Lester: Jack Franks getting police protection after comments on blog

Former state Rep. Jack Franks has been getting police protection for the last six weeks after reading what he describes as “death threats” on a local blog.

Franks, a Marengo Democrat who chairs the majority-Republican McHenry County Board, tells me a McHenry County sheriff’s patrol car has been watching his house as well as county board meetings after a March 23 exchange on the McHenry County Blog. Blogger Cal Skinner quoted comments made at a county board meeting alluding to 23 board members as chickens dealing with two weasels — the two Democrats, one of whom is Franks.

A commenter using the alias LTResident suggested the weasels be shot, and another using the alias Kaatu Barrada Nikto said, “I know a fellow who specializes in terminating weasels of all kinds” for “very reasonable” prices of $5,000, or $10,000 “if you need it to look like an accident.”

Franks says he’s worried about his family’s safety. He’s had his kids stay away at college and his wife has visited relatives out of state, he said.

Skinner, of Lakewood, a longtime foe of Franks, has not removed the posts and did not respond to my request for comment.

Franks says Skinner has a responsibility to tell police the identities of the commenters. McHenry County sheriff’s officials say they’ve turned the investigation over to Illinois State Police.

Republican state Rep. Steve Andersson of Geneva spoke at Harvard about his work to reduce court fees.

Republican state Rep. Steve Andersson of Geneva spoke at Harvard about his work to reduce court fees. – Courtesy of Steve Andersson

Political reality at Harvard

Republican state Rep. Steve Andersson was addressing a Harvard Law School conference about reducing court fees, but instead of talking theory the Geneva Republican “got down and dirty” with a lesson on politics.

Andersson explained to the group why lawmakers in danger of losing their seats in the next election might not vote for a bill even if they agree with it.

“Good theory is step one, but step two is how you have to do it — the sausage-making process,” Andersson says.

Andersson was invited to speak at the event April 20 after he participated on an Illinois task force that concluded in a June 2016 report that court fees are bloated with surcharges to pay for programs and services. A DUI offender in McHenry County, for example, might have been fined $150 by the judge but charged a total of $1,625 in court assessments.

Andersson and Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook are sponsoring a bill to set fees based on a defendant’s ability to pay.

Twitter fire for Walsh

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh faces heat for comments he made on Twitter after comedian Jimmy Kimmel, whose newborn son recently underwent open-heart surgery, made a plea for keeping health care available to those who have pre-existing conditions or live in low-income households.

“Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care,” Walsh said on Twitter.

Many — including actress Alyssa Milano — pointed out Walsh claimed he didn’t have enough money to make child support payments after he left Congress in 2013.

Compost at the curb

The city of Highwood, the first town in the state to add food scrap composting into its garbage service contract, will this month begin requiring residents to separate food scraps from other household garbage put out at the curb. The aim, officials say, is to keep waste that can be composted out of landfills.

Collaborating at Marmion

Marmion Military Academy students are collaborating with engineers at Fortune 500 company Parker Hannifin to develop a part that will help find oil in deep water basins around the world, I’m told by school officials. It’s one of more than a dozen group projects in the works at the all-boys school in Aurora, where students partner with companies including Rok Werk Systems Inc. and the Federal Aviation Administration. The school’s Computational Prototyping and Research Center, which began as a group of local businesses, has grown to a consortium of about 30 business partners that focuses on teaching how to tackle real-world problems in science, technology, engineering and math.

Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine says he was quoting the Rev. Jesse Jackson in some controversial comments drawing parallels between slavery and abortion.

  Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine says he was quoting the Rev. Jesse Jackson in some controversial comments drawing parallels between slavery and abortion. – Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Morrison on abortion, slavery

Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine sent me a heartfelt email after I wrote about a legislative debate in which he compared unborn children to former slave Dred Scott, who in 1857 was declared by the U.S. Supreme Court to not be a citizen. State Rep. Christian Mitchell, a Chicago Democrat, called the comment the most “ignorant and possibly racist” thing he’d heard in the House chamber.

Morrison, in his note, says he was quoting from a letter by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who “mentions abortions and slavery parallels in this piece, and many African-American leaders still do correctly maintain that state and federal laws over our history have consistently recognized or granted rights to fellow humans. If Rep. Mitchell believes that my remarks were ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant,’ well then, Rev. Jackson’s position was, too.”

It should be noted that Jackson was in Springfield that day to support the bill to expand taxpayer funding of abortion to state employees and those on Medicaid. It has been sent to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass.

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