Quick Hits – July 31, 2019

Please calm down, all of you!

Apparently, y’all just can’t settle down long enough for me get to other things, can you? If it’s not Aurora trying to subvert a religious ministry, then it’s Geneva teachers behaving badly, or it’s my pending lawsuit against the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, and to top it off, the City of Elgin is driving me nuts.

So, it looks like there will be a Quick Hits today, but even if one of you bleeps manages to detonate a thermonuclear device, I’m taking Monday off!


Thank you, Mark, Larry and WRMN!

I gotta tell ya! I had a blast this a.m. on the WRMN morning show with my former Ward & Jones co-host Larry Jones and crack producer Mark Bialek, The point was to push my new book, ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election?’

My heartfelt thanks go out to that dynamic duo for inviting me into the studio and bringing back some rather fond memories. As soon as Mr. Bialek provides me with a recording, I will put that interview on all sorts of social media and websites for your listening enjoyment.


It’s like an endless Stuart Smalley skit

There are times I hate it when I’m right. Not many, but on rare occasion, it does happen.

To wit, my prediction that the City’s abject inability – or unwillingness – to bring the Elgin Police Lieutenant Chris Jensen saga to some sort of reasonable conclusion would lead to further bad behavior came true last night in the in the form a rather ridiculous protest.

But before we continue, please let me clearly state for the record that this country was founded on protest and every last American has the right to make their voice heard in this eminently dissenting manner. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

The Catch-22, however, is, do you want to get what you want, or do you just want to feel good about yourself for 15 minutes?

Last night’s festivities kicked off with 50 protesters blocking traffic as they moved towards the Elgin Police station. Yes! That’s exactly how you win friends and influence people. All that BS does is drive some suddenly fearful people deeply into the other side’s camp.

Elgin Protest

And please let me remind Marcus Banner, the “protest” organizer, that if all you can manage to muster is a scant 50 activists – or .04 percent of Elgin’s population, neither you nor they are the “voice of the people.”

Once inside the station, the group proceeded to disrupt a Lt. Chris Jensen disposition question and answer session moderated by Chief Ana Lalley and various EPD commanders. Yes! We all know the best way to accomplish a civic goal always involves shouting people down with bullhorns. People love that!

Given the vast and inexplicable current City Hall leadership vacuum, you really have to give Lalley and the Commanders credit for simply letting the beyond obnoxious protesters have their say and then continuing with the meeting.

What I want to know is, who for the love of God is advising the City of Elgin? Mother of Pearl Jam! And I had the nerve to think the departed diversity consultant was bad. I could do better on my worst day and all I’d charge is a Li’l Nas X CD and a 12-pack of Bass Ale.

And be still my beating heart! There were all of 30 attendees at the Q&A session, which comes to an even more minuscule .026 percent of the population. Three separate entities have already cleared Jensen of any criminal act, so why the bleep are we wasting the Chief’s valuable time by holding endless psychotherapy sessions that aren’t going to change anyone’s minds?

I’LL SAY IT AGAIN! The longer the Jensen decision is deferred, the worse these protests are going to get.

So where are:

  • Mayor David Kaptain
  • City Manager Rick Kozal ($230,000)
  • Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez ($120,000)
  • Communications Director Molly Center ($80,000)

in all this? All I’m hearing are crickets.

With the exception of the Mayor, those generous salaries would indicate these city officials should be able to effectively frame a message and contend with a truly difficult situation, but they collectively throw the Chief under the bus, instead.

And if they can’t deal with it, or they simply choose not to, then they need to move on or be replaced. In 13 years of covering northern Illinois government, this is the worst example of municipal ineptitude I’ve ever seen.

Please tell me how turning this sad situation into an endless SNL Stuart Smalley bit is going to help this situation?

So, since I seem to be the voice of reason in all of this, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to come out of retirement long enough to recruit four reasonable Elgin city council candidates, and I’ll run your 2021 campaigns at no charge. I have a pretty good track record, too. And when there’s a reasonable majority on the city council, the people who’ve completely failed the City of Elgin, a city I love, will be handed their walking papers.

Oh! And Marcus! That’s how you create change, but it’s a lot of hard work. Stopping traffic and disrupting a meeting? That’s literally the least you could do.

Quick Hits – The State’s Attorney’s Race Just Got a Lot More Interesting!

For those who’ve missed my dulcet tones wafting along the morning airwaves, your fondest wish is about to come true! Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. I’ll be pushing ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election’ on Elgin’s own WRMN AM1410 radio.

Yes! That means I’ll be back with former Ward & Jones co-host extraordinaire, Larry Jones, and the inimitable Mark “Marky B” Bialek for a half hour of rousing conversation. You really don’t want to miss this one folks!

If you didn’t keep that old transistor radio, you most certainly can listen to WRMN online!

That likely means this column will supplant Wednesday’s Quick Hits! We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming!


The State’s Attorney’s Race Just Got a Lot More Interesting!

State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s decision not to run in 2020 sent the entire Kane County Republican Party scrambling to find a replacement. And their search was particularly frenetic because an exceptional Democratic candidate, Jamie Mosser, had already announced and anyone with half a brain knows 2020 is going to be the year of the Democratic woman.

So, when KCSAO Felony chief Bill Engerman started plying the phones in an effort to garner electoral support, the GOP silence was deafening. Engerman has more skeletons in his closet than Jeffrey Dahmer and the local Republicans knew he couldn’t beat Mosser.

Other Republicans tried to recruit Amanda Hamilton, a partner at Geneva’s Konicek and Dillon law firm, but while she’s certainly a fine attorney with a stellar CV, and she’s a much more presentable candidate that Engerman would ever be, she’s a mere 34 years old. And no 34-year-old is ready to head into that dysfunctional morass of a state’s attorney’s office and set things straight. She’s never been a prosecutor either, which would make the gig even more difficult.

So, let’s see if you’ve been paying attention, class! What’s does politics, like nature, abhor? That’s right! A vacuum! And this particular “vacuum” was powerful enough to drew former 16th Circuit and current Second District Appellate Court Judge Robert “Bob” Spence directly into it.

For those of you who don’t follow judicial careers, Spence, 63, a Bloomington, Illinois, native, received his J.D. from John Marshall Law School, served as an ASA for 14 years, and an assistant attorney general for six more. He was appointed to the 16th Circuit in 2001, was voted Chief Judge in 2011, and he’s been “on loan” to the aforementioned Appellate Court since 2012.

Bob Spence

Though I’ve had a little journalistic fun with his meteoric judicial rise coming in great part as a result of his long friendship with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Bob Thomas, the truth is, I’ve never heard a bad word about his honor and all judgeship nominations are all about who you know.

And Justice Thomas clearly has good taste because there aren’t many Northern Illinois attorneys who don’t respect and revere Spence, and when you consider just how bizarrely incestuous the justice system is, that’s an incredibly rare accomplishment.

So, why is a man of Spence’s stature coming back to little old Kane County to run for state’s attorney, a job with more headaches than Donald Trump’s wives somehow get every evening? Who’d take a 25 percent pay cut to manage a huge but understaffed office, which regularly reports to the most bizarre County Board I’ve ever covered?

It’s the kind of thing that makes me believe Mr. Spence could use the services of a duly licensed psychotherapist.

To that end, I dug a little deeper, and believe it or not, in a turn even a bit too ironic for me, it all comes down to the same KCSAO sexual harassment scandal The First Ward has been working on for the better part of a year. And there’s a great lesson in humility in it for yours truly as well.

For those who don’t regularly read Quick Hits, I’m in the process of suing the KCSAO to force them to abide by an Attorney General’s ruling requiring them to turn over 255 pages of sexual harassment complaints against just one former prosecutor. Joe McMahon, who firmly believes his office is above the law, continues to defy that ruling.

So, here’s the connection.

One of the brave KCSAO sexual harassment victims not only came to me for help, but she also approached Judge Spence. Being a reason able man, either Spence, or he and Justice Thomas, met with McMahon and insisted he fire this prosecutor and dispense with the office “Boy’s Club.”

He or they told McMahon he was doing himself and the office a disservice by failing to address the harassment.

“But Jeff! Get to the humility part. We love it when folks take you down a notch or two! Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m gettin’ there!

I believed The First Ward was the catalyst for this prosecutor’s termination. Word was McMahon was terrified the explicit text that finally did him in would fall into my hands, and then it would go public. In my defense, had McMahon not canned him, four other ASAs were ready to turn over the text and that would’ve forced his hand.

But it never got to that point.

That means the prosecutor wasn’t fired because of me, he was fired because Judge Spence applied his typical due diligence and shamed McMahon into doing the right thing. Lord! Just when I thought my estimation of our State’s Attorney had finally bottomed out, it manages to plummet even further.

That revelation finally brings us full circle to our question. Aside from a mental defect, why would Bob Spence run for Kane County State’s Attorney?

On a simpler level, the life of an appellate court judge generally consists of reading legal briefs hour after hour, day after day, month after month, and year after year. Sure, you get the occasionally interesting oral argument, but for the most part, it’s not the most scintillating work.

Apparently, after 18 years on the bench, Spence wants to get back to his prosecutor roots. And word is, he wants to clean house and return the State’s Attorney’s Office to some semblance of the respect it had before McMahon almost destroyed it.

What that means is some major KCSAO heads will roll regardless of who prevails in 2020.

This doesn’t mean anyone’s handing Spence the race on a silver platter. Like most judges, he’s not the best campaigner having lost two 16th Circuit elections before he was finally appointed and won the requisite race to remain a full circuit judge. And it would be a huge mistake for Spence and the local GOP to underestimate Mosser who actually knows how to run a county-wide campaign.

Like I said! It will be interesting!

Quick Hits – Geneva Teachers Behaving Badly!

Now, I was gonna let this one go because, when it comes to campaign shenanigans, the Geneva Education Association (D304 teachers’ union) are but mere pikers. If you want a real study on how to subvert the electoral process, look no further than Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns or Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham.

Burns regularly mobilizes the entire city workforce on his campaign behalf and then gives the unions everything they want at contract time. And Jack blurs the lines on just about everything.

So, when you compare the GEA to that kind of blatant malfeasance, the teachers’ lapses were nothing more than mildly amusing. Ah! But after an astute reader sent me the union’s absurd response to the disciplinary measures leveled by the School District and Board, I just had to respond – if for no other reason than I’m in it!

When will people learn to stop poking the bear?

First, they had the temerity to accuse me of harboring mendacious qualities and then they went as far as referring to me as lowly “local blogger.”  The scurrilous cads! C’mon! Everyone knows I’m the scion of righteousness, virtue and all things sacred. Just ask my wife!


To wit, the scoundrels put the word “eyewitness” in quotes when referring to the source who told me about the GEA campaign material being delivered directly to the Geneva High School main office.

The truth is, there were two “eyewitnesses” to that bizarre breach, and let me tell you, they were hopping mad about this development, too. How do you think I found out about it? And if the staff knew it was a problem, are we really going to believe those teachers had no clue?

Apparently, none of those educators read the considerable coverage of the two St. Charles school board members who were sanctioned for simply seeking petition signatures on school grounds.

But that faulty GHS campaign material dissemination wasn’t nearly the only ethics violation! No! Our teachers’ fascinating capacity to neglect district policy and the law, included, but probably wasn’t limited to:

  • One teacher used the Middle School’s address when filling out PAC paperwork (freakin’ really?)
  • Seven teachers received campaign canvassing materials in their school mailboxes
  • Two participated in a GEA backed candidate Facebook Q&A session in an “unlocked” school classroom
  • One invited a GEA backed candidate to visit her kindergarten classroom

Sigh! My estimation of Geneva teachers is spiraling into the abyss as we speak, and it was pretty low to begin with.

There’s no point in naming names as it’s generally immaterial, and unlike the Union’s plan to smear me at every turn because they didn’t care for my strike columns, I actually have a conscience.

But just when you think it can’t get any worse, the GEA’s attempts to defend these ethical offenses were even more comical than that old “the dog ate my homework” excuse. It basically boiled down to the teachers’ vast ignorance of District policy and the law amounted to an automatic absolution since they never intended to abrogate either.

So, let me get this straight. If in the process of getting pulled over for doing 87 down Randall Road, I tell the officer I was unaware of the speed limit and had no intention of speeding, he’ll let me go with a smile and a pat on the back, right? Good to know!

And if one of my now matriculated son’s cell phones rang in the middle of a GHS class, the teacher wouldn’t consider confiscating the device because he didn’t “know” he’d get a call?

Though the real irony here is the GEA referring to their own rank and file as “ignorant.” Is that the label you really want to apply to educators?

Not nearly content with the damage they’d already done, the GEA proceeded to excoriate the heinous District and School Board for failing to allow these dire delinquents to “speak on their own behalf or ask questions.” But that’s not the way it works. Most forms of employment aren’t nearly based on democratic principles, and while a judge might listen to mitigating testimony, it won’t change their verdict, only the sentence.

A transgression is a transgression regardless of what did or did not inspire it.

Lastly, the GEA proceeded to rend garments and gnash their teeth after three of those teachers received “letters of direction” and four earned “letters of remedy.” A letter of direction is a simple reprimand, while the “remedy” variety could mean one more mistake and you’re out!

Given these specific circumstances, that’s exactly what should’ve happened. What the bleep did the union expect? A mild rebuke culminating in a group hug and a rousing round of Kumbaya?

We’ve previously discussed how Newton’s Laws of Motion apply to politics. So, when the GEA insisted on waging the kind of scorch and burn labor contract campaign that consisted of union head Kevin Gannon taking the art of lying to new heights while his supporters went after board members’ children, this was exactly the kind of equal and opposite reaction that any sixth-grader could’ve predicted.

And if I were a D304 teacher, I’d watch my step going forward.

I certainly understand Trump supporters’ capacity to create and reside in their own stilted reality, but I expect far more from our educators. Because this is exactly the kind of thing where they’d insist their young charges take responsibility for their actions, apologize, and promise to do better. But no! Being an overly entitled Geneva teacher clearly means never having to say you’re sorry.

All I can say is, thank God my children are done with D304.

Quick Hits – July 26, 2019

Since I’m actually taking today off to go kayaking on lovely Shabbona Lake, this will likely turn out to be an abbreviated Friday Quick Hits.


As the KCSAO FOIA denial court case turns

Just when you thought my pursuit of 255 pages of sexual harassment complaints against just one former Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office prosecutor could get any more bizarre, it does!

Having grown tired of me defeating them at every legal turn, the KCSAO farmed out the FOIA denial lawsuit defense to attorney Patrick Kinnally of Kinnally Flaherty Krentz, Loran Hodge & Masur. Apparently, there isn’t a single attorney in the entire State’s Attorney’s Office who can out-litigate me!

We won’t mention the fact that I somehow forgot to attach Exhibit 4 to the lawsuit. But not to fear Dear Reader, Mr. Kinnally graciously declined to object to its subsequent inclusion.


To be fair, and all artificial gloating aside, part of the reason the KCSAO brought in an outside attorney is the potential for me deposing Civil Division head Joe Lulves as part of the lawsuit process. You see, one cannot be deposed and also be the attorney of record. That’s what we call a “conflict of interest.”

But make no mistake! What this does mean is, you, the taxpayer, will be footing the bill for State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s blatant defiance of the Attorney General’s FOIA ruling. And at the rate they’re dragging their feet, the attorney’s fees won’t be adding up to chump change.

Because while Mr. Kinnally was kind enough to allow me to correct my errant complaint, he wasn’t nearly as accommodating in regard to my request to set up a briefing and hearing schedule, something quite common in civil cases.

As it stands right now, the first court date was automatically set for October 30, and that’s only a meaningless status hearing.

To be fair again, one of my multitude of attorneys (it takes a village) said that lawyers just LOVE to draw out civil cases as a matter of course, so it could be something as simple as that. But another of my on-call attorneys agrees with my contention that the KCSAO wants to delay the documents’ release until after the November 2020 election. That would give someone within that office a much better shot to win that race.

So, having learned how to write up a complaint (lawsuit), I turned my semi-immense legal skills to writing up a motion that essentially asks the judge to move things along. That motion was successfully e-filed just moments ago, and it will be heard by Judge Kevin Busch on August 8 at 9 a.m.

Never a dull moment, right? As previously promised, I will continue to keep you posted!


The book is out!

I can hardly believe it myself, but the full color paperback version of ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election?’ is finally up on Amazon. That means you can buy five copies for your mother right here!

Book Cover

I want to thank:

  • Ken Menzel, Illinois State Board of Elections Lead Counsel
  • Dave Rickert, Kane County Treasurer
  • Kurt Kojzarek, Former Kane County Board Member
  • Julia McClendon, Elgin Area YWCA Director
  • Kim Murphy, Former Oberweis Legislative Aide
  • Ben Marcum, Keith Wheeler Legislative Aide
  • Greg Rivara, Treasurer Michael Frerichs Communications Office
  • Fred Reklau
  • John Reeves
  • Jack Cunningham, Kane County Clerk
  • All the Local Election authorities across the country who took the time to talk to me

for not only making this book possible but making the research and writing process so much more enjoyable.

The Kindle and e-book versions should be available by fall.

I wrote a book!

Quick Hits – We Love Free Speech Until We Don’t!

Though I’ve certainly enjoyed some of our exchanges, I find John Kass’ Chicago Tribune columns to be dense, bizarrely conservative, and utterly illogical, so I generally avoid ’em. But I’ve never emailed his editors demanding he be fired – I simply move on to Steve Chapman’s piece.

So, it always baffles me when my adoring throng routinely insists that various social media venues block my columns. Apparently, not reading them isn’t nearly enough for some folks and free speech only goes as far their eminently delicate sensibilities.

But that ain’t the way the First Amendment works. The Bill of Rights provides no guarantee that some speech won’t disturb you, a stark reality that’s completely lost on the Geneva Police, especially in regard to their propensity for applying “creative charges.”

Remember! Those are their words, not mine!

Freedom of Speech

Of course, we’re talking about the Geneva man who was recently acquitted on three patently absurd disorderly conduct charges regarding anonymous racist snail mail sent to seemingly random social media users.

Taking a cue from President Trump, this individual excoriated his targets for their outright or tacit support of various liberal causes. While that’s certainly a bleep move, the “victims” should’ve simply issued a short sigh, tossed the missive in the circular file, and gotten on with their lives.

But no! Nothing is ever that simple, especially when it comes to my beloved Tri-Cities. Those folks just couldn’t chalk it up to the sad state of the hyper-partisan debate and let it go. They had to bring the Geneva Police into it and turn the proverbial mole hill into a full-blown Mount Everest.

The “victims” claimed it was the letter author taking the time to look up their addresses that frightened them and set this “incident” apart.

Really? As a result of my landline era journalistic training, give me a mere five minutes and I can find absolutely anyone, even if they have a common last name. Give me ten minutes and I’ll even come up with a judge’s address. It’s one of the vast “benefits” of that thing we call the “Internet.”

What the Geneva Police should’ve done is filed a report, filed the letters, and told the recipients that, since they contained no implied or direct threats, there was nothing more they could do. But no! Because they had nothing better to do, they thought they had a quick publicity win, and likely as a result of their relationship with victim Jill Johnson, they decided to turn a non-event into the crime of the century.

Please note that no real journalist would ever out the name of a crime victim, but our three letter recipients have actively sought the press to get their story in print.


Sadly, the only thing that really surprises me is that Kane County Associate Judge Salvatore LoPiccolo, Jr. actually had the cojones to find our missive writer not guilty. He said he found “the contents of these letters to be vulgar and offensive, but the state did not meet its burden of proof that the letters’ content were fighting words.”

Exactly! And isn’t that exactly what a judge is supposed to do? Put your personal predilections aside and primarily rule on the basis of the law? One can only hope LoPiccolo’s judiciousness (pun intended) rubs off on the rest of the 16th Circuit, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for very long.

Matt Haiduk

Matt Haiduk

And the Judge isn’t the only one who deserves credit here. I told him he was absolutely nuts to go with a First Amendment defense, something most judges can’t begin to handle especially with a disorderly conduct charge, but Geneva Attorney Matt Haiduk stuck with it and made it work.

C’mon! We all know “disorderly conduct” is a BS charge that basically amounts to contempt of cop.

Were it me sitting at the defense table, I would’ve argued that the “victims” were neither “alarmed” nor “disturbed” because anyone who regularly avails themselves of social media knows it’s a proposition perpetually fraught with peril. Have you seen some of the bleep out there?

And this verdict certainly does nothing to contradict the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office’s contention that the Geneva Police are beyond incompetent (they say it a bit differently), screwing up case after case.

But the real irony here is the aforementioned Ms. Johnson, a public figure by virtue of her recent school board run, is exponentially worse than our acquitted letter writer. Her scathing (non-racist) social media attacks, many anonymous, are so legendary that when she announced her candidacy, at least a dozen people came forward to warn a candidate I advised of what was likely to come.

Johnson told reporters she was “disappointed with the verdict,” but she, of all people, should be elated that her previous blistering attacks won’t be coming back to haunt her.

The bottom line is, if you don’t want people to “look you up” or have your fragile self-definition challenged, then don’t go on social media. Y’all should see some of the anonymous snail mail I get, but I simply laugh at the fact that I’m the most important person in some sad folks’ lives and send it off to my attorneys to entertain them.

As my sainted mother used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

And if I’m still standing after all these years, your average Facebooker has nothing to worry about. Get over yourselves! You’re not nearly that important!

Quick Hits – Breaking News

If my sources are correct, it would seem that cooler heads have prevailed and the City of Aurora will relent in their pursuit of forcing 19 child sex offenders out of the Wayside Cross Ministries at 215 East New York Street.

Aurora Director of Communications, Clayton Muhammad and I haven’t had the opportunity to speak yet, but my understanding is the City held a press conference this morning where they decided that, since the Illinois sex offender statute was a state law, they’d bow out and let the State enforce it if they so choose.

Wayside Cross 2

So, no one will be arrested when the 30-day warning period issued by the Aurora Police expires, and my understanding is the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office has provided similar assurances.

That means that, while these men will remain under the Ministry’s care and supervision for the foreseeable future, the question as to exactly how the 500-foot park buffer zone is to be measured and the constitutionality of other sex offender statute provisions will remain unanswered.

Perhaps those men will persevere in their Federal Lawsuit to finally have some closure in this regard.

Again, if my sources are correct, my hat’s off to Mayor Richard Irvin, Police Chief Kristen Ziman, and the City of Aurora in general for reversing course and understanding that the City is far safer with the Wayside Cross Ministries taking care of the least of our brothers.





Quick Hits – July 22, 2019

Let’s update a couple of stories we’ve been covering:


The Wayside Ministry residents sue Aurora

As a result of our coverage of Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s and Police Chief Kristen Ziman’s attempt to evict 19 child sex offenders from Wayside Cross Ministries on New York Street, an astute reader asked me exactly how the required 500-foot-from-a-park buffer zone is supposed to be measured.

Wayside Cross Ministries

And wouldn’t you know it! Having read the statute in its entirety, our legislators did manage to define several of the terms applied in the Illinois sex offender law, but they completely failed to outline the method of that measurement and define the word “park.”

Given that vast vagueness, those 19 men just filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Aurora claiming they live more than 700 from the children’s playground within nearby McCarty Park, and their religious rights are being abrogated by being forced to move.

Furthermore, the west-side door the men use to enter and exit the ministry building is more than 500 from the closest park boundary, and my experts tell me that’s all that really matters.

And they’re right! The statute specifically stipulates that sex offenders “may not reside within 500 feet of a school, park or playground,” with daycare facilities being added to the list in the next sentence.

So, it’s abundantly clear that the drafter’s intent, as absurd as it was, was to separate sex offenders from places where children congregate, but not from open land that’s not exclusively relegated to children’s activities.

Even if their intent wasn’t quite as obvious, just like it is with contracts, any ambiguity is automatically construed AGAINST the drafter of the document, which, in this case, is the State of Illinois. Put more simply, those men will prevail in this lawsuit on that basis alone.

Even though the Mayor suddenly finds himself treading water in the political pandering deep end of the pool, and despite the hefty Cost involved in defending any federal lawsuit, he’s not about to back down now because that would make him confused and weak.

And I still haven’t figured out why Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman hasn’t risen above the fray with her typical voice of reason, but make no mistake, serving as police chief is always a political proposition fraught with peril.

One of those Wayside residents astutely noted that if Mayor Irvin was successful in his eviction attempt, lacking the resources to secure housing, they’d all become homeless. Since homeless shelters won’t accept sex offenders, that would mean 19 of them wandering the streets of Aurora unsupervised. And what could possibly go wrong with that?

C’mon Richard! Is it really that hard to do the right thing? It certainly isn’t the first mistake you’ve made.


It’s just like trying to reason with third graders

Since no one ever listens to me, the City of Elgin insisted on going ahead with a 3.5-hour special Saturday City Council meeting where the private consultant presented their findings from their review of the Decynthia Clements shooting. The rabble, about 50 of ‘em in all, were allowed to submit 65 written questions, mostly in regard to Elgin Police Lt. Chris Jensen’s failure to keep his bodycam on at all times.

Though the consultant labeled that as merely an EPD protocol violation, Elgin had no such ordinance at the time and those learned folks still can’t figure out if the State statute actually applies here.

So, please let me help!

Jensen turned off his camera for one minute while speaking to his supervisors, which is more than understandable. Do we really want police departments to have to worry about being second guessed on the basis of conversations between police officers and command staff during a tense standoff?

No, we don’t! Some things simply aren’t meant for public consumption.

Elgin 2

Jensen also turned his camera off during the 30-minute period he was inside his patrol which is perfectly legal according to the Illinois statute, as long as that vehicle has a functioning dashcam. It did, and the event was recorded in its entirety, so there was no attempt to subvert the law.

And the spirit of the law is far more important than the letter of it.

To make matters exponentially worse, because they’re clearly smarter than the Illinois State Police, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the private consultant put together, City Councilmen Corey Dixon and Tish Powell, once again, removed all doubt by questioning the findings.

“Is it conceivable that she was stumbling forward versus lunging or charging out of the car,” Powell asked. Yes! It’s conceivable but it doesn’t fricken’ matter!

So, now our officers, while attempting to rescue a high-on-crack and recalcitrant victim from a burning vehicle, have to be able to discern whether an attacker is lunging or stumbling towards them with two knives? Really? Isn’t that a little too much to ask of anyone?

And remember, Tasers have proven to be utterly ineffective on people high on crack.

Councilman John Steffen, normally know for this rational thinking added, “I see the officers didn’t have the skillset needed for this type of a crisis.”

What? Aside from the slow-speed O. J. Simpson Ford Bronco chase, I haven’t seen a set of police officers be more patient with a difficult person while sitting on the shoulder of a major Interstate. And aren’t 90 percent of EPD officers already trained in crisis resolution?

Then one of the meeting attendees asked the City to “Please listen to the community” and fire Jensen.

I fervently hope they do listen because 50 council meeting attendees and a 1,600 signature don’t add up to any kind of majority. Though it has no bearing on resolving the issue, the vast majority of Elginites support Lt. Jensen and believe he should be reinstated. The fact that one group manages to be more vocal than the other is utterly immaterial.

When former Police Chief Jeff Swoboda personally stood in front of the police station and listened to the protesters, that act really meant something. But to continue to draw this eternal “discussion” out with when no minds are going to change as a result is as futile as trying to logically convince a third grader they can’t have that checkout lane candy bar.

You don’t argue with an eight-year-old.! You simply say “no!” and suffer any potential temper tantrum consequence. If the temper tantrum goes too far, then it’s the third grader who’s gonna be up for a healthy dose of consequences.

And that’s exactly what Mayor Dave Kaptain and City Manger Rick Kiozall should’ve done months ago. Now, in the words of that great philosopher Warren Zevon, the ending “ain’t gonna be pretty at all.”


Quick Hits – Why do Democratic Candidates Suck So Badly?

And just like Chaos Theory predicts, the suckage runs across the entire Democratic political spectrum from the insane federal level right down to little old Kane County.

To be clear, by suckage I mean:

  • Running when they have absolutely no shot
  • Their abject incapacity to frame a message
  • A consistent inability to connect with voters
  • No real understanding of the political process
  • An utter incapacity to govern once elected

It’s not that they’re bad people – some of my best friends are Democrats – it’s just a party-wide obliviousness that consistently baffles me.

Ironically, while a plethora of Republicans actually are bad people – anyone who supports Donald Trump – they still manage to get elected and they know how to tilt the governmental scales in their favor.

Think about the current absurd 2,973 candidate Democratic president field. Not a single one of ‘em blows my skirt up, not a single one of them knows how to effectively reach those critical heartland voters, and every last one of them thinks that a group dash to the left is the way to win an election.

Yes! Unanimously raising your hands on a debate stage in favor of giving undocumented workers national health insurance is exactly how you get that Iowa farmer to dump Trump and his ridiculous trade wars and vote for you.

Though it’s Somewhat better back here in good old Kane County, in the words of that great philosopher, Harry Chapin, it’s “nothing yet to make the folks write home,” as two recently announced Democratic candidates clearly demonstrate.

The first is Kane County Democratic Party First Vice Chair, Corrine Pierog, a terrible candidate who couldn’t win an election if she ran unopposed. Ah! But that blatant reality hasn’t stopped her from throwing her hat in the County chairmanship ring. To be fair, she did win a couple of school board races, but we both know those don’t count.

corrine pierog 2

In a state senate campaign against John Milner and two against the likes of Jim Oberweis, Pierog never managed to get more than 40 percent of the vote. She couldn’t even beat Oberweis, an abysmal campaigner himself, in the heavily Democratic City of Aurora.

Pierog said the reason she’s running is she doesn’t like current Chairman Chris Lauzen’s “leadership style.”

Oh lord! While I’ve certainly voiced my concerns about the Chairman’s often abrasive manner, at least he’s a leader. Meanwhile, Pierog doesn’t even know how to spell that word as she’s presided over more failed Kane County Democratic campaigns than the entire Italian army. Only a Democrat would run because the opposition has offended their delicate sensibilities.

What ever happened to simply having better ideas?

Pierog’s two platform planks are, the striking Kane County probation workers should’ve gotten everything they wanted and the County Board should’ve treated the Longmeadow Loons better.

Once again, I wholeheartedly supported the probation workers during that walkout, but there are political realities that can’t be ignored. And one of ‘em is, after Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust played chicken with the law enforcement GPS system and unduly disparaged the Chairman in the process, they made matters much worse by setting an impossible budget knowing the probation workers contract was up and they were willing strike.

So, when Boles came hat-in-hand to Lauzen for the money to settle the strike, he correctly refused to intervene because just like feeding pigeons, once you bail out one county office, the rest will be lining up at your office door.

Remember, the probation workers are but one 17 separate Kane County bargaining units, so if you want your taxes to skyrocket because the Chairman’s willing to give them everything they want, then Pierog is your candidate.

As far as the Longmeadow Loons go, they had 25 bleepin’ years to oppose that bridge, but they were too busying watching ‘Mama’s Family’ reruns to get their ample butts off the couch make their voices heard. It was only after the project was fully approved that they stormed various county board meetings, and they were so belligerent and nasty when they did that even mild-mannered board member Drew Frasz walked away from them.

Ms. Pierog! Respect goes both ways. Despite their downright truculence, I never saw the Chairman, or any board member, treat the Loons poorly. And as far as respecting “their position” goes, they’d settle for nothing less than no bridge at all and to further indulge them, and all the other local “activist” groups in their various crusades, would bring county government to a complete standstill.

County government is under no obligation to provide their constituents with group therapy sessions, either. What is about Democrats that they believe everyone has to feel good all the time? As that great philosopher Sheldon Cooper would say, “What is this? A hippie love-in?”

Pierog may come across as a kind-hearted grandmother, but don’t let that facade fool you. She uses that artificial demeanor to impose her blitheringly bad political beliefs on the rest of the Kane County Democrats further limiting their electoral viability.

And make no mistake, the fact that she’s running again after so many lopsided losses is nothing more than another massive ego trip. Instead of giving a candidate with a shot a clearer field, Pierog’s addiction to all the attention she gets from running means she’s not about to let it go anytime soon.

During her announcement press conference, Pierog noted she was standing on the same spot JFK delivered an October 25, 1960 campaign speech, which she liberally quoted. My response would be something along the lines of what the late, great Democratic Senator from Texas, Lloyd Bentsen once said, “Ms. Pierog, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”


Quick Hit’s Supplemental – Three Days to the Book!

I hope you all are sitting down because we’ve been here before, but I swear as soon as Amazon approves the paperback version of ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election,’ it will go live likely as early as Saturday.

It’s gonna be priced a little higher than my business coach and I originally had in mind, but since it costs $33.50 to print a 400 page, 8.5 by 11 book with a number of color photographs, Amazon won’t let us sell it essentially below a $59.95 price.

Book Cover

But trust me! Though I might be considered more than a bit biased, it’s well worth it. Campaign managers cost quite a bit more than that and this book covers absolutely every aspect of political campaigning in an outline format. Some of the chapters include:

  • Why are you running?
  • Pick a race you can win!
  • The nominating paperwork
  • You always need M.O.M. to win!
  • Signs
  • Social Media
  • Targeting your voters
  • The press

While other similar volumes provide generic big picture advice, ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election’ is actually a textbook with step-by-step instruction on how to run a successful local campaign.

“It’s gotta be a boring read,” you say? Au contraire! ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election’ employs more than a bit of that legendary Jeff Ward sense of humor and it’s peppered with “Real-world Examples” that not only entertain, but drive the main points home.

Some Kane County, Illinois politicians, might even find themselves in those short passages.

Put more simply, this is the most comprehensive book on local elections ever written. The Kindle and e-book versions will follow shortly!

Quick Hits – For Want of a Nail…

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

While that proverb is a perfect illustration of what we’re about to discuss, for what it’s worth, I could’ve gone with a little Buffalo Springfield instead:

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

The truth is, both passages accurately describe the State of the City of Elgin right now and it’s not going to get better anytime soon.

But if I had to pick the postulates that truly apply here and most deftly describe most underlying political dynamics, I’d resort to those Newtonian Laws of Motion with a little Aristotle thrown in for good measure:

  1. A politician will either remain at rest or in a uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force.
  2. For every political action, there is an equal and opposite political reaction.
  3. Like nature, politics abhors a vacuum.

Of those three postulates, understanding the third is most critical to any successful political endeavor. To wit, the current inexplicable Elgin leadership vacuum will continue to have vast repercussions for years to come.

Just like our lack of a nail allegory, the abject absence of any visible support for Elgin Police Lieutenant Chris Jensen, or the kind of leadership required to craft and stick to a reasonable message in regard to the tragic Decynthia Clements shooting, has created the kind of vacuum that has all sorts of political factions rushing in.

And that kind of reactionary politics is never a good thing.

It means you’ve completely lost control of the situation, and by “control,” I mean what you can control, like your response to what you can’t control. It’s a subtle but very important political concept.

First, Mayor David Kaptain never should have allowed Elgin City Council meetings to turn into keening sessions – by either side. I’m convinced he thought that by allowing folks to vent, it would ameliorate the rawest emotions but that only works when your husband leaves the toilet seat up at night, not for racially charged issues like this one.

Both the U-46 School Board and the Kane County Board have adopted rules stipulating if you’re simply going to say the same thing the last speaker just said, it’s a pointless waste of everyone’s time. Letting absolutely everyone speak on the Jensen question certainly hasn’t made the situation any better.

Second, especially in light of the reasonable reaction – by both sides – to the Cook County State’s Attorney clearing Jenson in early March, the City should’ve unequivocally declared he’d be back and that would’ve stopped the bleeding. They could’ve noted that his new role would be somewhat determined by the results of the pending internal investigation.

But no! Because the Elgin City bird should clearly be the ostrich, their head in the sand messaging methodology – where’s City Manager Rick Kozal? – created another vacuum allowing the anti-Jensen folks to rush in in the form of a 1,600-signature petition demanding his head and a billboard asking for “Justice for Decynthia.”

In turn, the Mayor’s and City’s failure to effectively respond to that message by offering even a modicum of support for Jensen produced yet another vacuum which saw the local Police Benevolent and Protective Association rush in with their own pro-Jensen Billboard.

Pro Jensen Billboard

So now, both sides are taking the competing billboards personally and all hell broke loose on social media complete with name calling, threats, absurd declarations, and a general failure to even begin to consider logic and reason. And that’s just a microcosmic harbinger of what’s to come in Elgin.

With the 2021 city council campaign season a scant year away, you can bet your bottom dollar both sides are mobilizing to take over the city council, and those kinds of bitter personal political campaigns and agendas never work out in a city’s best interest.

And it’s a particularly tragic turn at a time when Elgin is making real economic strides. So, a beyond contentious 2021 election and a fractured city council is the last thing the city needs.

But what really frosts my flakes is, all that was necessary to prevent this eminently predictable spiral into the abyss was for the City Manager to have the cojones to reinstate Jensen immediately after the CCSAO’s ruling. That’s when that political capital was at its highest. But no! Kozal has been scarcer than Waldo and that opportunity has passed.

And it’s about to get a lot worse, too.

My sources tell me Jensen will be back sometime in the fall, but he’ll be relegated to desk work for the rest of his EPD tenure. Ah yes! The proverbial horse designed by a committee always turns out to be a camel.

Am I the only one who realizes this is NOT a circumstance that demands compromise? With three separate agencies clearing him of any criminal charges, either you bring him back or you don’t, and if you don’t, then you suffer the legal consequences. Anything else is a chickenbleep response. Any football player will tell you the prevent defense doesn’t prevent a damn thing.

Whatever happened to doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do? Did you get elected to make the difficult calls or simply to stay elected? And let me tell ya, when Jeff Ward is the adult in the room, that really says something, doesn’t it?

“For want of a nail?” That describes Elgin to a T.