Friday, October 31, 2014

A Fellow Citizen's View of the Race For Sheriff of Stephenson County

Tutty was asked to post the following letter on the Stephenson Blumdoggle.  Tutty is always happy to oblige the readers of this blog.

This county is NOT safe. The schools are not  safe, the streets are not safe, no one is exempt from a crime, an assault or even a shooting. We need to bring back the K-9 unit and the D.A.R.E program. It's time for "revival" in the StepensonCounty Sheriff's department.
We need a sheriff's department that has honesty, integrity, solid ethical beliefs and leadership skills. I do not feel safe with the current sheriff's department operating at "bare bones" levels. I thought the sheriff's department was in place to "protect and serve".
I would say that it is definitely time for a change. I don't think the Crime in Numbers for Stephenson County are going down because there is less crime. They are going down because there are less deputies thus less criminals and law breakers being arrested and ticketed.
The Stephenson County Sheriff's department needs new blood and fresh ideas. We need a sheriff that is as passionate as we, parents and grandparents, are about our county and making it a better place to live and work. On July 10, 2014 Sheriff Snyders stated in the Journal Standard that "Property crimes and scams targeting the elderly are among the more prevalent local crime problems, but overall the county is safe. I would say it’s a safe community, a safe county to live in.” WRONG!!

Ask me how safe I felt after my home was broken into the day before Christmas and I had all my heirloom family jewelry and other personal items stolen. Granted the jewelry wasn't worth much, but they were things that had been belonged to my deceased grandmothers. Things I no longer have to pass down to my daughters. My youngest daughter never felt safe again as photos of her were also taken. Just one more unsolved crime. This is NOT a safe community. Guns, drugs, shootings,unsolved murders, millions of dollars in lawsuits against the county for no action or inappropriate action by the sheriff and his staff. We need accountability in the sheriff's department and it can't happen soon enough for me.
Yes, time for a change. This is OUR sheriff's department, not theirs. Don't vote your party this election. Get out and vote for the best candidate: Steve Schaible.
Yvonne Knight-Wandel
As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Where Cover-ups and Brutality Are Condoned

Tutty rarely posts anything on the Stephenson Blumdoggle pertaining to issues outside of Northwest Illinois, however, Tutty has been doing some research analysis regarding the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and some very public problems that have surfaced as of late.

For the record, Tutty is not much of a sports fan.  The commercial media makes a big deal out of sports because it easy to sell advertising for the "big game".  As a general rule, sports fanatics are a gullible audience, just what big advertisers want, that's a fact folks.  There is reason the NFL championship game draws so much money from advertisers and it is not flattering for sports fans.

Do you really think many people would consider buying a super-size, four-wheel drive truck, to get them across town if they were watching Jaques Cousteau?  Go a month without watching TV and you will see just dumb advertisers really think you are.

Because there is so much money in collegiate sports and the associated broadcasting rights, major and not so major college athletic departments across the country to their best to hide their heads in the sand whenever anyone or anything threatens their gravy train.

Most local media suck up local colleges' athletic departments.  However, today's New York Times did a very good job of pulling the covers off how major college programs and their participants forsake justice for profit.  Here is a picture of the front page of the The Times:

(fair use copyright claimed for the purpose of public education)
While Tutty will not attempt to paraphrase the New York Times' thorough and lengthy story it is crystal clear the Florida State University and the Tallahassee Police Department have engaged  in numerous cover-ups regarding Florida State Athletes.
However, the Florida State scandal is likely the tip of the iceberg of a culture of cover-ups and condoned brutality.
A few weeks back Tutty was asked to look into an incident where an Ohio State assistant coach, Anthony Schlegel, body slammed a fan that ran on to the field after the fan, an Ohio State student, got drunk on beer the University of Ohio serves at its football games.
Here is picture of Mr. Schlegel body slamming the fan:

(fair use copyright claimed for the purpose of public education)
While Tutty is not going to defend the drunken fans actions, Anthony Schlegel had no reason to attempt to intentionally inflict bodily harm on the fan by slamming him to the ground as hard as he possibly could.  Note the close proximity of security whose job it is to take care of such matters.
While many sports fans and writers, with their limited intellectual capacity, praised Mr. Schlegel actions, Tutty will not.  Mr. Schlegel had no reason whatsoever to inflict such brutality upon anyone.  Mr. Schlegel then picked the fan up, drug him to the sidelines and slammed him to the ground again.  Mr. Schlegel is not stadium security and he does not have police powers.
Maybe next time Tutty sees someone texting behind the wheel of their car Tutty should take the law in his own hands a throw a rock through their windshield.  Would the NCAA and the Ohio State administration and coaching staff publicly condone Tutty's actions because Tutty's victim was violating the law?  Maybe Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer would give Tutty the "hit of the week" award as he did Mr. Schlegel for Tutty's efforts at being cop, judge and jury.  Hardly, Tutty would expect to be prosecuted if Tutty took the law in his own hands and meted out punishment accordingly.
Tutty sent an e-mail to the Franklin County, Ohio, Prosecuting Attorney, Ron O'Brien and asked Mr. O'Brien why Mr. Schlegel was not being prosecuted or indicted under Ohio Code 2903.21 "aggravated menacing".  It is clear from the picture above and the video of the incident the Mr. Schlegel's intent was to cause "serious physical harm" to the Ohio State student not once but twice.  Tutty copied the e-mail to the president of Ohio State University, Dr. Michael Drake.
Tutty did not receive a response from Prosecuting Attorney O'Brien but did receive and e-mail response from Ohio State University.  Someone by the name of Debra Guinan, who Tutty assumes is an assistant to President Drake, forwarded Tutty's e-mail to the director of athletics of Ohio State, Eugene Smith and wrote, "Would you like to respond to this one?  Please let me know your preference, hopefully these will wind down soon."  Mr. Smith simply thanked Tutty for his "concerns".
There you have it folks, those in charge of keeping NCAA athletes and coaches in line simply hope that the letters of complaint "will wind down soon" without taking any sort of disciplinary actions against those that obviously need it.  If Mr. Schlegel has such little control of his emotions to inflict brutality upon anyone in front of 100,000 people and TV cameras, God only knows what his demeanor is like in private when a player (or his girlfriend) crosses him.
Tutty really hopes to see the day when the NCAA embraces intellectual development with same fervor they embrace cover-ups and brutality.
As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Sad, Sad State of Freeport Media...and Therefore Local Democracy

Those that wrote the United States Constitution knew that if this great experiment with Democracy was ever going to be successful it would require an informed public.

This is why the First Amendment is first and reads as follows:

 "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance."

The problem in Freeport, Illinois is that there is no credible media with which the First Amendment is fully embraced.

In nearly every single case local media, whether it be Rockford television stations, Freeport radio, or the Journal-Standard, Freeport's almost daily newspaper, news is the product of a press release.  Which always resembles an advertising pitch than anything designed to increase the public intellect.

Want a good example?

In the past few weeks local media has been loaded with criticisms of the Freeport School District #145 Board of Education.  The Journal-Standard penned an editorial calling the board inept.  Local radio newsman Brad Hart, who gets all of his information from the newspaper or from those who have a vested interest in the outcome, reported likewise.

Not once did any of these so called "media outlets" mention the fact that now is the time to circulate petitions if you want to run for District #145 School Board.

Tutty admits that although Tutty prides Tutty's self on staying abreast of current local issues, Tutty too had no idea...until Tutty picked up a recent edition of the Orangeville Alert.

Contained in this edition of the Alert was a story about petitions being available for those interested in running for Orangeville District #203 School Board.  While the story probably originated from a press release from the Orangeville School, Tutty was impressed with how thorough the story was in explaining the process of getting your name on the ballot for school board.  Here is the story.

(fair use copyright claimed for the purpose of public education)

Why hasn't any Freeport media mentioned the fact that there too are seats up for grabs on the D145 School Board?  And who presently holds those seats?  You can look at the D145 website and it does show whose seats are up in 2015, but why has all local media ignored these pertinent and public facts?

Freeport needs more media than just Tutty to be concerned about Democratic principles.  Local media either wants to include the public or they don't.  Maybe they just don't know how to do as much.  Either way, Tutty has to believe a few of this great Country's forefathers are rolling over in their grave over what passes for media in today's world.

As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Steve Schaible for Stephenson County Sheriff.

Stephenson County residents will have a chance to elect a new Sheriff at the November election and Tutty hopes just that happens.

Pearl City resident and Lena Police Chief Stephen Schaible is running against incumbent David A. Snyders.  Tutty has numerous reasons for supporting Steve Schaible over Dave Snyders and will write more than one post because it will take more than one post to explain the issues in this race as Tutty sees them.

Sheriff David Snyders has cost Stephenson County taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars in lawsuits since becoming Stephenson County Sheriff.

One of the first multi-million dollar lawsuits brought against the sheriff's department under the watch of David Snyders was that involving a deputy that had an unauthorized "ride-along" with him when he crashed our squad car resulting in the passenger, a photographer for the Journal-Standard, being severely injured.  The passenger ended up losing a leg as the result of the accident.

The deputy, although it was obvious he was driving too fast for conditions was never ticketed or publicly reprimanded.  If a civilian would have had an accident under the same circumstances Tutty will bet they would have been ticketed, probably several times over.  A ticket is a public reprimand.

Nor has Sheriff Snyders issued any kind of new rule about having an unauthorized ride-along in our squad cars that the Stephenson County public pays the insurance on.

Why was this deputy never publicly reprimanded in any way and what is the current written policy of the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department regarding such deputized behavior...and what are the written consequences for a deputy that violates that policy?  Tutty's guess is no such policy exists.

Here is the disposition page from the court case in question, notice all of the findings were against the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department:,2002L20,IL089015JL2002L20D4

Then we also have the "crisis drill" instigated by the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department at Orangeville High School in May of 2011.  Tutty wrote on Stephenson Blumdoggle about this incident shortly after it happened and received numerous inquiries from around the country about the asinine behavior of the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department. 

In this instance, unbeknownst to Orangeville High School students, a ranking Stephenson County Sheiriff's deputy dressed in civilian clothes walked into Orangeville High School, fired a two, .22 caliber blanks, and requested a specific student.  The requested student fled the scene and needed to be found.

This too ended up in a lawsuit against the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department.  Here is another take on the instant case:

To make the general public (high school students or not) believe that their lives are in danger is asinine.  What would have happened had the requested student gone to his car and came back with 12-gauge shotgun and justifiably shot the deputy dead?  What if an armed parent (legal or not some people like to carry firearms) would have been nearby and shot the deputy?  With today's ability to quickly communicate, a few students could have had armed parents at the school in no time, resulting a real and unplanned crisis.  People will do all kinds of crazy things ( and are justified in doing such) when they truly believe their own life or that of a loved on is in danger.

Here is what Tutty wrote in 2011:

While the superintendent of Orangeville Schools took full responsibility, Sheriff Snyders has never issued a public statement or acted accountable in any way regarding this Stephenson County Sheriff's Department led fiasco.

Tutty has more reasons to support Steve Schaible for Sheriff and Tutty will be expounding upon those issues, which does include other multi-million dollar lawsuits and the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department policy or the lack thereof.

Vote Stephen Schaible for Stephenson County Sheriff.  We need accountability in the sheriff's office, and it can't come soon enough for Tutty.

As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Freeport School District #145 and the Administration's Apparent Lack of Ethics

Most Fortune 500 companies operating in the United States pride themselves on having integrity.  Many if not all have a code of ethics that they expect their employees and vendors to live by.

The largest for profit employer in Freeport, Honeywell International, is no exception.  This multi-national manufacturing conglomerate is always mentioned as one of the most respected and ethical companies in business today.

Early in the Honeywell Code conflicts of interest are addressed, here is the lead paragraph of the "conflict of  interest" section of the code:

For readers that wish to read the entire code, here is the link:

There you have it.  Private business in Freeport expects their employees to "avoid any situation that may create or appear to create a conflict between our personal interests and the interests of the  Company."

Isn't it a crying shame that leaders of local units of government in Stephenson County don't hold themselves to the same high standard as Honeywell holds their employees?

Freeport's Second Ward Alderman, Shawn Boldt along with Mayor Jim Gitz sit on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Illinois Development Alliance while at the same time doling out Freeport taxpayer dollars to their private club.

Just recently, the Freeport School District #145 Board of Education (using the term education loosely) voted to allocate $2,500 to the Northwest Illinois Development Alliance while at the same time interim D145 Superintendent, Dr. Peter Flynn, has a seat on the NIDA Board of Directors.  Here is the news clip highlighting the D145 contribution to NIDA:

Isn't that nice.  Dr. Peter Flynn, who collects more than $105,000 in annual pension and is now being paid $750 per day in addition to this pension to run D145 on an interim basis thinks that it is acceptable to use tax dollars collected for educational purposes from people, many of who, live below the poverty level, to fund the private Good Ole Boys club that is NIDA.
Some in leadership positions defend these actions by saying there is nothing illegal about doling out taxpayer dollars for a private club.  These people don't seem to realize that legal is not synonymous with ethical.  Tutty is often amazed at what little grasp educated people have on the English language.
Dr. Peter Flynn has always blown Tutty off because Tutty is anonymous. For the record, Tutty is not that anonymous, the only people who care who the brains are behind Tutty are people in leadership positions that Tutty is critical of, the average reader does not care whose name is in the byline, they only want credible reporting and informative commentary, who the human ego is behind Tutty's picture makes little difference to the vast amount of the readers of this blog.   Tutty never wants to become so full of Tutty that he forgets to look out for the little people because it is truly the little people that make Dr. Peter Flynn's lucrative pension and temporary compensation possible.
If NIDA needs an extra $2500 Dr. Flynn has the ability to write the check today.  Instead, Dr. Flynn and the Freeport School Board would rather use the taxpayer dollars collected for educational purposes from households that barely have the wherewithal to put gas in the car and food on the family table to fund his private Good Ole Boys club.
If Tutty is that wrong, Dr. Flynn should be able to write a point by point rebuttal to Tutty's commentary...he has a doctoral degree for crying out loud.  But we all know that eruditeness does not necessarily translate to high intelligence or ethical behavior.  No further examples are needed.
As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker

Why Doesn't Stephenson County State's Attorney John Vogt Read Illinois Statutes?

Over the course of the past couple of days Freeport Township Supervisor Patrick Sellers has written two guest editorials regarding the mess that was created when Freeport Township and the Veterans' Assistance Commission of Stephenson County entered into an  intergovernmental agreement to jointly purchase a building in downtown Freeport.

Tutty has written about this issue a few times in the past, the most pertinent posts are from December 3rd and 8th of 2012 and September 1, 2013.

This whole issue is the result of the Stephenson County State's Attorney John Vogt not bothering to read the Illinois Statutes that directly relate to this issue.

Let's start where it all began on August 9, 2006 the Stephenson County Board passed Resolution number 06-08-1365.  This resolution put a question on the November 6, 2006 general election ballot that asked if Stephenson County residents wanted to increase the county tax rate by three-cents per hundred dollars of assessed value for the purpose of a "Veteran's Assistance Commission."  As most readers of this blog are aware, the referendum passed and the Stephenson County tax rate was increased by three-cents per hundred dollars of assessed value.  This works out to about $180,000 per year being collected for "veterans benefits" and is handed over, without question, by the Stephenson County Treasurer to the Veterans Assistance Commission of Stephenson County (VACSC).

Here are pictures of the approved Resolution number 06-08-1365:

Please take note of the introductory statement of the resolution pictured above, it states specifically and unambiguously that "330 ILCS 45/9 authorizes the formation of a Veterans Assistance Commission;"  The second paragraph of this Illinois Statute, again, specifically and unambiguously, states, "The commission superintendent and the president or chairman of the county board, or some other county officer appointed by him, shall have general oversight of the distribution of all moneys and supplies appropriated by the county for the benefit of military veterans and their families, subject to such rules, regulations, administrative procedures or audit reviews as are necessary as approved by the county board to carry out the spirit and intent of this Act." (underlining added)

The problem?  Stephenson County officials have never drafted any "rules" or "audit reviews" regarding the taxpayer money they simply hand over to Veterans Assistance Commission of Stephenson County.

This issue has been brought to the attention of Stephenson County Board Chairman Bill Hadley and the entire Administration Committee of the Stephenson County Board.  Yet, they have done nothing, which Tutty cannot understand.  The vice-chairman of the Administration Committee is Gail Clore who also just happens to be president of the Cornerstone Credit Union.

Would Ms. Clore hand over $180,000 of her financial institution's money without having any idea of how it is being used?  Then why is she willing to hand over $180,000 of taxpayer money without any sort of audit review or knowledge of exactly how the money will be used?

Tutty would almost bet that Stephenson County State's Attorney John Vogt is the one that drafted the above resolution.  With that said, why did John Vogt apparently not read the statute cited and had the county board draw up "rules" before one dime was ever collected from Stephenson County taxpayers?  Without any sort of rules or audit procedures those running the VACSC can spend their money on beer parties if they believe that will benefit local veterans.  There is nothing in place to stop such chicanery and no way for the Stephenson County Board or taxpayers to know how this money is being used.  Stephenson County taxpayers deserve much from those allegedly charged with upholding Illinois Statutes.

This illustrated ignorance of John Vogt and the Stephenson County Administration Committee has resulted in a huge headache for Freeport Township Supervisor Patrick Sellers and an equally large expense for Freeport Township taxpayers.  Yet Mr. Sellers appears to be the only local leader (or attorney) that has bothered to read the statute.

With absolutely no oversight the VACSC entered into an intergovernmental agreement with Freeport Township when Mr. Seller's predecessor was still in charge.  Patrick Sellers is now doing his best to unwind this questionable legal arrangement with very little in the way of help from Freeport's Good Ole Boys club and their complicit local attorneys.

The Military Veterans Assistance Act also states, as cited by Patrick Sellers in his guest column Saturday just passed, that "The  county shall provide the office and furnish all necessary supplies, including telephone, printing, stationary and postage therefor."  Tutty would hope that State's Attorney John Vogt knows that when the word "shall" is used in Illinois Statutes it means obligatory while the use of the word "may" means discretionary as determined by Illinois' higher courts.

Tutty believes that the Illinois General Assembly, in its wisdom, provided the above clause in the statute to make sure that all the money collected through the tax established by the Military Veterans Assistance Act goes to provide help for veterans and veterans' families that need as much.  But here in Stephenson County these costs have been illegally switched to Freeport Township, a smaller taxing body without an attorney on staff resulting in the money collected going for bricks, mortar and the egos of those who consider themselves leaders of local veterans.

When Tutty first broached this subject, Tutty was accused of being anti-veteran.  But how can that be, Tutty wants the Statute followed, which will result in more, not less, money available for assistance to local veterans in need.

Clearly, the failure of Stephenson County State's Attorney John Vogt to read and enforce the Military Veterans Assistance Act has resulted in the bastardization of the aforesaid Act of the Illinois General Assembly.  If John Vogt and the Stephenson County Administrative Committee can explain it a different way, the citizens of Stephenson County and Freeport Township deserve to hear that explanation.

As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Illinois Home Rule and the Relationship Between "Public" Attorneys and Big Banks

When the Illinois Constitution of 1970 became effective in 1971 all Illinois municipalities with a population of 25,000 or greater were given home rule powers.  Upstate of the Chicago area there are only three home rule entities north of Interstate 88.  They are Belvidere, DeKalb and Freeport.  Rockford voters petitioned and had home rule taken away by referendum in the early 1980s and Rockford   remains Illinois' largest municipality without the broad and sweeping powers home rule authority provides

DeKalb and Freeport have been home rule since the beginning while Belvidere recently attained the status by growing to more than 25,000 residents.  Any municipality and county can become home rule by referendum.  It is granted automatically to municipalities if they grow to 25,000 and if they drop below this threshold Illinois Statutes require the City Clerk to file a referendum asking residents if they wish to remain home rule.  This is why Freeport authorities counted dogs, cats and rabbits in the 2010 census.

Municipalities which are home rule enjoy nearly complete financial autonomy from Illinois Statutes.  They can create taxes without referendum and have no legal debt limit.  Municipalities which are not home rule are limited to a little more than 8% of their total equalized assessed value in total debt.

In Tutty's opinion the use of Illinois home rule to issue new public debt at the drop of a hat needs further examination.

At their meeting last night the DeKalb City Council  passed a bond ordinance on first reading allowing DeKalb officials to issue "not more than $2.95 million in General Obligation Refunding Bonds.

The problem Tutty sees with DeKalb's ordinance is that it claims that it will become effective immediately upon passage.  However, not once does the ordinance cite the fact that home rule authority is being used to bypass Illinois Statutes which require published notice and a thirty day wait.  The lawyers in DeKalb must be amateurs at this stuff.  You can't authorize a bond ordinance in Illinois without citing the authority you are using to bypass the legal requirements of the Illinois Municipal Code.

The City of Freeport did this exact same thing earlier this year but in a larger dollar amount.  The City of Freeport Ordinance states expressly in Section 2 that:

Pursuant to Section 6 (Powers of Home Rule Units) of Article VII (Local Government) of the Constitution of the State of Illinois, Section 1-2-4 of the Illinois Municipal Code shall not apply to this ordinance.

Here is a link to the entire City of Freeport Ordinance for those wishing to compare:

The problem with all of the above is the only people really benefitting from the transactions are big banksters and attorneys.  The benefit of paying down old debt with new debt while never really retiring any debt means nothing to a public which ends up paying the same or larger tax rate anyway.  It's also important to remember that the bond counsels and bankers are going to get their fees up front with money the residents of the City of DeKalb have yet to earn.  The lawyers and bankers have a plethora of personal reasons to take advantage of fiscally unsophisticated local leaders.  Meanwhile the only real collateral they hold is the "full faith and credit" of local property owners...your property and the real estate taxes on the same are the only real asset units of local government possess.

Tutty believes the elected leaders of most units of local government to be "fiscally unsophisticated" because Tutty can not name one time, and Tutty has seen many local debt issues, where a member of the public body actually has actually read and considered the bond ordinance before them.

If members of the DeKalb City Council actually read and carefully considered the ordinance they approved why didn't they question Section 4 which states that they were also approving the "'deemed final' Official Statement" regarding the bond issue.  Those that wish to be astute public servants need to train themselves to spot times when attorneys, without disclosure, are actually having two distinctly different documents approved with one vote of the public body.  If you don't think an "Official Statement" is separate document here is a link to a 312-page Official Statement from DeKalb County in a multi-million dollar debt issuance in 2010.  Clearly, many local public bodies should have an interest in this real statement of economic condition.  Yet lawyers on the public dole seem insistent on hiding such documents from the very people paying their salaries.

Fact is, it appears as if many lawyers that represent public bodies are often more interested in drumming up business for investment banker friends than representing the interest of local taxpayers.  Quite frankly, if DeKalb attorneys did not provide the City Council with a copy of the "deemed final" Official Statement yet drew up documents whereby the City Council covertly approved the the least that is unethical at the worst it is illegal.  I know Tutty sure not have much faith in attorneys that withhold documents while seeking their secret approval.  Do they work for the banks, or the public which pays them?

As always, yours in honesty, Tutty Baker