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.



5 thoughts on “Quick Hits – June 14, 2017

  1. Regarding, EMSA I would beg to differ on your interpretation of your list.

    Issue 1) Money. The status quo has U46 in danger of being squeezed by a combination of a State in financial crisis & a Federal Department of Education under siege. This is true regardless of whether students are taught in a traditional U46 neighborhood school or a new-fangled EMSA campus at FRCDS. Denying EMSA doesn’t fix the financial risks. What EMSA does provide to U46 is diversification in funding sources where none has existed before. Betsy DeVos and her Republican legislating posse are not going to stand still. They will try to shift Federal dollars toward Charters. U46 needs a way to be flexible in capturing these resources.

    Special Ed total expenses aren’t going to be significantly different per student between an EMSA location or a neighborhood school location. Either way, the teacher ratio & supporting structure is pretty well codified.

    Issue 2) At risk students. FRCDS is at the NE end of Elgin. My neighborhood of NENA is currently served by Coleman Elementary and McKinley Elementary. Both are by far serving at-risk students. Those families will now have a close local option. Considering the FRCDS campus, I believe it will be very easy to recruit students. Early indications regarding recruitment efforts by EMSA bears that out. There is strong demand.

    Issue 3) Alternative dynamic won’t make a difference? 1st, have you toured the campus? 2nd, have you done any research into Expeditionary learning? 3rd, Have you considered the performance of kids who actually attended FRCDS? I think it is close-minded to decide there won’t be a difference before a single student is admitted into EMSA.

    That’s my 2-cents.

    • Todd,

      With my track record, the next time someone says I haven’t done my due diligence, I’m going to kick their ass. It’s a really bad argument to use against Jeff Ward.

      1. Of course the financial squeeze is with us whether the charter school comes to fruition or not. But because there’s an educational financial squeeze that isn’t about to be settled any time soon, now is NOT the time for a charter school.

      2. D300 only managed to get 15 percent – at best – at-risk students into their charter school. AND IT ISN’T UP TO ME TO RESEARCH IT! It’s up to the emsa group to convince me they can do it, and they haven’t even come close. They haven’t put forth a single statement that makes me believe they’ll do better than D300.

      3. What the bleep will touring the campus do? The school isn’t even open. I’ve done a ton of research into expeditionary learning and the majority of the studies say it doesn’t make a difference. FRCDS was an entirely different proposition than this one, and it didn’t work out too well, did it? In addition to all that, my wife is a teacher. AGAIN! THOUGH I’VE DONE QUITE A BIT OF RESEARCH EVEN THOUGHT IT’S NOT UP TO ME TO DO IT. THE TRUTH IS THE EMSA PEOPLE NEED TO CONVINCE ME. And they haven’t even begun to do it in this regard.

      Considering where the school board debate is now, the charter school is dead in the water as it should be.


  2. This whole idea is not about making kids smarter in math or science or the core goals of a charter school. (Normally a conservative/Republican desire, NOT a liberal/Democrat issue, by the way.)

    Instead, it is all about creating an escape school for NENA residents who are tired of having their own ox gored when it comes to the minority-dominated, poor performing McKinley, Coleman and Larsen schools. For years those who have been privately perturbed with their neighborhood have trumpeted the rich diversity of NENA to all others. They have even scorned those who do not share in their faux beliefs. Many of them are forced to home school or transport their children to private schools to escape these neighborhood schools. On the financial end, a low-minority-attended escape school nestled in the woods will be added to every house for sale listing in NENA. Imagine giving potential home buyers hope that their children will not have to suffer with neighborhood schools and can likely enroll their children in a school in the woods that cannot be accessed by walking or bike-riding children. That should be worth a few extra thousand dollars or so, no?

    To Mr. Martin’s second point, the street perception of charter schools is that they are schools for smart kids. I contend parents of at-risk students will not take their kids out of a school they can walk or bike to in favor of a “smart kids school.” I believe the EMSA people know this and relish it as a calculated and much-loved inconvenience. To that point, if the U-46 board came out and said EMSA can have a charter school with everything they want only if it had to be at Wayne School or the Rakow building, all tents would fold and that would end the talk of an EMSA. So much for the mission.

    Finally, I believe a properly motivated and an unselfish plan for a charter school has benefits for all of U-46. It just has to be done for the right reasons and by those who want it for reasons other than an escape school amidst a scenic play toy of a location.

    • I think Mr. Prigge is spot on for about 1/2 of what he asserts. I do feel McKlinley and Coleman are poorly performing schools and I spend an incredible amount of money to private school my children. That isn’t to avoid minorities (if he saw the diversity at EA, he’d better understand). However, calling NENA resident’s beliefs “faux” is generally wrong and offensive. The 1/2 that’s wrong mostly center’s around this point and is a major misunderstanding of intent. No one that I know of in NENA is trying to avoid the children in McKinley, Coleman or Larsen. It is the schools that are the problem, not the children. The inaccessibility by walking or biking is a serious issue – not an advantage seen by anyone. I am 100% certain this will be addressed and corrected once the school is up and running. I pledge to make that a personal priority.

      If EMSA was at Rakow, I wouldn’t care nearly as much. He’s right about that.

  3. The inaccessibility by bike or foot IS an advantage to those in NENA who want the escape school. They know no currently walking or biking to school child will be allowed to walk or bike to EMSA. And, because it’s a short trip by car, the better it is for those who CAN drive their kids there.

    A Rakow-only award would not only kill the EMSA plan, it would expose the selfish Achilles heel of those supporting it currently.

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