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.
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.