Quick Hits Supplemental – A kinda sorta response from the KCSAO!

Technically, it’s been seven days without a direct response from Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon in regard to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office upholding my appeal of their FOIA denial of 255 pages of sexual harassment complaints against just one former prosecutor.

If you recall, this disclosure war has been waging since October, but believe it or not, there has been some movement and it comes at the hands of Shaw Media who deftly dove directly into the FOIA fray.

Shaw Media

My attorney, Jeff Meyer, and I were convinced the KCSAO would continue to ignore both the AG’s order and The First Ward, forcing us to take them to court to secure the documents. But the Kane County Chronicle’s coverage of the story did, indeed, solicit a State’s Attorney response.

And that’s the way it should be. We journalists may be a semi-dysfunctional bunch, but in the end, we all have the same goal – to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. And a great part of that process is to consistently turn a watchful eye towards those government entities that may otherwise try to put one past the taxpayer.

Our most important tool in that regard is the 1967 Freedom of Information Act our print media predecessors fought so hard to make law. This may be a vast oversimplification, but with slim exception, those documents underwritten by the taxpayer must be made available to the taxpayer upon a formal request.

So, when a governmental entity illegally denies one reporter’s FOIA request, they’re denying all of us. That’s why The First Ward jumped to the Daily Herald’s defense after the City of Carpentersville ignored an Attorney General’s 2014 FOIA ruling. The concept of government disclosure is not only critical to investigative journalism, but to the long-term health of a well-functioning Democracy.

So, I want to thank Shaw Media, the Kane County Chronicle, and reporter Brenda Schory for asserting the kind of pressure that forced the KCSAO to respond to the AG’s ruling. But as thrilled as I am with Shaw Media, I’m not at all happy with McMahon’s attempt to use the same sad arguments that have already failed twice.

On the positive side, McMahon did acknowledge the KCSAO’s legal obligations when he told Schory:

We’ll go through documents we have previously produced and if there is a way for us to release additional documents and still comply with these other state laws I have to comply with, that is what we’ll do.

Though I’m not sure what he means by “additional documents.” They’ve already released all 255 pages, it’s just that they redacted all but one sentence.

On the negative side, McMahon added:

The letter from the assistant attorney general disregards some of the important safeguards that are in place to protect the confidentiality rights of alleged victims and witnesses and will have a chilling effect on the willingness of some individuals and witnesses to come forward and report harassment in the future.

No! it doesn’t! If you read the AG’s ruling

FOIA Appeal

they didn’t disregard a damn thing. They covered the cited safeguards at length and made it abundantly clear that the KCSAO fell far short of providing “clear and convincing evidence” for the FOIA denial. What makes them think the third time will be the charm?

The AG quoted me directly while agreeing with my twin assertions that, “The public has a right to know if taxpayer funded offices are resolving sexual harassment complaints in an appropriate manner,” and “Mr. Ward argued that the State’s Attorney’s Office’s sexual harassment policy ‘is just that— policy, and if policies could be considered law, the State’s Attorney’ s Office could implement a series of ‘policies’ that would essentially render them FOIA-proof.”

I also stand by my original argument that:

…aiding and abetting a 6- to 8-year sexual harasser, who generated 255 pages of complaints (Mr. Lulves admits this) during that time, and was only fired when I caught on, is even more deleterious to the complaint process than answering a FOIA request. I know at least 4 female ASA’s who resigned because the KCSAO did nothing to stop this harassment.

Please let me remind the KCSAO that the “trial” is over and as is the time for presenting new evidence. Any further attempt to do so is yet another delaying tactic. Trust me, McMahon’s not nearly concerned with the victims, many of whom have already come forward, as he is in protecting his own posteriors.

So, now we wait to see what final response, if any, will be forthcoming. And if it’s just another lame KCSAO attempt to abrogate the AG’s ruling, this time I will get them issue the binding variety.

The good news is, local journalism may be on life support, but it’s not dead. Just like the Duke of Wellington’s spirit rose when he saw the Prussian army finally arrive on that Waterloo battlefield, I’m thrilled to have Shaw Media covering this story.

Quick Hits – They ain’t up there for their brains!

I know this one’s gonna get me in trouble but that never stopped me before. It’s that whole fools and angels thing, and in the words of that great philosopher Greg Allman, we all know “I’m no angel.”

This one involves narcissist extraordinaire, LaVar Ball, and ESPN ‘First Take’ sports show host, Molly Qerim.

For those fortunate folks who don’t know who Ball is, he had very modest success as a professional athlete, but he’s parlayed his three sons’ NCAA and NBA basketball careers into a sporting clothes line and a reality show. He’s kinda like the basketball equivalent of Joe Jackson, the infamous Jackson Five patriarch.

Ball, who’s megalomania includes visions of his three sons returning the Los Angeles Lakers to their halcyon dynastic days, is more well-known for his outlandish pronouncements like he could’ve beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one, his son Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry, and my personal favorite, “Realistically, you can’t win no [NBA] championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow.”

Imagine if a white guy said anything remotely like that about black players. But that didn’t stop ESPN from inviting him on the show.

Meanwhile, Qerim, who has no sports credibility whatsoever, landed the ‘First Take’ gig primarily on the basis of her two major “assets,” which she proudly displays at every turn.  Apparently, there’s a reason they call it the “boob tube.” I’m not saying she isn’t an effective communicator, but if she looked like a little more like a 70-year-old Terry Bradshaw, she’d be a nothing more than a mid-level PR person at a budget airline.

So, ESPN regularly puts Qerim out there for the obvious ratings grabber and they put Ball on their shows because you never know what he’s gonna say, and sure enough! When Querim asked Ball if she could “switch gears” on the June 17th installment, he replied “You can switch gears with me anytime!”

Ball Qerim

Managing to muster all the artificial self-righteousness they possibly could, ESPN defended Qerim’s nonexistent virtue by pounding their collective firsts on the table and banning Ball from all future broadcasts. And the talking heads went similarly nuts over what was deemed to be an “inappropriate” comment.

C’mon! At best it was a bad sophomoric joke, and at worst it was the kind of bad pickup line you’d expect to hear in an SNL bit. But don’t tell me it wasn’t inevitable and don’t tell me that ESPN wasn’t praying for exactly that kind of ratings boost.

Can you say “disingenuous?” I knew you could!

And while women everywhere excoriated Bell for being a scurrilous cad, I’m thinking the focus of their collective ire should actually be those ESPN bosses who put the “gifted” Qerim in that position in the first place.

There are any number of former WNBA and U.S. women’s soccer players who are eminently more qualified to host a cable sports talk show than Qerim, but that ain’t the way it works. Women are consistently hired to major media positions based primarily on their packaging and not on their capacity to form full sentences.

Just look at our local Chicago news stations and particularly Channel 7 weatherperson Cheryl Scott.

Ironically, she actually has both a sports and science background, but who knew that regularly batting your false eyelashes while plying your trade in skin-tight dresses had any meteorological significance whatsoever? I suppose it means viewers can tell if it’s cold in the studio, but that’s about as far as it goes.

And then there’s all that insipid teenage gushing about Scott getting engaged to her fiancé. All I’m gonna ask it that she doesn’t reproduce.

To make matters exponentially worse, Scott’s popularity has spawned a slew of imitation Chicago “weather babes” as they’re affectionately referred to. Thanks to her, we have CBS’ Megan Glaros, NBC’s Kalee Dionne, who’s college claim to fame is musical theater, and Fox News’ Kaitlin Cody.

Despite whatever credentials they might have, we all know they wouldn’t be on the evening news if any them looked the least bit like Chicago’s last male meteorologist, Tom Skilling.

And that’s what really frosts my cookies!

Though I know liberals will do their damndest to excoriate me, please don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying men should automatically get these gigs and that what Mr. Ball said wasn’t stupid. Basketball legend Charles Barkley correctly stipulated that, “Wherever LaVar Ball is, there is a village missing an idiot.”

But if I were a woman, I’d be far more incensed about my feminine compatriots’ tendency to advance on the basis of their bra size and appearance instead of their general merit.

That’s what really needs to change.

Quick Hits – Don’t let your divorce destroy you!

Let’s consider this to be part two of last Friday’s installment on what the Kane County (or any) justice system is and isn’t. The basic premise was the folks who toil in the Judicial Center aren’t out to get you for no other reasons than you’re not nearly that important and there’s a huge difference between corruption and a vast dysfunction.

That column came as a result of the plethora of people who’ve come to me with their own personal Judicial Center horror story over the last two years.

While I’ve tried to help each and every one of you, and the occasional success story keeps me going, what’s really stuck with me is how some folks need absolutely no help destroying themselves, their lives, and their children’s lives.

Bitter Divorce

It’s one thing to hear about a bitter celebrity divorce or custody battle on TMZ, but trust me, it’s another thing entirely to listen to over 70, mostly women, rage against the system, their ex, and how patently unfair life can be. Some readers have even gone as far as devoting entire Facebook pages to denigrating their exes.

And I thought my single-minded pursuit of superhero statues was obsessive. My favorite former managing editor actually thinks I’m developing a mild form of PTSD as a result of what I call my “family law” practice.

So, even though I’m probably spitting into the wind – again – in an effort to head off more time-consuming propositions in which I can’t help, let’s go over some of those how-to-get-your-life-back-on-track basics.

And it always starts with taking responsibility. Can life be unfair? You bet! But while we can’t control life, we can control our reaction to those perceived slights and injustices. The common thread between the people I can’t help is the belief in a vast justice system conspiracy specifically targeting them. Not only is that the height of an out-of-control ego, but it’s incredibly self-destructive.

Clearly, there was a time you saw something good in your ex. You believed they had the qualities that made you fall in love and perhaps even have children with them. So, how did they suddenly go from significant other to evil incarnate?

My point is, you chose that person, and if you failed to see who they really were, no matter how charming they were at that time, that’s on you. I guarantee you that your friends and family saw the issues right off the bat.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about blame. It’s about taking the kind of personal responsibility that allows you to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. I’ve never been presented with a divorce scenario where one side was completely innocent.

But if you blame your ex and/or the entire justice system for your current plight, you will remain stuck in that place for the rest of your life. And that’s the very definition of a Christian Hell.

I regularly hear horrific tales about abusive exes, but rather than rail about it, if a criminal act has occurred, please go directly to the local police. Please be as evidence-based and unemotional about it as possible, too, because if you go completely nuts, they won’t be nearly as likely to help you. Police already hate getting involved in domestic cases for good reason and they’ll be wary of any unfounded domestic violence or sexual abuse claim.

If you insist on posting your exes “criminal acts” on Facebook, which is never a good idea, you’re not only setting yourself up for a libel lawsuit, but if those posts are presented to the family court judge, you’ve just dug yourself a ten-foot legal hole.

But what amazes me most is these battles are often waged without a single thought for the children involved. Worse yet, they’re often used as weapons.

One of my favorite friends had to endure an uncomfortable divorce, but she absolutely refuses to speak ill of her ex in front of her two children because he’s their father! As she put it, “Children are smart. They know they’re half him. If I keep referring to him as a bleep, they’re going to start believing they’re half bleep.”

Exactly!

And if you do demonize your ex to the point where your young children buy into it, when they grow up, they will never forgive you. But if you remember what you once saw in your ex and convey that instead, your children will never forget that kindness.

Sometimes no one is to blame. Sometimes a split is simply matter of a relationship running its course. In that regard, it pays to remember that the converse of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Sometimes you discover you’re better apart and nefariousness has nothing to do with it.

In that very vein, that same friend has come to realize that she and her ex-husband are not only better people apart, but they’ve become better parents as a result of their divorce. They both learned to put their egos aside and understand that the future is  about their children and not about rehashing a past which can’t be changed.

So, to reiterate some previous stipulations! Journalistic standards prohibit writing about a divorce and I’m not about to break that rule. If you need help better understanding the justice system, dealing with a real judicial injustice, you require an attorney that is adept at handling your particular situation, or you want a fresh perspective on that situation, in the words of that late great philosopher Leonard Cohen, “I’m your man.”

But if you’re going to insist that I listen to your tales of your heinous ex or how those Kane County Judicial Center inhabitants have it in for you, in the words of those great philosophers The English Beat, “Save it for later.”

If you do find yourself sinking into the abyss, please seek out the services a certified therapist or psychologist. I may not go every week, but I’ve been in therapy for most of my adult life because it truly takes a village with Jeff Ward.

But sadly, if you’re bent on self-destruction, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Quick Hits – No response from the KCSAO – day 4!

Here’s what I want you to do! Whether you find yourself in a Kane County traffic or felony courtroom, it’s immaterial. When the judge calls your case, approach the bench and explain that if the State’s Attorney’s Office doesn’t have to abide the law – a law they’re sworn to uphold – that precedent clearly applies to you as well. Then simply walk out!

Because now it’s day four, and not only have I failed to receive any response to my emails, but the KCSAO has completely ignored the Attorney General’s ruling to turn over 255 pages of sexual harassment complaints against just one former prosecutor.

McMahon 2

Though the rumors are somewhat conflicting, sources have said that, in an effort to get out from under this issue and the complete disaster his office has become, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon is aiming for the judicial seat soon to be vacated by Katherine Moran.

So, what I’d like to do is kindly remind those full circuit judges – the ones who appoint the associate judges – that one judge’s career has already been sidetracked by a credible sexual harassment allegation, and those previously mentioned complaints will eventually go public and they will show a pattern of outright complicity on the part of Mr. McMahon.

And that’s far worse than just one allegation.

 

Quick Hits – A Nazi salute? That’s exactly the Kendall County GOP!

I gotta tell ya, given this perpetually expanding truth is stranger than fiction thing, I’m feeling more and more like Rod Serling every day (cue ‘The Twilight Zone’ music). But if the strange stories keep coming my way, then I’ll keep covering them, and this one’s a real doozy!

As 14th District Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and her posse were walking by the Kendall County Republican’s float prior to Sunday’s Oswego PrairieFest parade, one of the GOP float folks raised his arm in a Nazi salute and shouted “Sieg heil!”

Please take some time to truly take that in.

This individual felt comfortable enough to perpetrate what amounts to a hate crime against a sitting black Congresswoman in front of all the Kendall County Republican officials, all the GOP regulars, all of his friends, and anyone who happened to be watching a major County festival’s proceedings.

I could end this column right here because that last paragraph really says it all, but there are a few more things I’d like to point out.

Kendall County Republicans

In her Twitter condemnation of the act, Underwood said her district is “one that values civility and tolerance.” Hmmmmm! Perhaps we’re talking about a parallel universe here because to say that ain’t been my 14th District experience would be the most massive of understatements.

To their credit, former Kendall Republican Chairman, James Marter, and current Chairman, Joseph Gillespie, quickly posted a Facebook apology explaining this volunteer will no longer be affiliated with the party.

Though it was gracious of her to say so, Underwood advisor Ronnie Chao added, “This kind of hate speech is not what the Illinois 14th has ever been about.” Oh! I beg to differ! after 13 years of covering the Collar Counties, I can unequivocally tell you this is exactly what Kendall County and the Kendall County Republican Party are all about.

Please allow me to explain.

Despite being the fastest growing county in the U.S. from 2000 to 2009, it remains 84 percent white, and that kind of “demographic” takes a concerted latent effort. That Caucasian percentage is significantly more Caucasian than Will, Kane, Lake, and DuPage Counties. Only McHenry County is whiter, and they have the same problem – short of a Nazi salute, however.

So, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that, while those generally Republican Kane, Will, Lake, and particularly DuPage County voters destroyed Trump in 2016, Kendall County wholeheartedly supported a mendacious white supremacist sympathizer.

And the Kendall County GOP is even worse!

It starts with attorney Dallas Ingemunson and disgraced former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, forming what some people referred to as “The Combine” around the turn of the century. Basically, anyone with political aspirations in Kendall or the surrounding counties had to secure their “blessing” or electoral defeat would be swift and sure. This was particularly true of judicial candidates.

But if you weren’t white and male, no such benediction would be forthcoming. When a very young former Democratic State Rep Linda Chapa LaVia approached them to run as a Republican, Ingemunson told her to go back to Texas. ‘The Combine’ finally did “embrace” white women, but only when they could control the candidate. State Senator and Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay is a perfect example.

Though some things have changed, the current Kendall County Board is as white as it gets.

To add even more to the intolerance frivolity, in 2011 the Kendall County Republicans invited racist thug and Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to headline their main fundraiser. That just screams “inclusion,” doesn’t it? Though you really do have to give them a lot credit for abandoning all pretense whatsoever.

The Combine had vastly faded by the time Hastert went to prison, but during their heyday, the eminently white Kendall County Sheriff’s Office was more than happy to “enforce” the status quo. I know of one counter-political operative who was regularly harassed and I met with a black deputy who resigned partly as a result of a “lack of acceptance” on the part of his peers.

He went to become a State Rep, too.

If you doubt me, I would encourage you to visit the Kendall County Republican’s Facebook page where all manner of racist propaganda is proudly on display, particularly in the associated photographs. Apparently, a Nazi salute is where they finally draw the line. Not to mention there isn’t a single minority depicted in the thousands of those photographs.

So, am I surprised a Kendall County Republican Party volunteer flashed a Nazi salute and shouted “Sieg heil” to a black Congresswoman from a GOP float before a Sunday parade at a busy festival? Not in the least! The only thing that surprises me is that it doesn’t happen more often.

Quick Hits Supplemental – The KCSAO silence is deafening

As most of you already know, the Attorney General’s Office upheld my FOIA (Freedom of Information request) appeal ordering the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office to turn over 255 pages of sexual harassment complaints against a former prosecutor.

At least four separate female prosecutors quit because Joe McMahon, Jody Gleason, Joe Lulves and Joe Cullen did nothing material to stop the abuse from that prosecutor and others. The women in that office referred to that male group as “The Welcoming Committee.”

mcmahon

With the AG’s ruling coming down on Friday (June 14), early Monday morning I submitted an email to State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, Civil Division chief Joe Lulves, and a few others politely requesting the documents by close of business Friday (June 21).

And the silence has been deafening. There has been no acknowledgement of the ruling, and no response to my emails.

I’ve been pointing out this vast irony for years – the very people sworn to uphold Illinois law fervently believe they’re above it. The folks who would prosecute you in a heartbeat have convinced themselves they don’t need to listen to or respond to the State’s top prosecutor.

No! They’d rather protect a serial sexual harasser and their own hides than do the right thing. Either Joe McMahon or one his top lieutenants will be up for election in 2020. Let’s plan on sending them a message!

 

 

 

Quick Hits – Disco Demolition was what?

What I really want to do right now is launch into the kind of four-letter word tirade that would completely curl your toenails, but the fine folks at the What’s Happening In [City Name] Facebook pages kindly asked me to keep my language to an acceptable PG level.

With that eminently reasonable request in mind, please let me clearly state that liberals suck. And the vapid Generation X and Millennial varieties exponentially suck.

Before you start with the commentary counterattacks, please remember that, I too, am a liberal, though I’m gonna start wearing a paper bag in public out of sheer embarrassment for my wildly errant ilk.

You see, the newest insipid progressive attempt to re-write history starts with the Chicago White Sox finally embracing Disco Demolition Night, by passing out 40th anniversary t-shirts commemorating the event. They even had former WLUP DJ Steve Dahl throw out the first pitch at last Thursday’s game.

Disco Demolition

For the uninitiated, “Disco Demolition” was the brainchild of Dahl and then sidekick Garry Meier. Fans who brought a disco record to the old Comiskey Park would get into the twi-night doubleheader for just 98 cents (WLUP’s call numbers), and the plan was to “blow up” a crate of those records on the field between games.

The problem was, Dahl and the White Sox expected no more than 20,000 fans, about 5,000 more than typically attended a home game, but when 50,000 people showed up, all hell broke loose.

Basically, the rabid anti-disco throng stormed the field after the stunt, damaging it to the point where the Sox had to forfeit the second game to the Detroit Tigers. To this day, it remains the most infamous promotion in Major League Baseball history.

Of course, White Sox management, including then owner Bill Veeck, tried to put it all on Dahl, but the truth is, nobody could’ve predicted that massive turnout. The event did send Dahl’s radio career straight into the stratosphere.

So, it was kinda cool to see the Sox finally embrace it, but never ones to let an opportunity to prove how politically pure they are pass them by, progressive nitwits Tweeted asinine stupidity like this:

  • Disco Demolition was the original Straight Pride Parade.
  • Disco Demolition was crazy and countercultural — I totally understand why it’s stuck around as rock history. But it was punched down on another counterculture, and gave cover to bigotry. @whitesox shouldn’t be celebrating it.
  • In the middle of this year’s #Pride the Chicago @WhiteSox will celebrate #Disco Demotion Night. Come for the memories of homophobia and racism, and get a free t-shirt?
  • During Pride Month and in the year 2019, the team would be better suited celebrating its diverse fanbase rather than commemorating angry white teens tearing something down that paved the way for hip-hop, house music, and so many other important movements

Oh my bleepin’ lord! Really? Aren’t we white folks allowed to have any fun? And what really frosts my flakes is virtually none of these purported liberal pundits and music writers were actually alive in 1979. As Dahl himself said in response to the beyond bizarre criticism:

We blew up disco records, made fun of the Bee Gees and ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ It goes no deeper than that. Perception is not always reality. Especially when that perception uses the prism of today to look at events 40 years ago. Sometimes a stupid radio promotion is just a stupid radio promotion.

Exactly!

Disco Demolition wasn’t an attack on anything or anyone, it was nothing more than a publicity stunt of epic proportion. And unlike all these pointless progressives, I was quite alive at the time and I listened to Steve and Garry every single day, so, I feel particularly qualified to set the record straight.

Then a mere 24 years of age, Dahl was the master of self-promotion. He’d regularly take on Chicago media giants like WGN Radio’s Wally Phillips and Sun-Times columnist Irv Kupcinet fully understanding the media would pick up on the supposed “feud” and send his stock skyrocketing.

If one of his regular Park West shows failed to sell out, he would go on the air and “pathetically” beg people to show up. It was a hilarious “self-deprecating” bit that worked every time. I was at that packed venue more than once.

As far as Dahl’s “anti-disco movement” goes, the genre had peaked immediately after 1977’s Saturday Night Fever, and the backlash against the ubiquitous Bee Gees and the excesses that straight white disco devotees embraced was already well underway. Musical genres have a limited lifespan and Disco was already on the way out.

To wit, try finding a new rock ‘n roll song on Chicago radio these days. WXRT is the only station that plays ‘em and, even then, they’re few and far between.

Listen to Dahl’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Disco’ parody, set to Rod Stewart’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.’ He was clearly making fun of straight white males, not gay’s, Hispanics, or blacks as our holier-than-thou Tweeters would have you to believe.

Dahl didn’t even create the “disco sucks” crusade, but he certainly knew how to take advantage of an opportunity to raise his radio profile when it came along. And it was a lot of fun to be counted among his “Insane Coho Lips,” who didn’t beat gays, never burned a disco, and utterly failed to focus their fake fury on minorities.

And for these Millennials and Gen-Xers to try to turn Disco Demolition into what essentially amounts to a Klan rally is far worse than anything Donald Trump could possibly concoct. Let’s not forget these are the same young bleeps who gave us our current President because they petulantly refused to vote for anyone but Bernie Sanders.

Thankfully, the White Sox refused to be intimidated by this BS and the anniversary celebration went forward. As Dahl, a long-time season ticket holder said, “I was just looking forward to having a fun night at the park with my family, my grandkids and my friends and fans. What happened?”

Liberals got ahold of it Steve, and given the opportunity, my clueless and sanctimonious compatriots will ruin just about anything.