Quick Hits – May 11, 2018

How to win friends and influence people part 2!

First, I want to thank the astute reader who caught me incorrectly attributing the aforementioned book to Norman Vincent Peale. Peale wrote ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ while the great Dale Carnegie penned ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’

But I digress!

For a variety of reasons, I attended yesterday’s Kane County Judicial and Public Safety Committee meeting, not the least of which was to perhaps hear those court services folks provide some insights into the probation officers and youth counselors strike.

And while they certainly obliged, it probably wasn’t in the way they’d hoped.

JJC

Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles, whom I’ve never seen flustered by anything, was clearly shaken. She didn’t address the strike situation in her monthly report, but with probation filling the gallery, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone blink quite that much.

Court Services Director Lisa Aust tried to put a happy face on it, but her effort clearly fell flat with the committee. But while Boles and Aust were careful not to aggravate the strikers, Juvenile Justice Center Superintendent Mike Davis made no such effort.

It’s not that I didn’t expect Davis to offer some sort of lily gilding as to how the JJC youths were faring in the midst of a short staffing situation, but I was surprised to hear a number of blatant lies.

Despite his proclamation of business as usual, I will stand by the sources who told me that, until this week, those youths were on a 23 hour-a-day lockdown and that the JJC school days were suspended.

But what really struck me was Davis going out of his way to tweak the strikers in the audience by arguing they never really needed those employees to begin with.

Look, having covered so many of them, I understand it can get very personal very quickly in a strike, but this one will end, and management and labor are going to have find a way to work together going forward. And saying “you’re basically non-essential employees” will make that a much more difficult proposition.

 

DON’T LEAVE YOUR KEYS IN THE CAR!

Through the process of talking to all sorts of police chiefs over the last 12 journalistic years, if they have one pet peeve in common, it’s people who leave their cars running unattended. It’s an open invitation to someone who might not otherwise behave quite so badly.

So, when I learned of the recent Aurora, Illinois, gas station carjacking in which an 11-year-old girl had to jump out of the back of a still-running vehicle before the thief drove off with it, all those previous chiefly admonitions came flooding back.

Guys and Gals! Don’t leave your car running unattended anywhere! It’s really not a good idea to pump gas with engine the cranking either.

As for me, I won’t as much as leave the keys in the car while I’m right there pumping gas and I drive a somewhat rusty 2001 Ford Ranger.

In the sage words of the great Michael Conrad issued in the opening of every Hill Street Blues episode, “Let’s be careful out there!”

 

 Our UPS mail thief is finally in hot water

The First Ward recently covered a rather enterprising Rogers Park man who somehow managed to con the Post Office into redirecting UPS’s Atlanta corporate mail to his rather tiny garden apartment.

Not only did this ploy work, but it went on unimpeded for three long months.

Upon discussing that stranger than fiction story with a County Board member this morning, we both wondered:

  1. USPS didn’t get suspicious when they started delivering tubs of mail to a Rogers Park basement apartment.
  2. How those fine folks in that UPS mHow the ailroom didn’t get suspicious when there was suddenly no more mail to sort.

Needless to say, I’m convinced heads are rolling in both locations.

Meanwhile, the only place our con man will be receiving mail anytime soon is the federal pen, because he was finally charged with mail theft and fraud, and the feds want him held without mail…I mean bail.

All-in-all, he’s looking at 20 years behind bars. I wonder if they’ll let him work in the prison mailroom?

 

The Trib turns off reader comments

And not a minute too soon! Because if I had to read just one more of those insane reader missives I was gonna get homicidal.

We all know our national IQ is mired in a rapid and uncontrolled descent, but having to bear witness to all that hard evidence is a truly depressing thing.

 

Guns banned from the NRA convention?

Let me get this straight! The NRA held a portion of their annual convention at a venue that banned all weapons from the premises? Bleepin’ hypocrites!

 

When did Rihanna start giving relationship advice?

So, suddenly Rihanna’s offering Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding night advice?

Really? Unless it’s something like “Duck if he tries to punch you in the face” I’m not sure she’s the one you really want to listen to in this regard.

Quick Hits – It’s Amateur Hour at Court Services

Y’all know that failing to figure something out drives me absolutely crazy. As Lieutenant Frank Columbo unraveled all those mysteries to which we already knew the answer, he consistently proved that once you understand the inevitable thread of logic that drives all human behavior, every move someone makes becomes eminently deductible.

But as we move into the tenth day of the Kane County probation officers and youth counselors strike, I can’t for the life of me figure out what Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust are trying to accomplish – other than making themselves look truly terrible, that is!

Probation Strike

It’s really not this simple because a teacher-like “step” system is involved, but the union is asking for a 3.7 percent pay hike for each of the next three years as their previous contract stipulated. Boles and Aust are offering 2, 2.25, and 2.5 percent for the same period.

They’re really not that far apart. So, what’s the problem, you ask?

It starts with Boles firing crack labor lawyer Carl Tominberg, who’s handled most of the County’s previous union negotiations, in favor a negotiator with virtually no labor law experience. Boles told insiders she did this to “put some space between Court Services and the County Board.”

Clancy Boles

Susan Clancy-Boles

Tominberg understood the unique and delicate nature of governmental union negotiations, while the new guy clearly does not. The fact there’s never been a probation strike in the entire United States before this one is all the evidence you really need.

The next issue is, when it comes to playing politics with the big boys and girls, Boles and Aust are utterly overmatched. Nothing better demonstrates this than the GPS home monitoring system debacle in which the County Board handed them their political heads.

And speaking of the GPS debacle, to kinda quote The Bard, “Ain’t that the real rub?”

Having played chicken with the monitoring system and lost, Boles and Aust are hell bent on winning this one no matter what the cost. They simply can’t afford another “yuge” political defeat. And the reason they don’t want the County Board involved is some of those fine folks are still fuming over Boles’ ham-handed attempt to make them look bad.

So, when I say there are a number of GOP board members who want nothing more than to see Boles and Aust fall flat on their faces, I wouldn’t bet against me. And I don’t blame ‘em one bit, either. What’s one of my favorite adages? That’s right! Politics ain’t a game for sissies.

Luckily for the board (but not so luckily for probation), when it comes to insuring their own self-destruction, these two always seem happy to oblige.

First, Boles and Aust told board members that, though there were no future negotiations planned, the lines of communication were wide open. Why, things were so cozy between management and the strikers they were even bringing snacks and drinks to the weary picketers.

Clearly, they’re taking propaganda pointers from Donald Trump because the truth is, they changed the locks on the Aurora and Elgin probation offices, they changed all the computer passwords, and then they told the applicable strikers to turn in their county issued cell phones.

Aust

Lisa Aust

Call me crazy, but I don’t remember reading any of that in Mr. Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’

Then Aust and Boles have been repeating that, despite the strike, the regular routine prevails for the youths at the Juvenile Justice Center. If by “regular” they mean putting them on 23 hour-a-day lock down, then I would be inclined to agree.

Third, Boles and Aust consistently claim those halcyon JJC school days go on unimpeded, which couldn’t be further from the truth. How can you go to class when you’re locked in your cell 23 hours a day?

And lastly, when County Board members Theresa Barreiro and Myrna Molina showed up at the JJC to assess the strike situation, the Chief Judge and Court Services Director barred them from entry. They wouldn’t be trying to hide something, would they?

This is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you’re dealing with two people who always think they’re the smartest person in any room, but they never really are. So, when you consider that probation voted 66 – 10 to go on strike, this one is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

By eliminating the GPS monitoring system and inciting a one-of-a-kind probation officers strike in seven short months, Boles and Aust have done a far better job of putting Kane County citizens at risk than the criminals ever could. They certainly seem to have a strange notion of what the term “public safety” really means.

I’m truly terrified to think about what they might do for an encore.

Quick Hits – May the Fourth be with you!

Caught in a bad bromance?

I wuz gonna focus solely on my ongoing FOIA issues today, but I just couldn’t pass this one up.

In an effort to prove there are journalistic depths to which they haven’t begun to descend, today’s (5/4) Aurora Beacon-News page two column describes how “bromances” are destroying romantic relationships between men and women.

bromance

For those of you who correctly tend to avoid this kind of insipid BS, a bromance is a non-sexual, emotionally intimate relationship between two or more middle-age men, typically revolving around some sort of shared leisure time activity.

First, I had no idea this was a problem. Who knew bromances were going to bring about the downfall of Western Civilization? By the end of the piece I was desperately hoping the author was making a ham-handed attempt at satire, but he clearly was not.

And second, I had no idea that everything in Aurora was so copacetic that bromances somehow rose to the top of the newsfeed.  C’mon! The Beacon-News doesn’t print any news as it is and now they’re running this kind of absurdity?

To make matters worse, it’s not a very well-written piece, either. I would encourage the columnist to consider that good writing always requires a reasonable cadence and flow.

I suppose there’s a bright side to this fascinating and swift journalistic descent. Suddenly Beacon-News “columnist” Denise Crosby doesn’t seem so bad!

 

FOIA-gate part one

So! Four long days after the response was due, Joe McMahon, the State’s Attorney himself, finally answered my dire entreaties in regard to actually abiding by the FOIA statute. That’s a clear sign that he’s none too happy with Civil Division chief Joe Lulves, who was simply the messenger this time.

KCSAO

Basically, McMahon used the “dog ate my homework” rationalization, which ain’t gonna fly.

He said I “implied” that I made an April 16 FOIA request in my subsequent emails to him, despite the fact I included the entire FOIA request in those emails. I suppose it’s a very nice way of calling me a liar.

Then McMahon said he didn’t respond right away because I sent those follow ups to his personal email address. That is absolutely true! But the reason I did that is the State’s Attorney technically doesn’t have a county email address. It got so bombarded with electronic missives that he basically shut it down.

Lastly, the State’s Attorney claimed that, though there’s been no prior problem with sending FOIA requests directly to Joe Lulves, that I should be using another email address entirely. Nothing like waiting till the sixth FOIA request to tell me that.

So, I ran this scenario past two of my favorite former managing editors and they agreed with my theory that, fed up with me running the sexual harassment complaint verbatim, Lulves decided to ignore the FOIA just to see what I’d do.

Whenever I’ve approached any government entity in regards to a tardy FOIA response – a rarity – they’ve fallen all over themselves to correct the situation. Meanwhile, the KCSAO took four days just to acknowledge the problem.

I also want to thank the Attorney General’s Office for bringing their formidable resources to bear in record time. The FOIA response finally came on Tuesday, May 1.

 

FOIA-gate part two

For those of you who’ve been following along, there was, indeed, a settlement and accord between our second groped former female prosecutor and the KCSAO. But before you get too excited, two week’s severance ($2,200) and a letter of recommendation ain’t nearly enough to make the folks write home.

The typical non-disparagement clause was applied to both sides as well.

The truth is, that deal was more likely based on the prosecutor’s father’s capacity to raise money for McMahon’s reelection bid, and another situation that has no impact on this story, so we won’t go into it.

But what bothers me is, in the same response, the KCSAO told me they have no such agreement with the eminently litigious Prosecutor McGropy. Reports say he got eight weeks (11 grand) severance, and there’s no way they’d dole out that kind of cash without some sort of parting paperwork.

So now it’s on to FOIAing the Treasurer’s office for that lump sum payment.

 

FOIA-gate part three

To semi-sew up absolutely all those loose FOIA ends, the Attorney General appeal of the 292 blank pages of sexual harassment complaints against Prosecutor McGropy is in! And the good news is the Attorney General’s Office is already a bit miffed at the KCSAO for ignoring my last FOIA request.

lulves

Joe Lulves

Essentially, what Lulves tried to do was bog me down in so many FOIA exemptions – two full pages of them – that it required quite an effort to effectively respond. But this is a case where I really have to thank Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham for insisting I become abundantly familiar with all of the applicable statutes.

To wit, a number of the exemptions Lulves cited only apply to state, and not county, employees. So much for his legal skills.

I also want to thank a brilliant Kane County attorney for catching that fact, something the rest of us semi-brilliant folks missed!

All I can say is, the fat lady hasn’t nearly sung on this one. I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

Quick Hits – May 2, 2018

Why are the Loons still getting newsprint?

Look! It was kind of amusing when all those celebrities and NBAers came forward with their flat Earth theory, but then the fun and interest quickly passed. In the end, people choosing stupidity over reason certainly ain’t news.

In the same vein, with the project 70 percent completed or underway, I don’t understand why the Daily Herald continues to give the anti-Longmeadow Bridge folks, or Longmeadow Loons as I lovingly refer to them, a forum.

Longmeandow Loons

Other than the fact it’s the lowest of the low-hanging fruit and that reporter is one of the laziest I’ve ever encountered, that is.

And the Loons keep regurgitating the same old tired and discredited BS that’s gotten them absolutely nowhere. So, in an effort to finally drive a stake in that vampire’s heart once and for all, let’s debunk the Loons’ contentions one more time:

1. The project will hurt property values

No it won’t! In fact, property values will increase as one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the County is finally resolved. For those properties directly abutting the project, any negative pricing should already be factored into the market because the Parkway boundaries were clearly marked on their plat of survey.

Not to mention the Stearns Corridor Bridge has had no deleterious effect on property values, whatsoever.

2. It will create more pollution

No it won’t! It will reduce pollution! As someone who grew up with asthma can attest, running through a traffic jam is one of the worst propositions on the planet. With nowhere to go, the CO and exhaust fumes keep building until it’s unbearable. But when traffic is moving, it isn’t a problem.

3. It’s bad for the environment

No it isn’t! The Longmeadow Bridge had to pass all sorts of environmental tests before the first bulldozer broke earth. Again, just like it is with the Stearns Corridor, that means it will be better for the environment than the current situation.

4. They cut down all the trees!

And KDOT is planting two trees for every one removed.

5. It’s dangerous for school children

No it isn’t! I’ve been running within two to six feet of 50 mph traffic for 35 plus years without a problem – and people aim for me! When was the last time you heard about any driver unintentionally running off the road and killing school children?

Then, head Loon and failed County Board candidate Billita Jacobsen bitterly complained about the County Board’s lack of cooperation in minimizing the project’s footprint.

Well perhaps, if like most reasonable people, you realized this 20-years-in the making project was a done deal and you cooperated with the Board instead of excoriating them and getting in their way at every possible turn, they might’ve considered some reasonable requests.

But instead, at the County Board meetings I attended, the Loons were loud, rude, obnoxious, and downright bullies. In 12 years at this game I’ve never witnessed a more belligerent citizen activist group.

So, why should anyone be the least bit surprised when the County Board completely tuned you out? We call that “being hoist by your own petard.”

Meanwhile, I’ve provided the Daily Herald with the Kane County State’s Attorney sexual harassment story, the Illinois Youth Center – St. Charles story, as well as a number of others, and this is what they run instead?

Go away Loons, your 15 minutes of fame has long since passed.

 

Maine West did the right thing…

…when they recently retired their Native American Chief mascot. Of course, a number of doomed-to-repeat-history-out-of-ignorance alumni lamented that “people who didn’t even go to the school” forced Maine West to let go of their too-obvious racist and redneck proclivities.

Maine West Chief

So! In the immortal words of that great philosopher Craig Ferguson, since I’m always “here to help,” may I humbly submit a quick and easy test to determine if you’re heading down that same racist road. Simply substitute the word “black” for any other race, ethnicity, creed or sexuality before any real statement comes out of your mouth.

For example, let’s replace the term “Native American” with “Black people” in this sentence:

“Our black-face mascot actually honors black people!”

I’m sure you see the problem with it now! That declaration would probably get Jesse Jackson to start picketing your house.

Moving forward, let’s replace the word “gay” with “multiracial:”

“My faith won’t allow me to bake a biracial couple a wedding cake.”

Yep! The government would be all over that kind of thing. I think you’re starting to catch on but, to be on the safe side, let’s give it another shot. We’ll replace the word “Asian” with “blacks” here:

 “You know! Black people really are good at math!”

Nope! That won’t fly, either.

Alright! One more! Let’s substitute the phrase “black people” for “Muslims:”

 “All black people are misogynistic terrorists!”

That might just get you in a boatload of trouble, too!

But now that my Caucasian compatriots are armed with The First Ward’s am I about to say something really racist test, there’s no excuse for thinking a Native American mascot honors Native Americans in any way, shape or form.

Like I said! I’m here to help!

 

FOIA-gate is resolved!

The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office finally responded to the FOIA request they had previously ignored. And State’s Attorney Joe McMahon signed the letter explaining the issue involved himself.

But since I’ve already rambled on long enough, we’ll save that story for Friday.

Quick Hits – April 30, 2018

It’s that whole truth and fiction thing again!

So, let me get this straight! Three former waitresses just filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a chain named for a euphemism “those kind” of men might use to describe a well-endowed woman’s most obvious “attributes.”

Why, these young women were “shocked” when the Orland Park Twin Peaks restaurant management regularly lined them up for the kind of physical inspection you tend to see at beauty pageants. They even claimed their scurrilous bosses proceeded to bestow the best tables on the waitress whose curves graded out above the curve.

Twin Peaks

Worse yet! They were completely stunned when a restaurant that hires women based solely on their bra size occasionally forced them to wear lingerie at work. Who could’ve possibly foreseen that possibility?

And I’m still looking for the part where somebody put a gun to their heads and forced them to work there. It couldn’t be the fact that men generally feel more predisposed to offer healthy tips to “healthy” women, could it?

And it was front page Sunday Tribune news, too! All I can say is, this story gives a whole new meaning to the word “boobs!”

Our litigious trio further explained they filed suit to “help empower women.” If you ask me, the best way they could accomplish that is by failing to reproduce.

 

The Kane County probation officers go on strike!

If you drive past the Kane County Judicial Center via Route 38 today (4/30), you’ll see the giant inflatable rat as well as a number of picketers circling the entrances to the Juvenile Justice Center and the main building itself.

Probation Strike

But before we continue, let me clearly stipulate that being a probation officer is an incredibly difficult and thankless job. The absurd caseloads alone would drive me to drink (more). What I’m basically saying is, I think these worthwhile staffers deserve everything they’re asking for.

But they’re not going to get it. How can I be so sure, you ask?

Because instead of cooperating with Chairman Chris Lauzen and the County Board, Chief Judge Susan Clancy-Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust held the criminal GPS system hostage in an attempt to stave off the 3.6 percent 2018 budget cuts asked of every Kane County department. And they made the Republican board majority look really bad in the process.

You see, Boles and Aust were counting on the Democrats to persuade just enough GOP defectors to stage a budgetary coup, but even someone of my limited intelligence (my readers tell me this) could’ve told them it would never come to pass.

Probation Strike 2

Since every political action has an equal and opposite reaction, if Boles and Aust get too “generous” with the strikers, the County Board is going to shoot down the deal and they’ll have to go right back to the negotiating table drawing board.

And I’m bettin’ the Board can’t wait to make Boles look just as bad as she made them. How can I be so sure? When I presented my equal and opposite reaction hypothesis to couple of them, they laughed and said, “That is a very interesting theory.”

Unlike it is with the Sheriff’s deputies’ contract, Boles and Aust can’t dodge this one by falling back on the kind of binding arbitration that would let them off the hook. So, now they’re at the mercy of an angry County Board.

As I’m frequently fond of saying, “Politics ain’t a game for sissies,” as Boles and Aust are about to discover. Stay tuned readers! This one’s going to be a very fascinating proposition.

 

I do believe in redemption, but…

…this social liberal is having a real problem with a recent local turn of events. But let’s go off on one of my famous tangents first.

Most of y’all know the author who’s had the biggest impact on my life and writing is the late great Studs Terkel. And the theme that consistently permeated his work was, no matter what you’ve done, redemption is always just around the corner – even for us regular folks.

All we have to do is embrace it.

But when I learned the Pine Village killer was just paroled, it’s truly testing my redemption resolve.

Reimann

Carl Reimann

For reference purposes, on December 29, 1972, Carl Reimann and his girlfriend entered the Pine Village Restaurant in Yorkville intending to rob it. But instead of simply taking the $640 and running, Reimann pulled a .32 caliber handgun and shot customers David Gardner and Bob Loftus, bartender John Wilson, 16-year-old employee Catherine Rekate, and cook George Paschade.

The Morris Police quickly caught up with Reimann and he was ultimately sentenced to 50 to 150 years for each murder with some extra time thrown in for the armed robbery. Today, two first degree murder convictions would mean life in prison, but in 1972, parole was still a possibility.

Reimann, now 77, had been previously denied release, but 45 years after the crime, deeming he was no longer a danger to society, the parole board granted his petition.

Former Kendall County Sheriff Richard Randall, one of the first Yorkville officers on the scene of the massacre, still describes the memory as “traumatic.” He told the Tribune he was “shocked” by the parole board’s decision.

And I am, too!

So, I reached out to Mr. Paschade’s nephew, Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen, to get his thoughts on this very difficult topic:

“George Paschade was my uncle and a gentle, quiet and kind man to his family and friends.  He was a peaceful, hard-working man who just went to work one day as a cook in a restaurant and was brutally slaughtered by Carl Reimann.

We forgive, but cannot forget the pain, and now the parole board has compounded that pain with injustice by deciding that Carl Reimann is both alive and free while his victims are long dead.”

Despite my fondness for Studs and everything he stood for, I gotta go with the Chairman on this one. You really shouldn’t be able to come back from slaughtering five innocent people.

 

FOIA-gate day 5!

It’s been five days since the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office has ignored my April 16 FOIA request regarding the ongoing sexual harassment scandal in that office.

Remember, I’m not saying they denied it, I’m saying they’ve completely ignored it! We’ll keep the countdown going.

Quick Hits – April 27, 2018

You can’t ignore me, Joe!

Apparently, I’m off Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s Christmas card list! How do I know this? Because his office has gone from illegally denying my FOIA requests to outright ignoring them.

That’s right! As a result of getting around their last FOIA denial by running a female prosecutor’s formal sexual harassment complaint verbatim, in a fit of pique, McMahon and Civil Division chief, Joe Lulves, are simply pretending I don’t exist.

My wife tries that strategy all the time, and as you might imagine, it doesn’t work! I call it the “ostrich defense.”

And why not? When the Illinois Attorney General inevitably orders the KCSAO to cough up the goods, there are no statutory sanctions for ignoring their edict, either. Ultimately, I will have to get a Kane County judge to enforce that order.

McMahon 2

If I’m fortunate enough to get a good judge, he’ll force the KCSAO’s hand right away, but the more likely outcome will be months of continuations and delay. They might even be able to forestall the release of those records until after McMahon’s 2020 reelection campaign.

You see, though I have no hard evidence yet, I’m convinced there’s a settlement and non-disclosure agreement between yet another groped female former prosecutor and the KCSAO. Prosecutor McGropy was a very busy man!

Why do I suspect this? Because that former prosecutor’s father confronted me when he thought I was writing about his daughter. Ironically, I had no clue she was one of the victims until he reached out.

First, I thought it was odd that a father was fighting his 40-something daughter’s battles. Second, when I asked him why he’d defend the very people who’d so “traumatized” her, he said they were happy with the KCSAO complaint outcome and they didn’t want me getting involved.

It took me awhile to put two and two together, but the only logical reason for that kind of response is there was some kind of settlement and non-disclosure agreement. And if I wrote about it, that could jeopardize their agreement and void any deal.

So, why would the KCSAO ignore this FOIA request instead of simply denying it like all the others? Because any governmental agreement that includes taxpayer dollars is subject to the Freedom of Information Act – no exceptions. Coming up with another BS refusal excuse would be too obvious even for them.

I’ve repeatedly called Lulves, sent him follow up emails, and left two voicemails for his administrative assistant, but despite the fact they’re six days late, the silence is deafening.

All I can say is, the level of arrogance required to flip the legal bird in this fashion is absolutely astonishing.

 

On vigilance!

Most of us dismiss those “boring” ancillary high school and college classes as meaningless to our adult existence. But I gotta tell ya, whether it’s Soren Kierkegaard, Jean Paul Sartre, Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger, Harper Lee, or Albert Camus, those literature and philosophy courses continue to have a massive effect on my life.

The next thing you know, I’ll start using geometry again!

I’ve said it before, but Camus’ brilliant novel, ‘The Plague,’ is more relevant today than when I read it in 1975 for Mrs. Harding’s English class. Here’s one one my all-time favorite ‘The Plague’ quotes:

“I know positively – yes Rieux, I can say I know the world inside out as no one on earth is free from it. And I know too that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the infection on him. What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest- health integrity purity if you like – is a product of the human will of vigilance that must never falter.

The good man the man who infects hardly anyone is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous will-power a never ending tension of the mind to avoid such lapses. Yes Rieux, it’s a wearying business being plague-stricken. But it’s still more wearying to refuse to be it. That’s why everybody in the world today looks so tired everyone is more or less sick of plague. But that is also why some of us who want to get the plague out of their systems feel such desperate weariness a weariness from which nothing remains to set us free except death.”

I still get goosebumps when I read that passage!

The book, published in 1947, uses a fictional plague in Oran, Tunisia, as an allegory for the recent Nazi occupation of France. And the theme throughout the existentialist work is, like the rats inexplicably dying in the street of a North African city were ignored, it’s critical that we see the signs of the worst of humanity before they spread like a plague

I’ve certainly taken the long way home here, but because of you, dear readers, the Illinois Youth Center is on a level one lockdown, which greatly restricts the movement of the “residents.” It’s the first step in finally bringing that facility under control.

You see, the truth is, simply writing about this imploding institution isn’t enough. The fact that you paid attention is what makes the difference. Of course, it will require far more due diligence to correct the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, but we’re off to a pretty good start.

Put more simply, thank you for your vigilance! I’ll leave you with the final paragraph from ‘The Plague:’

“He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

Don’t be the plague!