Teen on Life Support Following Scavenger Hunt

Erik Nava, a 17-year-old student at St. Charles North High School, remains in critical condition today following an underground scavenger hunt gone terribly bad Friday.  According to the Sun-Times, Nava “leapt from an SUV in order to garner ‘points’ for his team.”

Police believe he jumped from a Dodge Durango moving at 25 mph as part of the game in which as many as 200 students participated.

One former St. Charles North student, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the scavenger hunt has been a tradition for at least three years.

Students make a list of dares they film for points, then destroy the video after the participants prove they completed the tasks.

Some St. Charles students who participated in this year’s event said each participant contributed $5. The group that earns the most points wins the cash.

The students estimated that Nava’s group won first or second place off the four-page list of scavenger hunt activities.

Nava was supposed to fall from the vehicle onto grass, but landed on gravel instead.  Police say when they arrived, they found Nava “unconscious with a puddle of blood under his head.”

Nava’s friends initially fled the scene:

As the first officer began basic first aid, four girls — some of whom were in the Dodge Durango that Nava jumped from — drove away, police said. They returned to the scene after called by police.

The people in the car thought 25 mph was too fast, and planned to take a photo of the speedometer at 25 mph, then slow down to 10 or 15 mph, according to the police report. But Nava jumped without giving notice, one of the girls told police.

According to the report, Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti is not sure if any crime has been committed.  Still, Barsanti is calling a special grand jury to investigate.

No one interviewed the school for this story.  I’d like to know whether anyone in District 303 had a clue that this had been going on for so long.

The school’s Web site appears to be overloaded right now.  Let’s hope this young man recovers.

The Buccaneer Stops Here – The Daily Show Does Pirates

I guess I’m just in need of more humor these days. I haven’t done a ton of writing lately, but I have done a lot of laughing.

And this stuff is just awesomely hilarious.

The Old Man and the Marine

Via email from our friend Helen:

One sunny day in 2009 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’d been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’

The Marine looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.’

The old man said, ‘Okay’ and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’

The Marine again told the man, ‘Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.’

The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same Marine, saying ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?’

The old man looked at the Marine and said, ‘Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.’

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, ‘See you tomorrow.’

January 20, 2009 still seems like a dream.  I’ll be weeping as the new president takes the oath of office.

I’m putting a counter on Turning Left.

No Walgreens for Tinley Park

The news is not good in general for the economy, and even worse for the south Chicagoland area when Walgreens drops plans from building in an economic powerhouse like Tinley Park.

The proposed construction site at 171st Street and 84th Avenue is certainly busy enough to sustain a pharmacy and convenience store.  According to the Sun-Times, however, the proposed 14,000-sqare-foot Walgreens and an adjacent 6,000-square-foot retail center will not be built.

The developer just pulled the plug, leaving LeMonnier and his neighbors stuck with a mess.

Orland Park-based Gemini Cos. announced last week during a village court hearing on several ordinance violations that it had sold the site of the planned Walgreens store, Trustee Tom Staunton said Tuesday night.

Not even the village knows who the new landowner is. Gemini didn’t tell the judge, Staunton said.

Mayor Ed Zabrocki and other village officials are understandably upset at the decision of the developer to abandon the site:

Several trustees and Mayor Ed Zabrocki first heard the news at a Tuesday night village board committee meeting.

“(Gemini has) put the government and residents through this for three years,” an angry Trustee Greg Hannon said.

If Walgreens isn’t built, Tinley Park will level the site and go after Gemini for any money it owes the village, officials said.

“If necessary, we could lien the property for any work the village does,” Zabrocki said.

It sounds like the village board overshot on this one, and Tinley Park residents must be furious with village officials on this one.  According to the Sun-Times, the village demolished seven homes for this failed project, twice rejecting recommendations from its own plan commission:

Two years ago, the village plan commission rejected the development because it thought it would set a dangerous precedent to tear down homes for a business project. Seven homes in Plum Court were demolished to make way for the drugstore chain.

But village trustees overrode the commission, approving the Walgreens and the retail center with several stipulations, including that the strip mall could not house a tavern or frozen-food locker, among other types of stores.

But Gemini did not proceed on the project within the required time period and had to go back before the plan commission, which again rejected the development. Again, the village board rejected the commission’s recommendation and approved the project in June.

Frankly, I hope Walgreens and other developers realize there is more economic potential further south.  I don’t feel sorry for Tinley Park, which is already overbuilt.  Zaborcki and his board got greedy, over-controlling and, frankly, a bit sloppy.  They rejected twice the wisdom of their own plan commission to force a project that was doomed to fail.

Developers and retailers would be wise to look to Park Forest and surrounding areas for future projects.  The area there is ripe with untapped potential, the residents hungry for local businesses.

The sleeping economic giant of the Chicagoland area lies south of I-80.  The business community ignores that at its own peril.

PA Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll Dies

From WTAE TV Channel 4 in Pittsburgh:

[Pennsylvania] Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll has died.

The 78-year-old was being treated in Baltimore for neuroendocrine cancer.She was diagnosed in July.Baker Knoll was released from the hospital on Nov. 6.She said then she had entered a physical therapy program to deal with an infection that slowed down her recovery.She also said she intended to return to her duties.

The news is out of Harrisburg, PA.

Does Anyone Legislate in Springfield? Carol Marin and ‘Shrooms

Writing for the Sun-Times, Carol Marin is calling for true change in Springfield.  She’s calling for ‘Shrooms to rise up, come out of the dark, and, well, legislate.

That would be refreshing.

What is a ‘Shroom?

“‘Shrooms” — short for “mushrooms” — is code in Springfield for rank-and-file lawmakers who, thanks to the iron grip of their leadership, are irrelevant to critical decision-making. The term was coined decades ago when a House member stuck a sign on his desk offering a bleak commentary: “Welcome to the land of the mushrooms where they keep you in the dark and pile s – – – on your head.”

Whether it’s the all-powerful speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, or the I’m-the-Boss-Now Senate President Emil Jones, the rules that govern each chamber are meant to clip the wings of the rank and file and keep the leadership in complete control. Without a leader’s OK, forget about getting a bill out of committee, a prime committee assignment, a leadership post or heaven help you, forget about financial help come Election Day.

No legislation sees the light of day unless the bosses say so.  ‘Shrooms can go back to the dark and vote with the leadership.

The inactivity in Springfield the past few years impresses no one.  Senator Emil Jones makes sure his son gets his senate seat, Blago the Intransigent listens to no one, and Speaker Michael Madigan controls the Illinois House with an iron fist:

Jones, whose party returned to the majority after the tyrannical reign of his Republican predecessor, Pate Philip, was elected president in 2002. Allied with the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, the two united against Madigan and there’s been god-awful legislative gridlock ever since.

Look, we’ve been waiting for school funding reform in Illinois for decades.  Illinois still places second to last in the nation in funding for education.  Instead, we get lawmakers eminently impressed with themselves and their ability to win an election, and no one working for real change any more.  The Illinois Legislature is broken.

I can barely stomach attending fundraisers for legislators any more.  Many times I’ve watched representatives from Springfield come to Matteson, IL, fall all over themselves for their candidate, telling us why we should give a care for Rep. ‘Shroom, that we should give up weekends and week nights to campaign for Rep. ‘Shroom.

It’s time for reform.  Yes, it’s time for the ‘Shrooms, “futile fungi,” as Marin calls them, to rise up.  Illinois needs a Legislature full of legislators, not glorified Altar Boys and Girls serving the Magisterium.

Unless these ‘Shrooms are really only interested in re-election.  Then they deserve to wallow in s—, and we deserve the same for re-electing them.

Catholic Bishops to Confront Obama on Abortion

Obviously perplexed and upset at their demonstrable lack of influence during the presidential election, the one-issue United States Catholic Bishops are determined to confront President-elect Barack Obama on the issue of abortion.

Several bishops issued statements before the election expressing their belief that “Catholics could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who favored abortion rights after Obama pledged to pass legislation that would overturn state’s restrictions on abortion such as late-term abortion bans and requirements of parental consent,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

The problem, of course, is that the bishops, as a whole, view the abortion isolated from all other life issues, including, but not limited to, sex education, contraception, welfare, health care, etc.

Here’s the news from the Chicago Tribune:

In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America’s Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn.

About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion.

This is going nowhere.  The bishops have a problem here. Obama won the Catholic vote.

From Zenit:

More than half of U.S. Catholics voted Tuesday for a presidential candidate at odds with the Church’s stance on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, despite the urging of more than 50 heads of dioceses to support pro-life candidates.

Brian Burch, co-founder and president of the Catholic-based think-tank Fidelis, spoke with ZENIT about the results of the election, and why he thinks a majority of Catholics voted for Democratic candidate Barack Obama, an admitted supportor of abortion rights.

The majority of Catholics get what the bishops are missing: life is bigger than one issue.

There was a time when the Catholic Church defined the beginning of life differently.  St. Augustine, for example, taught that human life began when an infant draws its first breath.  Augustine did not object to terminating a pregnancy.

Listen, I don’t favor abortion at all.  Frankly, I don’t know anyone who does.  No one wants to see unwanted pregnancies, and I know no one who actually wants to see more abortions.  But when the bishops insist that the only solution to life issues in this world is a law forbidding abortion, they are naive.

How do we build a society where there are fewer unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, and how do we support those who do become pregnant in these situations?  How do we create a world where there are fewer rapes, where there is less violence against women, where there is no incest?  Do we do this by passing laws that turn every pregnant woman and her doctor into criminals?

Absolutely not.  While that is an easy solution, it will not stop abortion, nor will it ensure that our society has “respect” for life.

The Catholic bishops have lived long without women in their lives.  This was not always the case.  There was a time when bishops and popes married happily and had families.

That was a long, long time ago, and they are out of touch on this one.