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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Despite $165 Million Police Palace and Bonus Scheme for Crime Stats, Aurora Ranked Second to None for Crime in Suburbs By FBI

Despite building a $165 million police palace with massive corruption to enrich cronies and a bonus scheme by Mayor Tom Weisner and police brass, including Kristen Ziman, to exploit a temporary "zero murder" stat, the FBI says Aurora is the top Chicago area suburb for crime.

That's right.  Aurora is second to none for crime.

We can't wait for the press conferences, publicity stunts, photo ops from the same taxpayer-funded fools who knowingly ignored common sense and prudent public policy while real crime was still alive and well with actual police officers dealing with it on the streets instead of the palace.

In a story about the Top 10 Most Dangerous Towns in Illinois by CBS Chicago, Aurora ranks #1 in crime for suburbs:

"For suburban Chicago, Aurora is ranked No. 1 with a crime rate of 601 per 100,000 residents."

Kristen Ziman, a commander at the Aurora Police Department and co-founder of Blue Coward, a scheme to exploit taxpayers with a Weisner campaign crony, argued vigorously during the debate on the police bonus scheme that it was "justified."

She cannot be reached for comment.

We've also reached out to Mayor Tom Weisner.  Neither he nor anyone that he gathered for photo-ops and publicity stunts to exploit a crime stat two years ago can be reached.

Dick Cheney and Kristen Ziman Demonstrate How to Justify Anything

Former Vice President Dick Cheney vigorously rejected the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. John McCain and others characterization of the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" as torture by justifying, well...everything.

In fact, if you listen to Cheney's interview with Chuck Todd of Meet the Press, everything that was done is justified.

We call it like we see's torture.  And, it's wrong.

For our local viewers, this reminds us of a disturbing pattern we've been observing from Aurora Police Department Commander Kristen Ziman with the justification of everything.

In her case, she most recently justified the police killing in Ferguson while the nation is demanding reform and change to police policy.  With the Aurora Police Department having a half-million dollar tank, she was silent on the military response and attacks on both media and protesters.

Having that tank is justified, of course.  We aren't sure what it would be used for, but if it's used against the public, we assume that would be "justified."

Ziman has also justified a red light camera scheme in Aurora that increased public safety risks and fleeced drivers with a corrupt vendor, Redflex

See: Redflex "bagman" pleads guilty to red light camera contract bribe or watch below to learn more:

She also justified the political exploitation of crime stats by the corrupt mayor of Aurora with police bonuses for a "zero murder rate" and false success claims that crime was down, only to have shootings, murders and crime shoot up.

Ziman has justified the massive corruption at the $165 million Aurora Police Palace by conveniently looking the other way.  Why rock the luxury boat when you can just sail with it and drink lots of wine, right Kristen?

She's also been silent and justified various violations of constitutional rights by the City of Aurora that used police to harm the rights of citizens to enter public meetings or to protest.  Where was Kristen Ziman standing up to protect the public?  She just let it happen.  It's justified.

In her role as the social media czar for the Aurora Police Department (where she conveniently also retweets herself), she's justified censorship against the public and media.  If you don't like someone questioning the police or her, it's justified to just silence them.  That's the communication style of Kristen Ziman.  It's justified.

She also has justified the willful misconduct of the Aurora Police Department under the Weisner regime to prevent release of time-sensitive crime information to all media, including us, that could help solve crimes.

Kristen Ziman's spouse, Chris Tunney, is a police officer at the Aurora Police Department.  No conflict of interest in supervising one's spouse.  It's okay, let's just assume that's justified, too.

More importantly, as Aurora has become "second to none" for corruption, Ziman also justifies her spouse being appointed to a paid board position with the Dunham Fund, a nonprofit slush fund connected to the cronies and crooks of Aurora that has funneled millions to corrupt projects.

And, now we learn despite having a large taxpayer-funded salary and supposedly an important day job as a "commander" at the Aurora Police Department, Ziman has been working with Michael Nila, a campaign crony of Mayor Tom Weisner, who stuffed money into the mayor's pockets and magically came up with a contract to force "Franklin Covey" training upon city employees at massive expense to taxpayers.

Ziman, apparently with lots of free time during her day job, travels to various parts of the country as part of her gig with Nila, to charge taxpayers for "training."

Ziman works with Nila...$$$.  Chris Tunney works with the Dunham Fund...$$$.  That's aside from their combined taxpayer-funded salaries you pay.  Quite the $$$ deal for them by playing with the corrupt and cronies of Aurora.

It's all justified, of course...according to Ziman.  She says she can explain the gig with the Weisner crony...we're still waiting to hear it.

So, are we comparing Kristen Ziman to Dick Cheney?  No, of course not.

Like it or not, Cheney was elected.  Ziman was not.

He had a term limit, she has none.  He technically answered to voters.  She answers to, well, nobody as far as we can tell.

Watching Dick Cheney justify torture reminds us that the fine line between what's right and wrong for those in positions of responsibility must never be blurry.  When you are wrong, you must have the courage to admit you are wrong.

From issues of international relations to local issues, the public must not sit back and allow those who do wrong to justify their own conduct.

We've strongly advocated for Kristen Ziman over the years even when many people in local law enforcement, including rank-n-file officers in her own department, were critical about her mysterious rise through the ranks.

We won't justify our mistake.  Turns out they were right.  We were wrong.

Let's see if Kristen Ziman can be better than Dick Cheney and admit she's wrong...or just continue to justify everything.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Does What Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama Can't Do - Smack Wall Street Bailouts

On Friday, after an amendment was jammed into the latest spending bill, Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke on the senate floor and did what Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can't do...smack Wall Street and specifically Citigroup, the most powerful big bank in the United States.

Democrats don't like Wall Street bailouts. Republicans don't like Wall Street bailouts. The American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts.

However, she didn't just smack Citigroup and Wall Street.  She also smacked the cronyism with politicians, including her own fellow Democrats.

Senator Warren didn't speak with the carefully orchestrated fluff from Hillary Clinton or the lofty hope and change of Barack Obama.  She just spoke directly about the issue.

Whether you are Republican or Democrats, voters are looking for authentic candidates.  It's why there is a growing support for both Elizabeth Warren and Senator Rand Paul.  They aren't like the regular establishment politicians.  They articulate positions that you can respect, even if you disagree.

Are Democrats smart enough to skip the Clinton's latest power grab?  Are Republicans smart enough to nominate someone who appeals even more to independents?

Stay tuned.  The campaign for Election 2016 is around the corner.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner Takes Thousands in Campaign Cash From Firefighters In Exchange for Automatic and Retroactive Raises to Make Pension Crisis Worse

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, who has taken thousands in campaign cash from the Aurora Firefighters Union, gave at taxpayer expense a 3 year annual raise at 2.25%, retroactively starting January 1, 2014.

The Aurora Fire Department is one of the most bloated units of government anywhere with layers of management with six-figure salaries while a much smaller number of firefighters are actually on the front lines "risking their lives."

At the same time he's increasing costs, the mayor is saying the city can't afford the skyrocketing pension costs and health insurance for police and fire.

The measure was rubber-stamped by the city council without any debate or discussion at the city council meeting.

Who pays for this while Weisner pockets the cash and the firefighters get their automatic raises?

You, the taxpayer.

Hope you have plenty of money to burn in the coming years.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Was the Killing of Michael Brown or Eric Garner Justified?

The recent high-profile cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are forcing people to ask when it's justified for a police officer to use excessive these situations deadly force.

However, for every death, there are thousands of other situations where people are injured or accused of a crime by police during a dispute where there are no cameras or media asking questions or the President of the United States sending the Attorney General to investigate.

And there also far too many cases of police getting injured by the public.  There are bad police, bad public...there are good people and good public.

At the end of the day, the public gives immense trust and power to a police officer to do his or her job responsibly.

Ferguson has exposed a wide web of dysfunction and serious societal questions, from poverty to racism to inequality to how police react to protesters, media and constitutional rights, use of military equipment in civilian situations, the role or bias of prosecutors to the strange process known as the grand jury.

All from that interaction between Darren Wilson and Michael Brown.

People in law enforcement are people with opinions.  Most choose to not say what they think in public, but some do.

Here's the view of Kristen Ziman of the Aurora Police Department:

Only once in my career has someone attempted to take my gun.  It was in the middle of a street where I was struggling to place a man in handcuffs who was under the influence of cocaine and had just smashed the picture window in the home he shared with his wife and kids.  He was larger than me and during the grapple, I felt my weapon being tugged and realized he was attempting to disarm me.  

Fortunately, I was not alone and my partner and I were able to subdue the offender and place him in handcuffs.  The bad guy wasn’t able to retrieve my pistol but I shudder at the consequences if he had. 

I tell you that story so you understand that an unarmed person can pose just as much of a threat and I’m getting a bit tired of the headlines that are painting the picture of police officers going around killing people who don’t have guns.  In fact, I’ll give you 3 minutes with someone who is beating you with their fists and you tell me if you feel as though your life is threatened.

Last year, 10 police officers were shot and killed in the United States after a suspect managed to get control of an officer’s weapon. Nearly one in five officers killed as part of a crime last year were shot with their own (or a partner’s) weapon, according to the National Center for Law Enforcement Technology - the highest number of such deaths in 18 years.

Because I write this column, I’ve been bombarded with inquiries about the events in Ferguson from people wanting to know what I think.  

The truth is, it keeps me up at night because I have an internal tug of war between what I have experienced on the street and what I know about the men and women who wear a uniform and risk their lives every day in the simple act of going to work.  These police officers have dedicated their existence to putting their lives on the line for people they’ve never even met.  It takes a special kind of person to be spit on, screamed at and even harmed by those people in the community who have made it their mission to prey upon others for their own gratification and without empathy for their victims. 

And yet these officers get up, gear up and do it all over again day in and day out. 

The conflict I feel arises because I know there are police officers who get it wrong.  When a police officer acts with a willful and wanton disregard for the law and life, I will not stand with them as there is no such thing as blind loyalty.  We have fired police officers for excessive force where it wasn’t justified and I don’t lose a shred of sleep over an officer who violates policy and/or law.
Then there are those officers who act with the best of intentions and still err in judgment. Human beings are fallible and even though they are entrusted with powers to enforce laws, some don’t get it right. 

The difference is that the mistakes made in law enforcement are not the same as in other professions.  I’m not on the street anymore so when I make an error, it’s typically involving policy or decision-making.  I can usually right my wrong after careful contemplation and with little consequence.  When a front line officer makes an extreme mistake and takes a life when it wasn’t justified, this isn’t just an error.  It is a grave aberration that accounts for a human life being erased from existence.  I can think of no greater burden than a well-intending person to have to carry with them nor can I begin to contemplate the unspeakable grief of the family who has suffered the loss.   This is why our training is so intensive and why we are held to a higher standard and why any use of force incident is dissected and scrutinized.  It should be. 

What happened in Ferguson on that fateful day that divided our nation and the public from the police is bigger than police policy.  We know that a police officer confronted a strong-armed robber and the physical evidence is pretty clear about what happened inside the officer’s squad car.  By virtue of the law, the officer acted justly.  The witness accounts are on the spectrum of polarization about the events that unfolded that lead to the fatal shots.  Unlike the proclaimed “experts” that will not hesitate to tell you their opinion, I’m smart enough to say that I’m not sure if something different could have been done.  I wasn’t there to experience it.

A grand jury didn’t indict the officer and some think our justice system worked while others say it failed.  This alone tells you that the answer is not easy.

The only thing I know with vehement confidence is that the police are not the bad guys. There are bad cops out there who do our profession a disservice (just like any profession) and we must constantly hold them accountable. 

Police officers are the good guys and I boldly proclaim that the aftermath of looting and violence in Ferguson would be far more commonplace but for the police officers who act as guardians of our communities every day.

It is easy to choose between right and wrong when there is a glaring line between the two extremes.  But life doesn’t often provide us with such simplistic scenarios and instead, we are faced with multiple facets of truth sprinkled with perceptions and judgments. 

Many Millions of Taxpayer Funds Later, Why Has Downtown Aurora Failed While Downtown Naperville Continues to Thrive?

We've always encouraged our viewers to draw their own conclusions, but we often note facts, images and video speak for themselves.

Since 2005, Aurora, under the regime of Mayor Tom Weisner and corruption czar Bob Vaughan, hundreds of millions of taxpayer funds have been wasted, er...we mean spent on various random schemes and high-profile blunders.

From the Shodeen fiasco to spending millions to lure a bar and pizza place to giveaways or misuse of riverfront land to dumping money into corrupt projects to stopping private sector projects like a major hotel.

For many who have ever lived in Aurora, a video tour of downtown is a reminder of what once was...and still mostly is.  We note the video doesn't include key areas like the old train station crumbling or many other examples of blight and's focused on a small core of downtown and is too fast to notice the high volume of empty buildings.

Has downtown Aurora really objectively improved?

If you believe so, then why does the city need to pay over two million to lure an Irish bar to open here or a million to open up a pizza place for the failed restaurant row (by the way, how's that going Vern LaVia?).

What are the results and the return on investment from spending all those millions of taxpayer funds?

Anyone, anyone?

Aurora's Chief Financial Officer Brian Caputo promised tax revenue would be generated from the Shodeen mess on the east side of the 2009.

That was five years ago.  Oops.  f-i-a-s-c-o.

Why does downtown Aurora continue to fail with allergic reactions from investors, retail and restaurants?

Billy Goat, where are you?

Blame it on the real estate market?  The market from 2005-2008 that saw no progress?

Or the market that continues to attract investors, retail and restaurants to downtown Naperville?

The latest mistake for downtown Aurora is the new prison being built at River and Benton (aka "library").  It's another example of what happens when corruption takes priority over vision.

All these years later, the difference between Aurora and Naperville's downtown is becoming more clear.

Naperville has had a economic development vision, plan and created a tax base to support a thriving downtown.

Aurora has massive corruption, high taxes and a lot of debt.  Second to none.

Here's downtown Naperville.