Quick Hits – You can’t fix stupid!

As they rounded that last curve in the northern Illinois race to the bottom, I was having a hard time predicting if the Daily Herald or Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office would cross the finish line first.

It certainly has been neck-and-neck.

But just as I was getting ready to place a bet on the DH, with a burst of abject stupidity, obliviousness, or downright corruption – I’m not sure which, the KCSAO surged to a five length lead. And that ain’t an easy thing to do in the final stretch.

Please allow me to explain!

Despite consistent complaints of residents paying former Dundee Township Highway Commissioner Larry Braasch for driveway culvert repairs, with checks made out to him – not the township – and no one knows where the money went, the KCSAO announced they wouldn’t pursue charges against him.


Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

I’d repeat that paragraph, but I’ll simply encourage you to read it again, instead.

When I relayed this story to a local attorney, he was so flabbergasted I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Me! Jeff Ward! That conversation went something like this:

Attorney:   “But Braasch essentially confessed to taking personal checks!”

JW:            “I know.”

Attorney:  “There’s no record of the Township receiving any money for that work!”

JW:             “I know.”

Attorney:   “And the KCSAO didn’t even take it to the grand jury?”

JW:             “Nope!”

Attorney:  “And the McMahon and Braasch families go way back, right?”

JW:             “Yes, they do.”

Attorney:  “This is ridiculous. This is wrong. What the hell are they doing?”

JW:             “I’ve been asking that question for the better part of a year, sir!”

Attorney:  “Joe McMahon has got to go!

JW:             “Yes he does!”

And when I’m the calm one in that kind of conversation, it really says something.

There are three possible explanations for this utter abrogation of justice, and none of them are good:

1. McMahon continues to take his daily dose of Fukitol

That’s been my contention for the last eight months and it may well explain how this thing completely blew up in his face. County Board members are furious, Dundee Township officials are beside themselves and all the local lawyers are pissed.

We’ve already established that the absentee McMahon has let the inmates run the asylum for years, and he’s using his job – one to which he was appointed and not elected – to land a better gig.

Since he certainly hasn’t left his heart in Kane County, perhaps McMahon doesn’t give a bleep about any fallout from anything.

2. It’s corruption bordering on official misconduct

To understand this possibility, you have to understand that the McMahon and Braasch families go way back in the Dundee political hierarchy. Without going into all the gory details, Dan McMahon, Joe’s father, was Dundee Township Assessor while Larry was the Highway Commissioner.

They were both hotheads, they were both complete fuckups and they both shared a massive disdain for then Township Supervisor Sue Harney. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sue, but she does share my capacity to rub people the wrong way.

So, my first thought was, and I’m not sure it’s wrong, this blatant prosecutorial lapse was a way of paying off a family debt or helping out an old family friend. Because the failure to know a case fraught with this kind of political peril was sitting on a prosecutor’s desk would be the height of political naïveté, or the kind of arrogance described in point 1.

Perhaps McMahon correctly estimated the local newspapers would give him a pass. The DH’s Harry Hitzeman stops by his house every morning to kiss his ass before work. But what he didn’t consider is the vast number of Braasch detractors who would rain down on him like the wrath of God for failing to do the right thing.

C’mon! This is the case the generally chickenshit McMahon doesn’t let the judge sort out? Right!

3.  It’s rank obliviousness

And this is exactly what McMahon is saying.

A number of insiders told me the State’s Attorney is claiming he had no idea this was on the assistant prosecutor’s desk; he had no idea who that prosecutor was; and he had no idea she had dismissed the charges until he read it in the paper.

What???? Apparently, the buck doesn’t stop there. It would seem our comatose State’s Attorney doesn’t understand this scenario is so much worse than anything described in points one and two.

If Braasch’s charge skating could be attributed to arrogance or McMahon checking out, that can be fixed. All we have to do is put the heat on the State’s Attorney to do the right thing, and that’s happening as we speak.

Corruption can be corrected, too. All that typically takes is exposing it to the light of day. But rank incompetence? That’s something completely different. I’ve said it many times before, you can fix nefariousness, but you can’t fix stupid.

I realize no State’s Attorney can possibly be aware of every case that comes through their office, but to blissfully ignore those that can bite you in the butt like this one did? That belies the special kind of arrogance and entitlement mentality of someone who’s never had to win an election.


Meanwhile, the fact that I’m not (yet) an attorney doesn’t mean I couldn’t convince a jury – or a judge – of Braasch’s guilt beyond the slightest reasonable doubt. All I’d have to do is put those Dundee residents on the stand to testify they wrote personal checks to Braasch for work performed by the Township. That’s it!

It doesn’t matter if no one knows where the money went. Even the average not-smart-enough-to-get-out-of-jury-duty juror couldn’t possibly miss the obvious inference. It would be a slam dunk!

So, if I were the Chairman or any County Board member, I’d want the State’s Attorney to offer some sort of official explanation for this abject BS, and I’d want that explanation to be made publicly. Then I’d insist those charges be re-reviewed posthaste.

My attorney friend was right. Whether it’s point 1, 2, or 3, Joe McMahon has got to go!

Quick Hits – September 13, 2017

Another story about nothing

And this one surprises me because I worked with Dan Campana during my tenure at the Beacon-News and he’s one of the last truly talented reporters still in the suburban field. Dan currently freelances for the Beacon- and Courier-News.

So, when he wrote a piece about a recent motion for a new trial in the Daniel Rak case, I was more than confused. Every defense attorney on the planet automatically files that kind of motion in response to a client conviction of any kind. The failure to do so would amount to legal misrepresentation.


With as many trials as Dan’s covered, he’s got to know this.

Since Rak was acquitted of the murder charges, but convicted of the lesser aggravated domestic abuse charge, all Kane County Public Defender Kelli Childress did when filing that motion was to preserve any perceived pre-trial and trial error for a potential appeal. The failure to file it within 30 days after the verdict would automatically waive Rak’s right to any appeal.

What makes this story even worse is, Campana made it sound like Childress is hell bent on a new trial and determined to go after everyone involved for the slightest malfeasance, which clearly isn’t the case. Campana also failed to mention that, while Rak could be sentenced to the two to seven years he cited, he could also get probation.

And that’s what I’ve been saying all along. Given the amount of time he spent in jail and the egregious KCSAO first degree murder charge, Rak will get probation.

Since every defense attorney files these kinds of motions, it’s not news. When you consider how little news the Courier currently carries, I’m surprised it made it into the paper.

But I gotta tell ya, when someone of Campana’s caliber either means to do this or starts blowing it, the end of local journalism truly is at hand.


But we still have a post-Rak trial problem.

And this one is particularly perplexing because I consider Childress to be a very capable and astute attorney.

So, it surprised me when a number of local lawyers informed me that Daniel Rak is living on Childress’ boyfriend’s estate in Wayne. It’s in the court paperwork so she’s not trying to hide anything, but I thought she was smart enough to understand and avoid this kind of semi-serious ethical quandary.

Childress 3

Think about it! Will Childress and the Kane County PD’s office provide room and board for all indigent Kane County murder defendants going forward? It also calls into question whether Childress’ capacity to get this close to a client means losing sight of his best interest, something that’s already occurred on more than one occasion.

Hopefully, in the best interest of all parties involved, this problem will be corrected ASAP.


You mean Scott Drury is running for governor?

Who knew? And he just picked a running mate, too, whom I won’t bother to mention because it really doesn’t matter.

Oh! And by the way, who the hell is Scott Drury?


You mean Suzyn Price isn’t running for Roskam’s seat?

I didn’t even know she was running. Actually, with the number of Democratic candidates involved in that race, it might be easier to list the folks who aren’t running.

Oh! And by the way, who the hell is Suzyn Price? Though I’m guessing her parents were drunk when they spelled her first name.


If you insist on insulting me, please make an effort to be original!

I’m still getting negative comments on the Daily Herald’s Harry Hitzeman being a complete and unprofessional dick column, but what our epithet hurler doesn’t seem to understand is, as blog moderator, I get to see the IP address of any commenter.

So, even though our unhappy reader rotates through a series of email addresses, all the insults are coming from the same computer. Another dead giveaway is these love notes essentially say the same thing, “You suck. You can’t write. You started it.”


Given the quality of the writing and the lack of brain power involved in this sixth-grade effort, my best guess is our commenter is none other than Mr. Hitzeman himself. I suppose I could track the IP address down to a general location, but I have much better things to do, like floss.

The other possibility is the crackpot former columnist who single-handedly sent the Chronicle into the abyss, but I care even less about him – if that’s possible. Again, the sixth-grade writing style fits his profile, too.

The only reason I’m deleting those comments is they’re so bleepin’ boring. So, if you want me to keep an insult up, let’s go over what it’s going to take:

1. “You suck!” ain’t gonna cut it. I hear that one on a daily basis and it’s sorely lacking in style and substance

2. Unless you can come up with an interesting combination of cussing, that’s gotten kind of old, too. “Fuck you” or the mildly better “Fuck you asshole?” It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that zing.

3. Telling me I’m a terrible writer won’t do the trick. I may not be the bearer of many skills or talents, but writing and aggravating the shit out of people happen to be two of them. And no one can convince me otherwise.

4.  Cursing my lineage? I’ll probably join you, especially if I’ve had a couple shots of tequila first, so that’s not going to do it, either.

5. Longwinded treatises that go into great detail about what a scurrilous cad I am? Unless the first paragraph is really funny, I don’t bother reading them.

Even if you manage to fire off a good one, doing it the chickenshit anonymous way kind takes the wind out of the insult’s sails – especially if you’re the one calling me a coward. If you don’t use your real name the insult gets deleted.

When State Rep Anna Moeller recently referred to me as “rude and obnoxious,” I was impressed. Both are, indeed, part of my vast charm, the sentiment was short and sweet and I don’t hear that combination very often. Had it been in the form of a blog comment, it would’ve stayed up.

To be fair, I may have prefaced my attempt to collect on a dinner bet Ms. Moeller has owed me for the better part of a year by inquiring as to whether she’d finally grown up. Who could possibly take offense at that? I admit to a middle school mentality all the time, so it was clearly meant as a compliment.

What I’m saying is, if you’re going to insist on insulting me, and I do understand, make it something pithy. Give it some flair. Let me know you put some real thought and effort into it. Have the cohones to use your real name.

Who knows? If you make me laugh, the comment might stay up.


On Friday…

  • Joe McMahon’s letting former Dundee Township Highway Commissioner Larry Braasch off the hook may well be official misconduct.
  • Judge John Dalton suddenly starts being judicial?
  • What makes a good candidate?

Quick Hits – September 11, 2017

Alas poor Daniel, we hardly knew ye! Part one.

Just when our lackluster Illinois Democratic governor-lite candidate, Daniel Biss, was finally starting to gain traction with his “Take Illinois back from billionaires” message, he pulls the kind of abjectly stupid political bullshit that ended his campaign in a scant 24 hours.

And when you consider that Donald Trump didn’t go down for the whole “pussy grabbing” thing, what the Biss team did takes real talent!

Just one short week after bringing him on board, in the words of that great philosopher Snoop Doggy Dog, Biss dropped running mate Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa like it’s hot.


Somehow, that crack campaign team completely missed the fact that Ramirez-Rosa had previously been critical of Israel. And when I say “critical” I mean the Alderman simply said the U.S. should use its vast influence to force them to negotiate with the Palestinians in good faith – something I completely agree with.

Because when it comes to picking batshit crazy leaders, Israel is only second to the great U.S. of A.

Of course, those crazy-assed liberals, who like free speech until they don’t, had a hissy fit. So, when “I’ll do anything to win an election” Democratic Deerfield U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider pulled his endorsement, Biss immediately melted down into a pile of microwaved Jello, cutting Ramirez-Rosa loose.

That shows real commitment.

The irony is, a Schneider endorsement and three bucks couldn’t get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. But I’m sure the Schneider team reminded Biss that both my Evanston hometown and neighboring Skokie harbor the kind of large Jewish population that would not be amused by any anti-Israel sentiment on any level.

And if you can’t get something as simple as the Lieutenant Governor vetting process right, then why should anyone trust your capacity to govern?

Furthermore, why would anyone who, under the auspices of running as the “noble outsider” pick a Chicago Alderman as their Lieutenant Governor? As the great Mike Royko said to Lucile Orr, mother of then Alderman David Orr, when she criticized his assertion that all Chicago Aldermen were dishonest:

As much as I respect your maternal protectiveness, I have to raise this question: If you were a good mother, why did you permit your little boy to grow up to be a Chicago alderman?

Though it’s much easier to end a campaign than it is to win one, this is a textbook example of how to end your political career in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of effort.

You’re done Dan! Stop taking peoples’ money.


Alas poor Daniel, we hardly knew ye! Part two.

When a friend’s son told me about this one, my immediate reaction was, “No way! No one could be this blitheringly oblivious. But once again, to quote the great P.T. Barnum or the slightly below average Jeff Ward (I’m not sure which), “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the average Illinois politician.”

To wit, if you go to the Biss for Governor Website, it has a “store.” And in that store, we mere mortals can enjoy the rare privilege of purchasing a yard sign for twenty-five bucks. Nowhere on the site can you simply ask for a yard sign.

Biss Sign

Personally, I think you’d be better off with the Biss sweatshirt for just a sawbuck, or perhaps a lapel pin for $15.

What our soon-to-be-retired State Senator doesn’t seem to understand is, while you can offer a premium for a certain sized donation, if someone simply asks for a yard sign, you really oughtta send your team out to put it up stat.

Call me crazy, but you’re not supposed to extort money from folks for doing you a favor. Please forgive my foul mouth but, who the fuck is advising this guy?

What do I tell my candidates? Do you want me to tell you what you want to hear, or do you want me to tell you the truth?

And the truth is, Dan, to quote that great philosopher Hawk Harrelson, “You gone!”


The real court officers of Kane County – addendum

I was going to include this point of reference in Friday’s column on Kane County Judicial Center affairs and how they warp the justice system, but a source asked me not to, so I didn’t. Ah! But then, as a result of that piece, a number of other folks came forward with the same scenario, freeing me from my obligation to the original source.

So, in an effort to prove I ain’t makin’ any of this shit up, in regards to a retired 16th Circuit judge, it would be easier to list the prosecutors and defense attorneys he didn’t sleep with, than to list the ones he did. And he was married most of the time.

Oh! And to all the girls he boinked before? These new sources noted that this judge regularly bragged about his conquests, by name, to any male who would listen. Perhaps there is some justice at Route 38 and Peck Road after all!

Y’all have 27 days to clean up your act!


A keen perception of the obvious

In her new tell-all book, not only does Hillary Clinton blame Bernie Sanders for her stunning presidential loss, but she says she’s “done with being a candidate.”


Really? I thought getting beaten by the Orangeman Group pretty much put any future possibility to bed? Talk about how to tarnish a once-decent legacy.

God! Liberals suck. But thankfully, conservatives still suck more!

Quick Hits – September 8, 2017

The real court officers of Kane County

As if the prospect of getting justice in the 16th Circuit wasn’t a proposition already fraught with peril, it gets worse. Though y’all know I’m prone to fits of hyperbole, I’m not so sure it’s an exaggeration to say that, whether it’s Peck Road and Route 38, or Third Street in Geneva, everybody’s sleeping with everybody else.

And it ain’t necessarily with their husbands or wives, either.

Alright, it’s not that bad. As I’ve previously stipulated, there are some great people in the Kane County justice system, but whenever defense attorneys sleep with prosecutors and judges boink both sides, it’s a problem. Inter- and intra-office affairs don’t make the situation any better, either.

Workplace Affairs

Look! For the most part, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about who gets busy with whom. If they happen to be married at the time, it’s generally something that should be left between spouses. But when these “relationships” screw justice (pun intended), it does become a problem.

What do you think happens when a judge’s paramour appears before him or her, or someone comes up for a high level position? It gives a whole new meaning to the term “special treatment.”

Again, it ain’t all of ‘em, but one is one too many.

Even if the people involved aren’t married, sleeping with an opposite-side attorney, a judge, or even an interoffice affair can create the kind of bias that means we regular folks always lose. Not to mention what can happen when one of these dalliances ends badly, as most do.

Worse yet, when career advancement is based on who you boinked, and not talent and hard work, it does a massive disservice to the folks who actually abide by all the ethical standards.

The citizens of Kane County deserve far better than this bullshit. I know workplace affairs aren’t nearly limited to our justice system, but the folks charged with enforcing our legal standard should always be held to a higher one. They’re supposed to uphold the system, not subvert it.

By their very nature, certain jobs bring limits. Since no one put a gun to anyone’s head and said “you have to be a prosecutor, judge, defense attorney, or public defender,” you implicitly accept those limits the second you sign on.

So, to the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and especially judges, who insist on pulling this stupid shit, you have one month to clean up your act. After that, I start naming names. And I always know the names because the people disgusted with this kind of unprofessional rutting always come to me about it.

Not only that, but if any of the good guys see something that’s clearly compromising the system, you can always find me at jeffnward@comcast.net. Your privacy is guaranteed. Trust me, due diligence will be performed, but it’s not terribly difficult to confirm this kind of thing.

Put more simply, if you won’t police yourselves, I will.


An article about nothing?

Apparently the folks at the Daily Herald have been watching too many Seinfeld reruns. Because just like that show about nothing, now, the Daily Herald is writing about nothing. I know this sounds like a Jeff Ward joke, but I kid you not!

“Gurnee says no evidence of Klan activity,” the headline blared. Then the story went on to recount how the Gurnee Police have uncovered no Ku Klux Klan activity for the last 30 years. So now the lack of news is news?

Though I certainly appreciate the Daily Herald going out of their way to prove all of my previous points, not even I thought they could get this silly. But rather than rail against that paper one more time; rather than spit into the wind for the 3,742 time; perhaps it’s time to simply accept this new journalistic standard.


So, it’s in that very vein that, in an effort to make peace, I will generously provide the Daily Herald with a slew of story ideas about things that haven’t happened:

  • The aliens haven’t landed
  • Donald Trump behaved presidentially
  • Illinois balanced their budget
  • The North Koreans have not invaded Waukegan
  • An asteroid did not strike Luxembourg
  • Godzilla did not appear in the ocean outside Japan
  • Bigfoot has not been discovered

I’m sure I can come up with more, but that oughtta keep those editors busy for a while.

Come to think of it, writing about nothing could greatly improve that paper, because, when their reporters actually write about something, they get it wrong.

The DH completely blew their coverage of the SB1 education funding bill getting almost every material fact wrong in one article. Then, another reporter wrote an entire piece about a line item in a Kane County Board resolution that had already been removed from that resolution.

Perhaps writing about nothing is the best thing that that paper could do. It worked for Jerry Seinfeld.


Quick Hits – September 6, 2017

Governor Rauner compromises? No wonder it’s so cold out!

So, we have school funding? And school funding reform, no less? If any of y’all had told me, after two years of abject budget battle brutality, Governor Rauner would’ve compromised on this loaded topic, I would’ve told your significant other to lock up the liquor cabinet.

But we do have it, and suddenly I’m seriously considering the prospect that the Governor may actually want to, well, govern! Hopefully I won’t get too far ahead of myself here because, as that great philosopher Craig Ferguson once said, “I’ve been hurt before!”

But no sooner was that bill in the bag, than my liberal compatriots managed to utterly aggravate the shit out of me one more time. You see, now they’re the ones bitchin’ about getting just 90 percent of what they wanted.

Rauner 4

And if I’m gonna give the Governor crap for beefing about a 90 percent political win – something rarer that a Trump supporter with a brain – then my progressive friends are going to get both barrels.

What’s wrong with you people? I understand school vouchers are heinous contrivances that will eventually be found unconstitutional, but the best compromises always make both sides a bit unhappy. Furthermore, the word “compromise,” as derived from the Latin “compromissum,” means “mutual promise.”

That means that both sides have to offer something in order for it to be a “compromise.” To quote that great philosopher Mark Knopfler, you never get “your money for nothing and your chicks for free.”

As U-46 CEO Tony Sanders basically said, he’s not happy with the voucher part, but he can live with the 90 percent of the bill he likes. In fact, I told him that kind of massive political victory means he should celebrate by running around Bartlett naked and now I can’t get that mage out of my head.

Goddamn liberals!


School vouchers suck!

Just when I think I’m about to turn to the dark side, conservatives display the kind of contemptible hypocrisy that makes me long for a hug from Michael Moore. Because nothing says big government, religious intolerance and “unconstitutional” like school vouchers.

Why should I have to pay one cent for your Ill-mannered progeny to attend propaganda camp? This country was founded on the proposition that Church and State should always be separate and school vouchers ain’t it.

School Vouchers


How do I know this? I went to nine years of Catholic school and graduated from Loyola University of Chicago and those folks would have you believe that:

  • A virgin gave birth
  • Your wife will go to hell if she grabs your attacker by the balls
  • Polyester is a mortal sin
  • You can end a marriage by saying it never happened
  • You can pay your way into heaven
  • A man was swallowed by a whale, and
  • There’s a man in the sky watching over you all the time

The irony, of course, is, it was those wicked Loyola Jesuits who provided the ammunition for me to finally renounce that level of insanity, which in no way helps the cultural situation. Once you get people to believe in that kind of stupid shit, it’s not that hard to get them to believe in more stupid shit – Donald Trump, for example.

Please don’t think I’m picking on Catholics. With the exception of Zen Buddhism, none of the other major religions are any better. Don’t get me started on the Church of Latter Day Saints or Scientology, either.

Yes! I understand these vouchers can be used to attend any private school, and Yes! I understand they’re supposed to give underprivileged kids a shot a private education. But 83 percent of U.S. private schools are Christian and Illinois charter schools were supposed to primarily serve poor children.

But it certainly didn’t work out that way, did it? Just ask the Governor, who thought New Trier wasn’t good enough for his daughter and he paid her way into Chicago’s Payton High Charter School.

The bottom line is, school vouchers are patently unconstitutional and conservatives should be banned. There! I finally said it.


The sugar tax is coming! The sugar tax is coming!

Speaking of Governor Rauner, I’ve received a slew of calls from furious Republican Kane County Board members who’d like nothing more than to see the Governor’s head served up on a silver platter.

Apparently that Catholic education wasn’t all bad. (Look it up!)

In an effort to rally the troops, that crack Rauner campaign team hit Facebook and other social media with a “Stop the sugar tax from coming to Kane County” meme. And since it takes very little to rile today’s conservative voters – except for Nazi’s, of course – those board members have been inundated with irate constituents demanding the head of anyone who approves a Cook County-esque soft drink tax.

So, instead of making county government work better, these board members are spending all their time explaining that Kane County is considering no such thing.

All it would’ve taken to avoid this snafu, is a slight shift in the wording. Something like, “Don’t let the sugar tax come to your county!” would’ve been fine, but that wouldn’t have gotten nearly as many Kane County chicken littles to sign onto the campaign.

The irony (we’ve used that word a lot today) is, because conservatives have the attention span of a gnat on speed, this campaign “tactic” may well create a “throw all the Kane County Board bums out” mentality. And since the message was aimed at Republicans, well, you know the end of that story.

The governors and his people never seem to miss an opportunity to get it wrong!


What’s wrong with Geneva parents?

So there I am, walking the dog in my parka this morning, when I see all manner of children heading to the middle school bus or elementary school building in nothing but a t-shirt and shorts.

Ok, Ok! It was a balmy 44 degrees and I wasn’t wearing any arctic gear, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the kinda chilly morning that made midsummer gear utterly inappropriate.

If natural selection were to take its course and render these children sterile – or worse (sadly, it’s too late for their parents), I’d be OK with it. But that’s not what’s going to happen.

What’s going to happen is, with their immune systems already compromised from 90 pounds of sugar and 32 hours of video gaming a day, they’ll shortly get sick and pass the plague along to all the other children, who will pass it along to the adults.

If you ever wondered how the least common denominator brings everyone else down, this is a perfect example.

In all fairness, I’m picking on Genevans because that’s what I see every day – I’m sure the rest of Kane County is no better. But it does make wonder if middle class white people have abrogated their parental responsibility to the point where they’re not willing to say “no” to their children about anything?

That’s certainly seems to be the case in my south Fisher Farms neighborhood.

For those of you who were clearly raised by wolves, it is not appropriate to send your child to school in a t-shirt and shorts when it’s under 60 degrees. A sweatshirt or jacket, and perhaps long pants, would be a far better choice. It’s called actually being a parent.

Please try it sometime.