Quick Hits – March 7, 2018

At least they’re predictable!

My wife says I’m psychic (not psychotic), but it didn’t take any prescient possibilities to predict that the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office would refuse to respond to my sexual harassment FOIA request in any meaningful manner.

Unless, of course, by “meaningful manner” you mean providing 292 completely redacted pages, and by “redacted,” I mean just about 292 blank pages. Well…that’s not totally true…they did include page numbers.

I’d say, “talk about flipping a journalist the bird,” but they did the same thing to the Tribune.


The legal “logic” they applied to hide 292 pages of complaints against Prosecutor McGropey makes Donald Trump’s mendacious proclivities pale in comparison. But what do you expect from Civil Division head, Joe Lulves, who regularly brags about his office being “immune to FOIA requests.”

Meanwhile, one of my attorneys reviewed their non-response and called it complete BS. So, since the local papers don’t have the horses or money to truly tackle this, here’s what I’m going to do:

1. I will appeal the denial to the Public Access Counselor arm of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Given past successes, the PAC tends to get back to me faster, but the process still can take up to six weeks.

2. I will win the appeal, but since the PAC’s FOIA rulings aren’t binding – there’s no penalty for failing to comply – I’ll have to get a judge to enforce their ruling.

3. Since no Kane County judge will hear a case involving the KCSAO and Jeff Ward, we’ll have move to have it moved to DeKalb County or some other venue.

4. The odds of a “regular” associate or full circuit judge ruling for a journalist and against a State’s Attorney’s office aren’t very good. That means I’ll probably have to take it to the Second District Court of Appeals, and now you’re talking real time and money.

5. Despite prevailing in the appellate court, the KCSAO will simply appeal that ruling to tie up the documents’ release for as long as possible.

By that time, with the bloom clearly off his rose, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon will have moved on to some other endeavor or back into private practice.

The only advantage I have is a crack legal team who supports what I do. And they’re more than a match for the likes of Joe Lulves, whose legal skills never set any courtroom on fire.

Despite their denial, we know there are up to 292 pages of complaints against our terminated prosecutor, who somehow managed to survive at the State’s Attorney’s office from at least 2012 to 2018.

This scenario reminds me of Lily Tomlin’s “Earnestine” telephone operator character, whose tagline was, “We’re the phone company, we don’t have to care!” All we have to do to change that to, “We’re the KCSAO – the law doesn’t apply to us,” and we’re good.


Vote for Mark Guethle (and Kristina Zahorik)

As previously noted, we actually have an interesting Democratic Kane County primary ballot this round that includes some real choices. But just as it is with our judicial candidates, there are some down-the-ticket races that tend to be ignored.

To wit, 14th District State Central Committeeman Mark Guethle is currently facing a challenger, as is incumbent 14th District Committeewoman Kristina Zahorik.

State central committeemen and committeewomen elect the party leaders and set the Illinois Democratic Party platform. They don’t get paid for a gig that can turn out to be rather time consuming, either.

Mark also happens to be our Kane County Democratic Chairman with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working on several campaigns and other issues. So, I can unequivocally say that no one does a better job of herding cats than he does.

Mark G.

Make no mistake, whether you’re a township, county or state party chairman, the term “herding cats” is a massive understatement. If you’ve ever tried to keep a gaggle of egotistical, self-centered and bullheaded candidates and politicians in line, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

And it’s especially difficult in Kane County where you have three separate Democratic strongholds with three sometime separate agendas – Aurora, Elgin and Carpentersville.

But Mark does a good job of managing that mess, trying to get good candidates to run and get elected, and frequently playing referee between rival party factions. Put more simply, you couldn’t pay me to do that job that doesn’t pay you anything.

So, as you make your way down that March 20 Democratic ballot, be sure to check off Mark Guethle’s and Kristina Zahorik’s name. You won’t be disappointed.


A Geneva bright spot

As most of you know, I’m kinda down on my current hometown. It’s all that ongoing Geneva Police harassment, a mayor with the morals of a rutting pig, and a new city council that never met a tax increase, fee hike, or expenditure they didn’t like.

But suddenly, there is something for Genevans to celebrate!


Our Geneva High School girls basketball team just captured their second straight Class 4A title last weekend. Despite trailing for most of the game, the Vikings squeaked by Montini in a 28 – 26 defensive nail biter at Normal’s Redbird Arena.

Also for the second straight year, 5-foot-8 GHS senior Stephanie Hart knocked down the winning shot with less than five seconds left on the clock.

Repeating a championship isn’t easy in any sport at any level, but it’s particularly tough in high school athletics because the team chemistry changes every single year, star players move on to college, other teams add new talent, and everyone’s gunning for you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that senior guard Margaret Whitley won the Queen of the Hill Three-point Showdown before the big game. My long-time readers will recall  I wrote a suburban Sun-Times column on the Whitley family’s propensity to produce all-star athletes.

My theory was – and still is – if they’d only adopt me, I’d finally win a 5k. Sadly, they have yet to sign the paperwork. C’mon! I could be the 59 year-old son they never had! (Or probably never wanted to have.)

So, here’s to these persistent and talented Viking women who gave this curmudgeonly columnist a reason to smile about the city of Geneva! Does Pat Riley still hold the copyright on “Three-peat?”

Quick Hits – March 5, 2018

Ives really is nuts!

Once again, I apologize to friend, U-46 Citizen’s Advisory Council chair, and guinea pig rescuer supreme, Lisa Hopp, for trying to convince her that, while Jeanne Ives social policies are a bit too extreme for my taste, she wasn’t nuts.

Because she clearly is.

For those of you who aren’t paying attention, Ives is the crazy conservative messiah du jour who, despite whatever her rabid and generally unreasonable fans might think, couldn’t get elected Illinois governor on her best day. But that didn’t stop her from primarying Bruce Rauner.


The most recent indicator of her special brand of political lunacy is her latest mailer, which came in a tightly sealed brown envelope.

There is but one Illinois politician who can get voters to open a sealed envelope, and that’s Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen. But even then, only his diehard followers will reach for the letter opener. The rest will just throw it in the trash.

If you thought the envelope idea wasn’t bad enough, the 20 percent of recipients who actually opened it were confronted, not by a simple and succinct mailer, but a 40-page book. Yes! You read that correctly, dear reader – a 40-page book on just how scurrilous Bruce Rauner really is!

Apparently, Ms. Ives and her campaign team don’t understand the concept of the average American voter being the equivalent of an off-meds ADHD sixth-grader coming off a three-day sugar and videogaming binge.

A book?

Good campaign managers know the singular intent of a political mailer is to get the voter to read the candidate’s name, and perhaps two bullet points, in the 10 seconds it takes them to get from the mailbox to the recycling bin. If you manage to get them to read three bullet points, you’re way ahead of the game.

So, even my Republican friends are lamenting that kind of blatant campaign incompetence.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that Governor Rauner is doing much better. I received three anti-Ives mailers in two days, and they were all thematically identical – our Wheaton State Rep is Michael Madigan’s favorite Republican candidate.

Nobody’s buyin’ it Bruce!

Personally, I’d get rid of whatever campaign team member came up with that crackpot connection idea, because firing people is one of your few real talents. But just when you think Bruce handed the race to Ives, Jeanne sends voters a book in a calculated effort to save him from himself.

I can only imagine what it cost to print and ship that thing!

Contrary to what the Theory of General Relatively predicts, I’m starting to think gravity is somehow stronger in Illinois. How else would you explain the constant race to the bottom?


Perhaps I was unfair

Apparently, as a result of explaining why he shouldn’t be promoted to full 16th Circuit judge, I’m off Judge David and attorney Claudia Kliment’s Christmas card list. Not that I’m gonna to be losing any sleep over it.

But when a few trusted folks told me my Quick Hits’ assertion that, “He sentenced a dual felony arsonist to just 15 days because he was white,” could be misconstrued, I decided they were right.

That doesn’t mean it’s not an accurate statement, but please allow me to clarify it.

First, Judge Kliment did not technically issue that short sentence, he simply signed off on a plea deal between the prosecutor and defense attorney. That said, it is, and always has been my contention that the plea agreement should’ve been shot down because a trial would’ve been a slam dunk.


C’mon! We have marijuana dealers doing 10 to 12, so how does a dual felon, who could’ve wiped out two families in the same night, get just 15 days?

Second, I wasn’t saying Kliment’s a bigot, because I don’t believe he is. Compared to Judge John Dalton, who is a bigot, he’s Mr. Rogers. What I was trying to say was, a black or Hispanic defendant would never have gotten that same sweet deal, and Kliment knows it.

He may be a small cog in a much larger Kane County justice machine that has one set of rules for whites and another for minorities, but that in no way absolves him from his willing complicity in that dynamic. Nor do all the other county courtrooms who exhibit the same sort of bias.

So, in deference to my friends, I changed that statement to read, “He accepted a negotiated plea allowing a Caucasian dual felony arsonist to serve just 15 days, something that never would’ve happened if the perp was black or Hispanic.”

I will admit, that is much more difficult to misconstrue.

But that clarification in no way changes my previous conclusion that, due to a massive ego and a vast imperiousness, David Kliment shouldn’t be on the bench now, much less move up to a full circuit seat. He and Claudia continue to be furious with Judge Elizabeth Flood for “cutting in line” to run before it was “her turn.”

Somehow, I’m gonna finagle an invitation to the next 16th Circuit Christmas party.

The bottom line is, do we really want a judge who fervently believes he’s entitled to that position? I don’t think so! Pull a Democratic ballot and vote for Lark Cowart.


When did rescue dogs get so expensive?

With the recent passing of Eve, our 14 year-old Australian cattle dog, I’ve been combing Petfinder.com in search of another female working dog. I do love those abundantly energetic blue heelers, but a border collie or Australian Shepherd would work out just as well.

Having successfully navigated it five times, I’m no stranger to the adoption/rescue process, but I gotta tell ya, I’m shocked by some of the 2018 adoption fees

I understand I’m not going to get by for the $50 I paid for my first animal shelter dog back in the mid ‘80s, but $400 for an Australian cattle dog mix, when you can buy a purebred puppy for $500? That’s a little absurd, especially when you consider that rescue dogs can be somewhat problematic.

I also understand we don’t want these animals to go to the scientific or dogfighting people, and it can be expensive to get a stray ready for adoption, but I fear they’re pricing these eminently worthwhile dogs out of the market.

Personally, I’m good with the $200 I paid for my last three dogs, but you certainly won’t catch me shelling out $400.

If any readers or pet rescues have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them!


Quick Hits – March 2, 2018

More #MeToo at the KCSAO

It just keeps getting worse for Joe McMahon! As I await the Kane County State’s Attorney’s inevitable denial of my sexual harassment FOIA request, the sources and their stories keep rolling in.

Kane County Judicial Center

The Boy’s Club!

It would appear our recently fired prosecutor made a habit out of grabbing female prosecutors’ breasts at outside-of-the-office get-togethers. The woman referenced in Monday’s Quick Hits may have been the first to file a formal complaint about being inappropriately touched, but she wasn’t nearly the first female prosecutor to suffer that indignity.

You see, the earlier victim informally reported her attack to State’s Attorney Joe McMahon and First Assistant Jody Gleason, who brushed it off with their typical, “It didn’t happen at the office” excuse en route to doing absolutely nothing about it.

Emboldened, our newly-terminated prosecutor groped again.

Meanwhile, around the same 2014-ish time, the female KSCAO prosecutors collectively dubbed a group of their male counterparts as “The Welcoming Committee.” They named them thus for their propensity to competitively “date” new female prosecutors as soon as they were hired.

These “gentlemen” eventually married off and The Welcoming Committee did become extinct.

So, once again! I’m calling on:

  • State’s Attorney Joe McMahon
  • First Assistant Jody Gleason
  • Chief Felony Prosecutor Bill Engerman, and
  • Traffic and Misdemeanor Chief Joe Cullen

to resign for allowing this kind of unconscionable harassment to occur for as long as it has. Shouldn’t the people who enforce the standard be held to a higher one?


Vote for Steve Weber

I don’t weigh in on county board races much these days because nobody cares about their county board member and, despite what I’d like to think, The First Ward doesn’t carry that much weight.

But, since I live in the 13th board district, I’m going to make an exception.

I’ve been regularly talking with GOP primary contender Steve Weber and I think he would make an excellent addition to the Kane County Board. He’s smart, he has a great campaign work ethic, and he gets it at a time when too many politicians don’t get it.

weber 2

Because, when it comes to not getting it, Weber’s opponent, three-term incumbent County Board member, Phil Lewis, is the champion.

I’m not saying Phil is a bad guy, but some of the things that come out of his mouth at board meetings make me want to bang my head against the wall really really hard. Those strange proclamations include:

  • Pushing a 20-billion-dollar monorail when the county budget is a mere $250 million
  • Suggesting each County department cut a random employee to plug a deficit
  • Increasing building permit fees to plug a deficit because so many were issued in 2004
  • Investing a million of your tax dollars in a county-owned equestrian stable
  • Voting in favor of a budget one month, and against its implementation the next month – twice
  • Regularly attempting to raid the county reserves for really strange reasons
  • And my personal favorite, trying to vote “no” on a presentation

Apparently Phil missed the Great Recession on the building permit thing.

To make matters worse, Phil never met a tax hike or fee increase he didn’t like. His schtick was funny for a while, but I really don’t want my County Board member to be a complete embarrassment.

If you live in the 13th, please vote for Steve Weber! He truly is the best candidate.


The surest sign of spring!

Some folks say a groundhog predicts it. Some folks say the sudden and swift appearance of the first robin heralds it, but I would respectfully disagree with both hypotheses. To me, it’s the glorious trill of the red wing blackbird wafting across those subdivision ponds and waterways that says the vernal season has arrived.

red wing

My winter malaise magically evaporated when I heard that delightful sound emanating from one of our crimson epaulette-ed friends on this morning’s dog walk.

So, let’s all offer a hearty welcome to spring 2018!