Quick Hits – On the Elgin Homeless Problem – Part 2

So, let’s continue with part 2 of what will likely be a three-part series on the Elgin homeless issue. Again, the word “homeless” applied herein refers to those chronically street-bound folks who, due to a mental illness or persistent addiction, refuse to avail themselves of the shelters and assistance Elgin regularly offers our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

My theory continues to be that, while every human being deserves a basic modicum of respect, the chronically homeless should not be allowed to co-opt the downtown such that they erase all the gains the City and businesses owners so painstakingly achieved over the last decade.

Given the unanimous positive public and private responses to last week’s column, clearly I’m not nearly the only one with a keen perception of the obvious here.

Also, in part one, I noted it was a rumor that set me on this journalistic quest. And that rumor was one or more city councilmen wanted the five-week experiment assigning two Elgin officers to the downtown 24/7 to fail, because they feared it would drive the homeless out into the neighborhoods.

And when the new program racked up 82 grand in overtime expenses in such a brief time, there seemed to be something to that hearsay. Ah! But as is often the case, the only thing right about that rumor was the overtime amount.

First, as Chief Ana Lalley and Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez explained, the homeless congregate in the central downtown area because that’s where the food, and thus, the free handouts are. Since there are generally no food outlets in the neighborhoods, the homeless have no incentive to migrate there. That means the worst consequence of any Elgin homeless enforcement effort is driving them to the downtown fringes as is currently case.

As for all that overtime, a spate of recent retirements has relegated the EPD to between 13 to 21 officers per patrol shift. And to pull two of them into dedicated downtown duty would put another area of the city at risk, so overtime was the only option.

As we speak, the EPD is in the process of training new officers, but that’s a year-and-a-half proposition and some of the candidates fail to make the cut.

Then there was the “leave the homeless and their belongings alone unless they act out” edict I previously described which turned out to be only partially true. It’s a lot like one of those Star Trek episodes where two civilizations have been at war for centuries, but no one can remember who or what stated it, so they just keep on fighting.

If there ever was such a City or EPD directive, it appears to go back to the previous City Manager Sean Stegal and previous Police Chief Jeff Swoboda, but it may even predate them. Since that information came from a couple of police officers, Chief Lalley said she’d make sure her department is aware that no such order exists.

Another source said the EPD has, indeed, been intensifying their homeless enforcement efforts with promising results.

But the best news is, that five-week downtown police presence worked so well the affected business owners collectively lauded the new “calmness.” In light of that success, Elgin has recently implemented or will proceed with the following new measures:

  • More informational signage
  • New HD cameras
  • Interactive parking garage kiosks
  • An updated personal property removal ordinance
  • A new downtown neighborhood watch
  • Hiring a downtown ROPE Officer

Last fall, signs were installed in each of the downtown parking garages outlining behavioral expectations as well as providing phone numbers for assistance, and there have been fewer homeless sleeping and storing personal property in those facilities.

Elgin Parking Sign 2

New hi-def cameras have been installed in the Spring Street parking deck which has seen the most homeless activity. The other parking structures will receive theirs shortly. The new cameras make it much easier to identify anyone committing an illegal act.

An updated ordinance requiring a 24-hour notice, instead of the previous seven days, before personal property is removed and impounded has resulted in less belongings being stored in public places, and particularly in the parking garages.

An interactive “kiosk” will soon be placed in each floor of the City’s three parking decks featuring a split screen display with rotating announcements and a live feed of each floor. That means no surprises as you make your way to your vehicle. Signs will be also be placed in the kiosk areas encouraging people to report questionable activities.

Since the police can’t be everywhere, the Downtown Neighborhood Association, in partnership with the Elgin Police, just created a downtown Neighborhood Watch, and Elgin is in the process of hiring a downtown ROPE officer (Resident Officer Program of Elgin) to better keep tabs on those pressing business district issues.

The bottom line is, City Hall is not nearly giving up on bringing balance to the downtown force as some sources – and even I – thought might be the case. And that’s the best news. But while Ms. Valdez, the Chief, and yours truly certainly see progress and potential future successes, the acid test will be how effective these measures are during the warmer weather months.

Though there’s always a collaborative effort involved in these kinds of municipal sea changes, as far as I can see, the catalyst behind these new initiatives is Elgin Public House owner Greg Shannon who appeared before the Elgin City Council last summer to tell them just how bad the chronic homeless problem had become.

Considering the lingering downtown Chicago street parking shortage, I’m sure Shannon was beyond frustrated with the nearby municipal garage being turned into a rather large homeless toilet. Again, Shannon isn’t the only one who complained, but he is one of the few with the cojones to directly address the City Council and demand action. Sometimes that’s all it takes!

That said, I still firmly believe this is a case of Elgin succeeding despite itself.

I’m convinced the only reason the homeless situation is suddenly improving is the combined efforts of Assistant City Manager Valdez and Chief Lalley. Without their capacity to accurately perceive a problem, reduce it to its least common denominator, and come up with a set of innovative fixes, this scenario would’ve likely ended with the five-week downtown patrols becoming an occasional and expensive band-aid solution.

So, along with Shannon, those two deserve a boatload of credit for being willing to tackle the downtown homeless problem head on. And I firmly believe it will continue to improve as a result.

 

In Wednesday’s (1/29) part three, we’ll discuss the Elgin leadership vacuum that incites a fear-based reactionary City Hall and the semi-phantom liberal force behind that pervasive and often crippling anxiety. The City Council certainly doesn’t seem too terribly interested in truly addressing this issue, either.

We’ll also talk about the lack of effective Elgin communication such that I had to explain these downtown initiatives to you. How did this generally good news stay under wraps? We’ll cover how, by consistently enabling the chronically homeless, Elgin’s Churches and pastors make this, and other problems, far worse than they need to be.

 

Quick Hits – On the Elgin Homeless Problem – Part 1

This is one of those columns that grew organically from the kernel of truth you generally find at the core of any unfounded rumor. As is often the case, the pursuit of a non-truth led to the truth, and after talking with more than a dozen people, you look up two weeks later and wonder where the time went.

And it’s in that very conversational regard that I want to thank Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley and Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez for taking 40 minutes out of their eminently busy day to finally put the exclamation mark on this fascinating journalistic quest.

Downtown Elgin

But before we get started, to quote a former disgraced President (not the current disgraced President), “Let me make this perfectly clear!” The word “homeless,” as used here, in no way refers to those individuals reeling from an unfortunate economic setback. No! Going forward, we’ll be discussing those individuals chronically on the streets as a result of mental illness or persistent addiction.

Put more simply, we’re talking about folks who are beyond any municipality’s help. No city has the resources to deal with the mentally ill on any scale, and though I like to believe redemption is always around the corner, if chronic addiction has led you to homelessness, there’s virtually no turning back.

At the outset of my fruitful conversation with Ms. Valdez and the Chief, they thought I was about to chastise Elgin for not doing enough. So, please let me also stipulate that I firmly believe The City in the Suburbs does too much for the homeless. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not issuing yet another conservative edict that utterly abrogates our duty to the  least of our brothers and sisters. It’s simply a matter of the law of diminishing returns. There’s always a point at which simply throwing more money at a problem makes no discernible difference.

Lastly, the twelve plus people I sought out in this regard included Elgin police officers, elected officials, business owners, and long-time residents. And their almost unanimous conclusion was, until Elgin Public House owner Greg Shannon addressed the City Council about this issue in July, the downtown Elgin homeless problem has gotten much worse since my halcyon Elgin radio show days.

And my sources cited a number of reasons for this startling shift, the most interesting of which is, unless they’re specifically acting out, the EPD has be instructed to leave the homeless and their belongings alone. And when those officers do write a nuisance ticket, those indigent folks simply tear it up and throw it back in their faces.

Some told tales of the Spring and Chicago parking garage turning into a homeless refuge with drunks sleeping in the stairwells and the persistent odor of urine and feces permeating the entire facility. The City did install a porta-potty on one garage level only to have the homeless defecate right next to it.

Others said Blue Box Café building owner Jerri McCue spent thousands of dollars repairing and rehabbing that building’s bathroom. It’s a homeless favorite because it’s set in the hallway of that unique indoor mini mall and they can come in through the back door unnoticed.

A couple of businesses owners told me that they and Public Works are beyond tired of cleaning up human excrement behind their buildings.

Some sources weren’t at all happy with the churches, and particularly those well-meaning Vineyard Church pastors who regularly feed the chronically homeless in Carleton Park while taking no further responsibility for their well-being.

The problem with those kinds of handouts is they incite the homeless into taking over the park every summer such that children and their parents completely avoid it. One business owner regaled me with a tale of being chased from the outskirts of Carleton Park as she tried to take photographs of the homeless occupants to bring to the City.

An elected official said that just one of the downtown homeless cost the city $500,000 in 911 emergency and other city services. Valdez disputed that total amount, but she did admit there was an individual who the City transported to the hospital 77 times in one year. And that ain’t cheap!

Taken at face value, these stories left me with a what-the-bleep kind of uneasy feeling. It seemed odd that City Hall would preside over an amazing downtown resurgence only to watch those gains slowly slip away through inaction. It made no sense.

Every human being on the planet deserves a basic level of respect, but that doesn’t mean the homeless, left to their own devices, should be ever be allowed to take a business district down with them. And that’s exactly what appeared to be happening.

What further troubles me is, much as it was throughout the absurd Lt. Chris Jensen saga, Elgin  City Hall seems gripped by an incomprehensible fear of some amorphous liberal force that will somehow rain down upon the city like the Holy Ghost if unduly aggravated.

 

On Monday, we’ll delve into the leadership vacuum that allowed this problem to persist and fester, and the steps Elgin is finally taking to restore balance to the downtown Force.

 

Quick Hits – January 21, 2020

Hey adoring throng! Please don’t start expecting a daily Quick Hits because it ain’t gonna happen. It’s just that the local news is coming hot and heavy right now, and as you already know, only I can provide the appropriate analysis.

Although, if the Daily Herald can start begging their readers for cash, perhaps I should do the same. At least you’ll get your money’s worth out of me!

 

Why does the phrase “no shame” suddenly come to mind?

Just when you think you’ve bleepin’ seen it all, there I was, reading long-time Chicago media columnist Rob Feder’s ‘Robservations’ this morning, when I realized those ancient Greeks were dead wrong! On occasion, there really is something new under the sun.

And that “something” is John Lampinen, Senior Vice President of the Daily Herald, in the worst possible GoFundMe panhandling tradition, begging readers to pony up half the cash for three new reporters! The only thing missing were the sunglasses, the wheeled cart with leg-hiding blanket, and a sign reading “A grateful war veteran thanks you!”

(Google Eddie Murphy Philistines!)

“These additions will greatly help us better cover the suburbs,” Lampinen said, “They will beef up local coverage following the historic challenges the newspaper industry has confronted for the last decade.”

Daily Herald Building

According to Rob, “Report For America will provide half of the funding for three reporters and another for Paddock Publications’ Southern Illinois operation. Donations are tax deductible.”

This of course begs the question, if you can’t get people to pay for your newspaper, how in the bleep are you going to get them to paying for your staff – which isn’t a one-time expense, by the way!

And isn’t the Daily Herald a for-profit proposition? Will there be profit-sharing for people gullible enough to contribute? Have I mentioned the whole “no shame” thing already?

Why would the Daily Herald need more reporters to not break the stories they’re already not breaking? And why would we pay for more reporters so we could not read more stories than we’re already not reading?

How about actually performing some real journalism and due diligence instead? Oh, that’s right!  But breaking real stories requires real sources and developing sources means sacrificing short-term gain (Internet hits) for a greater long-term benefit.

You see, when you earn a reasonable reputation and you work at developing sources, if you do it long enough, the sources will start coming to you!

I’m so flippin’ tired of hearing about “the historic challenges the newspaper industry has confronted” when virtually every one of those “challenges” is just another self-inflicted wound that an ADHD sixth grader could’ve predicted. Even the Chicago Tribune is begging for some sort of billionaire savior to rescue them from Aiden Global Capital’s slash and burn management methodology

How about, God forbid, instead of perpetual whining, those publishers actually decided to try something different? Holy bleep! If they were covering a government entity that refused to accept reality by continuing to engage in the same endeavor while magically expecting a different result, those papers would bleepin’ tear them a new one!

But no! They can’t possibly apply the same sort of scrutiny to themselves! If those Tribune writers put half that effort into outside-of-the-box writing and analysis, they wouldn’t have to face fending off a poor suitor. Pay the Daily Herald to hire new reporters so I can further pay them to read their non-stories? I think not, Dear Readers!

And I fervently hope you’re not stupid enough to fall for this, either!

A number of folks have been pressing me to monetize this blog for the last two years. Considering this non-starter, I think it may be time!

 

Don’t Worry, Dalton’s getting moved!

Ye really do have little faith, don’t you? Despite my generally applied due diligence almost always bearing fruit, the second some of you bleeps hear something slightly askew, you insist on coming straight at me with some scurrilous suspicions that either I or my sources suck.

But as it turns out, that miserable excuse for a human being known as Kane County Judge John Dalton will not be removed from family court on 1/24 as originally indicated, but he will be removed! The hitch in our courtroom rotation giddyap is the unclear arrival date of Kane County’s newest associate judge.

If, God forbid, our elected men and women in black choose the Kane County State’s Attorney’s chief felony prosecutor Bill Engerman, the move will come sooner rather than later because his position will be filled quite quickly.

Conversely, if Aurora attorney Reggie Campbell gets the nod, the more likely possibility, he’ll need at least a month to settle his law practice. Once his clients are taken care of, he’d likely be seated sometime around March 1.

So, if you have a pending appearance before the only man on the planet who makes Donald Trump look good, file a motion for a continuance – don’t ask for one in court because the sadistic Dalton certainly won’t grant it. A formal motion is no guarantee, either, but it gives you a far better shot.

And since we’re talking, my sources tell me the new courtroom 101 judge will be The Honorable Julia Yetter who’s developed quite a decent reputation in her very short time on the bench.

Please understand, SHE WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY AND IMMEDIATELY OVERTURN ALL OF DALTON’S PREVIOUS RULINGS. Please provide her with an opportunity to become familiar with your case, provide EVIDENCE to support any new motion you or your attorney might make, and please, please, please, make it clear that you have the best interest of your children in mind.

Judges do respond positively to that kind of approach.

Now I want to hear a collective apology from all you doubting Thomas’s. I’m waiting…

 

A small request!

You know I love to see all those Geneva Women’s March photographs particularly because they stir the political soul, but because it was wayyyyy too bleepin’ cold and icy for my bony white butt to be out there.

So, let’s briefly take stock!

As if to prove it exists, the good Lord Herself seems intent upon sending swift proof of climate change every time you ladies take to the streets! Last time it was a polar vortex, and this one was beset by rapidly descending temperatures, ice, windchills hitting two degrees above absolute zero, and heavy wet snow that clearly came from the core of a distant neutron star.

With all of that noted, would it be too much to ask y’all to move these semi-regular marches to July? I’d even settle for April if your busy schedules would permit it. That way I’d be more than happy to join you and cover the march it directly.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let me know if that works for all of you!

Quick Hits – A few good Geneva women and men – please!

Sadly, my efforts to recruit a 2021 Geneva mayoral candidate, as well as several of the aldermanic variety, aren’t going nearly as well as I’d hoped. Despite some serious financial backers, it would seem the insidious issue is, anyone harboring half-a-brain, a capacity to consider tomorrow, and a reasonable moral mooring is far too prudent to run for a job that requires a ton of time, pays virtually nothing, and generally solicits a slew of criticism.

Another difficult hurdle in this regard is, while our local elected officials have a far great impact on our wallets and well-being, we inexplicably prefer to focus on their statewide and national counterparts.

Run for Office

But I’m not ready to throw in the electoral towel quite yet! An outstanding five-tool Geneva First Ward candidate recently approached me, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that campaign. Current alderman Mike Bruno, and his single-minded insistence on all things historical preservation, really needs to go.

“Jeff? I’ve heard of a five-tool baseball player before, but can you please explain a five-tool candidate?”

Absolutely! A five-tool candidate has:

  • Money
  • A great message
  • Charisma
  • Electability
  • And they play well with others

What that means is I’m still looking for:

  • A Third Ward aldermanic candidate
  • A Second Ward aldermanic candidate (only if Rich Marks doesn’t run again)
  • A Fifth Ward aldermanic candidate
  • A mayoral candidate.
  • Two (and maybe three) non-union supported school board candidates

Rich! You need to get in touch with me sooner than later because you’ve clearly earned a fourth term if that’s your thought, and we certainly work well together campaign-wise.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jeanne McGowan also deserves a second term. I can’t remember enjoying a more effective collaboration with an elected official in getting things done. Though I’d certainly like to see some of her fiscally conservative tendencies surface, Jeanne is the reason I haven’t been writing about Geneva nearly as often these days.

If you can take care of something behind the scenes, it always works out better for everyone involved.

All that said, we do desperately need a new mayor and whomever that enterprising individual turns out to be needs to make their intentions known somewhat soon so perennial also-ran Tom Simonian doesn’t make it a three-way race which will assure Mayor Kevin Burns’ reelection.

Before you start running for the crawl space, I’m not talking about remaking Geneva in my image! Not even I would want that. But please note just how well so many of my former clients are doing:

  • Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin certainly has that city humming along
  • Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain is doing a great job and working quite well with Chairman Chris Lauzen
  • Geneva’s own Rich Marks, the only alderman to survive the 2017 Simonian bloodbath, continues to be a city council voice of reason
  • A brilliant and insightful D304 School Board member continues to serve with grace and distinction

Furthermore, I’m not nearly the only Genevan who believes we need:

  • A more effective, responsive and far more principled Mayor
  • A more independent City Council
  • A new City Manager
  • We don’t need an Assistant City Manager
  • More respectful and responsive City employees
  • A far more effective salting and snow removal effort
  • Union contracts that reflect today’s realities
  • A more fiscally conservative Mayor and City Council
  • Real leadership in the face of a rapidly deteriorating Third Street business district
  • And some immediate attention to our sewer and roadway infrastructure

If you’re interested in the municipal government challenge, it’s not all that difficult to get ahold of me. What’s in it for you? Quality candidates will receive:

  • My considerable campaign managing services at no charge to them
  • A copy of my new book ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election’
  • Potential financing from Geneva Business owners desperate for change
  • Ongoing counsel on how to navigate the vagaries of city government
  • My eternal gratitude for making Geneva a better place

We all regularly engage in the tried and true national pastime of kvetching about our elected officials, but here’s an opportunity to actually do something about it. So, how about it Genevans?

 

 

Quick Hits Special – My Eulogy!

Given my recent run in with the national Teamsters Union, I’ve asked a number of you motherfuckers to come up with my eulogy. But despite that myriad of requests, only my Elgin-based female curmudgeonly counterpart, Sharry Lynn Blazier, managed to follow through.

Make no mistake, I’m still here – I had Leslie start the car this morning just to be on the safe side – but how many people are endowed with the rare opportunity to read their own obituary?

And it’s a really good one, too!

So, despite the fact you’re all a constant source of disappointment, I will share it with all you ungrateful bastards! I’d continue but this fond farewell has me quite verklempt!

 

RIP Jeff

Good afternoon, fellow mourners,

… and I use the word “mourners” a tad questioningly, since I note many of you present are clinking champagne flutes and giggling giddily. Could you please refrain for a few minutes? And save some bubbly for me? … Thank you.

It is my honor, just such an honor, to have been asked by Jeff Ward himself to perform this sad task when his time came, because I just sooooo flippin’ much wanted to spend my day off wearing a dress and nylons, delivering a eulogy for someone I never even met.

But I grieve as I stand before you, as I come to grips with the reality that Jeff’s gone, and that I need to buy Queen size panty hose again, because the crotch on these regular sized mofos is halfway to my knees right now.

But I digress. We are gathered here today to remember Jeff Ward, whose gruesome dispatch to the Great Beyond has left us all … completely unsurprised, I think would be the accurate term? Indeed, friend and foe alike, I think we are all wondering: What the hell took so long?

And, just who was Jeff Ward, anyway? How did this Evanston boy end up in Kane County, annoying the crap out of so many politicians, police officers, judges, attorneys, doctors, firefighters, teachers, union leaders, neighbors, liberals, conservatives, sports fans, appliance repairers, homemakers, electricians, drywall installers, hair stylists, plumbers, fashion designers, farmers, car wash attendants, women, children, all other carbon-based life forms, and even some inanimate objects?

I dunno. I don’t really even care. The important thing is, once Ted Kaczynski was definitively proven to be the Unabomber and the feds cleared Jeff, he wound up here in the Fox Valley.

Let’s face it: Jeff didn’t play well with the other kids in the print media sandbox. He called ’em like he saw ’em, and nothing gets a guy in more trouble than that. Especially in a Chicago collar county where many are easily lulled into complacent belief that we don’t have any of that big city corruption out here where there is still a cornfield or two.

So he forged his own media outlet, in the form of his First Ward blog, where no editor could tell him no. Sometimes I cheered Jeff on in his commentaries and bold exposes. Sometimes I cringed, thinking him off-base, or unnecessarily harsh with personal digs. A lot of times … ehhhh, I didn’t get around to reading his column. He was way the hell prolific, often a column a day, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Oh, sure, Jeff could be a giant ass-ache, but, hey, look at that squirrel frolicking in the tree outside the window, how cuuuuuuute! … What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Jeff’s knowledge of Kane County law enforcement agencies and its judicial system is nothing short of legendary, and that’s just from his experience on the arrestee and defendant side of it. [note to self: bring drummer with to funeral, to do pa-RUMP-pahhhhh rim shots].

On the journalist side of it, Jeff had his eye on everybody. Everybody. From Batavia to Geneva to St. Charles to Elgin to Dundee and slightly more bucolic points east and west thereof, if it was an elected or an appointed office, Jeff Ward knew who held it, and could tell you in precise detail the 100 ways in which that office’s present holder and 20 predecessors were total assholes.

Republicans hated Jeff because they assumed from a coulmn or two that he was a Democrat. Democrats hated Jeff because they assumed from a column or two that he was a Republican. Evangelical Conservatives hated Jeff because he called them out on their un-Christian attitudes. Progressives hated Jeff because he hated their bullshit lingo like, “micro-aggressions.” In terms of pure political labeling, Jeff was a man without a party. And he relished that independence.

But he did have his friends and supporters, and I am 78.691% proud to have counted myself among them.

And now to his terrible demise. We all have our theories as to who finally did Jeff Ward in. Probably we will never know, seeing as the Geneva police have already closed their homicide investigation, after restricting it to asking a Ouija board, and reporting that the planchette immediately scooted to “Good-Bye” and fell over the edge. Then, they went to lunch. Since that’s just the sort of Kane County scandal only Jeff Ward would have taken a big bulldog journalist chomp out of, the story will sadly end there.

Having no actual full body for autopsy, all we can be sure of is that the blood trail begins at his home computer keyboard, proceeds through his house to the driveway, and ends with a huge coagulated puddle in the trunk of a plateless 1972 El Camino found abandoned next to a Teamster’s Hall construction site that was bitterly opposed by stuffed-shirt area residents as harmful to their property values. So, could go either way, really, or have been a collaborative effort.

Apparently, Jeff, upon his killers breaking into his home, realized what a great scoop he had, and instead of dialing 911 immediately began writing a First Ward Supplement. His last typed words were, “My Biggest Story Ever!: Covering My Own Murd ”

Without a corpse, some speculate that Jeff can’t be assumed dead. Forensics experts, however, assure us that nobody could live after the loss of so much blood … and their typing fingers. The cremains of which we consecrate to the earth today in this snack-size ziploc baggie, lovingly and ironically wrapped in his trusty Kevlar vest that he just didn’t have time to put on.

I like to think that Jeff is hanging out with other journalists killed when they pissed off the wrong people. RIght now, he’s probably holding a can of wine with his palms, trading their mob abduction stories with shoeless Molly Zelko.

We will all have our memories of Jeff. As for me, I’ll think of him whenever I see a woman doing doughnuts on a scooter in a Walmart parking lot, drinking booze from a Pringle’s can. I’ll think of Jeff every time someone else calls me, “Young Lady.” So … I won’t think of Jeff very often at all, I guess …

Wait. I will think of Jeff, every time a Sheldon Cooper presents Sheldon Cooper’s Fun with Flags with Sheldon Cooper segment pops up on a Big Bang Theory rerun. I will think of Jeff whenever I get a Messenger DING! at 6 in the morning. We may never have met, but we did talk each other through some rough times, and congratulate each other in victories.

I will miss him.

In closing, Jeff’s widow, the Lovely Leslie, has asked me to let you all know that Jeff’s fantastic collection of sports and superhero memorabilia just now went up on ebay.

Thank you.

Quick Hits – January 17, 2020

Do you think they’ll tell me where Jimmy Hoffa is buried?

Now I’ve gone and done it! Despite my winning personality and utterly uncanny capacity to make new friends, I’ve managed to rile the entire national Teamsters Union. And that’s no small task when you consider their logo consists of two horses – the only animal that sleeps standing up!

It all started with yesterday’s Quick Hits where I congenially noted that, while the formerly striking Kane County probation workers were getting picked off by their bosses, Teamsters Local 330 wasn’t doing a damn thing about it.

Well… That’s not exactly true. To be fair, they still somehow manage to collect those union dues.

Teamsters Jacket

So, always being the helpful sort, I called a Washington D.C. Teamster staffer to politely explain my dismay over this unfortunate turn of events. Why, I may have even left a voicemail inquiring as to why I was doing the Teamsters’ job and exactly who she slept with to get her’s.

Now, before you hit the “send” button, I genuinely believe it was an abundantly fair question. First, her name is Ash Latimer which is clearly one of those artificial 22-and-a-half shades of burnt sienna appellations. And second, her discernible skillset consists solely of flying out to strike locations, asking a local journalist for advice while looking beyond bored and constantly referring to her cellphone, and then ignoring that sage counsel and doing the polar opposite.

To say the Teamsters mismanaged the probation workers strike would be the mildest of understatements. Yes! Sending your strikers out to knock on random doors to explain to the person behind that door that they’re less safe because the two folks standing at their door aren’t at work is always a winning strategy.

I’m sure they got all sorts of hugs that day!

So, as I was fully engaged in a post dinner nap because sitting at a keyboard all day can be quite exhausting, I received a delightful call from a D. C. Teamsters’ staffer who not only failed to note his position, but refused to identify himself.

It was only after I called him back and got his voicemail that I finally learned his name was Todd Thompson. And Todd just happens to be Teamsters Union President James P. Hoffa’s executive assistant. To quote the great James Cagney, “Made it Ma! Top of the world!”

Since Todd and I have become such good friends, I will hereafter refer to Todd as “Todd” and not Mr. Thompson, because Todd wouldn’t want it any other way.

Having propelled me directly out of a dream in which Zoe Saldana finally called me back, Todd proceeded to completely castigate me, explaining in no uncertain terms that he would be going directly to my supervisor tomorrow morning which, of course, would be this morning.

Now, I know that kind of threat would strike fear in the hearts of most mere mortals, but I’m kinda hoping Todd actually does find my boss because I have a few choice words for that m**********r.

She makes me write three columns a week; she makes me say things diametrically opposed to my heartwarming personality; she loves to call local law enforcement to get me in trouble; and then she doesn’t pay me one thin dime for my journalistic efforts.

So, not only did I encourage Todd to go directly to my “supervisor,” but I politely proceeded to ask him who he slept with to get his job. And I’m kinda surprised he didn’t take that very well because no self-respecting woman would ever sleep with anyone named “Todd Thompson,” and to even infer that possibility was the highest of compliments.

Apparently, you just can’t make some people happy! And who knew someone named “Todd Thompson” could get that angry? I’m not sure how I did it, but I musta struck a nerve.

And just when I was about to ask Todd where Jimmy Hoffa was buried, he hung up on me! When I called Todd back to explain that friends like us don’t hang up on each other, Todd hung up on me again. The nerve!

So, despite the fact I don’t send any, I’ve crossed Todd off my Christmas card list! Let’s see him recover from that cruel twist of fate!

I’m sure upon Googling me, Todd will unearth my heinous criminal history which will most certainly lead to a Teamsters’ job offer.

So here’s my eminently amicable advice for my new friend Todd, Ash, and Local 330 President Dominic Romanzzi. Why don’t you get up off your bleepin’ collective overpaid fat union asses and actually do something about an overly vindictive Kane County Court Services management that’s systematically targeting union probation workers in an effort to get those former strikers to quit?

I understand that, right before he died, Jesus told the Teamsters not to do anything until He gets back, but perhaps you might want to make an exception because I don’t bleepin’ get paid to do your bleepin’ jobs. Perhaps you might even consider directing your anger at Court Services instead of a journalist who’s simply pointing out how your useless Union completely fails its members.

Now that I have the national Teamsters’ full and undivided attention, I’m not quite sure what I’ll do for an encore. Hmmmm! Maybe I’ll call the Amish and see if I can rile them up, too. That would be a challenge but, apparently, I’m up to the task!

 

A frighteningly fun Vargo’s Dance event!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it does! Because, on January 25, Vargo’s Dance at Route 38 and Second Street in beautiful downtown Geneva is hosting a Murder at the Masquerade – Dance Lesson & Mystery!

As studio owner Jamie Vargo put it, “We couldn’t be more excited to bring out the one and only Chicago’s Murder Mystery Company to Vargo’s for an intriguing evening of dance, murder and mystery.”

All I can say my lovely wife and I are beyond giddy over the possibility.

The studio doors open at 6 p.m. and the festivities kick off with a free Prosecco toast, a beginner’s dance lesson at 6:30, a murder, and then it’s time to solve the mystery!

You must be 21 or older to attend, cocktail attire is required (no jeans or t-shirts), wearing a mask is highly encouraged (basic masks will be provided), and you can count on the actors making fun of the attendees.

Having grown used to the women in the Tuesday night dance class consistently and collectively correcting me, I’ve kinda gotten used to that kind of thing.

Oh! It’s an eminently reasonable $30 per person, you don’t have to attend as a couple, but reservations are required. Please call Vargo’s Dance at 630-232-2990 to reserve a spot! You can pay over phone or in person at the event.

It’s BYOB, too!

Space is limited, so please make your reservation ASAP! Feel free to email vargosdance@gmail.com with any questions and the delightful Jamie will swiftly respond.

Of course, given my recent raft of prose, there may actually be a real murder that evening, but sadly, there would be no mystery as to why it happened! Jamie’s already preparing the eulogy and peppering it with MFs, SOBs and pain in the asses.

I certainly hope to see you there!

 

Our first story reminds me of a joke!

A dedicated Teamster was attending a convention in Las Vegas when he decided to check out the local brothels. When he got to the first one, he asked the madam, “Is this a union house?”

“No,” she replied, “I’m sorry, but it isn’t.”

“Well, if I pay you $100, what do the girls get?” the Teamster responded.

“The house gets $80 and the girls get $20,” the madam replied.

Mightily offended at such an unfair arrangement, the Teamster stomped off in search of a more equitable and hopefully unionized shop. His search continued until he finally reached a brothel where the madam responded, “Why, yes, sir! This IS a union house.”

Giddy with anticipation, the Teamster asked, “And if I pay you $100, how much do the girls get?”

“The girls get $80 and the house gets $20,” the madam replied.

“That’s more like it!” the Teamster said. He handed the madam $100, looked around the room, pointed to a stunning blonde and said, “I’d like her for the night.”

“I’m sure you would, sir,” the madam replied pointing to a well-worn 85 year-old woman standing in the corner, “but Ethel here has seniority.”

 

Quick Hits – January 16, 2020

It’s down to two!

Though I firmly believe a number of applicants’ resumes are superior to the two finalists, our remaining Kane County associate judge contenders are Bill Engerman and Reggie Campbell.

And as we’ve previously discussed, Engerman is just another old white male prosecutor with a beyond questionable misogynist history and a capacity to quickly lose his cool in court. Do we really need another prosecutor with absolutely no other legal experience serving on the bench?

Meanwhile, Reggie Campbell is a well-regarded and well-rounded black attorney who not only spent four years in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, but has almost 20 years of legal experience as a partner in a longstanding Aurora law firm that serves a variety of clients.

So, in a Circuit where the judges are 70 percent male, 83 percent white, and 0 percent black, considering that Campbell’s clearly the better candidate, it would seem those full circuit judges have been blessed with one of those too-rare obvious choices this existence rarely presents.

Please don’t disappoint me and particularly the people of Kane County Your Honors!

 

It ain’t any better at probation!

Seeing Director of Court Services Lisa Aust at this morning’s Kane Count Board Judicial and Public Safety committee meeting reminded me that I’ve been meaning to follow up on the fallout from last summer’s probation worker’s strike.

Sadly, there’s no happy ending here.

My myriad of sources have been remarkably consistent in their tales of Aust and Court Services management targeting the strikers in an effort to get them to quit. And by “targeting” I mean using bogus grievances to go after them.

It starts with a criminal defendant on probation filing a formal grievance against their probation worker. That’s not uncommon because they know how to game the system and those staffer’s caseloads are so absurdly large that’s it’s difficult to do an effective job.

That would generally be no big deal, but here’s the catch! Someone deep within the local Teamsters Union recently reached out to explain that every single grievance Aust has pursued since the walkout has been against a striker. Complaints against non-striking staff simply get thrown in the circular file.

Aust

Lisa Aust

At least one former probation worker simply set his keys on the desk and walked out of the office as a result of this BS.

What’s the real irony you ask? The real irony is, one of the managers who’s doing all the dirty work is on probation for a recent DUI. And the reason Ms. Aust didn’t fire him outright, as she should have, is she knows she has him by the short hairs and he will unerringly do her bidding.

So, where are the Teamsters, you ask? I wish I knew! Not only did they completely mismanage the strike, but President Dominic Romanazzi and Local 330 have inexplicably thrown these probation workers to the wolves.  To wit, I just called the national Teamsters office and tore them a new one.

So, Chief Judge Hull! Since you deserve a vast amount of credit for so swiftly resolving the Judge John Dalton problem, here’s another one. We clearly need a new director of Court Services because no probation officer should EVER have to work under these circumstances.

Please feel free to call me in this regard.

Normally, I would’ve reached out to Ms. Aust in this regard, but she’s never responded to any of my eminently congenial overtures, so what’s the point? Ah well! I suppose there’s always next month’s Judicial and Public Safety meeting.

I’ll be there!

 

Dave Rickert’s Statement

Since we’ve already run Chairman Chris Lauzen’s statement, it’s time to print the Republican Kane County Chairman nominee’s! Here’s what Treasurer Dave Rickert had to say at yesterday’s press conference:

“I would like to thank each of you for coming here today as I kick off my campaign for County Chairman. The outpouring of support for my campaign has been utterly over-whelming. I am truly honored to have the backing of current County Chairman Chris Lauzen. Chris has dedicated his career to public service. First, as an accomplished legislator in the Illinois State Senate; then, serving as County Board Chairman diligently protecting the interests of taxpayers by running a lien efficient county. Chris has established high standard of accomplishment for the next chairman to follow. I also appreciate the advice, encouragement of the elected officials and dignitaries that are in attendance today.

Rickert

Growing up in Kane County and now raising my family here, I have a very strong attachment to the Fox River Valley with all the benefits it has to offer. It does not seem too long ago that I graduated from Dundee-Crown High School and served both in the Army and Army Reserve. As a beneficiary of the G.I. bill, I was able to afford the expense of going to college. First, I attended Elgin Community College and earned my associate degree. From there, I pursued my degree bachelor’s degree in Finance at Northern Illinois University and was eventually able to complete my education with a master’s degree from Roosevelt University.

My up-bringing and military experience both provided me the drive to push toward higher education and to use my skills in the serve my country. The position of Chairman has been on my mind for many years, if elected, I plan to continue to carefully consider the needs of the taxpayers and direct the County government to meet those needs in the most efficient manner possible. As Treasurer have always strove to bring the highest quality of work and service to my office in the most efficient manner possible. I hope to bring this same can-do attitude in serving all the departments at the County. It is my intention to provide a listening ear and be a voice for all commonsense initiatives that will provide improved services and lower costs. I want to thank all of your advice wisdom and support.”

I think Dave will make a great chairman.