Quick Hits – July 25, 2023

Quick Hits – July 25, 2023

A Campton Hills correction

Though last week’s story on Campton Hills Police Chief Steve Millar inevitably coming out on top of the Illinois State Police witch hunt was generally faithful to the predictive facts, it would seem that I blamed the wrong former CH village president for instigating the kerfuffle.

Despite a stellar source confirming my version of the usual suspects’ involvement, two equally reliable sources convincingly argued that former first village president Patsy Smith was not responsible for this conflagration, and her predecessor, former third village president Mike Tyrrell, was. A reliable third source confirmed that second version.

They also noted that Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser was good friends with Mr. Tyrrell, and not Ms. Smith as I erroneously reported.

Put more simply, Ms. Smith has had her moments, but this wasn’t one of them. And even though I got the gestalt generally right, as excusable as it might be in this case, it’s equally important to ensure that even the smallest “fact” is one.

To further set the record straight, not only was Ms. Smith not responsible for this undue attack on Chief Millar’s reputation, but she’s been supporting him through this ordeal.

Sadly, this correction turn of events does nothing to change my theory that there’s something in the water in Campton Hills, and in fact, it tends to reinforce it. But at least I’ve finally got my ducks in a row.

All that said, I’m convinced that we’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg on this one.


Elgin! Don’t let go of the R.O.P.E.

Considering how some municipal programs plod on to the point where they outlive their usefulness, it’s a good thing for city administrators to regularly review those initiatives in an effort to stave off the dreaded “We do it this way because we’ve always done it this way” disease before it can take hold.

So, while I think it’s a good idea for the City of Elgin to reconsider their R.O.P.E. program, my fondest wish would be that they proceed with what I believe to be the pinnacle of community policing.

For the uninitiated, ROPE stands for “Resident Officer Program of Elgin” by which the police department places officers in city-owned homes in neighborhoods with challenges. The program kicked off in 1991, and per the City’s website, the ROPE mission statement reads thusly:

The mission behind the Resident Officer Program of Elgin (ROPE) is the belief that by working and living in a distressed neighborhood, the department will provide police service and be the stimulus that empowers the residents to problem solve, improve their quality of life, and independently take ownership of the neighborhood.

And I couldn’t agree more!

But after the officer in the ROPE house at 429 Jay Street was terminated for misconduct and the downtown ROPE officer was granted a transfer to the patrol division, the EPD decided it was time to review the program.

One of the topics we consistently discuss here is the need for perspective. My biggest qualm with the Elgin Community Task Force on Policing was, with no law-enforcement voice on the panel, there wasn’t any. Since it works both ways, nothing can convey the kind of perspective that having an officer live and work in a specific neighborhood does.

It’s like learning a language. We don’t remember much of that high school Spanish because, for most of us, the opportunities to apply it are limited. But when I spent two weeks in Italy, I couldn’t believe how quickly I learned the language. When you’re similarly immersed in a neighborhood it shortens the learning curve and provides the officer with the kind of insights that couldn’t come any other way.

The EPD made it clear that this reevaluation in no way means the program is kaput, but just to be on the safe side, I thought I’d add my $0.02.


The GPD helps out!

And speaking of how the local police can positively affect neighborhoods, I want to thank the Geneva Police Department for getting mine back on track.

My most ardent readers will recall a time when the news was rarely good in my Geneva, Illinois, south Fisher Farms neighborhood. Unchecked bands of up to 40 teenagers would regularly descend upon us to burglarize cars, go on vandalism sprees, and generally wreak havoc. The unsupervised drunken partying finally reached the absurd level of my pickup truck being firebombed on my driveway.

I have no interest in recalling all of the sordid details, but suffice it to say that it took a great deal of well-targeted legal effort on my part to set things straight. And after certain people moved as a result, peace has reigned supreme here to the point where the neighbors even started waving at me with more than one finger.

The inherent problem is, considering that delicate balance, all it takes is one new errant family to set things back on that downward spiral, which is exactly what just happened here. So, after a couple of down-the-block neighbors regaled me with tales of the latest late-night festivities, I dashed off an electronic missive to GPD Chief Eric Passarelli who’s officers effectively resolved the issues in record time.

Since I can be critical of the GPD when it’s warranted, it’s equally important to note when they’ve successfully intervened in a situation that could’ve devolved into something so much worse.

Put more simply, thank you GPD for your swift action on this one.


The Batavia bag fee continued

Since Friday is my day off cooking, after posting last Thursday’s column on Batavia’s most regressive tax, I considered ordering shrimp egg foo young with a little shrimp fried rice on the side from the Batavia Randall Road East China Inn. But then I realized that, with my wife’s order added in, I’d likely be looking down the barrel of two ten cent bag fees and I moved on to other options.

As it turns out, the shopping bag tax doesn’t apply to restaurants, but the only reason I made the effort to get those specific details is because I knew I’d be covering that thought process here. Ah! But the average Tri-Cities denizen won’t likely expend that energy, which means they’ll opt for a non-Batavia carryout option just to avoid that fee.

Again, it’s the regressive tax principle of the thing. As for the restaurant exception, Batavia hasn’t done nearly a good enough job of messaging in that regard.

It was while I was mulling over that carryout scenario that I remembered that my not-so-sainted mother used to tell me, “You catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” In that very vein, it seems like whenever a municipality sinks their teeth into a social engineering project like a single-use bag fee, they always come at it from a punitive point of view. And they do that despite the stark reality that incentives are always far more effective than fiats.

So, what about this? I’m not quite sure how it would work, but instead of charging a bag fee, why couldn’t the City of Batavia provide these retail enterprises with the wherewithal to provide a minor discount for those shoppers forward thinking enough to bring their own bags?

I know this sounds strange coming from the likes of this journalist, and even though it often leads to disappointment, I like the idea of counting on my fellowpersons’ good nature a lot more than having to deal with a poorly considered punitive tax.


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