Quick Hit’s – T’was the night before Christmas

On Friday, I forgot to mention that Quick Hits will be taking our traditional Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day break. I always offer the caveat that if something inspires me, I may go ahead and write anyway, and something always seems to inspire me.

But this year, between trying to get one book published, writing another, and writing Quick Hits three days a week, I’m really looking forward to some time off! But before I temporarily vanish, I wanted to cover one more thing!

Upon making the ten mile journey west to Elburn’s Ream’s Market yesterday (12/23) at around 10:50 a.m. We were stunned to see virtually every inch of the store occupied by an eager customer. You literally could not move very far in any direction.

Image result for reams meat market

So, while my wife dutifully waited for the prime rib roast, I grabbed a couple of bottles of Glogg and got in the line, which wrapped around the store four times. It was not unlike winding your way through a mythical Greek maze – without the Minotaur, of course!

And I gotta tell ya, not only did that crack Ream’s staff keep everything moving at a record pace, but it was kinda fun talking with our fellow queue mates. It was a far cry from Meijer having just two deli workers at 11 on Sunday morning.

Now, I know grocery stores are somewhat immune to that Internet interference, but that doesn’t mean that Reams isn’t an island in a sea of food offering megastores. Those competitors include:

  • Target
  • Jewel
  • Meijer
  • Caputo‘s
  • Mariano’s
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Whole Foods
  • Fresh Markek
  • Aldi
  • Woodman’s
  • Sam’s Club
  • Costco
  • Walmart

And others! So, while crowds are certainly not my thing, it was kinda cool being in a four-checkout-counter line with at least 99 of my favorite holiday meal shopping compatriots. It’s the kind of phenomenon those more massive competitors can only dream of.

The bottom line? Ream’s does it right. They sell a fantastic product at reasonable prices topped by great customer service with nary a hint of an entitlement mentality.

That’s how you do it small business folks.

Quick Hits – December 21, 2018

Let me be perfectly clear about school board candidates

On Wednesday we covered exactly which Geneva school board candidates were backed by the Geneva Education Association. For the uninitiated, that’s the D304 teachers’ union. To repeat, those candidates are:

  • Jill Johnson
  • Katherine Frye
  • Kim Edwards
  • Alicia Saxton
  • Prerak Patel

But when I posted that story, a couple of commenters referred to that slate in some rather unfortunate terms. And I say “unfortunate” because, while I completely disagree with their cause, anyone who has the cojones to run for school board deserves a boatload of credit for doing so.

Image result for geneva school board d304

First, this race covers all of Geneva Township and a bit more, so it’s bigger than a mayoral run. Second you don’t get paid for serving on a school board and, if done right, it can be a very time-consuming proposition.

And third, it’s an utterly thankless job because you regularly have to deal with folks’ two most precious commodities – their children and their bank accounts. To make matters worse, the only time the voters give you any consideration whatsoever is when the press believes you’ve done something wrong.

I have a number of friends on school boards and when they displease me my favorite comment is, “Don’t make me help you get reelected!

So, while I certainly don’t want to see any tax and spend candidate get elected anywhere, you have to give this group credit for giving it a shot. Their lives will not be their own from January 2 through April 1. Campaigning, done right, is an incredible amount of hard work.

Will I reasonably and civilly work against them? You bet I will! But isn’t that the American way?


This board was more than respectful to the teachers

I’m not being bombarded with this contention, but I am starting to hear it on a semi-regular basis. “The D304 School Board needs to treat the teachers with more respect.” In fact, it’s the main reason one of the pro-union candidates is running.

The irony is these well-intentioned folks have it completely backwards.

I’d say five percent annual raises for five years shows a whole heck of a lot of respect. And unlike GEA President Kevin Gannon and too many of the teachers, this Board bent over backwards to keep the animosity to a minimum.

Geneva 304 Board of Education Members

I know these board members far better than most local politicians and it isn’t in this group’s nature to be disrespectful to anyone, much less the educators they will continue to work with.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gannon

  • Knew a strike was unnecessary
  • Incited an absurd level of hostilities just because he could
  • Consistently and blatantly lied
  • Consistently resorted to intimidation
  • Enjoyed every bit of his 15 minutes of fame
  • Created a consistently moving negotiation target
  • Consistently negotiated in bad faith
  • Was behind sending that absurd text to D304 students

But here’s the real kicker. Sure, that errant text destroyed the union’s public position, which meant they had to settle quickly. But the federal mediator was also greatly responsible for the settlement that fateful Sunday.

At one point during those intense negotiations, he went to the white board, drew a line down the middle, and wrote “Board Concessions” and “Union Concessions” atop the two columns. It took him awhile to list all of the board’s compromises. But when it came to the Union listing theirs, they couldn’t come up with a single word.

Their side of the white board was pure as the driven snow. And that’s really something when you consider strike mediators almost always favor labor. When faced with the text fallout and the fact they clearly weren’t negotiating in good faith, the GEA finally made an effort to resolve the issue.

Furthermore, I have received no reports of any teacher’s child being harassed on social media, but that certainly wasn’t the case for board members who still have children in the Geneva school system. The threats and harassment got so bad that a couple of them are considering sending their children to private schools.

So, it’s the union and some of the teachers who have a lot to learn about respect – not the board! And if you’re running on that basis, you might want to reconsider your candidacy!


Ahoj mým českým přátelům!

For those of you who don’t speak Czech – and that’s probably all of you – that roughly translates to, “Hello to my Czech friends!” And I offer this greeting because I may not be “big in Japan,” but The First Ward seems to have developed a growing Czech readership.

Image result for czech flag

You see, one of the fun things about WordPress blogs is they tell you where your hits come from. And I’ll generally get a smattering from Canada, the UK, Costa Rica (Hi Stephanie!), Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and China. But I’ve been getting up to 60 hits a day from my friends in the Czech Republic.

I suppose if David Hasslehoff can be big in Germany, I can be Czech hit, too!

When I mentioned this to my lovely wife, she suggested I reach out to my Czech readers to ascertain exactly what draws them to The First Ward and I’m going to do just that!

Takže, moji čeští přátelé! Co vás přivede na svůj blog? Dejte nám prosím vědět v sekci komentáře.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Quick Hits – December 19, 2018

The Geneva Education Association strikes back!

Apparently unhappy with their 4.9 percent raises over each of the next five years, the Geneva Education Association is planning a coup d’état! Yes sir! They are running a slate of pro-union board members who’d like nothing more than to hand out 10 percent annual raises which would send your property taxes straight through the roof.

And those April 2nd hopefuls are:

  • Jill Johnson
  • Katherine Frye
  • Kim Edwards
  • Alicia Saxton
  • Prerak Patel

How do I know these fine folks are fronted by the Union? I have sources. But if you doubt them, take a look at their nominating paperwork on the County Clerk’s website. All of their signature sheet autographs came from Geneva teachers – a wonderful group of educators who abandoned their students and believe five percent raises aren’t nearly enough.


So what if they force senior citizens out of their homes! That’s what they get for having the temerity to retire. Apparently those six-figure salaries aren’t nearly enough.

And by the way, when was the last time you got a five percent raise?

But not all is lost my Geneva compatriots! There are some good guys and gals in the mix! The following candidates believe they are equally responsible to the taxpayer:

  • Jessica Breugelmans
  • Robert Cabeen
  • And, of course, incumbent Mike McCormick

Fear not, dear reader! We all know Mr. McCormick, and our new duo have no intention of dismantling the district. They’re neither Tea Partiers nor wacky conservatives. They were compelled to run by the series of rather unhappy events that led to Geneva’s first teachers’ strike, and they only want to bring balance to the force.

Alan Gaston has also thrown his hat into the ring, and though I haven’t reached out to him yet, his signatures came from regular folks too, not teachers.

All I can say is, if you don’t want your already ridiculous property taxes to get even more ridiculous, you already know what to do!


The Geneva Police are at it again!

I don’t know if I’m more insulted that they keep pulling this shit, or that they think they can keep it from me. Regardless, here’s the latest tale of corruption from the most corrupt police force in the collar counties.

These are the preliminary details pending their FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) response.

Apparently, instead of citing an attractive young woman for DUI, a patrol officer drove her home and proceeded to have his way with her. And if that ain’t a MeToo moment I don’t what is. What could possibly go wrong with a police officer boinking a potential defendant who’d had too much to drink?

That scenario continued for three to four weeks, but then the young woman wanted something more out of the relationship. Apparently, there’s no accounting for taste. And when our intrepid office declined her overtures, she went to the City Manager and Police Chief to complain, and either a lawsuit has been filed or it’s about to be filed.

The GPD attempted to cover this story up by quietly forcing the officer to resign and, of course, they’d just as soon silently settle the suit.

Not on my watch!

What I can promise you is there will be many more details to come! And this ain’t the only story I have on the GPD, either!


It’s déjà vu all over again!

No sooner had Lauren Underwood assumed that Illinois 14th District Congressional seat when Republican challengers started coming out of the woodwork! And two of those prospective contenders are the kind of perennial candidates we’ve all come to know and not quite love.

The first is none other than 25th District State Senator, Jim Oberweis, who clearly can’t be happy that he finally won a couple of local elections. Jim has aimed at the 14the before, only to lose to Democrat Bill Foster.

It doesn’t matter who the opposing candidates are, Jim couldn’t win this seat if he poured the same $6 million he did into all his previous losing causes.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get any stranger, one of my spies noted the old “Cunningham for Congress” truck borne sign was making the rounds.

While Jack has always harbored Congressional aspirations, he’s 79, he’s in terrible physical health, and he’s suffering from dementia. Jack is lucky he won his original County Clerk’s race, and the last time he ran for Congress he got thrown off the ballot for errant nominating paperwork.

Considering the 14th, Underwood is eminently vulnerable to a good Republican challenger – in 2022. But no old white man is gonna beat Ms. Underwood in 2020, when President Trump will finally get his comeuppance.

It really is true! The more things change, the more they do stay the same!

Quick Hits – Ms. McConnaughay! How can we miss you if you won’t go away?

I want to thank all of my readers who insisted I cover this more than fascinating story, though I get the feeling I wouldn’t have survived had I chosen poorly in this regard. But the truth is, I really didn’t need any “encouragement” at all.

I’m sure you already know the score, but in deference to all those former Sun-Times editors who claimed my tragic flaw was failing to provide enough background information, let’s review!

Shortly after squeaking by the conspicuously loony Jeanne Ives in the GOP gubernatorial primary, seeing the electoral handwriting on the wall, Governor Bruce Rauner did his damndest to recruit a pinch hitter to take on J. B. Pritzker in the finals.

He propositioned former State Senator Karen McConnaughay, Attorney General candidate Erika Harold, Cubs co-owner Tom Ricketts, and a player to be named later, explaining, “I’ll step aside, I’ll give you huge financial resources, you run for governor, I’ll support you. You have as good or better chance to get elected than me.”

McConnaughay 4

Karen McConnaughay

And all of Illinois Republicandom’s heads summarily exploded upon hearing this revelation. “Why the scurrilous cad,” they cursed, “He tricked us! He was never in it to win it! And to think he thought he could simply anoint his successor? The nerve of that man!”

As far as the GOP rabble goes, I have absolutely no sympathy. They got exactly the governor for whom they voted. I’m far more concerned with Rauner’s poor choice of stand ins. McConnaughay’s vast union ties would’ve doomed her, Harold never has, and never will, win an election, and though Ricketts certainly had a better shot than Rauner did, he still would’ve lost by 8 points.

Sensing the impending anti-Trump backlash, each potential proxy quickly shot him down, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, Pritzker breezed to a 16-point victory.

But despite all that Republican shrieking and howling, it really wasn’t a bad idea. I can count the number of politicians who understand the concept of cutting their losses on one hand. Had Rauner regularly resorted to that kind of prudent prognostication during his Springfield tenure, he might still be Governor.

So, I have absolutely no problem with Rauner’s attempt to abandon his sinking campaign ship.  What frosts my cookies is yet another Daily Herald attempt to make former Kane County Chairman, Karen McConnaughay out to be the hero.

“It was not the kind of conversation you could take seriously, because he had not contemplated the process of how any of that would work,” McConnaughay said, “To replace a sitting person on the ballot is the work of the party, not a hand-picked choice. I was flattered that he thought of me, but there’s a whole process to this, and I told him to do careful consideration to all of that before you have conversations with people about replacing him on the ballot.”

Doesn’t that woman ever get tired of being wrong?

If the Governor had gone to the State Central Republican Committee with this proposition, they would’ve leapt at it. They knew he couldn’t win, and they knew he’d torpedo he rest of the ticket, too. The offer to throw millions at his hand-picked replacement would’ve had ’em dancing around the block naked.

And Ms. McConnaughay damn well knows it, and so does the Daily Herald, but they’ve always treated the former Chairman with kid gloves because she consistently batted her eyelashes at and played nice with those eminently fragile editors.

In 12.5 years of journalistic effort, I have never directly covered a more corrupt politician. Never! With then Beacon-New reporter, Dan Campana, doing most of the digging, we discovered she “cajoled” campaign contributions from 80 percent of county vendors amassing an almost $400,000 campaign war chest before Chris Lauzen and I chased her out of Kane County.

She may not have invented pay-to-play, but she certainly perfected it.

Need proof? Let’s go back to that fateful conversation with those Grand Victoria riverboat folks who were trying to secure state funding for a permanent Elgin concert venue. Our former State Senator basically said that kind of assistance required at least a $100,000 contribution.

Even Kane County Board member, McConnaughay lackey, and general bleep, Mike Kenyon, who was sitting right next to her, winced when he heard her utter those words. I could go on, but we don’t have nearly enough time to cover it all.

Meanwhile, Chairman Chris Lauzen is one of the least corrupt politicians I’ve ever covered, but the Daily Herald’s simmering animosity toward him is so great, they endorsed Delnor tragedy progenitor Don Kramer over Ron Hain for Sheriff, because they incorrectly believed Lauzen was behind Hain’s candidacy.

I’d ask that paper if they have any shame whatsoever, but we both know the answer to that question, don’t we?

McConnaughay told ABC news that “Rauner’s tactic was similar to his style of governing:”

“He tried to end his career as governor the same way he got into it – always this idea he would strong-arm it,” she said. “He never respected the fact that there’s a process to governing. Never accepted responsibility for mistakes he made, it was always Madigan’s or someone else’s fault.”

This from the woman who turned beet red as she regularly screamed at recalcitrant board members, has never admitted she’s been wrong about anything, and installed a state-of-the-art Building A camera system that allowed her to observe which staffers had the temerity to talk to other staffers.

If Ms. McConnaughay thought she had any gubernatorial shot, she would’ve jumped in Rauner’s lap faster that Kim Kardashian could snatch a dollar bill from your hand. Then she would’ve extolled Rauner’s vast virtue in stepping aside to anyone who would listen. And the Central Committee would’ve nominated her, too!

The only bright spot in this sad tale of political incompetence was watching the Sun-Times get her last name right, and then misspell it a number of times in the same column.

And Illinois Republicans have the nerve to wonder why they can’t get elected.


Quick Hits – A Sunday Laugh!

Please understand that I meant NONE of this. It’s just that it’s kinda easy to get Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg going. After no correspondence between us for a couple of years, this was an actual Friday email conversation with Neil:

Jeff: Neil this is the column you shoulda wrote! I just keep getting better!

Neil: I believe it was Cervantes who wrote, “Self-praise is self-condemnation.” Thanks for writing. (Cervantes actually wrote, “Self-praise is self-debasement,” but who’s counting?)

Jeff: I believe it was Muhammad Ali who said, “I am the greatest!” Thanks for replying.

Neil: But he WAS the greatest!

Jeff: And so am I!

And that was it. Y’all oughtta try a middle-school mentality every now and then. They really are a lot of fun!


The great Neil Steinberg!


Quick Hits – The old man’s slippin’!

Picture if you will, Pulitzer Prize winner, Mike Royko, and his lifelong pal, Slats Grobnik, sitting on adjacent stools in a netherworld bar, each drinking a bottle of beer. C’mon! You did’t think opinion columnists go to Heaven, did you? My ticket to perdition was punched a long time ago!

Image result for michael madigan marty quinn

And I can hear that conversation now!

Slats: Didja hear?

Mike: Yep! (hoists the bottle and drinks)

Slats: Didja ever think you’d see the day?

Mike: We all get old Slats.

Slats: But we’re talkin’ about The Speaker, Mike. He don’t make mistakes.

Mike: First the MeToo stuff and now this? I think the old man’s slippin’.

Slats: But he’s all we got Mike! Fast Eddie’s goin’ back to the joint, Burke’s gonna be his cellmate, the real Daleys are gone – Billy don’t count, Rahm is done, and there’s more folks runnin’ for mayor than were at the UC for the last Bulls game.

Mike: (takes another swig of beer and orders another) All good things Slats. But ya gotta admit, it is kinda funny.

Slats: Not to me Mike. Not to me.

Mike: C’mon! 2,796 recisions when the kid only got 1,703 signatures? And only 187 of ‘em matched any actual petition name? That’s almost as funny as Bilandic driving a snowplow. When did you get so serious Slats?

Slats: This ain’t Chicagah Mike. This ain’t the city we knew and loved. Ward bosses don’t blow it like this. It’s a sad day for upstanding patronage workers everywhere Mike – a very sad day.

Mike: (takes a long drag from his cigarette) Lighten up my friend. The Speaker will be joining us soon enough and we’ll all have a beer and good laugh over it. Change is an inevitability Slats. Another Bud Light for my friend here!

Image result for mike royko

Mike Royko!

Of course, Mike and Slats were discussing David Krupa, a DePaul freshman who had the temerity to run against 13th Ward Alderman, favored Madigan lackey, and generally useless human being Marty Quinn.

Marty’s claim to fame is running from the cameras so quickly that Usain Bolt gets jealous.

After Krupa turned in his nominating paperwork with 1,703 voter signatures, those wacky 13th Ward bosses countered with 2,796 signature recisions. Now, we all know dead people vote in Chicago, but who knew they signed revocation affidavits, too!

And only 187 of those recisions actually matched a signator’s name!

So, every pundit, journalist and talking head in northern Illinois is losing their minds over it and demanding the kind of investigation that’d put those 90s ghost payroller convictions to shame. Please remind me! Was there a member of the Laurino family who wasn’t convicted?

Rest in peace, Tony!

C’mon! This is nothing new. I’ve been trying to tell you it ain’t clout that keeps Darth Madigan in power, it’s The Speaker’s unparalleled ground game that created that Democratic supermajority. Yes! Illinois has some rather onerous election requirements, but they and their remedies are equally available to all candidates.

And it isn’t the first time he’s done it, either.

When political upstart, Michelle Piszczor, vied for The Speaker’s 22nd District seat in 2012, a team followed her door-to-door acquiring a recision for every voter signature she got. But Piszczor remained on the ballot because her campaign manager, John Reeves of Oswego, was smart enough to use her as decoy while other volunteers secured the real paperwork.

Another favorite Madigan tactic is to insert a couple of minions into the County Clerk’s office on that fateful final nominating paperwork submission day. Armed with a slew of completed candidate packets, if an Hispanic, Polish or black candidate has the cojones to challenge he or a friend, those fine machine folks quickly add another Hispanic, Polish or black challenger into the mix.

They simply split the vote and The Speaker doesn’t even have to break an electoral sweat. And it’s perfectly legal, too.

Did his ward bosses screw up this time? You bet they did! But, despite what the media is trying to tell us, they didn’t break the law. Ah! But the frightened folks who rescinded their autographs from a document they didn’t sign did break the law. That’s what’s known in legal circles as committing perjury.

But if anyone thinks Ms. Foxx is going to prosecute 2,609 separate 13th Ward residents, then you’ve been drinking out of the Chicago River again. Some notaries could be in trouble, and if anyone resorted to forgery, they might wanna lawyer up, but The Speaker is good as gold.

His pride may have taken a hit, but I’m sure he’ll soon recover.

The irony of course is, they should’ve listened to Royko when he said his biggest regret was “peeling a grape with an ax.” Candidate Krupa couldn’t win a seat on the DePaul student council, much less muscle his way into that exclusive Chicago aldermen’s club.

But as a result of this fiasco, Krupa’s received the kind of press coverage that would generally cost him millions, and that’s just the kind of thing could send Quinn right back into his mother’s basement.


But, in an even greater irony, that very same media explosion uncovered a photograph of Krupa standing in front of a Chicago polling place waving a huge Trump flag and carrying a “Hillary for Prison 2016” sign. And no one in the eminently Democratic 13th is ever gonna go for that.

So, in the end, he’s toast anyway! Ah well! At least Krupa turned out to be every bit as entertaining as all the Chicago aldermen we’ve come to know and somewhat love.

So, Slats and Mike, fear not! In the words of that great philosopher Bob Seger, The City That Works is “still the same!” Ubi Est Mea, right Mike?


Quick Hits – December 12, 2018

Before you read the next two pieces, please keep in mind that I am, and always have been a social liberal. But unlike my conservative counterparts, I understand that affiliation gives me specific license to call out my own ilk whenever they misbehave. And let me tell you, a whole lot of liberals are gonna get a stocking full of coal this Christmas.

Please consider that vast Trumpian irony!


Baby it’s dumb outside

Just when I thought the rightwingnuts had the 2018 Snowflake Outrage Award trophy all sewn up, with just 20 days to go, liberals swooped in and took it right back.

If you recall, in late November, I presented conservatives with that not-so-highly-coveted award after they came down with a collective case of the vapors over Democratic Illinois State Rep Stephanie Kifowit’s poor choice of a metaphor.

They somehow seem to miss the fact that the President makes similarly silly statements on a daily basis.

But liberals just couldn’t be happy with their good fortune and let it go, could they? Nope! They had to prove they’re even worse that those tea partiers by going after my favorite classic holiday song, ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside.’

Baby it's cold outside

Referring to it as the ‘Christmas date rape song,’ progressive Ohio women everywhere insisted that Cleveland’s WDOK forever relegate that scurrilous song to history’s dust bin. And the station caved faster than Michael Cohen might melt in front a grand jury.

Of course, that chicken bleep PC move incited a slew of other stations to hop on the banning bandwagon, because none of us can thing for ourselves anymore.

Liberals! What have I told you about trying to apply a 2018 morality to a 1944 song? Just like trying to objectively view Christopher Columbus through today’s eyes, it can’t be done. All that song does is capture 40’s flirting when young women were expected to issue the appropriate protests before giving in to young men.

“But maybe just a half a drink more,” “At least I’m gonna say that I tried,” and “But maybe just a cigarette more?” Clearly, our charming young woman is interested in our dashing young man, if for no other reason than she stopped by his apartment on a rather cold and snowy winter’s eve.

Some leftwingnuts tried to say she’d been attending a party hosted by her impending paramour, but that’s only because they refuse to acknowledge her complicity in the mutual seduction. There is absolutely no mention of a soiree anywhere to be found in those suddenly-infamous lyrics.

“But Jeff! What about that salacious, ‘Say, what’s in this drink?’ line? That’s clearly a Cosby reference!”

While Bill Cosby was certainly alive back then, he was but a scant seven-year-old boy who could only dream of drugging and raping women.

The truth is, “What’s in this drink” was the 40s equivalent of “hold my beer.” It’s something you said when you were about to engage in an act for which you wanted to minimize the social and moral consequences.

And as is always the case when the left or the right self-righteously gets something banned, it incites a more than equal and opposite reaction. Renewed interest in the song has sent sales soaring and requests for radio airplay have skyrocketed! Why, the listener outcry was so fierce that every single silly station that banned it brought it back.

Prohibition always works so well, doesn’t it?

Ain’t it funny, and deliciously ironic, that these same liberal women have no problem with the 1953 classic, ‘Santa Baby,’ in which a sultry young woman purrs about all the magnificent gifts her menagerie of suitors are about to rain down on her.

And c’mon! What do y’all think “Hurry down the chimney tonight” really means?


PETA strikes again!

People for Eating Tasty Animals…I mean People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals could’ve been in the running for this year’s Snowflake Outrage Trophy award, but those cow huggers always seem to make some sort of silly holiday statement just to get their name back in the news.

And if you mean to do it, it doesn’t count. Remember when they tried to get the town of Turkey, Texas, to change their name to Tofurky, Texas?

Image result for peta biker gangs

This time, they’re trying to tell the rest of us sane folks that old saws like “bringing home the bacon,” “taking the bull by the horns,” and “being the Guinea pig” are just as bad as any homophobic or racist rant.

“Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are and start ‘bringing home the bagels’ instead of the bacon,” PETA somehow Tweeted with a straight face.

Please give me a minute so I can finally stop laughing and pry myself up off my home-office floor.

I know we’re going long here, but I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by covering both stories. Now, while a bird in the hand is certainly better, after running around like a chicken with its head cut off, I finally got my ducks in a row, though getting to the column finish line can be a lot like herding cats.

Since I’m no deer in the headlights, despite being busy as a beaver, I stopped chasing my tail long enough to address the fact that PETA is just another batshit crazy liberal group, which makes going after them somewhat akin to shooting fish in a barrel.

But apparently, these birds of feather flocking together makes them sitting ducks for the kind of satirical response that means I’d never look this gift horse in the mouth. I don’t understand why PETA let this cat out of the bag because it only makes them seem pig-headed and that really gets my goat.

They really oughtta let sleeping dogs lie.

Trust me, I won’t count my chickens, but like lambs to the slaughter, I always appreciate how PETA goes whole hog into this kind of absurdity just like a bat out of hell. In fact, I’ve been trying to tell them to stop putting the cart before the horse, but my wisdom always seems to fall like pearls before swine.

Apparently, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

I realize PETA has long-since jumped the shark and they won’t change their leopard-like spots even if hell gets cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, so why beat a dead horse?

You seriously can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a liberal with too much time on their hands and too many bats in their belfry these days.

Quick Hit’s – Final thoughts on the Geneva teacher’s strike

Let’s get right to it.

1. The strike is almost certainly over

The Geneva Education Association and the School Board came to a tentative agreement at 3:32 a.m. this morning (12/10). Given that very late hour, there wasn’t enough time to get the back-to-school word out, so no classes today and the terms of the deal will be released later today.

The Union rank and file will vote on that contract this afternoon, but for reasons we’re about to discuss, ratification is all but a foregone conclusion.

Strike Over

2. The Union had to settle now!

As most of you already know, I predicted a minimum two-week strike, and I leaned towards it lasting a full month. But the second that unconscionable Remind Me text went out to high school students, the strike was over.

That failed tactic forced the GEA to quickly settle because whatever minimal public support the teachers previously enjoyed was now eroding by the second. And there was no coming back from that horrific error, either. The longer that anti-text sentiment simmered, the worse it would get for the union.

3. Most big lottery winners wind up regretting it

I’m not saying the GEA won the lottery today, though the Board’s most recent offer was beyond generous. But the clearest indication that money never solves the obvious underlying problems is that 70 percent of big lottery winners go broke within just seven years.

Not only that, but a recent Time article exposed how lottery winner after lottery winner came to wish they’d ripped up that fateful ticket.

As that great philosopher Cindy Lauper once intoned, “Money changes everything!” And it really does, not the least of which will be the relationship between the teachers, school parents, and the public.

If that dynamic ever fully recovers, and I doubt it will, it will take at least full decade to do so.

4. The shift will be subtle, but the fallout will be real

It’s not like Genevans will suddenly start pulling up to GHS shouting “teachers suck!” It’ll be something much subtler like the underlying animosity that tends to be a consequence of a local political campaign that went far too negative.

Parents will be less likely to volunteer, less likely to support their schools, less likely to attend school and sporting events, and those typically warm neighborhood encounters between teachers and parents will be far more perfunctory.

I’m hoping it won’t be the case here, but the wounds from those overly negative political battles always seem to fester and rarely heal.

5. Geneva will never be the same

Perhaps that’s a good thing! The fact that so many of my hometown compatriots believe “everything is awesome in Geneva” when it clearly isn’t, has always bothered me. It’s not that I harbor any great need to expose the “truth” – beyond the folks in charge – but I know that the longer a façade exists, just like it is with a dysfunctional family, the bigger the mess when it finally comes crashing down.

We’re no better than anyone else people, and the behavior of some strike impassioned folks demonstrated just that.

6. Leave School Board members’ children out of it!

This bothers me exponentially more than any Remind Me text blast. When I heard board members’ children were being attacked on Instagram and other social media simply for whom their parents are, it infuriated me.

I would encourage our teachers and their more zealous supporters to watch what they say in front of their children and monitor their children’s social media if they aren’t already doing so.

I want to thank the people who reached out with what’s been happening to Mike McCormick’s family, and I would encourage anyone else with that kind of information to contact me via Facebook PM or email.

With the appropriate evidence in hand, I will be happy to publicly expose the perpetrators for who they really are.

7. I couldn’t possibly be more disappointed in GEA head Kevin Gannon

Let’s add it all up, from:

  • A strike was utterly unnecessary
  • Inciting an absurd level of hostilities
  • Beyond ridiculous “Christmas carols”
  • Virtually tying Donald Trump for the number of lies in a week
  • Baseless attempts at intimidation
  • Smirking for the TV cameras
  • Creating a consistently moving negotiation target
  • Consistently negotiating in bad faith
  • Sending that absurd text

It was always all about him and never about the teachers, students, parents, or citizens of Geneva. The amount of havoc one egotistical and self-serving human being can wreak still amazes me.

And by the way, Mr. Gannon’s and Geneva teachers’ children are off-limits, too.


Since I’m sure you’re every bit as tired of this topic as I am, barring any new major developments, let’s all move on to bigger and better things.

Quick Hits – It’s a mistake?

Oh! It was a mistake alright.

As I previously explained in my ongoing coverage of the Geneva Teachers’ strike, were I the school board president, given their propensity to shoot themselves in various body parts, I’d simply sit back and wait for the Geneva Education Association to hang themselves.

And they just did just that!

I’ve tried to tell the union that, not only have they vastly overestimated public support for their cause, but 85 percent of Genevans actually support the School Board. The irony, of course, is that our teachers had to learn this the hard way.

And they just did just that!

For reasons beyond any normal mortal’s comprehension, the union and teachers decided it was a good idea to use the Remind Me cell phone app, to solicit their students to sign a pro-GEA petition to prove just how heinous the Geneva School Board really is.

GEA Text

And the bovine excrement immediately hit the rotating air propulsion device.

For the uninitiated, school counselors generally use the Remind Me app to text blast high school students about upcoming and impending school events. Only app administrators can send those broadcast texts, and there is a separate Remind Me “group” for each high school class – freshman, sophomores, etc.

Some parents told me their middle schoolers also received emails from teachers, too, but I haven’t been able to pin that one down quite yet.

But let me tell you, in my 4,852 days and 15.25 hours at this gig, I’ve never had so many peeved people bombard me with emails, texts, blog comments, and Facebook PMs and comments on any previous story. And every last one of those missives excoriated the union and the teachers for this beyond despicable tactic.

Pride goeth before the fall, right?

I’ll say it again! When it comes to any kind of political pitched battle, from an election to a strike, the vast majority “voters” will simply tell you want you want to hear because they have better things to do than to argue with you. Please don’t mistake trying to stay on your good side for support.

And, as perfectly exemplified by that errant text, the union and teachers keep mistaking fear for support. Aggravate a teacher – and especially this batch of spiteful teachers – and your children might not fare so well in D304 going forward.

You think I’m making this bleep up? Ask board member Mike McCormick what his children have had to endure on Instagram from teachers’ children and those of their utterly overzealous supporters. Apparently even children aren’t off-limits when it comes to the GEA getting the kind of raises most of us will never see in our lifetime.

I’ll be getting into this complete moral failure on Monday or Wednesday. And Mike was not the one who told me about this, but four other sources did.

Oddly enough, the first person to apologize for the sign-the-petition text was GHS Principal Tom Rogers who had absolutely nothing to do with it. Again, the Remind Me app sits on cell phones, not on some high school counselor’s computer behind locked and closed doors.

Finally faced with an onslaught of suddenly fearless parents – don’t mess with their kids – the GEA recoiled from that text debacle faster than Michael Cohen from Agent Orange.

GEA union head Kevin Gannon, a real piece of work who’s made these contract negotiations all about him, quickly issued a statement calling the text a “mistake.” Oh! It was a mistake alright, but it wasn’t an accident.

Leaving the toilet seat up in the middle of the night such that your lovely spouse falls in is a mistake. Leaving the garage door up is a mistake. Voting for Donald Trump was a mistake. But unless a number of counselors and teachers own the kind of talented cat that could figure out how to send that text, it was utterly intentional.

And we know it was intentional because soon after Gannon’s artificial mea culpa, those same counselors and teachers issued yet another Remind Me text apologizing for using that medium to recruit underage petition signers.

GEA Text 2

But the damage has already been done. And those D304 teachers are finally beginning to understand that rejecting our reality and substituting their own is the kind of thing for which they’d regularly call out their young charges.

The truth is, I’ve never been impressed with most Geneva teachers and I wrote a column about it the week after my youngest son matriculated out of the district. And I always appreciate it when people go out of their way to prove my point.

Thank you Geneva teachers!

Meanwhile, I’ve been privately emailing the board with my thoughts on how to deal with these negotiations because I didn’t want to further inflame all of the obvious tensions. But after that Remind Me text, I’m no longer feeling quite so magnanimous.

Geneva School Board! You have bent over backward to resolve this labor issue, but you’re being held hostage by a bunch of overentitled and sometimes overrated educators who have no problem stooping to using and abusing children to get their way. Even my D131 teacher wife thinks your latest offer is beyond generous.

It’s time to look those often contemptible union reps directly in the eye and say, “This is our final offer. Come back to work when you’re ready.”

Quick Hits – So, The Elgin clergy casts the first stone?

Before last Wednesday’s (11/28) city council meeting, I was beyond impressed with my beloved Elginians’ capacity for patience and tolerance in regard to the DeCynthia Clements shooting. The fact that lady justice is blind can, on occasion, hamper her mobility in certain regards.

The original plan was to write something about that gathering, but then I decided the folks who tried to co-opt it were a vast minority who weren’t speaking for the entire city. As my always fascinating mother used to say, “Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.”

But now I’m regretting that decision. I should’ve known that all it takes is one simple rumor to bring out the pitchfork and torch bearing crowd, and then all bets are off. So, when some Elgin clergymen jumped on that gossip bandwagon, I finally realized it was time to talk about it.

Somehow, those pastors decided that Police Chief Ana Lalley told them she was bringing officer Chris Jensen back before the Cook County State’s Attorney review of the shooting was complete. Of course, Jensen is the officer who fired the shots that killed Clements.

Elgin Clergy

Since they weren’t concerned with the truth, these men and women of the cloth incited some of their very vocal posse – white, black and Hispanic – to show up on the 28th to demand Jensen not be brought back for any reason whatsoever.

As the late, great philosopher Tom Petty said, when it comes to rumors, people generally “believe what they wanna believe.”

To be fair, most of the folks who spoke at that meeting were civil but misguided. But others decided that acting like a spoiled four-year-old brat was the way to go. A piece of advice to those who threatened to bring Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore down on Elgin; throwing a temper tantrum in front of a governing body typically won’t get you what you want.

Not to be outdone, Councilman Terry Gavin, who either had too much to drink before the meeting (again), or he simply couldn’t control himself (again), was the biggest four-year-old of the bunch. Mr. Gavin! What was the point of getting into it with a constituent who was clearly beyond reason, other than trying to prove you were even worse than he was? If that was the case, you succeeded magnificently.

And shame on the white folks who used one unfortunate personal experience to damn the entire Elgin Police Department. Despite my infamous battles with law enforcement, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that 90 percent of police officers do their job and simply go home to their families just like the rest of us.

Having reviewed that council meeting tape, I called Mayor Dave Kaptain and Chief Lalley to ask them if the City had, indeed, reversed their decision on Jensen’s disposition. They assured me that nothing had changed. In fact, the Chief reiterated her statement that they will wait until the State’s Attorney review is complete before they make any decision.

It took all of 15 minutes to get the truth.

And I should’ve written about it then, but I didn’t want to fan the flames of an already smoldering fire. But when a group of 19 clergyman presented Elgin with a letter demanding Jensen not be reinstated under any circumstances, I suddenly remembered that fires rarely go out on their own.

The pastors based their premise on “ethical, moral, and wisdom informed reasons.” Really? I think they based it purely on emotion. There’s certainly nothing ethical about their letter, I’m surprised they could even spell the word “moral,” and wisdom had nothing to do with it, either.

The unfathomable irony of their demand is these are the very same clergymen who consistently claim Ms. Clements’ civil rights were violated, but they apparently believe the only way to resolve that issue is by stripping officer Jensen of his.

I have never been more disappointed in a group of pastors in my life. Every last one of them should resign immediately because they have no idea what it means to be a Christian, much less lead a group of them. So much for adhering to the standard when it really matters. Exactly when did pandering to your congregation become more important than the Bible?

There are 30 hours of body and dash cam footage of that I-90 stop. But most of y’all have only watched eight seconds. Am I disturbed by the ending? You bet I am! In my 60 years I’ve never watched someone get shot and killed. And I wish I never had, because I’m still having nightmares about it.

I can’t get that image out of my head and I probably never will.

But I’ve also watched the entire I-90 segment and what I saw were eminently calm and patient police officers providing Ms. Clements with every opportunity to end the standoff. But let’s say the officers were all wound up and completely unreasonable. That wouldn’t change a damn thing. The City of Elgin still has to follow the rules.

Could they throw Jensen to the wolves and prematurely fire him? Sure they could! But how did terminating officer Jason Lentz for his fascinating social media commentary on Ferguson work out for the city? That’s right! He’s back on the job because a judge said Elgin didn’t follow the rules.

First, Chris Jensen is innocent of any wrongdoing until proven otherwise, and the process to determine that is ongoing. Second, the State of Illinois has a series of explicit statutes which apply to public employees. And third, Elgin has a contract with their police officers’ union that stipulates the specific steps that must be taken in cases like this one.

And nothing is going to change any of that, least of all city council screamers or an overzealous group of Elgin clergyman who clearly forgot to read Matthew 7:1-3 and completely missed Matthew 22:39-40 – if they even read their Bibles at all. That’s the King James version by the way.

If I’m not mistaken, that same book contains a caveat against casting the first stone. And make no mistake, this is nothing more than a public stoning of an officer who deserves the very same due process Ms. Clements did.

Shame on every last one of you!