Quick Hits – September 7, 2018

It never hurts to broaden your municipal horizons

The day will come when former Elgin City Councilman and good friend, John Prigge, will write something positive about the city he once served, but it will not be this day!

One of his latest bones of contention is the $10,466 the City spent to send three police officers and one staffer to Scotland to study non-lethal strategies for subduing folks armed with knives and similarly edged weapons.

elginlogo-3color

I’m sure I don’t have to explain why they’re taking this eminently reasonable step.

And sure enough, a number of folks jumped on the Prigge bandwagon by questioning whether Elgin had to go half way around the world to get that kind of training. One commenter suggested our traveling quartet simply avail themselves of Skype or Google for the same kind of enlightenment.

Call me crazy, but I’m not so sure I’d want to avail myself of a 3.5-minute Youtube video and immediately attempt to disarm a knife wielding drunk without some sort of supervised practice first.

No to mention the officers’ expenses were covered by drug asset forfeiture funds, so all the City Manager’s office had to cough up was a scant $2,520 to send Assistant City Manager Laura Valdez along with them. So, the taxpayer impact was negligible.

In addition, as Mayor Dave Kaptain noted, when international law enforcement agencies want to better understand community policing, they come to Elgin. Since most UK officers don’t carry firearms, who better to turn to for non-lethal methodologies?

But the best reason to go is these kinds of trips build the kind of relationships in which the potential dividends can’t be quantified. To wit, Elgin sent a pretty impressive group to the UK and I’m sure their discussions ranged over many more topics than suspect subdual strategies. It’s not at all difficult to imagine future business opportunities and international partnerships arising from this venture.

Successful municipal management always requires a careful combination of bottom line spending and investment, and the failure to invest wisely always ends up costing the taxpayers far more in the long run. Look no further that the State of Illinois’ disastrous mental health policies which mean the untreated least of our brothers often end up in jail.

And incarceration costs ten to twenty times more than treatment does.

So, not only am I’m good with this UK adventure, but I firmly believe that Elgin frequently finds that bottom line/investment balance more often than not.

 

PETA sucks

Or as I like to call that fascinating group, “Liberals Gone Wild.”

Their latest beyond bizarre initiative was to get Nabisco to remove the cages from the front of their classic Barnum animal crackers boxes. Of course, my response to that symbolic gesture is a fervent wish that PETA was equally as imaginary as the “animals” they think just “saved.”

animal crackers

The only people who eat animal crackers are very young children who generally don’t catch the nuance of cookie boxes. But that didn’t stop a PETA spokesperson from declaring, “The new box for the animal crackers reflects that society no longer tolerates the chaining and caging of wild animals,”

No sir! The only thing it reflects is you and your ilk’s consistently misaligned priorities that do more damage to your organization than good. What’s next? Getting Tony the Tiger out of his overly onerous contract with Kellogg?

Some white folks really do have too much time on their hands.

 

Anti-panhandling ordinances are an exercise in futility

So, both Elgin and Aurora have recently come under ACLU fire for the overly onerous anti-panhandling ordinances. Elgin bans begging in roadways, at bus stops, and in city-owned parking lots, and the ordinance also precludes “aggressive” panhandling anywhere. Aurora outlaws the practice completely.

And my two favorite Kane County towns may as well wave the white flag because our fine friends at the American Civil Liberties Union have never failed to get the judge to side with them on this issue.

When the Supreme Court ruled that begging was basically free speech in 2015, Elgin tried to tweak their ordinance, but defining “aggressive panhandling” as touching, the use of profanity, or intentionally blocking a right-of-way ain’t gonna cut it. Put more simply, you can’t regulate one form of “speech” without similarly regulating the rest.

Though I generally applaud the ACLU’s unyielding constitutionally driven efforts, especially in the era of Trump, this is one area in which I think their efforts are misguided. And I say this because there are basically two types of panhandlers.

Panhandling

The first involves the chronically mentally ill and/or addicted and giving them money does nothing more than assure their downward self-destructive spiral. I’d much rather support the Community Crisis Center, Hessed House, Lazarus House, or Mutual Ground who do their damndest to get these folks back on their feet.

Then there are the more plentiful professional panhandlers. You’ll see them holding up cardboard signs with tales of woe at busy intersections or in parking lots. Then, a short half hour later, you’ll find them exiting Meijer with cell phone minutes cards, Starbucks, Cheetos, and cigarettes, as they get into a late model car with their waiting significant other.

For all the obvious reasons, I don’t give anything to either variety.

Since panhandlers go where the people are and legislating them into the next town is a constitutional impossibility, why can’t Elgin and Aurora embark upon the kind of educational campaign that would prevent kind-hearted folks from abetting this nuisance and making the homeless’ plight worse.

They could use social media and target the prime panhandling areas with signs and flyers describing the options available to the homeless. They could further explain that forking over cash only keeps these folks in the same sad situation, and that many of these beggars are simply preying on people’s kindness. The icing on the case would be strategically placed donation kiosks with the proceeds going to the aforementioned social service agencies.

When their cash supply dries up, so will the panhandling, and the homeless who really do need our help will be much more likely to get it. Problem solved!

Quick Hits – Rahm ain’t runnin’?

Upon rolling out of bed yesterday morning, had you told me that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would bid adieu to the impending electoral festivities, I would’ve told your significant other to lock up the liquor cabinet.

I don’t care what the polls said at this early point. C’mon! This is a man who’s already raised $10 million to fend off 12 challengers who wouldn’t have much of a shot in that kind of crowded field. Democrats don’t seem to understand that, when it comes to primaries, more is never merrier.

Rahm

Though he served for eight long years, Rahm was never suited to that kind of bringing people together dynamic required to succeed as Second City mayor. His specialty has been kicking ass and taking names. In fact, I firmly believe it was his departure that doomed the Obama presidency to utter second term ineffectiveness.

The truth is, being mayor of any city is an exceptionally tough gig but heading up a Machine-less Second City is a virtual impossibility. There are too many powerful factions requiring constantly conflicting obeisance to get the job done. Think about it! You have to placate:

  • An often-loony city council
  • The Chicago Public School System
  • The CPS teacher’s union
  • Unions, unions, and more unions
  • The perpetually unhappy Chicago Police
  • Violent splinter gangs that no one can control
  • A slew of “enthusiastic” activist groups besot with tunnel vision
  • Insistent unfunded state mandates
  • A population that’s beyond diverse
  • Property taxes that make Geneva, Illinois’ look sane
  • Crushing debt on all fronts

I could continue, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying the Daley bred Chicago Machine days were better, but they kinda were. Because whenever you have this number of absurdly diverse interests consistently clashing with each other, you must be capable of, on frequent occasion, ruling a predetermined political hierarchy with an iron fist if you want to get anything done.

And no one pulled that off like Richard J. Daley.

There’s a reason they called Chicago “The City that Works” because the elder Daley had the political muscle to make damn sure it did. The late, great Mike Royko called it “clout!” You certainly didn’t want “Hizzoner” to become too terribly unamused with you or you’d find yourself exiled to Elmhurst. And who the bleep wants that?

I’m sure Rahm could’ve done it back in those days, too, but the times, and the Machine, have “evolved.” Once those Democratic regulars got a taste of political freedom and minorities took their rightful place at the table, a strong mayoral hand was no longer the answer. And when it came down to the new necessity of coaching and finding common ground, Rahm was never comfortable with peace, love, and understanding.

The best example of the Machine’s waning influence is 12 separate Democratic mayoral challengers on the 2019 ballot – so far! That kind of outright insolence would’ve never have been tolerated in 1973.

“I’ve decided not to seek re-election,” Emanuel said, “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.”

Amen brother!

Anyone who wants to be da Mayor of Chicagah should automatically be disqualified by virtue of mental defect. It’s a level of insanity to which even I couldn’t possibly ascribe.

And if anyone thinks any mayor can bring an end to the violence plaguing Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods, as that great philosopher Steven Tyler likes to say, “dream on!” No man or woman on this vast rocky sphere can single-handedly end the war on drugs or address the economic blight that leads to gangs and gang warfare in the first place.

And all the unyielding special interests make that prospect even more untenable. There are thankless jobs and then there’s being mayor of The Windy City. It’s a circle of Hell that Dante couldn’t possibly have conceived.

As far as what the looming consolidated election will bring, an incumbent-less field of that magnitude typically means the candidate with the best combination of name recognition and reputation will win the day. And, right now, that would be former Chicago Public Schools CEO, Paul Vallas. With the right message and the right campaign team, this election is now his to win.

Though he was an eminently round peg trying to fit in a determinedly square hole, I’m going to miss Rahm if for no other reason than I will always harbor a vast affinity for all of my ass-kicking compatriots regardless of how ineffective they might be. And I always got the biggest kick out of his unique management style.

So, Rahm! You made the right decision and both you and your family will be far better off for it. Eight years in hell is more than enough public service for any politician. Now you get to laugh as the next mayor comes to terms with the Sisyphean nature of the task.

Put more simply, from one asshole to another, I wish you the very best in your future endeavors. Don’t ever change, baby!

 

 

P.S. I want to thank Driver Tom for delivering this news scant seconds after the press release was issued.

Quick Hits – Supplemental

Oops! I forgot to post that I wouldn’t be posting on Labor Day for all the obvious reasons. So the next real Quick Hits will be coming tomorrow, Wednesday, September 5. But lets catch up on a few brief items first!

Please keep George and his family in your meditations and prayers

For those of you who don’t know, former Naperville Mayor, George Pradel, 80, is currently in hospice care. When George recently went to the doctor for severe neck and back pain, tests revealed a large malignant tumor and that the cancer had already spread throughout his body.

Pradel

George, a former Officer Friendly, who reined over the city he loved from 1995 to 2015 was an immensely popular mayor.  Though he’s in too much pain to receive visitors, his family set up this website where family, friends and fans could post their thoughts and anecdotes.

We’ll be covering George’s tenure more thoroughly in an upcoming Quick Hits installment. Meanwhile, this is my favorite Real-world Example from my impending ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election’ book:

In 2015, George Pradel, the Mayor of Naperville, Illinois, stepped down after 20 years of public service. That tenure is no small accomplishment when you consider that Naperville exploded from 100,000 to 145,000 residents during that time.

Some worthwhile candidates challenged George over all those years, but he dispatched each and every one of them without breaking a sweat.

George was very amicable, he knew how to connect with voters, he avoided the typical political pitfalls and, best of all, he was Naperville’s Officer Friendly for years. All those school children became voters who have very fond memories of George’s visits.

George never let a handshaking opportunity go, either. I’ll never forget the day he showed up to pass out the awards at a 5K race in which I placed third in my age group.

From 1995 to 2011, any Napervillian with mayoral aspirations was SOL (bleep out of luck). No amount of money, no amount of name recognition, no amount of negative campaigning, no amount of positive campaigning, no amount of time and no amount of door-knocking mattered. Had Jesus Himself returned to run, he would not have beaten George Pradel.

I’ll say it again, running against an undamaged incumbent at the local level is political suicide.

You really think that’s a good thing, Joe?

Just when you think an elected official can’t possibly be any more politically naive, they almost always manage to prove me wrong.

With the Jason Van Dyke trial looming large, both major Chicago papers have taken turns covering defense attorney Daniel Herbert and special prosecutor and Kane County State’s Attorney, Joe McMahon.

In the Sun-Times piece, McMahon brags how he and his top prosecutors routinely spend 13 to 14 hours a day on the case. “It’s whatever it takes, he said, “Sometimes, those days are very long.”

After claiming there’s no net taxpayer loss to taking on a Cook County trial, he basically admitted that Kane County voters aren’t getting the benefit of his $170,000 pay, or the six-figure salaries of his top lieutenants.

So, why run for State’s Attorney if you have no intention of doing the job? If you want to take on a special prosecution of this magnitude, go ahead, but take a leave of absence to do it – don’t bilk the taxpayer for it.

What this boils down to is McMahon is getting all sorts of positive state-wide press, and you and I are footing the bill.

Continuing with his unique brand of naivete, when the Sun-Times reporter/columnist asked bout his recent five-round bout with Chairman Chris Lauzen, McMahon said, “The criticism has really come from a single person. The board members who have communicated with me about this have been overwhelmingly supportive.”

Right!

First, the board members who don’t appreciate Lauzen’s unique leadership style are going to tell him whatever he wants to hear. It’s the whole enemy of my enemy thing.

Second, from the beginning, board members who’ve spoken with me consistently called McMahon’s judgement into question for taking on a case he can’t win. If he wins, his relationship with law enforcement is permanently damaged. If he loses, every Chicago activist will be out for his head.

And third, since the Maxxam rehab center lawsuit settlement disaster, the bloom is completely off McMahon’s county board rose. Most board members are furious with him for his failure to address that situation early on. That means Joe is going to have a very rough time going forward – especially when it comes to his recent budget increase request.

Considering his fascinating track record, I bet he still thinks that’s gonna happen!

The right way to stage a protest

I’m not going to get into the vagaries of traffic blocking anti-Chicago violence protests – we’ll save that for a time we can talk about it in more detail. But I will say that Monday’s attempt to block I-190 and temporarily close O’Hare Airport worked out well on all counts.

The protester’s 50 person presence was vastly overshadowed by three times the number of State Police officers, who explained they would not stop the group from walking onto the highway, but any interloper would be arrested and hit with a $120 pedestrian on an expressway fine.

When Twelve of them, including organizer the Reverend Gregory Livingston crossed the line and walked onto I-190, the were peacefully arrested, processed, and released.

In the end, the protesters got national press, O’Hare airport operations continued unimpeded, and everyone shook hands and went home. Sometimes life is good!

 

 

 

Quick Hits – On turning 60

Paying heed to some excellent advice then Managing Editor Rick Nagel regularly provided when toiling for the Beacon-News, unless it’s a truly humorous event, I generally refuse to engage in what he liked to call “navel gazing.”

Who wants to read about me anyway?

But there is one exception! Whenever both numbers in my age change, I feel compelled to address how that inexorable chronological advance has affected my outlook on this frequently fascinating existence. Since this kind of self-centered self-reflection comes but once per decade, I firmly believe that even my former editor would give me the go ahead.

Though, truth be told, this column came close to hitting the cutting room floor. In an uncharacteristic depressive bout, this looming milestone makes me feel a lot like Chuck Yeager attempting to break the sound barrier for the first time. That said, I want to be clear that I’m not expecting, nor do I require any sympathy because I don’t need it.

It would only piss me off.

It’s just that it would be patently hypocritical of me to apply my capacity for discerning the truth to everything and everyone but myself. So, no! Though no birthday has flummoxed me before, this one can go fuck itself!

60 sucks

The folks who claim I have a middle school mentality notwithstanding, I’m not ready for 60. I know it’s just a number and I know it’s just a mentality, but it’s a really big number and a clear indication that two-thirds of my life is behind me – if I’m lucky – and none of you all decide to take me out first.

At 50, you can con yourself into thinking you have half your life left to live, but we all know the only way 120 is gonna happen is behind the wheel of a Lamborghini.

Yes! Turning 60 does beat the alternative, but barely when you consider the unrelenting stockpile of predominantly stupid people who inhabit this planet. If the Zen folks are right about the whole past lives thing, all I can say is, I ain’t coming back to this shithole!

Sure! It’s gratifying when good friends stare at me in shock as I mention my approaching sexagenarian-ness. (We’ll just keep the whole daily beard dying thing between us.) And while the Ward/Schuh lineage means bad hair, teeth and knees, if we manage to avoid the whole alcoholism thing, we do generally age well.

To wit, I can still sprint a 12 second 100-meter dash, and, with a new allergist and new asthma regimen, I mean it when I say I’m going to string three six-minute miles together and win a 5k in the fall of 2019. I suppose that’s something to look forward to.

But the most fascinating thing about the last decade was, not only learning I’m the king of ADHD, but that I sit well out on the autism spectrum. It may be true that knowledge is power, but having to completely reframe my existence at 59 has been no small feat.

Though, I have to say that one of the more humorous aspects of that mental reformation has been coming to terms with my eminently dysfunctional parents. Were it not for them forcing me to find sanity, I would never have learned to play the extrovert. And that has become a huge advantage.

Again! No sympathy necessary, nor will it be accepted. We all know this life is patently unfair, and quite often capricious. And I hate to disappoint my detractors, but rest assured, I have not, and will not, ask Hamlet’s question. It’s just not in autistic folks’ nature.

But that doesn’t mean The Bard was wrong when he issued that soliloquy. In fact, he was dead on. Given the capacity to, on occasion, slip the coils of my absurd mind and see the truth or a little further into the future, I find this life to be a consistent disappointment.

And that’s the root of the problem – unless a situation becomes dire – my semi-autistic compatriots and I aren’t valued in a 24/7, instant gratification, I’m always right, digital world. In ages past, we were the oracles, medicine men, and shamans, but those practices have kinda fallen by the wayside.

And I can’t be a priest because I have no intention of molesting young boys.

Please don’t get me wrong! I fully comprehend that ninety-percent of the planet’s populace would gleefully trade places with me. I do what I love every day and I’m good at it. I’m financially secure. I have more real friends than I’d ever imagined, and, aside from a mild blood pressure issue and an overeager thyroid, I’m in excellent health.

This ain’t no mid-life crisis.

So yes! I do recognize my immense good fortune, but the more I age, the more I realize that the money and friends are simply a bulwark against the endless supply of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune this life favors. There is far too much pain and suffering in this existence for my taste, and the fact that it’s often self-inflicted doesn’t mitigate it at all.

So, I’m turning 60. Big fucking deal!

Just like Sisyphus and his eternal boulder, I will persevere. I will keep writing columns in an effort to redress the imbalances we’ve already discussed here with no illusion of what one man can accomplish. I will continue to fight the good fight because most of you bleeps either won’t, or have no clue how to go about it. I will continue to write books because that’s my passion. I will insist on hurtling towards my running goals for no other reason that it would be hilarious for a 60-something man to defeat an entire 5k field.

I will persevere in living and loving relentlessly, regardless of my psychologist’s sage advice to reasonably sublimate my brain’s inherent intensity, not to mention the fact that the lows often seem more expansive than the highs. Put more simply, it’s time for the world to adjust to me.

I firmly believe you’re seeing that phenomenon in my more recent writing. Moderation just ain’t my thing! To quote the great Dylan Thomas, nothing can stop me from “raging against the dying of the light,” and I won’t!

Not to mention that Bruce Cockburn was right when he intoned, “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. Ya gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.”

As we come to the merciful end, I’d like to think this is something more than navel gazing. I’d like to think it’s a vintage Jeff Ward rant wrapped up on a love letter to all my more self-reflective compatriots who realize that life generally sucks, and they suffer for seeing more of the truth as they age. You’re not alone.

Quick Hits – Hoist by their own fumar!

All Elgin had to do is wait. But no! They decided to listen to the latest liberal group with a solution in search of a problem by raising the municipal smoking age to 21. The city council figured that, with an impending similar statewide statute set to hit the books in January, they’d  jump the gun with a meaningless symbolic gesture just to get a few pats on the back from the nanny-staters who refuse to let natural selection take its course.

If you recall, we previously discussed how the teenage smoking rate has plummeted from 23 percent in 2005 to a scant 7.6 percent in 2017. And while I’d certainly like to see it sitting at zero, considering the vagaries of human nature, this is as low as it’s gonna go. The truth is, that miniscule rate is a massive success story for which a slew of educators deserve a boatload of credit.

But a funny thing happened on the way to that Springfield forum! Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the statewide statute and there’s absolutely no hope of any kind of override. So, now Elgin and Aurora stand alone as the only Kane County municipalities with teen smoking bans, and you’d have to travel as far as Wheaton to find a similar state of affairs.

Teen smoking

So now, all your average 18 to 20 year-old Elgin smoker has to do is head to South Elgin, Streamwood, or Sleepy Hollow to pick up a pack of their favorite smokes, and they’ll likely pick up a few other items along the way.

So, let’s do the math!

Elgin’s population has increased to 114,000 of which 32,000 are 17 or under. Extrapolating from that, we get approximately 6,000 residents between the ages of 18 and 20. Apply the 7.6 percent teen smoking rate, and you end up with about 500 smokers, who at the going rate, polish off an $11.50 pack of cigarettes a day.

Let’s keep going.

Since those less affluent teens tend to buy ‘em by the pack, that adds up to about four trips to the grocery or convenience store a week. Given the grazing habits of most teenagers, they’ll probably spend another five dollars on snacks and soft drinks, too. With an average purchase of 1.75 packs of cigarettes a trip (seven packs a week in four trips), the average amount spent per trip comes to $25, plus $2.13 in sales tax.

Stay with me! We’re almost there!

That means, for absolutely no good reason, Elgin merchants are about to lose out on $2.6 million in annual sales with an associated sales tax loss of a quarter of a million dollars. And that ain’t chump change.

Before my fellow liberals start grabbing their torches and pitchforks one more time, smoking is a suicidal habit which costs this county $170 billion in direct medical care and another $150 billion in lost productivity every bleepin’ year. But it is legal! And as my hero Driver Tom likes to say, if we can send an 18-year-old to die in Iraq or Afghanistan, they should be able to smoke a cigarette if they so choose.

And banning cigarettes would work just as well as Prohibition did.

So let’s do a little more math!

Assuming that Springfield smoking bill would pass, the Elgin City council took it upon themselves to appease a nanny-state liberal group in search of a problem by willfully embarking upon a specious symbolic act that will not only fail to put a dent in the local teen smoking rate, but will put a number of Elgin merchants at a distinct disadvantage to their neighboring suburban counterparts.

Great job folks!

Quick Hits – Shadwick King deserves a retrial!

In the sage words of that great philosopher, Britney Spears, “Oops!… I did it again,” I availed myself of social media, somehow believing things would be different this time. Yes! I inexplicably hit Facebook in an effort to determine how regular folks were reacting to Shadwick King being granted a retrial.

Let’s just say that “utter disappointment in the general cluelessness and outright stupidity of the average Tri-Cities denizen” is not nearly a strong enough statement. How some of you manage to make it through an entire day, fully clothed, is beyond me.

For the uninitiated, Shadwick King, then 47, was convicted of strangling his 32-year-old wife Kathleen in July of 2015. The prosecution contended King strangled her in a “jealous rage” in July of 2014 after discovering cell phone evidence of her emotional affair with a younger man. A jury convicted him, and the judge sentenced him to 30 years.

It was Geneva’s first homicide since 1975.

Shadwick King

But to anyone with half a legal brain, or an IQ above 56 (which eliminates most judges), this retrial was inevitable. Judge James “Hang ‘em High” Hallock, who never met a prosecutor he didn’t like, went so far out of his way to see King convicted, it’s as close to willful misconduct as I’ve ever seen.

Please note that the “Hang ‘em High” moniker came from local attorneys, and not yours truly.

By their asinine responses to the retrial news, apparently being a Genevan means never having to be burdened by the facts. It must be nice! And those reactions included, but were not nearly limited to:

  • But there was so much evidence!
  • Scumbag!
  • Wow!
  • Wouldn’t that be double jeopardy to retry him?
  • These types of technicalities are ugh! (Written by a poet, of course!)
  • But the jury found him guilty! Who cares about the judge?
  • And my favorite from a well-known local loon, “I feel he was 100 percent guilty.”

Because you’re all that matters, right?

Having cowered in that basement crawl space for the better part of three days while I came to terms with the frightening reality that these are the nitwits with whom I live, please allow me to explain how the appeal process really works.

First, in a criminal jury trial (as opposed the bench variety), a judge’s sole purpose is to ensure the defendant gets a fair trial. He or she simply serves as a referee.

If the judge fails in this singular regard, the defense attorney must object right then and there, and, should their client be convicted, they have 30 days to cite the “reversible error” in a motion for a new trial.

Since I can’t remember the last time a circuit judge overturned themselves, that means it’s generally up to the appeals court to vacate a verdict. If the defense attorney successfully argues there was reversible error, as Kane County Public Defender Kelli Childress did here, it goes back to the circuit court for retrial.

A successful appeal DOES NOT mean:

  • The jury did anything wrong
  • The verdict has been reversed
  • King can’t be retried due to double jeopardy
  • King will be immediately released
  • Technicalities were necessarily involved

What it does mean is Judge Hallock screwed up so badly that King didn’t get a fair trial. So, now he gets a Mulligan. It’s as if the original trial NEVER took place. The defendant is, once again, presumed innocent, and given the resources, he can post bond and be released.

The fact that some of you feel he’s “100 percent guilty” is utterly immaterial and it belies the kind of immaturity that means you should never serve on a jury – or operate a motor vehicle for that matter.

In overturning the verdict, the Second District Appeals Court ruled:

1. That FBI profiler Mark Safarik testified on “facts” beyond his expertise. In their unanimous ruling, those judges wrote:

Safarik – no matter how many crime scenes he had attended as a police officer, how much study he had done on violent crime scenes as an FBI profiler, or how many courses he had attended – was not qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education to opine on the cause and manner of Kathleen’s death.

Since it seems most of you need everything spelled out, whenever a prosecutor or defense attorney calls an expert witness, unless the other side doesn’t object, they must lay the foundation for the witness’s expertise.

For example, were I called to testify on journalistic satire and hyperbole, the worst Kane County attorney could lay the foundation in five minutes. But if I proceeded to testify about journalistic tact and subtlety – clearly not my areas of expertise – that would be a due process violation because my testimony would be more prejudicial than probative.

Probative testimony involves fact, while prejudicial testimony involves emotion, and convictions are always supposed to be based on fact.

To wit, the appeals court ruled, “We hold that Safarik’s opinion as to the cause of Kathleen’s death was so highly prejudicial that we must reverse the defendant’s conviction.”

2. Now that you understand “probative” versus “prejudicial,” you’ll also understand that allowing Kathleen’s family to testify how “upset” they were by her death, was beyond the legal pale. The appeals court correctly ruled it was “introduced solely for its emotional impact.”

3. The appellate judges also smacked Hallock upside the head for permitting prosecutors to tell the jury they could have “questions” about the evidence, and still convict. In other words, they could ignore reasonable doubt! Those judges noted it “was an improper attempt to define and dilute the state’s burden of proof.” They also declared that, “Nothing close to it is permitted on retrial.”

Personally, I think they’re more than a little peeved at Hallock, and they should be.

4. Though I haven’t gotten that far in the brief, I’m sure the appellate court also cited Hallock for consistently permitting the prosecution to admit new evidence during the trial rebuttal phase. That blatant disregard for due process prevented the defense from offering their own rebuttal to those new facts.

 

As a brief aside, I dealt directly with the FBI for 20 bleepin’ long years, and I never met a “profiler” who wasn’t a complete charlatan along the lines of psychics, faith healers, and Trump cabinet members. They will eventually be discredited just like all that formerly accepted bite mark and arson evidence proved to be a total sham. A local attorney told me “Safarik would testify that your mother killed Kathleen King if you paid him enough.”

C’mon! This one isn’t even close, folks. Regardless of what you think of the defendant, he DID NOT receive a fair trial, so we’re going to do it all over again. Meanwhile, one of the rare sensible social media folks asked, “Shouldn’t our prosecutors know they have to play by the rules?”

It would be nice if we had a state’s attorney’s office that didn’t regularly game the system. Those prosecutors knew exactly what Hallock was gonna do and they played him like a fiddle. To be fair, I haven’t met a defense attorney who wouldn’t take advantage of a more liberal judge, either.  But I expect a little more from the folks who represent The State.

Oh! And by the way, the Kane County taxpayers coughed up a mere 18 grand to have Safarik testify.

So, if you want to blame someone for this mess – and all that extra taxpayer expense – blame Judge Hallock, who went so far beyond the scope of his referee role that a first-year law student would’ve overturned King’s conviction. And this isn’t nearly the first time he’s played second prosecutor, either. That man shouldn’t be judging dog shows or as much as sitting on a plastic park bench.

And the state’s attorney’s office came close to pulling this one off, too! If it wasn’t for Childress’ exceptional legal acumen and dogged persistence, King would’ve suffered a truly gross miscarriage of justice.

Childress 3

Kelli Childress with Shadwick King

Trust me, if it was you sitting in that jail cell on an errant verdict, you’d quickly come to appreciate the checks and balances our Founding Fathers deemed critical to the Constitution. And I would encourage you to avoid commentary on something you know absolutely nothing about, because as the old adage goes, it quickly removes all doubt.

This wouldn’t nearly be the first time the Geneva Police made it up as they went along, either.

The KCSAO said they would appeal the Second Appellate Court’s ruling, but that ain’t gonna change a thing. Those judges are renowned for following the letter of the law and getting it right. So, there will be a retrial and, since Childress has never lost a jury trial, this one’s about to get very interesting.

You better believe I’ll be there.

I got your unconscious bias training right here!

Before we get started, please allow me to raise my right hand and publicly proclaim my undying love for the City of Elgin, Illinois. Their city council is one of the best, the police department is one of the best, I love Mayor Kaptain, there are an exceptional number of exceptional city staffers, and, unless you’ve been living under a rock, the city is clearly headed in a positive direction.

But just like it is with any reasonable long-term marriage, there comes a time when you have to tell your wife it’s not the pants that make her butt look big, it’s something else entirely. And the truth is, Elgin really needs to put the “diversity” fork down.

Please also note that I am a social liberal, not that it will matter to my adoring progressive throng who suddenly believe I’m evil incarnate.

So, let’s move on.

When I heard Elgin was offering employees “unconscious-bias” training as part of their continuing diversity initiative, I was a little confused. But then I thought, “Why not!” It might be kinda of fun to see what kind of unconscious bias they could impart unto their employees. I’ve always been a big fan of large-scale social experiments.

Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see if they could get white people to cross the street whenever they see another white person walking towards them? B. F. Skinner would be so proud!

But then a high-ranking Elgin official explained they weren’t trying to instill bias into staffers, they were trying to root out those staffers’ unconscious biases. And the sound you heard yesterday afternoon was me banging my head against the wall for a full five minutes.

First! There’s a reason they call them “unconscious” biases. It’s because they’re unconscious! So, short of some psychic trainers or months of Freudian analysis, I’m not quite sure how they plan on dragging those prejudices all the way up to the surface.

Second, like every other human being, these trainers have their own unconscious biases, which makes it impossible to sort out who’s biasing who. If I was told I had to endure unconscious bias training, I’d have a number of unconscious (and conscious) biases against the folks trying to uncover my unconscious bias.

Most of you already know I’ve been fighting for diversity and a level playing field for 12 long years, but this insipid initiative is even worse than a bad Stuart Smalley skit. Why not just have Elgin employees don heavy cardigan sweaters and look into a large mirror as they say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it! I have no unconscious biases.”

Trust me! It would require a lot less time and effort and it would be much more effective, too.

Smalley

Of course, this newest example of liberalism gone wild can be traced directly back to disgraced former U-46 School Board member, Traci Ellis, who never met a Caucasian she didn’t blame for something. She whispers into councilpersons Tish Powell’s and Corey Dixon’s ears, and they’re all too happy go along with her latest bizarre bigoted scheme.

To be fair, Dixon does it to a lesser degree, but since I expect a lot more from him, he’s become a much bigger disappointment.

Then, fearing Ellis’ small, but vocal posse of sycophantic middle-aged white women who can’t get over the fact they were born Caucasian, the entire City Council signs onto it, too. Then you get “unconscious bias” training which is just another bigoted byword for “We are going to make you understand just how much you white people suck, whether you like it or not!”

Cause we all know the majority of Elgin employees are, indeed, white.

Look, I’m the first one to point out that I prefer my honorary Mexican heritage and there’s nothing white folks can’t screw up. And I’ve been behind every other Elgin diversity drive, particularly the controversial EPD Puerto Rico recruiting trip. But the conscious bias here is, you get regular folks, with their occasionally strange predilections, to start thinking there’s really something wrong with them and then they only dig in further.

And that always does far more harm than good. It’s exactly this kind of rampant reverse liberal bigotry that made Donald Trump president.

The other huge problem Elgin has here is the Hawthorne Effect, a well-known and widely accepted psychological phenomenon that stipulates individuals always modify their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.

Put more simply, the trainees will tell the trainers exactly what they want to hear just to get them off their backs and get back to work.

As always, I spoke with an Elgin official who convinced me there is some value to this training. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t leave that conversation convinced that 90 percent of unconscious bias trainees would walk out of it thinking, “That’s 90 minutes of my life I’ll never get back,” while the other 10 percent might actually get something out of it.

There’s certainly something to be said for tackling a problem in smaller increments, but I still firmly believe this is just another case of abject liberal bullshit.

Aside from being a gargantuan waste of time, on the basis of that source, I’d generally be OK with the training, because I have no illusions as to Elgin’s “perfection.” But whenever anything involves our terrible trio – Ellis/Powell/Dixon – it always reeks of the same ulterior motives they love to regularly ascribe to white folks.

Ain’t it funny how their thoughts on diversity never seem to include that plurality of Elgin Hispanics?

And when you do carefully examine our trio’s motives, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that they’re even whiter than I am.