Quick Hits – Naperville can be quite fascinating!

Apparently, conservative Republicans love candidates who speak their minds until they say something they don’t want to hear. Imagine that! Though I will admit that calling out a large swath of your constituency for “white supremacist” tendencies is a rather fascinating proposition.

It’s not the kind of campaign message I’d generally recommend.

To wit, freshman Democratic Naperville State Rep, Anne Stava-Murray took her hometown to task over what she called its “white supremacist policies.” She also declared that the entire Chicago area is fraught with “white supremacy in an unclad kind of way, without it’s hood on.”

Alright then!

Stava-Murray, who’s currently campaigning for Senator Dick Durbin’s seat, clearly hasn’t read any Dale Carnegie lately. All I can say is, I can’t wait to see her first mailer. It’s bound to be a doozy!

stava murray

But before we continue, the Daily Herald was dead on when they called our intrepid state rep out for incorrectly applying the term “white supremacist.” If you also recall, the former Elgin, Illinois, diversity consultant had the same sort of connotative problem.

People! There is a vast difference between a white supremacist and your garden variety racist. A vast difference!

David Duke and members of the Ku Klux Klan, the White Aryan Resistance, and the American Nazi Party are white supremacists. They believe Caucasians are the “master race,” they assault minorities, burn crosses, and actively call for a race war. There is nothing subtle about them.

Conversely, some Naperville residents harbor some racist sentiments, and just like my hometown of Geneva, various Naperville entities semi-unconsciously apply a list of unwritten racist rules. But regular racism tends to be much subtler than your average white supremacist.

It’s a very important distinction, particularly for someone who wants to win a Congressional seat – a very unlikely occurrence after Ms. Stava-Murray’s fascinating declarations.

Now that we’ve resolved that issue, I think our errant state rep is onto something, especially in regard to Naperville, which may be even worse than Geneva in the implicit racist policies rules regard.

Stava-Murray cited:

  • Racial profiling during traffic stops
  • A lack of minority police officers
  • Discrimination in housing and home showing
  • A lack of minority teachers
  • A much higher African-American student suspension rate
  • A lack of black AP students

which she chalked up to “white ignorance,” claiming “As soon as people realize that they have some ignorance, mostly they want to solve it.”

I don’t know about you, but Ms. Stava-Murray must’ve run into a breed of Collar County folks I’ve never encountered. My experience has been that most politicians and voters react rather negatively when someone makes a point of pointing out their “ignorance,” especially if it’s true!

And sure enough! The Lisle and Naperville Township Republican Organizations demanded an immediate apology, while Naperville City Councilman Kevin Coyne called for Stava-Murray to be officially censured, vowing he would no longer refer to her as a state representative because “she doesn’t deserve that title.”

How mature! He must be taking his political cues from Donald Trump.

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico simply said, “I don’t think it’s a fair characterization,” which is the perfect response, because all those over-the-top tirades do is remind the rest of us of Queen Gertrude’s famous quip, “The lady doth protest too much methinks!”

If one of those wacky NBA players tries to tell me the world is flat, I don’t demand a retraction, I just walk away laughing!

Some folks pointed out Naperville’s healthy 31.7 minority population in protest, but that’s almost as bad as saying “Some of my best friends are black.” And more than half of those minorities are of Asian descent, with just 5 percent being black and 5.7 percent claiming Hispanic heritage.

Though Asians certainly are a minority in this country, and they do experience the occasional racist rant, with the exception of the whole driving thing, most Asian stereotypes are positive. I wish my Caucasian counterparts were noted for being exceptionally smart and good at math! And the truth is, they can’t drive either!

If you really want to discern a town’s true colors, head on over to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s website and click on their traffic stop studies, which also include police pedestrian stops. It always proves to be quite an enlightening endeavor.

Sadly, the IDOT traffic stop data lumps all minorities into one group, so that large Naperville Asian community makes it impossible to determine if African-Americans are being singled out. Ah! But the pedestrian stop study is another story.

Granted the Naperville Police made just 21 pedestrian stops in 2017, but when you consider half of the detainees were white and half black, considering the demographics we just covered, that is a statistically significant number. There was just one Hispanic stop.

And while just 20 percent of the white folks enjoyed a pat down, 70 percent of the black folks were frisked.

Another telling indicator is vehicle consent searches. In 2017, Naperville officers asked to search 75 minority driven cars, but just 53 Caucasians faced the same request. I’d be willing to bet that most of the minority searches involved black drivers, too.

So, as long as we agree to use the phrase “racist policies” or “unwritten racist rules,” Stava-Murray is generally correct, and most folks in the surrounding counties are well aware of those Napervillian tendencies. I spent quite a bit of time in Naperville in the 80s, and a majority of residents harbored a “Thank God we’re not Aurora” mentality.

And we all know what that really means!

They were just fine with the police zealously guarding their borders, too. The bottom line is, Stava-Murray is correct. Though I love Naperville, they need to do more work on racism than most Chicago area municipalities.

But while I admire her capacity to tell the truth, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why she said what she said. I’d expect those statements to come from a community activist, but not from a politician who needs those “ignorance prone” white folks to cast a statewide ballot in her favor.

Though I count myself among their numbers, liberals continue to be an eminently entertaining and fascinating breed!


Quick Hits January 28, 2019

Being lucky doesn’t matter if you’re not smart enough to see it!

I thought Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon had actually managed to pull it off. It wasn’t a conscious effort by any means, but on occasion God really does protect children and fools.

He got his conviction of CPD officer Jason Van Dyke, and not only was there no significant fallout in Chicago’s African-American community, but McMahon actually avoided becoming a law enforcement pariah, too.

It was the kind of trifecta you generally don’t see in high profile prosecutions because someone’s always unhappy with some part of the outcome.

McMahon 4

But just when he thought it was safe to wade back into the legal water, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul threatened to go to the Illinois Supreme Court to get Van Dyke’s unduly light 6.75-year sentence overturned. As it stands now, he’ll serve just 3.5 years.

When you consider how many non-violent drug offenders are doing double digits, Judge Vincent Gaughan’s thought process is a wee bit more than perplexing. He did do the right thing by sentencing Van Dyke solely on the second-degree murder charge, but just 6.75 years for shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times?

While we were waiting for that final word, a local attorney and I were betting on what Gaughan would do. I predicted 12 years, while she went with 8 to 9. Needless to say, we were both quite surprised at the Judge’s generosity, but it did work out pretty darned well for McMahon.

He got his conviction, which went a long way towards placating those often-rabid Second City minority activists, but the sentence was light enough that he didn’t lose much standing in the Illinois law enforcement community, either.

So, when Raoul started asking questions, all McMahon had to do is keep his mouth shut,  and in the words of those great philosophers Modest Mouse, we’d “all float on! But no! Looking that gift horse directly in the mouth and always a glutton for free press, McMahon took to WGN radio and talked to the Chicago Tribune to defend himself for not questioning Gaughan’s largesse.

And that blithering bad PR move immediately created a political vacuum that a host of critics rushed in to fill. One attorney stipulated that McMahon had “abandoned his responsibilities” by failing to challenge Gaughan’s legal interpretation.

Now, because McMahon was foolish enough to open his mouth, Raoul has no choice but to challenge the sentence or he’ll appear to be complicit. This turn of events, of course, puts our intrepid State’s Attorney right back on the hot seat he so unwittingly avoided.

When Shakespeare coined the phrase, “Hoist by his own petard,” I’m convinced he must’ve had the average politician in mind. Being lucky may mitigate the need to be smart, but Joe McMahon is neither.


Yep! He’s running again!

Unable to parley the Van Dyke conviction into a more prestigious gig – we all know Joe’s still looking for that big break – it would appear Mr. McMahon will be settling for little old us.

How have I ascertained this eventuality? Because the Citizens for Joe McMahon Facebook page has suddenly sprung to life with multiple recent posts. And that’s as sure a sign as any.

Considering my eminently magnanimous nature, I’m thinking, “I’m never in the office so how could I possibly screw up” would be the perfect campaign slogan. This one’s on me, Joe!


And he’s running, too!

There’s also no doubt in this journalist’s mind that 10th Ward Aurora Alderman Judd Lofchie is positioning himself for a 2021 mayoral run.

How do I know this? First, Lofchie, a legend in his own mind, clearly believes only he can bring balance to the Aurora governmental force. Second, he’s been regularly taking on Mayor Richard Irvin over nitpicky bleep just to provoke the kind of rise that tends to bestow a certain political credibility. And third, his most recent efforts revolve around Aurora’s pending ethics ordinance, specifically in regard to campaign contribution limits.

Let’s just call him Captain Obvious.

Image result for judd lofchie

Lofchie took the mayor to task for the “appearance of impropriety” over contributions from telecommunications company Scientel and the Poulikidas brothers, both principles in the Fox Valley Developers group.

Last January, the city council reversed itself on Scientel relocating their national headquarters to Aurora, a project Irvin had been championing. Scientel made a $10,000 donation to Irvin’s 2015 campaign.

And while it’s certainly true that Fox Valley Developers, who won the contract to clean up and develop the old Copley Hospital site, made quite a few contributions to Irvin over the years, the Poulikidas brothers have been smart enough to cover their assets by contributing to a host of Aurora politicians. Those fine folks include the late Mayor Tom Weisner, State Rep Stephanie Kifowit, and former Sheriff candidate Willie Mayes.

But think about it! The fact that Lofchie could only come up with two examples clearly indicates Irving hasn’t quite caught up to the Illinois pay-to-play standard. Irvin also correctly noted that neither contract would’ve been approved without the advice and consent of the Aurora City Council.

And the Scientel reversal and Copley votes were unanimous at a time when the rubber stamp votes that Mayor Weisner generally enjoyed are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Should Aurora limit campaign contributions beyond the Illinois State Board of Elections $5,600 individual and $11,100 business/organization limits? I’m torn on that one. But that’s a topic for another day.

Meanwhile, make no mistake, Lofchie’s running for mayor and he will go down in electoral flames.

Quick Hits – January 25, 2019

And the whining continues!

I told him to turn the comments off, but no! U-46 CEO Tony Sanders just wouldn’t listen and now we have to endure all that parental Facebook whining regarding the fact that it actually gets cold in Chicago in January.

Who knew?

If the District closed every time the mercury dipped below zero, that would mean an average 8.2 makeup days per school year. And every parent and student that’s been bitching about having to go to school today would bitch about U-46 destroying their vacation plans.

Image result for you know it's cold outside

If the district closed schools on any day with a high of 10 degrees or less, that would mean 22 missed school days, of which they’d have to tack on 10 at the end of the year. Add that to an average of 4 snow days a season and your delicate little darlings would miss a half-a-month of class time.

If you consider their recent illiterate Facebook musings, they clearly need all the schooling they can get!

But since that evidence won’t be nearly enough to convince these prima donna parents to stop whining, please tell me who put the gun to your head and forced you to live in that tundra known as the Midwest? I promise I’ll bring them to justice.

And while we’re at it, you may as well let me know who forced you to have children, too, because I’ll deal with them as well!

C’mon! When did whining surpass baseball as our national pastime? Lest you think I’ve been sitting on my bony white ass in my balmy home office all morning, as one reader insinuated on Wednesday, I’ve already walked the doggies a mile, clearly surviving those -10 temps without a problem.

Children, by their eminently insidious nature invite sacrifice. So, drive your child to the bus stop and let them sit in the car until it gets there. Since, you’re already there, invite any other students into your car to stay warm.

And it’s not like these temperatures were a surprise. We’ve known about them for a week. There was plenty of time to arrange the kind of carpools that would dispatch any number of students safely to school. Sure, it takes a little effort, but you will discover that extreme weather conditions tend to bring people together, and that kind of perseverance in the face of adversity is a great lesson for our children.

But teaching them to whine and wimp out at every possible turn is not!


MAGA = not a Christian

Much to the chagrin of my conservative counterparts, I’m just gonna keep on saying it. Some things are mutually exclusive.

You can’t be tall and short. It’s impossible to be alive and dead (no Schrodinger’s Cat analogies please), no true Chicagoan can be both a Cubs and a Sox fan, and you cannot support Donald Trump and be a Christian – end of story! Before you hit the “send” button again, I did not set that standard, I’m simply applying it.

Image result for covington school kids

So, when I consider the Covington Catholic School outrage du jour, it isn’t as much about who was right or wrong, it’s that no Catholic with any kind of conscience can get away with wearing a MAGA hat.

For the record, it was those Covington chaperones were wildly off-base. We all know Washington D.C. protests bring out the loons and it doesn’t get much loonier than the Black Hebrew Israelites. They make Louis Farrakhan look a milder version of like Barney the Dinosaur.

When they started spewing their racist and homophobic bilge, those parents should’ve shuffled those children away from the situation instead of simply standing by and laughing.

But back to the hats! Since, I know you all won’t listen to me, let’s move on to what Father Edward L. Beck, a Roman Catholic priest and a CNN religion commentator had to say about them:

I don’t think the boys should have been permitted to wear MAGA hats to the March for Life event they attended. The ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan has become political code for an agenda that is often in opposition with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

The boys attended the march representing a Catholic boys’ school. Any hat donned should have had the school name or a logo identifying them as participants in the March for Life event — not a hat with a logo that may suggest stances not in accord with the mission statement of their school.

The Catholic Church’s pro-life teaching encompasses a panoply of issues such as: abortion, immigration, capital punishment, the environment and climate change, sex trafficking, and the inequitable distribution of the world’s resources. Some claim the ‘MAGA philosophy’ is not in accord with church teaching on many of these issues. Teachers and chaperones from the Catholic school should have discouraged students from, however unwittingly, promoting a questionable partisan political agenda.

Exactly! You can support the President or be a Christian, but you can’t be both! So, decide!


Stranger danger remains a rarity

Every time I watch the press go berserk over the Jayme Closs kidnapping, I want to scream “Don’t you realize you’re doing America a vast disservice?”

I understand the rarity of the event leads to this over-the-top coverage. How many 21-year-olds murder two parents on their way to abducting their teenage daughter? But delving into every detail only serves to obscure the reality that these kinds of heinous criminal acts rarely occur at the hands of complete strangers.

Image result for jayme closs

God forbid your son or daughter should ever sexually abused or kidnapped, but if they were, there’s a 95 percent chance they were groomed by a predator who was known to the family. Of the 1,435 child abductions that occur every year, just 205 are perpetrated by complete strangers, and 90 percent of those children are safely recovered.

Not only that, but the odds of a child being kidnapped are 1 in 300,000. Your chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime is 100 times greater.

So, let’s try to keep this news story in perspective and remember that this kind of danger almost always comes from within.

Another bonus Quick Hits?

As the release of ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election?’ finally draws near (we have the InDesign files and are looking at mid February, woo hoo!), I will continue to cross-post blog entries from that website right here on The First Ward.

chicago mayor

This particular column covers my favorite campaign commandment, pick a race you can win! And we use the crowded Chicago mayoral field as the perfect example of how most of those fine folks don’t have a snowball’s shot in hell.


Please pick a race you can win!

My favorite campaign commandment in the soon-to-be-released ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election?’ is …drumroll please… pick a race you can win! I may love idealists and their boundless energy, but we campaign managers have another name for those overly optimistic folks – “losers!”

And I mean that in the electoral sense only.

Because for every Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Dave Brat (he beat Eric Kantor), there are 100 candidates you’ve never heard of and never will. And the truth is, Brat didn’t win, Kantor lost that Congressional race out of an absurd abundance of arrogance and Ocasio-Cortez is one of those rare “movement candidates” you see just once or twice in a lifetime. read more


Quick Hits – I got your snow day right here!

Though he and I have certainly had this discussion before, it would seem U-46 CEO Tony Sanders just can’t let go of his former chief communications officer roots. And while I firmly believe his ‘Weekly Message’ is a worthwhile endeavor, it’s always entertaining to watch the CEO of the state’s second largest school district regularly put himself out on social media.

Image result for u46 snow day

And it’s particularly fascinating when it comes to determining the efficacy of a snow day. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a school official harboring a vast public death wish. To wit, these are the greatest hits on Sanders three most recent weather-related Facebook posts.

I mean people barley do their school work now so is it really gonna be necessary if kids who don’t even do school work to “do it” at home

First, I thought barley was a grain, and second, I have absolutely no idea what this young woman is talking about. I’m not sure she does, either.

exactly too much stuff to do, we can’t even have a semester without the lights going out at a school

This young man clearly hasn’t learned the importance of punctuation, and I’m not sure what power outages have to do with snow days.

i’m not tryna die tomorrow driving 25 mins on 20 from west side of elgin -> streamwood pleassseeee be a g and save me. shs is cold asf too i’m not tryna freeze

What? And that’s a high schooler, too! I’m at a loss for words. It’s too bad she wasn’t.

shs really is cold asl. I was in first period today, I sit next to the air vent and they had the audacity to turn the A/C up 

What? I’m starting to think we should burn the entire public school system down and start over.

Is they School tomorrow morning for Students & Teacher’s & Transportation too

And that was from a parent!

Plz be g and save me for it is too cold for me. But for real the sidewalks are covered in ice and i almost slipped on the way to home well i did slip but we arent gonna talk about me lookin like frozone from incedibles

I don’t even know where to begin. Don’t they teach English in U-46?

dude i almost died like 3 times driving home last night

That was one of the more cogent comments.

This is lame .-. Just because of this . I’m gonna get late to school

I’m sure you will! And there is such a thing as too much punctuation.

That’s crazy how a 2 hour delay would get us 4 hours through the school day lmao

At least he put the apostrophe in “that’s.”

I don’t agree with having school today for the safety of kids. How can you let your kids wait at bus stops in THE FREEZING COLD to go to school? I wouldn’t dare have my kid out in this type of whether!

Another amazing parent! “Freezing cold?” It was a balmy 28 degrees this morning! The real cold is about to come. And I don’t know WHETHER to be happy she spelled the wrong word correctly or to be depressed that she used the wrong word entirely.

And if I quoted all the students who wrote “your” instead of “you’re” and vice versa, this column would be longer than a Dostoyevsky novel.

But my favorite transactions were the abundance of foul-mouthed Tweets hurled directly at Mr. Sanders’ feet. Normally I’d say those students aren’t going to amount to much, but considering current events, they might turn out to be presidential material.

Sanders did encourage his young charges to stop swearing and apply the persuasive skills they’d learned in class, but as you might imagine, that reasonable plea fell on deaf ears. The fact that those parents let their little bleeps speak to them in that manner notwithstanding, a U-46 CEO deserves a little more respect.

I can’t wait to see what happens the first time they address their first boss in that surly manner. And most places that hire illiterate teenagers don’t offer snow or cold days, either.

And while I’m certainly intrigued by the notion of a school district CEO readily engaging the rabble on social media, the result was far too depressing – on a number of levels – for this kind of thing to continue.

So, Tony! Go ahead and leave the comments on your (not you’re) Weekly Message, but for the love of all things holy, TURN THEM OFF on any potential snow day post. I love your whole buck-stops-here brand of thinking, but you might want to delegate those things to other capable staffers because you clearly have better things to do.

Meanwhile, all the delicate little darlings and overly entitled parents who couldn’t bear the thought of dealing with two inches of snow might want to consider growing a pair. If this 60-year-old man could walk his dogs two miles through mostly unshoveled sidewalks and paths this morning, then you and your children can get their candy asses out of bed and make it to school.

On a one-to-ten Chicago winter storm scale, this was merely a “3” which means you don’t get to sit on your ass and play video games all day. And to endlessly swear at and bitch to the CEO in this regard belies the fact that you’re (not your) all just a bunch of…well…I’ll leave that word to your active imaginations.

You already had Monday off, what the bleep more do you want?

All that said, I can only hope that U-46 will redouble their English classroom efforts. Can you actually get a negative SAT score?

Quick Hits – January 21, 2019

Since it’s difficult to get anything done with everyone home, I’ve spent the weekend compiling some semi-random thoughts en route to taking Monday off. Enjoy!

You don’t have to apologize!

It happened three times at Meijer and once at The Paramount on Sunday!

In the first case, a woman apologized for nearly hitting me with her cart, but as I explained to her, I was the oblivious bleep who walked right in front of her and thus, I was the one who should issue the mea culpa.

It was interesting to see how that admission made her face light up.

The second involved a woman who was looking through the vast varieties of brick cheese. I had no problem patiently waiting my turn, but when she turned around and saw me, she quickly apologized. My first thought was to say, “for what?” but I simply said, “we’re good!”

bird flipping

But when it happened again at the refrigerated egg enclosure with another female shopper, I replied, “Ma’am! The only way I could’ve retrieved what I was seeking would’ve been to knock you over, and you probably wouldn’t have taken too kindly to that.”

She laughed and said, “No! I probably would’ve called you out for that,” to which I answered, “and rightfully so.”

Then, at Swan Lake, a very pleasant young woman apologized for asking me to move so she could get to her seat. I kinda looked at her quizzically and said that I chose the aisle seat knowing I would have to get up to let half the row in. The tradeoff was the extra leg room and a quicker exit at the end of the show.

Puzzled, I asked my wife why these four women apologized for no good reason. She explained that women are taught from an early age to avoid confrontation, defer to everyone else, and to apologize to keep the peace.

It was at that very moment that I finally understood the more radical elements of the #MeToo movement, because if I had to consistently say I’m sorry for what might be perceived as the slightest slight, I’d rapidly become homicidal.

You see, the truth is, the vast majority of men have absolutely no interest in demeaning, harassing, or sexually assaulting women. We generally enjoy your company. I could talk to female attorneys all day. It’s just that the Bill Cosbys, Les Moonves, and Harvey Weinsteins have truly cast a dark pallor over our gender.

But some of that #MeToo anger and frustration is clearly self-inflicted. Sure! If you hit me with your cart while I’m simply standing off to the side, an apology would be nice. But please don’t say you’re sorry to someone who can’t figure out he’s not the only one in a grocery store. It’s not necessary.


Do we really crave privacy?

One of the more fascinating vagaries of my particular version of ADHD is I take in everything all the time. It’s great when you’re covering a county board meeting or a trial, but it sucks when you’re trying to relax or go to sleep.

So, it was during that very same Meijer sojourn that I simply couldn’t avoid a lengthy and rather heated checkout line conversation between a daughter and what clearly must’ve been her mother. And this wasn’t the Bluetooth variety, either. It was impressive to watch her dispense with a semi-full shopping cart with just one hand.

Image result for cell phone at grocery store

The gist of the conversation went like this:

  • The mother doesn’t think her granddaughter goes outside to play enough
  • She questions her granddaughter’s efforts in school
  • The daughter refuted her mother by saying her friends agree with her parenting approach
  • And neither one was about to change the other’s mind

What particularly struck me is, at a time when we’re lamenting large scale data breaches and a massive cameras everywhere loss of privacy, the dichotomy of someone so willing to share the most intimate details of her life was ironically discordant. Not only did she keep up the conversation throughout the entire checkout process, but she was still arguing with her mother as she left the store.

Life never fails to fascinate me!


It was a joke!

But apparently no one in St. Louis, Missouri, has a sense of humor.

As the annual Cubs Convention was winding down, the former Cub pitcher hosted an artificial talk show called ‘Friday Night with Ryan Dempster.’ During that convention conversation, he and Cubs third basemen, Kris Bryant, were riffing back and forth on a number of silly subjects, not the least of which was their take on the merit of various Major League cities.

When they got to St. Louis Bryant responded, “So boring,” to much laughter and applause from the crowd. And no one would’ve thought anything of it until Cardinal catcher, Yadier Molina had a complete meltdown. You see, Yadier makes Donald Trump look like a piker when it comes to taking offense.

bryant molina

He castigated Bryant through Tweets, posted disparaging pictures of our dynamic duo, and generally threw the kind of temper tantrum that would’ve made an ADHD third grader proud.

Not to be outdone, other Cardinal players, St. Louis radio show hosts and their two listeners, and the regular Missouri citizenry joined in the fray by labeling Bryant as the worst thing since they signed Dexter Fowler.

Of course, the catalyst for their absurd over-the-top reaction to a JOKE is, deep down in their hearts, they know St. Louis is a beyond boring city in a beyond boring state. C’mon! when your claims to fame are an arch, mosquitoes the size of pterodactyls, and ridiculous humidity, I think Bryant’s depiction was dead on.

Even their motto ‘The Gateway City’ immediately puts you to sleep. I’ve been to St. Louis and the only thing I’d recommend about it is leaving.

And as far as Mr. Molina goes, the only thing that’s funny about him is his .261 2018 batting average. Considering the sad state of Major League pitching, even I could do better than that.


The NFL is boring, too!

For the life of me, I cannot begin to understand the new NFL overtime rules and why they ever adopted them in the first place. The NBA and even soccer leagues get it right – you simply play another full or somewhat shortened period. Considering that neither defense could stop a conversation, last night’s Chiefs – Patriots game was essentially decided by a coin flip.


And when the Patriots won that overtime toss, I simply turned off the game because the outcome was obvious. How can you possibly allow the AFC Superbowl entrant to be decided without the other team having at least one OT possession? It’s patently absurd.

You may as well let every game be decided by a coin flip. It would save a lot of wear or tear on the players.

And while we’re at it, the new kickoff rules suck, too! For me, the most exciting part of the NFL was watching Rick Upchurch, Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson, Terry Metcalf and, of course, Devin Hester return kicks.

But now, with kickers regularly booting it out of the endzone and a touchback putting the offense on their 25-yard line, there are no returns. And the NFL wonders why their ratings are in the Krapper.


Ballet? That’s easy!

Having witnessed Swan Lake at the Paramount Sunday afternoon, here’s my take on ballet:

1.  It’s patently unfair that the women have to dance on their toes and the men don’t.

2. It’s patently unfair that the men have to wear costumes that leave nothing to the imagination and the women don’t.

3. Ballet is just like opera without all the caterwauling – everyone dies in the end!

And there you have it!

swan lake

But I do have to say, nothing beats a matinee (or evening presentation) at Aurora’s Paramount Theater. If you haven’t availed yourself of one of those shows, you’re really missing out!

Quick Hits – It’s called critical thinking people!

Before we hit the ground running, please allow me to issue this stipulation. Though most Elginians disagree with my assessments, their responses to my series of columns on the disposition of Elgin Police Lieutenant Chris Jensen in regard to the tragic shooting death of DeCynthia Clements have been reasonable and civil.

That’s all I ask! My singular goal is, and has always been, to continue to the conversation. And that’s a very difficult proposition when we’re always screaming at each other.

With that caveat issued, the consistent content of those responses still bothers me. We liberals seem more than willing to call out the President and his supporters for their capacity to ignore the truth, but we fail to see the very same intractability in ourselves.

For example, I too, love brand new firebrand Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but if she presses her radical progressive agenda too far too quickly, it will inevitably create the kind of equal and opposite political reaction that brought us Donald Trump.

Similarly, I’m no fan of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but her insistence on quashing any impeachment talk amongst her peers is dead on. Sure! It’s fun to hear someone say, “Impeach the motherfucker,” but all that’s gonna do is rally Trump’s disaffected base right back to his side.  Pelosi’s smart enough to see they’re already abandoning him droves.

As this columnist likes to say, “Do you want to get what you want, or do you simply want feel good?” And if you want to get what you want, it requires critical thinking.

It’s the same complete lack of critical thinking regarding the Jensen investigations that has me heading to hide in the crawl space. Because if this “whatever I’ve been thinking for the last five minutes has got to be the truth” cultural shift continues, we truly are doomed.

To wit, to read those column responses and a variety of letters-to-the-editor on the subject, is a lot like watching a SportsCenter installment where they’re dissecting the latest Bears loss based on whatever on the emotion they’re feeling at the time.

That kind of thing might work for sportscasters, but it’s not the way the State Police, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and City of Elgin work. They’re bound by the law and fact, not the kind of armchair quarterbacking I’ve been watching.

The only considerations that matter to the investigators are these. Did Lt. Jensen violate Clement’s civil rights? Did he abrogate any statute when he resorted to lethal force? Did the law require the EPD to apply non-lethal methods on that I-90 shoulder?

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Put more simply, did Lt. Jensen break the law? And the answer to that and our three preceding questions is a resounding “No!” That’s why he will be cleared of any criminal charges. To come to that conclusion is a matter of applying critical, and not wishful, thinking.

“But Jeff! They weren’t that close, she wasn’t leaping at anyone, they shoulda used tasers, they knew she was high on drugs, she presented no threat, she stumbled out of the vehicle, and Jensen had plenty of backup!” Sorry, those are all utterly immaterial suppositions that have no statutory basis. And most of them are dead wrong, anyway.

After the CCSAO clears Jensen, the City of Elgin will investigate whether he violated any EPD standard or policy. They will determine if he followed protocol in a standoff situation. And just like it is with the law, those standards are specifically spelled out in print.

So, again! Whatever you and I might think about that sad scenario is immaterial because the investigators will not be relying on emotion or wishful thinking.

That investigation will find the officers on the scene provided Ms. Clements with every opportunity to end the standoff. Given their proximity, rubber bullets would’ve killed her. Breaking the passenger side window would’ve turned the smoldering fire she set inside her vehicle into an inferno and killed her. Tasers work on sober folks just 50 percent of the time, and they don’t work on people under the influence at all.

And they will make that ruling because those are the facts and it’s patently absurd to ask an officer involved in a standoff to make the kind of split-second decisions that would determine whether someone’s leaping or stumbling, high or sober, capable of doing damage with a knife, what kind of knife they’re wielding, and whether non-lethal methods will be effective.

Those unrealistic expectations would lead to a frequently fatal paralysis through analysis.

Officer Jason Van Dyke pumping 16 shots into Laquan McDonald? That’s a violation of police standards. Shooting a fleeing and unarmed suspect in the back? That’s a violation of police protocol. But shooting someone who’s coming at you with a knife after setting their own car on fire is not a policy breach.

How many news stories have we read describing how it took six officers or hospital orderlies to subdue someone on crack?

We have the luxury of repeatedly watching and pausing the tape to come to our conclusions, but the officers on the scene did not. So, when you dispense with the emotion, jumping to a conclusion that fits your political world view, and simply wanting to feel good, then, and only then, can critical thinking be applied.

Give it a shot sometime!