Quick Hits – Mercifully, the Jensen Saga Comes to a Close

My sources told me that Elgin Police Lieutenant Chris Jensen’s return from 1.5 long years of administrative leave would come on Tuesday, September 3, but his full reinstatement actually came the next day. I chose not to share that information so neither side could organize a protest ahead of time.

For now, Lt. Jensen will be relegated to off-the-street duties which, when you consider the lingering bad feelings, probably isn’t a bad idea. I can tell you from personal experience that, though this too shall pass, he will continue to have to face the court of public opinion for the foreseeable future. This is one instance where that legendarily short American attention span might not be a bad thing.

But now that the most difficult chapter in this long story has ended, it’s a good time to review the process and see just where one of my favorite cities stands.

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1. In the end, Elgin did the right thing

Since I’ve already expounded on Jensen’s inevitable return at length, there’s no need to cover old ground. Suffice it to say that when three separate independent agencies clear you of any criminal wrongdoing, termination is not an option.

2. But the lack of Elgin leadership is truly astonishing

Even at this late stage, Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley, the one who made the final call to bring Jensen back, has been unceremoniously thrown to the wolves. Neither Mayor Dave Kaptain, City Manager Rick Kozal, nor Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley have issued any kind of statement in support of Lt. Jensen or the Chief’s decision, and that really sucks.

Not only is it an inexplicable and abject failure to lead, but it’s a massive moral failure, too. Since they seem more concerned with protecting their own posteriors than the city they’re sworn to serve, all three of them need to go.

3. This decision took far too long

Eighteen months? Please! It should’ve taken no more than six. All this bizarre lapse did was play into a small group of protesters’ hands and offer them the false hope that Jensen actually would be fired.

To leave a 20-year officer with a stellar track record twisting in the wind like this was flippin’ inexcusable. What kind of candidates are going to apply to the EPD now? I thought I was the master of aggravating both sides, but I ain’t go nuthin’ on the City of Elgin.

4. I’m even more disappointed in the Elgin clergy

I didn’t set that tough Christian standard, but I’m always more than happy to apply it to those who purport to preach it, but somehow never seem to get it right. I’m an opinion columnist which makes it my job to judge, but those pastors who repeatedly called for Jensen’s head – without due process – clearly have never picked up a Bible. If they have, they certainly missed the whole “Judge not lest ye be judged” part.

Whether it’s the ministers who refuse to call out Trump supporters or this blatant case of pandering to their congregations, the Elgin pastors’ participation in this debacle had nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with the collection plate.

And this schism between the Elgin Police Department and certain churches won’t be healing anytime soon, either.

5. The City Council wanted to have their cake and eat it, too

Some were better than others, but this was the time they should’ve either taken control of the situation or simply kept their collective mouths shut. Unable to come to any kind of consensus, the council left the Jensen decision to Chief Lalley which should’ve been the case from the start.

And for some of them to comment on what would clearly become a litigation issue is utterly beyond the pale. Just like those pastors, they chose to serve themselves and not the constituents that elected them.

6. Tish Powell’s and Corey Dixon’s political careers are over

In the words of that Holy Grail knight, “They chose poorly.” Powell and Dixon completely misjudged public sentiment and wound up pandering to a group of people who’d vote for them regardless.

But those moderate swing voters who put them over the top won’t likely cast a ballot for two councilmen who tried to publicly lynch a long-serving police lieutenant. Not only will their ill-advised statements come back to haunt the City in the pending civil suit, but the police union will pour serious campaign cash into seeing they’re defeated.

They may be able to hang onto their council seats for another term, but as far as their obvious political ambitions go, stick a fork in them, they’re done!

7. The Clements’ civil suit will fail

The City of Elgin is notorious for not settling lawsuits, and with three separate independent agencies having cleared Jensen of any criminal act or civil rights violation, the plaintiff’s attorneys are going to have a really tough time convincing a jury otherwise.

8. The protesters have been generally reasonable

It’s really sad when Elgin City Councilman Terry Gavin is the one who ends up behaving badly. I may disagree with the endless city council keening sessions, but if that’s what the majority supports, then you simply sit back and politely listen. Unless your intent is to make the situation worse, there’s no point in engaging already angry and emotional people in a downright hostile manner.

I truly hope this is Mr. Gavin’s last term.

I’m not a big fan of blocking traffic, co-opting meetings with megaphones, and defacing billboards, but the protesters deserve a lot of credit for getting their point across in a generally reasonable manner.

My fondest wish is for them to maintain this comportment going forward, because if they really believe the EPD has an inherent racial bias, getting one officer fired won’t change a damn thing. That kind of shift only comes through the ballot box.

I’ll say it again! If you don’t like this outcome, run for city council, actively support someone who’s running for city council, or vote for someone who’s running for city council.

9. Police Chief Ana Lalley is the single bright spot in all of this

We’re I in her shoes, I wouldn’t have put up with the complete lack of City Hall support for a second. And then there were all the horse manure “New Age” forums where she graciously listened to the same stories over and over again.

Chief Lalley never spoke out of line, she made herself available to anyone who approached her on the issue, and she carried this difficult burden with confidence, compassion and grace. Then she made the difficult but correct decision to bring Lt. Jensen back because that’s what real leaders do.

I hope she’s looking for a new gig because there’s a real demand for police chiefs of her caliber and the Elgin “leadership” clearly doesn’t deserve someone like her.

 

What truly saddens me about all of this is that Elgin was on the brink of greatness. The business district is thriving, the Tower Building is back, and people want to live and raise their children there. This will likely turn out to be nothing more than a temporary detour, but the simmering resentments between the various factions will haunt Elgin for years to come.

And that all could’ve been avoided if anyone in City Hall had the cojones to be a leader. It’s time for change in Elgin and I’m on it!

 

 

 

Quick Hits – Scam Alert!

This one’s better than most, too. It may not involve a wealthy Nigerian prince or a lottery you never entered, but in the vein of the best hustles, it deftly preys on young peoples’ boundless hopes and dreams. If I did believe in hell, there would be a particularly special place in the first circle for these soulless bleeps.

Scam

The target

This insidious scam targets college graduates entering the job market for the first time, and to a lesser degree, twentysomethings looking for a gig that’s more in line with their core aspirations. Their theory is, relatively inexperienced job hunters are more prone to emotion and lack the sophistication to catch the obvious red flags.

The lure

The scammers place job ads on university and mainstream help wanted web sites in addition to scouring the online resumes of likely victims. The ads, ostensibly placed on the part of reputable and recognizable companies, typically promote work-at-home opportunities stopping just short of being to good to be true.

Their email responses look and read very professionally, complete with the appropriate logos and other company data. They explain the initial interview will be conducted via chat through something like Google Hangouts, and if you make the cut, round two will come via Skype or phone.

The know the details and the names of every principle in the spoofed company which serves to mitigate any apprehension on the part of the “applicant.” Put more simply, this ain’t your garden variety IRS con where the perp can barely speak or write English.

The scam

About halfway through the initial phone or text interview, the “recruiter” will claim they’re so enamored with the applicant that they want to hire them on the spot. In fact, they’re so happy, they’re going to send the candidate a snail mail check to buy the specific software or to set up a home office.

They also email the “applicant” a contract and other official documentation that looks completely legit.

Once they deposit the check and it “clears,” the “new hire” must avail themselves of an approved vendor website where they can purchase everything they need. It was at this point that a friend pulled the plug on the fraud before it cost her son any cash.

Again, the “company” check looks utterly official, but as you might imagine, once the online purchase is made, the “job” never materializes and the office supplies never arrive. Then the hammer falls a few months later when the bank freezes the “applicant’s” account upon discovering the “routing number” on the forged check doesn’t match any company bank account. Of course, the scammed graduate is left liable for every last penny of the fraudulent deposit.

The tells

If you don’t allow yourself to get too carried away with the possibility, there are subtle clues that immediately give the scam away.

First, carefully check any email company URL. What should be “microsoft.com” will be something slightly different like “microsoft.info” or “microsoft.biz.” Those shifts are dead giveaways.

Second, please screen the return email addresses, too. We’ve all become so accustomed to hitting the “reply” button we barely look at return email addresses anymore. The scammers tend to use Gmail or other generic services instead of the real thing, and no respectable company ever does that.

Lastly, no prominent business will hire anyone merely on the basis of a chat interview. If you get past round one, real recruiters will interview the rest of the applicants and insist on a face-to-face meeting before making a final decision.

What you can do

Unless you live in a substantial city like Aurora or Elgin, don’t bother calling the local police because they’re far too lazy to do anything about it. You’ll have far better luck with the county sheriff in that regard.

But what you can do is share this piece, and if your son or daughter has been scammed, please put it out there despite any embarrassment. After my friend posted her son’s experience, five more people came forward. This is one of the few benefits of the age of lightspeed communications.

Meanwhile, skip the cynicism and teach your children to develop a spider sense about these kinds of things because it’s only gonna get worse. There will always be predators out there, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to be a victim.

 

Quick Hit’s – It isn’t us; it’s you!

You’re in for a real treat Dear Reader! In an effort to enjoy a final summer four-day weekend, instead of running the usual political fare, I’m gonna grace you with a chapter from my in-progress book, ‘The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Life.”

And I’ll probably present another one on Monday. Could life possibly get any better?

 

It isn’t us; it’s you!

Somewhere out there there is a tree tirelessly producing oxygen so you can breathe. I think you owe it an apology. – House (from the similarly named TV show)

My favorite neighbor lives directly across the street from my backyard…

“Wait a minute, Jeff! You have a favorite neighbor? Doesn’t that automatically mean the swift revocation of your card-carrying curmudgeon credentials?”

Normally, it would, but hear me out, first!

The reason he’s my favorite neighbor is he keeps to himself to the point where he wears earbuds while mowing the lawn which makes it impossible for him to even hear a greeting. And I bet he’s not really listening to music, either!

We may have briefly spoken one time when his young daughter wanted to pet my dogs, but that’s about it!

Curmudgeon

I have no idea what his first or last name is. I don’t know what he does for a living. I couldn’t tell you his daughter’s name. I don’t know his wife’s name. I have no clue where he came from or what his hopes and dreams are. But I’m so in love with his indifference to his fellowman that, were I gay, I’d probably propose.

I’ve said hello to his wife a couple of times, but that’s only because I finally figured out that normal people get really horked off when you completely ignore their existence. Who knew?  C’mon! Blatantly ignoring people is the curmudgeon’s version of complete Nirvana. (Not the rock group people!)

But now, not only do I fear my generally overbearing and extroverted fellow Fisher Farms subdivision dwellers will endeavor to “save” him from himself, but that he’ll face the same fate I had to endure upon moving into a brand-new subdivision – the biggest mistake of my bleepin’ life. Well…that and the hoverboard.

Who needs a tailbone? But I digress.

I call it the “Costanza Effect,” named for the Seinfeld character who couldn’t bear the thought of someone not liking him. Not only would George do everything in his power to convince the disliker he was likeable, but when that strategy inevitably backfired, he’d become so irate that he’d start plotting his revenge.

Essentially, that errant individual would become the most important person in George’s life simply for the “crime” of avoiding him. Seinfeld co-creator Larry David is clearly a curmudgeon of the highest order.

This is the part about the extrovert majority I just don’t get. Are your sensibilities and self-definition so fragile that they come crashing down at the mere thought that I might be indifferent to your existence, or, god forbid, not like you? Who the bleep cares what I think? I generally don’t give a crap about what I’m thinking, and I’m the one thinking it! So, why would anyone ever want to give me that kind of power and significance?

When someone dislikes me, a phenomenon that occurs with alarming frequency (Shocking! I know!), I thank that fictitious Christian god that there’s one less person to have to deal with and I immediately proceed to not waste another thought on them. There’s a reason I’ve blocked more than 300 people on Facebook.

My newest life goal is for my blocked list to be larger than my friends list.

And speaking of blocking Facebook detractors, by their reaction to my sphere of influence limiting choice, you’d think I just told them their children aren’t special. Though it tends to defeat the blocking purpose, other Facebook friends will insist upon passing along those ensuing diatribes that generally cite censorship, imperiousness, and the fact that I completely suck.

But if that’s really the case, and all you want to do is endlessly bitch about what a heinous cur I am, why would anyone care about being blocked? I’d tend to think you’d embrace your exceptional good fortune and enjoy a Jeff Ward free life.

My wife’s been trying to accomplish that for years!

But no! The Constanza Effect kicks in and you insist upon doing your damndest to insinuate yourselves back into our lives. Then I have to block you from the blog, too. What is wrong with you people? Don’t you see how pathetic this dynamic truly is?

Look! I know I’m fascinating and gorgeous but sometimes ya just gotta let it go!

Perhaps there’s something to that absurd extrovert notion of pretending to like people you loathe so you can talk smack about them behind their backs. I’m starting to think that kind of artificiality would require far less effort than having to deal with all that Costanza Effect fallout.

But I digress!

If it makes you feel any better, and I certainly hope it doesn’t, curmudgeons don’t like 99 percent of the regular rabble because they possess absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. If someone put a gun to my head and forced to say something nice about you, even then, the only thing I’d be able to come up with is that you do a marvelous job of taking up space.

Alright! Alright! Some of you seem to have mastered the art of breathing, too. Who said I can’t be magnanimous when I want to be?

We curmudgeons think of extroverts like those perpetually-doomed red-shirted crewmen on the original Starship Enterprise – they’re expendable. And it’s only the government’s incomprehensible insistence on protecting you from yourselves that prevents natural selection from taking its course so we curmudgeons could finally take over.

Failing that, in the words of that great philosopher Bill Burr, “85 percent of you need to walk into the ocean and not come back.”

But until the next asteroid strike mercifully mitigates our curmudgeonly misery, I’m stuck with the eminently depressing notion that the rabble is here to stay, they will continue to reproduce unchecked, and they will take great umbrage whenever a curmudgeon accurately assesses their obvious lack of merit – or simply ignores them.

So, it isn’t us, it’s you. Where’s the goddamn tequila?

 

Quick Hits – It’s Time for an Elgin Review

Lord! I truly wonder how some of you manage to dress yourselves every morning. I understand that an absurd 1.5 years of debate over Elgin Police Lt. Chris Jensen fatally shooting Decynthia Clements on that I-90 shoulder has inevitably clouded the issue, but some folks’ capacity to reject reality and substitute their own really is kinda frightening.

Elgin 2

So, in an effort to bring balance to the Force, let’s review some of the inescapable realities that have had an effect and will continue to determine how this situation unfolds:

1. Whites are a minority in Elgin

I made this statement on Monday and some folks went nuts, so let’s clear it up. I can’t help it if some of you flunked second grade math and it’s not my fault that census workers count Hispanics as Caucasians. So, here’s how those Elgin demographics actually pan out:

  • 44.9 percent Hispanic
  •   7.4 percent black
  •   6.1 percent Asian
  •   1.0 percent Native American
  • 40.6 percent white

I don’t care what anyone says, that means whites are a minority in Elgin. And if it’s finally gotten to the point where we can’t agree on math we’re completely bleeped!

 

2. You can’t fire a police officer because some people don’t like him

Illinois may be an at-will state, but the capacity to fire anyone for any reason does not extend to public workers. Lt. Jensen has stellar 20-year track record and he’s been cleared of any criminal charges by three separate independent agencies. And the fact that his existence bothers some people is not grounds for dismissal.

If the City does cave in to a vast minority’s demand to oust him, not only will Jensen be the recipient of a hefty settlement, but the courts will reinstate him.

The irony is, while the anti-Jensen folks want him fired for failing to follow the rules, they want Elgin to fail to follow the rules and fire him.

 

3. What message would Jensen’s termination send to the rest of the EPD?

Always thoughtful Elgin resident Reggie Kee made this excellent point, among others, at the “listening session” we discussed on Monday. If you fire an officer for a justifiable shooting, it will put every other EPD officer’s life at risk.

Think about it! The next time an officer is forced to draw their weapon in self-defense, the prospect of being terminated might make them hesitate just long enough to get shot first. And that’s a patently unfair position in which to put an entire police department.

 

4. Hindsight is always 20-20

To watch a video over and over again – parts of it in slow motion – does not nearly equate to being on the scene that dark evening. To make matters worse, those cameras don’t provide the proper perspective because they exaggerate and distort distance to cover more area.

But even if those Monday morning quarterbacks could make the correct call, whether Ms. Clements jumped or stumbled out of her vehicle is immaterial. Again, it would be beyond unreasonable to expect a law enforcement officer to make a split-second life and death decision based upon that kind of nuance.

The bottom line is, if you move towards police officers with a knife in any manner, you’re probably going to get shot.

 

5. I’m not anti-protest or anti-protester

This country was founded on the notion of protest and I firmly believe you have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. So, with the exception of shouting people down or co-opting meetings with megaphones, I wholeheartedly support that kind of activism.

What I might add, however, is with Jensen eventually coming back, if you have an issue with Elgin leadership – or the lack of it in my case – run for city council, actively support someone who’s running for city council, or, for God’s sake, vote for someone who’s a candidate for city council.

That’s the only act that ever really changes anything, but only 7,000 out of 58,000 eligible Elgin residents vote in odd-year elections. And if you don’t vote, then don’t bitch, either.

 

6. Ms. Clements wasn’t a saint

No one is! And let me, once again, be clear that whatever demons haunted Decynthia in no way deprived her of her civil rights. I also understand that it’s human nature, especially on the part of family members, to rehabilitate those who’ve died.

But if Lt. Jensen’s track record is fair game, then so is Ms. Clements’.

When the EPD showed up at her parents’ front door after the shooting, before they could say a word, her father, who hadn’t seen her for three weeks, asked, “Where did she OD?” Though she certainly struggled with mental health issues, the move on the part of some supporters to omit the effects addiction had in that I-90 standoff is patently unfair.

The stats are clear. Tasers work about 50 percent of the time on sober folks and virtually none of the time on addicts under the influence.

For better or worse, Ms. Clements was who she was, and her death doesn’t change that. My fervent hope is, as a result of this tragedy, we, as a society, develop a new determination to better deal with mental health and addiction issues.

 

7. Nobody deserves to twist in the wind like this

Whether you believe Lt. Jensen should be reinstated or fired, the City of Elgin has done no one a service by dragging this out for a year-and-a-half. There’s absolutely no excuse for their inability or outright refusal to make a decision.

The three investigations could’ve run concurrently, placating the “public” isn’t working, and the longer this lingers, the worse the reaction of those inevitably disappointed people will be.

And I don’t care what anyone says, even if you’re getting paid to do it, to have to sit at home and wait 548 days for a group of completely oblivious and well-salaried people to make a decision that may well affect the rest of your life is the bleepin’ definition of stress.

Considering the exceptional effort Elgin’s made to attract quality police officers, who’s going to want to work for the EPD now?

 

Trust me! At this point, I know this column isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. But everything we’ve discussed here is a fact, and unless we can agree on the basic facts, it’s going to be an even rougher road going forward.

Quick Hits – A Listening Session?

When I said the City of Elgin, Illinois, was approaching the inevitable reinstatement of police Lieutenant Chris Jensen like it was a bad SNL Stuart Smalley skit, I thought I was joking, but it turns out I was prescient.

A listening session? What’s next? A spa day?

If I was the conspiratorial type, I’d swear there has to be some Elgin city staffer who simply sits around thinking, “How can I give Jeff Ward another easy 800 words this week?” If that person really does exist, I want to thank them for coming up with “a listening session.”

What’s next? A group hug?

Clements Jensen

Yes! In an effort to further humiliate and waste yet more Elgin Police Department command staff time, this time, the City held a Saturday listening session at Elgin Community College in which Chief Ana Lalley, Commander Colin Fleury, City Manager Rick Kozal, and Community Engagement Specialist Bob Whitt listened to the same 25 people say the same thing about the Decynthia Clements shooting – unimpeded – for two bleepin’ long hours.

That has to be the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Of course, 95 percent of the speakers, including the same tired pastors who have no clue what it means to be Christian, rambled on endlessly about how, despite the lack of any quantifiable legal justification, Lt. Chris Jensen should be fired just because they think he should be fired.

“Consultant” Craig Mallett told reporters “Listening sessions allow the healing process to begin.” Perhaps if we were talking about Ferguson, Missouri, where racial tensions simmered for decades, he might be right, but it’s only making the Elgin situation so much worse.

Despite what some overly vocal “activists” would have you believe, Elgin, a city where Caucasians are the minority, does pretty well in the race relations regard. That’s why only 25 people showed up to “a listening session.”

What’s next? A slumber party?

Per the previously discussed late NFL coach Bill Walsh’s postulate, all these insipidly eternal forums do is provide the anti-Jensen folk with the kind of megaphone that belies their miniscule numbers as the press picks up their negative narrative up – again – allowing them to “infect” the 80 percent of residents who are generally happy with the City.

This utter lack of any leadership whatsoever is beyond astounding.

Mallette acknowledged the “community fatigue” over the shooting debate, but added that “the session was a valuable tool in the process of figuring out what community themes, such as questions around racism, implicit bias, police legitimacy and justice, city official need to address moving forward.”

Every time I try to picture Mr. Mallette, all is see is a guy in blue cardigan sweater with a silly blond toupee repeating “I’m good enough, smart enough, and doggone it! People like me!” The only value this charade added was to his firm’s bottom line.

Did I mention that only 25 people showed up?

They probably shouldn’t have bothered to rent an entire auditorium. How “valuable” can yet another whining assembly be when just .02 percent of the Elgin Populace shows up, and most of those were Ms. Clements’ family and local pastors?

So, it’s official! Elgin has finally become the equivalent an overindulgent Geneva, Illinois, toddler parent who gives their kid everything they want in an effort to become their best friend. Then they have the nerve to wonder why the temper tantrums only get worse.

The only one who’s shown any cojones in this regard is former Police Chief Jeff Swoboda who personally met with protestors in front of the police station days after the shooting. That simple act did more to resolve the situation than anything since.

But Elgin continues to undo all that good will and the level of City Hall incompetence surrounding the eternal Jensen saga is truly terrifying. Trust me, I will be issuing a FOIA request shortly to determine how much money the City has already wasted on this latest “consulting firm.”

You’d think they would’ve sworn off that kind of thing after the diversity debacles.

Chief Lalley! If you haven’t already, please start that job search. No gig is worth having to deal with this kind of relentless bovine manure.

Meanwhile, I’ll say it again! Three separate independent agencies concluded that Lt. Jensen committed no criminal act and violated no major EPD policy. That means he’s coming back, end of story. And if Elgin continues to attempt to placate a minority of residents who refuse to be placated, the next racial incident – and there will be a next one in a city that size – will make this one look like an early autumn stroll in Wing Park.

A “listening session?” What’s next? Karaoke night?

 

Save the Date Part II

I have to say, it was somewhat strange being in a courtroom and not being the defendant. I suppose I’ll have get used to it. But here’s how the lawsuit against the Kane County State’s Attorney will play out:

October 21    – Opposing counsel submits his brief

November 4 – I submit my response to that brief, if I choose to do so

November 6 – The hearing (bench trial) at 1 p.m. in courtroom 116 in Yorkville, Illinois

To clarify a previous misstatement, attorney Pat Kinnally is not defending this lawsuit as a partner in his law firm. Much like it was when he was the Kane County Board’s attorney, He’s been sworn in as a deputy assistant states attorney and is essentially handling this case on his own.

My contention that it was being handled by an outside attorney stands, but if I gave the impression that the KCSAO hired his law firm, that would be inaccurate.

Quick Hits – A Farewell to Logic and Critical Thinking – Part 2

In part one, we applied a detailed analytical process to determine that the 75-year-old Lake County homeowner who confronted, shot at, and killed one of six Chicago teens as they approached his rural home at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday morning clearly acted in self-defense.

My overarching contention was other journalists, and particularly Chicago Tribune columnists Dahleen Glanton and Eric Zorn, are not only applying their own stilted political agendas, but their expectations of a senior citizen who just got out of bed to find himself outnumbered six-to-one are patently absurd.

Please also recall that, since that 14-year-old died during the commission of a felony, as Illinois law allows, the five surviving teens were charged as adults with first-degree murder. Barring some sort of plea deal, they’re looking at 20 years to life.

Lake County Teens

But just when you think my press compatriots couldn’t possibly get any worse, while the homeowner has been subjected to the most massive scrutiny, the teenagers who drove over a hundred miles in a stolen car to steal another one are generally being rehabilitated.

Before we continue, let me be perfectly clear that neither previous charges, being a drug addict, a mental illness, nor the act of committing a crime automatically render anyone’s life forfeit. A Memphis, Tennessee, grocery store clerk was just convicted of second-degree murder for shooting a 17-year-old in the back as fled with a $2 can of beer. Now he’s looking at 15 to 60 years in the pen.

I also want to acknowledge that none of those factors entered into the equation that fateful Tuesday morning. The homeowner had no clue who he was dealing with, so, in that regard, these kids’ lengthy criminal histories is utterly immaterial.

But if we’re gonna view every last nanosecond of the homeowner’s response through a vast journalistic hindsight electron microscope, then those criminal histories are fair game, too. As an attorney would say, “It goes to motive.”

What bothers me is I’ve only read one news report that mentions those rap sheets. Part of the issue might be that five of the six teens are juveniles, but they admitted they were in Lake County to commit burglaries and steal cars, something they’d certainly done before. Even the mother of the slain teen said she let her son stay with his cousins despite knowing they had an affinity for other peoples’ vehicles.

So, they certainly weren’t at that house to ask for directions, and they clearly understood the risk involved because they were armed with at least one rather large knife. And they were ready to use that knife, too. I’m convinced they would’ve killed what they considered to be an easy mark if our senior citizen wasn’t armed. They clearly had no intention of fleeing until the shots were fired.

You see, if the homeowner’s intent matters, then those teens ill intent matters, too. But for some strange reason the Tribune, and particularly Glanton, believe they deserve some sort of unearned absolution simply for being young minorities.

Let’s not forget that those “children” also led the police on a 120-mph high speed chase only stopping when they ran out of gas, something Glanton likes to completely gloss over

And speaking of parents, where were the bleep were they? The mother of the deceased claimed she was “overprotective” and never let her son go anywhere, but the evidence proves otherwise. I know it’s beyond tough being a single mother, especially for minorities, but most mothers manage to keep their children from roaming the Collar Counties at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in a stolen vehicle.

In the end, if those “children” weren’t out in Lake County at that ungodly hour, then one wouldn’t be dead and five more wouldn’t be sitting in jail on $1 million bond. But because they’re minorities those parents get a free pass, but not the homeowner whose life was clearly threatened?

Of course, as is par for the course, those families are now self-righteously extolling the vast virtue of these sainted teens and the press just laps it up and prints it. When did journalism become propaganda? On second thought, don’t answer that question, it would be far too depressing.

Given their histories, I’m quite happy they’re sitting in jail, which would not have been the case without the murder charges. Then they’d simply be stealing more cars as we speak. And I have no problem with those charges, either. The bottom line is, if it weren’t for their collective actions, a 14-year-old would still be alive.

As we’ve already discussed, this tragic outcome was not entirely unpredictable.

But while I’m good with the charges and I would encourage Illinois lawmakers to resist the pressure to repeal the forced felony law, I do have a problem with the sentencing. In this case twenty years to life is a lot like trying to put out a match with a firehose.

Since everyone is inherently redeemable, five to ten on the forced felony would be a far more equitable sentence.

We consistently mourn how the impending death of local journalism is going to have some serious consequences, not the least of which is more misbehaving public officials. But if this news story is truly indicative of where the mainstream press is going, then let the death throes commence!

 

Save the date!

Monday, August 26 at 1 p.m. in courtroom 110 at the Kane County Courthouse on Third Street in Geneva, I will make my civil litigatory debut in my lawsuit against the Kane County State’s Attorney.

Please don’t get too excited, it’s just a status hearing, but it is the only time any part of this case will be heard in Kane County. After that, it’ll be off to Yorkville. Feel free to stop by and observe if you see fit.

Quick Hits – A Farewell to Logic and Critical Thinking

Where’s Mr. Spock when you really need him? Logic and critical thinking suddenly seem to be our most endangered species. What makes this round of rejecting reality and substituting your own particularly pernicious is even journalists are ignoring the facts and twisting news stories to suit their particular political agenda.

And there’s no better example of this alarming trend than the controversy surrounding the 75-year-old Lake County resident who confronted, shot at, and killed one of six Chicago teens as they approached his home at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

Since a 14-year-old died during the commission of a forcible felony, as Illinois law stipulates, the five surviving teens were charged with first-degree murder.

Lake County

The problem starts with Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton who clearly believes being a minority means never having to say you’re sorry. She’s the “journalist” who actually got away with saying that gay bigotry doesn’t nearly amount to the intolerance directed at black folks.

Can you imagine the nuclear winter that would’ve ensued had a gay white male columnist claimed the converse? But just like Donald Trump, Ms. Glanton has an agenda and she’s willing to “adjust” the facts whenever it suits her narrative.

To add insult to injury, the Trib’s Eric Zorn, from the comfort and safety of his Stetson Avenue office, unilaterally declared the shooting wasn’t justified because the youths were at least 40 feet away from the homeowner at the time.

Yes! Because that’s the justifiable homicide standard. Though I can’t get too crazy about that contention, because as my sainted mother would say, “consider the source!”

So, before it permanently fades, let’s dispense with the emotion and apply a little logic and critical thinking to this sad tale:

1. You could be killed crossing the street

Life is the definition of risk, but certain acts carry considerably more of it than others. Even if I’m not really paying attention, I’ll survive crossing the street in my sleepy subdivision 999 times out of 1,000. But just one errant trip across Randall Road and it probably won’t end very well for me.

To wit, if you show up on private property in a rural Collar County neighborhood at 1 in the morning with criminal intent, the risk of being shot and killed is far greater than if you were at home in bed. Put more simply, it’s not an entirely unpredictable outcome.

 

2. The burden IS NOT and SHOULD NEVER BE on the homeowner

Because it would be beyond insane to do so. How in the bleep is a civilian supposed to accurately assess and determine the direction of the kind of split-second potentially life-threatening situation that gives law enforcement officers fits?

Do any of y’all remember the movie “Glory” with Matthew Broderick? It’s the story of the Union Colonel who led the first all-black volunteer company in the Civil War. One of the recruits turns out to be quite the marksman, but when Broderick tells the man to continue loading his musket and shooting while he fires his pistol into the air, the soldier can’t do it.

Monday morning quarterbacking is bad enough in the NFL, but it’s downright shameful when someone’s life may well have been at stake.

 

3. They were 40 feet away from his front door

I’m 61 and I can cover 40 feet in under two seconds. That’s not a lot of time to make a decision when confronted with six potential attackers. Eric Zorn is an idiot.

 

4. The homeowner had no clue about their intent

Were they there to commit a burglary, steal a car, or to perpetrate a home invasion? The only reason we know the answer to that question is the teens told investigators AFTER they were apprehended. But the 75-year-old homeowner had no idea what they were up to, and so far, I’m the only journalist in Illinois to make that distinction.

Again, the unrealistic expectations thrust upon a 75-year-old man who was woken up by a commotion in front of his house at 1 a.m. only to be confronted by six teenagers are nothing less than mind boggling.

 

5. He should’ve locked the door and called the police

Some of you really don’t have two brain cells to rub together, do you?

Given the similarities between Lake and Kane Counties, let’s use Kane as an example. Though technically responsible for all 524 square miles, Sheriff Ron Hain’s seven deputy patrol shifts are tasked with covering 311 unincorporated square miles.

Do the math and that means each car covers a 44 square mile area. To put that in perspective, the City of Geneva, Illinois, deploys six patrol car shifts for a mere ten square miles of territory. That’s why it took Lake County deputies ten minutes to get to the scene after the homeowner dialed 911 to report the confrontation.

Please note that this is not a knock against local Sheriffs. They can only do what their budgets allow.

I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination to consider the amount of damage six teenagers – at least one armed with a Bowie knife – could do in ten minutes. This is yet another blatantly unreasonable expectation of a 75-year-old man.

 

6. They didn’t retreat

That’s the real crux here. Whether the homeowner had a gun or not, the second those teens were confronted, they should’ve run. And had they fled, that 14-year-old would be alive today. But we know they advanced towards the house because the resulting bullet wound was in the front of the teen’s head and not the back.

And what’s really telling is, once they retreated, the shooting stopped. If the homeowner shot one of the teens while fleeing, it would be an entirely different story.

We’ll continue this analysis on Friday.