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Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf

Officer Down

Saturday, June 30, 2012

NEWS: (DuPage) DuPage Sheriff's son given access to drivers license records

--"Less than full access" is  the same access as any police officer driving around with a computer in their squad car.
For what reason does this kid have law enforcement level access to the records available in LEADS?
Except, maybe to look things up for his buddies to show how cool he is. Which, by the way, is against the law.--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald

By Andrew Schroedter
Better Government Association

As a 17-year-old high school senior, Patrick Zaruba, the son of DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba, was given access to a law enforcement database even though he wasn't officially employed by the sheriff's department, the Better Government Association has learned.

The “less than full access” that the now 19-year-old Patrick Zaruba continues to have allows him to view — but not input data to — the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System, which contains information about every licensed driver in Illinois.

That finding is part of an ongoing investigation by the BGA and WBBM Channel 2, which previously reported the younger Zaruba was allowed to accompany deputies on patrol and was videotaped in April 2011 chasing a suspect.

LEADS is to be used only for law-enforcement purposes, according to the Illinois State Police, which is the agency that oversees the database. State police officials said Patrick Zaruba was granted access after the sheriff's office helped certify him.

While state police officials said a department could get LEADS access for a teenage intern without violating protocol, representatives from more than a dozen sheriff's departments in northern Illinois said they don't let interns, ride-along participants or Explorers (many of whom are weighing a law enforcement career) use LEADS.

“We're very sensitive about LEADS and who gets access to it,” said Lake County sheriff's police Chief Wayne Hunter. “There has to be justification.”

When told of the situation in DuPage, Dave Bradford, executive director of Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety, called it “a violation of the public's trust.”

He added: “If you're not a law enforcement officer, what purpose do you have for using LEADS?”

Law enforcement officers found to have used the system for personal reasons, or otherwise improperly, have been fired or reprimanded, officials said.

Neither Patrick Zaruba nor his father responded to numerous calls and emails on the teen's use of LEADS. A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office also didn't respond Thursday.

The BGA filed a formal request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, which compels government agencies to release public documents, to learn whose information Patrick Zaruba has accessed, but the sheriff's office has declined to comply. As a result, the BGA filed a lawsuit Thursday in Cook County circuit court, claiming the sheriff violated state law by not producing the requested records.

Joseph Mazzone, general counsel of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the union representing rank-and-file deputies, said his group has fielded complaints from its members that Patrick Zaruba was using LEADS.

“There is absolutely no reason that a relative of any law enforcement official should have access to confidential law enforcement information,” Mazzone said.

Patrick Zaruba, who is a student at Illinois State University, was given LEADS access in November 2010, when he was a 17-year-old senior at Wheaton Warrenville South High School, according to police records the BGA did obtain from state police.

Used by roughly 800 criminal justice agencies throughout the state, LEADS has vital records such as warrants, orders of protection and criminal histories. Users also have access to the National Crime Information Center, a federal version of LEADS with sensitive information on terrorists.

The process of becoming a certified LEADS user involves a two-hour course, passing an examination and undergoing a fingerprint-based background check, according to state police.

Patrick Zaruba completed those requirements with help from the sheriff's office. State police granted him what's known as “less than full access” — meaning he can view but not input LEADS data, according to public records obtained from the state police. His two-year certification expires in November.

A state police training manual states: “LEADS/NCIC training is only authorized for persons currently employed by a criminal justice agency.”

However, state police Lt. Steve Lyddon said via email that's not a binding rule.

“Authorized users need not be paid, but must be under the management control of the criminal justice agency,” Lyddon said. “In this case, the management control is being exerted over Patrick Zaruba by the DuPage County sheriff's office.”

Lyddon said “authorized users can only access data for criminal justice purposes.” It's unclear what criminal justice purpose Patrick would have for running LEADS searches.

John Zaruba previously disciplined an employee who was caught in late 2008 looking up a license plate on LEADS for a friend, according to county records.

UNION: (Chicago) Chicago police, fire union pacts expire Saturday

--I hate to say it but from what I have heard so far the negotiations will be long, dragged out and ugly.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune


Failure to reach new deals by end date not expected to affect public safety

By John Byrne
Chicago Tribune reporter
9:53 PM CDT, June 29, 2012

The clock runs out on Chicago's Police Department and Fire Department union contracts Saturday night, but don't expect any difference in how cops and firefighters respond to emergencies around the city if the deal remains unresolved.

Both unions are prohibited from striking, and it's not unusual for contract talks to drag on past the "drop dead" date as the two groups haggle with the city over salaries, incentives and contract minutiae.

If history is any indicator, it could be years before a new contract is in place. Last time around, police and fire deals that expired in 2007 weren't replaced with new ones until 2010. Cops and firefighters worked under the terms of their old deals until new ones were worked out, and the same will happen this time when agreements aren't reached by Saturday night.

The delays can leave city bean counters with sticker shock, however.

The 2010 accords, for instance, forced Mayor Richard Daley's administration to come up with about $160 million to cover back pay increases for police dating to July 2007, and more than $80 million more for retroactive raises for rank-and-file firefighters and paramedics. The city borrowed the money.

The last contracts were set only after an independent arbitrator ruled on a pact for police that set an average of 2 percent raises for five years, dating back to the June 2007 end of that contract. The firefighters union then agreed to the same deal.

This is Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first shot at negotiating with the two public safety unions, and he hasn't been shy about questioning how the city operates even in such politically protected departments as fire and police.

"Safety will be paramount. Savings will also be an issue, and change will be an issue because you cannot say technology hasn't changed and made us all better and smarter at doing what we need to do," the mayor said in February while discussing the upcoming Fire Department contract talks.

One alderman, who did not want his name used while negotiations are ongoing, said Daley seemed more willing to spend city money in the short term to keep the peace with unions. With city finances now hurting, Emanuel is forced to take a harder line.

"The money just isn't there," the alderman said. "I'm sure (the police and fire unions) would like to maintain things, but look around — there are cuts being made all over the place."

Citing a "gentlemen's agreement" with the city not to negotiate in public, Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Shields declined to discuss the status of talks on a new deal.

Firefighters union President Tom Ryan also would not talk about specifics. In a letter to union members in May, Ryan termed the city's offer "horrendous," "insulting" and "ridiculous."

He detailed several pay bumps for things like training and a clothing allowance that he said the city was aiming to do away with in the next contract, along with firehouse staffing cuts that he said Emanuel hopes to make.

"This looks to be a long and bitter battle," Ryan said in the letter.

Ryan emailed the following statement when asked about the current status of talks and the Saturday end to the union's contract: "Negotiations take time and we hope the city comes back to us with some realistic requests, but under no circumstances will our service to the city of Chicago be interrupted or affected by this negotiation process."

Friday, June 29, 2012

NEWS: (Illinois) Quinn signs bill cutting lawmakers' pay

The furloughs represent an average $3,000 pay cut for lawmakers.

--The base pay is $68,000.00 for a part time job? Can I get one of those jobs?
They make up the $3,000.00 in stipends for committees they belong to.
They have to take time off when they are not even in session and they are home working their full time jobs?
Our state is so screwed up it is not even funny anymore.
These actions are not fiscal responsibility, they are jokes on the tax payers.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Monique Garcia
Tribune reporter
2:56 PM CDT, June 29, 2012

Gov. Pat Quinn today signed a measure into law that requires lawmakers to take furlough days and skip cost of living raises in the budget year that begins Sunday.

The new law also freezes cost of living raises for various state officials, including Quinn.

It’s estimated the moves will save taxpayers about $900,000 at a time when the state is struggling under billions of dollars in debt.

“We must continue our work to restore fiscal stability to Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement. “Members of the General Assembly made the right decision to cut their own paycheck and share some of the burden that working families are facing around the state.”

Under the law, lawmakers will be required to take six furlough days from July through December. Legislators sworn into office in January must also take six unpaid days off during the remainder of the budget year.

The furloughs represent an average $3,000 pay cut for lawmakers.

The base pay for state lawmakers is $67,836, but most get thousands of dollars more in stipends for serving as committee chairmen and minority spokesmen. The job is considered part-time.

VIDEO GAMBLING: Franklin Park debates video gambling

--Given enough time, the Chicago Outfit will find a way to make money once again from these machines.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
mlawton@pioneerlocal.com
Last Modified: Jun 25, 2012 09:53PM

It will bring in tax revenue. It will take money out of the economy. It will help local business. It will create addicts.

These are some of the perspectives that Franklin Park village trustees are hearing as they gather information on whether to allow video gambling machines in the village.

Joe Houdek of American Legion Post 974 supports allowing video gambling.

“We are in favor,” Houdek said. “It will bring in additional income. As a service organization, people don’t give us as much as they used to.”

The post supports veterans at Hines VA Hospital, helps veterans get benefits, runs bingo games for blind veterans and offers small scholarships to students at Leyden District 212 among other efforts.

Statewide, the American Legion and VFW have hired lobbyists to persuade municipalities to allow video gambling.

Bar owner Mike O’Donnell spoke in support of video gambling at a June 18 meeting of village trustees.

“We need the machines,” O’Donnell said. “It’s going to help us keep our doors open.”

Trustee Cheryl McLean, who delayed a June 4 vote so trustees could gather more information, said her main concern is in keeping children away from video gambling machines.

“I don’t care if they’re in bars,” McLean said. “Children aren’t in bars. My only concern is the little mom-and-pop restaurants that have a liquor license. That’s where people take their families.”

Under the law passed by the General Assembly in 2009, four entities would be allowed to apply for video gambling machines. Those are veteran’s organizations, fraternal organizations, truck stops and businesses with retail liquor licenses (but not package liquor).

That means trustees would be unable to restrict video gambling from restaurants with liquor licenses. Trustees do, however, determine what businesses get liquor licenses.

Those four entities stand to make good money. According to Professor John Kindt of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, video gambling machines bring in an average of $100,000 per year.

Out of that, 35 percent goes to the machine owner, 35 percent goes to the establishment, 25 percent goes to the state government and 5 percent goes to the local government.

While machine owners and establishments would do well, Kindt describes video gambling as “black hole economics.”

“With people dumping money into gambling machines, most of the money is going back to Las Vegas,” Kindt said. “Instead of buying cars and refrigerators, where the state gets sales tax. It’s not creating any new jobs. It’s just taking a lot of money from consumer spending.”

Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, said allowing video gambling would have a negative impact on local communities.

“I think people are very na├»ve if they think you’re going to spend $20 and leave,” Bedell said. “That’s not how casinos make money. They get it from people who are addicted. In Ontario, for example, 60 percent of revenue comes from addicted gamblers.”

“These machines are very addictive. When you make gambling more respectable and acceptable, people will go more often. Local communities will have a lot of problems. Addiction, crime, bankruptcy, divorce,” Bedell said.

As of June 22, a total of 85 municipalities and four counties had opted out of allowing video gambling, Bedell said.

If Franklin Park trustees vote to allow video gambling, business and organizations would have to apply to the Illinois Gaming Board for approval. Bedell expects machines will start being rolled out as early as August.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

NEWS: (Chicago) I-Team Report: Cop Shop

--C'mon man!!!!!! Really?!?!
It is things like this that no matter what the reason is for being there it just makes us look BAD!!!!
I am not going to jump to indict, but appearances are everything for public servants in this age of media.--
Duke

Story and Video at ABC7 NEWS Chicago

video

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Chuck Goudie

June 27, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Two weeks ago the I-Team reported a story called "The Avenger of K-Town," a resident of a drug-infested Chicago neighborhood who had enough and secretly began recording video of curbside drug deals in broad daylight right outside his house.

One of the cars he caught on tape is personally registered to a Chicago police tactical officer who admits having been there but maintains he did nothing wrong.

K-Town, known for its streets that start with the letter K, for decades has been known for something else: easy access to illegal drugs.

On the K streets, at any time of day, you see cars pull over; a person come to the car window. Residents say that's to take an order. Then a few minutes later they return to the vehicle to deliver the goods and collect the cash.

The I-Team quickly caught a couple of those apparent transactions on tape one afternoon.

Retired CTA mechanic David Muhammed started taking the videos earlier this year from behind the blinds on his second floor. Last month he began posting them on YouTube, complete with his play-by-play.

At the time, police told the I-Team they welcomed the assistance.

"We would like to be able to use some of what he is posting to help some of our investigations," said Deputy Chief John Escalante, Chicago police.

Now Chicago police officials are using one of his video posts to investigate one of their own.

A Chicago patrolman paid a visit to K-Town in his own car and not while he was on duty.

A video that Muhammed says he shot Friday, May 25 at 5:54 p.m., shows a late model SUV in the standard K-Town protocol -- pulling over to the exact streetside location where dozens of drug sales are made every day. A meet-and-greet takes place with a young man at curbside who leaves for a short time and then returns. He gets into the officer's vehicle and departs less than 30 second later.

The license plate is registered to Anthony Sherlock. A Fraternal Order of Police sticker on his windshield in the video. Sherlock, 33, joined the force eight years ago, is married and has a family.

Sherlock says he was stripped of his badge and gun last January as the result of what he calls some "medical thing."

At the same time the video was taken in late May Sherlock was working a police desk job and was no longer on the street, according to police officials.

A spokeswoman for Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says Sherlock's off-duty appearance in a K-Town drug market has been the subject of a separate Internal Affairs investigation since the I-Team discovered the videos.

Chicago police officials say they are waiting the final outcome of the video investigation. Typically, police say, such an investigation could result in termination.

The I-Team left Anthony Sherlock a message at his home Wednesday afternoon and he called us back. Sherlock initially said his car had been in the shop, then admitted that he had driven to work through K-Town a couple times. He then amended that a few minutes later, saying drives that way "a lot." He sometimes stops to speak with people who used to be his drug informants. "You never know when you will need them again," he said. When I described what is seen on the video, Sherlock said: "I know nothing. It's completely absurd. I wasn't involved in any illegal drugs-whatever-like you guys are saying."

NEWS: (Suburban) Police in Schaumburg, Skokie to get Tasers

--I am from the age of the expandable baton. Tasers are the way to go today. I am curious to see what the future brings to law enforcement.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune


'We are seeing more people with a tendency for violence,' Schaumburg chief says

By Jim Jaworski
Chicago Tribune reporter
June 28, 2012

Two suburban police departments will begin equipping officers with stun guns, a tool that has become standard for many area law enforcement agencies.

Officials in Schaumburg approved the purchase of 12 Tasers, with more possibly coming in the future. Police Chief Brian Howerton said violent crime is relatively low in the village, and physical altercations have been rare, so he didn't think they were needed. However, he said officers are encountering more aggressive individuals. He believes the down economy and more mentally ill people not being hospitalized are reasons for the uptick in aggressive suspects.

The village will spend about $25,000 on the devices, which will also be equipped with cameras.

"The bottom line is, in Schaumburg, we don't deploy a lot of use of force … but we are seeing more people with a tendency for violence," he said.

Between 2005 and 2011, the village has had $1.3 million in workers' compensation claims related to injuries suffered by officers who used force. The most recent incident involved an officer being attacked by a suspect in March. The officer, who was seriously injured but has since recovered, regained control with the help of a bystander.

Department policy will be to use the Tasers only in cases where there is a physical threat.

"When someone is just being passive-aggressive, that is not the type of situation where we will be using the Taser," he said, "only when they are being combative, only when they are being aggressive."

Skokie is also starting a pilot program and will be getting its first Tasers soon, said Sgt. David Pawlak.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

EDITORIAL: Mistakes Alter Course of Susek Murder Investigation

The murder of retired police sergeant Ron Susek is now two weeks old and no movement appears to be imminent in the investigation. I make this statement not to aggravate people (although it will). I make it because the handling of the investigation has been less than stellar.

Mistakes that are practically impossible to recover from were made from the moment a supervisor from the Melrose Park police department arrived on the scene at Susek’s home at approximately 6:20 on that June 14 morning.

Excuses have been made that maybe the officers were to distraught on the scene from seeing one of their own gunned down. This is not an excuse and it does not matter how any of the officers felt, they had a job to do and were not allowed to do it. I feel horrible over losing a friend and fellow police officer  and I know how they feel but we have a job to do and nothing can interfere with that, ever, especially personal feelings.

It has also been suggested that focus be placed on the fact that a minority may have committed this crime and that we need to show support for the police and the mayor in order to turn the town back around from the direction it is going. The race of any offender or victim in any case does not and will not ever have an effect on how I see the facts of any case.

I will support the police officers all day, every day, as I always have. As I have said before, I do not blame one police officer for the mishandling of this investigation. The blame falls squarely on the supervisor(s) who were in charge.

I will not support or blame any politician unless I believe it is a factor in the matter of discussion. My only comment on this subject is that the mayor of Melrose Park did not attend the wake or funeral of a retired police officer that worked for his village under his watch. I think that speaks volumes on its own.

It has also been suggested that residents might be afraid due to incidents that have occurred recently and this case and my pointing out the mistakes of the police may not be helping those fears. I certainly hope that is the case. If you have people running a police department that cannot handle the murder of one of their own how can you have confidence in them to handle a case involving the citizens?

The residents of Melrose Park have a police department filled with excellent police officers that are supervised by some less than stellar supervisors. This is not to say that are not some good supervisors, because there are some very good ones.

An assumption was made the morning of June 14 on the scene in Ron Susek’s backyard. That assumption threw the investigation off course for well over 24 hours causing precious time to be wasted on making the evidence fit the assumption rather letting the evidence tell the real story. Believe it or not, I get this. I really, truly do. That does not mean I agree with it, but I do get it.

They saw one of their own down by what appeared to be a self inflicted gunshot wound and right away thought the worst. A suicide. How tragic is that? A former coworker who takes his own life? Horrible. We have to take care of our own, don’t we? We make into an accident, yea, that’s the answer. This is what we will say happened…….

Like I said, I get it.

Unfortunately, it was not necessary and served to do nothing but allow a killer more time to distance themselves from the crime.

Crime Scene 101 says that once you are given permission to touch the body by the medical examiner you search the body for evidence:

 -If this was done properly, maybe the high caliber (possibly .45) bullet hole in Ron’s chest would have been discovered right way.

-Signs of a struggle may have been observed on the body, and;

-the victims hands definitely should have been bagged to protect any evidence whether it was a suicide or not, and;

-Possibly a gunshot residue (GSR) test could have been done on the scene, and;

-If the scene was searched properly, maybe at least four shell casings that were laying about would have been discovered, and;

-The bullet strike on the picnic table less than four feet from the body would have been found leading to the discovery of the bullet hole in Ron’s garage, and;

-The bullet strike in the garage across the alley would have been found along with the bullet strike on the house that the garage belonged to, and;

-All the physical evidence that was left on the outside crime scene would not have been subjected to deterioration from the elements for over 24 hours.


All of this would have led to much different circumstances than what we are faced with now.

Investigators would have been called out. Possibly the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force (WESTAF) would have been activated resulting in over 30 seasoned investigators and over 20 seasoned crime scene investigators being available to help.

A canvas of the neighborhood would have been conducted on Thursday morning rather than Friday evening possibly resulting in better recall by potential witnesses. After 36 hours people can delete or add to their memories unknowingly.

Supposedly a sketch is available of a possible suspect. No matter who the victim is, why has this sketch not been released to the news agencies and the public asking “Have you seen this person?” The longer the delay, the worse people’s ability to recall memories.

There has been minimal news coverage of the murder or Ron Susek and the Melrose Park
Police Department has not been forthcoming with details in an effort to get the public’s help.

So, I am asking, if you have any information at all, please contact the Melrose Park Police Department at 708-344-8409.

Duke’s Daily Blotter will continue to monitor this investigation and any new details that can be released will be reported.

NEWS: (Suburban) Suburban police sweeps fall short of grant expectations

“If it's such a problem, then the towns should hire more cops to hand out DUIs,” said Jim Tobin, president of Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, a group that fights tax hike measures throughout the country. “Let voters decide locally if they want to fund this sort of thing.”

--The above statement is just idiotic.
If towns could hire more cops I think they would, the money is not there to increase police numbers, for one.
Also, in the realistic world you only need so many cops per capita.
These extra efforts that are funded by grants increase public safety, increase public knowledge, and increases the morale on police departments because police officers get the opportunity to make a little extra money.
These are nothing but win-win types of grants for departments.--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald


Eight suburban agencies came up empty in last year's holiday sweeps

By Jake Griffin

Algonquin police received $8,617 in federal grants last year to beef up patrols for drunken drivers and seat belt scofflaws in the two weeks leading up to the Fourth of July holiday.

Despite the extra effort, the additional patrols netted no impaired drivers — and they weren't the only department to come up empty.

Seven other suburban law enforcement agencies — Cook County sheriff's, Crystal Lake, Crystal Lake Park District, Elk Grove Village, Kildeer, West Chicago and West Dundee — received a combined $13,046 for increased enforcement that resulted in no drunken driving arrests.

Twenty-eight of the 41 suburban police agencies receiving funds also fell short of seat belt ticketing goals during the same pre-Fourth of July period, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which hands out the federal funds.

Despite the lackluster results, those agencies were still eligible to receive more grant funds this year, IDOT officials said.

“That doesn't mean that the amount requested wasn't reduced,” said Guy Tridgell, an IDOT spokesman. “The chief reason for that would be past performance.”

Tridgell said the Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program grants funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are parsed out to police agencies in 23 counties that are home to 85 percent of the state's population and where two-thirds of traffic fatalities occur.

IDOT's specifications suggest police use the funds to make one DUI arrest for every 10 hours of patrol and write occupant-restraint violations amounting to 30 percent of all citations.

In all, 33 of the 41 suburban agencies studied did combine to make 151 drunken-driving arrests during last year's Fourth of July enforcement period.

Yet, government accountability groups say the program doesn't adequately track results and requires minimal reporting on spending.

The legal outcome of the drunken driving arrests is unknown. Neither the state nor federal government requires police departments to follow those cases through the court system for reporting purposes, and many police officials said they don't track that information independently. Few departments have goals for the officers working the extra shifts beyond the state's recommendations.

“It's certainly an admirable goal to reduce the number of DUIs. However, we always need to be looking at taxpayer-funded programs to make sure they're actually functioning as they're intended,” said David From, Illinois state director at Americans for Prosperity, a Virginia-based government-spending watchdog organization. “It's important to determine if these programs are being funded through inertia rather than producing real results.”

Sgt. Jeff Sutrick oversees Algonquin's traffic grant program. He said the department requested just $5,100 for its Fourth of July enforcement campaign this year, partly because of last year's results.

“We've been a lot more successful in our seat belt enforcement than with DUI,” Sutrick said. “Other departments can utilize the funds, then. It also depends on how many hours we think we can fill with our staffing.”

The grants pay the overtime costs to patrol officers who volunteer to work the additional shifts. The shifts generally run Thursdays through Sundays from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sutrick noted that the grants don't cover the costs associated with court appearances officers are required to make with many drunken driving arrests. These grant funds are generally available for major holidays like New Year's and Fourth of July or national events associated with increased alcohol use like the Super Bowl and St. Patrick's Day.

Records indicate most of the tickets issued during these increased enforcement periods are for other traffic offenses rather than impaired driving or seat belt violations, which are the focus of the campaigns. Last year during the Fourth of July period, 69 percent of the citations the 41 participating suburban agencies issued were for offenses other than drunken driving or seat belt violations, according to IDOT records.

Advocates for the grant program believe any effort to make the roads safe from drunken driving is a worthy endeavor.

“One way to look at these numbers is that once the word goes out that there's increased patrols out there, maybe there's less people drinking and driving,” said Rita Kreslin, deputy director of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. “When you talk to a crash victim, one crash from a drunk driver is one too many.”

But anti-tax groups say the federal government is making broad-based spending decisions with little input from taxpayers.

“If it's such a problem, then the towns should hire more cops to hand out DUIs,” said Jim Tobin, president of Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, a group that fights tax hike measures throughout the country. “Let voters decide locally if they want to fund this sort of thing.”

Got a tip?

Got a tip for the suburban tax watchdog? Contact Jake Griffin at jgriffin@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4602.

NEWS: (National) Analysis: Grim prospects for Stockton as bankruptcy looms

In Vallejo, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008, public employee unions, led by the police, fought a pitched legal battle against the type of cuts that Stockton is now proposing, but ultimately lost in court. Vallejo has emerged from bankruptcy, but crime has soared, businesses have fled and property values have plunged as the city struggles to maintain basic services.

--Towns considering Chapter 9 or any other cutting measures need to take a long, close look at the above paragraph.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

June 21, 2012
Jim Christie
Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A costly mess, including court battles with employees and lenders that could stretch over years, is likely to await Stockton, California, if it cannot reach a last-minute deal with creditors and becomes the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy.

"A Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding is complicated, expensive, time-consuming and uncertain," said James Spiotto, a lawyer and municipal bankruptcy specialist at the Chapman and Cutler law firm in Chicago. "More likely than not, you're not going to get your desired result."

Stockton on Wednesday provided an initial outline of what a "bankruptcy budget" might look like for the city of 292,000 as a June 25 deadline for mediation talks with bond holders, employee unions and others approaches. The city proposes to stop payments on much of its debt and impose wage and benefit cuts including the elimination of all retiree healthcare benefits after a one-year transition period.

Stockton has already slashed its workforce sharply in recent years, cutting the police force by 25 percent, the fire department by 30 percent, and all other departments by more than 40 percent.

But it still must find a way to close a $26 million gap in its $162 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 -and people involved in the mediation sessions consider a bankruptcy filing to be all but inevitable.

Stockton appears to have already thrown in the towel on the mediation process by announcing its contingency plan, said Dwane Milnes, a former Stockton city manager who represents retired city employees in mediation with the city.

"I hope that in five days they stick their heads up and say they've herded all the cats but every public action they've taken indicates that won't be the case," he said.

The mediation, which includes 18 parties, was mandated by a state law passed the wake of the bankruptcy case of the San Francisco Bay area city of Vallejo.

In Vallejo, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008, public employee unions, led by the police, fought a pitched legal battle against the type of cuts that Stockton is now proposing, but ultimately lost in court. Vallejo has emerged from bankruptcy, but crime has soared, businesses have fled and property values have plunged as the city struggles to maintain basic services.

For Stockton's city workers, the only silver lining in the Vallejo case is that Vallejo chose not to challenge payments to the California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers), which handles employee pension plans for many cities and counties around the state.

Calpers has made it clear it believes pensions have iron-clad legal protection even in a bankruptcy. That belief has never been tested in court - but with the same bankruptcy lawyers who represented Vallejo now acting for Stockton, pensions may again be off the table.

"It's left off the table because they knew they would lose the fight," said Mark McLaughlin, a Stockton detective and board member of the city's police officers union.

Milnes said a legal fight over pensions would prove costly for Stockton and complicate any bankruptcy case.

"Do you want to be on the bleeding edge or on the cutting edge?," he asked. "If you want to take this thing on you could stretch your bankruptcy on for years and take on more cost."

Stockton runs its own retiree medical program, making it a far easier to target for costs savings, McLaughlin noted.

Stockton officials have repeatedly said the city faces a crushing liability of $417 million for its retiree medical expenses and that those costs must be reined in.

In its statement Wednesday, the city also contended that altering pensions would make it "nearly impossible" to recruit and retain good employees, but that cutting healthcare benefits would not have such consequences.

The extent to which government employers in California may alter pensions for current employees is the central issue in a lawsuit launched by police officers in San Jose this month following voter approval of a measure to overhaul the city's pensions. San Jose's firefighters also have launched a court challenge to the measure.

BONDS IN DEFAULT

The municipal bond market is all but resigned to a Stockton default - the city has already skipped some payments while it negotiates - and ratings agencies continue to downgrade various bond issues. Stockton has more than $700 million in debt across its various agencies.

Moody's since February has cut its issuer rating for Stockton to a junk level Ba2 from Baa1. Standard and Poor's Ratings Service over the same period has dropped its issuer rating on the city from BB to SD, one notch above its D default rating.

"Even if a bankruptcy filing is avoided through negotiation of a settlement with labor unions, bondholders, or a combination of the two, Stockton is likely to default on its unsecured debt, including pension and lease obligations," Moody's said in a recent note.

 The rating agency said it could drop its ratings on the pension obligation and lease bonds by several notches, possibly to the Caa category or lower, based on the experience of bondholders in Vallejo's bankruptcy, who suffered losses of at least 25 percent on their principal.

The defaults have already allowed the trustee for one of Stockton's bond insurers to seize a building slated to be a future city hall, along with three parking garages.

Still, much of Stockton's debt is backed by user fees and other guaranteed revenues and thus would not be eliminated even in a bankruptcy. Standard and Poor's sees just over $300 million of Stockton's various bonds issued since 2003 at risk of default.

Under Stockton's plan for managing its finances in bankruptcy, the city would stop $10.2 million in payments owed on its debt.

COSTLY PROCESS

The Vallejo bankruptcy case dragged on for three years and cost the city about $10 million in legal fees - and Vallejo is a much smaller city than Stockton.

Because municipal bankruptcies under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code are rare, especially for larger cities, a Stockton bankruptcy could set important precedents on how various different types of creditors are treated in such cases. That creates an added incentive for the parties to fight rather than settle - even though that could mean a bad outcome for everyone.

Stockton's predicament stems from years of fiscal mismanagement and the collapse of a once red-hot housing market. The city has already cut spending by more than $90 million annually, to $162 million in the current fiscal year. With the police department budget slashed by 25 percent, homicides have spiked, and the city has eliminated almost half of all jobs outside of police and fire.

Sacramento-based lawyer Joseph Rose, who represents Stockton's office worker employees in the mediation, said he believes Stockton will be unable to avoid bankruptcy: "I really genuinely hope to get a deal with the city by the end of this month if possible, but I maintain bankruptcy is inevitable."

(Reporting by Jim Christie and Peter Henderson in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Eric Walsh)

R.I.P.: Agent Victor Soto-Velez

ODMP

Agent Victor Soto-Velez
Puerto Rico Police Department, Puerto Rico
End of Watch: Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 37
Tour: 13 years
Badge # 27163
Cause: Gunfire
Incident Date: 6/26/2012
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: At large

Agent Victor Soto-Velez was shot and killed from ambush along PR-491, in Camuy, while driving to his home while off duty.

Occupants of another vehicle intercepted him and opened fire at his car, firing at least 15 rounds into his vehicle before fleeing. Despite being severely wounded, Agent Solo-Velez was able to provide a description of the vehicle. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. The suspect vehicle was found fully engulfed in flames a short time later and the suspects remain at large.

It is believed that Agent Soto-Velez was specifically targeted due to his work as a narcotics agent.

Agent Soto-Velez had served with the Puerto Rico Police Department for 15 years. He is survived by two children.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Superintendent General Emilio Diaz-Colon
Puerto Rico Police Department
PO Box 70166
San Juan, PR 00936
Phone: (787) 792-1234

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

CHICAGO OUTFIT: Jewels from reputed mobster's home up for auction

Story at Chicago Tribune

Associated Press
12:14 PM CDT, June 26, 2012


The house in Oak Brook where federal authorities recovered cash , jewelry and firearms. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune / June 26, 2012)
A stash of valuables found in the home of reputed mobster Frank Calabrese Sr. is being auctioned off.

Federal agents raided Calabrese's home in Oak Brook two years ago and found a hoard of jewelry, guns and cash in a secret compartment behind a family portrait.

Now, an online auction house in Texas plans to sell the items, valued at more than $500,000 and including more than 250 loose diamonds, earrings, engagement rings, luxury watches and other jewelry.

“He's got lots of diamonds,” said Bob Sheehan, owner of the Gaston & Sheehan, which will hold the online public auction July 10-24.

Calabrese is behind bars. He was one of several reputed mobsters convicted in 2009 in a racketeering conspiracy that included 18 decades-old murders. He was blamed for 13, sentenced to life in prison and ordered to pay more than $24 million. The auction proceeds will go toward that restitution.

During his trial, Calabrese bragged that he made millions on the street and was known among his family for stashing valuables. It isn't clear where Calabrese got all of the jewelry. Defense attorney Joseph Lopez described Calabrese — who accepted items in lieu of cash while doing business as a loan shark — as “a collector.”

Next month's auction is the second sale of items from Calabrese's home. Last year, Gaston & Sheehan sold more than 100 rare $500 and $1,000 bills from Calabrese's stash. According to court records, that sale brought in $245,860.

NEWS: (Suburban) Franklin Park cops assist FBI in drugs, weapons case

--Nice job FP.
I remember all 3 of these bangers.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
mlawton@pioneerlocal.com
Last Modified: Jun 25, 2012 08:26PM

Franklin Park police recently completed an investigation with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that resulted in arrests or charges for three area men.

While the Franklin Park police work regularly with the DEA, a joint operation with the FBI is rare.

“I would say once every 10 years we’re involved in a joint operation with the FBI or ATF,” Chief Michael Witz said.

The department’s four-man tactical squad engaged in “intelligence and surveillance” of suspects, some of whom are suspected members of the Imperial Gangsters street gang, for three years.

“It was just long and drawn out,” Witz said. “There was so much activity among members of the Imperial Gangsters.”

On June 13 the Chicago office of the FBI announced charges against 19 men in the Humboldt Park neighborhood for drug and weapon sales. Among them were three men from the west Cook suburbs.

Jaime Corral, 32, of 880 Joyce in Leyden Township was charged with felon in possession of a firearm, said FBI Special Agent Ross Rice. He was released on bond.

Lazaro Corral, 29, of 920 N. Roberta Ave., Melrose Park, was also charged with felon in possession of a firearm. He was being detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center as of June 21.

“They were arrested on the complaint,” Rice said. “Its up to a grand jury on whether to indict, probably in the next 30 days.”

If convicted they face up to five years in prison.

Francisco Wolf, 32, of 23 King Arthur Court, Northlake, was charged with distributing a controlled substance. He is being held in Cook County Jail against a bond of $175,000. He could be imprisoned for 12 to 50 years if found guilty.

Monday, June 25, 2012

SCOTUS: Supreme Court Bars Mandatory Life in Prison for Juveniles Convicted in Murder Cases

--Interesting decision.--
Duke

Story at ABA Journal

Posted Jun 25, 2012 9:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Eighth Amendment bars mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole for juveniles convicted of murder.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion. "Mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on 'cruel and unusual punishments,' " Kagan wrote.

The 5-4 decision striking down the mandatory punishment scheme extends the court's 2010 ruling in Graham v. Florida, which barred sentences of life without parole for juveniles who have not been charged with murder.

The court ruled in two cases involving juveniles convicted for their part in murders at the age of 14. One joined with an older youth to beat a neighbor and set fire to his home. Another participated in an armed robbery of a video store in which one of the other youths shot and killed a clerk.

Kagan said state law in both cases did not give any discretion to sentencing judges and juries. "State law mandated that each juvenile die in prison even if a judge or jury would have thought that his youth and its attendant characteristics, along with the nature of his crime, made a lesser sentence (for example,life with the possibility of parole) more appropriate," she said. "Such a scheme prevents those meting out punishment from considering a juvenile’s 'lessened culpability' and greater 'capacity for change,' " two characteristics cited in Graham v. Florida.

The majority left for another day the broader argument that the Constitution requires a categorical bar on life without parole for juveniles, at least for those 14 and younger. "But given all we have said in [this decision and others] about children’s diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change, we think appropriate occasions for sentencing juveniles to this harshest possible penalty will be uncommon," Kagan said.

The cases are Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote a concurring opinion joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. He said the Eighth Amendment would bar a life sentence for the youth who participated in the video store robbery if there is no finding he killed or intended to kill the victim.

The dissenters were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Roberts pointed out that nearly 2,500 prisoners are currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for murders they committed before the age of 18. More than 2,000 received the sentence because it was mandatory. "The pertinent law here is the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits 'cruel and unusual punishments,' " Roberts wrote. "Today, the court invokes that Amendment to ban a punishment that the court does not itself characterize as unusual, and that could not plausibly be described as such." His opinion was joined by the three other dissenters.

A dissent by Alito, joined by Scalia, said the court had long ago abandoned the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment. "The court now holds that Congress and the legislatures of the 50 states are prohibited by the Constitution from identifying any category of murderers under the age of 18 who must be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole," Alito wrote. "Even a 17½-year-old who sets off a bomb in a crowded mall or guns down a dozen students and teachers is a 'child' and must be given a chance to persuade a judge to permit his release into society. Nothing in the Constitution supports this arrogation of legislative authority."

Thomas wrote a separate dissent that was also joined by Scalia.

ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III issued a statement hailing the decision. "We are gratified that the court followed its precedents in Roper v. Simmons and Graham v. Florida in determining that juvenile offenders are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes," Robinson said. "Juveniles are less morally culpable and more capable of rehabilitation than adults convicted of the same crimes."

PENSION: (National) Public pensions to give "clearer picture" of finances

--It is nice to see that people in charge of the money are starting to be held more accountable but I would still like to see a law that makes it illegal for funds meant for pensions to be used for any other reason.--
Duke

Story at Reuters

WASHINGTON | Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:23am EDT

(Reuters) - Public retirement systems will have to make major changes in how they disclose their pension assets and liabilities, under new rules that the board in charge of accounting standards for U.S. state and local governments is set to approve on Monday.

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board will vote on the changes at an afternoon meeting.

The reforms were proposed nearly a year ago to give more detail on how pensions affect governments' finances. They will replace the menu of accounting options pension funds currently use with a single system, and will likely make some pension shortfalls appear larger than under current reporting methods.

Over the last two years, skepticism has risen about the financial health of public pensions and a week ago Pew Center on the States estimated the total shortfall is $757 billion and growing. Many systems do not have enough money to cover retirees' benefits and taxpayers and policy-makers are seeking more complete information about the depth of the gaps.

The new standards will provide "a clearer picture of the size and nature of the financial obligations to current and former employees for past services rendered," GASB Chairman Robert H. Attmore said in a statement.

The biggest change affects how the pension funds project rates of return on their investments.

Pension funds that are considered adequately funded could continue forecasting investment returns in line with their historic averages, usually around 8 percent, under the new GASB rules. It defined those pension systems as having sufficient assets to pay the pension of current employees and retirees, but did not set a funding ratio.

Funds lacking sufficient assets to cover future benefits must lower their projected investment rate to about 3 to 4 percent. Specifically, the investment rate would have to match "a yield or index rate on tax-exempt 20-year, AA-or-higher rated municipal bonds," an information sheet on the changes said. On Friday, the yield for AA-rated municipal bonds due in 20 years was 3.12 percent, according to Municipal Market Data.

Although it sounds like a technical accounting move, this change is key to the pension wars.

Investment earnings provide 60 percent of pension fund revenue. When the investments fail to meet the forecasts, governments - essentially taxpayers - and employees must pitch in money to fill the void. At the depth of the recession in 2008, the return on pension investments fell by 25 percent, Pew found.

Conservative members of the U.S. Congress would like pension systems to use a rate they call "diskless" of about 4 percent. Pension funds counter that they should use rates in-line with historical averages.

According to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, the rate of decline in U.S. state pension funding has slowed recently, which could result in more states continuing to use their current rates of return under the new GASB system.

Under GASB's changes, governments will have to count their pension obligations as liabilities for the first time. And they will have to post their net pension liability - the difference between the projected benefit payments and the assets set aside to cover those payments - up front on financial statements.

While funds can now spread their costs over many years, the timeline for "smoothing" pension expenses will be shortened.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

PENSION: (Illinois) Chicago area pension plans in debt by $27.4 billion

--I put no faith in any study or numbers provided by the Civic Federation.
They are an organization of people who run big money corporations and supply most of the campaign money in Illinois. 
All they are interested in is their companies bottom line and their retirement bonuses.
The more they can take away from the public sector the more they can get from the government in subsidies and tax breaks.
They have no interest in doing what is best for anyone but themselves.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune


Funds accrue $27.4 billion shortfall between 2001 and 2010

By Jason Grotto
Chicago Tribune reporter
4:08 AM CDT, June 25, 2012

The debt from 10 Chicago-area pension plans swelled more than 600 percent to $27.4 billion between 2001 and 2010, according to a study released Monday by the nonpartisan Civic Federation. That's $8,993 for each man, woman and child in Chicago, according to the report.

The shortfall comes on top of more than $83 billion in unfunded pension liabilities at the state level, driving the cost up to nearly $15,000 per Chicagoan, the report shows.

"While they're debating what to do about the state funds, these local funds are continuing to decline," said Laurence Msall, Civic Federation president. "Inaction during the past 10 years means it's not just politically more difficult to fix this problem but also mathematically more difficult."

The report bolsters the urgency for pension reform expressed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn in recent months. In May, the mayor traveled to Springfield to testify before a House pension panel, saying essential city services and education reforms would suffer if dramatic changes aren't made to the city's pension system.

"Chicago's quality of life and economy will falter," Emanuel warned, calling for raising retirement ages, increasing employee contributions and freezing cost-of-living increases for retired workers for 10 years, among other measures.

The Civic Federation studied a decade's worth of financial reports from 10 local government pension plans, including the funds covering Chicago police officers, firefighters, municipal employees and laborers, as well as pension plans for employees of the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and Cook County government.

The main driver of the increase in pension debt continued to be a severe lack of contributions. The nearly $1 billion local governments put into the pension funds in 2010 was less than half of what was required to cover benefits promised to workers, the report found.

In percentage terms, Chicago's plan for municipal employees received the lowest amount of required contributions in 2010. The city put in just 32 percent of what was needed to cover benefits. With more than $6 billion in unfunded liabilities, the municipal pension plan also has the largest debt load of any Chicago-area fund.

The Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund received the highest percentage of required contributions in 2010. The fund received 81.7 percent of the money it needed that year, about $290 million. Projected budget shortfalls for 2011, however, led CPS to seek a partial pension holiday from the General Assembly, which drastically reduced the amount the district was required to pay into the fund during the next three years.

Last year, the teachers' pension fund received $187 million, $400 million less than the amount it should have gotten. When the holiday ends in 2014, the district's pension costs are expected to more than triple to $647.8 million, adding even more stress to the CPS budget.

"The school district essentially balanced its budget by borrowing from the pension fund," Msall said. "This kind of legislative manipulation not only damages the pension system but also the education system because while the partial pension holiday provided some budget relief, the cost over the long haul is far greater."

The report also found that dramatic investment losses from 2008 continue to affect the funds' bottom line because they spread investment performance over a three- to five-year period. The average rate of return for the 10 funds reached a low of negative 21.1 percent in 2008. Although investment income has bounced back, hitting an average of 13.5 percent in 2010, the pension crisis is now so severe that it's impossible for the funds to invest their way out of the problem.

Another contributing factor to the financial decline of Chicago-area public pension plans is a decrease in the ratio of active workers to retirees. The Civic Federation found that the ratio dropped from 1.7 active workers for every retiree in 2001 to 1.23 in 2010. That means fewer people are contributing to the funds at a time when the funds need contributions more than ever.

Overall, the area's pension debt has grown by an average 24 percent a year. Some funds are in danger of going insolvent in less than a decade, including the firefighters fund and the police pension plan. The firefighters fund has the lowest funding ratio of any local pension plan, with just 32.4 percent of the assets it needs to cover its liabilities. The figure for the police plan is 39.7 percent.

"By ignoring this issue for so long, you've guaranteed that any pension reforms will have to be much larger to be effective," Msall said. "Government will have to pay dramatically more or dramatically reduce the actual benefits that will be paid to employees and retirees."

PENSION: (Illinois, Chicago) Madigan: Downstate, suburbs, need to pay up

--I would venture to guess that the Civic Federation and all their big money private sector members are behind this push by Madigan and Cullerton. Quinn can't possibly support the shift because he would appear as if he is alienating the rest of the state for Chicago.
This is typical of Madigan trying to flaunt his control over the state and showing Quinn who is really the boss.
This whole scheme proves once again that the tax payers and the employees are not important in the decision making process.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

By ABDON M. PALLASCH
Political Reporter
apallasch@suntimes.com
Last Modified: Jun 25, 2012 10:34AM

Most Chicago property taxpayers pay $164 a year more than their suburban and downstate counterparts under the state’s uneven teacher pension funding system, according to numbers the Chicago Public Schools provided to the Sun-Times.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said last week he would not proceed with the package of reforms to solve the state’s $84 billion unfunded pension liability until the inequity hanging over Chicago taxpayers is fixed.

“Let’s eliminate the free lunch for school districts outside of Chicago,” Madigan said.

Over the years, the state voluntarily picked up responsibility for funding the pensions of suburban and downstate school districts.

That means that every year through state income taxes, sales taxes and other fees paid to the state, the average Illinois resident — including Chicago residents — pays $110 a year to fund the pensions of suburban and downstate teachers, according to estimates Gov. Quinn’s budget office provided to the Sun-Times.

Those suburban and downstate school districts can vote to increase their teachers pensions, then hand the bill over to the state because those districts do not pay the costs­ — state taxpayers do, Madigan noted.

“They’re making spending decisions, but they’re not paying the bill,” Madigan said.

In Chicago, the Chicago Public Schools funds its teacher pensions without help from the state based on money it collects from taxes on Chicago property owners.

That means the average property owner in Chicago pays $164 a year, according to estimates by the Chicago Public Schools.

That means Chicago residents pay twice — once to the state for suburban and downstate teachers and once to the city for Chicago teachers.

Suburban and downstate residents pay only once.

As Madigan and State Senate President John Cullerton have sought to fix that inequity, they have run into opposition from suburban and downstate legislators who fear that forcing suburban school districts to start paying their share would force them to raise property taxes on downstate and suburban residents.

Madigan, Cullerton and Quinn have responded with proposals to phase the cost shift in over 10-12 years. They argue many of the school districts have more than enough in reserves that they would not have to raise property taxes.

Republican Senate Leader Chris Radogno and House Leader Tom Cross came back with a counter-proposal Thursday when they met with Quinn and the Democratic leaders: They will not support the cost-shift until a comprehensive study is done of all school funding in the state.

There are “pots of money” available to the Chicago schools not available to suburban and downstate schools, Radogno said. She referred to money for poor students, of which there are higher concentrations in Chicago.

Quinn said he would have the study done in five weeks, so any action on the comprehensive pension reform is delayed for at least another five weeks.


NEWS: (Suburban) Study: Suburban corruption merits creation of inspector general

--Is this supposed to be surprising to us?
Town leaders think they are Little Napoleons when they get elected and think they can do whatever they please.
How many towns do we constantly see in the news and their leaders think they are untouchable.
Politicians on all levels in Illinois need a wake up call.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

BY CASEY TONER
ctoner@southtownstar.com
Last Modified: Jun 25, 2012 12:04PM

Saying that suburban municipalities are copying the corruption playbook of Chicago, a former city alderman on Monday proposed creating an independent suburban inspector general to police local officials.

“Many contracts and businesses in the suburbs have bribery and corruption as part of (their) business expenses,” said Dick Simpson, the head of the political science department at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

At a news conference at the Cook County Building in Chicago, Simpson unveiled a report — “Green Grass and Graft: Corruption in the Suburbs” — that he co-authored documenting corruption cases that have ensnared more than 100 suburban public officials, including at least 17 mayors and dozens police chiefs and officers dating to 1974. The report says more than 60 suburbs in Cook and surrounding counties have been affected.

He suggested the state, the counties or the suburbs themselves could create the inspector general’s office. A local inspector general’s office could cost as much as $500,000 per year.

Simpson said that would be a fraction of the cost of the problem, which he said was $500 million a year statewide and which he referred to as “the corruption tax.”

Simpson estimated an inspector general’s office could be established within a year with the right support.

The inspector general would refer cases to the states attorneys, attorney general and U.S. attorney.

The report says that patterns of corruption in the suburbs include officials with ties to organized crime, nepotism and patronage, police officers aiding criminals, kickbacks and bribes to public officials, large-scale economic developments profiting officials, their families and freinds; and outright theft of public funds.

R.I.P.: Police Officer Celena Hollis

 ODMP

Police Officer Celena Hollis
Denver Police Department, Colorado
End of Watch: Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 32
Tour: 7 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Gunfire
Incident Date: 6/24/2012
Weapon: Handgun
Suspect: Not available

Police Officer Celena Hollis was shot and killed while attempting to breakup a fight at a jazz festival in Denver's City Park shortly after 8:00 pm.

Two groups of people had begun to fight and Officer Hollis intervened, attempting to stop the fight. One of the subjects involved in the fight opened fire with a handgun, striking Officer Hollis in the head. She was transported to a local hospital where she succumbed to her wounds.

One subject was taken into custody at the scene.

Officer Hollis had served with the Denver Police Department for seven years and acted as the president of the Denver Black Police Officers Association. She is survived by her daughter.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Chief Robert White
Denver Police Department
1331 Cherokee Street
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: (720) 913-2000

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Busy weekend for me

What a beautiful weekend and it was our annual Northlake Days.

Spent more time outside than I have in almost a year.

Spent a lot of time with the wife and kids.

Saw a lot of old friends and coworkers and had a great time.

Fireworks were fantastic.

Will be getting back on track now.

*************

Friday, June 22, 2012

MELROSE PARK: Investigation Continues Into Shooting Death Of Retired Melrose Park Cop

--A lot of what we discussed in my interview here was removed. Not to happy about that but I guess I understand it.
When I was asked about any red flags, I said yes and that I thought assumptions were made and the evidence was made to fit the story they wanted to tell.--
Duke

Story and Video at CBS NEWS Chicago

video

June 22, 2012 8:54 AM

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Questions surround the recent homicide of a retired suburban police sergeant who is fondly remembered by his neighbors.



Former Melrose Park police Sgt. Ronald Susek was fatally shot in the backyard of his home on June 14.

Witnesses have told investigators that they saw a person leaving the area shortly after the shots were heard. In a news release, the police department did not provide a description of what the witnesses saw.

Police Chief Sam Pitassi emphasized the importance of the investigation.

“Sgt. Susek was near and dear to my heart and many at the department. The moment we found out it was a homicide, we pulled out all the stops. We are working with a number of different agencies, and are working a number of good leads,” he told CBS 2.

Susek, 61, was found by a neighbor in his backyard in the 1600 block of North 14th Avenue about 6:20 a.m. He suffered gunshot wounds and was taken to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, where he was pronounced dead.

It would be “probably impossible to find anyone to say anything bad about Ronnie Susek,” Earl Filskov, a friend and neighbor, told CBS 2’s Brad Edwards.

Filskov, himself a former cop, says the investigation had problems from the beginning when investigators failed to collect all evidence from the outside crime scene.

“It’s all subject to the elements. The longer it sits outside, it deteriorates and it loses its usefulness,” Filskov said.

The medical examiner’s office ruled the shooting was a homicide.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PENSION: (Illinois) Quinn, lawmakers hung up on pension reform

Madigan said. “It’s very complicated.”

--You're right that it's complicated.
It's complicated because politicians need to figure out how keep their benefits and loopholes while taking away from everyone else.
Madigan and company need the unions to win the elections in November. Cross and company need the big money private sector to win the elections. They all want different things for themselves, not for the tax payers, not for the employees, for themselves. --
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Monique Garcia
Clout Street
5:07 PM CDT, June 21, 2012

Negotiations between Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders about public employee pension reform hit another roadblock Thursday, with talks morphing from a discussion about retirement benefits to education funding equality in Illinois.

The issues became entwined as Democrats continue to push a proposal that would shift some pension costs from the state now pays on to suburban and Downstate school districts. Republicans oppose the plan, saying it would force property taxes to rise as schools try to recoup the extra costs.

GOP leaders say the cost-shift idea shouldn’t be connected to pension reform because it’s a school funding issue, and on Thursday asked for more time to study how money is distributed to schools across the state.

Quinn said Senate Republicans requested a year to go over the facts. But the Democratic governor would only agree to give them five weeks, saying every day pension reforms don’t happen the system adds another $12.6 million to the existing $83 billion debt.

“We’ll give them all the information, have all the studies that we can possibly muster, but ultimately we have to come to moving the ball forward,” Quinn said. “We have to get fundamental, comprehensive pension reform.”

A spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont said she did not ask for a year to go over education data, but suggested it could take months and stretch into next year.

Earlier this week, Quinn’s office released information that it says shows schools could easily absorb the extra pension costs when phased in over several years. But Republicans say the data raised more questions than answers.

By asking for more time to study education funding, Republicans are attempting to force Democrats to back away from the cost-shift idea. Either Democrats peel that portion off and move forward with broader pension reforms this summer, or Republicans can put the blame on Democrats for inaction during the fall election.

“When you don’t want to talk about the free lunches for local school districts, you talk about school funding,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

But Madigan said he was confident an agreement could eventually be reached, saying it can be difficult to move plans forward in Springfield “but if you stay with it, there will be accomplishments.”

“This is a lingering issue, we’re continuing to work on the issue, we’re not walking away from it,” Madigan said. “It’s very complicated.”

MELROSE PARK: Retired Sergeant remembered as 'stand-up guy'

--So, I have to give up a little bit here.
Seven days later and the police department FINALLY says it's a HOMICIDE?
We reported that six days ago. HELLO!!!!!!!
I WILL NOT BLAME ANY POLICE OFFICER for any missteps that may have occurred in the beginning of this investigation.
Supervisors and administrators are quite another story.
In my opinion, the cardinal sin of police work was made at the outset of this investigation.
You never make an assumption. You let the evidence tell the story. You do not tell the story and make the evidence fit.
I am not big on reality shows but the show on A&E, The First 48, tells the story of the most important hours of a homicide investigation. This is entirely true. Those precious hours are the absolute most important.
That time was unfortunately not used wisely this case. 
The crime was committed between 10:45 and 11:30 Wednesday night (June 13). Ron was found at 6:20 Thursday morning (June 14). Evidence Technicians from the Cook County Sheriff's Police were NOT on the scene until after 8:00 Friday Morning (June 15). No canvas was conducted by investigators until Friday evening.

Melrose Park is a member of the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force (WESTAF). They had immediate access to well over 30 seasoned investigators and 20 experienced crime scene technicians and the teams were never activated.


I am sorry to point these things out but Ron Susek was not just another homicide victim. Ron was a member of the Blue Family. This means that no resources should have been wasted from the beginning. This case should have been like you see on tv. You kill a cop and a blue wall descends upon the community.


Duke's Daily Blotter will do whatever is necessary to help solve this case. Any information received will be immediately turned over to investigators in an effort to help get this investigation.
The police department said they have leads. I hope so and I hope they are viable leads.
And I hope they follow evidence.--
Duke

Related Stories:  NEWS: (Melrose Park) Family: Police Sergeant Was Murdered

Story and Video at ABC7 News Chicago

Updated at 05:16 PM today
Evelyn Holmes

video

June 21, 2012 (WLS) -- A retired police sergeant who was shot to death last week at his Melrose Park home was laid to rest, and the family of Sergeant Ronald Susek said he was murdered and are demanding justice.

It's been a week since the former police sergeant was killed and investigators have had little to say about the attack, until now.

Thursday afternoon, through a press release Melrose Park police say the case has been ruled a homicide and that they're working on several leads.

"Ron was a stand-up guy," said the Susek's son-in-law, Anthony Bronge. "We can't understand why and how this happened. He didn't deserve to go this way. That's what's troubling everyone the most."

Loved ones came together Thursday for the former lawman's funeral, roughly a week after the 61-year-old was found shot in the backyard of his west suburban home.

Neighbors say they heard what thought were fireworks Wednesday night only to later discover the man's garage door open and him unconscious on the ground with a 22-caliber gun near him.

Relatives say the 22-caliber may have been Susek's and that officers at the scene told them that Susek has been shot twice, once in the arm and once in the side.

The family said they believe Susek was murdered, possibly during some kind of struggle after they learned Susek had a third bullet wound to his chest from a 45-caliber weapon not found at the crime scene.

"This is just a tragedy," said Sandra Bronge, Susek's daughter. "It should never have happened."

 The Melrose Park police will only say their homicide investigation is ongoing.

Susek retired from the Melrose Park police department in 2004 after 40 years on the job.

During the service, Susek was remembered his as a kind man dedicated to helping others.

And Thursday morning, as dozens of his friends and colleagues gathered to pay their respects, the family of Susek seeks justice.

"If anyone knows anything, they need to come forward because this man did not deserve to die this way," Anthony Bronge said.

Melrose Park police investigators say witnesses have told them that they did see a person leaving the area shortly after neighbors heard shots being fired.

Cook County Sheriff's office has now joined the investigation.

No one is in custody and there have been no arrests.

PENSION: (Illinois) Quinn signs bill requiring retirees to pay part of health insurance

--I understand both sides of this issue. Especially since I pay full price for my health care and cannot afford to put my family on the policy.
For those like me that only receive a 50% disability pension, we pay federal taxes and full health care. 
As an example, my monthly disability is around $2900.00. If I want family coverage it would cost me $1500.00. That leaves 1400.00 minus taxes, so let's say $1250.00 a month.
I had to choose coverage only for me and that cost is around $433.00 a month.
You can see how the costs are out of control for employees.
On the flip-side, the problem is simple. The state keeps handing out tax breaks and subsidies that cut into the states income and they have less money to spend. 
They should definitely stop the breaks to the insurance companies until they reciprocate on the savings a little.
They also allow care givers to charge them more for Medicaid patients. This also takes away from state income.
I think if employers handled their income better they could help make things a little easier on themselves and on current and former employees.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Ray Long
Tribune reporter
12:42 PM CDT, June 21, 2012

Gov. Pat Quinn today approved legislation requiring thousands of retired state employees to chip in on the costs of health care insurance that many of them get for little or nothing.

The law attempts to rein in the state’s rising costs but also seeks to share the expense with the 78,000 retirees who pay no premiums for their insurance now.

The Quinn administration will set premiums each year for the group health program, which includes retired judges, lawmakers, university employees and rank-and-file state workers.

Currently, retired legislators get free premium health insurance after four years, retired judges after six years and retired state and university employees after 20 years of service — one of the most generous plans in the country.

The annual cost to taxpayers is nearly $800 million and threatens to hit $1 billion in the new budget year that begins next month if left unchecked, according to legislative supporters.

How much each retiree will pay will be determined in part by how much they receive in pension. The pension payments will be broken into seven tiers. The higher the tier, the more the retiree would pay.

The law takes effect July 1, but final decisions on rates will be made following labor negotiations and approval by the a legislative oversight panel, Quinn’s office said.

In a statement, Quinn said retirees deserve access to quality health care. He said insurance costs should be more balanced and based on actual retirement income. “We also have a duty to taxpayers to ensure these plans are cost-efficient and put Illinois on the path to fiscal stability,” Quinn said.

The governor’s action immediately was criticized by the president of the retirees chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Virginia Yates of Centralia, who worked 27 years at the Murray Developmental Center, said Quinn’s comments represent “political doubletalk.”

“Seniors like me and 114,000 other retirees and dependents already pay $3,000 a year or more in co-pays, deductibles and premiums,” she said in a statement. “By cutting retiree health care at the same time he’s handing out hundreds of millions in tax giveaways to big corporations, Governor Quinn shows his priorities are out of touch.”

Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, the Evanston Democrat who first pressed the issue a year ago, said the move is “absolutely necessary to protect the quality and affordability of health insurance” for retired public workers, particularly those on fixed incomes with no other coverage.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said the move is a “step Illinois must take to right the financial ship” because the plan in place now is “unsustainable and taxpayers are on the hook for programs they cannot afford.”

SCOTUS: Supreme Court: Use new drug sentencing law in crack cases

--I have no issue with reforming the sentencing guidelines. But I do think that the sale of any drug should carry a higher sentence than mere possession.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

Staff and Tribune wire services
9:54 AM CDT, June 21, 2012

Ruling in two cases from Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that criminals who were arrested but not yet sentenced for crack cocaine offenses should be able to take advantage of newly reduced sentences.

Corey A. Hill and Edward Dorsey were arrested in 2007 and 2008 in Illinois for selling crack cocaine and were given mandatory 10-year sentences in Illinois.

But they weren't sentenced until after the Fair Sentencing Act went into effect in August 2010. Under the new law, Hill and Dorsey would face just three or four years in jail.

Justice Stephen Breyer said in a 5-4 decision today that the courts should have used the new law to sentence the two men. Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

The Fair Sentencing Act reduced the long prison terms meted out to people caught with small amounts of crack cocaine. But the law did not make clear whether it should apply to cases that were pending when it was signed.

Last year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to adjust the sentences for as many as 12,000 defendants who were serving time for crack offenses. But the commission did not have the authority to change many of the sentences mandated by Congress.

The sentencing disputes are a legacy of the so-called crack epidemic of the mid-1980s. Then, Congress set stiff mandatory drug-trafficking prison terms based on the amount of drug in the hands of seller. One gram of crack cocaine was treated as though it were equal to 100 grams of powder cocaine.

Five grams of crack cocaine (less than one-fifth of an ounce) called for a minimum of five years in prison, according to the 1986 law, as did 500 grams of powder cocaine. Fifty or more grams of crack meant at least 10 years in prison, as did 5,000 grams of powder cocaine.

Congress agreed in 2010 to pull back and to adjust the punishments for crack offenses. The Fair Sentencing Act set 28 grams of crack as the trigger for a five-year minimum prison term, and 280 grams for a 10-year term. But it did not say what should happen to people charged but not yet sentenced.

Hill sold 53 grams of crack to a government informant in 2007 and was convicted in 2009. In December 2010, a federal judge in Chicago gave him 10 years in prison. Had the new law applied, he would have been sent to prison for about four years.

Dorsey sold 5.5 grams of crack to an informer at an Illinois motel, and because of an earlier offense, he was given a 10-year prison term in September 2010, one month after the new measure became law.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld their sentences, but after the Justice Department switched positions last year, the judges split 5-5 on whether to reconsider the matter.

PAROLE ALERT: Cop Killer Earnest Conrod

PAROLE DENIAL LETTER

It has come to my attention that Earnest Conrod (MDOC #14519) may be eligible for conditional medical release.  

I respectfully request that you do not approve this release.

**********************************************************************************

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE for DEPUTY SHERIFF MELVIN BROWN

Deputy Sheriff Melvin P. Brown, Jr.
Leflore County Sheriff's Department, Mississippi
End of Watch: Monday, April 18, 1994


Bio & Incident Details

Age: 45
Tour: Not available
Badge # Not available
Cause: Gunfire
Incident Date: 4/18/1994
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: Sentenced to life

Deputy Brown was shot and killed while escorting a woman to her home to pick up clothing. The woman's husband surprised them and shot Deputy Brown to death and seriously wounded the woman.

The suspect was apprehended and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Deputy Brown is survived by his wife and three children.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NEWS: (Melrose Park) Family: Police Sergeant Was Murdered

--I am sorry but I have to say this...

I can not believe that a retired police officer was killed at his home in west suburban Melrose Park and a little blog like Duke's Daily Blotter breaks the story and releases more information than any major news agency!!!!
I mean, this man served Melrose Park for 30 years and was murdered in his own backyard and not one major news agency covered it until almost a week later?
Besides a "blurb" in the Sun-Times and now this story by Channel 5 nothing has been said about this heinous crime.
Ron was shot with a high caliber gun, the small .22 caliber he had in possession did not cause his death. He was MURDERED, there were MULTIPLE shots fired at a time of night when neighbors could have or should have heard something, maybe something that sounded like fireworks. Maybe seen someone leaving the area, or a vehicle leaving.

I can tell you this much, Duke's Daily Blotter will not let this crime be forgotten BY ANYONE.--
Duke

Related Stories: BREAKING NEWS: *UPDATED* Retired Melrose Park Police Officer Killed


Story and Video at NBC5 Chicago

video

Former Melrose Park police sergeant was found dead in his backyard last week

By Rob Elgas
Wednesday, Jun 20,

Family members say a Melrose Park police sergeant found shot in the backyard of his home last week was murdered.

A neighbor last Thursday found Ronald Susek unconscious behind his home, in the 1600 block of North 14th Avenue, in the western suburb. He'd been shot, and there was a .22 on the ground next to him.

His family says that .22 was one weapon used in what they believe might have been a struggle. Susek had two gunshot wounds: one in his leg and one in his side. But the family said the coroner found something else. There was a slug from another gun lodged in Susek's chest.

"He was shot in the chest," Susek's brother-in-law, Michael Freeman, said Tuesday. 'That weapon has never been found. So to me, it's obviously a homicide."

Neighbors said they heard what they thought were fireworks Wednesday night. And Susek’s garage door was open when a neighbor saw him on the ground.

Cook county Sheriff’s detectives revisited the house this weekend, taking several items out of the house. And his wife returned only to gather some personal belongings. His family says she will never live there again, too distraught about her husband.

"I wish somebody out there would call. I know it takes courage,” Freeman told Elgas. “But I wish they would contact the police department with anything that might help."

Susek retired from the Melrose Park police department in 2004. A service is planned for him Thursday morning at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Melrose Park. His family says he has so many friends, they expect an overflow crowd.