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.
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.
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.”