Quick Hits – Mike Noland just knocked on my door!

I’m gonna say it for the 437th time! The truth really is stranger than fiction!

So, I’m sitting at the dinner table this evening when the doorbell rings, and who’s standing at my front door? None other than disgraced former Elgin State Senator and current judicial candidate Mike Noland.

Noland

In general, as they engage in the door knocking process, most walk list armed candidates avoid my front door because, well, I’m me! But not Mike Noland! Apparently, he’s a glutton for punishment.

This is a man who shouldn’t be allowed to judge a sixth-grade science fair, much less get elected to a 16th Circuit judicial seat. To review the former senator’s stellar track record, he:

  • Got thrown out of a Carpentersville polling place by the police for being disruptive
  • Sued Springfield for back pay after making a big deal out of forgoing that pay
  • Got caught plagiarizing a JFK speech on the Senator floor
  • Got stopped for speeding while driving on a no-insurance citation
  • Got caught stealing his opponent’s yard signs red-handed on video – twice
  • Continues to have a series of affairs

Shocked at the prospect of seeing his shortness on my front porch, I exclaimed, “Don’t you know whose door this is?

Failing to respond, I explained that I’m the guy who’s in the process of getting him disbarred. And once I’m done with him, Judge John Dalton is next!

Sometimes I enjoy my rather strange life way too much!

Quick Hits – “Jarrod wants to be your friend”

Before we start, I want to be crystal clear that no one deserves to die in a workplace shooting. Short of self-defense, no act is heinous enough to provoke and excuse this kind of absurd violent outburst.

I also refuse to blame the victims. Most of them had nothing to do with the column that precipitated this tragedy, and even if they had, a bad journalistic decision shouldn’t cost you your life.

But as the story of five shooting deaths at the Annapolis Capital Gazette unfolds, I firmly believe their editors and that columnist share some culpability. Having read the 2011 column that set this sad scenario in motion, I can’t stop cringing.

Capital Gazette

The suspect in this mass shooting, whose last name will be withheld here, is clearly mentally ill. The Gazette column describes a man who relentlessly and horrifically stalked a former high school classmate, online and through email, for a year before she finally resorted to the courts to put a stop to it.

It was the kind of nightmare that no one who offers kindness to an acquaintance should ever have to endure.

The cautionary tale of Internet peril is a good one, and that story would have had the same impact without publishing the offender’s name. What baffles me is, what on God’s green Earth made those Gazette editors decide to out a mentally ill man who wasn’t a public figure on his best day.

Go ahead and put a line in a police blotter, but not this!

Thinking back to my phenomenal former editors like Greg Rivara, Rick Nagel, Mike Cetera, Paul Harth, and Dave Parro, none of them would’ve let that column get past the first draft. A story on Web stalking? Sure! Telling the story without the names? You bet! But calling out a private citizen, who clearly has major issues – by name and in detail – would’ve meant a stern lecture and starting from scratch.

And the editor who came up with that sarcastic, smarmy and needlessly nasty headline – “Jarrod wants to be your friend?” Aside from selling newspapers, what the hell was he or she thinking? What could they possibly hope to accomplish by taunting a mentally ill man?

Why do I suspect a Gazette editor and that columnist reached out to the subject only to be angered by his response, and they let that anger cloud their judgement?

The late, great Mike Royko always said his biggest regret was “peeling a grape with an axe.” As he wound down to three columns a week, Royko anguished over the times he excoriated a low-level city worker or bureaucrat who was simply following orders.

But as local newspapers slowly die, using a hatchet to go after grapes has become the norm.

When was the last time the Daily Herald, a Shaw newspaper, or the suburban Tribune papers broke a big news story? They haven’t for over a decade. When you add up very young reporters, a general lack of talent, editors desperate to save their jobs, and publishers awash in red ink, journalistic standards go right out the window.

Since they can no longer break the big stories, they’re going after easier and smaller targets.

When the Daily Herald blew their Gliniewicz coverage, they disproportionally took it out on a lowly Elgin animal control officer who, while certainly in the wrong, did not deserve nearly that amount of newsprint.

And the Shaw newspapers have become nothing more than one big police blotter.

I’m very fond of Shaw Media’s DeKalb Office General Manager, Eric Olson, but we are currently engaged in a long-running debate over papers running police reports. Eric says it’s an important part of informing the community and the most popular part of the paper, while I insist it’s nothing more than a conviction in the press.

And what paper ever prints that any of those folks were exonerated?

Shaw Media will run an update reflecting an acquittal if the subject calls and proves the charges were dropped. But that just reminds readers – who’ve already made up their minds – of the original story.

When your journalistic focus boils down to going after non-public people who aren’t used to that level of scrutiny – and especially mentally ill people who aren’t used to that level of scrutiny – bad things are bound to happen.

How many innocent defendants have lost their job just so Shaw Media and Paddock Publications can pander to readers’ prurient interest and get a few more Internet hits?

There’s a similar situation brewing in Kane County right now. A mentally ill individual is sending rambling, semi-threatening emails to myself, and a number of public and elected officials. Though those missives are troubling, and I would caution my involved friends to be more careful in the short term, outing this individual would make it so much worse.

And despite my liberal friends’ dire proclamations, this tragedy had nothing to do with Donald Trump, or Milos Yiannopoulos’ call to assassinate journalists (a desperate cry for attention), and everything to do with a truly terrifying editorial decision that spun completely out of control.

I’ll say it again. I can’t imagine what those editors were thinking. These are utterly pointless and unnecessary deaths.

Local newspapers and journalists must get back to, as former Kane County Chronicle Managing Editor Greg Rivara always insisted, “comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.” Nobody deserves to die for it, but afflicting the afflicted is just plain wrong.

 

Quick Hits – June 28, 2018

If it’s good enough for Donald Trump!

Thanks to the Geneva Police, now that I’m completely free to speak my mind, I’m going to be using twitter a lot more to better build the basis for the stories I break. And I promise it will be far more entertaining than Agent Orange could ever be.

twitter

In fact, I started down that very path today, and if you want to follow all that breaking news and more, simply search “The First Ward” or go directly to @jeffnward on Twitter.

As always, as long as you apply the vast majority of your IQ, I look forward to hearing from you, too!

 

And speaking of breaking stories…

Having given him every opportunity to explain his good fortune at the hands of the Geneva Police, who let him slide on as many as eight DUIs, Mayor Kevin Burns has thus far, refused to respond.

What’s fascinating to me is, he’s offering no denial, either.

Burns 2

Mayor Burns

There will be much more on this story going forward. Like I said there’s one standard for the Mayor and the Geneva Police, and an entirely different standard for the rest of us  lowly Geneva rabble.

And please! Keep those Kevin Burns stories coming.

 

Don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten about the KCSAO, either

As we discussed in the column on Geneva Police officers having sex on duty, for every courageous woman who risks everything to expose sexual harassment in the workplace, there’s another who uses her sexuality to advance her career.

Kane County Judicial Center

Kane County Judicial Center

One of Kane County Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles staunchest prosecutor defenders has gone as far as threatening people with the full power of her office were they to expose the Michael Clancy – Anjum Coffland connection.

If you recall, I broke that story back in October, which let all of those intimidated folks off the hook.

But when you consider this prosecutor’s fascinating history, she’s the last one who should be throwing stones. We will move forward with this story after she’s had ample opportunity to respond.

Quick Hits – Why the Blue Wave is Dead – Part One

Because the Democrats killed it – all the way down to the local level.

I realize I argued the categorical converse of this contention a scant month ago, but as I’m fond of saying, when the evidence changes, so does my mind. And this has been quite the 180!

No Blue WaVE

Here’s why the Democrats are in for such a rude November awakening:

1. Incessant attacks on Donald Trump

Considering what conservatives did to Barack Obama, I was really looking forward to sitting back and watching them get a taste of their own medicine. But after two years of relentless attacks on Trump, I’ve developed a Facebook phobia.

C’mon! We all know exactly who the President is., because he makes absolutely no bones about it. And we all know that no amount of rhetoric will change his supporters’ minds, so what’s the point of persistently piling on? Other than making yourself feel a little bit better, that is.

First, it’s not an effective messaging tactic. And the lack of any real message is exactly what doomed Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. I’m not saying Trump’s message was a good one, but it was a message, and it clearly resonated with enough Americans to put him in the White House.

Second, when you doggedly deride a President – or any politician for that matter – not only does it serve as a clarion call for his supporters, but it pushes those fence-sitting folks into that camp or disgusts them to the point they refuse to participate in the process.

And a lower voter turnout always favors the Republican candidate.

 

2. Democrats are going to vote for Democrats in 2018

But that very basic reality hasn’t stopped Illinois 14th and 6th Congressional District contenders, Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten from preaching solely to the choir.

Legendary baseball manager Sparky Anderson noted that baseball teams will win one-third of their games and lose one third of their games. It’s the middle third that matters. Though it’s a bit of an oversimplification, it’s the same with general elections.

On a level pitch, thirty-three percent of the voters will vote for you, and 33 percent will vote for your opponent. That means you have to appeal to those coveted swing voters to prevail.

But the political playing field is rarely level. The 14th is 60 percent Republican while the 6th lines up at 65 percent GOP. That means the pool of swing voters is much smaller which means Underwood and Casten have to appeal to Republicans who, on occasion,  are willing to vote for the best candidate to have any shot.

And no blue wave will be nearly enough to offset those inherent GOP advantages. If Underwood and Casten continue to fail to appeal to swing voters, then they need to make an real effort to not disaffect them.

But they’re so caught up in the current progressive mob messaging mentality that they’re not only ignoring, but downright alienating the very voters they need to win. Of course, you can’t take your base completely for granted, but they won’t be enough to win in either district.

Meanwhile, Randy Hultgren and Peter Roskam actually chastised Trump for separating immigrant families who illegally cross our southern border. Since those middle ground voters aren’t nearly as steeped in the political process, that simple message will very likely resonate with them.

And if they continue to effectively target those critical fence sitters, how can Underwood and Casten possibly win?

 

3. No one is liberal enough anymore

When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that he enjoyed a 10 percent discount at Chick-fil-A during Gay Pride month, by the liberal reaction you’d think he just referred to Caitlyn Jenner as “he!” This utterly unwarranted outrage is the newest form of progressive insanity and the blue wave is going to be the casualty.

Of course, Dorsey issued the standard mea culpa, which made this liberal want to go right out and vote a straight Republican November ticket. And if that’s my response to this insipid self-righteousness, imagine how the average moderate voter is going to react.

Making an issue of a chicken sandwich is every bit as politically silly as it sounds. Republicans can win by being divisive, but Democrats cannot. They need to be inclusive. This race to see who’s the purest progressive is completely destroying their party.

 

We’ll continue with part two of what may be a three-part series tomorrow or Friday!

Quick Hits – Alderman McGowan really does need to stay in her ward!

Oh lord! You try to give someone some reasonable advice and they dive so deeply into the Einsteinian definition of insanity that they do just the opposite.

Not only did I provide Kane County Coroner Rob Russell with the keys to the getting a new morgue kingdom, but I was quietly working with some County Board members in an effort to get Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen to see the merit in dispensing with this recurring nightmare once and for all.

But after Russell invited a Chronicle reporter to his facility and further encouraged Fourth Ward Geneva Alderman Jeanne McGowan to persist in her one-woman crusade for a new building, in the immortal words of that great philosopher Roxette, “It’s over now.”

Because no county chairman on the planet will reward a countywide elected official for consistently trying to embarrass them in public, and I firmly believe this is Chris Lauzen’s last term, there will be no new morgue.

But before we move on to the second half of our story, please allow me to clearly stipulate that I like Ms. McGowan, if for no other reason than her ADHD makes mine pale in comparison. After she was first elected, I took the time to sit down with her, and I found her to be genuine and to genuinely care about her hometown.

McGowan

Geneva Alderman Jeanne McGowan

But she has no clue what it means to be a city councilman. Of course, neither do Geneva Aldermen Mike Bruno, Tara Bourghart, Mike Clements, or Robert Swanson, but that’s beside the point,

And the clearest indication of that cluelessness is, when Chairman Lauzen responded to Ms. McGowan’s coroner concerns by accurately indicating she should worry about her own ward, McGowan explained, “I toured the coroner’s office as a citizen and taxpayer of Kane County, not in my role as an alderman.”

Sigh! Do I really have to explain this again?

When you become an elected official – a choice – you lose the luxury of being a private citizen until you no longer are an elected official. To wit, Geneva alderman are Geneva aldermen 24/7 whether they like it or not.

So, when Ms. McGowan inserted herself into the morgue debacle, not only did she do so as a card-carrying Geneva City Councilman, but she brought the entire city council along with her. And if Geneva needs something from Kane County Building A going forward, it probably won’t end well.

Before you give me any crap, I simply report the rules, I don’t make them.

McGowan’s Coroner concerns would’ve carried a lot more weight had she simply  approached the Chairman to voice her concerns privately. C’mon! That’s the first or second rule of local politics.

The problem with an elected official going public in this regard is, you better damn well have your own house in order before you take that political risk. It’s the whole glass houses and throwing stones kind of thing. And when you think about the vast problem that is the City of Geneva, I’m surprised Ms. McGowan has any time or energy left to tackle county issues.

To illustrate my point, my hometown is beset by:

1. A mayor that uses the entire city staff – on company time – to get reelected. Though, to be fair, a napless four year-old could’ve beaten challenger Tom Simonian.

2. A police force that’s so out-of-control that officers are having sex with each other on duty.

3. A city council that consistently approves expensive new hires while the Mayor insists on raising taxes.

4. A city manager who purposely and illegally withholds information from the city council.

5. A streets department that can’t contend with the smallest of snowstorms.

6. An utter lack of attention to the sewer and streets infrastructure, which are crumbling.

7. A pension problem that’s gonna blow up in all our faces.

8. A drug problem that makes Charlie Sheen look like a piker.

The bottom line is, as far as any new Kane County Coroner facility goes, might I suggest gas masks until 2021, because that’s the best you’re gonna get from this County Board.

Quit Hits – This is your Geneva Police!

This is one of the stories the Geneva Police Department tried to intimidate me into dropping.  I’m sure you’ll shortly understand why.

For this one, we need to head back to 2013 when then 20-year GPD Sergeant Rick Castner “retired” as the result of a “work related disability.” It was supposed to be a shoulder injury – at least that’s what the paperwork said.

But, as you might imagine, that wasn’t the case.

You see, the former Sergeant’s first problem was that some of his peers came across Internet videos of his wife – with other men. And those clips eventually made their way to the GPD command staff.

GPD Car

Now, you know I have no problem with what goes on between consenting adults, but the “lifestyle” probably isn’t the best choice for a police officer. It’s that whole higher standard thing. And when you consider the GPD’s prime directive, as dictated by Mayor Kevin Burns, is to maintain Geneva’s reputation at all costs, this revelation wasn’t going to help his career.

Given their propensity to bury embarrassing information, Castner might’ve survived the swinger situation, because it isn’t a crime, and the last thing the City wanted was for all of this to be exposed through a messy lawsuit.

But when Castner started recruiting partners from within the GPD ranks, that kinda sealed his fate. And the accomplice who ended his career was then officer Sarah Sullivan. According to one of six sources, “The had sex in patrol cars, they had sex in bars, they had sex in the station, and go ahead and use your imagination.”

Again! I generally don’t recommend inter-office flings for all of the obvious reasons. But if it made them happy, and it didn’t interfere with or cause problems with their police work, then it’s the whole sinless individual casting the first stone thing.

But it did interfere with their jobs. Many of their liaisons took place on taxpayer time, and when the GPD suddenly couldn’t raise either officer on the radio because they were otherwise occupied in the back of a parked patrol car, even the command staff managed to put two and two together.

But instead of immediately terminating our star-crossed lovers, as should’ve been the case, they forced Castner to retire to keep the press from getting the story. So, he left with all the pomp and circumstance a 20-year officer in good standing deserves.

And as an astute reader pointed out, Castner’s bogus disability ruling most certainly padded his pension.

I FOIAd whatever parting arrangement the GPD and Castner managed to hammer out, but the City of Geneva said no such agreement exists, which is an outright lie. You and I both know they didn’t cut Castner loose without some sort of non-disclosure clause in place, but the GPD knows you can’t appeal a lie to the Attorney General’s Office without evidence that a document exists.

While Castner was cast adrift, this affair turned out to be Officer Sullivan’s best career move. Instead of being fired, she was shortly promoted to detective. As my lovely wife remarked, “Wow! The guy got fired and the woman got promoted? That’s different!”

It is different, but that doesn’t make it right.

And the reasons for the GPD’s sudden largesse are, had they correctly terminated Sullivan, not only would the story have gone public, but there would’ve been a massive sexual harassment lawsuit.

Nash

GPD gatekeeper Commander Julie Nash

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe Sullivan knew exactly what she was doing. Some of my sources said her flings with fellow officers weren’t limited to Castner, so there was no intimidation involved here. But when a fling involves a patrol officer and her Sergeant supervisor, that changes the entire legal dynamic.

The City of Geneva would’ve been on the hook for a very large payout.

So, she’s still on the force, and she will be as long as she wants to be. Wouldn’t we all love that kind of job security? Who cares if the taxpayers have to foot the bill for officers getting busy on duty? Who cares if there might’ve been an emergency call while she was otherwise engaged?

And that’s the part that really frosts my cookies. For every brave #MeToo woman who lost a job because they came forward with the details, there’s a Sarah Sullivan who uses her sexuality to advance her career.

I repeatedly reached out to the GPD command staff, Detective Sullivan, and the Geneva City Council for comment, but none was forthcoming. And the City Council has known about this for over a year.

This is your Geneva Police people, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, too. There’s one standard for them and a higher one for us. In the coming months we’ll cover how the GPD let Mayor Burns slide on as many as eight DUIs, and how the Mayor and his daughters use the Geneva Police as their own private paramilitary force.

Until then.

Quick Hits – Why I Generally Support Chairman Lauzen

We haven’t engaged in a good point-counterpoint discussion here in quite a while, so let’s give it a shot!

Terry Flanagan, the husband of former Geneva Alderman Dorothy Flanagan, posted this compelling blog comment questioning my frequent support of Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen:

 

Jeff,

Normally, I agree with you on you on a lot of things and I appreciate your tenacity when it comes to pursuing the truth. However, I am at a complete loss to explain your impulses to defend Chris Lauzen. While regularly skewering Kevin Burns, seldom is heard a discouraging word when it comes to Lauzen. This is despite the fact that the two are so similar, starting with ego problems down to the oft-spoke fears of retribution many of those who disagree with them express. Their similarities may in part explain the many skirmishes they’ve had had over the years when they should have been working together to benefit their constituents.

This $34 book expense is only part of the story. The Chairman routinely submits expenses that fall outside the reimbursement guidelines. And although a lot of those expenses are minor and have been allowed, the practice demonstrates a tendency to play outside the rules. If the rules are a problem, change them rather than bending them for one individual.

Lauzen’s judgment issues don’t begin and end with questionable expenses though. I lost what little faith I had in his ability to govern when he appointed his political crony Robert Sauceda to animal control as billing manager. This was after he failed to get him in as coordinator. Not only was Sauceda lacking experience, but apparently a few other qualities we expect in our officials as well. His tenure was a disaster. And his continuing behavior following his hasty exit from the county begs the question of how could anyone consider giving this man any position in government. Starting with his ridiculous attempt to legally change his name to include CPA to these latest issues, I continue to question Lauzen’s judgment and yours as well when you continue to overlook his failings and try to shift blame to his detractors.

Terry Flanagan

lauzen 4

Since Terry isn’t the only person to proffer this kind of challenge, I will endeavor to effectively respond:

 

Terry,

1. The main reason I support the Chairman is, being an inveterate fiscal hawk, he’s kept his promise to preside over a flat County tax levy. Since no politician is perfect, I can live with his flaws and foibles which I do regularly point out.

2. To wit, I would encourage you to re-read my columns on the Chairman’s attempted intervention in the most recent Aurora mayoral race. I hammered him, and it became a huge story. Not only that, but because of a vast difference of opinion on one particular issue, the Chairman and I didn’t talk for two years. Like you said, I am relentless in pursuing the truth and I spare no one.

3. As I wrote in the column to which you referred, when those eminently part-time county board members give up the 25 grand salary, the pension, and those Cadillac health care benefits, I might be a little more willing to listen to what they have to say.

4. I’m sure you remember that Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and I were once friends, but it turns out, he actually is a pathological wife abusing liar. Those police reports are common knowledge, but I think it’s time to make them public again. I need to be circumspect here, but I can’t wait to see the Mayor in a specific Third Street Geneva venue.

5. Yes! I have experienced the Chairman’s wrath and I’ve been more than happy to return the favor. But unlike most politicians, Chris Lauzen respects the truth if you provide the evidence and if you employ a bit of persistence. That doesn’t mean he’ll always take advice, but he does listen.

6. And yes again! The Chairman often has difficulties with the somewhat restrictive rules of county government. He has difficulty being “the coach,” something that job sorely requires. But as you know, this life often comes down to moral relativism. Since, former Chairman Karen McConnaughay raped the Kane County taxpayer and redefined pay-to-play, I can’t get too excited about a $34 book.

7. You’re right again! The Chairman doesn’t understand that, if you don’t like the rules, you need to change them. But he certainly ain’t the first elected official to have a problem with that. The fact that the KCSAO repeatedly failed to understand which civil attorneys would work best with the Board (Erin Brady), greatly exacerbated this problem. You have to understand the Chairman and truly grasp the collar county political process to effectively work with him.

8. As to his expenses, I routinely wrote that former Chairman McConnaughy should’ve gotten at least $150,000 a year, not the paltry $95,000 she was making at the time. You may have noted that she and I weren’t on each other’s Christmas card list,either. So, $12,000 in chairmanic reimbursements since 2012? I’d be OK with three times that much.

9. But you’re wrong about Rob Sauceda! Did he lack the kind of personal judgement one would expect from someone in that position? Yes! But did he trounce two separate McConnaughay appointees in bringing Animal Control back to a self-funding status? Yes, he did! His professional term was exemplary, but his personal decisions were a disaster and they correctly sealed his fate.

10. Again, I have consistently had fun with the Chairman’s foibles. That’s how we met. In my first column covering him, I wrote something to the effect of “He can be kind of surly, he doesn’t play well with others, and he has a knack for political suicide. His response was to invite me down to Springfield!

And it isn’t a matter of blaming his detractors, it’s the whole, let he who is without (major) sin cast the first stone. Considering the havoc the Democratic supermajority has wreaked on Illinois, I’d rather State Rep Kifowit worry about her own house than chime in on anyone else’s.

 

As it is with former Elgin City Councilman John Prigge, whom I consider to be a very good friend, if you can take the Jeff Ward’s truth on a regular basis, if you choose to evolve, and you don’t mince words about who you are – then I’m gonna be OK with you.

 

On Monday

How Genevans pay their police officers to have sex on duty!