but even I didn’t think you’d stoop to this kind of fake news. I guess I was wrong!

 

Congratulations and condolences

Congratulations to Annette Johnson for retaining her D131 School Board President title by a close 4 to 3 vote. Though Annette shares my capacity to be cantankerous, I’ve never doubted her love for that often difficult East Aurora District. No one should ever underestimate that rare politician with a keen perception of the obvious

I also want to congratulate new West Aurora School Board member Christopher Sparks. The fact that any candidate who wants to serve on a school board should automatically be disqualified notwithstanding, I was impressed when I met Chris while canvassing for North Aurora Trustee Tao Martinez. Good luck sir!

Lastly, I want to offer my condolences to the family of Jamie Daniel and to all Genevans for our collective loss. Ms. Daniel, a preservationist, businesswoman and architectural connoisseur passed away at the age of 95 last week.

Ms. Daniel was involved in the League of Women Voters and the PTA. She was one of the first board members for the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, the Riverfront Park Committee and she was a member of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. She also founded Miscella Realty in 1977.

Jamie Daniel

Jamie Daniel

In lieu of a funeral, there will be a memorial service May 20 at 1 p.m. at the Geneva History Museum.

Spinning out of control?

If you believe some local school administrators and teachers, the arrival of spinners, or fidget toys, will bring our entire educational system, and perhaps even Western civilization, crashing down upon us. Why, some districts have gone as far as banning the heinous devices for safety reasons!

Spinners

Safety of whom? The egos of folks who don’t want to have to compete with a simple toy? But before I aggravate you any further, please allow me issue some stipulations first.

Let’s start with the fact that classroom toy crazes are nothing new and none of them have done irreparable harm. In my 1970 sixth-grade Evanston St. Nick’s classroom, it was TV Magic Cards. In the 90’s it was Tomagotchi virtual pets. In the noughties it was Pokemon Cards. Now it’s spinners.

In the immortal words of that great philosopher Gloria Gaynor, “We will survive.”

And yes! There certainly is a fad element to fidget toys which can cause some classroom confusion. Despite what school districts try to tell the parents of boys, not everyone of them has ADHD.

Third, being a teacher – as my lovely and longsuffering wife currently is –  is already difficult enough. Dealing with a classroom full of not-so-eager middle schoolers as  they’re distracted by a bright, shiny object sounds a lot like Dante’s twenty-third circle of hell.

But those eminently evenhanded provisions in no way absolve these school districts from not only failing to understand the real lesson here, but issuing the kind of response that makes these toys more popular than ever.

I’ve been saying it in my columns for years!

Elementary, middle and high school classrooms are set up for girls to succeed and for boys to fail. And the raging Ritalin epidemic is all the proof anyone really needs. A whopping 20 bleeping percent of high school boys have been diagnosed with ADHD while only 10 percent of their female counterparts are similarly labelled.

Furthermore, the anti-boy education statistics cited in this Time article by “The War Against Boys” author, Christina Hoff Summers, are truly terrifying and they’re getting worse every day.  In her book, Ms. Summers correctly argues that a “misguided feminism is harming our young men.”

War against boys

So we’re faced with two possible conclusions. Either boys are defective or our school system is. And I’m fervently hoping I’m not the only one armed with a keen perception of the obvious. It wasn’t until my sophomore year at Loyola University that I finally realized I wasn’t the problem.

Just say no to drugs? Unless it’s Schedule II controlled substances Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta, right?

And, as usual, the minds of the folks charged with shaping young minds are set in stone.

Instead of embracing spinners and making them an interesting part of the curriculum, i.e., the economics of trading fidget toys, administrators ban them. Instead of learning from boys who desperately want to “heal” themselves in the face of an impossible standard, teachers refuse to get the message. Instead of questioning a system that’s based on a long-gone, low-noise, slower agrarian culture, superintendents do what they’ve always done because they’ve always done it.

You see, the truth is, administrators and teachers kinda like having the ultimate classroom control. Teaching boys kinetically not only means a massive mindset change, but a lot more effort too. It’s much easier to demand that boys be quiet and pay attention, and then administer the kind of discipline that sends them into a deep despair when they don’t.

Though I know very few will, every teacher within the sound of my voice should read “The War Against Boys.” C’mon! Even doctors have to raise their right hand and say “First, I will do no harm” before grabbing a scalpel.

As the wisdom of boys would suggest, spinners, correctly applied, are a not a bad thing.

I’ll talk a lot more about this on Monday’s podcast.