Volo Woman Indicted for Chase Bank Robberies

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:


ROCKFORD — A Lake County woman was indicted today in federal court and charged with two counts of bank robbery and one count of attempted bank robbery.

TERESA M. KNOWLES,, 39, of Volo, Ill., was charged with the robbery of

  • Chase Bank, in Crystal Lake, Ill. on March 21, 2015, and
  • Chase Bank, in Grayslake, Ill. on March 24, 2015,

as well as the

  • attempted robbery of Chase Bank in Johnsburg, Illinois, on March 24, 2015.

Knowles is scheduled to appear before U. S. Magistrate Judge Iain D. Johnson for an initial appearance on Thursday, July 2, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. in federal court in Rockford.

Each count of bank robbery and attempted bank robbery carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison, up to 3 years of supervised release following imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and full restitution. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Zachary Fardon

Zachary Fardon

The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Johnsburg Police Department, McHenry Police Department, Grayslake Police Department, and Crystal Lake Police Department assisted in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Love.

Part 20 – Who’s Got What

Kent Gaffney

Kent Gaffney

Moving onto Political Action Committees with a Fox River Grove address, first up is former State Rep. Kent Gaffney’s.

Appointed to the office when State Rep. Mark Beaubien died, Gaffney was beaten in the Republican Primary Election by David McSweeney.

Gaffney has $5,013.01 in his campaign fund.

He had $100 more the first of January but spent that amount on something.

D155 Seeks Input

D155 surveyCrystal Lake High School District 155 has a computerized questionnaire through which it is gathering public opinion.

There’s even a place to write “McHenry County Blog” on the questions,

  • How do you currently receive information about District 155? (Select all that apply)
  • How do you prefer to receive information about the district? (Choose at least three)

Although the high school district gets a big chunk of our tax dollars, I must admit not to have followed what the board does on a regular basis.

So, today I decided to see what information is available.

I found where the agendas are published.  They are here.

Looking at one agenda, I found the following impediment of citizens seeking to communicate to the District 155 Board:

Citizens Who Wish to Address the Board

For logistical (i.e. scheduling and location) purposes, the Board of Education requests that any citizen or organization desiring to address this Board submit a request to the Secretary of the Board of Education to place his/her or its name on the Agenda no later than 4:00 p.m. on the Thursday preceding the meeting of the Board of Education at which the citizen or organization wishes to speak.

Such citizen or organization is also requested to give the Secretary of the Board of Education a brief written description of the subject matter to be discussed.

Such a previous notification requirement is hard to believe.

And, requiring “a written description of the subject matter to be discussed” actually astounds me.

One wonders if any other board in Illinois has figured out a better way to keep citizens from speaking their mind.

What I did not find on the web site was the packet of information given board members prior to each meeting.

McHenry County College, which takes a much smaller proportion of our tax bills, provides that regularly now.

Some might like to join me in filling in “board packet” in the blank space under the following two questions,

  • What type of information would you like to receive more communication about? (Select all that apply) [on first page]
  • I would describe District 155 as transparent in its communication with stakeholders [on third page]

Napier Endorses Skillicorn

A press release from Allen Skillicorn:

Conservative Leader Endorses Allen Skillicorn in 66th State House Race

Irene Napier after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from Patriots United.

Irene Napier after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from Patriots United.

East Dundee, IL – Irene Napier, founder of McHenry County Right to Life, formally endorsed Trustee Allen Skillicorn, an un-announced Republican candidate preparing to run for State Representative in the 66th District.

Napier enthusiastically supports Skillicorn and his “commitment to conservative causes, unrelenting tenacity, and enthusiasm to do what is right.”

“Allen’s local property tax freeze and record stopping tax hikes makes him the clear choice.” Napier continued, “Illinois fiscal and social conservatives will be pleased with Allen Skillicorn representing them in Springfield.”

Allen Skillicorn

Allen Skillicorn

Skillicorn thanked Napier for her support, “Irene is woman we can all learn from.

“I have tremendous respect and admiration for the work she has done promoting human rights for the unborn.”

The 66th State House District follows the Fox River Valley including parts of Algonquin, Carpentersville, Crystal Lake, East and West Dundee, Elgin, Gilberts, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood and Sleepy Hollow. Allen grew up in Algonquin and now resides in East Dundee with his wife Heather and 5-year-old Doberman, McFly.

= = = = =
Daniel Wilbrandt, a West Dundee Village Trustee has also announced his candidacy for State Rep. Mike Tryon’s seat. Tryon is retiring.

Gottemoller Appoints Township Consolidation Committee

Carolyn Schofield

Carolyn Schofield

McHenry County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller has appointed three County Board members and two township officials to a committee to consider township consolidation.

Chairing the committee will be Crystal Laker Carolyn Schofield.

The other two County Board members are

  • Michele Aavang, rural Woodstock
  • Donna Kurtz, Crystal Lake

One of the initiators of the idea, Nunda Township Trustee Mike Shorten, will join Coral Township Supervisor Roger Naylor to round out the committee.

= = = = =
I am still waiting for proponents to come up with a cost-benefit study showing where savings could occur.

So far, no such study has been presented.

Wheeler’s Springfield Reports

A communication from State Rep. Barb Wheeler:

FY16 Budget

Governor Rauner signs education budget bill.

Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner

On Wednesday, June 24, Governor Rauner signed the elementary and secondary education component of the Fiscal Year 2016 State budget, taking our children’s education out of the crossfire in Springfield. While HB 3763 does not increase education spending by as much as the governor’s proposal, it does increase K-12 education funding by $244 million and early childhood education funding by $25 million.

“Education is the most important thing we do as a community. I would have done more for our schoolchildren, but I am taking action today to ensure our teachers are paid and our schools are open and funded,” Governor Rauner said. “I refuse to allow Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls to hold our schools hostage as part of their plan to protect the political class and force a tax hike on the middle class without real reform.”

House Republicans strongly support the effort to increase education funding. However, we stood in opposition to the original bill because it was rammed though by the Democratic majority, which passed 19 other budget bills that would spend nearly $4 billion more than projected revenue in the next fiscal year. That fact hasn’t changed, and the budget as a whole is unsustainable. The State of Illinois cannot continue to spend more than it takes in from our hardworking taxpayers.

That being said, we are glad education won’t be caught up in the Springfield stalemate and that our school children will not be held hostage over this budget battle. Schools will open on time, teachers will be paid and education will get a needed boost in funding.

Governor Rauner vetoes unbalanced, unconstitutional budget; cites $4 billion deficit.

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bulk of the Illinois budget Thursday that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly sent him, increasing the likelihood that some state services could be disrupted when the fiscal year begins next week.

The new governor, in constant battle with powerful lawmakers for six weeks, announced he had vetoed 19 budget bills because even Democrats acknowledge they fall short on revenue by $3 billion to $4 billion.

“For too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors,” Rauner said in his veto message.

With a June 30 deadline for approving a fiscal year 2016 budget, Rauner continues to insist on “structural” changes to the business and political climates in Illinois before dealing with the opposing party on spending. Democrats want a tax increase, along with strategic spending cuts, in order to continue what they call vital state services. Read more on ABCNews.

For the past month, House Republicans have gone to Springfield each week hoping that the Chicago Democratic leaders who have held up the budget process were going to finally make it to the negotiating table. Instead we were subjected to a series of disingenuous House hearings intended to do little more than derail the process.

The same Chicago leaders who brought service providers, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and prisons to the brink with a shorted budget last year are attempting to do it again.

Democratic leaders could have come to the table months ago with their concessions to Governor Rauner, who has backed off a portion of his agenda with absolutely zero reciprocation from the other side.

Now is the time for the Democratic leaders to put the interests of Illinois taxpayers first and work with the Governor and Republican legislators to pass a truly balanced budget that protects our working families, seniors and school children.

AFSCME and Governor’s Office announce one-month contract extension.

AFSCME Union Steward Carlos Acosta spoke to the crowd.

AFSCME Union Steward Carlos Acosta spoke to the union rally in Woodstock earlier this month.

Thursday evening, a joint statement was released from Governor Rauner’s General Counsel and from AFSCME Council 31:

“Today AFSCME Council 31 and the Governor’s Office reached an agreement that precludes the possibility of a strike or lockout for a one-month period after the state’s collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Council 31 expires on June 30.

“This agreement preserves all legal and contractual rights of the parties as of the contract expiration date.

“More importantly, it allows both sides to continue to negotiate during the month of July without the threat of disruption to important public services.”

Chicago Public Schools Budget Crisis

Chicago Board of Education approves more than $1 billion in new borrowing.

The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday approved plans to borrow more than $1 billion in an effort to manage an immediate cash crunch and get through the coming budget year.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the borrowing is on top of an existing line of credit of up to $500 million. The initial $200 million in borrowing authorized Wednesday could help the district cover its bills through the end of June, but the district would be short of cash to cover payments shortly after that, according to documents obtained by the Tribune. A separate line of credit of up to $935 million would take the district through the coming budget year. The loans will be secured with the promise of future property tax revenue.

In addition to money needed for existing operations, CPS also owes more than $600 million in a “balloon” pension payment made necessary by previous short-funding of the generous benefits offered by the system to full-time employees and administrators. Efforts by Chicago to get the Democrat-controlled General Assembly to help them to postpone this payment failed on Tuesday, June 23 after a vote on SB 437 failed to generate the necessary votes for this pension payment delay.

Cook County Sales Tax

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle asks for a 1.0-cent increase in the countywide sales tax.

The sales tax increase, if it is approved by the county board, would raise sales taxes throughout the county.

The new rates would differ by municipality; for example, the rate would increase from 9.25% in Chicago before the increase, to 10.25% after the increase. The Cook County sales tax is imposed on top of separate sales taxes also imposed by the State of Illinois, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), and the municipalities within the county.

Cook County is a home rule unit and, under State law, can enact sales tax increases at the discretion of the county board. The county board does not have to ask permission from the General Assembly to increase the tax. Even prior to enactment of the possible new tax increase, sales taxes in Cook County are among the highest in the U.S.

Department of Public Health Scandal

Blagojevich-Quinn-era chief of staff sentenced to serve 8 years in prison.

The Illinois Public Health Department complex.

The Springfield Illinois Public Health Department complex.

Former IDPH chief of staff Quinshaunta R. Golden (2003-08) was convicted of leading a kickback scheme that monetized the Illinois Department of Public Health’s awards of grants and contracts.

Under the scheme, insider Golden saw to it that a major share of the Department’s grants and procurement plum work flowed through a consultancy that was led by her allies, former IDPH aide Roxanne Jackson and Chicago grants facilitator Leon Dingle.

The court found that much of the money paid to the Jackson-Dingle grants facilitation office was ‘sticky.’ The money stuck to the Jackson-Dingle office and did not flow into field work to fight against influenza, West Nile disease, Ebola disease, and other public health challenges faced by the Department. Instead, Jackson and Dingle kept $772,500 of the money and kicked back half of the sum to Quinshaunta Golden. The sentencing took place on Tuesday, June 23. Jackson and Dingle have also been convicted for filing false income tax returns and conspiracy to defraud.

Poker Runs

Poker run bill gets approval by both houses of General Assembly.

poker handHB 3538 will help to smooth the licensing approval process for this popular fundraising tool throughout suburban and downstate Illinois. Current law creates local snags in the ordinances that groups use to win licenses to carry out these popular fundraising activities, and HB 3538 pushes to streamline out these snags by placing poker run licenses in the hands of Illinois county boards other than Cook County. The bill also clarifies that all bona fide nonprofit groups are eligible to seek to operate a poker run.

Poker runs are activities, usually one day long, in which a group of people make an event of traveling from place to place and playing a game at each location. At the end of the poker run, the players concentrate at a finish line and play out the game, and prizes are awarded. Under the provisions of HB 3538, the poker run must be set up so as to raise money for a needy person, a good cause, or the financial survival and stability of the group sponsoring the run. Many motorcyclists and biker groups carry out poker runs. After passage by the House in April, HB 3538 was amended in the Senate to authorize Cook County’s county board to retain the existing poker run law at their discretion. The House vote on Tuesday, June 23 to concur with the Senate amendment completed the legislative work on this bill, and it joined other bills ready to be sent to Governor Rauner’s desk for final action.

School Construction

House Republicans advocate for long-promised State funds for school construction projects.

Due to the budget crisis, some projects already under way have been halted. For example, the State has given a green light and a promise of matching State funds to the construction of new classrooms and a gymnasium at South Central Elementary School in Kinmundy, Illinois. However, the current budget crisis has led to a halt in State funding, even though building work is going on during the summer construction season. School districts affected by this halt in State payments for ongoing building work could face a severe cash crunch.

Representative John Cavaletto, who represents Kinmundy and is one of the lawmakers for school districts affected by this funds stoppage, is taking action to help his local school district. Cavaletto joined Rep. David Reis and his Republican colleagues in sponsoring HB 4232 this week, which makes reappropriations from the School Construction Fund and the Capital Development Fund for ongoing school construction and improvements for fiscal year 2016. Monies for capital projects, such as roads and school construction, are funded by levies on products and services such as motor fuel, alcoholic beverages, and video gaming. This money is legally separate from money in the cash-short State general funds, which are funded by income taxes, sales taxes, taxes on casino gambling, and other sources. The relatively healthy nature of the legally separate capital funds of the State make it financially possible for capital projects to move forward even in the absence of vitally required overall budget action.

Tornado Outbreak – Northern Illinois

At least twelve persons injured by cluster of tornadoes; Governor activates emergency response center.

At least nine twisters were reported on the evening of Monday, June 22, in Grundy, LaSalle, Lee, and Will Counties south and west of Chicago. Substantial property damage was reported to claims adjusters. Damage was especially intense from an EF-3 twister in Coal City, the Grundy County community just northwest of Interstate 55. 160 mph winds were reported, and the interstate highway was temporarily blocked at Reed Road.

Early Tuesday, Governor Bruce Rauner activated the State Emergency Response Center, an operational clearinghouse that coordinates the activities of State and local emergency response teams. The Response Center is overseen by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois disaster preparedness and disaster-mitigation authority. Rep. John Anthony, who represents Coal City, did not attend the General Assembly’s Tuesday session, as he stayed in his district to assist with the emergency response.

Monday’s tornadoes were part of a thunderstorm squall line that roared through northern Illinois. The Northland Mall, a shopping mall in Sterling, Illinois, was damaged. Approximately 15,000 customers were reported to have lost electric power. Damaged infrastructure included high-tension power lines that serve several nuclear generating plants in the region. The power plants themselves were not damaged.

University of Illinois – Bioenergy

U. of I. bioenergy grant announced.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced on Wednesday, June 24 that it had received a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to enable two years of intensified research on energy sorghum. The grant will help cover the cost of semi-robotic farm machinery that will roll between rows of sorghum plants and sense the genetic information contained within the plants’ stems and leaves. This information will control researchers’ efforts to achieve success in the breeding of improved strains of the potential new crop.

High-biomass sorghum shows potential in carbon capture and green energy production. Plant breeders in Texas have grown sorghum stalks up to 20 feet tall, which can be harvested for distillation into ethanol and other energy products. The plants have to be carefully bred so as not to produce flowers and seeds.

Eastern Illinois was, for many generations, a longtime leader in the production of grains belonging to the sorghum family. The prolific crop, which up until now has often been grown for its small seeds, is used for stock feed, bird seed, and broom grass.

Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to contact my Crystal Lake office with any questions or concerns regarding my legislation, any other legislation or issues with the state at (847) 973-0064 or visit my website for more information at www.barbarawheeler.org.

Wilbrandt Pumps Money into State Rep. Run

State Rep. David McSweeney was conversing with newly-elected Lakewood Village Board member Paul Serwatka and West Dundee Village Board member Dan Wilbrandt.

State Rep. David McSweeney was conversing with newly-elected Lakewood Village Board member Paul Serwatka and West Dundee Village Board member Dan Wilbrandt at the last Algonquin Township Republican Party event.

Two Wilbrandts pumped $35,000 into Dan Wilbrandt’s campaign to replace Mike Tryon as State Representative in the McHenry-Kane County district.

Candidate Dan Wilbrandt put $25,000 in Citizens for Dan Wilbrandt on May 30th, while Lawrence Wilbrandt contributed $10,000 on June 3rd.

The candidate is an Assistant State’s Attorney in McHenry County and a Village Trustee in West Dundee.

Meanwhile, Allen Skillicorn, who formed an exploratory committee for the same State Rep. seat put $2,000 of his own money into his campaign fund on June 24th.

Tryon Reports

After having verified reports that he was not running for re-election on June 24th, has sent out this communication about what is happening in Springfield:

Legislative Update

Illinoisans face the very real possibility that there will not be a comprehensive FY16 budget in place when the new fiscal year begins on July 1, but there have been some interesting developments over the last several days.

Pre-K-12 Education Bill Signed into Law

Last week on Wednesday, Governor Rauner signed HB3763, which makes FY16 appropriations for the Pre-K-12 Education part of next year’s budget. By signing that bill, he put funding in place to ensure that schools will open on time, teachers will get paid, and funding for General State Aid, Early Childhood Education and Bi-Lingual Education is in place for the next school year. Most importantly, by signing the bill, our state’s students are removed from the crossfire of this budget battle. Through HB3763, K-12 Education will see an increase in funding for FY16 of almost $300 million. Schools in District 66 will see a small increase in funding, with proration increasing to 92% from the 89% proration rate for FY15.

Governor Rauner Vetoes Remaining Budget Bills

The following day, citing the $4 billion deficit in the spending plan sent to him by House and Senate Democrats, the Governor issued full vetoes to the remaining budget bills. “For too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors,” Rauner said in his veto message.

Governor and AFSCME Reach One-Month Agreement

Union sign we serve our communityLater in the day on Thursday, representatives from the Governor’s office and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) issued a joint statement announcing a temporary, one-month agreement that prevents the possibility of a strike or lockout when the current AFSCME contract expires on June 30.

The agreement ensures that services will continue through the end of July while both parties continue to negotiate a new contract.

AFSCME represents more than 40,000 unionized state employees.

Democrats Continue to Block Budget Talks

Today, with just two days remaining in the fiscal year, we still have a budget stalemate. The Governor, acting on behalf of the Illinoisans who elected him to right the Illinois financial ship once and for all, is insisting that some cost-saving, waste-reducing and job-growing reforms be put in place before any talks of new revenue for the budget occur.

On the other side we have a House Speaker and a Senate President who have rejected all reform initiatives and only want to discuss a tax increase as a way to plug the budget hole. In his comments to the media, Speaker Madigan has chastised Governor Rauner and called him “extreme.” In response, Governor Rauner and the Republican Caucus have repeatedly asked the Democrats to return to the negotiation table so that a compromise deal can be found.

Rauner is Compromising, but is the House Speaker?

Over the last several weeks, as a gesture of compromise, Governor Rauner has removed some items tied to his “Turnaround Agenda” from the table. The signing of the Pre-K-12 portion of the budget last week was an additional, significant showing of compromise by a Republican Governor who said he would not sign an unbalanced FY16 budget. And by agreeing not to implement a “lockout” of the state’s AFSCME employees, Governor Rauner has shown again that he is willing to compromise and be reasonable during these difficult days. Just yesterday we learned that the Governor made an additional gesture of good will, by offering to accelerate $450 million in grant payments to the City of Chicago to help with a mandatory $634 million CPS pension payment dueTuesday, June 30. Those grants would normally be distributed to Chicago over the course of the fiscal year.

House Speaker Mike Madigan is sticking to his game plan of calling Governor Rauner “extreme,” when the Governor’s actions over the last several weeks paint a very different picture. The Governor has negotiated and compromised on several fronts. In response, Speaker Madigan has refused to budge. It is the Speaker who has been unyielding and extreme in his positions.

Political Theatre and Show Trials Continue as Services Face Shutdown

For the past month, House Republicans have gone to Springfield each week hoping that the Chicago Democratic leaders who have held up the budget process were going to finally return to the negotiation table. Instead we have been subjected to a series of disingenuous House hearings intended to do little more than further derail the process. It has been political theater at its’ worst; a categorical waste of time that is beneath my expectations. The public most certainly expects and deserves much, much more.

I will be back in Springfield this week on Tuesday and Wednesday, and we have been told that the Speaker’s agenda for the House once again does NOT include reform discussions or bringing a compromise budget to the floor for consideration. We have been told to expect two days of “Committee of the Whole,” where the Speaker will stage additional political stunts aimed at making Governor Rauner and House Republicans look bad.

If I were in charge of the General Assembly I would call the legislature into session and tell every Senator and Representative to notify their family that they will miss the 4th of July and the rest of the summer’s festivities too, if needed, and I would keep everyone in Springfield until a compromise budget is signed into law. The days of one-party rule are over, and the sooner Speaker Madigan accepts the mandate for shared policy-making and shared governance that was handed down by Illinois voters last November, the sooner we will have a budget in place that protects Illinois’ working families and provides services for our most vulnerable citizens.

Circuit Court Clerk Kathy Keefe Running for Re-Election

A letter to Republican Precinct Committeeman from McHenry County Circuit Court Clerk Kathy Keefe:

Katherine Keefe

Katherine Keefe

I am pleased to announce that I am running for re-election to a third term as McHenry County Circuit Clerk.I have worked in the McHenry County Circuit Clerk’s office for the past 28 years, first being elected Circuit Clerk in 2008. We have made great strides in automation and operating efficiency during my seven years in office, while also being fiscally responsible with a 15% reduction in staff.

I believe that my experience will help sustain the positive things that are happening in the office, while also providing direction for the future.

Some highlights of my first two terms are:

  • Reduced staff by 11.5 employees through attrition, saving over $500,000 annually
  • First Circuit Clerk in Illinois to submit court debt to the IL Comptroller’s Local Debt Recovery Program, collecting an additional $550,000 in court debt in the first two years
  • Implemented free Attorney Access Portal for attorney online access to cases with an appearance filed, improving customer service & reducing staff phone time
  • Approved by IL Supreme Court for Civil Electronic Filing, accepting civil documents electronically since September, 2013, saving time & personnel expense
  • Approved by IL Supreme Court to begin Criminal Electronic Filing in August, 2015
  • Implemented Electronic Sentencing Orders in all criminal & traffic courtrooms
  • Made public court records available online to improve the Court’s level of customer service & increase transparency

For those that do not know me, I am a lifetime resident of McHenry County, born in McHenry, attended Crystal Lake elementary schools, graduated from Harvard High School in 1983.  I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Northern Illinois University in 1987, followed by a Master of Arts degree in Management from Webster University in 2002.

I have served as a Republican Precinct Committeeman (Dorr 8) for the past 14 years.  My husband Pat and I have been married for 28 years and we have a daughter Hailey who is 20 years old.

The job of Circuit Court Clerk is not a glamorous one, but it is an extremely important job that requires experience, management and organizational skills, plus an attention to detail, which I believe I possess.

The job of any public official also includes using your hard-earned tax dollars wisely, which is a responsibility I take very seriously. I would like to thank you for your time and ask for your support in 2016.


Katherine M. Keefe