Quick Hits – April 30, 2018

It’s that whole truth and fiction thing again!

So, let me get this straight! Three former waitresses just filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a chain named for a euphemism “those kind” of men might use to describe a well-endowed woman’s most obvious “attributes.”

Why, these young women were “shocked” when the Orland Park Twin Peaks restaurant management regularly lined them up for the kind of physical inspection you tend to see at beauty pageants. They even claimed their scurrilous bosses proceeded to bestow the best tables on the waitress whose curves graded out above the curve.

Twin Peaks

Worse yet! They were completely stunned when a restaurant that hires women based solely on their bra size occasionally forced them to wear lingerie at work. Who could’ve possibly foreseen that possibility?

And I’m still looking for the part where somebody put a gun to their heads and forced them to work there. It couldn’t be the fact that men generally feel more predisposed to offer healthy tips to “healthy” women, could it?

And it was front page Sunday Tribune news, too! All I can say is, this story gives a whole new meaning to the word “boobs!”

Our litigious trio further explained they filed suit to “help empower women.” If you ask me, the best way they could accomplish that is by failing to reproduce.


The Kane County probation officers go on strike!

If you drive past the Kane County Judicial Center via Route 38 today (4/30), you’ll see the giant inflatable rat as well as a number of picketers circling the entrances to the Juvenile Justice Center and the main building itself.

Probation Strike

But before we continue, let me clearly stipulate that being a probation officer is an incredibly difficult and thankless job. The absurd caseloads alone would drive me to drink (more). What I’m basically saying is, I think these worthwhile staffers deserve everything they’re asking for.

But they’re not going to get it. How can I be so sure, you ask?

Because instead of cooperating with Chairman Chris Lauzen and the County Board, Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust held the criminal GPS system hostage in an attempt to stave off the 3.6 percent 2018 budget cuts asked of every Kane County department. And they made the Republican board majority look really bad in the process.

You see, Boles and Aust were counting on the Democrats to persuade just enough GOP defectors to stage a budgetary coup, but even someone of my limited intelligence (my readers tell me this) could’ve told them it would never come to pass.

Probation Strike 2

Since every political action has an equal and opposite reaction, if Boles and Aust get too “generous” with the strikers, the County Board is going to shoot down the deal and they’ll have to go right back to the negotiating table drawing board.

And I’m bettin’ the Board can’t wait to make Boles look just as bad as she made them. How can I be so sure? When I presented my equal and opposite reaction hypothesis to couple of them, they laughed and said, “That is a very interesting theory.”

Unlike it is with the Sheriff’s deputies’ contract, Boles and Aust can’t dodge this one by falling back on the kind of binding arbitration that would let them off the hook. So, now they’re at the mercy of an angry County Board.

As I’m frequently fond of saying, “Politics ain’t a game for sissies,” as Boles and Aust are about to discover. Stay tuned readers! This one’s going to be a very fascinating proposition.


I do believe in redemption, but…

…this social liberal is having a real problem with a recent local turn of events. But let’s go off on one of my famous tangents first.

Most of y’all know the author who’s had the biggest impact on my life and writing is the late great Studs Terkel. And the theme that consistently permeated his work was, no matter what you’ve done, redemption is always just around the corner – even for us regular folks.

All we have to do is embrace it.

But when I learned the Pine Village killer was just paroled, it’s truly testing my redemption resolve.


Carl Reimann

For reference purposes, on December 29, 1972, Carl Reimann and his girlfriend entered the Pine Village Restaurant in Yorkville intending to rob it. But instead of simply taking the $640 and running, Reimann pulled a .32 caliber handgun and shot customers David Gardner and Bob Loftus, bartender John Wilson, 16-year-old employee Catherine Rekate, and cook George Paschade.

The Morris Police quickly caught up with Reimann and he was ultimately sentenced to 50 to 150 years for each murder with some extra time thrown in for the armed robbery. Today, two first degree murder convictions would mean life in prison, but in 1972, parole was still a possibility.

Reimann, now 77, had been previously denied release, but 45 years after the crime, deeming he was no longer a danger to society, the parole board granted his petition.

Former Kendall County Sheriff Richard Randall, one of the first Yorkville officers on the scene of the massacre, still describes the memory as “traumatic.” He told the Tribune he was “shocked” by the parole board’s decision.

And I am, too!

So, I reached out to Mr. Paschade’s nephew, Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen, to get his thoughts on this very difficult topic:

“George Paschade was my uncle and a gentle, quiet and kind man to his family and friends.  He was a peaceful, hard-working man who just went to work one day as a cook in a restaurant and was brutally slaughtered by Carl Reimann.

We forgive, but cannot forget the pain, and now the parole board has compounded that pain with injustice by deciding that Carl Reimann is both alive and free while his victims are long dead.”

Despite my fondness for Studs and everything he stood for, I gotta go with the Chairman on this one. You really shouldn’t be able to come back from slaughtering five innocent people.


FOIA-gate day 5!

It’s been five days since the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office has ignored my April 16 FOIA request regarding the ongoing sexual harassment scandal in that office.

Remember, I’m not saying they denied it, I’m saying they’ve completely ignored it! We’ll keep the countdown going.

Quick Hits – April 27, 2018

You can’t ignore me, Joe!

Apparently, I’m off Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s Christmas card list! How do I know this? Because his office has gone from illegally denying my FOIA requests to outright ignoring them.

That’s right! As a result of getting around their last FOIA denial by running a female prosecutor’s formal sexual harassment complaint verbatim, in a fit of pique, McMahon and Civil Division chief, Joe Lulves, are simply pretending I don’t exist.

My wife tries that strategy all the time, and as you might imagine, it doesn’t work! I call it the “ostrich defense.”

And why not? When the Illinois Attorney General inevitably orders the KCSAO to cough up the goods, there are no statutory sanctions for ignoring their edict, either. Ultimately, I will have to get a Kane County judge to enforce that order.

McMahon 2

If I’m fortunate enough to get a good judge, he’ll force the KCSAO’s hand right away, but the more likely outcome will be months of continuations and delay. They might even be able to forestall the release of those records until after McMahon’s 2020 reelection campaign.

You see, though I have no hard evidence yet, I’m convinced there’s a settlement and non-disclosure agreement between yet another groped female former prosecutor and the KCSAO. Prosecutor McGropy was a very busy man!

Why do I suspect this? Because that former prosecutor’s father confronted me when he thought I was writing about his daughter. Ironically, I had no clue she was one of the victims until he reached out.

First, I thought it was odd that a father was fighting his 40-something daughter’s battles. Second, when I asked him why he’d defend the very people who’d so “traumatized” her, he said they were happy with the KCSAO complaint outcome and they didn’t want me getting involved.

It took me awhile to put two and two together, but the only logical reason for that kind of response is there was some kind of settlement and non-disclosure agreement. And if I wrote about it, that could jeopardize their agreement and void any deal.

So, why would the KCSAO ignore this FOIA request instead of simply denying it like all the others? Because any governmental agreement that includes taxpayer dollars is subject to the Freedom of Information Act – no exceptions. Coming up with another BS refusal excuse would be too obvious even for them.

I’ve repeatedly called Lulves, sent him follow up emails, and left two voicemails for his administrative assistant, but despite the fact they’re six days late, the silence is deafening.

All I can say is, the level of arrogance required to flip the legal bird in this fashion is absolutely astonishing.


On vigilance!

Most of us dismiss those “boring” ancillary high school and college classes as meaningless to our adult existence. But I gotta tell ya, whether it’s Soren Kierkegaard, Jean Paul Sartre, Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger, Harper Lee, or Albert Camus, those literature and philosophy courses continue to have a massive effect on my life.

The next thing you know, I’ll start using geometry again!

I’ve said it before, but Camus’ brilliant novel, ‘The Plague,’ is more relevant today than when I read it in 1975 for Mrs. Harding’s English class. Here’s one one my all-time favorite ‘The Plague’ quotes:

“I know positively – yes Rieux, I can say I know the world inside out as no one on earth is free from it. And I know too that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the infection on him. What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest- health integrity purity if you like – is a product of the human will of vigilance that must never falter.

The good man the man who infects hardly anyone is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous will-power a never ending tension of the mind to avoid such lapses. Yes Rieux, it’s a wearying business being plague-stricken. But it’s still more wearying to refuse to be it. That’s why everybody in the world today looks so tired everyone is more or less sick of plague. But that is also why some of us who want to get the plague out of their systems feel such desperate weariness a weariness from which nothing remains to set us free except death.”

I still get goosebumps when I read that passage!

The book, published in 1947, uses a fictional plague in Oran, Tunisia, as an allegory for the recent Nazi occupation of France. And the theme throughout the existentialist work is, like the rats inexplicably dying in the street of a North African city were ignored, it’s critical that we see the signs of the worst of humanity before they spread like a plague

I’ve certainly taken the long way home here, but because of you, dear readers, the Illinois Youth Center is on a level one lockdown, which greatly restricts the movement of the “residents.” It’s the first step in finally bringing that facility under control.

You see, the truth is, simply writing about this imploding institution isn’t enough. The fact that you paid attention is what makes the difference. Of course, it will require far more due diligence to correct the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, but we’re off to a pretty good start.

Put more simply, thank you for your vigilance! I’ll leave you with the final paragraph from ‘The Plague:’

“He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

Don’t be the plague!

Quick Hits – A not so modest proposal

If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “Mr. Ward! Please put the satire down and walk away!,” my bank account would be bigger than Bill Gate’s.

You see, satire, and her crazy twin sister hyperbole, are always dangerous endeavors because the author has to rely on the reader to participate in the process. The writer must believe the reader is intelligent enough to be in on the joke.

And that’s a lot more dangerous than handling a loaded weapon.

To wit, one of my adoring fans, clearly accustomed to being spoon fed everything, tried to tell me, “If you have to explain satire, it doesn’t work.” Wrong! The fact that it takes a little time, effort and reflection to understand it makes it a much more powerful tool.

Here’s a good example.

Upon receiving my restaurant gazpacho, I’ll blow on it a couple of times, call the waiter over and say, “You know! I blew on this soup twice and it’s stone cold.” It’s in the moment where the waiter isn’t sure if I’m serious or not that the joke works. Then my longsuffering wife just shakes her head.

Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal,’ where he proposed the Irish eat their babies in response to the Potato Famine, is the pinnacle of satire. If you haven’t read that brief passage, please do so! It actually embarrassed the British government into doing something about the suffering.

New Yorker magazine’s Andy Borowitz is the current king of the art as he regularly skewers Donald Trump, and Steven Colbert’s faux conservative commentator is another superb example.

Good satire employs just enough humor to make the reader wonder if the author is sincere.

Hyperbole, on the other hand, is even more perilous because the humor isn’t subtle at all. And any time you bash a reader or viewer over the head with their own shortcomings, you’re basically taking your life into your own hands.

Norman Lear and Carroll O’Connor employed hyperbole to perfection as Archie Bunker exposed the average ’70s white male bigotry for all to see. But the sad truth is, ‘All in the Family’ would never make it on the air today.

So, I was amazed when the Aurora Public Library embraced this almost lost art by displaying a piece by poet George Miller entitled ‘Hajib is Jihad.’ The poem, superimposed on a Confederate flag, quotes a parent proud about his son ripping a hajib off a Muslim girl.

Aurora Library

Yes! It is the kind of thing you have to think about for a few seconds, but when you consider the venue – a library – you quickly understand the point of the powerful piece and smile. C’mon! Does anyone really think a library would promote that kind of prejudice?

Wait! Don’t answer that. It would depress me far too much.

The real problem is, we’re letting stupid people take over by dumbing everything down to the point where we don’t offend them. And when the folks who fervently believed the library was condoning bigotry started shrieking and rending garments, the library board surrendered faster than an Italian army in a North African desert.

Even Beacon-News columnist Denise Crosby wrote “It took me a couple of read-throughs, though. And I had to think about it. Hard.” Really? A journalist who doesn’t get satire? Though, having worked with Ms. Crosby at length, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.

Then Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin just had to leap into the fray and fan the flames. “As mayor of this multicultural city, there is no way I can stand by and see something so derogatory in a public library. I had to speak out immediately.”

No, you didn’t! Not everything requires your attention!

So, the author’s intent no longer matters? Is it really all about us, our delicate sensibilities, and our stilted interpretation of those words? Yikes! Apparently, the movie ‘Idiocracy’s’ dire forecast is coming to fruition far faster than I ever thought it would.

Denouncing that display may have been politically expedient, but I know Hizonner understands satire and I couldn’t be more disappointed in his reaction. Those are exactly the words that should be exposed for exactly what they are, because bigots always scurry back into the dark corners whenever you shine the light of day on them.

After penning an apology that didn’t appease the pitchfork and torch bearing crowd, Library Board President John Savage threw his staff under the bus in a second contrition effort to save his scrawny butt. But the only thing that accomplished was getting Communications Director Amy Roth to resign.

Mr. Savage, you are a coward and poor excuse for a human being. I generally would’ve applied satire there, but I’m sure it would’ve gone right over your head. And does anyone really think the Aurora Public Library will ever try to make this kind of bold statement again?

For a brief second, I almost thought libraries were relevant again. I was clearly mistaken.

Quick Hits – April 23, 2018

Your story is out!

Between the stories on sexual harassment in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office and the imploding Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles, TheFirstWard.net got nearly 50,000 hits last week.

While I will continue to endeavor to get back to all of the people who’ve contacted me in either regard, rest assured, your story is out. Of course, I can’t guarantee things will change right away or that we’ll see lasting change – fixing this kind of incompetence and dysfunction takes time, perseverance and patience.

But it always starts with a story going public and I’m not about to give up on either.


Yeah! And I have a Fox River bridge I’m willing to part with cheap!

Jacksonville, Illinois, Republican State Rep, C. D. Davidsmeyer is the sponsor of House Bill 4230 which would absolve police departments of the requirement to release arrest information with 72 hours of said arrest.

His bill would amend that timeframe to “as soon as practicable” after an arraignment – the court appearance where the charged formally pleads guilty or innocent – typically a month after the arrest.

When the Daily Herald spoke with Davidsmeyer, he cited the domestic dispute arrest of a local college-aged woman, who faced “great ridicule” on social media though she was never charged.

Police blotter

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Davidsmeyer refused to provide the young woman’s name, municipality or county so his story could be verified. If you happen to believe she actually exists, please consider my reasonably priced Fox River bridge offer.

The truth is, the police can already skate on that 72-hour requirement by simply uttering those magic words, “To release the data would threaten the investigation and/or public safety.”

When the Geneva school superintendent’s daughter called 911 to stop an escalating domestic dispute, the Geneva Police refused to provide any details on the arrest more than a week later. Thankfully, the fine folks at Tri-Com, who believe in the spirit of the law, immediately provided the 911 tape.

Then the GPD “magically” turned over the police report, too.

Back in 2015, I FOIA’d the Batavia, Illinois police regarding a 2013-ish road rage incident involving Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns. Hizonner has a penchant for running cars off Fabyan Road and flashing his city council badge to further intimidate them.

Citing an “active investigation,” the BPD refused to provide the report. Only after reminding them that I was fluent in FOIA law, no traffic investigation could possibly take more than two years, and being forced to take them to court would cast them in a bad light, did the BPD admit their “mistake” and provide the documents.

Giving Illinois police department carte blanche to engage in this kind of bad behavior would be a terrible idea and the DH is absolutely correct to protest this preposterous statutory prospect.

But even though I wouldn’t believe our state rep’s “altruistic intentions” if his tongue came notarized, the irony is, once again, newspapers are hanging themselves here. They regularly publish arrest reports with absolutely no regard for the facts involved, or the lack of them.

An arrest is NOT a conviction, but the whole innocent until proven guilty thing doesn’t seem to matter to all those publishers and editors. And once an arrest report is printed, it’s essentially a guilty verdict without the benefit of a trial.

When you consider the Geneva Police Department’s propensity for applying what they call “creative charges,” it would behoove local papers to more carefully consider printing arrest reports without some sort of due diligence.

But the Daily Herald regularly prints arrest reports, and the Shaw Media papers – especially the Kane County Chronicle – have become nothing more than glorified police blotters. At least Shaw Media occasionally notes when an arrestee has been exonerated.

The Daily Herald even goes as far as asking political candidates if they’ve ever been arrested when the real question is, have they ever been convicted?

Serial DUI, domestic abuse and violent crime stories serve a purpose. But I really don’t care about pot possession, a first-time DUI, getting into an accident, or a disorderly conduct charge. They don’t move the story along and printing them doesn’t act as any kind of deterrent.

Mr. Davidsmeyer’s blatantly unconstitutional lawmaking effort will fall flat, but general assemblies and political attitudes have a tendency to change. If the local papers don’t want to be hogtied in this regard, they should be far more circumspect about this kind of irresponsible shotgun reporting.


The truth truly is stranger than fiction

I’m going to greatly paraphrase an hilarious story that ran in today’s Chicago Tribune.

Apparently, a 24 year-old Rogers Park (northernmost Chicago neighborhood) man, filed a Post Office change-of-address form redirecting all UPS Atlanta corporate headquarters mail to his tiny Ashland Avenue garden apartment.

And despite an utter lack of the confirmation required on both ends, it worked! Our enterprising thief became the proud recipient of sensitive personnel documents, all sorts of company credit cards, and thousands of dollars in business checks.


Why, he received so much UPS mail that the Post Office had to deliver the voluminous number of missives in tubs. And no one caught on until our scammer tried to cash $60,000 in UPS checks THREE LONG MONTHS LATER! Only then was a search warrant issued and most of the errant mail recovered.

C’mon! How could that Rogers Park postman not become the least bit suspicious? I know businesses are always on the lookout for money saving measures, but I can’t imagine UPS corporate moving into a garden apartment.

Considering what that company does, wouldn’t you think those fine UPS mailroom folks would’ve considered the precipitous decline in mail received as some sort of red flag?


Oddly enough, though most of the mail was recovered and there’s bank video of the check cashing attempt, our fascinating scammer has yet to be arrested.

So, taking a flyer from the brilliant stupidity of this plan, here’s what I’m gonna do! Since the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office’s has a propensity to illegally deny FOIA requests, I’ll simply submit the appropriate form shifting all of the Judicial Center’s mail to my modest west-side-of-Geneva five-bedroom home.

Don’t laugh! It’s a lot more believable than UPS downsizing to a Rogers Park basement rental.

Quick Hits – April 20, 2018

I predicted a riot

And it happened at the Illinois Youth Center is St. Charles on Thursday (4/19). Here’s the story according to six separate sources.

Because they have the run of the facility, the “residents” of the Williams Cottage have been stockpiling broom handles, mop handles, and socks filled with rocks in the gutters of that building. If you drive by the IYC on a warm day, you’ll quickly note the inmates on the roof throwing tiles down at the staff.


So yesterday, a few of them exited their locked cottage through the roof, retrieved their makeshift weapons, assaulted the lone guard, broke down a nearby office door, and hit the emergency button, which unlocked the cottage doors. Then the now armed inmates attacked the Cleveland Cottage “residents” as they returned from the cafeteria.

Nothing like a mass brawl to brighten your day, right?

The guards did their best to intervene, but the situation deteriorated to the point where an IYC staffer felt the need to call the State Police.

When an ambulance showed up with a St. Charles Police escort to retrieve the badly injured guard, they were refused entry. When the officers offered to help quell the riot, IYC administrators responded by saying, “You have no jurisdiction here.”

When the State Police showed up, they were also barred entry, but those officers were so displeased with that turn of events that they demanded the names of the administrators who issed the order.

If you don’t let the police in, they can’t make an official report, can they!

The badly injured guard was eventually taken to Delnor Hospital where he was the proud recipient of 17 cranial staples.

Like I said on Monday, someone is going to have to die before Governor Rauner finally decides to do something about this clusterfuck of a correctional facility.


This one’s on Rauner

A number of State employees have been telling me that the Rauner administration is so incompetent and inept, that the talented folks who haven’t simply left, are getting fired. Then they’re being replaced by inexperienced college graduates who don’t ask questions, but they don’t know what they’re doing, either.


We’ve already discussed that the Governor is well aware of this problem, but just like all those Quincy veterans needlessly died of Legionnaire’s Disease, he clearly doesn’t give a flying bleep about it.

But the most fascinating thing is, these Rauner critiques aren’t coming from Democrats, they’re coming from some of his staunchest 2014 supporters. In fact, the conservative friend who helped me break this story recently declared, “Bruce Rauner sucks.”

And I tend to agree.

You all know I’m no fan of Michael Madigan’s fiscal approach to state government. But at least he isn’t trying to destroy the State from within by enabling the kind of cancer that does that kind of thing.

I generally don’t believe in evil. Much like cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light, evil is nothing more than the failure of good men to act. Sadly, Governor Rauner is making me reconsider that notion.


An open letter to Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

Dear Joe,

I understand know that you and twenty of your best prosecutors are spending a great deal of time – and a great many Kane County tax dollars – prosecuting the Cook County Laquan McDonald case. That said, it’s not my fault that you’re so politically naïve you thought that gig would help, and not hurt, your political career.

I know you’re trying, but we both know it’s too late to get out from under that albatross.

Meanwhile, please consider this. There’s a correctional facility right across the street – you can see it from your office window – that’s completely out of control. It’s gotten so bad that a guard or employee is going to needlessly die sooner rather than later.

McMahon 2

I understand the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office has no jurisdiction over those administrators. But you do have the absolute right – and duty – to prosecute any crime that occurs on those grounds, and that includes gross negligence on the part of those administrators.

It’s because of that gross negligence that there was a riot at the IYC yesterday Joe, and good people were seriously injured as a result. Since Superintendent Albright has no intention of holding the “residents” accountable for anything, and Governor Rauner doesn’t care, you’re going to have to step in before someone does die.

Don’t worry! I’m more than willing to lend a hand! At least a dozen people – brave souls willing to risk their employment – have come forward to say they’d be more than willing to testify about exactly what goes on at that facility on a daily basis.

If former Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti could prosecute IYC inmate crimes despite a recalcitrant administration, then you can, too. I realize that doing the right thing might not help your career, but when you were elected, you swore an oath to uphold the law.

And the people of Kane County aren’t willing to settle for anything less.


My heartfelt gratitude…

…goes out to all the current and former Illinois Youth Center St. Charles employees – at least 25 of them – who’ve reached out to me this week. No human being should have to put up with those kinds of conditions – period.

I don’t understand why neither the State’s Attorney nor the local newspapers take you seriously, but I do. My problem is, there’s only one of me, and on occasion, I do need to focus on those paying gigs.

Rest assured, I will get back to each and every one of you, because I really do want to hear your stories.


Quick Hits – The face of sexual harassment at the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office

There’s more than one way to beat an illegal FOIA denial!

After the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office sent me 292 blank pages of complaints against a prosecutor allegedly fired for sexual harassment, I was faced with a rather daunting Attorney General appeals process. And while I’ll certainly win that appeal, since there are no sanctions for the failure to answer a valid Freedom of Information Request, I’m looking at a lengthy court battle to get my hands on the actual documents.

Rest assured, that appeal is in process and I will get every single one of those unredacted 292 pages long before the fat lady sings.

business woman man couple sexual harassment silhouette

But while those gears of justice slowly grind, one immensely brave former KCSAO prosecutor reached out to provide me with her formal sexual harassment complaint. There are people to whom the word “justice” still actually means something.

Names are withheld for all of the obvious reasons, but as we proceed, everything in italics are her exact words. Please remember, the fired prosecutor was the complainant’s direct supervisor as both an intern and full-time employee.

October 15, 2015

I was assigned to a case that was set for hearing that required a certain female officer to testify. I asked (prosecutor) if he would cover the hearing for me. (Prosecutor) indicated that he wouldn’t be able to do the hearing because he used to sleep with that woman, but that was when she weighed 30 pounds less and he wouldn’t be caught dead with her now.”

Prosecutors bragging about sleeping with witnesses? What could possibly go wrong with that? Perhaps we should fatten those officers up a bit so they’re a little less appealing. And this is one of the least objectionable exchanges, too.


February 2016

At about 1:00 p.m., I was returning from my lunch break and I got back to my office where I started to take off my winter boots to put on my work shoes. As I was doing this, (staffer) walked past accompanying (staffer) out of the office. (Prosecutor) was standing outside my office placing items on his cart. As (staffer) walked past, he saw me and said, “Am I interrupting something?” (Prosecutor) responded, “Oh no man! I wouldn’t be that quick,” and then he laughed. I told him he was disgusting, and he made kissing noises at me.

Kissing noises? And that wasn’t enough to get State’s Attorney Joe McMahon to fire him? That’s taking tolerance to a whole new level!


May 11, 2016

(Prosecutor) spent this day and the day before asking multiple people, in and out of his office, for advice on the same issue. There were at least three conversations with different people, one with (staffer). The issue he was discussing with all of these people was, would a girl that he was dating think that it was weird if he did not have sex with her in the first month in which they dated her. I was forced to listen to these conversations multiple times until he asked me the same question. I told him that I felt uncomfortable and asked to leave. He told me to stay so that he could call (staffer) and ask her while I was in his office.

McMahon has repeatedly asked the County Board for more prosecutors. Perhaps if KCSAO management wasn’t so busy forcing subordinates to listen to every lurid detail of their sex lives, those new hires wouldn’t be necessary.


Other Events

(Prosecutor) has commented on my clothing and how it looked on me, told that the bailiffs and everyone in the courthouse liked my new suit, told me that I had the best legs of all the female attorneys in the office, sent me kissing emoticons through text messages, and made kissing noises to me in person.

(Prosecutor) has had conversations with other attorneys in the office regarding their sex lives in front of me and other attorneys. On one occasion, at a social event outside of the work, he rubbed my legs under the table with his legs while there were (KCSAO) supervisors present. This contact was uninvited and made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

On one occasion, when I was an intern, (Prosecutor) invited me to participate in a 402 conference with Judge (name redacted) and (staffer). After the 402 conference he joked with (staffer) and other ASAs that he invited me because Judge (name redacted) likes pretty girls with nice legs.


And Prosecutor McGropy still wasn’t fired. First Assistant Jody Gleason excused the leg rubbing incident by claiming it didn’t happen at the office.

Fed up with this kind of insistent abuse and McMahon’s abject refusal to do anything about it, our female prosecutor finally resigned. Listening to the pain in her voice as she described being forced to leave her “dream job” is something I’ll never forget.

So, why was this harassing prosecutor finally cut loose years later? I’m hearing two stories. The first is that a couple of judges finally had it with his behavior and went to McMahon leaving him no choice. The second is the KCSAO was terrified that a sexual harassment complaint would fall into my hands and I’d make it public.

When he finally was terminated, our prosecutor’s immediate boss, Chief Felony Prosecutor Bill Engerman declared “I’m sad to see (prosecutor) go.” Of course, he was! Because Engerman was fired from the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office for the same kind of behavior.

It’s hard enough being a prosecutor or a public defender. It’s even harder being a female prosecutor or public defender. But to have to put up with groping, kissing noises, and constant sex life commentary is completely beyond the pale.

Imagine if your wife, daughter or sister had to regularly endure this kind of indignity. And most of those female prosecutors and PDs can’t just quit because they have six-figure student loan debt – and Joe McMahon, Jody Gleason, Joe Lulves and Bill Engerman know it!

McMahon 2

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

So, once again, I’m calling on Joe McMahon, Joe Lulves, Jody Gleason and Bill Engerman to do the right thing and resign. Because I’m not nearly done with this story and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Quick Hits – The IYC inmates are running the asylum!

The lack of a Friday (4/13) Quick Hits was primarily the result of two stories coming at me so hot and heavy that confirming them took most of my day!

I’ve been aware of the first one for some time, but I promised two local elected officials I’d hold off until Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner had an opportunity to address the problem. But that was three long months ago, and since the situation is getting worse, it’s time to go forward.

Basically, the inmates at the Illinois Youth Center at Peck Road and Route 38 in St. Charles are running the show. Administrators at the highest level have been giving them carte blanche because the State has been trying to shut that decaying facility down for years, and any kind of “bad news” may cost them their jobs.


I still need to issue some FOIA’s and talk to a few more sources, but here’s a sample of what’s been going on at the IYC.

Back in 2014, a high-ranking Kane County public official was so concerned with reports from IYC staff that, despite having no jurisdiction over that facility, he reached out to former Superintendent Jeff Bargar with these concerns:

“My concern…is the safety of the guards and personnel. From incident reports on file, female guards have been confronted with verbal abuse, subjected to public exposure of male anatomy, and even more aggressive displays/threats of attempted sexual and other physical intimidation by residents during conduct of room checks.

The concerns are that the incidents of this behavior are increasing and that punishment for these serious occurrences is not sufficient to deter further serious infractions.”

Bargar was replaced by Brenda Welch who:

  • Pressured staff to alter incident reports
  • Played favorites with inmates so she can “get rid” of “troublesome” employees
  • Allowed inmates to use her cell phone to make personal calls
  • Was overheard telling another corrections facility superintendent “My staff is stupid and incompetent”
  • Refused to punish inmates for all manner of violent acts
  • Told a female staffer if she wanted an administrator position, she probably should stop having children.
  • Cancelled the employee appreciation cookout because she said the inmates would be “offended” by having to watch the staff eat “good food.”
Brenda Welch

Brenda Welch


  • One inmate destroyed 4 vehicles (3 state and 1 personal) with no repercussions.
  • The buildings are being destroyed by inmates tearing out the walls to get at offices and staff.
  • Two inmates have had their ears bitten off and one was left with permanent brain damage as a result of these regular attacks. There were no consequences.
  • Attacks on staff have resulted in extensive time off for major surgeries and high worker’s compensation settlements.
  • Female guards are constantly threatened with outright rape.

But my favorite IYC story is this one!

One female guard was assaulted by an inmate with a food tray and punched 4 to 5 times in the process and she defended herself and attempted to subdue the attacker.

But because she defended herself, she was put on “gate status,” Warden Welch’s favorite punishment for “recalcitrant” staff. She was subsequently removed from the facility and investigated by DCFS and the Illinois State Police as a form of retaliation. And the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, who was well aware of this incident, refused to press charges against the attacker.

All told, I have over 100 pages of staff complaints and incident reports that have gone utterly unheeded.

You see, they don’t punish the inmates because that means those incidents would have to be officially and accurately reported, and that would make this out-of-control facility look bad. But things are so bad, thirty IYC employees resigned in must thirty days between November and December of 2017. And the facility continues to bleed staff.

IYC guards have begged Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon to do something about this mess, only turn be turned away. Of course, we’ve already covered the fact that McMahon also hates bad news and, since he and 20 separate prosecutors are spending most of their time on the Laquan McDonald case, they have no interest in these violent crimes in their own backyard.

Joe still thinks the McDonald prosecution is gonna land him a higher profile gig.

McMahon’s excuse is that it’s a State of Illinois problem, but the State’s Attorney’s in Henry and Saline counties have had no problem prosecuting inmates without Illinois Corrections administrators’ cooperation, so it can be done. Former Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti prosecuted IYC crimes all the time, including at one infamous rape.

But doing the right thing would inflate the number of Kane County felony cases and make you look bad, right Joe?

Brenda Welch has since “moved on,” but one of her former Cook County “protégés” has taken over the IYC and nothing has changed.

Those previously mentioned local elected officials made a real effort to resolve this horrific situation by bringing all the documentation I received directly to Bruce Rauner’s Chief of Staff, who proceeded to do virtually nothing about it.

Apparently, you have to be a billionaire, or a guard will have to die before the Governor finally addresses this absurd situation. He should count his lucky stars – at least those inmates don’t have Legionnaire’s Disease!


A preview!

Thankfully, there is more than one way to skin a Freedom of Information Request denial cat! And one of ‘em is to get one of the formal sexual harassment complaints from the victim themselves.


One very brave soul has come forward to help me expose that Kane County State’s Attorney’s boy’s club for what it really is. I will present her complaint – verbatim – on Wednesday.

And yes! It’s every bit as bad as you think it is!



Quick Hits – April 11, 2018

Beyond the pale!

Silly me! When the Tribune-owned Courier-News “reported” on the mere six citizen complaints Elgin officer Chris Jensen accrued over a long 20 years on the force, I thought that was as low as that newspaper and that “reporter” could possibly go. I truly didn’t think local journalism could sink any further into the abyss.

But I was wrong!

Because today, the Courier ran a “story” covering the knife wielding attacker involved Elgin police shootings – all flippin’ four of them – since 1969. Yes! You read that correctly – they went back 50 years to find cases somewhat similar to the events that led up to the recent DeCythinia Clements shooting.

Of course, that newspaper and the Tribune are ignoring stories like:

  • The rampant sexual harassment and subsequent retaliation at the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office
  • The inmates are running the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles
  • Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles’ attempted coverup of her brother’s involvement with Anjum Coffland
  • Judge John Dalton’s consistent bullying of female and minority plaintiffs/defendants

Nope! This “reporter” settled on a 1969 EPD shooting in which a 16 year-old wife was threatened by her 19 year-old AWOL husband who’d already stabbed her in the leg the previous day. When he went after her again in her grandmother’s mobile home, the EPD correctly shot and killed him.


But wait! There’s more!

This “reporter” tracked that woman down to O’Fallon, Missouri, only to con her into asking the 50 year-old question, “Why did they have to shoot?” (That’s the Courier-News headline today, by the way.) Oh! I don’t know! This is just a wild guess, but perhaps the fact that he’d already stabbed you and came at you with a knife a second time might have had something to do with it!

They didn’t have all the non-lethal options back in 1969, either.

This isn’t a case of going after the low-hanging fruit, it’s a case picking the rotting fruit up off the ground. Please tell me how this piece of bleep attempt at journalism adds to, or advances the Clements story in any way shape or form?

Is the Tribune actually trying to inflame Elgin tensions just so they have more to write about?

So, now the newspapers, reporters and editors are officially worse than the people they cover. I wonder what it’s like to have absolutely no shame and to be utterly incapable of embarrassment?

I’d ask you to cancel your Courier-News subscription but y’all already have!


Like a bad Bond villain…

… the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District keeps coming back to take one more swipe at us. Despite losing yet another tax increase referendum, FRCFPD architect and attorney Ken Shepro is claiming a truncated ballot question led to the most recent 32 vote defeat and he’s gonna fight “the man” to overturn those scurrilous results and put the question right back on the November ballot.

Where it will lose for a fourth time.


If Shepro and those FRCFPD trustees spent nearly as much time running the district as they have asking the voters for more money and making excuses for failed policy and referenda, they’d have a budget surplus.

Don’cha just gotta love those tax and spend Republicans? Shepro and from District President Jim Gaffney said they could do it cheaper and faster, but they clearly can’t!

Word on the street is the Illinois Fire Marshall is already working on dismantling the paramedic portion of the FRCFPD, and their fire suppression services will be next. Finally!


And speaking of being unable to accept a verdict…

Down by 44 votes in her race for a full circuit judicial seat, Kane County Associate Judge Elizabeth Flood continues to refuse to concede to Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell THREE WEEKS after the election claiming, “I owe it to my campaign to see the certified numbers before making any final decision to concede or request a discovery recount.”

No, your honor! You owe it to the people you serve, the black robe, and the electoral process to do the right thing, pull on your big girl panties, act like an adult and concede. Even lowly water reclamation district candidates understand this dynamic.

What’s she waiting for? All of the absentee ballots have been counted and a discovery recount won’t change a damn thing.


Considering Flood lost, in great part, because she utterly ignored Aurora, any error in that jurisdiction will likely go against her. Not only that, but the State ran an audit of those 2018 Aurora Election Commission vote totals ON ELECTION NIGHT with plenty of interested poll watchers keenly observing the process. That means those votes have already been counted twice!

As far as the rest of the County goes, I’ve said it before! Having worked for the Kane County Clerk, I can attest that their E-slate voting machines either work or they don’t work – there’s no gray error area possible.

The best evidence of all this is, despite all sorts of legal machinations by losing 2014 judicial candidate Marmarie Kostelny, D. J. Tegeler’s seven-vote margin of victory never changed!

This is yet another case of a standard bearing public official, upon whom it’s incumbent to set the example, doing exactly the opposite. Voters will forgive (too) many things but being a sore loser isn’t one of them. And I’ll be there to remind you of this unjudicial conduct when Flood inevitably decides to run again in 2020.

The arrogance of some judges is beyond even the Courier-News kind of pale!

So, here’s my plan! The next time I’m in front a judge – an always likely prospect – if I don’t like the verdict, I’m simply going to declare that I owe it to myself to ignore it until I’m convinced his or her honor got it right!

I’m sure the judge will have no problem with that.


Child sex abuse is on the rise in Kane County

State’s Attorney Joe McMahon recently noted an “alarming” increase in sex abuse crimes against children under 6 years-old. Kane County saw 111 cases in 2015, 125 in 2016 and a whopping 185 in 2017.


While the State’s Attorney is correct in saying that parents, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies must be more aware of the signs of sexual abuse, what I want to know is, how will McMahon even begin to solve this problem when he can’t handle a massive sexual harassment scandal in his own office?

I think I already know the answer.

Quick Hits – April 9, 2018

Hanging separately

Oh my! When someone posted a Facebook comment complimentary of Deerfield, Illinois’ recent assault gun ban, by the conservative responses you’d a thunk he:

  • Had children with three different women
  • Bragged about cheating on three wives
  • Paid for sex with a porn star
  • Declared bankruptcy four times
  • Colluded with Russia to rig an election
  • Married an illegal immigrant
  • Bragged about groping women
  • Dodged the draft
  • Sent the national debt skyrocketing

wait a minute…

Yep! These great Christians – and we know they’re great Christians because they say they are – hurled epithets like “libtard,” “snowflake, and “traitor” in an effort to prove they truly did manage to graduate from the third grade.

Gun Control

Some of the less acerbic gun nuts defiantly dismissed the new assault gun statute claiming an NRA backed lawsuit would overturn it forthwith. But it won’t, because when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Washington D.C.’s 2008 blanket gun ban unconstitutional, they also made it clear that the Second Amendment is far from absolute.

Not only that, but a federal judge just ruled that assault weapons and large capacity magazines fall outside of the Second Amendment while upholding Massachusetts ban on both. So, Deerfield will prevail.

Another commentor threatened to unseat that scurrilous Deerfield city council, but all I can say to that thought possibility, “Give it your best shot!” Politicians everywhere are taking note of a rapidly shifting electorate, and as soon as it’s no long expedient to kowtow to the NRA, they won’t!

Those rapidly shifting political sands mean that now is the time for reasonable gun owners everywhere to come forward and help craft the kind of reasonable legislation that benefits everyone. Because, if they and the NRA don’t reasonably compromise, unreasonable compromise will be thrust upon them.

I can’t tell you how much I love watching conservatives hang themselves. I’m still waiting for Barack Obama to take my Glock!


Associate judges part III

Sorry for the delay on this final installment, but when we last left off, we were talking about a pool of 40 attorneys, prosecutors and perhaps public defenders who’ve applied for a soon-to-be vacant associate judge position.

Since the odds of eight of the 14 Kane County circuit judges agreeing on a selection right off the bat are slim to none, that group will start winnowing the field. And as we’ve already discussed, the most talented candidates tend to carry the most baggage, so they’re almost always eliminated in the first round.

It doesn’t help matters that, while each circuit judge has a favorite choice, those often-arrogant folks don’t play well enough with each other to strike the kind of deal that would get one of the better candidates appointed.

By the time that gaggle gets cut in half, the circuit judges start discussing concerns like:

  • We need another woman on the bench
  • It’s time to appoint an Hispanic judge, or
  • The northwestern part of the county isn’t well represented

That’s when the race to the bottom really starts to gain momentum. It’s not that those aren’t worthwhile considerations, but more often than not, the continued application of this least objectionable candidate dynamic eliminates the above average attorneys, too.

So, now we’re left mediocre choices at best, and if a poor candidate happens to have enough connections, they might just slide through. That’s how we ended up with associate judges like:

  • David Kliment
  • Divya Sarang
  • Kathy Karyannas
  • Keith Johnson
  • Katherine Moran
  • Alice Tracy
  • Christine Downs, and
  • Sandra Parga

none of whom were good attorneys and they shouldn’t be wearing the black dress on their best day.

So, now that you know how the process works, I’m not sure what the answer to getting better associate judges is. Let me think about it for a while and talk to some folks and I’ll get back to you!


The Blackhawks owe us nothing!

I’ve gotta get that regular sports podcast with KC Auditor Terry Hunt going, but until that time, I’ll occasionally convey my local sports scene thoughts right here. Lucky you!

And my latest consideration is that all these chickens with their heads cut off concerns about the Blackhawks missing the playoff for the first time in a decade are absurd! Why, the Chicago Tribune went as far as wasting a ton of newsprint on various “experts” weighing in with all sorts of quick fix possibilities.

C’mon people! The Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, a feat not many NHL teams have managed to accomplish. What that means is the men in black and red don’t owe us a damn thing!


The only thing you can be assured of in professional sports is an organization on top of the world today will see fans with paper bags over their heads, sooner rather than later and vice versa. Even the Cubs couldn’t keep on losing forever!

Your team ages, the other teams get better, and everyone gun for the top dog. Why do I suddenly feel like breaking into “Circle of Life?”

So, let’s all take a collection deep breath and let GM Stan Bowman and Coach Joel Quenneville – both proven commodities – do their rebuilding thing and the Blackhawks will be back on top before you can say “Tony Esposito.”

Quick Hits – April 6, 2018

On the border

We typically don’t cover Donald Trump here because his variety of vast stupidity doesn’t require the kind of subtle analysis we tend to specialize in at The First Ward. But I can’t pass up his latest move to rally his rabid base by sending troops to the Mexican border to stop an immigrant invasion that ain’t.

Much like Argentina invading the Falklands, this is nothing more than a misdirection strategy aimed at distracting us from a completely failed administration. And only despots, tyrants and dictators are stupid enough to give that kind of hollow effort a shot.

Just two more years folks!


It’s called climate change for a reason!

If, in reference to our abjectly cool spring, I hear one more conservative loon say, “So much for global warming,” I promise I’m gonna get kinda violent. Though the general trend is, indeed, global warming, the short-term symptoms are meteorological extremes.

To wit, while we’re facing the kind of spring the Chicago area can be famous for, our friends over in Asia are dealing with record breaking heat. Furthermore, in January, we tied one record with 12 straight days of sub 20-degree highs and another with nine straight days of measurable snow.

The fact that it’s cold for a day – or even a week – proves nothing other than conservatives generally aren’t very smart.


Congratulations to Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda

For being named Fort Collins Colorado newest police chief! After 26 years of rising though the EPD ranks, the Chief is ready for a new challenge and Fort Collins’ gain is certainly going to be our loss. He starts the new gig June 4.

Swoboda 2

It’s hard to believe there was a time when Jeff wasn’t the Elgin chief and it’s even harder to believe there was a pre-2010 time when the EPD was not that well-regarded. He deserves a lot of credit for that turnaround and implementing the kind of transparency that’s become legendary.

As for this journalist, not only am I losing a friend to the vagaries of distance, but I could not have asked for a better relationship than what I’ve had with Jeff and Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman. That’s exactly the way it should be, but rarely is.

Before he goes west, I’ll endeavor to sit down with Jeff and perhaps do a lengthy podcast on 26 years of his law enforcement thoughts. Like I like to say, I’ll keep you posted!


Associate judges part III

Due to a meeting with the Hain for Kane Sheriff campaign brain trust, part three of our series on selecting associate judges will have to be postponed until Monday!