Bomb Threats at the Kane County Courthouses: Probably a Bad Idea

Earlier this week somebody, apparently, phoned in a couple of bomb threats to the Kane County Clerk’s office.  As a result, they closed the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles, the Kane County Branch Court that’s a mile away and the Elgin Branch Court. I know I’m going out on a limb here, but this bomb threat was probably a bad idea. Maybe even the worst idea of the week.

The Sheriff in Kane County is like many of your local lawmen across the country- well trained in responding and dealing to these sorts of threats. So, he kicked all the lawyers out of the judicial center, closed it for a couple hours, and then re-opened the courthouses and got back to business.  It was over quickly.

For everybody except the people making the threats, anyway.  See, these bomb threats are felonies- serious felonies.  Felonies are generally bad things to try to squeeze into your busy week.  Some are worse than others, though.  This would fall into that category.

I know I didn’t have to tell you that, though.  You remember 9/11, and you know that anything that has anything to do with mentioning bombs isn’t about bombs any more- it’s about terrorTerror equals extra-bad punishment.

That’s not really the worst part of this bad idea, though.  The worst part is that the alleged bomb-threat maker called the threats in to the clerk’s office.  According to the Kane County Chronicle:

Two threatening phone calls Wednesday morning prompted the evacuation of the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles Township, the Kane County Branch Court in St. Charles and the Elgin Branch Court in Elgin, Gengler said. He noted other court buildings were checked as well.

Sheriff Pat Perez said the calls came in about 9:40 a.m. A voicemail message was left at the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s Office, which shares a building with the Kane County Branch Court, he said.

The message was “a lot of people in Kane County are going to die today,” Perez said.

QuadComm – a dispatcher for Dundee, Carpentersville and Algonquin – relayed a second call to KaneComm, Perez said. That caller said four bombs were planted at the courthouse, Perez said, noting officials took that to mean the Kane County Judicial Center.

Authorities have identified a person of interest for both calls, Perez said, noting they are different people.

I’m no Magnum P.I. but I know exactly how the authorities found these two “persons of interest.”  They looked around for the a rock large enough for two people to hide under.  That’s the only place anybody could possibly be to have no idea what’s been going on with law enforcement and phones.  And by that, of course, I’m referring things like the government’s ability to track your cell phone even when it’s off, and the fact that AT&T is fine turning over all of your phone data- even if it was from over twenty years ago.  Who thinks they can phone in bomb threats anywhere and not get nabbed quickly, any more?  Only guys under rocks.

If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to worry about, right?  I don’t know about that, but I know that if you’re phoning in bomb threats to the St. Charles courthouse- or anywhere else- you do have something to hide.

I guess if I could give you people one piece of advice from all of this it’s that you shouldn’t ever make bomb threats– doubly so if you’re going to do it over the phone. It never ends well.

The Geneva Police Crash Jenny McCarthy’s Party.

You knew Jenny McCarthy lived in Geneva, right?  If you didn’t (and you should have) you know now.  She’s been around a while.  She even posted some Swedish Days pictures on twitter earlier this year.

Now she’s been associated with some of the cities biggest scofflaws.  How do I know that?  There’s not exactly a lot of crime in Geneva. But, it seems that she had a party the other night and a lot of her fancy California guests got busted.  From the Kane County Chronicle:

GENEVA – A night out with Hollywood stars at a Jenny McCarthy charity event ended with tickets for public intoxication for some outside a nightspot in Geneva, records show.

McCarthy’s event, which took place Aug. 24 at the Hotel Baker in St. Charles, raised money for Bridges Montessori Academy in St. Charles. Among those cited were actors and dancers.

Then, at about 12:30 a.m., Aug. 25, 30 to 40 guests came with McCarthy to EvenFlow Music and Spirits, 302 W. State St., Geneva, according to Michael Knuth, who, along with Nicholas Mercadante, owns the bar, dinner and live music venue.

“It was a very nice night,” Knuth said. “Jenny invited her guests from Baker Hotel. She was very nice and enjoyed music and spirits.”
Knuth said the last call for drinks was 1:50 a.m. The guests did not drink any alcoholic beverages in that time, he said, because it’s against the city’s liquor code to serve alcohol between 2 and 6 a.m.
“They were not here at 5 a.m.; they were outside waiting for a cab,” Knuth said. “I don’t know how long they were waiting. Who knows where they went or what they did, but as for me and my bar, they were not drinking.”

Oddly enough, the police reports seem to give a different version of events:

According to reports, Joanne McCarthy told police they arrived at EvenFlow at 1:45 a.m. for an after-hours party and they drank alcoholic beverages, up until they went outside, right before police arrived at 5:45 a.m.
Also according to reports, Monaco was belligerent to officers at times, and “repeatedly stated she was a celebrity on the television shows ‘General Hospital’ and ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ “
The report states that Monaco’s demeanor changed when police advised her of the consequences of of her behavior.
Gault, a server at EvenFlow, told police she drank alcohol herself as well as served it to the group after the business closed.
According to police reports, Mercadante told police he admitted serving alcohol to the group until their departure at 5:45 a.m. because he wanted to “accommodate some ‘famous’ people and made a poor choice for his business.”

Uh, oh.

That last version of events tells me a couple of things.  First, EvenFlow could be in a lot of trouble.  Whatever good benefit they may have received from being the place that Jenny McCarthy parties at might very well get wiped out by a liquor license suspension.  Second, people need to do a better job of reading what I write when it comes to dealing with the police.  Your friends (or the people you think are your friends) will always rat you out- just ask Lance Armstrong.

Drinking and driving could cost you your license. Unless you’re underage… then you don’t need to be driving.

You know that party that all the underage high-school kids were at?  The one that got busted by the police and a bunch of kids got charged with underage drinking?  Maybe you don’t know the specific party I’m talking about, but you know what I’m talking about- it happens all the time.  You read about it in the paper.  With summer in full swing right now, you can’t flip through the Kane County Chronicle without seeing another similar story:

Fifteen teens, 5 juveniles charged with drinking in Batavia

BATAVIA – Fifteen teenagers and five juveniles were charged with underage drinking after police were called at 12:13 a.m. Wednesday to the 1100 block of Woodland Hills Road for a complaint of an unlawful residential gathering…

I read about this stuff in the paper, too. Unfortunately, I see the other side of it as well– the side where all these kids walk into court, with disappointed parents in tow, and plead guilty.  Because, well, when kids do something wrong parents are there to tell them to accept responsibility and “do the right thing.”  Of course, what a lot of parents don’t know is that they’re walking their kids into a driver’s license suspension.

It doesn’t matter if the kids and alcohol are sitting on a swing set in a part in Geneva, in a private basement in St. Charles, or at an “unlawful residential gathering in Batavia.”  They don’t have to be driving. They don’t even have to be near a car.  They can have their license suspended if they’re found guilty- even if they get supervision.

The judge doesn’t have to tell them that, either.  Some judges do- others don’t.  Many of the families find out about the suspensions when they get a letter from the Secretary of State’s Office.

It’s not uncommon to see them running back to court, though.  It’s one thing to make a kid do some community service or pay a fine. It’s another to keep him from getting to work or helping his parents by picking up the siblings.  For some parents (even the most well meaning parents who wanted their kid to “do the right thing”) the loss of a license is a much of a burden on the family as it is on the kid.

So, they end up back in court on a motion to vacate the initial plea of guilty.  Sometimes they get that done in the required 30 days.  Sometimes they don’t.

How’s that turn out?  It can turn out a lot of ways.  Sometimes it’s all a waste of time.  Sometimes they can get the charge amended.

So, what’s the point?  The point is this: I’m not shy about telling people they don’t need a lawyer for the small stuff.  When it comes to underage possession or underage consumption of alcohol, though, it’s best to at least call and talk to a lawyer.  You really ought to know what you’re getting into before you get into it.   You should also know if there’s some way to avoid consequences you might not even know about.  Hopefully these kids in Batavia will figure that out before it’s too late.

Area crime rates: People have no idea.

I just stumbled upon the Tribune’s crime rate listings.  It’s buried in the “Homes” section, but updated through 2009.  There’s some interesting stuff in there.

Interesting, but not surprising, is that crime (or, at least, criminal filings) has dropped substantially from 2003 to 2009.  For instance, St. Charles had a crime rate of 30.4 (per 1,000 residents) in 2003. That number has dropped to 24.2 for St. Charles in 2009.  That’s fairly representative of the types of changes every town has seen.

Even more interesting is where some of the larger Kane County towns land in the rankings.  Most notably, Aurora.  People not from the area think one of two things when they think of Aurora: either that it’s filled with gangs or that it’s like living in Wayne’s World.  Neither of those perceptions is really accurate.

I’m not sure anybody thinks it’s got a lower crime rate than Woodstock, though.  According to those stats, though, it does.  Maybe Woodstock is over-run with gangs?  Hardly.

It’s easy to play games with the numbers.  Woodstock might have a higher crime rate because of they way it reports crime or because it’s more willing to charge and prosecute minor offenses than other towns.  It’s hard to tell.  I’m not worried about going to either place, though.

Police… and Their Integrity.

Pretty interesting piece running over in the Daily Herald.  If you’re not aware, there was a very major bust of some suburban Chicago (not anywhere in Kane County, thankfully) undercover cops who had purportedly found a way to make a little “extra income” while on the job.  Apparently the McHenry City Police Department isn’t the only office with this sort of issue.  Pretty sad.  Especially considering the cops want you to believe they’e better than regular people.

The gist of the Daily Herald article is pretty simple:

But who bears the responsibility of ensuring that officers working undercover don’t cross the line between acting like a criminal and becoming one?

I’m not going to go on a long rant about this.  I do that enough about stuff I can’t change.  I’ve got an idea, though.

People have asked me why I don’t like the cops. I really don’t have a problem with that profession.  I have friends who are cops.  I respect a lot of cops.  I come across cops all the time that are decent people doing great work.

What I have a problem with is “Meatball Police Culture.”  It’s something that, I’m sure, they start to hear at the Police Training Institute.  That’s that cops are the “thin blue line” between good and evil.  Between “us” and “them.”  If it wasn’t for the thin blue line, all of “them” would take over and kill “us” (or vice versa depending on where you stand), right?  If you don’t support the thin blue line, you’re automatically one of “them.”

Dammit, line up and get your cute thin blue line products and support the men and women keeping “them” away from “us.”

The profession can’t embrace that attitude.  It only causes itself more problems.  Cops are people just like anyone else.  It’s not “us” against anybody or the cops collectively against anybody else.  It’s easy to not keep an eye on your own buddies when your attitude is that it’s you and your buddies against the world.  That’s what the Meatball Culture does.  It’s cops looking out for cops against both “us” and “them.”

I’ve got a case right now where, on video, an Illinois State Police Trooper stops a car for a tinted window.  When he walks up to the car, he’s got his hand on his gun.  The cop is visibly agitated, swears at my client, and yells several times as though he might pull his gun out.  I guess you might need to know what side that driver is on before you can be sure you don’t have to shoot him, right?

If cops were that skeptical towards each other, maybe the debacles at places like Schaumburg and McHenry wouldn’t happen.  If a large number of cops didn’t act as though they were a righteous tribe solely tasked with keeping “them” off of “us” perhaps they’d have more energy to police the police, and less energy to harass Star Trek fans.

Just a thought.