Quick Hits – On errant Aurora police chiefs and incompetent reporters

The Aurora Police Department and Chief Kristen Ziman were dead wrong when they denied Beacon-News reporter Hannah Leone’s FOIA request regarding a dashcam video taken prior to an APD traffic stop that led to an exchange of gunfire.

The Geneva Police refused a FOIA request on similarly silly grounds and I made verbal mincemeat out of them. It got to the point where the Attorney General was responding to my GPD FOIA appeals almost immediately, when it typically takes them six weeks.

And please tell me what the hell Chief Ziman was thinking when she decided to go after Leone on Facebook, Twitter and her own blog? It’s not that I disagree with anything she said, it’s that it’s not the kind of thing any public official should ever do.

Talk about lending credence to a reporter and newspaper who clearly don’t deserve it!

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The fact that you don’t like a FOIA request – or the reporter who issued it – is utterly immaterial to the statute. And our fine chief discovered exactly what can happen when you argue with eminently fragile people who buy ink by the barrel.

So, now the folks at the Beacon suddenly decide to stop phoning it and grow a pair? It musta been incredibly difficult to take a break from producing those three whole pages of “news” just six days a week.

They lambasted Ziman for being a bully, made snarky comments about her new journalism critic career and then they sanctimoniously declared the Beacon-News stood for truth, justice and doing whatever it takes to inform the people at every turn!

If only any of that were true!

Meanwhile, I am a media critic and I’ll be happy to weigh in.

The Beacon-News isn’t on some holy crusade to “inform the people” – they’re simply trying to get enough Internet clicks to keep their jobs. And they’ll do whatever it takes to keep them. When I think of all the local stories the Beacon fails to cover – the current county budget process, for example – it makes me weep for the days of local journalism gone by.

For all the Tribune’s unyielding unctuousness (look it up!), because they purport to uphold the standard, the Beacon-News’ consistent ethical lapses make them exponentially worse than any police chief on the planet.  To be more specific:

1. Their reporters consistently get it wrong. Even Steve Lord, who was one of the best, can’t be bothered to get the facts straight any more. They hire the cheapest folks they can find and then they get exactly what they pay for.

2. Columnist Denise Crosby has a well-known propensity to repeatedly go after anyone who offends her delicate sensibilities. Look what she did to D131 School Board President Annette Johnson. It was downright libelous. The rest of her blacklist is far too long to enumerate here.

3. Instead of taking the time to build real sources, their reporters use any contentious angle to get clicks. If it means having a little fun with the facts, they’ll do it without a second thought.

4. With no real sources, these young reporters fall prey to peripheral players like former Alderman Rick Lawrence and his lackey Akif Malik, who press a specific anti-Aurora agenda. That would go a long ways towards explaining why a typically overwhelmed suburban reporter would file so many APD FOIAs.

The bottom line is, like most of her young peers, Leone is basically incompetent, and her editors know it. Her shotgun FOIAs haven’t uncovered a bloody thing. She can’t write – every paragraph is a run-on sentence – and it takes a machete to make it through one of her pieces.

“Alone, Pamela Page-Daddezio drove 5 miles from her West Side Aurora home, across the Fox River, to the East Side house she calls the “devil’s playground.”

What?

How about, “Pamela Page-Daddezio drove the five miles from her West Side Aurora home to the East Side domicile she describes as the “devil’s playground” alone.” It wasn’t that difficult to make that sentence readable, now was it?

Hannah Leone

I believe Ms. Leone is the one looking professional on the right

Again, I’ve never met Ms. Leone and I have nothing against her, but much like I’ll never play centerfield for the Chicago Cubs, she’ll never be a real reporter – or a writer, for that matter – either.

So, while Chief Ziman was wrong on so many levels, I utterly understand her frustration and misguided effort to vent. She’s not nearly the only public official who regularly laments how these young reporters get it wrong even if you lay out the story in a way a sixth-grader could understand it.

To make matters so much worse, they have no concept of building the kind of relationships that lead to real sources. Despite my vast notoriety, because I have a reputation for performing my due diligence and telling the truth, I rarely have to resort to FOIA requests. I get the information simply by asking for it!

Before you hit the send button, I’m so far from sainthood it ain’t funny. And I’m certainly nothing special – we’re only talking about reporting basics here. But if I had to regularly deal with someone like Leone, who doesn’t begin to understand the level of her own incompetence, I’d get ticked off too.

And even though those Tribune and Beacon-News editors know exactly who and what they’re dealing with, they won’t say a thing to the big bosses because they want to keep their jobs. And what would they do to a third-level patronage bureaucrat who did the same thing?

So much for journalistic ethics and standards, right?

Was Chief Ziman trying to bully a reporter? No! Was she trying to protect her department at all costs? No! Was she trying to undermine the public’s right to know? Nope! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Her social media diatribes were a poorly conceived and ill-advised attempt to curse the loss of the relationships she used to have with the old school journalists who knew and understood what it meant to be a reporter. That’s it!

I’ll keep on saying it! You can work with, and perhaps even fix, nefariousness, but you can’t fix ineptitude. (I know I usually say “stupid,” but I’m trying to be nice.)

So, suddenly those Tribune editors believe the APD is an embarrassment to Aurora? No! That would be the Beacon-News. The biggest mistake Chief Ziman made was thinking anything they print actually matters.

Quick Hits – September 27, 2017

How NOT to win friends and influence people

And the number one possibility on that list would be shouting “fuck you” in the middle of last night’s Batavia City Council committee of the whole meeting.

Yes! It really happened!

Apparently some Genevan, perturbed with where the Campana Building debate was going, dropped the F-bomb as a means of showing his displeasure.

“But Jeff! How do you know it was a Genevan?”

Oh, trust me! I know!

The Bird

First, I live in Geneva and this is the kind of bullshit I have to put up with on a regular basis. And second, though Batavians do have their entitlement mindset moments, they’ve never yelled “fuck you” at a city council before.

It’s not that I have a problem with those kinds of epithets, because I don’t. But not even yours truly would consider hurling it in the middle of a municipal meeting.

And let me tell you, those aldermen are pissed, and they know it was a Genevan, too. So, if y’all had any shot at getting that body to cut off the Campana project, those hopes were summarily dashed by the mere mention of two simple words.

Well done, sir!

 

Yes! I read what she said.

And that’s exactly why I’ve blocked U-46 School Board member Traci Ellis from all forms of social media a long time ago. I have absolutely no interest in hearing what she has to say.

Her sixth-grade comment doesn’t bear repeating and, while the First Amendment clearly gives her the right to say whatever’s on her mind, it will not protect her from the inevitable consequences of having said it.

Moving on!

 

Kane County budget part 1 – the judiciary

The 16th Circuit – the last budgetary holdout – finally came back to the county board with a “we can’t, in good conscience, make the 3.6 percent in cuts you requested. For to do so would mean eliminating our home monitoring program, which would put more people in jail and blow the Sheriff’s budget.”

So wrapped in the flag and carrying a baby in one arm and a freshly baked apple pie in the other, Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles declared, “The only way we’ll cut the home monitoring program is if the scurrilous and evil county board forces us to do it.”

courtServices

While that argument is technically true, it is beyond disingenuous. And here’s way:

1. By implementing the kind of efficiencies that the other Illinois circuits have adopted, the 16th could cut their budget by a third.

Kane is one of the few circuits where each judge gets their own courtroom, and each courtroom is dedicated to a separate crime. For example, Judge Kliment resides in courtroom 217, and he only hears felony cases. Meanwhile, DeKalb County judges hear all kinds of cases and they’re not necessarily relegated to one courtroom.

Should the 16th Circuit adopt a similar “hot seat” system, in which judges share courtrooms and crimes, not only would it be exponentially more efficient, but it would save the county a boatload of cash.

The Sheriff wouldn’t have to assign as many court security officers, the Circuit Clerk wouldn’t have to man all those courtrooms and they could cut way back on bailiffs and a host of other court services support staff.

Of course, the Chief Judge will argue that the current court rules don’t allow such a thing, but it’s the judges who write the rules and they can change them any time them want to.

2. With some notable exceptions, judges don’t work full days.

They typically start the morning call late at 9:15 to 9:30. They break for lunch at 11:30 and, if the docket hasn’t been cleared, court resumes at 1 p.m. If there are no more cases, they might stick around for an hour or two to review the next day’s call, but most of them are gone by 3 p.m.

Considering the state pays them $200,000 a year, the least they could do is put in a full day. If they did, and the 16th implemented the shared courtroom and crime system I’ve suggested, the savings would add up to far more than the paltry 3.6 percent county board asked for.

 

But there’s absolutely no impetus for Chief Judge and her peers to adopt these rules because it doesn’t benefit them. What they’re counting on is, the taxpayer will buy into their we can’t cut something like home monitoring smoke screen sanctimony and not ask the kind of questions I’ve posed here.

If Finance Director Joe Onzick and his staff can take pay cuts to help the county balance the budget, then Judge Boles and her team, the highest paid officials in Kane County, can make a similar sacrifice.

 

Kane County budget Part 2 – the Public Defender’s office

As in, if there’s a department that should be spared from the current round of cuts, it’s the Kane County Public Defender. That would truly be justice denied

Having covered a great deal of the Rak and other trials; having observed how judges generally treat PDs; and watching the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office regularly dismiss them as if they were mosquitoes, it’s clear that that job is already difficult enough.

So, adding to their already absurd caseload is patently wrong!

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I’m sure all of you good Christians understand the least of our brothers and sisters deserve a zealous defense when faced with the full weight of the people. Thankfully, we’re only talking about $267,000 out of a quarter of a billion dollar budget, so it’s not as if I’m asking for the sun, moon and stars here.

Of course, if the head public defender had a political bone in her body, she’d understand how to make this argument with the board behind the scenes. But she doesn’t and she can’t. To make matters worse, one of her finest qualities is aggravating the shit out of absolutely everybody she encounters, which never really helps your cause.

So, please allow me to make this argument on her behalf. Don’t cut the Public Defender’s budget. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

Quick Hits – September 25, 2017

I won the wrong lottery!

If you’re part of the Equifax credit breach, and I’ve heard it’s anyone with a credit card of any kind, and you have a reasonably good credit rating, go ahead and issue a security freeze through Trans Union, Experian and Equifax.

It’s pretty simple to do it online.

Equifax

My faulty thought process was, with 140 million people affected, what are the odds the crooks would ever find my account? But they did! So someone spent the better part of the weekend trying to open Neiman Marcus, Saks and Target credit accounts in the Bronx.

My doppelganger was armed with an Illinois driver’s license with the correct address, and he has my social security number too. But thankfully, there was enough erroneous information included that none of the applications went through.

Between Trans Union and Experian, this freeze process will run you 20 bucks total and word on the street is Equifax will eventually be forced to reimburse folks for that expense.

 

It just gets worse for Wheaton College

I can’t remember a better example of how ineffectively handling a bad public relations situation can cause it to spin completely out of control than Wheaton College’s continuing “response” to the hazing incident that led to felony charges against five of their football players.

To wit, the Chicago Tribune got ahold of a Wheaton College letter to the hazing victim in which administrators not only backed the hazers, but actually accused the victim of lying about his shoulder injuries, which ultimately required three separate surgeries.

Their basis for taking that position was that the victim’s former roommate claimed it was a pre-existing condition. Yes! That’s a great strategy? Never consider the fact that a college student, faced with the full weight of the Wheaton administration, might tell you exactly what you want to hear.

Meanwhile, ABC managed to get their hands on the victim’s medical records and, surprise, surprise, there’s no evidence of any prior injury whatsoever. Gee! Wouldn’t you think Wheaton College might’ve made the same effort?

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Apparently not! As long as that “logic” keeps a nationally ranked football team on the field, right?

Then a skeptical uncle of a non-involved Wheat College football player said of the hazing investigation actually had the nerve to say, “I think it’s curious. I wonder why it’s coming out now?”

Really? The only conspiracy here is a college trying to sweep the whole think under the rug.

By their very nature, felony investigations take time. And as the Wheaton Police and State’s Attorney’s offices explained, dozens of people had to be interviewed during the investigation, a process that was “complicated” by students going home for the summer.

Do any of you really think DuPage State’s Attorney Bob Berlin wanted to file these charges?

I’ve spoken with Bob on at least five occasions over the past decade, and while he certainly has his shortcomings, political naiveté ain’t one of ‘em. Trust me, filing felony charges against star players on a nationally ranked football team at one of the most well-regarded Christian Colleges in the country was not at the top of his to do list.

So, if the DuPage State’s Attorney’s office was going to sign off on this one, they were gonna be damn sure the charges would stick. That’s why it took so long. Despite their bitter complaints, the players’ attorneys know this.

Wheaton College will survive this national news story, but they will never be the same. I’m not so sure that’s necessarily a bad thing, either. The first thing that really needs to happen is some rolling heads.

“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love” – or the lack of it!

 

Oh say why can’t you see?

To quote Katherine Ryan, my favorite female comedian, “White people!” All this falderal over who stands, sits or stays in the locker room during NFL national anthems has me longing to disown my Caucasian heritage.

Not that it hasn’t happened before.

Thank God I can always fall back on being officially designated as an honorary Mexican. Who knew there’d be a bright side to that insistent Geneva Police harassment?

First, can anyone explain the need to play the national anthem before sporting events? No? I didn’t think so. If you want to play it, then, by all means, go for it, but my experience has been its generally wasted on fans who arrive at the stadium already wasted while they can’t be bothered to take off their hats.

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And while we’re at it, ain’t it interesting that those athletes point to the sky after striking out the side, but when they walk in the winning run in the top of the tenth inning they don’t flip God the bird?

But I digress.

So, how is it that white folks will bitch about those Black Lives Matter tactics, but when a black man stages a simple and peaceful anthem protest, they go batshit crazy? I haven’t heard this much Caucasian keening since they cancelled “The Golden Girls.”

When the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in their locker room during Sunday’s Solider Field Star Spangled Banner, I thought white folks everywhere were going to spontaneously combust. Never mind that college football teams generally don’t take the field until after the anthem is played.

Look, most of y’all wouldn’t last ten minutes being black in this culture. And to top that magic off, we have a president who blatantly supports white supremacists and regularly resorts to divisiveness to rile up his base.

Taking a knee during the national anthem? It’s a heck of a lot better than rioting in the streets which is what I’d be doing if I was black. Nobody had a cow while Tim Tebow was doing his best Pharisee at the temple impersonation.

Respect the anthem, flag and country, you say? Call me crazy, but isn’t the best way to honor those who died defending freedom speech to exercise it? This country was founded on the very notion of protest. So, God bless these NFL players – black and white – who have the courage to stand up for those who don’t have their voice.

Chill out white people. You’re only embarrassing yourselves. How hard would it be to change my last name to Rodriguez?

 

The Net ain’t just for porn!

Much like billiards in ‘The Music Man,’ marijuana in ‘Refer Madness’ and dancing in ‘Footloose,’ the Internet has taken an undeserved beating at the hands of folks who think it will bring civilization to its knees.

Oh, c’mon! Like most sea change tools, the Net is nothing more than what you make of it. It can lead you down the primrose path or it can help you unclog a toilet, which is a really good thing.

You see, my son’s rather large Plecostomus suddenly perished (a black algae eating aquarium fish), and before I could tell him not to flush it, he did. Rather that completely plug the commode, which would’ve been a much easier fix, it partially blocked it which rendered that tried and true plunger ineffective.

So I turned to the World Wide Web for answers, and sure enough, a Youtube video encouraged slow toilet syndrome sufferers to take the following steps:

  1. Pour a bucket of hot water into the basin of the toilet.
  2. Despite the label’s warning, sparingly apply Drano to the now warm water.
  3. Inject a teaspoon of dish soap into the reservoir overflow pipe.
  4. Wait ten minutes.

And voila! The deceased Plecostomus slid to his final watery grave – no plumber, no rodding and no (alright, not much!) swearing necessary.

For all the abuse heaped upon it, the Internet can be a magical thing.

 

The sport report

Why is Marcus Cooper still a Chicago Bear?

Not since Leon Lett’s similar Superbowl XXVII gaffe have I seen such a boneheaded play.

Briefly, since it’s all over the web, Sherrick McManus blocked a Chris Boswell field goal attempt with six seconds left in the first half and the pigskin fortuitously fell into Bear’s cornerback Marcus Cooper’s waiting arms. Cooper ran it back 73 for what should’ve been a sure touchdown.

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But just like Lett before him, he slowed down and started showboating at the five yard line which gave Steelers tight end Vance McDonald just enough time to strip the ball at the one-yard line. Boswell batted the loose ball out of the end zone, which may not be a touchback, but it was a penalty.

After a discussion of monumental proportion – or perhaps they heard me screaming at the screen – the refs finally realized that the half (or the game, for that matter) cannot end on a defensive penalty. So they got the Steelers back out of the locker room for one untimed play at the half-yard line.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Bears blew that with yet another false start penalty and they had to settle for a 23 yard field goal. It was only because of the fine work of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, the best Bears running combo since Payton and Harper, that the home team managed to pull it off in overtime.

If I was Ryan Pace or any of the McCaskeys, in the words of that great philosopher Don Henley, Cooper would be “already gone!” Case closed.

Quick Hit’s – September 22, 2017

Seein’ as how I’ve been slouching a bit on the LSAT prep, I’m going to try to be a little more rapid fire today so I can get back to becoming an attorney.

 

You haven’t got mail!

As a result of the kind of temper tantrum that too many judges are prone too, in a patently illegal fit of pique, Kane County Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust, blocked this journalist’s main email address.

Me! Jeff Ward! And I’m such a nice guy, too!

My last email correspondence with the Chief Judge was offering condolences for the untimely death of her brother and the only email I’ve ever sent to Ms. Aust was a FOIA request.

Boles

Kane County Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles

So, you can imagine my surprise when, upon inquiring as to why Court Services/Judiciary had failed to come up with one scant cent of the $700K in cuts the County Board has requested, I saw this:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:

bolessusan@co.kane.il.us
Delivery not authorized, message refused

While I certainly respect the good judgment of anyone who would block the likes of me, unless previous emails have been abusive, those who suckle at the taxpayers’ teat cannot behave in this petty and contemptuous a manner.

So I simply sent the same missive via another email address and, after she responded to that one, I reminded Judge Boles that, like my wife, she can completely ignore me, but she can’t block me. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to take a chief judge to a DeKalb or DuPuage courtroom pro se. Let’s just call it a potential jump on my impending legal education.

This is just another symptom of how the 16th Circuit is utterly out of control and they firmly believe they’re beholden to no one, despite that fact their massive salaries come directly out of your and my pockets.

More on this story next week.

 

I’m not surprised!

Folks are “surprised” 24 year-old Geneva born athlete Ben Kanute just took second place in last week’s Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee? But I’m not!

Kanute

I’ve followed this extraordinary young man’s career since he was a middle schooler and that finish doesn’t surprise me in the least. Mark my words, this is only the beginning for the young Mr. Kanute.

 

But, on the other hand…

As is almost always the case with Wheaton College, the current hazing fiasco is only getting worse.

The DH actually did a decent follow up piece told somewhat from the perspective of one of the charged players, Noah Spielman. Speilman is the son of former All-Pro defensive lineman and Fox Sports analyst Chris Spielman.

Spielman

But as I read the story, it became abundantly clear that the younger Spielman is only concerned with how this mistake might affect him. In his attorney’s words, Speilman is “frustrated and disappointed” that it took so long to sort this out, and he thought the school’s “punishment” was more than good enough.

So let’s check those scales! The five offending football players had to write an eight-page anti-hazing paper and do 50 hours of community service. Meanwhile, the freshman victim had to undergo three separate shoulder surgeries and, after the fab five allegedly attempted to sexually assault him with an “object,” he transferred to another school.

Yep! That sounds fair!

At no point in the article does Spielman, or his attorney, show any remorse or voice any concern for the victim whatsoever. Because being a “good” Christian clearly doesn’t mean loving thy brother as…wait a minute!

You know what? I think I’d rather think about Ben Kanute!

 

It’s probation

Daniel Rak did, indeed, get four years of probation, and time served for his lone aggravated domestic battery conviction. It was exactly the right sentence.

Of course, the Daily Herald headline read, “Probation for Domestic Battery in Father’s Death” which is patently libelous because the jury cleared Rak of any and all responsibility for his father’s death.

To be clear, it’s the editors who coin those mastheads, not the reporters, and they really oughtta know better.

During the sentencing, Judge Tegeler lectured Rak on the dangers of the demon rum, an irony that lies somewhere along the lines of me castigating someone else for their alcohol intake.  Let’s hope Mr. Rak continues to get his life together and relegates this sad chapter to past history.

 

It still doesn’t matter!

So now Scott Drury is running for attorney general instead of governor? I suppose that would be a little bit less of a loss.

BTW, who the hell is Scott Drury?

 

Don’t fucking serve booze on planes!

A Chicago Tribune reporter crowed about a Hawaiian Airlines passenger being fined 100 grand for the kind of unruly in-flight behavior that made the pilot turn the plane around. Our writer theorized that this kind of fine would cause other airborne ne’er-do-wells to think twice about engaging in the same silliness.

Really?

The defendant admitted, in court, that he was so toasted that he had no recollection of the series of events, including the part where the other passengers had to restrain him. In the semi-paraphrased words of The Bard, “Ain’t that the rub?”

Drunk Passenger

While airlines consistently bitch about rogue passengers, the truth is, they have no compunction about overserving nervous folks while hurtling through the upper atmosphere at 600 mph in a small pressurized steel tube for long stretches at a time. What could possibly go wrong with that?

As irregularly as I fly, and considering the cost of in-flight alcohol, I’m always amazed at what some passengers manage to put down. And I’m even more amazed the flight attendants keep bringing ‘em another mini-bottle.

And if it ain’t the flight crew, it’s the airport bars who overserve those pre-boarders. What do they care? They don’t have to deal with them once they’re in the air.

If the airlines and the FAA were truly serious about this situation, they’d ban alcohol from all flights and hold those airport bars accountable every time a clearly inebriated passenger tries to get on a plane.

C’mon! We all know a $1 billion fine won’t deter a bleepin’ drunk from doing a goddam thing.

 

Have I said…

Ben Kanute is going to start winning major Ironman events? Just checking!

Quick Hits – September 20, 2017

A Christian School by any other name…

Is not a Christian school.

Though I haven’t made much headway, I’ve been doing my damndest to persuade those fine Wheaton College folks of this possibility for 11 long years. Don’t get me wrong – because I know y’all like to – I have no expectation of earthly religious perfection. I’m simply asking Christians to make a reasonable effort to live up to the ideal.

So, the problem isn’t the five Wheaton College football players who were just hit with a series of felony charges for their role in a hazing incident gone wrong, the problem is the college’s abject failure to deal with it until they had no choice but to deal with it.

Wheaton College

Briefly (the story is all over the Web), five football players “burst” into the freshman victim’s dorm room, “violently” pulled his arms behind him, duct taped his ankles and wrists and covered his head with a pillowcase. Then they attempted to sexually assault him with an object and left him partially clothed on a baseball field.

Before any of y’all start with the whole “Poor thing couldn’t handle a little hazing” shit, the victim suffered the kind of muscle tears that actually required shoulder surgery. I was a semi-pro pitcher and let me tell you, there is nothing worse than upper arm injuries. I’ve never recovered from all of them.

Again, the fact the hazing occurred doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on Wheaton College. College students do have a propensity to make some fascinating mistakes. What casts a pall on that school is, despite a very specific anti-hazing policy and administrators’ clear knowledge of the event, these five players were on the field right up until they were charged.

To wit, the incident occurred in March of 2016 and the college did nothing about it until this week. What could’ve possibly taken a full year-and-a-half to make the right decision? Could it be that the Division III Wheaton College football team is ranked fourth in the nation and those five players were critical to that success?

I’m not saying Wheaton College is a bad school – it’s not. But I am saying it isn’t a Christian school – because it’s not.

 

Judge Dalton improves?

Though I’m skeptical to say the least, that’s what I’m hearing – from two attorneys and one litigant.

They said Dalton has “revamped” his seemingly random courtroom procedures, his infamous theatrics have somewhat subsided, he’s no long berating women at the same rate and he’s generally comporting himself in a more judicial manner.

Dalton

If this is true, and it’s not just a temporary thing, this is what can happen when people have the courage to speak up. I simply put it out there. I simply reminded the Chief Judge that she had the power to put Dalton on an administrative assignment where he’d never hear another case.

It was the folks who sent the suggested emails detailing their horrific Dalton experiences to the Chief Judge that that made the difference. Perhaps some of you filed those recommended Judicial Inquiry Board complaints, too. But the bottom line is, you spoke up, and I’m sure the Chief Judge spoke to John Dalton.

I’m not saying I’m going to relent on my anti-retention campaign promise – the committee has been formed and attorneys are lining up to contribute. But if our errant judge is truly willing to reform, perhaps we can meet in the middle.

Meanwhile, despite explicit attorney advice against it, I will be paying a visit to Courtroom 101 to see for myself if the “rumors” are true. What’s the worst the Judge can do to me, right?

 

Fast Eddie hasn’t slowed down a bit

I know this one’s a bit out of our purview, but for all the folks who cut their teeth on Cook County politics, the name Ed Vrdolyak is legendary.

“Fast Eddie,” as he’s called, is the legendary former Chicago Alderman whom Mayor Jane Byrne tried to destroy before he became one of her closest political allies. Vrdolyak was also the architect of the mid ‘80s’ “Council Wars,” in which he and Ed Burke tried to stymie Mayor Harold Washington’s agenda at every turn.

Vrdolyak eventually ran for mayor and circuit clerk – gasp! – as a Republican, before he gave up the game and returned to private legal practice.

He earned the “Fast Eddie” sobriquet for his capacity to engineer backroom deals and charm the pants right off you. I met the man once, and I made sure I  had five fingers left after shaking hands with him.

Vrdolyak

Never one to sit on his Laurels, and addicted to the art of the deal, in 2009, in one of the most convoluted judicial proceedings in Illinois history, instead of the recommended 41 months, Fast Eddie got 5 years of probation for a bribery scheme that netted him a lucrative real estate deal.

Those prosecutors never knew what hit ‘em. They did appeal the sentence, and Vrdolyak eventually served ten months in prison.

So I suppose it should come as no surprise that, on Monday, federal prosecutors charged the 79 year-old former alderman with collecting $10 million in unauthorized fees from the state’s massive 90s tobacco lawsuit settlement.

Of course, in true Chicagah fashion, Vrdolyak’s attorney responded

“Because the defendant is Edward Vrdolyak, the government has infused the superseding indictment with irrelevant, unnecessary, inflammatory and prejudicial surplusage, included for no purpose other than to suggest all manner of alleged subterfuge and secrecy that besides being irrelevant is also downright false.”

“Surplusage?” What the fuck is “surplusage?” But that’s how you do it folks! I’ll bet he doesn’t serve a day. None of you “nefarious” Kane County politicians could carry Ed Vrdolyak’s jockstrap on your best day. Compared to him, State Senator Karen McConnaughay, with her pay-to-play proclivities, is a mere piker.

Somewhere, in that great newsroom in the sky, Mike Royko put the cigarette and scotch down long enough to shake his head, smirk and laugh his ass off. Ubi est Mea, right Mike! He’s gonna be Fast Eddie till the end!

Quick Hits – September 18, 2017

Really Republicans?

Though “tact” and “diplomacy” aren’t words typically associated with me, even I understand the need for certain cultural conventions. They do make this often difficult life a bit more bearable.

So, when that difficult-to-deal-with co-worker retires or finds a new job, you give him a going away party, a small gift and you muster up a few nice things to say about him, even if it’s something like, “At least you showered every day!”

Lisa Madigan

When someone dies, even if the term “son-of-a-bitch” doesn’t begin to do them justice and you’re doing cartwheels in your head, most of us can muster a sad look and say something nice about the decedent, even if it’s a tepid, “I always liked the way he breathed.”

But apparently that’s too much for the Illinois Republican Party, because when Attorney General Lisa Madigan just announced her retirement, this was the extent of their official statement:

“Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s decision to not seek re-election is a sign the Madigan family brand is toxic.”

When did every political development become an opportunity to stab the other side in their left kidney?

Meanwhile, if anyone thought Erika Harold was gonna beat Lisa Madigan, in the words of that great philosopher Steven Tyler, “Dream on.” Harold won’t even come within 10 points of any of the possible Democratic nominees, either.

And since when do the sins of the father ever fall upon the shoulders of the daughter? Despite her surname, Lisa Madigan has always enjoyed broad-based bi-partisan support and she’s served the public with honor and distinction for almost 16 years.

My mother, who defined the word “Republican,” loved Lisa Madigan.

So, what Republicans really oughtta be worried about is whatever office she might target next, because she’ll clearly clean their candidate’s clock.

How difficult would it have been to offer a short perfunctory statement simply citing her 16 years of public service? Even without her father’s clout, this smart and savvy woman could’ve made three times that AG salary in the private sector.

But no! The Illinois GOP – who can’t seem to get anyone elected – had to take a swipe at her on the way out because that’s exactly who today’s conservatives are. They’re mean, petty, and cowering behind a convoluted Christianity.

Put more simply, Republicans suck!

 

Genevans made me proud?

Along with “Illinois Republicans finally made a politically expedient move,” one of the last things I ever thought I’d say is, “My fellow Genevans did the right thing.” And it was the Christian thing to do, too!

Though that may have merely been a happy accident.

In response to all the basic Geneva bigotry in response to the impending low-income folks moving into the soon-to-be renovated Campana Building, a fair number of rainbow “GOT LOVE” signs are popping up throughout the city.

Got Love

Much to my surprise, I’ve even seen two in my generally insane and not terribly tolerant south Fisher Farms neighborhood.

Better yet, though it certainly was a minority, some Genevans told the Batavia Planning Commission they were in favor of the project, citing a desperate need for Tri-Cities housing that senior citizens and low-wage workers can actually afford.

I happen to agree with that sentiment.

So while it’s discouraging to hear all those “good” Geneva Christians refer to apartment dwellers as “those people,” “that element” and “trash,” the fact that some of my municipal compatriots understand and actually abide by that lofty Christian standard has gone a long way towards renewing my faith in humanity.

I’m sure they’ll do something to destroy it by next week, but for now, as my favorite TV judge likes to say, I’m simply going to bask in the glow!

 

Sometimes backyard bees choose you!

Considering their rarity, my family has been privileged to play host to a bumblebee hive this summer season. Since those theoretically unable to fly insects tend to seek out homes in the ground, this group has taken up residence under our concrete back stoop.

And the benefits have been amazing!

·         A bumper tomato crop

·         We haven’t seen a single wasp or yellow jacket all season – even by the pool

·         They’re eminently curious creatures who like to check you out

·         They’re a pleasant diversion while you’re grilling chicken

The disadvantages? I can’t think of a single one.

BumbleBee2

Sure! I’ve had three or four of ‘em inspect me at the same time, but they quickly determine I’m not a predator and simply go about their pollination business. Despite regularly standing on the stoop directly above them, I’ve never come close to being stung. They’ll buzz the dogs on occasion, but they generally leave them alone, too.

So, to all you Elgin nervous nellies who are unduly terrified at the prospect of residential beekeeping, I say you don’t know what you’re missing. No wasps or yellow jackets! The only bad thing about our backyard tenants is their hives last only two or three months.

They’re certainly a vast improvement over the majority of my human neighbors.

 

It’s time to change our attitude on mental health care

It’s something Larry Jones and I said for years on the radio show.

This morning, at around 7:30, a Geneva High School student climbed onto a cafeteria table, doused himself with gasoline from a water bottle and threatened to set himself on fire.

There are two versions of this story. Thanks to some quick thinking by nearby staff and students, the student was either subdued before he could immolate himself, or he was talked out of going through with it. He’s currently being cared for at Del Nor Hospital, the Geneva Fire Department hazmat team took care of the gasoline and, per the current policy, the school went on a soft lockdown until everything was well in hand.

GHS

I cannot confirm this, but a source told me this student may have become despondent over the death of his friend, a 2017 GHS graduate who perished in an automobile accident at 4 a.m., the morning after Friday’s homecoming game.

But here’s the thing. While Geneva High School is home to some of the best counselors I’ve ever encountered anywhere, there is a massive stigma attached to any male student who seeks out their services.

That has got to change and it starts with our attitude as parents. Please encourage your children to talk to you on a regular basis and let them know they can talk about anything without fear of ridicule or unduly harsh consequences.

No one should ever have get to this emotional point before they get help.

Meanwhile, let’s applaud all those alert GHS folks who prevented a real tragedy.

 

Quick Hits: Sunday 9-17-17 Supplemental

Since, I need a break from those LSAT prep questions, the Cubs seem to have things well in hand and the book is done, I thought I’d put a few things up here that generally wouldn’t make it into Quick Hits. I know what you’re thinkin’! “How could this Sunday possibly get any better? Just remember that Jeff Ward always makes your life better!

 

Another Dalton irony

Let me be perfectly clear that I love Elgin’s First Congregational Church’s effort to, in the face of the general American regression to being mean, distribute yard signs that extol the virtue of love over hate.

It almost makes me want to believe in a Christian God again!

FCC Sign

Were my residence anywhere near The City in The Suburbs, I would proudly display one of those placards. But the irony of Judge John Dalton leading the effort to distribute them is  so far beyond the pale that I’m starting to think about other quantum realities.

When I first saw him displaying that sign on Facebook, my first thought was, call me crazy, but perhaps Dalton could follow his own advice by applying that very same sentiment to the women he relentlessly and mercilessly bullies and berates in his courtroom.

Just a thought!

 

I’m on the highway to hell

Since, in the words of that great philosopher Bon Scott, “I’m (already) on the highway to hell,” I thought this meme was bleepin’ hilarious!

Blasphemy

C’mon! God has got to have a sense of humor or we wouldn’t have the Bears, Donald Trump, the Kane County Board, pumpkin spice everything, and Caitlyn Jenner.

 

Motorcycles suck!

Nobody understands the plight of motorcyclists more than road bikers – especially when you consider the fact that motorcyclists also treat us like shit. So, I get all this “see motorcycles” stuff, but today was another prime example of how arrogant and insane bikers really are.

Motorcycles Suck

A female biker cut me off twice in the span of 15 seconds without signaling either time. It’s all on dashcam video, too! And then, just to fuck with me, she slowed down to 20 mph begging for a fight, which I would not provide.

Apparently, she thought she could somehow come out ahead in a confrontation with 3,600 pounds of rolling Ford Ranger steel. You want to be respected motorcyclists? A good first step would be to stop acting like such abject assholes.

 

 

Blog comments must be approved

In yet another case of the least common denominator bringing all of us down, going forward, your First Ward comments will require moderator approval before they’re posted. And if I don’t know who you are, they WILL NOT be posted.

Troll

The good news is, once one of your comments is approved, your subsequent thoughts will not require moderation.

Say what you will about me, and most of you do, I put my name on absolutely everything I say, regardless of any potential consequences. Meanwhile Harry Hitzeman, some  chickenshit folks at the KCSAO and the rest of you fragile snowflakes who feel the need to cower behind a veil of anonymity, will have to find another venue to spew your anonymous BS.

I’m sure that won’t be a problem.