Monthly Archives: July 2009

Suspect redefines ‘resale’ shop

Next time you wander into a local store, don’t be surprised to stumble across the stone goose you reported missing a few weeks earlier.

Sure, this probably isn’t a widespread occurrence. But Riverside police arrested a woman on the charge that she stole items from people’s front yards in that town and then put them up for sale in her Berwyn resale shop, according to a story on our our Web site.

Celia Arocho, a 52-year-old Cicero resident, was charged two counts of felony theft July 21 after allegedly stealing items from people’s front yards in Riverside and then offering them for sale at Adriana’s Closet, 7022 16th St., Berwyn. Riverside police reportedly observed Arocho putting in her SUV items that she allegedly took from the porch of a house in the 200 block of Herrick Road.

Residents in Riverside have reported losing items such as lawn ornaments and outdoor furniture.

Riverside police said a search of Adriana’s Closet uncovered items that were previously reported stolen from homes in their village. Detective Sgt. Dave Krull estimated the items recovered were worth about $1,000.

So if either your lawn chair or barbecue grill goes missing, take a peek in a storefront near you. Chances are the people who run the resale shop in your neighborbood are law-abiding citizens — but who knows?


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Flawless performance by Buehrle, White Sox is a moment to remember

How often do you get to see a professional baseball pitcher throw a perfect game?

Throughout the history of Major League Baseball, that number is now 18. Unless you were on the moon last week celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, you should know that the most recent perfect game is courtesy of White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle of Lemont, who retired 27 consecutive batters July 23 in a 5-0 White Sox victory against the Tampa Bay Rays.

This is Buehrle’s second no-hitter, the first coming in 2007. The only other perfect game in White Sox history occurred in 1922 when right-hander Charlie Robertson beat the Detroit Tigers by a score of 2-0.

A pitcher throwing a perfect game must depend on all the other players to do their job. Alexei Ramirez had an incredible game at shortstop, and DeWayne Wise made the most spectacular catch to prevent an otherwise homerun after being inserted in the outfield in the ninth inning.

The White Sox now need to get on a hot streak and take over first place from the Tigers. The division is within their grasp if they play up to their potential.

But regardless of what else happens this season, it was great living through the experience of witnessing a perfect game as they don’t come around often. Buehrle’s outstanding pitching capped a team effort in which all the players can take pride. They gave us fans a game we’ll never forget.

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Space program shows what we’ve done as well as what we can achieve

Responding to a column I wrote this week about the historic Apollo 11 moon mission, a Downers Grove resident pondered about the countless men and women who labored just so the government could divert part of their earnings to fulfill the nation’s collective sci-fi fantasies.

“While I’m happy to hear of your wonderful childhood memories, maybe remember something else: a whole lot of people had go to work 40-50 hours a week or more for weeks and weeks on end just so that they could then have enough money taken away from them so some curious scientists could satisfy their childhood fantasies and the U.S. could win some propaganda points against the Soviets,” according to an e-mail the Downers Grove resident sent yesterday.

“In reality, how many humans could eventually successfully colonize Mars? Under what planetary duress would we actually look at that as a viable method of survival? Who would get (or have to go) to go? Who would decide? Could we really marshal enough resources on Mars to then launch from it to some other Sol type system?

“While I’m in agreement that it is our nature to be inquisitive and explorers, should we putting billions of dollars into NASA when there won’t be enough money for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? Are people just a bunch of children with credit cards? If it sounds wonderful and dreamy, just do it and worry about the credit card bill later!”

I share the e-mail writer’s concern that there are a host of other worthy projects our government could fund. And it’s true that we as a nation have estalished many lofty goals for space exploration, only to drastically alter or abandon them due to budget constraints.

If viewed from this perspective, the billions of dollars that NASA has soaked up since its creation could be made to look like money ill-spent.

Sure, going to the moon makes for awesome video and jolts our national pride. But what about all the Americans who went to bed hungry that night? What about the senior citizens who couldn’t afford the medication they needed to stay healthy? And what did we gain from all those moon missions aside from a bunch of rocks?

This approach to assessing the value of manned space missions has two problems.

First, every category of government spending could benefit from more money. No program will ever be fully funded for everyone’s satisfaction.

And the risk of exploring anything is that you won’t know what you’ll get until you get out there. So an initial investment in an endeavor of unknown benefits will always have a question mark over it.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream big and plan large when the perks could be great. We made some extraordinary accomplishments in space, and we can build on these successes as time goes on.

We should have goals that are better defined for what we want to accomplish in space and how to do it. And these goals should be based on realistic expectations, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies.

Maintaining a space program is a big incentive for young people to consider careers in math, science and engineering. The United States is lacking in these areas, and eliminating NASA would hurt us in this respect even more.

The successes of our manned space program have shown what we’re capable of and point to what we can yet achieve. How can this be looked upon as a bad thing?

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Barack Obama birth certificate skeptics just won’t come to terms with reality

Somehow I figured that the Barack Obama birth certificate “scandal” would lose steam shortly after he assumed the presidency, given that the only thing scandalous about the controversy is there is no evidence of a controversy.

But common sense just doesn’t appease some people, and so the “scandal” rages on. My close, personal friend Dave Diersen of Wheaton highlighted the issue on his daily Web site, GOPUSA Illinois. Diersen offered a link to a write-up about this issue on a Chicago Tribune blog called The Swamp.

The blog posting on The Swamp is titled, “Obama’s birth: Appeasing the nut-cases”: Diersen’s reply in his headline is, “The communists say you were nuts if you questioned communism. The Democrats say you are nuts if you question Obama’s birth certificate.”

I don’t know what the communists said about people who questioned communism because I’m not a communist. I’m also not a Democrat, so I can’t speak for them, either.

But I will say that people who persist in promoting this noncontroversy don’t seem to want reality to penetrate their skulls. The claim that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii has been so thoroughly debunked that it bewilders me why anyone would still adhere to it.

But like all good conspiracy theories (JFK assassination, Apollo 11 moon mission, 9/11), many people cling to the unsubstantiated theories rather than the facts. Last year I conducted some cursory research into the issue and quickly found the claim against Obama’s citizenship not to possess one shred of evidence.

In fact, the very first thing I discovered about this issue nullifies any doubt that Obama was born anywhere else but Hawaii and should put further discussion to rest. Hawaiian officials in October verified that Obama’s original birth certificate is on file with the state.

Let me reiterate this: Obama’s “original” birth certificate — the document created at the time of his birth — is on file in Hawaii. Had Obama been born anywhere other than Hawaii, the state would not possess his original birth certificate.

It may have an authenticated copy of his birth certificate from the originating jurisdiction, but not the original. This one-of-a-kind document remains on record in the county/state/country of a person’s birth. So that Hawaii has Obama’s original birth certificate ends the dispute right there — it’s as simple as that.

Why would someone want to have an authenticated copy of his or her birth certificate placed on file in another jurisdiction? Let’s take Obama as an example. He was born in Honolulu (yes, he really was born there — honest) but eventually established his residency in Chicago. But if he needed to update his driver’s license or passport while in Chicago, he may not want to have to travel all the way to Honolulu to get a copy of his birth certificate to prove citizenship so he could update these government-issued ID’s.

So Obama could apply to have an authenticated copy of his birth certificate placed on file in Cook County where he lived. Then if he needed to update his driver’s license or passport and needed a copy of his birth certificate to do so, all he would have to do is go to a county facility and get a certified copy of his birth certificate and bring it with him to update his ID’s.

But even though Obama’s birth certificate may now be on file in another jurisdiction, it will still list the jurisdiction of his birth. So the certified copy of Obama’s birth certificate will list that he obtained this from Cook County but that he was actually born in Hawaii.

That’s the way it works, and nothing that the Obama birth certificate skeptics have produced casts an iota of doubt on the fact that he was born in Honolulu. A reasonable person should be able to understand this process and see that Hawaii is where Obama was born. There simply is no question on this, given that Hawaii has his original birth certificate. Case closed.

Still not convinced? Pop a few aspirin and dive into these facts.

Before 1982 (when Obama was 21 years old), Hawaii did not accept (from birth parents) the birth certificates of any child not born in Hawaii. This means that any birth certificate the state has on file is of a child born in Hawaii, period. The state has a program where birth parents could register the birth of their child after he or she was born (this benefited people living in remote portions of the Hawaiian islands where births often occurred at home with the help of a midwife, not in a hospital). But this is only for children born in Hawaii, and birth parents can’t register their children until they are at least 1 year old. Obama’s birth records show official registration of his birth within a few days. So after 1982, parents could have the birth certificates of any children born out of state on file in Hawaii. But this document would still record the actual place of birth.

Hawaii allows parents to register the birth of their adopted child. But this couldn’t have applied to Obama since the state didn’t initiate this program until 1979, when Obama was 18 years old. And the legitimate place of birth (be it in Hawaii, out of state or out of country) must be recorded as part of the registration. So even if this program applied to Obama (which it doesn’t because it wasn’t initiated until he was a legal adult), his state and nation of birth would have to be recorded on the document.

Conclusion of these facts: Given the year Obama was born, the only reason Hawaii would have his original birth certificate on file is if he was born in Hawaii. He could not have been born in another country and then registered in Hawaii because the adoptive registration program was not initiated until 1979 and the foreign-born program did not begin until 1982. Even under such programs, the origin of his birth would have to be recorded. But none of these programs apply to Obama because they didn’t exist when he was born. The sole choice left for us, then, is that he was born in Hawaii in 1961. That is a fact. Once again, case closed.

I hope Dave Diersen and all the other skeptics will digest this information and finally put this issue to rest. Barack Obama was born in Honolulu in 1961 and is, therefore, a natural-born citizen. There are plenty of other aspects of his presidency to pick apart and oppose, so don’t waste any energy raising questions about something beyond any shred of doubt.

If you folks have any credible evidence to suggest Obama was not born in Hawaii, I’d love to see it. Thanks for hearing me out.


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Chicago man reportedly risks 30 years in prison to see his ex-wife murdered

It appears as though some guy from Chicago really doesn’t like the settlement details of his divorce.

John Johnson, 41, is being held without bond in DuPage County Jail for allegedly trying to hire someone to kill his ex-wife. As if a reported murder-for-hire scheme wasn’t bizarre enough, he is accused of trying to hire someone to kill his ex-wife while he was already in jail.

Johnson’s ex-wife had an order of protection signed out against him, but Johnson allegedly violated the order of protection in Lombard. So while he was in DuPage County Jail on this charge, he is said to have told someone that he was willing to pay $3,000 to have his ex-wife murdered.

This person told representatives of the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, and this department assigned one of its members to pose as a hit man. As one of my colleagues said to me, everyone in the Sheriff’s Office probably wanted that job.

Johnson reportedly offered the “hit man” $3,000 to kill his wife. On Monday, Johnson was charged with one count of solicitation of murder, a Class X felony. He faces between six and 30 years in prison if convicted.

Maybe Johnson should have used the $3,000 on marriage counseling. Sitting in a marriage counselor’s office for a few months must be much preferable to spending up to 30 years in prison.

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Stop confusing youthful exuberance of Disco Demolition with legitimate riot

Do you recall the ne’er-do-wells who trashed Seattle in 1999 during a meeting of the World Trade Organization? That, my friend, was abona fide riot.

Contrast this with what transpired in Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979, during the Disco Demolition Night promotion. It was youthful exuberance, letting off steam, even some mild criminal damage to property. But it was in no way a riot.

Riots are the culmination of anger, anarchy and violence. While the Disco Demolition crowd got a tad out of control for a period of time, it was a temporary moment of anarchy fueled by joyful exhilaration.

There was no anger or violence during the event. It was a fun and silly time for tens of thousands of participants.

Yes, the field and some equipment got beat up a bit. But to continue to categorize this event as a riot is absurd.

I know this because I was at Disco Demolition Night. Had this event been driven by anger and violence, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near Comiskey Park.

In July 1979, I was between my junior and senior years in all boys Roman Catholic high school — and I was (on a good day) all of 5’1″ tall. Walking down my high school hallway was more intimidating to me than being in the midst of Disco Demolition Night frivolity.

What I’m trying to say is that I was a Grade A dork as well as a complete wimp when I was in high school (as if these have changed at all over the years!). When you’re non-jock attending a totally jock high school, you learn to spot danger a mile away. I endured enough hazing during the years at myalma mater to realize when trouble was on its way.

WLUP had heavily promoted Disco Demolition Night, organized by disc jockey Steve Dahl. For 98 cents and a disco record, you could get into Comiskey Park that night.

I was working at the Museum of Science and Industry that summer, and so I made my way via public transportation to Comiskey Park with my disco records (I can’t remember which records I brought or where I got them). But I got ripped off because I was charged the normal price for general admission, despite my waving my disco records at the ticket seller.

As I recall, the Chicago White Sox lost the first game of that night’s planned doubleheader with the Detriot Tigers. The crowd, estimated at about 90,000, was in a rowdy mood.

Shortly after the records were detonated in between the games, something took the crowd over. It was like all of us got up at once and started running for the field.

I spent a few minues running around the field, tossing around broken records. But I didn’t want to stay long (here’s where the wimp in me came forth), so I ran to the side of the field, scaled a fence and left the stadium. TV news trucks were lined up outside, but I didn’t give it much thought.

After taking the L-train and a CTA bus home, I was suprised to see that people were still on the field. OK, the boisterous anarchy perhaps lasted a little longer than I previously claimed — but we still don’t have a riot.

Reading the following day’s newspaper accounts of Disco Demolition Night made me laugh. Sports writers were filled with righteous indignation about “the riot” and how this should embarrass WhiteSox fans.

Come on, guys, give me a break. If White Sox fans want to be embarrassed about something that stemmed from Disco Demolition Night, they should get a look at the goofy haircuts many of those in attendance were sporting (I can only describe it as a 1970s South Side mullet).

Thankfully, those coifs appear to have met the same fate as has disco music. To that I can only say, rest in peace.

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Which religions accept or reject homosexuality has nothing to do with promoting liberty in a civil society

I can’t believe my buddy Dave Diersen of Wheaton didn’t highlight the column I posted online yesterday titled, “It’s time we let gay couples get married” — I couldn’t make the headline on that column more provocative if I tried!

Diersen operates a Web site called GOPUSA Illinois. On it he presents a daily list of media stories and blog postings, largely of a political nature. He’s often listed my work, occasionally offering his own commentary in his Diersen Headlines.

My recent column was about a forum held last week at the Westmont Public Library focusing on civil unions and gay marriage. The event was organized by the Green Party of DuPage County.

In my column, I concluded that a civil society such as we live in has no justification to deny marriage and all its benefits to gay people. Opponents of gay marriage often cite their moral reservations about homosexuality, usually rooted in scriptural writings. Most Americans identify with one of the Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — and what’s accepted as the sacred writings in each condemns homosexual behavior. They claim that permitting gay marriage would devalue the traditional form of marriage as outlined in their scriptural texts.

Referring to the Judeo/Christian tradition, I pointed out in my column that much about the “traditional” form of marriage is no longer practiced by most religious people. In biblical times, marriages did not result from a mutual love and respect between the parties. They were arranged by the families involved, and the woman (actually the girl, in most cases) had nothing to say about the matter. I don’t know any married women who are fundamentalist Christians who didn’t consent to their marriage.

In addition, some traditional marriages in biblical times included a husband, his wife, his other wife and maybe several concubines. Several key biblical figures practiced polygamy and took concubines, and I can’t find anything in the Bible condemning either.

Today in the United States, polygamy is outlawed and condemned by many Christians. And which God-fearing American would dare brag about taking concubines? Why aren’t these people sticking up for the traditional family that the Bible presents?

Seeing that Americans have altered the meaning of marriage and the traditional family as seen in the Bible, their objections to gay marriage are peculiar. But this new form of marriage is consistent with members of a free society forging their own destiny.

That’s why the persistent objection to gay marriage is so puzzling. A civil society that promotes individual liberty as its bedrock principle shouldn’t by nature deny the rights and privileges of marriage to two people merely because they’re gay. If the basis for allowing heterosexuals to marry is because these people want to chase their own idea of happiness, why should it be different for homosexuals?

Diersen doesn’t see gay marriage that way. Whenever he comes across an article dealing with homosexuality, he comments, “All the religions of the world discourage homosexual activity, but (whoever Diersen is talking about) promotes homosexual activity. Therefore, (whoever) rejects all the religions of the world.”

It’s a standard boilerplate response, one that Diersen appears to have given little thought to over the years. As it turns out, not all religions of the world discourage homosexual activity.

The pagan societies of ancient Rome and Greece did not distinguish between heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Today, neo-pagans and Buddhists accept homosexuality as long as it remains within the guidelines of ethical conduct (between consenting adults). Unitarians accept homosexuality as do some some segments of Christianity and Judaism. So as we can see, not all the religions of the world reject homosexuality.

I’ll enjoy reading Diersen’s explanation of why he keeps repeating this mantra when it’s not true. And the funny thing is it doesn’t matter if the major religions of the world reject homosexuality. What if they’re all wrong on this point?

But none of this has anything to do with promoting liberty and happiness for everyone in a civil society. That’s what this nation stands for, and that’s what we should pursue.

When is Dave Diersen going to join in?


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